So this week we’re turning With the Locals into the hunt for the nicest and most enthusiastic man in Nebraska. Spoiler - it’s Nick Goodwin @buenavictoria Let’s make one thing clear, the man has a lot of love for his home state. Like, more than a lot, he has a Nebraska tattoo. Nick only had the most positive things to say about Lincoln, especially about the people “The amount of sheer talent and creativity never ceases to amaze me. And it all comes back to the people.” And really that’s truly what makes a place so wonderful.
Until next week! - @campwilson
For those of you who slept through 5th grade geography, Lincoln is the capital city. In my opinion, there is no aesthetically cooler place to start my tour than the capitol building itself. And, yes, I googled capital versus capitol.
If you haven’t seen the outside of the building, I highly suggest a quick google’ing. As impressive as the 400 foot tall exterior is, the interior might be even more awesome. Mosaic designer, Hildreth Meière is responsible for the design, ornately decorating to look sort of like a cross between an early plains landscape and an Egyptian mummy tomb. Running nearly $10 million over ten years, the capitol was completed in 1932 and now stands as the third tallest building in the state. And 15 floors of midwestern glory.
Most importantly, this is Jeff. Like many Lincolnites, family roots Jeff to the city. His wife is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From our quick convo, I gathered that Jeff is probably a transplant - but he picked up pretty quickly on “Nebraska nice.”
Recently listed as one of the Best 300 Gardens in the US and Canada, the Sunken Gardens are without a doubt a must see for newcomers. Frankly, the beauty here is something that really never gets old to a local either.
This 1.5 acre lot was developed in 1930 as part of an effort to employ laborers, then renovated in 2004. It now plays host to over 30,000 individual plants.
Today, I met Kathryn. Originally from Moscow, she came to study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, fell in love with the city and hasn’t left yet. This is Kathryn’s adorable daughter who was more than willing to strike a pose for a portrait.
(at Sunken Gardens)
One could easily argue that with the emergence of The Bay and @skateforchange, the skateboarding world has collectively shifted towards a more humanitarian perspective.
Besides hosting one of the best indoor skate parks in the midwest, The Bay is primarily a non-profit targeted at reaching out to the youth of Lincoln — specifically at-risk kids. Art gallery, concert venue, coffee shop, mentoring programs and a street outreach program, in their own words, “The Bay is here to help kids reach their goals, aspirations and dreams in a safe and healthy environment.”
With 26 chapters in 11 states, Skate for Change is non-profit skateboarding-infused organization aimed at alleviating the pain of homelessness. In the words of founder, Mike Smith, “It’s simple. All it takes is an extra pair of socks, your skateboard and some compassion to completely change someone’s day. Anyone can do this.”
Speaking of Mike Smith, that’s him. In less than five years, Mike has launched both of those organizations, and that’s not even his day job. @mikesmithlive is a nationally-recognized motivational speaker. Partnering up with Red Bull, State Farm, Ryan Sheckler and about a million more amazing brands and individuals has helped Mike spread his message and love for people from coast to coast.
But why Lincoln?
Mike’s humble roots in the small agriculture community of Imperial, Nebraska clearly haven’t left him. And that same blue collar attitude is exactly what’s made Mike so successful. “Lincoln keeps me who I am. When I’m in California or Colorado or wherever speaking and meeting people, I know where I’m from and where I’m going back to.”
(at The BAY)
Archrival is a high-octane youth marketing specialist anchored in Lincoln’s Haymarket District. If you aren’t an advertising dork, you probably haven’t heard of Archrival. But if you’re familiar with @pabstblueribbon, @nbctv, @adidas or @redbull, you’ve heard of a few of their clients. They specialize in smart strategy and impactful creative designed to connect brands to the ever-coveted youth culture. And they’re very good at what they do.
This man is the quirky brains behind the operation. Co-founder, Managing Creative Director and Lincolnite, Clint! Runge. (Yes, the exclamation is intentional.)
Clint! believes Lincoln has a surprise factor that people don’t see coming. He’s seen client after client come to town with preconceived and often negative notions. “After they have a killer time, it’s like they got a bonus.”
As a fellow photographer, I absolutely hate Wyn @hashtagwynning. I hate him because he’s so good.
If you asked a stranger on the street to name a Lincoln photographer, I’d be willing to bet at least half of them would say “Wyn Wiley.” His explosive growth from a college photographer to a nationally-recognized phenom in a few short years is nothing short of astounding. And his art speaks for itself as a testament to his success. His creative approach is fresh every single project. You’d be hard pressed to find a harder working photographer. And at just 22 years old, Wyn is probably just getting warmed up.
