122: Meet Stacey Bowers

In honor of International Women's Day, I found it fitting to feature one of the most bangin' babes I know. Her snarky creations have been featured in Bust Magazine, Cake & Whiskey Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Frisky, POPSUGAR, Bustle — and, of course, on my lapel.

Photo by Katie Childs.

Photo by Katie Childs.

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Stacey Bowers, marketing and communications director at Thea Foundation by day, designer/owner of Bang-Up Betty by night. I grew up in North Little Rock and have lived in downtown Little Rock for about 5 years.

2. You grew up here, moved to Louisiana for college and then moved back. What has surprised you most about living in LR as an adult? Teenage angst Stacey always saw herself moving somewhere glamorous when she grew up, but adult Stacey is pretty happy in Little Rock. Plus, starting a business in your hometown really has its perks. People know you and want to support you and share what you’re doing. Shout out to all the local Bang-Up Betty fans!

3. You're known for your handmade jewelry with a surly flair. Who or what in LR inspires your creations? My smart, feisty, feminist friends always inspire me and often lead me to new successes. I’m also inspired by local causes, like Arkansas Women’s Outreach and Lucie’s Place, and politics (or the fight against them).

4. What is, hands down, your favorite meal you can only get here? I would eat the chicken fried cauliflower steak at South on Main until I swelled up, turned into a giant cauliflower and had to be rolled away, preferably into a river of onion gravy. 

5. It's a random Saturday -- what's on your agenda? Boulevard Bread Co. is a quick walk away, so I go there for breakfast and coffee. I’ll probably pop into Moxy Modern Mercantile and The Green Corner Store to check on the jewelry I have for sale there. Then I’ll head home, open all the blinds, and stamp jewelry and enjoy the sunlight for a while. I’ll probably do yoga, then visit my adorable parents in Sherwood. On the way back to Little Rock, I’ll stop at Argenta Bead Company and look for inspiration, then Diamond Bear or Flyway to read and drink for a little bit. If I feel like treating myself, I’ll have dinner and cocktails at South on Main or Raduno. I’ll probably head home early, but if I don’t, it’s because Collin vs. Adam is playing at White Water Tavern.  

In the spirit of the day, Stacey's Smash the Patriarchy collection is 20% off at bangupbetty.com. Pick up a hammer and join the cause.

121: Meet Arshia Khan

While you may not have seen Arshia around town, you've certainly seen her beautiful photos of some of the best Little Rock has to offer. 

Arshia in front of the camera, rather than behind.

Arshia in front of the camera, rather than behind.

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Arshia Khan, photographer at Arkansas Life Magazine and have lived in downtown Little Rock for about three years now.

2. Finish this sentence: I love my job because...So many reasons! The potential for creative growth is limitless in photography. I’m given the opportunity to apply my aesthetic vision and create art, every day! It’s also pretty nice to be surrounded by inspiring people, whether it’s the talented editorial team at Arkansas Life Magazine or the new faces I photograph. It’s a dream.

3. What is, hands down, your favorite meal you can only get in Little Rock? Such a good question. I’d say that my answer to this query changes regularly, but the salmon green curry at kBird is pretty delightful. As a bonus, it’s a gorgeous dish and photographs beautifully.

4. It's your day off -- what are you up to? I enjoy making a big cup of tea in the morning and spend the first few moments of the day reading or sitting in the sun. I love spending time outside, so often I’ll go for a hike or go on a stroll with my sweetheart. Sometimes I’ll take the day to experiment with different photographic formats — like shooting a large format camera or playing with polaroids. It’s always fun to play and develop your talents.

5. Where do you make sure to take out-of-town guests? I recently took a few friends to Boulevard Bistro and had a grand time. The dinner and conversation lingered long after we finished the meal, because the ambience in that space is so cozy. I can't imagine a better way to spend an evening.

120: Meet Jessica Johnston-Myers

Jessica's love for Little Rock is so strong, you can hear it beating in her heart.

Join Jessica on Tuesdays at The Venture Center for Lift the Rock. 

Join Jessica on Tuesdays at The Venture Center for Lift the Rock

1. Name, occupation, years in greater LR, neighborhood: Jessica Johnston-Myers, Director of Programs & Operations at The Venture Center; I grew up in LR, moved away, and finally wandered back in December 2005. We live in Sturbridge, a sleepy neighborhood full of 60s era homes and gigantic trees.

