Model city could turn into ticket to visit OKC
By Steve Lackmeyer
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 4B
Elijah Shvetsov has spent his summer dazzling the local online community with photos of a model he has created of downtown Oklahoma City. Some are dazzled by the accuracy of his portrayal, down to the neon Union Bus sign. Others are amazed by his work simply because Shvetsov has never been to Oklahoma City, but is a 25-year-old St. Petersburg, Russia, hypermarket worker who took a liking to what he saw online.
Thanks to Shvetsov’s basic English skills and a Google translator program, he has made many friends on www.skyscrapercity.com and www.okctalk.com.
Now one of those admirers, local architect Dennis Wells, is challenging fellow fans to join him in raising money to pay for Shvetsov to fly to Oklahoma City.
Wells estimates the trip will cost about $1,000 and is starting with a $50 starter challenge and a pledge to host Shvetsov.
Wells’ initial idea was to see whether Creative Oklahoma might want to invite Shvetsov to the upcoming Creativity World Forum coming to Oklahoma City in November. The folks at Creative Oklahoma say they’re not interested in such an arrangement, which is fine with Wells, who thinks plenty of others would want to embrace the idea of Shvetsov seeing the city in person.
“I think it would be great to have him see the city first hand,” Wells says, adding “having him see it by helicopter would be a treat.”
In the three months since Shvetsov (he goes by the name “Russian Sam” online) was introduced on www.okctalk.com, the discussion of his project has seen 148 comments with more than 4,100 people viewing photos of his work.
No offense to the folks at Creative Oklahoma or the upcoming forum, but it’s difficult to find any such interest in the upcoming creativity forum on okctalk.com.
Shvetsov, meanwhile, is flattered by the ongoing interest in his project and even more by Wells’ invitation. Wells wants to make it happen; Shvetsov isn’t certain whether he can obtain a tourist visa without an invitation from an organization such as Creative Oklahoma.
Either way, the model is complete and whether or not Wells can make a trip come true, Shvetsov has friends here ready to embrace him.
For more information about efforts to bring Elijah Shvetsov to Oklahoma City, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.