Cleveland Clinic's 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration.
On Friday, January 15th, we got up very early in order that we might go to the Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Center in Cleveland to attend the Cleveland Clinic's 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration consisting of an interfaith service and breakfast program. The "welcome" at the interfaith service was given by Reverend Shield, the staff chaplain at the Cleveland Clinic, who said they we should "expect to be challenged, nurtured, and fed this morning." Contributing songs, readings and prayers were presented by Dr. Sumita Khatri, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic; Reverend Dr. A. Charles Bowie, Senior Pastor from the East Mt. Zion Baptist Church; Rabbi Jim Egolf, D. Min., Clinical Pastoral Education at the Cleveland Clinic; and Ms. Molly Bolton, Staff Chaplain at the Cleveland Clinic. Then Ms. Jackie Tinsley, Spiritual Care at the Cleveland Clinic, introduced Reverend Courtney Clayton Jenkins from the South Euclid United Church of Christ who gave the reflection message which creatively updated the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son to what's happening in the world at this time. The service ended with everyone clasping hands and singing, "We Shall Overcome." We then walked over to the breakfast program where we sat next to a woman who works in Special Education at Max Hayes High School. When we told her that we worked for Margaret W. Wong and Associates, she told us that included in the student body of Max Hayes were pupils from Thailand, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Kenya. The program started with a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" played on the violin by Mr. Obed Shelton. Reverend Dr. Amy Greene; Director of Spiritual Care for the Cleveland Clinic; gave the invocation in which she asked that all of us be brave enough to emulate the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and be "zealots for mercy." Dr. Brian Donley, MD, Chief of Staff for the Cleveland Clinic presided over the distributing of the Celebration of Service awards one of which went to Ms. Mary Jane Padilla, a nurse who immigrated here from the Philippines. Then Dr. Toby Cosgrove, MD presented the Lifetime of Service Award to U.S. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge saying that she represented the 11th Congressional District with "honor, energy, and distinction." Congresswoman Fudge gratefully accepted her award and gave a short speech in which she said that it was our place as admirers of Dr. King to build the partnerships that will fulfill his legacy. She said that she considered herself to be a "pragmatic dreamer" dedicated to making the world better and hoped that everyone would find as much joy and fulfillment in their jobs/life path that public service has given to her. The Keynote Speaker was the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Pastor Emeritus at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, who worked with Dr. King in the civil rights movement; in fact, he and his wife were married in a ceremony conducted by Dr. King. Dr. Moss said that the words, "seek, find and never let go" define Dr. King's legacy. This was again emphasized when Dr. Moss said that our mission is to build and rebuild communities "in the face of adversity and injustice." He noted that Dr. King and Anne Frank were both born in 1929 and both died untimely. Nevertheless, Anne Frank achieved immortality through her diary and Dr. King changed the world. After Dr. Moss had completed his speech, Dr. Cosgrove concluded the program by saying that "I leave enlightened, inspired, and rededicated by the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Shortly thereafter, we went to the City Club where we talked to a couple named Cheryl and Tom who just joined the City Club. We told them how much attending programs there had meant to us and gave them some tips about finding parking. Then City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop called us over to meet the day's speakers who were Mr. John Nottingham and his son, Mr. Bill Nottingham of Nottingham Spirk, the highly regarded custom design firm located in Cleveland. We spoke for a moment about the role of international talent and we learned that one their designers is a very talented person from Beijing. They also told us about the Biomimicry (i.e. the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems) Research and Innovation Center at the University of Akron that has been attracting talent from all over the world. They, themselves, have been working with a person from Portugal who is involved with it. When we told them that we believe that immigrants can play a vital role in the revitalization of Northeast Ohio, Mr. John Nottingham readily agreed with us saying that "immigrants are undoubtedly part of our future because they generate change and change is good!" Before lunch we talked with Dr. Douglas Page, Associate Professor of Industrial Design at the Cleveland Institute of Art, who worked with Nottingham Spirk for years and directed many students there. During lunch we sat with Mr. Luis Carrion, a patent attorney who told us that it was amazing that Nottingham Spirk could generate 1,000 patents throughout the years with a staff of less than one hundred. Also at our table was Ms. Nancy Vondrak who was chaperoning some students from Notre Dame Cathedral-Latin School in Chardon and Mr. Richard Pace of Cumberland Real Estate Development who said that he considered Notttingham Spirk to be "one of the national treasures that we have here locally." The program itself consisted of the two principals of Nottingham Spirk being interviewed by WCPN host/producer Rick Jackson. What particularly impressed us was how happy, upbeat, and positive these people were about what they were doing. Not only were they not afraid of setbacks, failure, and competition-they welcomed them because they learned more from them than they did from sweeping successes. They loved Cleveland and said that a lot of the talent employed by Nottingham Spirks came from right here. Not only that, if the proper infrastructure for channeling creativity could be created Cleveland could reinvent itself with or without the RNC. They emphasized key elements to their success were innovation, collaboration and the creation of an "ecosystem" in which these factors could flourish. Subsequently they talked with great enthusiasm about how the design of Pixar inspired the design of Nottingham Spirk, which was initially a Christian Science Church, because they wanted to create an environment where people could move around freely, "bump into each other" and talk because more ideas and innovation were generated that way than through sit down meetings. During the Q and A, we once again asked them about the importance of international talent. They believed, as we do, that in order to fully capitalize on it one must be sensitive to different cultures. For instance when the CEO of Panasonic came from Japan to meet with them in Cleveland, his assistant came the day before to prepare them for the meeting so they followed his suggestions and the proceedings went fine. Cultural awareness was re-emphasized when they talked about how they came to realize that 40% of the world carries their water supply from a water facility to their homes and they usually carry the container on their heads. This lead to Nottingham Spirk's creation of a backpack to carry the container of water. Near the end of the Q and A, the Nottinghams were asked what their favorite product was and they replied, "our next one!" and their parting advice to us was to say that if we loved Cleveland and "embraced its assets" then there was no limit as to where we or our city could go.