Fun Fact! I have an artificial aortic valve that clicks with each heartbeat, therefore, puppies love me, and I occasionally weird out the folks at TSA who keep asking where I'm hiding the loud watch.

2. What do you love about your job? All the things. Truly. Working with entrepreneurs and brilliant tech people enables me to learn something new, every single day! Gag, I know. I fully acknowledge that I sound like that annoying friend that just fell in love with someone new and CANNOT shut up about them. But, you guys!

This week alone, I worked with an amazing group of volunteers who are using their epic cyber security knowledge to write challenges for our upcoming JOLT Hackathon (This is white hat, ethical style stuff, NOT the dark web, black hat business that you hear about on Fox News), hosted #LiftTheRock where entrepreneurs collide with the existing business community and all the smart people who come to network, and had the pleasure of meeting a crew of new mentors as they completed our training program. And that was just Tuesday!

This city has such a wealth of talent and ambition, and I can think of no better place to build a business. People are always surprised that The VC exists right here in Little Rock, and it is a joy to be an evangelist for the mission. Did I mention that I am in love with my job? #SorryNotSorry

3. If you ate a different meal at a different local restaurant for a day, what would they be? I prefer to drink my breakfast, and you just can't beat the chai at River City Coffee.

If it is Sunday brunch day, I'll be at Big Orange in The Promenade savoring the best bloody mary in town. Lunch is a toss up between the epic salmon salad at CiCi's Chicken & Waffles and the Tofu Banh Mi at The Root.

At dinner, I love Riverfront Steak House for a slab of cow and Kemuri for my sushi fix.

Dessert-wise, you'll have the key to my heart if you bring me a piece or three of my Aunt Annette's Peanut Butter Pie from Three Sams BBQ, cheesecake from The Pantry, or anything from Shake's custard. Bonus: White sangria at Del Frisco's is a delight, especially when savored on the patio. And it comes with a popsicle! 

4. It's your day off -- what are you up to? Trying not to work. Hanging out with the world's best kiddo. Baking. So much baking. Would this be a bad place to suggest an community cookie exchange next Christmas? Cookies are my spirit animal.

5. What are some of your favorite outdoor activities (or family-favorite if you'd prefer to answer that one) in and around central Arkansas? Geo Caching with the lad is an excellent way to spend a day. We've explored tons of surprising places that we wouldn't have found otherwise. 

Did you know that there was a secret trail behind the big box stores on Chenal? It is fantastically green and peaceful, and there are several stunning wooden bridges nestled in above a creek. You can access the trail head behind the Bowman Curve shopping center, and after the walk you can wander across the street to Honey Pies, because, pie.

Also, model rockets are serious fun. After launching a bunch with the boy, I was sad that nobody had ever exposed me to the hobby until now! If you have a daughter, please skip the pony and buy the lass a model rocket, find a field, and expand your horizons. You're welcome. 

Are you interested in a weekend-long cyber security-themed "game of codes"? Then put on your white hat and register for a weekend of unique and entertaining competition. Connect with some of Arkansas’ best tech wizards and explore awesome new tools. Expert Game Masters monitor and adjust Jeopardy® style challenges in a responsive, real-time environment to ensure that everyone has tons of fun (and learns a thing or two). Just a beginner? No problem! Network with the elite technology corporations in Arkansas! More info.

119: Meet Michael Shaeffer

New York transplant Michael Schaeffer uses art to tear down the status quo. His work is anything but a drag.

1. Name, occupation, years in greater LR, neighborhood: Michael Shaeffer; Visual merchandiser for Dillards; July will mark 5 years!; Hillcrest 

2. As an artist, what is your most inspiring place to visit in/around Little Rock? Tanarah Luxe Floral

3. What is, hands down, your favorite meal out in/around LR? Three Fold Noodles & Dumplings Co.

4. It's your day off -- what are you up to? Hanging out with the family; hitting up Crystal Hill Antique Mall and Blue Suede Shoes Antique Mall.

5. Who is the most interesting person you've met in/around LR? Most incredible would be Malissa Calaway. Most interesting...that is much harder to answer, there are a lot.

Michael’s current exhibition, The Thrill of It All, opens February 3, at the Thea Foundation. The $10 door cover includes heavy hors d’oeuvres by Ben E. Keith, an open beer and wine bar, and the chance to win an original work by Shaeffer. His work will be on display through the month of February. The Thea Foundation is located at 401 Main Street in North Little Rock. Gallery hours are M - F, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., 1 - 5 p.m. More info.

