Johnny Wakefield

How do we take the connections and conversations #WeLoveCLT is starting to the next level? How do we add depth to our IRL meetings? These are the questions I had rolling around my head. I blame one person.

Have you met Johnny Wakefield? He’s one of the few people that have given my honest, critical feedback of #WeLoveCLT. It was refreshing and I needed to hear it. The best part? His criticisms were followed with a solution. Not a solution that I have to execute. Nope. He’s going to take action. I love this. Less talk, more getting stuff done. You’ll see if you’re coming to Andrew Jenkin’s talk on August 20. #WeLoveCLT and the team at the League of Creative Interventionists (another project he’s heading up in CLT) are collaborating for something awesome.

You may also recognize him from recently being awarded a grant through the K880 Emerging City Champions program. He’s making a difference and connecting people one block at a time. The project is Small Town CLT.

He’s also a stay at home dad which I think is bad ass. Ask him about his family… and then watch him gush. It’s awesome.

I asked him 6 questions.

What are you most passionate about?

Building personal connections, for sure. People need other people in their lives, and not just long-distance people either. I’ve had some stages of my life as a “overly-mobile millennial” where I didn’t really know anyone within a thousand miles or more, and that’s not a good way to live. I also have a little background/experience with psychotherapy, and the bonds from really knowing and encountering other people deeply are just so important. So, now that I have an awesome family and a good group of people in my life, I’m really passionate about trying to connect other people to each other, mainly so they’re not as lonely and disconnected as I once was. Also, guacamole.

What frustrates you?

Gatekeepers. 🙂 Jeff Jackson said it extremely well at my first WeLoveCLT event back in May and it’s stuck with me ever since: “Don’t let the gatekeepers tell you it can’t be done.” Really, anyone who instantly says no to any idea frustrates me… at least give things a chance. And dream big! I love the concept that anything is possible, even bringing MLB and MLS to Charlotte. Haha. The important things.

What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

Loosen up. I think the last ten years have taught me that nothing goes according to plan, ever, and that’s actually ok. There’s no way on Earth I could’ve or would’ve planned the last ten years as they happened, and I’m pretty happy with where I’ve landed. Also, stop stressing about girls.

What is missing from Charlotte?

Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball! Also the NHL, if I’m being greedy. Also a solid bike system with safe, separated lanes and trails. Also more walkable retail and food areas in Uptown. Also more civic pride merchandise and recognizable photo-friendly locations. Also… I should probably stop. We love it here, I promise. Oh, and a waterfront! Can we bring the ocean here?

If you could instantly improve any area of your life what would it be?

My weight. Is that ok to say? I’m eating berry pie as I type this, so…. But I’d like to be healthier and live longer and not be as tired and not subsist on Panda Express and Which Wich (#teamted). Seriously, the Charlotte Agenda articles lately about everyone being more fit are inspiring/guilt-inducing. And that 24 Hours of Booty thing. Yeah, my weight.

How do you take your coffee?

Black, pour over. Iced coffee from Not Just Coffee is answer 1b. I was a no-caffeine sort of guy even while working at coffee shops in Seattle… and then I became a dad. Now I drink 1-3 cups a day (and it’s not enough) to keep up with our two-year-old girl.

If you could learn to cook and perfect one meal what would it be?

Something Mexican, with guacamole and queso everywhere. Probably the perfect enchilada or chimichanga. Mexican food is my wife’s favorite, so I’d love to be able to cook that up for her whenever she’s in the mood. Sabor, Three Amigos, and Vida Vida would take less of our income too, and that would be nice. If I could perfect a good Mexican meal, we’d be fat and happy and I’d be in desperate need of more help with question five.

There’s almost a guarantee that you’ll find Johnny at 7th Street Market on any day. Otherwise follow him on Twitter @FirstWardJohnny.

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