On the Rise

This month’s cover story, “Creative Visionaries,” profiles six amazing people who are leading the way toward a more vibrant, engaging, conscious and diverse existence for our citizens … exactly the type of insight that we love to share with our readers. A glimpse into the future of our fair metropolis, if you will.

I was struck by a phrase writer John Parker used in the article, dubbing urban designer Blair Humphreys part of a generation that has only seen Oklahoma City on the rise, beginning with MAPS and continuing to the present day.

Really? Humphreys and I are “of an age,” so let me think about that for a minute.

I was born in Oklahoma, but lived the nomadic life of an Army brat most of my school years, traveling to duty stations in the U.S. and overseas. I came back to OKC to start my junior year at John Marshall High School (go Bears!) and at the time, the common refrain was “There’s nothing to do here.” We can chalk a certain amount of that complaint up to teenage ennui, I’m sure, but even adults of my acquaintance said it. The mindset was definitely that you needed to travel to Dallas or Tulsa or Kansas City to see/do/eat/shop.

Looking back now, I can almost chart the progression away from that type of thinking. From ’89ers Stadium summer evening games (some of my favorite memories, don’t get me wrong!) to watching the RedHawks from a sleek suite at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. From Blazers hockey in the Myriad to Thunder and Barons at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. From the turnpike two-step for the Gilcrease and the Philbrook to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Close to 15 years ago, I remember making a trip downtown to do research for one of the first articles I wrote for the magazine. The topic was the Colcord building, and this was back when it was a largely empty office building, an aging grande dame that had definitely seen better days. I already had the bug for historical buildings. I parked in a mostly deserted, multi-level pay lot that is now either the site of the Downtown Library or the Devon Tower – I’m not even sure which since the area has been so completely transformed that I do not recognize it. I went into the diamond-in-the-rough building and walked through with a guide. I saw lots of empty, sad space that you would never know had been there if you checked into the Colcord Hotel today. Similar visits to Founder’s Tower and the Citizen’s Bank Tower are juxtaposed in my mind with their current incarnations.

Once I traveled to Kansas City with a bunch of my friends for a big music festival, then turned around and drove right home that night so we could get to school the next day … and just last month little ol’ Guthrie hosted a biggie, practically in my own back yard.

Local restaurants/restaurateurs are getting national attention, including popping up in the recent Heartland issue of Saveur magazine. Even areas that were labeled “Skid Row,” like Slice magazine’s home base on Film Row, are reviving and coming back stronger than ever to create a thriving place that you want to be a part of.

Our food is fantastic. Our entertainment options are almost endless and growing all the time. Our people are the best, bar none. And it’s only getting better, can you believe it?

I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re a Baby Boomer, a Gen Xer, a Millennial or a member of the Greatest Generation – you are here, now. It’s a great time to be in our city on the rise. 

Categories: Bits and Pieces, Mia Blake