118: Meet Epiphany "Big Piph" Morrow

Epiphany Morrow wears a lot of hats, but they all sit on the head of one of Little Rock's most renowned entertainers.

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: So, I'm Epiphany Morrow, known as Piph, Big Piph or the occasional Chane--or "just like your father" from mom dukes. Nowadays, I say I'm a "lifestyle artist," as it kinda covers the rapping, hosting, promoting, writing and other entertainment-like duties I tend to get into. Recently, I have been called a philanthropist as well.

As for The Rock, I've been here now for about 8 years. I stayed downtown off of Main for a little bit, people's couches (if they cooked), and am now in Hillcrest.

2. What has surprised you the most about living in Little Rock? That it's had for me for so long.  Not that it's necessarily great for Little Rock, but since I tend to be of the nomadic variety--I figured I would've bounced somewhere else by now.  Or, even more so, that I would have wanted to bounce by now, but--honestly--I'm kosher.  I like my hometown spot; I just dip out frequently.

3. What is, hands down, your favorite meal you can only get in Little Rock? I get this pork chop sandwich, fries, with vegetable combo at Sweet Soul that tends to hold me down. I explored the world of the fried portions early on, but since have refined my tastes to the delectable grilled variety as well. Bliss. And if I've sold 2 CDs in the past week, I partake of their pound cake as well. I also love The Veg.

4. It's a Saturday -- what's on your agenda? Truthfully, I'm probably performing or involved in some type of social engagement. Rapping, hosting, or supporting a partner-in-crimes event at  Stickyz, Rev Room, 521, private functions, and wherever else doesn't have me banned at the door.

And truthfully, when I'm not supposed to be at an event, I'm at the crib on the state exclusive Netflix or Redbox with a Shotgun Dan's pizza box on the belly.

5. Finish this sentence: My perfect evening in Little Rock involves...There's that sweet spot in the weather here that happens twice a year and it's just perfect. No jacket needed and no sweat occurs if you keep at a chill pace. And at these times, I just like being outside. Walking. Sitting.  Conversing with cool folks. Whatever. The air in Arkansas is so taken for granted that I try to let my lungs savor it when they can. 

A few reserved tables are still available to see Big Piph perform this Friday, January 27, at South on Main, by calling by calling (501) 244-9660. 

117: Meet Stephanie Harris

Stephanie Harris is on a mission to empower women to take on larger roles in government, business and other leaderships roles in Arkansas (and to foster a few more sweet tooths while she's at it).

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Stephanie Harris, Attorney (Law to Go - website launching soon!), Owner of Sweet Candy + Gifts, founder of Women Lead Arkansas; 19.5 years in LR; SOMA

2. What do you love most about your job? I love working for myself the most. I have always been recalcitrant, impatient, and bore easily. Being my own boss means I get a lot of freedom, both to be successful and to fail. Either way, it's mostly my doing.

3. If you ate a each meal at a different local restaurant for a day, what would they be? I don't eat breakfast, but when my nieces stay over, we often get donuts at Community Bakery. You can't go wrong with chocolate glazed. For lunch, I think Root Cafe is really delicious. I'm not a huge fan of the ordering system, but that is quickly forgotten when the food arrives. I almost always get a burger or the chicken salad salad. For dinner, my new favorite dish is at Baja Grill in the Heights. I LOVE the naked mushroom burrito. Plus, margaritas. My husband and I eat out a lot these days because we're so busy. We have a bunch of favorites and love the plethora of options in Little Rock and North Little Rock. 

4. It's your day off -- what are you up to? I don't have days off. I have so much going on right now, I can fill every minute. I try to make time to binge-watch shows with Jason during the weekday evenings. Otherwise, I'm busy doing all the things. I do look forward to being in a position to hire more, so that I can delegate. I used to not like to delegate because, well, I don't really like to give up control. But now, I crave the help. I look forward to even just a weekend to unplug and relax. I have to put myself in places where I don't have access to text, email, or internet if I am to truly relax. 

5. Complete this sentence. In the next five years, I hope: In the next five years, I hope to be more effective in my nonprofit efforts by helping to break the record number of women in our General Assembly, have multiple Law to Go locations within Arkansas and in surrounding states; and have Sweet's debt paid so that all the revenue can go to Women Lead Arkansas

Join Stephanie and thousands of men and woman across the US as they march tomorrow, Saturday, January 21, to highlight the many issues women still face in our country. Check-in for the march in downtown Little Rock begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Pulaski and Capitol.

