Let’s start with what strikes me the most: as a member of Generation X, I readily admit I sometimes engage in mocking the Millennials. But Better Block OKC is, very much, the coming out party of Oklahoma City’s next wave. And if this is a hint of what they’re capable of, this Generation Xer is quite happy to welcome them to the ongoing effort of remaking our community.
Better Block is an exmaple of what’s possible. People want community, they crave community, and if the framework is established, the people will come. The cost to pull this off was actually quite minimal. The sweat equity invested by our city’s 20-somethings was priceless. Generation X at this age dreamed of this sort revolution. We watched movies like “Singles” and visited Austin and complained, “why not here?” I’ve seen my generation (and younger Baby Boomers as well) try to tackle the issue of making Oklahoma CIty a more exciting place to live, work and play. But for the most part, it involved BIG PICTURE, MAPS style efforts. Today’s 20-somethings recognized the need for a block by block battle – and the war is now commenced.
Today I had an update on the effort to turn Stage Center into a children’s museum. I figure this expanded questions and answer bit with Tracey Zeeck, co-organizer of Children’s Museum of Oklahoma might be of interest:
Q: What is the latest development on efforts to place a first right of refusal deposit with the OKC Community Foundation?
A: Unfortunately we were not able to agree on terms.
Q: Why couldn’t you work within their timeline and requirements?
A: OCCF had generously offered us First Right of Refusal for $25,000, which would essentially give Children’s Museum of OKC FRR for 5.5 months. While we were pleased that they saw enough value in our effort to offer this, their timeline simply didn’t match ours. As anyone could guess, a fundraising effort of this magnitude (est. $30,000,000 to fully complete the project, and open the museum to visitors) requires a much greater time commitment than just a few months. That said, we did counter with an offer to pay their $25,000 fee if it meant that we could extend the FRR to one calendar year. They declined.
The one-year effort still puts fundraising in a relatively aggressive time frame, but we feel like it’s reasonable, given the current interest in the project. We believe that a year would give us time to do foundational work to ensure success, such as running a feasibility study, creating a targeted strategic fundraising plan, getting materials prepared and a committee trained for fundraising effort, getting meetings set with potential funding partners before their budgets are finalized for 2013, and then going out and gathering those financial pledges so that we can get to work building the Children’s Museum of OKC!
Q: Does this mean your effort is doomed?
A: Absolutely not. In fact, it means the opposite is true. Instead of sitting and waiting, we can now forge ahead with our current fundraising efforts on our own terms
Q: How is fund raising going?
A: With such a limited time (remember we just kicked off the project the first week of February for an RFP that was due Feb 29th!) we developed our entire scope with a “dream funder” in mind. We envisioned a potential superhero who exemplifies the independent spirit of The New OKC. Someone willing to work toward the universal good that we’re trying to accomplish through this project. Opening the doors to every child, from every walk of life. And we built the project with that fictional character in mind. Then we identified who that superhero actually might be. And while I obviously can’t name names, I can tell you this: To date we’ve presented to this like-minded organization for the naming rights and are now on phase two of a grand proposal, at their direction, incorporating their next-level suggestions. Honestly, whether they end up partnering with us or not, this idea shaped our efforts, and that alone was a gift, for it resulted in our creating an extremely inclusive project based on the goodness of our then-fictional hero.
Q: What is the extent of public support for your campaign?
A: Let’s first put it into perspective: With no budget whatsoever, most everyone in OKC knows about our project, although it didn’t even exist until February of this year. That’s fast. As a PR person, I’ve never seen anything so naturally explosive as the love for this project. People stop me in the grocery or at the park to ask if I am ‘the children’s museum lady” and give me their phone number or email address so they can help when the time comes. Of course, it still feels as if some don’t believe we can do it. Which doesn’t surprise us, nor does it inhibit our efforts in the least. Oklahoma City is a place where a single person can make a difference. Imagine then what 1000 people can do.
Q: How much of an organization have you built in trying to save Stage Center, turn it into a children’s museum?
