Seeing Tulsa as a Permanent Home

36°N Editor's Note: The following post is by 36 Degrees North intern Julie Combs. Julie is about to start her senior year as a marketing major at the University of Tulsa. Julie has served our team tremendously, and we know this sweet Alabama native will continue to do great things as she digs her roots in Tulsa.

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Looking back over the past two months of being the summer marketing intern at 36 Degrees North, it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve only been working here for just a short amount of time. Over the past several weeks, I have become fully immersed in the culture and groove of Tulsa’s “basecamp for entrepreneurs.” Every day is a unique and enriching experience, accompanied by new and familiar faces excited to be utilizing and enjoying our space. I cannot imagine another workplace in the city of Tulsa as vibrant and welcoming as 36°N.

 
Meeting Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum after a city council meeting at 36 Degrees North. So cool!!

Meeting Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum after a city council meeting at 36 Degrees North. So cool!!

 

This summer is all the more special as it is the summer before my senior year at the University of Tulsa. It is also the first summer I have not spent in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. For the past three years, Tulsa has been the perfect college town for me; I have gotten to know the city well and have enjoyed my time here. Yet, until beginning my internship with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, I didn’t really understand how special this town is. A growing art scene, incredible food culture, and vibrant urban development projects are just a few ways in which Tulsa is becoming one of the best places in America to live and work. Over the past month and a half as a GKFF intern at 36°N, I have seen first hand how this city is adapting for the better. My college town is swiftly becoming a place I could see as a permanent home.

While I’ve taken on a wide variety of tasks this summer (researching other coworking spaces, running errands downtown, working events and creating graphics), the project I have loved the most is taking headshots for all of our members.

I have always enjoyed photography as a way to give something unique of value to people I care about. There’s this great Annie Lebovitz quote that says, “When I say I want to photograph someone, what I really mean is that I’d like to know them.” In taking portraits for our members, I was able to get to know them on a more personal level and offer them something in return.

One of the members I shot, who I have loved getting to know this summer, is Amy Seigfried. Amy owns a triweekly email publication called Last Night’s Game, which she created specifically with a female audience in mind. Amy noticed a need for a sports publication that would recap all of the highlights (not just the stats, but the unique moments from the game as well) and deliver them in a neatly packaged, fun-to-read email that can be understood by even the most inexperienced sports fan. Needless to say, she is girlboss goals.

 
Amy is a serious #girlboss. Love learning from strong female entrepreneurs like her.

Amy is a serious #girlboss. Love learning from strong female entrepreneurs like her.

 

I have also loved getting to know the incredible staff at 36°N. I was able to take portraits for several of our team members as well. Whether it’s talking about one of my favorite Alabama authors (Rick Bragg, All Over But the Shoutin’ is an essential read) with Bethany, or soaking in Maye’s wisdom on higher education, or hearing about Tom’s trip to see Frank Ocean in L.A., interacting with the front desk staff is always one of the highlights of my day. Our staff is truly one of a kind, I have loved getting to know them on a more personal level and see how much they truly care about our members.

 
Maye! One of our sweet front desk team members.

Maye! One of our sweet front desk team members.

 

The best thing I have noticed about the unique environment at 36°N is the way in which our space facilitates community. Some of the moments that stick out the most to me are conversations around the kitchen island or back patio with members, talking about anything from how they met their spouse to why they decided to leave corporate America and try something a little different. I think that, often times, there is a misguided association of isolation with entrepreneurship. Here at 36°N, it’s community that is driving the individuals who work here. It’s not really the ergonomically-sound furniture or locally-sourced coffee; it’s the tight-knit community of people working incredibly hard to realize their goals here which makes our space a place where creative culture exists. It has been really special to see members who have joined since my time here slowly but surely warm up to our space and the welcoming individuals within.

 
Sweet Bethany is so full of life. Thankful to get to know her.

Sweet Bethany is so full of life. Thankful to get to know her.

 

This summer at 36°N has been incredibly memorable and enriching to me. The people in our community have made this an experience I will never forget in a city that I am proud to call home.