116: Meet Whitney Patterson

Whether it's the ideal period-specific light fixture, the perfect cocktail or a new furry or feathered friend, educator and collector Whitney Patterson is always on the hunt for her next amazing find.

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Whitney Patterson; school Counselor; I grew up in NLR but have lived in LR since 2003, when I started college at UALR; I currently live in the Central High School Historic Neighborhood.

2. You are an excellent curator of interesting objects and art. What are your three most recent home finds in LR? That's a very kind compliment!  I do a good bit of hunting for specific items, and most of my decor is sourced locally and on the cheap. If I happen to die an untimely death, my husband will have the estate sale to end all estate sales, so stay tuned.

a. Signed work by William Emmet "Bill" Davis, an Arkansas photographer with a long and varied career.  The Arkansas Arts Center will have an exhibition of Davis' work opening  January, 24 2017!

b. A gorgeous old carpet with saturated colors, and geometric patterns. 

c.  This one isn't recent, but it's a real heart breaker: A late Milo Baughman for Thayer-Coggin dining table with bronze geometric bases. Tragically, the Habitat for Humanity Restore employees THREW AWAY the leaves to the table! Until I get around to replacing them (good luck matching that rosewood veneer), it will continue to underachieve in our office as an oversized, but functional desk. 

3. What is your favorite thing about your neighborhood? Aside from the architecture (most of which pre-dates the school and is stunning, if you haven't explored the area), my favorite part of living near Central High is the sense of connection and friendship I have with my neighbors.  In other neighborhoods, people park in their garages and don't know the person living next door. Not here! Nary a dog walk goes by without encountering friends who are sitting on their porches, taking a break from a home renovation project, or walking with their own pets and children through the tree-lined streets.  An added bonus: if you need a specialized tool, or some advice about your plumbing, it's likely that someone within earshot has been there, done that, and has one you can borrow!

4. It's Friday night -- what are you up to? Happy hour with my husband, John Steel, and friends at Raduno on S. Main Street.  My order will likely consist of the following items: the Roman sour, the gorgonzola/sausage cheese dip, and the spicy tomato soup!  


5. What is Little Rock's best kept secret? As anyone who lives in the area will tell you, Little Rock's best kept secrets are its lesser-known residential historic areas, like Dunbar, Central High, Wright Ave., 12th Street, Capital Hill, Oak Forest, etc. When you move into any one of these neighborhoods, you become a part of something bigger than your comfort zone. Little Rock's oldest communities are rich with the complex history of our city, and headed toward bright futures because of the dedicated community groups, families, and neighbors who have been, and continue, working tirelessly to make it so.  

Now, if we're talking food, K.Hall and Sons grocery store at the intersection of Wright Ave. and Battery Streets has an uh-mazing Saturday seafood special--get there early because the lines are long!

 

115: Meet Kevin Delaney

If you haven't heard the name Kevin Delaney yet, you soon will. The GM of the Science Channel calls him a Science Magician. Jimmy Fallen calls him Buddy. But, here in Little Rock, we get to call him a local.  

Photo by Arshia Khan

Photo by Arshia Khan

1. Name, occupation, years in greater LR, neighborhood:  I’m Kevin Delaney, a science presenter at the Museum of Discovery. I’ve lived in Little Rock for 5 years in Capitol View/Stifft’s Station.

2. What do you love most about your job? I love the opportunity to share my love of science and learning with people everywhere.

3. What is, hands down, your favorite meal out in/around LR? All of the sandwiches at the dearly departed Hillcrest Artisan Meats were always delicious, but if you were lucky enough to get there in time to get a hamburger on hamburger day—oh man. We’ll miss you, H.A.M.!

4. What has surprised you the most about living here? It’s not that surprising, but the continuing encouragement and support I’ve received from the people of Little Rock is amazing. I love Little Rock!

5. What are some of your favorite annual events in/around LR? Two events in town that I always look forward to are the Arkansas Literary Festival and Tinkerfest.

Check out Kevin tonight at 9 p.m. on the Science Channel as he takes to the big screen as the star of the new show, Street Science.

114: Meet Cameron Kuhn

Though a relative newcomer to our city, Cameron Kuhn is making the most of his life in Riverdale—both indoors and out.


1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Cameron Kuhn, OnBoarding at Apptegy/Owner InSecond Choreography, 3 years in Little Rock, I live in the Riverdale community.

