Hi there, I’m Marissa Mele. I was recently hired as the new office assistant at Go Media and I wanted to introduce our readers to a new initiative going on at Go Media called On the Map.
On the Map is a video series featuring the people and places that make Cleveland a creative, culturally rich, and inspiring place to live and work.
Just prior to getting hired here, I attended the On the Map (OTM) event at Go Media. I am going to write about OTM from my perspective as a fresh hire at Go Media and also a brand new Clevelander. Being new to Cleveland, and not knowing much about what was happening in the city, I was thrilled to find out I was at an event that highlighted the businesses that make this area great! As the lights dimmed and the crowd quieted, I watched a stellar series of videos that showcased some places that I had already been to and others that would then be on my list of places to check out.
How did OTM Come to Be?
I recently contacted Go Media’s own Chris Comella, the mastermind behind the On the Map series to discuss how this project came to be and what his hopes were for the future of the project. In a nutshell, OTM is a video series that features different businesses in the Cleveland area and the people behind them. The videos highlight what the companies do and a little about the back story of how they came to be as well as what aspects of the city worked for and against them.
These videos engage the community by showing the cool things around town as well as informing viewers who were interested in starting their own businesses. As a new hire at Go Media, I realized the support of Chris’ initiative is evidence of the firm’s commitment to community building, and OTM is an ideal vehicle to engage with the people in the community that we admire and appreciate.
One of the distinguishing features of working here at Go Media is that employees are encouraged to think about personal and professional goals and are supported in fulfilling passion projects such as OTM. Part of our philosophy is to actively pursue ideas that we find compelling and to go out and achieve those goals, rather than waiting for opportunities to explore and take advantage of what is possible right now.
This philosophy extended to Chris when he began the OTM project and he was encouraged throughout the process. When I asked him about how he got the idea to start the project he responded with, “For me personally, meeting and working with people in the immediate community was something I wanted to pursue. When it came time to start planning for our yearly open-house, I saw an opportunity to do just that. Everyone was super receptive to changing the format. We wanted to sell people on the idea that Cleveland is ‘on the map’, and to make a point of sharing it with the world.”
Let Passion Lead the Way
Now that I’m part of Go Media it’s obvious we are a different kind of design firm. We distinguish ourselves by pursuing projects that we were truly passionate about and that passion would lead to good things down the road. Chris told me that the mantra he heard over and over again was “pursue side projects.” The Weapons of Mass Creation (WMC) festival, held in the summer, was another project that exemplified this belief.
The decisions about what businesses to target for On the Map came out of striving to showcase the diversity of arts and culture found in Cleveland and wanting to learn more about the businesses that were impacting the city. For Clevelanders, the video series gave citizens a vehicle to build support and appreciation for their city. For outsiders, it gave them a glimpse of the benefits of living and visiting the city of Cleveland.
I asked Chris how he felt OTM impacted Go Media and he replied with, “It would be to further show that we’re a group of people who are passionate about what we do. The fact that this is a passion project, produced on our own steam, shows the kind of motivation we have to create and reach out to like-minded people.”
So far, Chris’ initiative has paid off and the reception to the project has been great! People have responded with “more please!” He informed me that he was already scheduling the next run of videos and was exploring some unique opportunities that arose after the first round.
I’ve even overheard talks of producing a feature length documentary some time in the future. Who knows what’s next!
Even though I am a new member of the Cleveland community, one thing that I noticed time and time again was that Clevelanders were the biggest cheerleaders for their city and it seemed no surprise that the community would rally around something like On the Map. I asked Chris to elaborate on what in particular made Clevelanders interested in OTM and he said, “The people in this city are quick to adopt exciting things happening here. It’s an unusual mix of attitude though…
The people here are quick to defend their hometown, but at the same time are almost apologetic when talking to people from other big cities.
It’s like the confidence level here needs to rise above blind defensiveness, and up to a point where we actually believe in where we’re at and are going. By putting videos like these all in one spot, we hope we can start to show people that we really have something going on here. To not only provide some confidence to the locals, but to also show the rest of the world what’s going on here. I think Cleveland’s story is becoming more and more relevant these days. Young people are looking to start their own thing now more than ever I feel like, and a place like Cleveland has a lot of unique opportunities for them to take advantage of.”
The thing that has been glaringly obvious about this city is that the people here care about making their city better. The arts and business communities support each other and work together to make Cleveland a better place to live and a destination for art, design and of course cuisine.
Unlike the competitive vibe of cities like New York and Los Angeles, Cleveland is an actual community that supports each other and works together towards a common goal. I feel lucky to have moved to this city and even luckier that I get to work at a place like Go Media. This is a special place, unlike any other city, and community building initiatives like On the Map demonstrated how Cleveland and Go Media care about collectively building a better city.