In the book I write about how city themed tattoos are the equivalent of “marrying” your city. A tattoo, like a marriage, is a near permanent commitment and whenever I see people with their city etched into their body, I know that person has a special relationship with their place. And perhaps none more so than Katie O’Keefe of Cleveland.
I wrote about her return to her hometown of Cleveland from New Jersey. “I wanted to come back and make a difference in my city… in the end, Cleveland is my true love” she said. In writing the book, I had several people tell me I had to meet Katie and try as we might, we could only connect via email and Facebook. That changed this week as I finally got to meet her in person at a Saving Cities event in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland.
Katie’s love and enthusiasm for her city shines through even more powerfully in person. We talked about how she will often sing to the city as she rides her bike to work and how she likes to blow kisses to Cleveland. Being around such passion and commitment is inspiring and she has a catalytic effect on whoever she encounters.
And the story has an even happier twist. She introduced me to her boyfriend Sam, whom she met after he approached her and showed his sleeve tattoo of Cleveland that is almost the twin of her ink! If it happened in a romantic comedy, you would say “c’mon!” that is too hokey. But they met because of their mutual love affair with their city.
For me the lesson is that more of us should be willing to publically declare our love for our cities. Perhaps we are not ready to get the tattoo, but we can all find some way to express that love and commitment through our words and actions. When we do, we are likely to find many sympathetic and similar voices. And then we know that we are not alone and might find not only comfort and support, but potential allies in future actions to improve our communities.
Recording some segments for the new local TV show "St Pete in Progress" - Coming next month! Thank you Mayor Rick Kriseman and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin.
I say all the time that relationships with places are like relationships with people. This piece does a great job of articulating that process.
From London, with love
Auckland, New Zealand to experiment with "tiny houses" as a solution to their homeless challenge.
Homelessness has reached an all-time high in Auckland’s Inner City with the Auckland City Mission reporting that 147 people are sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower. The problems have increased in recent years with the closing of the ...
People care enough about their city that the flag has become an issue. Reminds me of New Zealand and the issue of a new flag last year. A new design was proposed and it ultimately went to a public vote with New Zealanders electing to keep their traditional flag. The process made them appreciate something that most people had not thought very much about. This seems like an opportunity for people to actually think about the flag and their city. Regardless of the outcome, the process is very valuable.
No matter how far around the world Jeremy Haun travels, he said he doesn’t leave Joplin far behind.
Finding lovable in the most dismal spots.
"It's generated a new wave of Banksy wannabes."
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