An epiphany leads to loving the city of Sacramento.
Second in an occasional series in the Sacramento Bee.
There is an unexplainable zeitgeist moving through Sacramento, an unspoken understanding that a shift is happening in the region.
I call it “city-actualization”: the idea that a city possesses everything it needs to make it great, and all it must do to reach its full potential is to put people who truly love the place in positions to make a difference.
As one of the people actualizing Sacramento, I can honestly say that I love this city. But I’ll be honest: I didn’t get to this feeling of love for Sacramento overnight.For years, I was ready to leave this place. I had checked out. I imagined myself running free through the streets of New York, enjoying all the exciting things that city had to offer.
It wasn’t until I cashed in on that dream that I truly realized the beauty of Sacramento. The year was 2009; I was heavily into music, and my group Righteous Movement was just ending a statewide college tour that included the West Coast leg of the Vans Warped Tour.
After the group tour, I branched out on my own to do a multistate tour that stopped in New York City. To me, it was my big break. I was beyond excited to show off my talents in the place where hip-hop was born.
I practiced profusely every day leading up to the show, and when the time came, I gave it my all. It was nothing short of amazing. Tons of people came up after the show and complimented me. And they were surprised that I was from, of all places, Sacramento. They told me that if I moved somewhere else, I would “make it.”
Trying to deflect what I felt at the time was my “Sacramento shortcoming,” I asked each person where they were from. You can imagine my naive surprise when most of them answered by saying that they weren’t actually from New York. They had moved there because they weren’t satisfied with their own hometown experiences.
Their responses were the catalyst to an epiphany. I realized I had to change the way I felt about Sacramento if I wanted to change the way I interacted with the city.
The only reason I wanted to live elsewhere was because I was bored, and for the most part, I was detached from Sacramento. Sure, Sacramento was where I laid my head, but my heart was elsewhere. In short, I hadn’t yet fallen in love with the city.
Instead of explaining every moment on the long road to becoming an influencer in the region that is actualizing Sacramento in my own way, I put together a four-step guide to becoming someone who can use their talents to make a difference, make changes and actively become part of the shift that is shaping the future of the region.
Step One: Establish emotional connection with the city
What is your emotional connection with Sacramento? Are you detached and bored? Are you engaged and passionate? Are you neutral?
The key to answering this honestly is to examine the way you feel when people talk positively or negatively about the city.
Once I decided to change the way I felt about Sacramento, my experiences with the city started to change. It was around this time that my wife and I started our lifestyle event agency called Unseen Heroes.
We had one goal: make Sacramento worth caring about, and by proxy, a more lovable place for everyone to enjoy.
Seven years later, we are known as the most influential event agency in the region. We have gained national attention in our industry and were given the local vision award by the American Planning Association for our ability to bring the community together in unique ways.
Step Two: Look at the city as if you were in a relationship with it
If you were in a relationship with the city, how would you treat it? Are you doing the things that people in love do?
Despite how odd it sounds, I actually dated Sacramento. I strolled around neighborhoods, sat by the river, dined at restaurants and explored inspiring places. The more quality time I spent getting to know the city, the more I fell in love with its beauty.
Step Three: Be proud to call Sacramento home
Are you truly proud to call Sacramento home? If you have made the emotional connection, you have fallen in love and are proud to call it home. Next, start to show people all of the things that make this region great. The more you boast about Sacramento, the more other people will do the same. And let’s be honest, there is a lot to brag about: neighborhoods, architecture, food, music, people, etc.
At Unseen Heroes we are always looking at exciting ways to highlight the assets of the region through the events we produce. We started with the “GOOD: street food + design market.” Our goal was to show people that they didn’t have to travel to other places to see amazing designers and handmade goods. We have since expanded to highlighting farmers through the Midtown Farmers Market.
Step Four: Actualize in your own way
The last step is to take action and actualize the city in your own way. Start by asking yourself: “How can I personally make this city more interesting and more loveable?”
Our agency shows love by creating unforgettable experiences through interactive events. We’ve reimagined the way empty retail spaces can come alive to boost the economy with our revolving pop-up shop “DISPLAY: California.” We’ve reimagined city blocks as dining spaces to celebrate neighborhoods coming together with concepts like “GATHER: Oak Park.”
However, the way that you show love to Sacramento might be different. And that’s OK. There isn’t a right way to do it. You just have to understand one simple idea: when things are loved they grow to reach their full potential.
Article originally published in the Sacramento Bee on October 28, 2015.
Roshaun Daville is a creative professional, influencer, writer and musician. He launched Unseen Heroes with his wife, Maritza Davis, in 2008, after graduating from California State University, Sacramento, with a degree in journalism. He often speaks about community development, the importance of partnership/collaboration, and neighborhood revitalization. Sign up for his free newsletter for more insight.