People to Know

People To Know – Katie O’Keefe of Cleveland, Ohio

In For the Love of Cities I wrote about Katie O’Keefe of Cleveland, Ohio as an example someone in love with their city.  Katie’s story of coming back to Cleveland is powerful, but what caught my attention was her commitment to Cleveland exemplified by her magnificent sleeve tattoo of the Cleveland skyline.  I noted in the book that city themed tattoos are akin to “marrying your city” as they are semi-permanent – easy enough to get into but rather hard and expensive to get out of.

Last week Katie made the cover of Issue Media Group’s Northeast, Ohio publication Freshwater Cleveland.  Take a look here to see the tattoos and learn more about her and other “boomerangs” who have returned to Cleveland and are playing key roles in shaping its future.

People to Know – Tom Stewart of Lansing, Michigan

I met Tom Stewart in June when I spoke at his art gallery, Art Alley, in Lansing, Michigan.  Tom is one of those young co-creators that are critical to the success of cities.  Art Alley, which opened in 2010,  is a burgeoning creative space in the REO district of the city.  Tom is also part of a group of angel investors that is investing private money back into creative entrepreneurs.  And what impressed me as well was the fact that Tom was also getting involved politically by running for Lansing city council.

I am very pleased to note that Tom was successful in his primary election bid and has become one of the youngest ever candidates for city councilman in Lansing.  He is on the ballot for the November at large election.  Many of the the co-creators I write about eschew the traditional power channels because they don’t have the patience to work within the confines of those structures.  But it will take adventurous co-creators like Tom to take on those traditional institutions and change them from within.  Way to go Tom!

People to Know – Claire Nelson of Detroit, Michigan

Excerpt from For the Love of Cities – page 163-164

Co-creators are starters.  Starters are the first ones in the pool, the first ones on the dance floor and the catalysts that literally  make  things  happen.    Claire  Nelson  is  the  co-­founder of Open City, a forum  for  aspiring  and  existing small business owners  in  Detroit, and a drafter of the Detroit  Declaration.    She launched one of the first new retail businesses in her Midtown neighborhood when she opened the Bureau of Urban Living, a small design store similar to Crate Barrel, in the Canfield Lofts Building.      Not only did she start   her   own   business–   she   actively   recruited   friends   and   colleagues   to   start   other   businesses   in   the   area   as   well.   When   a   space   became   vacant   next   to   her   shop,   she   explains,   “I   begged   everyone   I   knew   to   open  something  there.”  Her  efforts  paid  off.  A  design  company   called  City Bird opened  next  door,  and  Claire  has  called  it  “my greatest  achievement  so  far”  because  she  gained  a  neighbor  and   someone  who  shares  the  same  love  of  place.