Day 340

I’m only four days into my tenure at Pollinate and it’s already shaping up to be one of the best months I’ve encountered on the project. From the moment I walked through the door, everyone here has been eager to help me understand Portland and all of the things it has to offer. Thanks to my new colleagues, I already have more than enough suggestions and I’d say that’s a great problem to have. I already feel right at home here and even before the first day ended, it seemed as if I’d been working here for years. I guess it just goes to show how friendly the people of Portland are. I haven’t run into a single bad egg yet.

Aside from the overt kindness, Pollinate is also a very unique agency in many other regards too. The agency consists of a small group of highly dedicated individuals, who are all masters at what they do. Because of this, they’re able to offer clients an end-to-end experience, encapsulating everything from development and creative to planning and execution. It’s all extremely fascinating, because for the level of work they produce, you’d think they have a team of a couple hundred.

Of course, all that hard work clearly demands an equal amount of fun—and they know how to have it. I think that’s why I always enjoy smaller agencies. When there’s no HR department to overthink things, people feel more comfortable in being who they are. And when you combine that freedom with a group who really gets along, you’re always in for an unconventional, highly entertaining workday.

I suppose that’s why Pollinate reminds me a lot of Boxing Clever and Recess Creative. They all share a common bond in being masters of the work hard / play hard mentality. Then again, the high-energy they exude from their single-room office, also reminds a lot of BEAM, We are Social and BooneOakley. So, perhaps that says something about the participating #TGAA agencies? You be the judge.

On Monday night, I also got the chance to catch up with my friend Alex. He actually moved from Cleveland to Portland a few months before I started to plan the whole project out. We talked about how much of a departure the west coast is from the Midwest and also delved into all things soccer, LeBron James and past work experiences.

He was even kind enough to show me around the northwest part of Portland. And it just might be the “Williamsburg” neighborhood I always like to look for in every city. Only time will tell. I’m actually going to interview Alex about his move and post it at some point this month. I think it's a great story and I want to help him share it with you.

All in all, I’ve had a great start to the month and I look forward to what the weekend will bring.

-Steve-

Day 218

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to check out several of Chicago’s great neighborhoods. I first ventured to Lincoln Park (not to be confused with Linkin Park), where I spent some time relaxing along their tree-lined streets and lush park grounds. From there, I headed northwest to Logan Square for a drink at Revolution Brewing—one of my favorite breweries in the country. Along the way, I even found time to stop in a few of Milwaukee Ave’s great shops and eateries, while doing my best to keep my wallet tucked away. I’m not sure if the Logan Square / Wicker Park areas are considered Chicago’s “Williamsburg,” but it certainly seemed that way to me. At the very least, I know where I should head for brunch from now on.

Next, I headed back to The Loop, which houses much of Chicago’s downtown area. As I walked back through the streets, still peering into an interesting shop every now and then, I began to realize that one of the most appealing aspects of a city like Chicago is choice. Since my past few stops have been smaller cities, at least compared to the likes of Chicago, LA and NYC, I almost forgot how much choice you have in a city this size. Don’t get me wrong, every place I’ve visited will have all the things you need. But do they have everything you want? When you’re in an NYC or Philadelphia, there's no denying that you’re going to find more variety. While Memphis may have a great Peruvian eatery, chances are you’ll find at least 2 or 3 of them here in Chicago. The same goes for coffee shops, stores, chain restaurants, parks, jobs, etc.

Of course, that doesn’t make one city any better than another, but it does offer an interesting choice when searching for a place to live. Are you always looking for something new and better? Or do you want comfort and familiarity? That’s a choice I’ve struggled with before and I’m sure it will come around again once this project is over. That's why it's so important to find a city that fits your lifestyle. If you can't connect with the place you live, you'll never be happy there. 

-Steve-

Day 116

Well Philly, that’s all she wrote. I had such an amazing time at RTO+P and I’m beyond grateful to have been a small part of what they do here—if only for a second. I’d like to thank Steve O’Connell, Steve Red, Todd Taylor and everyone at the agency for treating me like family, teaching me so much and making my stop in Philly a memorable one.

As I enter month five of this journey, I thought it'd be cool to share some websites that helped me make the most of my first four stops. I know there are a ton of others, but I did my best to narrow it down to the top three in each location.

Cleveland

clevescene.com — a true Cleveland institution, Scene Magazine not only sponsors a lot of events in the city, they know exactly where you should go any night of the week.

thisiscleveland.com — while mostly curated for visitors, the site does offer a lot great events in and around Cleveland’s many suburbs and surrounding cities.

bobbylikesbeer.com — you may not know this, but Cleveland has a very rich beer scene and Bobby is all about letting you know where to go and what to try.

Boston

thebostoncalendar.com — as its description implies, this site will show you all of the events in and around Boston proper. 

artsboston.org — from ballet and opera to stand-up and lectures, here’s a great guide to the city’s most artistic offerings.

bostonchefs.com — a must-have guide to Boston's culinary scene.

New York City

Gothamist.com — the end-all, be-all for the latest news and information throughout the five boroughs. If there is a new restaurant or shop opening, I found out about it here.

freewilliamsburg.com — hipsters get a lot of crap, but they did build this awesome site, which keeps you in-the-know on music news, gallery openings and apartment listings in the area.

Donyc.com — if you’re in need of new happy hour scenery or just want to check out a new concert venue, this site’s beautiful layout ensures you’ll never miss another good time.

Philadelphia

Creativephl.org — where to turn when you want the most up-to-date listing of events, exhibitions and creative happenings throughout the city. 

Thephillyegotist.com — from local job openings to the latest ad campaigns, this is a one-stop shop that will help you keep up at the water cooler.

uwishunu.com — Need to find something to do in your area? This site breaks down nearly every event in Philly by day, topic and even neighborhood.

I hope these sites are able to help others, as much as they helped me. Thanks again to everyone who made my first four locations such a magical experience. We're closing in on the half way point of the project, so let's keep the momentum going.

I’ll see you in Charlotte.

-Steve-