2. What is your favorite thing about your neighborhood? I absolutely love Riverdale. The convenience of how close it is to downtown allows for a quick commute to work, a cheap uber ride and beautiful views of the bluffs and river. The community provides everything you could possibly need, including: a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, drive-thru liquor store, movie theatre with lounging seats, a local neighborhood bar by the name of Town Pump, parks to take your pets, trails to run on, the largest pedestrian bridge in the country (Big Dam Bridge), walking access to Triniti and Discovery, and many affordable apartment complexes for young people to rent for their first place out of college. 

3. In the next five years, I hope: That the start-up I work for really takes off the ground and becomes a national competitor in the education technology department.  It represents a wonderful cross-section of the type of people that Little Rock has to offer from many diverse backgrounds. I’d, potentially, like to buy a condo in the Riverdale area. I’d love to serve on a school board and work with promoting fine arts in the community. As a choreographer, I’d love to help the UALR dance team and help bring talent to the program as well as assist in them competing at a national level.

4. It's your day off -- what are you up to? Depending on the time of the year, I'm most likely outside. I could be discovering the beautiful nature that Little Rock has to offer, such as Two Rivers Bridge or the bluffs along the Arkansas River. Or I am out shopping at the local outlets or at The Fold enjoying the best margaritas this state has to offer. To finish the night, I am going out with a bunch of other twenty-somethings who are looking to dance and meet other people our age. Specifically, attending Disco 3000 at Sway or karaoke at Town Pump

5. Who is the most interesting person you've met in LR? I’d say the most interesting person I’ve met is Amber Pawloski. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Amber not only made me feel welcome, but made me feel as though we were old friends. She is constantly at social events, always helping others and always providing a ton of laughs. 

113: Meet Denise Ennett

They say you can never go home again, but Denise Ennett can't think of anywhere else she'd rather be. 

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Denise Ennett, wife, mother of three, domestic engineer, and neighborhood and parent advocate. Born and raised in Little Rock my family resides in the Pettaway neighborhood.

2. What do you love most about downtown? I love raising my family in my childhood home also known as the Gustave B. Kleinschmidt House, which was appointed to the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year. Growing up in this neighborhood in the eighties; I have seen the devastating aftermath of 1-630. The Pettaway neighborhood was left in despair for decades. Now, my neighborhood is witnessing a resurgence thanks to SoMa (Southside Main Street) and new construction. 

3. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in LR? Cherise Coates 

4. What is your must-do when you have out of town guests? I always make sure everyone visits the historic landmarks such as; my alma mater, Little Rock Central High, Governor's Mansion, Arkansas State Capital, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and the River Market to name a few.

5. What is Little Rock's best kept secret? First, living Downtown is pretty swell. Second, the different historic structures and historic neighborhoods that are interspersed throughout Little Rock. Third, I think Little Rock has the friendliest people on earth.

112: Meet Guy Choate

Guy Choate is a storyteller, a dreamer and a wanderer. He may hail from Beebe, but he always wanders back to his real dream hometown, Little Rock.

Photo by Joshua Asante

Photo by Joshua Asante

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Guy Choate. Communications Manager at Garver. I moved to Little Rock 15 years ago and I keep moving away for one reason or another, but I keep coming back and when I do, I try out a different part of the city, it seems. I've lived in--these are in order--Riverdale, Cedar Hill, Quapaw Quarter, Stifft Station, Park Hill, Downtown, Hillcrest, back to Riverdale, and my wife Liz and I surprised ourselves this summer by falling in love with a house in Lakewood of all places. 

2. What did you miss the most about Little Rock during your brief hiatus from being an Arkansan? Liz and I spent the first six months of 2016 living outside of Phoenix, Arizona, closer to her dad, which was great, but yeah, there were a few things (beyond family/friends, etc.) I found myself really missing about this place: 

  • I missed how green everything is here. There's not a lot of grass in the desert. 
  • The tap water in Arkansas is delicious. That's probably an equal testament to a lot of people/things. Like Central Arkansas Water, Mother Nature, some of my water engineering friends I work with at Garver, and some of my other friends at organizations like the Sierra Club, who are constantly out there fighting the good fight.
  • I missed the drunken noodles at Oishi, but y'all turned it into a sports bar while I was gone. I don't know how this city sleeps at night.

3. If you could only eat at one local restaurant for a month, what would it be? It would've probably been Oishi, but again, that colossal misstep has already be taken. Last year, I set out to rank every meal I paid for at www.icleanedthisplate.tumblr.com and Taj Mahal was at the top of the list more than once. Lately, I've enjoyed every meal I've had at Three Fold Noodle Company. And once a month Liz and I join her mom and stepdad at Forty-Two's Around the World Dinner, where Chef Gilbert and Chef Anne make a five-course meal based on the traditional meals found in a certain country. That's always fun and delicious. And sometimes I catch myself drooling over the idea of South on Main's chicken liver dishes. 

