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Out & About in Cleveland

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City Club, Cultural Exchange, and North Coast Chamber of Commerce

On Wednesday, January 21st, our first event was a program at the City Club which featured writer Mr. Nikil Saval who is the editor of "n+1" magazine and the author of the book, "Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace" which talks a lot about the designs of offices and how they affect the morale and performance of the workers. He noted designing an office for productivity is a daunting task for architects because so many factors affect productivity. Today 60% of American work in cubicles and Mr. Saval said that no one design can work for everyone but he said that the best office structures seem to be a balance between open spaces and private rooms. We asked him how foreign born workers, in particular, feel about the offices in which they work after they immigrate to the United States. Mr. Saval said that there has been some research on this subject with European expatriates who say that they do not like the open space designs with the cubicles and prefer instead to work in private rooms. This is interesting because architects in the U.S. often take the lead from their European contemporaries so privacy might be a new trend. We then asked him about Asian workers who have immigrated to the United States and Mr. Saval said that there has been very little research in this area but he believes that "Asian offices tend to mimic American offices in terms of design" so the workers who have immigrated to the United States from the Asian countries might be used to the cubicles.

Before the program started, we spoke to Ms. Nicole Thomas with "A Cultural Exchange" which is a non-profit arts organization that encourages children to read as well as to embrace multiculturalism. Ms. Thomas introduced us to her boss, Mr. Punch McHamm who said that if the children read more they will find that other subjects like science and math, which involve reading, will be easier for them to learn. As it turned out, Mr. McHamm is the husband of Ms. Debbie McHamm, who is the President/CEO of "A Cultural Exchange," and a good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. Along these lines, we shared a table with Mr. Don Cairms who is very active in the Cleveland Piano Competition so he has known Ms. Rose Wong for years.

After the program, we talked to Mr. Lou Stegmeier of Stegmeier Consulting Group, a Workplace Change Management firm, and Mr. Bradley T. Nosan who is a realtor who deals with commercial real estate. Both of these people indicated that the new trend is for young people to take up residence in downtown areas in close proximity to where they work so they can walk there. Therefore, not as much commercial real estate is available for office space so businesses that used to believe they needed 50,000 square feet are now finding that they can they can get by with 30,000 square feet if they make smart use of their space. As for the workers, they tend to "spread out" their work more doing some of it at home, some of it at the office where they work, and some of it at the local coffee house.

What we really liked about our visit to the City Club on this day was the opportunity to talk to a person whose father immigrated to the United States from Jamaica about 26 years ago. It took him a while to get his green card due to legal problems with child support but he finally obtained it and today has his own auto mechanic business near downtown Cleveland. The person we spoke to is very proud of his/her father because he made the most of the opportunities that this country has to offer.

We supported Judge Anita Laster Mays when she ran for the Cuyahoga County Eighth District Court of Appeals last year and on this day at 4:30 PM she was officially sworn in at the Old Courthouse. We had a some time before our evening event so we stopped by the Old Courthouse to congratulate her on her achievement and she was very grateful that we did. We also got to meet two members of the Warrensville Heights City Council who were Council President Dorise Hagwood of Ward 1 and Ward 6 Councilman Stanley Anderson. We also got to say hello to judges Anthony Russo, Shannon Gallagher and Pamela Barker, and Kathleen A. Keough. Judge Mays swearing-in promised to be a very good ceremony, indeed, with Mr. Earle B. Turner, Clerk of Courts acting as Master of Ceremonies; Judge Pinkey S. Carr giving the "Welcome"; and Judge Larry L. Jones delivering the Oath of Office.

Our last event of the day was the annual membership meeting of the North Coast Chamber of Commerce which took place at Parker's Grille and Tavern in Avon Lake. At least 100 people turned out primarily to pay tribute to Mr. Ray Frank who was retiring after 45 years from Columbia Gas. Mr. Frank is very beloved by the other chamber members because he is a great guy who helped to found the chamber and over the years has contributed a lot to such worthy endeavors as the scholarship program. Mr. Frank received a special proclamation from Mayor Greg Zilka of Avon Lake and said that despite his individual efforts, "it takes a lot of people to build a chamber and to make a chamber work."

Also honored for her hard work was Ms. Linda Hamann who has served as president of the chamber for the last three years.

We made several good contacts like a young man who is starting a cyber security firm that will involve contacts in other countries and a person who runs a business that connects nannies with people who need them for a day or so (i.e. in case of a snow day). We had a very good visit with Mayor Zilka, who often comes to chamber lunches and meetings, in which we told him what we do for Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

It was a funny moment when Mr. John Sobolewski, the Executive Director, said that the annual golf tournament would from now on be named the "Ray Frank Annual Golf Classic" and the newly retired Mr. Frank said, "you're just trying to get

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