With fall in motion, our city is changing colors, but if you’re looking to enjoy the last remnants of summer search no further. Each second Thursday of the month we enjoy seeing the entire community engage over food, drinks, and great music at GATHER: Oak Park. GATHER is made possible with the support of our sponsors and before Thursday’s season finale we’d like to introduce you to Grounded.
Say hello to Sam Allen. He along with Micah Baginski created Grounded, a real estate business in Oak Park focused on all aspects of residential and commercial property. Allen has lived in Oak Park since 2005 and before Grounded he was attending UC Davis pursuing a degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design. He was charmed by the affordable rent and convenient university shuttle Oak Park offered. While living and exploring the neighborhood he fell in love with its layout, people and history.
After college Allen decided to pursue a career in real estate and become his own boss after seeing the potential in Oak Park’s future. He strives to further preserve the neighborhood’s authenticity through businesses and developments expanding its soul. While witnessing the transformation that’s happening in Oak Park, he also wants to help long time residents continue to live here.
“My parents were in real estate. I never thought I’d be in real estate. I thought I’d be more in design. But now I see a big overlap between the two careers that I never saw before,” said Allen about his real estate beginnings. “I feel really great that I am using my degree with my knowledge of real estate sales to help people paint the picture for homes or businesses they are buying. I want to help them execute that vision,” he continued.
We are proud to have Grounded as a sponsor, and caught up with Allen to chat a bit more about his GATHER experience and being a part of Oak Park.
UH: What makes your mouth water at GATHER?
SA: The local stuff. I love the pizza from Pizza Supreme Being and the various food trucks. The Culinerdy Cruzer is great because they have a pretty broad offering of simple comfort food. With the variety of food vendors you can find something for everybody at GATHER.
UH: What are the best parts of the event each time you go?
SA: The live music, the beer garden and the stuff for kids. I have two little kids and it’s nice to see something that caters to them. They love dancing to the live music and getting their eardrums blew out. But my favorite part is that I have a storefront right here, where I can open my doors and just hang out and talk to all my neighbors. We open up the windows and basically have a front row seat to the live performances. We like to consider ourselves a little hub of neighborhood information about what’s going on, what the needs are, who is providing something, what’s happening as far as new projects and businesses.
UH: What is a memorable moment you’ve had at GATHER?
SA: The most memorable moment has to be the first GATHER that ever happened. I just remember walking down the street and seeing all these people I knew in one place. Everybody just kind of had this look of amazement. The neighbors were coming out and interacting with each other in such a positive environment. Before that, the residents would just get together to fight something at city hall or fight redistricting. Now with GATHER we come together positively to celebrate Oak Park.
UH: What does being a part of the community mean to you?
SA: It means everything to me. My adult identity has been built within this neighborhood and the people that live in it. I don’t know where I’d be without this neighborhood or what I’d be doing, I’d have a totally different life. This neighborhood has inspired me, motivated me, chewed me up and spit me out– all of the emotions. I mean my kids were born here. I’ve built houses here. I’ve been involved with a lot of the businesses here. I mean my heart and soul is in here and synonymous with Oak Park now. It has been for a long time. It truly means everything to me to be a part of this neighborhood. My personal and my business life are rooted deeply here. Being involved in this neighborhood means absolutely everything to me.
If you see Sam at GATHER make sure to say hey! For more info on Grounded visit: http://grounded.city/