Changing The Narrative: St. Petersburg Engages Creative Cities' Adviser

In his travels around the country promoting the concept of the creative economy and his book "For The Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places,'' author Peter Kageyama comes across "all sorts of cool and interesting things'' about each of the places he visits – even cities you wouldn't imagine have anything that could possibly fit into the "wow'' category. 

For example, Kageyama points to Canadian city Edmonton, Alberta's city of festivals, where year-round events include a special celebration of winter.

Then there's Wichita, KS, which has a 44-foot sculpture of a Native American chief, the "Keeper of the Plains.''  The statue lights up in a ring of fire every evening and draws dozens of people to downtown riverfront. 

And, Detroit's Heidelberg Project, a two-block area in a neighborhood that's been revitalized by showcasing art made from "found'' objects.

Kageyama describes these as "love notes'' in "For The Love of Cities.'' They're the unique attributes of urban neighborhoods that make people enthusiastic about where they live; the places that everyone is eager to show to friends and family when they visit.

Claiming The Dirt You Own

Not every city can be Chicago or New York, he says, but nearly everywhere has something that local residents can connect with on an emotional level.

"It's the small things that have a big impact on the way people feel about their home,'' he says.  St. Petersburg's Saturday Morning Market and Studio@620 both started as small ideas that have evolved into something great for the city, he says.

A native of Akron, OH, Kageyama has been a St. Petersburg resident for the past 20 years and is a former president of Creative Tampa Bay.  Now he hopes to take the list of all those "love notes'' that he's picked up from his travels and use them as a launching pad to help St. Petersburg and other cities come up with their own new creative opportunities, ideas that could have a positive economic impact on the community.

He's working with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and other city officials in a volunteer advisory capacity to share ideas about what's possible in the creative realm, not just in arts and culture, he says, but also in environmental issues, technology and other areas that might make a difference.

While there isn't a specific action plan or any particular agenda on the table, his goal is to spark discussion locally about the many innovative and cost-effective best practices around the country.

Building Upon Great Ideas

"It's all about transplanting great ideas from one venue to another and hoping something takes root,'' says Kageyama. "Anything that fits into the category of a cool idea is something to consider.''

Edmonton's festivals are a good example, he says. Rather than taking sole ownership and the burden for sponsoring year-round events and festivals -- a difficult proposition when budgets are tight, the city partners with residents and local groups, teaching them everything they need to know about putting on an event themselves. It's a value-added idea in which everyone wins.

In addition to consulting with St. Petersburg officials, Kageyama is working with the Clearwater Downtown Partnership,, to help build on already existing "love notes,'' such as downtown Clearwater's historic Capitol Theatre and the newly world-famous dolphin, Winter. A workshop titled, "For The Love of Clearwater'' will be held Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the main Clearwater public library.

Janan Talafer is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about innovative businesses, communities and individuals that showcase the creativity, talent and diversity of Tampa Bay. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

Read more articles by Janan Talafer.

Janan Talafer enjoys writing for a diverse group of clients, including print and online publications, nonprofit organizations and public relations agencies. One of the highlights of her writing career was flying with the 91st Air Refueling Squadron out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa FL for a feature about this elite military team. A journalism graduate of Bowling Green State University (OH), Janan’s early career was in health care marketing and public relations for hospitals in Connecticut and Tampa Bay. She is an avid gardener, loves East Coast swing dance and enjoys touring around St. Petersburg on the back of her husband’s scooter.
Signup for Email Alerts