How GamerHaven came to East 185th Street

It’s been a whirlwind of a year. If anything has become clear to me in 2017, it’s that investing in your community is always, always worth it.

In January, I decided to take my graphic design and creative skills on my own. After freelancing alone for a few months, I knew I didn’t want to do it by myself anymore; the talented people in my life all seemed to have a common string that was just out of reach that could tie us and our opportunities together. I was more drawn to figuring out how to pull that string toward us than to do great work alone.

Master Collective, the company I’m building every day, is based on two ideas: that creativity is best exercised among a group of people, and that a constant willingness to improve would benefit my teammates, clients, and community. These ideas never left me, so with 2017 feeling like a year that people in my life are taking their shots on lifelong was time for me to as well.

Coinciding with these life choices around my work, my wife and I made a decision to invest further in our city and family by looking to purchase our first home. Why do one big life-altering thing when you can do two, right?

The top of my list, as always, was Collinwood. Finding a house in Cleveland’s city limits that fit all our wants was relatively easy, because our city is very well positioned with a lot of good houses in a variety of neighborhoods. What I didn’t expect, at all, was that there would be a house so well situated between the two business districts of North Collinwood, a stone’s throw from I-90, and that met our requirements for features. Over the course of the summer, we did all the steps necessary to find, and purchase a home. In my home neighborhood. From my CDC, Northeast Shores. Even with the bumps in the road, looking back at the process it is remarkably storybook in how it came to pass.

Speaking of Northeast Shores, I was elected to the Board of Directors in January also. My thinking was, I wanted to have a more direct voice in how decisions were made to position Collinwood better for the future. The voices in the room after the large-scale changes that happened between January and today have been the right ones, at least as far as I can tell. There is a lot of transition, and the beauty of these transitions is that the people leaving official roles with Northeast Shores didn’t mean they leave our community; people in this area stay caring about Collinwood no matter their titles. The new faces and voices in the room are able to guide the organization as they see necessary, while the neighborhood is still supported by the individuals that established it (in new and different roles). It’s a win-win. My hope is that in 2018, people around and within Northeast Shores continue to grow and remain willing to put past issues behind us; continued progress will require even more coming together, once everyone establishes their new normals.

The final new normal for me that came as a result of everything mentioned so far is my creation of Full Spectrum: GamerHaven in November. It is a concept I’ve been slow-cooking in my mind since 2006, that has grown and changed just as I have. Located at 818 East 185th (across from the about-to-launch LaSalle Arts & Media Center), GamerHaven is the first of many Full Spectrum creative spaces (hopefully!).

A games culture focused, multimedia-capable co-working space—a long way to say a former cafe that has game systems, creative tools, and light refreshments—GamerHaven is a different way of creating a community space in a prominent district. People who want to play video games can. People who want to get internet and good coffee so they can do homework or business work can. People who want to develop music, podcasts, or art books can. Literally all sorts of creative output, or community interactivity, can and should happen here. And if none of these things interest you on their own, we will host workshops, events, and other opportunities for technology and resources to be made available to Collinwood and Greater Cleveland. If people have better ideas than we do, they can rent the venue for lower costs than you’d expect and we’ll support their uses of it. And all while these things happen my company Master Collective will do its design work and creative consulting here, while supporting creatives in developing their own businesses too.

GamerHaven is the culmination of a lifetime of my interests and a year of community growth. Because of the beautiful people in my neighborhood who have supported me (too many to name), I believe we have a chance to create something for ourselves in Collinwood that the city and region will look back at and wonder how it happened. Just being a part of that has me infinitely humbled.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for Collinwood. I think we’re on the cusp of something great.

Resident of neighborhood since 1956. Worked on East 185th street since 1970.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 4:09 PM, 01.15.2018