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.
For the Love of Cities commented on their own link.
Coverage from the Tampa Bay Issue Media Group publication, 83 Degrees. Thanks for the love!
'Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places' by Peter Kageyama encourages cities to thrive by creating and nurturing cool places, activities and events.
Interesting piece from NextCity. Not sure I concur with the premise that 'size matters' in terms of love or 'place identity' as they call it, but a stimulating read.
People identify strongly with their cities — even more so when they’re big.
Love Where You Live is now available as an E-book!
Following the widespread success of For the Love of Cities, this book builds upon the central premise that love of place matters, with more examples from all over the world and practical steps that community leaders, both official and unofficial, might use to kick start the process in their city....
Great to spend time with Dr. Ray Oldenburg, originator of the idea of "third spaces." Talked about cities and what makes great third spaces. Interesting tidbit: he told me that he never envisioned that the corporate world would embrace his idea of third spaces and he was even more surprised how quickly they got. Faster than his original target audience, city planners!
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