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Coffee Contacts at Flux Metal Arts; Armond Budish Delivers Annual State of The County Speech; Annual "Taste Latino" at El Carnicero

IMG_0296We didn't attend any events on Wednesday, April 20th, because we were flying home from Orlando where we attended the SHRM conference at the  Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort.

But on Thursday morning, we were off and running again, this time heading to Mentor for the bi-monthly "coffee contacts" which was held on this day at Flux Metal Arts on Mentor Avenue. During her brief overview of her business, Ms. Kim A. Baxter said that it featured the work of 21 local artists and, moreover, it was a "creative space" where artists could apply their craft creating metalwork and jewelry as they learned from each other.IMG_0294

 One of the artists was Ms. Laura Rose who said that almost anything, jewelry-wise, could be created there and that Flux Metal Arts "has allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do."

Among the contacts that we made there was Dr. Jane Li-Conrad, DO who practices such alternative medicines as classical homeopathy, auricular medicine and osteopathic manipulation. We were glad to make her one of our contacts.

IMG_0295We also had a very good discussion with another young artist who had spent years living abroad in such countries as Portugal, Argentina, and South Korea. It was in Portugal that she took an interest in creating jewelry. She told us about her experience teaching English in South Korea which was very life-enriching because, among other things, it made her sensitive to what it is like being a stranger in a strange land with only minimum knowledge of the language.

Next we went to the Cleveland Convention Center for hear the annual "State of the County" speech by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

At the start of his address, Mr. Budish said that he saw his role as helping to build a bridge to prosperity for Cuyahoga County and its residences. But, if someone falls off that bridge, it is our responsibility toIMG_0301 help them. Moreover, it is our job to repair the bridge so that as few people fall off it as possible.

He talked about how the county has led the way to attract new businesses here, encourage start-ups, and to foster workforce development so that people can acquire the skills to fill jobs currently available and/or will be available in the future.

IMG_0302 Several things that he talked about that really interested us were the first "neighborhood innovation system" which was created at the Garfield Heights Library where budding inventors/entrepreneurs could practice making their ideas into realities. Along these lines, he praised the Global Center calling it an "exciting hub for healthcare innovation." He was also very proud of a program that is located in the Euclid Jail where inmates (with the help of Edwins) are learning culinary skills.IMG_0300

He emphasized the importance of constructive re-entry programs as well as positive efforts to help women and people of color gain the economic power that has often eluded them.

From a humanitarian perspective, he was quite proud that infant mortality was finally being addressed, that there was support for the senior centers of Cuyahoga County, and the family assistance now available to re-unite families that had previously been divided by health issues or chemical dependency.

During the Q and A, we asked Mr. Budish if there was anything in the works regarding attracting more immigrants to Cleveland and making them feel welcome here. Mr. Budish assured us that he has every intention of working closely with Mr. Joe Cimperman and Global Cleveland to make this happen.

AIMG_0299t this gathering, we were pleased to share a table with Mr. Bill Denihan, CEO of the ADAMHS Board and Ms. Eugenia Cash, ADAMHS Board Chairperson. Sitting next to us was Mr. AlFoster, Sr., a delightful man who is a retired U.S. Marine and former member of the Shaker Heights City Council.

Before we sat down, we talked about our Florida trip with Mr. Harlan Diamond and Ms. Melissa MariIMG_0298k of Executive Caterers and we agreed that it was important to find the right balance between connecting through technology and making personal contacts face to face.

Another person we talked to was our friend Ms. Meryl Johnson, State Board of Education Candidate, who told us of a remarkable meeting held the previous evening in Painesville that involved a community conversation about race and justice which was attended by perhaps 300-350 people including the head of the local NAACP, city and county officials and law enforcement. After talking to Ms. Johnson, we wished we would have left Orlando on Tuesday night or taken an earlier flight on Wednesday so we could have been there.

Our last event for the day was the annual "Taste Latino" at El Carnicero on Detroit Avenue in LakewoodIMG_0315 which was put on by the El Barrio Workforce Center, a program of the Centers for Family and Children.

While we were there we met Mr. William Gary, Executive of Cuyahoga Community College's Workforce and Economic Development Division, and his wife Dr. Pat Gray, a professor of mathematics now retired. Mr. Gray had been at the "State of the County" and really liked it that Mr. Budish gave as much time as he did discussing workforce development.

We said hello to a lot of the sponsors and people connected with El Barrio like its director, Ms. Ingrid IMG_0313Angel as well as Ms. Elizabeth Newman, CEO and President of the Centers for Family and Children. We also saw a lot of people we knew like Ms. Maria Agosto who is part of the "Friends of Lincoln-West" group just like we are; Mr. Pete Nelson, VP of Branch Banking for Dollar Bank who has been trying to meet with us for about two weeks now so we had a brief meeting that evening; Ms. Magda Gomez who is a good friend of our friend, Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan; Mr. Greg Murray, a photographer, who sees us fairly regularly at events; and Mr. Erik Meinhardt, who greeted us at the door, IMG_0311who we saw speak on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Stonewall Democratic Club.

Mr. Marc Sanchez, El Barrio Board Chair, proclaimed the night as one where all of us could have fun together.

And Ms. Newman welcomed "the endless stream of guacamole..."


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.