"I love Lincoln because it’s where I was born and raised. There’s nothing that can take the place of human connections and knowing people in the community so well. To me, Lincoln is also forgiving. It lets you try things, fail, get back up and try again."
For the record, I don’t actually hate Wyn. He’s a pretty amazing friend as well.
You may not know it, but Lincoln is transforming into a bit of a hub for sports technology brands. One of those such brands is @getlockr.
With a goal of revolutionizing the coaching experience, Lockr is aimed squarely at the hearts of sporting progressives. And with major investment backing and ties to the National Football League, Lockr might not be one of Lincoln’s best kept secrets for much longer.
Raymonn Adams is a native of Texarkana. The game of football brought Adams to the Midwest, and his love for the game and passion for design and interactive work helped him create this innovative platform. And kept him around Lincoln. “We say it all the time, but it really is the people. Everyone is willing to lend a hand. Everyone wants to see you succeed when you take a chance.”
Bread and Cup prides itself on “Simple Food.” I would argue that while things the philosophy on ingredient sourcing and plating techniques would agree with them, the intense flavors that occur when a bite of, say, the Pork Sandwich with Egg hits your palate is anything but simple.
Chef Kevin Shinn is the Owner and Executive Chef at @breadandcup. Kevin used my inquiry of “Why Lincoln” as a topic for his daily writing exercise. I could not attempt to sum up what he so eloquently penned.
In his own words:
We came here 24 years ago because of an invitation. We stayed because we settled.
That sentence may sound less than inspiring, but like much of the appeal of the Midwest, its meaning is deep and its significance beyond first glance.
The word settle might connote giving up or giving in. It may bring to mind an idea of resigning and accepting second best. Why settle in Lincoln when there are more exciting places to be?
It all comes down to perspective.
If I had used the word pioneer to describe our decision to stay here, would that have sounded different?
Our state was settled by the pioneers many years ago. They set out to find new opportunities. They were looking for a place to establish a better future for their families and generations to follow. But they eventually had to come to a point of decision if they were going to make their mark and see this dream come true.
So the pioneers became settlers. They settled the land by planting seeds and trees that the following generations would enjoy in greater degree. Those trees sent down roots, standing as a metaphor for their efforts. Settled land is solid land. Settled decisions are solid decisions. A settled mind is a made up mind, and from there, it goes to work, laying foundations and building upon them, establishing the means for others to benefit and prosper… @buenavictoria
9 South Chargrill is, in my opinion, the king of the dive restaurants. And, let me just say, you have not truly lived until you’ve tasted their BBQ Waffle Nachos. Trust me on that.
Morgan summed up Lincoln’s fascination with dining perfectly. “We are successful because these people love mom and pop places. If you’re a local place that makes consistently great food, you will succeed in Lincoln."
(at 9 South Chargrill)
In my humble opinion, no Lincoln list is complete without The Mill. As a freelancer, this coffee shop functions as office and meeting room for me roughly 75% of my working life. I’m pretty basic when it comes to my caffeine choices - coffee, black - but The Mill is highly regarded for their impressive wall of tea options.
Chelsea and Abby are two of the smiley faces that make delicious drinks at both The Mill locations. I asked Chelsea what makes Lincoln so great.
“My mother and I came here after Katrina. Lincoln is just so easy to live in. The people are pretty special.”
Walking into Cultiva is sort of like diving back into history. Not necessarily a specific moment or even a specific year, but it doesn’t feel “current” in any way. And that’s part of what makes it so cool. That and the dirty chai.
I met Ron tonight. I was looking for a nice shot with the sunlight quickly fading, aiming at the beautiful logo mural, when Ron unabashedly piped out, ”I painted that f***er.” Ron is a character. An individual. He is who he is and he is not going to apologize for it. Ron is Cultiva. And in a lot of ways, Ron is Lincoln.
“It’s the punk rock coffee shop, man.”
You’re the man, Ron.
Fall in Lincoln means one undeniable thing: football. Love it or hate it, the Nebraska Cornhuskers represent a major cornerstone for the economy and the culture of this city.
Tonight, Lincoln has all eyes on a wild one at Memorial Stadium against Miami. The two teams have squared off ten times, four times meeting in the national championship. Currently, they are split at five wins a piece. I needn’t say more. It’s a big one.
I’m going to sit back and enjoy this ballgame.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to show you my city. I hope I’ve done my part in opening your eyes to a small piece of the amazing culture that makes this beautiful city so great. If you’re ever in town, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I promise, we’ll make sure you have a good time.
For Lincoln and @buenavictoria
(at Memorial Stadium)