Memphians To Meet: Part Two
Every Thursday, I post photos and interviews with seven unique Memphians I’ve met that week. Today I’m running a little later in the day because of the big announcement about the Memphis Culture Crawl I posted earlier here.
Here are Memphians numbers 8 – 14. Missed last week? Click here.
8. Elle Perry
If you go to many Memphis arts, culture, or food events, chances are you’re going to see Elle Perry. She’s one of the most in-the-know Memphians I know, and she always looks fierce. Elle is a writer and photographer by trade; she’s worked at the Teen Appeal and studied journalism. She’s on the board of Just City (a new criminal justice advocacy group that you need to check out) and a member of Give365 and Young Women Philanthropists. She’s mom to one daughter, Rebecca.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “The elote at Maciel’s Mexican restaurant downtown. That’s one of my favorite foods, and it was my first time going there.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “I’m around some incredibly talented people. There’s a lot of potential and momentum attached to what they’re doing and what they’re working on in the city right now. I’m excited to see what happens.”
You can follow Elle on Instagram or Twitter, plus check out Just City’s website, Twitter, and Facebook.
9. Leslie Gower
Leslie started her marketing and PR career in places like Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. before returning to her hometown of Memphis to work at the Downtown Memphis Commission 17 years ago. She says she always knew she wanted to be a part of the DMC, where she’s now VP of Marketing. Leslie is energized by art projects in the community and loves the chance to make public art happen (example: South Main). Leslie is wife to Blakney, mom to Harvey and Sam, and master to Rosie the basset hound.
How do you think Memphis has changed in the last 5 years? “Locally, we’ve started to embrace the things that people around the world already embrace about Memphis. I’m proud of downtown and everything we’ve been a part of here, but the whole point of growing downtown is so that other parts of Memphis would grow, too. It’s paved the way for communities like Overton Square, Broad Avenue, and Crosstown. You have to have a downtown investment first to pull people back into the city – the return to the city is exciting.”
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “My go-to lunch downtown is the JUngle of Green salad from McEwen’s with chicken and a peanut sesame dressing.”
10. Andre Gibson
Andre Gibson was featured in week two of 365 Memphians back in 2011 (check it out here). At the time, he worked at Buckman Labs and was chair of the Memphis City Beautiful Commission. These days, he’s the membership services coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce and the vice-chair of the MATA board. He’s still heavily involved in the City Beautiful; in fact, he’s helping with a city cleanup on Monday, January 18, 2016.
What has changed for you in the last 5 years? “In the last five years, I’ve grown a tremendous passion for public transportation and the potential for its improvement in Memphis. I just jumped in with both feet and am now on the board at MATA. I’m looking forward to making some positive changes.”
How does Memphis make you feel? “Memphis makes me feel comfortable. It’s a very genuine city; it has its own personality. It’s not a cardboard cutout like a lot of other big cities can be. It has its own attitude, for better or worse. I’m a transplant, but I’ve been here for ten years, and so I’m accepted now. That’s a badge of honor for me. When people stop asking you where you’re from and start asking you where you went to high school, you’ve made it.”
11. Shahidah Jones
Lifelong Memphian Shahidah (“everyone calls me Shay”) is a promotions and digital media consultant with a passion for the community, kids, and music. You may know of some of her projects: promoting ACA enrollment through the South Memphis Alliance, the preservation campaign for the Levitt Shell renovations, and DreamFest (coming up this weekend!) with CLE event planning company.
What’s something you’re proud of? “This city. I love Memphis and I’m very passionate about it. I know there’s a lot we need to do to make it reach its full potential, but I just love that there is so much opportunity here to do it. I feel like the youth and millennials (I’m not in either group) here are really working and moving and I’m proud of the progress we’re all making.”
Check out CLE Events on Facebook. And definitely look into the three-day Memphis music festival going on this weekend, DreamFest5.
12. Alex Eilers
Alex is in Antarctica at the moment, so we had to “meet” over the phone. She moved to Memphis area from Illinois in 1990 and became the Manager of the Education Department at the Pink Palace in 2004. Now, she “gets to do all the fun stuff” including labs, kids’ programs, exhibit interpretation, things like the Science of Beer (which is tomorrow!) and hang out with seals, apparently. In 2012, she was selected as a PolarTREC teacher and paired with a researcher to study Weddell seals in Antarctica. She’s there now for her third and final trip.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the last week? “It’s one of my favorite meals and I had to make sure I got it before I left for Antarctica: a Huey burger with fries.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “The Pink Palace Museum got a CTI Giant Theater recently, we’re the beginning stages of renovation for the museum, and we’re re-opening the planetarium on January 30. I can’t wait for the rest of the improvements.”
You can follow the Pink Palace on their website, Facebook or Twitter, and you can follow Alex’s adventures via her daily blog (“there will be lots of pictures”). Also check out this link for a virtual trip to Antarctica.
13. Michael Roy
If you haven’t seen Michael around town, you’ve probably seen his work. Better known as Birdcap, he’s an illustrator, painter, and muralist responsible for lots of public art you see around town, including the Broad Avenue I love Memphis mural. He grew up in Escatawpa, Mississippi, attended Memphis College of Art, lived in Asia for four years before couch-surfing the U.S. for another two, then landed back in Memphis. He has a upcoming show in Chicago in November, a coloring book for sale at Five In One, and probably is painting a wall near you sometime soon.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “I like Phuong Long [in Crosstown]. It’s good and I eat there a lot. I recommend…anything. It’s all good.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “I’m proud of my friends. They’re all really nice, and they’re the reason I get to paint cartoons all day.”
14. Michael Weinberg
If you need an eye exam and some uber-stylish glasses, go see Dr. Michael Weinberg and the folks at Eclectic Eye in midtown. (I’m meeting a few of their employees over the coming weeks, so you’ll get to meet them, too.) Michael is an optometrist and co-owner of Eclectic Eye with his wife Robbie. He’s a lifelong Memphian – and alumni of Snowden Elementary, Memphis State, and Southern College of Optometry – and has been at the Cooper Street location for 14 years. Eclectic Eye has always felt to me like a little more than eyecare/eyewear – the building’s architecture is, er, eye-catching, cool, and modern, and inside they host frequently rotating art from locals.
How does Memphis make you feel? “Memphis makes me feel like I’m at home. It makes me feel comfortable. As soon as I cross the river coming home I think “ah, it’s good to be back.” It’s just a great, vibrant city that has everything to offer. It still has that community feel.”
You can follow Eclectic Eye on Facebook, on Twitter at @Eclectic Eye, and on Instagram at @eclecticeyememphis. They also post most of their art openings and events to the I Love Memphis calendar, which is awesomely handy!
That’s it for week two. I’m off to meet seven more Memphians. I’ll share their stories with you next Thursday. What Memphians would you like to meet?