Oh, but you just want one establishment? I could eat at The Root for a month straight. To say nothing of their dedication to local farmers/growers and the environment, they're food is always top-notch. The best sandwich I've ever had is a special they run sometimes in the summer called the heinbochler (don't hold me to the spelling on that), which is some magical combination of cheese and peppers. Keep your eye out for that. 

4. It’s Sunday afternoon -- what are you up to? Sunday is usually my catch-up day, so I’m probably working on some project I’ve got going. Right now I’m putting lots of effort into launching the Argenta Reading Series, which I envision to be kind of a story time for adults. We’re kicking off January 14 with Nicholas Mainieri, a writer from New Orleans whose book, The Infinite, was published a couple of weeks ago by Harper Perennial. He’s an interesting guy and I’m thrilled to have him visit our city. If your book club’s looking for something to read, read Nick’s, then come talk to him about it.

But if my boy Marcus Johnson, Jr. and the Little Rock Trojans or Lady Trojans are playing basketball, you can find Liz and me at the game. I don't know how I never went to games when I was actually in school because it's a blast. (Also, I've never met Marcus Johnson, Jr.) 

5. Who is the most interesting person you've met in town? I got the opportunity to meet Maya Angelou at the Clinton Library back in 2008 when I helped judge an essay contest for her, and she's a legend, obviously. But lately I'm amazed at my contemporaries and what they're doing.

If you make me choose one person, I'm not sure I've ever met anyone more dedicated to his art than Joshua Asante and the rest of the guys of Amasa Hines. But there's also Daniel Campbell and Graham Gordy who's film "Antiquities" has a local notoriety that is shining a spotlight on a film industry in the city that I know I've under-appreciated in the last decade.

Matt White is always interesting to talk to. I remember watching a video a few years ago when a faceless politician visited Philander Smith College from Washington D.C. and Matt questioned him on an issue. Security escorted Matt out so the politician didn't have to answer the question, but that video of Matt being escorted out replays in my head often, and I'm comforted to know I share a city with a man willing to pose the kinds of questions that yield that result. 

I briefly lived at Garland House with Mark Thiedeman and Phillip Huddleston who are always collaborating on something that turns out to be absolutely beautiful (Re: "White Nights" and the "White Nights" Soundtrack). Those are interesting guys.

I could go on and on, but let me finish by saying I am endlessly fascinated by The House of Avalon. I don't know any of them personally, but when I see images of them on social media, they look like they are kicking an incredible amount of glamorous ass. If they inspire me--a 34-year-old heterosexual man--I can only imagine how inspiring those images are to Central Arkansas teenagers who are feeling alone in their struggle to understand and express their own sexuality. Little Rock has needed a loud and proud dose of The House of Avalon for a long time.

Don't forget to check out Guy's latest project, the Argenta Reading Series, beginning January 14, 2017 at 7 p.m., 421 N. Main St. in downtown North Little Rock.

111: Meet Becky Barnes Campbell

To get this 2017 party started, I'd like to introduce you to one of the most lovely and gracious people I got to know better in 2016. 

Pictured with her husband, Daniel Campbell, and their dog Bandit. Photo by Katie Childs

Pictured with her husband, Daniel Campbell, and their dog Bandit. Photo by Katie Childs

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Becky Barnes Campbell, Noble Strategies, 10 years, Park Hill.

2. What do you love the most about your neighborhood? Park Hill is close to downtown. We can walk our dog anytime day or night. A lot of our friends live near us; we have SUPER neighbors. 

3. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in LR? That's tough. I met my husband here.  Our church is in Little Rock.  I work here and through work I've met a lot of interesting people. 

4. What is your favorite lunch spot? I love The Fold or Capital Bar for lunch. I could eat the guacamole and taco salad at The Fold almost everyday. When the weather is nice and they have the doors up, it's perfection. But at the Capital Bar, I can have pimento cheese. And I always want pimento cheese. 

5. Complete this sentence. My perfect evening in LR involves:  A perfect evening would include my people. I do not deserve the amazing people in my life. So smart, so funny, so caring.  We would eat and drink at the big table at South on Main. Seriously, their cocktails are incredible. Daniel would tell really horrible stories that make everyone laugh. We would all talk about what is happening in our lives and everyone would give input on the decisions and next steps we're facing. Every problem in the world would be solved by the time our checks appeared. Then we would relocate to The Town Pump. Who doesn't like a little friendly game of shuffle board?

