TYPros: Expanding Its Reach Leads to Success
By EMILY RAMSEY
NEW GOALS: 2014 TYPros Chair Isaac Rocha, left, stands with 2013 Chair Hillary Parkhurst and 2015 Chair-Elect Evan Tipton in October at the organization’s annual Boomtown Awards.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
As Tulsa’s Young Professionals prepares to celebrate a decade of Tulsa pride and activism in 2015, the organization can also look back on a number of successes to hang its hat on, although still with much to accomplish, agrees ros outgoing and incoming chairs, Isaac Rocha and Evan Tipton, respectively.
In early 2014, ros announced that it was bringing ridesharing service Uber to Tulsa.
“Uber said that we (ros) were the reason Uber came to Tulsa,” says Rocha, with obvious pride.
Months following the Uber announcement, ros members teamed up with city councilors to help create ridesharing ordinances, which later earned Tulsa the designation as the national model for ridesharing ordinances.
That experience in particular drove home to Rocha the importance of properly-designed ordinances, something he hopes to see the organization continue to push for in various areas, in order to “foster entrepreneurship and innovation,” he says.
In May, ros held its fourth annual Street Cred event, this year with its focus on south downtown. The group closed 15 blocks stretching from 5th Street and Boston Avenue to Riverside, only allowing for foot traffic, with various activities set up throughout the area.
The event drew attention to south downtown, “the weak part of downtown,” Rocha says. It also created additional momentum for biking and walkability and engaged local stakeholders and business owners, ie. Tulsa Community College and Justin Carpenter, owner of Foolish Things Coffee Company, in the conversation of south downtown development.
“To start a conversation about surface parking and how that creates no quality of life and brings nothing to an area, that was amazing,” says Rocha.
The purpose and subsequent result of that event, that of starting conversations, delineated TYPros’ true, though possibly not well-known, goal of drawing attention to issues and creating engagement to bring about future change.
That aim will continue at Street Cred 2015, to be held at 61st Street and Peoria Avenue.
“It’s important to continue to shed light on that part of town,” says Tipton, who notes that the neighborhood is working to improve. Crime has continued to decrease in the area; the community even held a neighborhood block party in September, he says.
In addition to spotlighting an area not located in the city’s urban core, this event will help to further Tipton’s vision “to break out of the mindset that ros is only for downtown and midtown,” he says.
Accessibility and engagement are what Tipton’s focus will revolve around in 2015.
Even with 7,700 members, the organization has a lot of room to grow, Rocha and Tipton say.
“We are not just suit and tie, doctors and accountants,” says Tipton.
A long-time skateboarder, Tipton recognizes that there are many groups that ros has yet to infiltrate.
“We want to break down walls and include different segments of our demographic,” he says. “It’s important that our membership is as diverse as possible because that helps to inject new and different ideas.”
One such group includes individuals in the skateboarding community, many of whom work in the food industry. “They don’t feel they have a place in ros,” Tipton notes, which is one reason why he made a point to include a skate park at this year’s Street Cred event.
“That was eye-opening for them to see that park. It proved to them that we do want to include everybody,” says Tipton.
Additionally, in 2015, Rocha and Tipton are looking forward to the impact that will be made by the organization’s recently announced foundation, which Rocha says will allow the organization to have a greater impact on local causes and organizations.
“It will allow ros more opportunities to start conversations and then back those discussions up with funding to provide something for the community, such as providing financial support on the issue of food deserts,” Rocha says.