Friday, April 6, 2012

Columbus Socialite of the Week: BEN WICKIZER

Happy Friday!

Last week you may remember that I featured Jen Lewis, director of operations at Nurtur the Salon. With Nurtur the Salon partnering with Aveda and its beneficiary Sierra Club of Columbus for Earth Month, I have a great feature today continuing the promotion and love for April being Earth Month.

Only living in Columbus for two years, this feature has a love for German Village, his dog and seeing Columbus continue to grow. Not only does he mention great hot spots around the City, he talks more in depth about the Sierra Club, what you can do and know to keep Ohio‘s water clean, what Columbus needs and what events Nurtur and Aveda have coming up that will benefit the Sierra Club.

Interested to read more? I think so…

GETTING TO KNOW...BEN WICKIZER, Conservation Program Coordinator for the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter

Miss C.S. - By far Favorite thing to do in Columbus:

BW: Playing Frisbee with my Australian shepherd in Schiller Park. It’s a great park, and it’s such a plus to have it so close to my house.

Miss C.S. - Favorite Restaurant in the City:

BW: G. Michaels. It’s walking distance from my house, it’s got the best happy hour in the city and the food is absolutely sumptuous. For sandwiches, though, Si Senor, which is about a block from the Sierra Club offices downtown, is hands down the best in Columbus.

Miss C.S. - Favorite Hidden Gem:

BW: Audubon Park. Although characterizing it as a “hidden” gem might not be fair any more. When I first moved to Columbus about two years ago, I used to walk there with my dog and play Frisbee in the designated dog park, which at that time was simply a large field. Now, much of the dog park area has been transformed into a dog agility park. Although the park’s new digs are quite nice, I think I prefer its earlier, humbler state – fewer people, and dogs, to contend with.

Miss C.S. - Favorite Shop/Store:

BW: Columbus Camera Group. This is kind of a niche store, but it’s a great place for anyone interested in photography. It’s in an old, somewhat decrepit building, which I think at one time was a church, but that adds to its character. It sells new and used camera equipment, as well as digital and film. The staff there is great and definitely eager to help. They also run a themed monthly photo contest through their Facebook page, which is a fun activity to participate in.

Miss C.S. - Best Party, Event or Scene in the City:

BW: The German Village Monster Bash (Halloween) party. Attendees trick-or-treat for various libations, and then everyone rendezvous at a central location for a party. It’s fun to go to with a couple of friends and just take in the spectacle.

Miss C.S. – Charity of Choice:

BW: Well, aside from the Sierra Club and our other great environmental organizations, I think Ronald McDonald House is a very worthwhile charity. My girlfriend regularly volunteers at the “house,” and it’s great that they are able to help the families of seriously ill children. I think supporting people in such difficult circumstances is very admirable.

Miss C.S. - Best Quality of a Person:

BW: Adept conversationalist. The ability to engage in lively, meaningful conversation is something I value very much. The visceral feeling of well being that one gets from connecting with someone on an intimate level through conversation is very powerful.

Miss C.S. – How long have you been with Sierra Club and coordinating the water program in central Ohio:

BW: I’ve worked for the Club for just over a year and have coordinated the water program in central Ohio throughout my tenure. There certainly is no shortage of water issues to work on in central Ohio, so I stay pretty busy.

Miss C.S. – What events do you have coming up that others can participate:

BW: Well, April, or “Earth Month,” is definitely our busiest time. We have a couple of fun Aveda events coming up, including our Cocktails for a Cause fundraiser and the Aveda Institute Columbus’s Earth Jam.

Cocktails for a Cause is April 28, from 6-9 pm, at Skully’s in the Short North. Tickets are $10 and include happy hour drinks, a silent auction, fashion show, and prizes. This event is a great opportunity to support the cause of clean water in central Ohio and get out and have some fun.

The Earth Jam event is May 8, from 6-10 pm, at the LC Pavilion. Tickets start at $15, and there will be drinks, a live and silent auction, and a fashion show. This is a really cool event, and the fashion show they put on is quite impressive.

Miss C.S. – Tell us al little more about the Sierra Club:

BW: The Sierra Club has an interesting history. It was started in 1982 in California and began as an “outings” group. Our founder, John Muir, was an inventor and avid nature enthusiast. One of his beliefs, which was novel for the time, was that nature provided an opportunity to “soothe the soul.” I certainly agree with this and see nature’s profound effect in my own life.

For the last century, the Sierra Club has been advocating for the protection of our environment and natural resources. We work on a range of issues from promoting energy-efficiency, to protecting wilderness. It’s really humbling to be part of such a storied organization.

Miss C.S. – Have you partnered with Nurtur Salon before on any promotions:

BW: Nurtur has been a great Earth Month partner with us for a number of years. It usually holds a “Beauty for the Earth” event, where it offers complimentary services to raise money for the central Ohio Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign. We come out and talk to the salon staff and patrons about the importance of clean water and the work the Club does in central Ohio.

Miss C.S. – What is one thing everyone can do or should know about keeping clean water in Ohio:

BW: Everything is connected. If we pull one string, the entire system moves and reacts. Our water contamination issues have been wrought largely from our development in recent decades and the desire to see the region grow imprudently quickly. Stormwater run-off is a primary source of water contamination in central Ohio. It’s largely attributable to the destruction of natural areas and creating an undue amount of “grey” space, where water lands on pavement or other impermeable surface and runs off, collecting the pollutants it contacts until it inevitably enters our waterways.

One easy, cost-effective method for lessening this phenomenon is to create green infrastructure, which is engineered vegetated areas that surface water run-off comes into contact with, and then these areas absorb much of that contaminated water so it doesn’t enter the waterways. It would be great if the City of Columbus created a more robust program to address stormwater run-off and implement green infrastructure.

Miss C.S. - Finish the sentence, “If I could do anything in the World, I would...”

BW: Travel to every continent and take an inordinate number of photographs. I could spend a lifetime doing this and it would never get old. I have a bit of an ever-present wanderlust, and I love exploring new places, making connections, learning, and sharing with other people. Photography is a great vehicle for sharing and connecting with others; I think this is one of the primary reasons people start doing photography – to record our journeys for, not only ourselves, but for others. It’s kind of akin to storytelling.

Miss C.S. – Why Columbus? (live, work, play – you name it)

BW: Columbus is a city on the rise, and that’s exciting. Even since I moved here, which was only a couple of years ago, I notice significant differences in the character of the city. From the businesses and restaurants that exist, to the actual built environment itself. It’s fun to take-in this evolution and know that, although Columbus still has a lot of room to grow, it’s moving onward and upward.

Miss C.S. - In ONE word, a Columbus Socialite is:

BW: An Advocate

Thanks Ben for your interview and for the beneficial information on creating green infrastructure, the Sierra Club’s mission and letting us take a peek into your favorite fun spots around the City.

All CS readers, be sure to mark your calendars for the two upcoming Earth Month eventsCocktails for a Cause: April 28 and Earth Jam: May 8.

Enjoy your weekend.

Eventing off,
Miss C.S.

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