A: We have incorporated (Children’s Museum of Oklahoma City, Inc.) and we’re working on getting our 501(c)(3)status, which, as you may know, can be a relatively lengthy process. Fortunately we have the help of attorneys, civic and government leaders, business people, museum experts, child advocates, community folks, and even some family foundations making up our interim board of directors, and they’re willing to put their hearts and dollars and sweat into this as well. And then there are the fans. OKC enthusiasts who want nothing more than to have a safe engaging place for their families to play and grow together, downtown, in our generation’s most iconic building.
Q: What’s next?
A: We continue to move forward, of course. As parents, we teach our children to share, to take turns, to be honest, and to stand up for what’s right. We quote The Lorax, that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” Now we’re in a position to behave the way we ask our kids to behave. We’re committed to seeing this through, and seeing it through correctly. We’ll continue to partner with other cultural organizations and child advocacy groups too, for we believe that a high tide raises all ships. The more we do for families and culture and preservation in Oklahoma City, the richer all of our lives here will be.
Awesome! I had the privilege of working with Judge Manger for many years. I was an unofficial Court Liaison for the Development Services Department (Neighborhood Services). Every Friday I would attend court and provide updates on citations issued.
As usual Judge Manger would listen to all the explanations then render his decision. One day an elderly man appeared in court. I saw him walk slowly into the court room and take his seat. The court room was about half empty when Judge Manger called his name. The elderly man struggled to rise from his seat. Judge Manger said “Sir be seated for a moment, I will come to you” Everyone in the court took a breath and some motioned with their lips “WOW”. The Judge did something that I had never witness in my almost 30 year tenure as a City employee. He stood up from the bench and came down and sat beside the elderly man and adjudicated his case. Awesome!
There are a lot of comments getting caught in the filter – most notably those on the posts about Judge Bill Manger. I’m freeing them up as quickly as I can. I encourage you to not repost the comment if it doesn’t appear immediately.
I got to catch up with Stacey Davis, director of the city municipal court, and learned that yes, my friend Bill’s death surprised everyone. Just Monday he was doing his normal rounds at the courts, being his usual cheery self. An apparent heart attack took him from a world not ready to give him up.
I understand that Manger will be buried in his ancestral homeland of New Jersey (I think he’d get a kick hearing me refer to it as such). His family will be holding services at the Oklahoma City Chapel 11 a.m. May 11. I have every intention of being there.
Autism Oklahoma Piece Walk and 5K to raise funds for Oklahoma Families
Fundraiser brings together those affected by Autism throughout the state
OKLAHOMA CITY– For thousands of individuals affected by autism, May 5 will be a day to encourage others to run or walk for a cause. The Autism Oklahoma Piece Walk and 5K is an annual event in which groups form teams to earn donations for families affected by Autism in Oklahoma.
The name refers to a puzzle piece, which has been the symbol for autism for decades. Like a puzzle piece, those affected by autism experience a puzzling disorder that prevents them from “fitting in.”
So far this year, the walk has raised over $100,000, surpassing fundraising goals and expectations from committee members.
“Each year, this event has grown and it is thanks to the families who continue to participate and spread the word,” event co-chair, Kathy Thompson said.
The event will take place outside the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on May 5 starting at 7:30 a.m. The morning will be filled with family-friendly activities in and outside the ballpark.
A Resource Fair will open at 7:30 a.m. in the breezeway of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, 2 S Mickey Mantle Drive. The fair will feature booths of organizations from across the state. The Philharmonic Instrument Playground, Unpluggits Play Studio, Bounce Houses, the Forever After Princesses, Victory Dance and the OKC Jedi’s will entertain children of all ages.
The Piece Walk will begin at 8:30 and is free to everyone. The run will begin at 9 a.m. and cost of participation is $30 before the event and $35 on May 5.
Packet pickup for runners will take place May 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Red Coyote in Classen Curve. The first place runner will win a pair of running shoes from Red Coyote. To register, visit www.piecewalk.org.
For more information on Autism Oklahoma and the 2012 Piece Walk & 5K, please visit AutismOkahoma.org and piecewalk.org.