Happy New Year!

So...where have we been?

Three years ago, I set out to interview a different local every day for 365 days. The site caught on almost immediately and I was so excited to have several thousand followers after the first month. 

Photo by eglavin / flickr

Photo by eglavin / flickr

Then April hit. I went to work for a start-up company that kept me busier than anything else I'd ever done in my life. I missed one day of posting, then a second, then a third...then I became so overwhelmed that I just couldn't even think about catching up. I attempted to recruit some help, but I could never really find a good fit. 

In the meantime, I received so many positive messages and questions -- my little site had caught on and people were really curious about the fate of ilovelittlerockAR.com.

Fast forward. The company I was working for was sold (which I knew would eventually happen) and I found myself with a little more time on my hands. I felt like it was a great time to jump back in. With a less lofty goal for the site (2-3 blogs per week rather than every day), I am excited to officially relaunch this New Year's Day 2017.

We have some awesome locals lined up and we'll periodically check in with the first round of locals (so many life changes, so many new babies...and even an engagement from a couple who met because of this site!). 

To all the original readers, thanks for giving us another whirl. To any new readers, welcome! I truly believe it's the locals who put the heart in the heart of Arkansas -- and I'm happy to introduce them to you. 

Happy New Year,
Jennifer
Founder/Admin, ilovelittlerockAR.com

P.S. Know someone who would make a great local? Let us know. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

110: Meet Stephanie Hamling

If cleanliness is next to godliness, then that must make Stephanie Hamling an angel. 

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1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Stephanie Hamling, proprietor and soapstress at Southern Girl Soapery, 11 years, Coolwood (which means I'm in a glorious triangle formed by downtown, Hillcrest, and the Heights).

2. Finish this sentence: I love my job because owning my own business...is a magical mix of terrifying and exhilaratingIf I had to pare down my business to three words, it would be, "Southern Soap Stories." I love the South. I love her because of, in spite of, and, most of all, for what can be. As a one woman show, I also get to indulge in my love of graphic design and photography since I do all of the packaging design, promotional pieces, and photo shoots for Southern Girl Soapery. I also meet the coolest people. As I developed and released our traditional wet shaving product line, I heard the nostalgic stories about grandpas, dads, and shaving. I've been embraced by this growing community, largely because they love the novelty of a woman who says "y'all" and knows her way around a straight edge and a shaving soap.

3. What is, hands down, your favorite meal you can only get in LR? For over a decade, I've enjoyed the mixed fajitas with all the trimmings at Casa Mañana on Cantrell. If I could have one recipe from any restaurant, anywhere, it would be for their tortilla soup, which they serve as the starter for the meal. Paired with a cold Dr. Pepper (or occasionally an icy Dos Equis Amber), served by Miriam, and enjoyed with good company--it's second only to home cooking. That said, my single favorite meal I've enjoyed in Little Rock was at Ashley's at the Capital with the founders of the Argenta Farmers Market several years ago. I'm following the restaurant's new incarnation with interest and, separately, keeping check on Chef Lee Richardson's new adventures.

4. It's your day off -- what are you up to? Depending on the needs of the business, my weekend may be on Tuesday. It's always changing. Often, I'll take a break from the city and drive north to Wonderview where I grew up. I visit with my parents, help with the garden, and let the chickens loose - basically indulging in country life for a while. Once a month, I meet up with three of my best girl friends for From Scratch Saturday, our cooking club. If it's a rainy day with no obligations, you'll find me on the couch lost in a good book.

5. What do you think is LR's best kept secret? One of the best things about Little Rock is that she doesn't keep many secrets. There are so many community builders in this town and across the bridge in North Little Rock, that even the most tentative steps can lead you to be embraced. I love the connections I've made with business owners, farmers, food lovers, writers, and artisans. And we have some of the best and most beautiful venues to connect in: The River Market, The Bernice Gardens, the library system, the Big Damn Bridge and public parks, and the locally-owned eateries and other businesses. The best kept secret? Beneath the "big city' facade is a thriving network of deeply personal connections.

Meet Stephanie and check out her line of handmade soaps inspired by the traditions, stories, and scents of the South at the Little Rock Film Festival Artisan Street Fair, Saturday, May 17.

