The following is a report written by architect Dennis Wells to fellow employees and friends following news of “Russian Sam” obtaining his Visa. For what it’s worth, Dennis is way to shy in accepting credit and way too generous in attributing this effort to me. Also for what it’s worth, Dennis, Bud Miles, the folks at Creative Oklahoma and the staff of Rep. Mary Fallin are the ones who pulled this off. I’m just enjoying having a great story to tell!
October 29, 2010
In case you haven’t heard the story of “Russian Sam,” here is the Cliff Notes version: (Miles Associates is sponsoring his visit to OKC.)
Ilia Shvetsov is a 25-year-old hypermarket worker who lives in St. Petersburg Russia. “Russian Sam” is the pen name he uses on his website. Ever since he was a kid, he’s enjoyed making things out of paper. He grew to love making models of iconic American buildings, and eventually decided to build a model of an entire American downtown. After much research, he chose Oklahoma City because it has a good variety of architectural styles, and it was small enough to build (and there was a wealth of photographic information available due to OKC’s rich blogosphere). The model has amazing detail and accuracy. Ilia has never been outside Russia…
aka “Russian Sam”
The scale is 1:2000 (+/- 1” = 175’), but still the building signs, and the smallest details are legible. The base of the model is only about 2’ x 2’ in size. (Surf flickr for good pics)
Ilia’s model of Oklahoma City
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter for the Oklahoma City newspaper, and hosts a blog that has posted stories about Russian Sam’s progress during the last couple of years. A few months ago, I made the mistake of posting this comment on Steve’s blog: “Hey, we should raise funds to buy this guy a ticket to OKC, and give him a helicopter ride to see the real thing!”
The next day Steve published a story in the newspaper proposing (STEVE’S NOTE: I’d describe it as “asking” about the possibility rather than “proposing”) that Creative Oklahoma Inc. sponsor him to attend the pending Creativity World Forum (CWF) to be held in OKC Nov. 16-18.
In the same article, he elected me to be chief fund-raiser (I had offered to pitch in the first $50, and a place for Sam to stay…), so that’s how I got involved. Bud Miles thought it was a neat idea and agreed to buy his plane ticket. Creative Oklahoma Inc. is sponsoring Ilia’s attendance to the CWF, and is accepting tax-deductible donations to help offset all the expenses.
Ilia & I have been e-mailing back & forth during the last several weeks to coordinate some of the details required for him to get a visa. (He doesn’t speak English; he uses Google Translator!) It looked like the consulate was going to deny his request, but Steve Lackmeyer enlisted the aid of Mary Fallin’s office (STEVE’S NOTE: Yeah, this is pretty much true. I asked if they could “be of assistance) to pull some strings, and the visa was finally approved today. Sam is excited to be the first person he knows to visit America. His friends are in disbelief. He’s looking forward to seeing the real Oklahoma City (and eating the best hamburger he’s ever had!).
See more here: http://stateofcreativity.com/ and: http://blog.newsok.com/okccentral/
more pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44533223@N08/sets/72157624599353907