109: Meet Philip Martin

Philip Martin's been everywhere, man, but he keeps coming back to LR.

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1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Philip Martin; Chief Movie Critic, MovieStyle editor, Columnist at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, monkey in nose cone at blood, dirt & angels; I’ve lived in Little Rock since 1989, with 14 months off from Halloween 1991 to February 1992 (though I watched the Little Rock on TV during the 1992 presidential campaign); we live in Hillcrest.

2. What do you think has been the best album to come out of Little Rock? Lot of good ones, including the Gunbunnies record, the Big Cats, Trusty, Ho Hum’s oeuvre, but if pushed I’m going to say Kevin Kerby’s Apostles’ Tongues. (It’s not false modesty that kept me from mentioning my own Gastonia.)

3. It's a Sunday -- what's on your agenda? Up at 6:00, out for a run at 7:00, then gym or golf, then walking our terriers — Paris, Dublin & Audi — over the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, around Argenta, back over the Junction Bridge and into the River Market. Then we might get lunch in the River Market or take the dogs to Sonic.

4. Finish this sentence: My job is awesome because...writing is still the only from of telepathy we’ve been able to come up with. I have great platforms, and carte blanche to write about pretty much whatever I want to write about. Plus I get to work with Karen Martin, the best editor I’ve ever had.

5. Where do you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? The Capital Hotel Bar,  Big Orange, Bossa Nova, Red Door, The Art Center. We took Andrei Codrescu to Mount Holly Cemetery and he wrote about it.

Read Philip's thoughts on this week's Little Rock Film Festival events and other pop culture musings at his blog, blooddirtandangels.com.

108: Meet Nancy Nolan

It may have taken her a while to get here, but photographer Nancy Nolan has made our city her home. 

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1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: I am Nancy Nolan--I have been a commercial, advertising and editorial photographer for more than 25 years. I am in process of relaunching my website, so be on the look out for it soon to view my work. Or I’d love of have you hang out with me on Facebook. I have lived in Little rock for 16 years and have spent the last 12 of those in the SOMA neighborhood. I've had the pleasure of watching this neighborhood thrive in the past six years. I adore the great, crazy, artistic, open minded people that live here. They are truly groundbreaking unique, kindred spirits and I am lucky to live among them. I had the privilege of photographing the neighborhood recently for Southern Living Magazine. You can see "The Next Great Neighborhood” profiled in the May 2014 Issue. 

2. What made you decide to base your business in Little Rock? We came to Little rock to work for Frank J. Wills Co.--specifically to shoot and service the Dillard's account. This city took me completely by surprise; I fell in love with it and decided to make it our home. Professionally, the diverseness of industries, arts, people and attitudes of Little Rock has kept my interest and is an ongoing inspiration.  

3. If you could only eat at one local restaurant for a week, what would it be? Without hesitation, The Dempsey Bakery!  Besides their wonderful breads, baked good, and sweet treats, they have fantastic sandwiches and soups. I think Paula's chicken and dumplings should be its own food group...amazing. Even if you don't have food allergies, you should check out this gluten-free, groundbreaking local eatery. I dare you to tell the difference. To have them here in Little Rock is so fantastic and makes life easier for those of us that do. 

4. Finish this sentence: My perfect evening in Little Rock involves...I love to grab my camera and take a long walk over the Big Dam Bridge at sunset. Having grown up on the beach there is a familiarity to standing on the dam with the water churning and the birds soaring. It has the sounds of the ocean.  Then add to that, it’s equally gorgeous sunrise....well, it's just one of my perfect places.  

5. Where do you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? We'll walk across all the bridges and stand atop the Big Dam while the waters flow. It’s a must to have a drink at the now-famous South on Main, or catch Amasa Hines at White Water Tavern. Make sure to stop in Sweet Home/Clement and pursue their newest antique finds and grab a bite at The Root Cafe, sit on the patio there on a warm saturday afternoon and enjoy the most delicious and fresh salads and sandwiches. I love to show my guests that Little Rock has a wonderful art scene and take them to Gallery 26 and the very unique Esse Purse Museum--I guarantee they won’t find that anywhere else! For those that have a sweet tooth it’s a must to experience the old time soda fountain at Loblolly Creamery--they have the BEST homemade ice cream, and while enjoying our sweet treat, we can shop eco-friendy gifts by local artists at The Green Corner Store…Honestly, Little Rock really is the bomb. Anytime I have guests, they cannot believe what a fantastic city this is. I’m so glad I landed here and decided to stay.