I met Darren Lamb for the first time at one of the Tourism Meetings at the Washington Chamber of Commerce. He is the Community and Economic Development Director at the City of Washington, and he does his job well. We have run into each other at different downtown events, and his wife Amy and I decided he is a great candidate for A Day in the Life of Interview. Darren agreed and even let me take his picture.
The morning: I am a morning person. Up until a month ago I was doing the healthy thing and running in the morning before the rest of the house woke up. Since it turned cold I haven’t as much. Amy and I have to get three kids out of the door in the morning. We both make their breakfast and make sure everyone gets out of the door on time.
The coffee: I am trying to cut back. I just converted to tea to start off the new year. I like coffee strong and black. There are places in town that serve a good cup, but most of what I drink comes from my kitchen.
The drink: Give me a pint of IPA, more hops the better (but I do drink light beer too). I do drink wine – cabernet, pinot noir, syrah, etc.
The food: My wife is an incredible cook. We both like to grill whether it be meat (chicken or pork – my favorites) or vegetables. My wife has lately started a tradition of pasta Sundays where we enjoy pasta made from scratch with her Kitchen Aid mixer. Homemade spaghetti and meatballs has been another recent favorite. During the week if out at lunch I usually eat the salad of choice. I try to eat light during the week especially for lunch and enjoy the heavier stuff on the weekends.
The shops: I am not much of a shopper. If I had to shop it would preferably be at a record store, albeit a dying trade these days. When I was younger my friends and I would make trips to Vintage Vinyl in University City. I am happy to see that it is still there. These days I appreciate a good grocery store and an occasional antique store.
The book: I like classic American literature. Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. I have always enjoyed Jack Kerouac’s On The Road and The Dharma Bums. I also enjoy short stories by Charles Bukowski. I also like Woody Guthrie’s Bound For Glory.
The movie: Well if you ask my family they would say Goodfellas or Casino since I will stop and watch them no matter where they are when flipping through channels on cable. Shawshank Redemption is another one I will stop and watch. I appreciate the Coen brothers films as well. No Country For Old Men is a good one. A recent favorite has been Moonrise Kingdom.
The personal space: I am a homebody. I enjoy being at home with my family however I also enjoy going to our family farms in Osage County. We like to camp there in the spring and fall of the year. I go there to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
The friends: Just like everyone, I have good friends that I grew up with and continue to be friends with to this day, I have friends we enjoy camping with, and friends from high school and college. Most of the time I try to separate my work relationships from my friends. A lot of my friends enjoy my same music tastes.
At home: I have taken up gardening. This time of year I get obsessed over what seeds to plant for the spring. I also love listening to music. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, The Pogues, Uncle Tupelo, Tom Russell, Guy Clark, Greg Brown and Buck Owens are just some of the artists I enjoy. I like Mumford and Sons and the Alabama Shakes but I have to confess I only pull them up on Pandora.
At work: I am mostly business. I enjoy marketing this community to outside industries. My day is full of meetings though. Sometimes I need to just sit with the laptop and get some work done.
The City: In Washington we are blessed with so many organizations coming together for the greater good of the community. Downtown Washington Inc., the Chamber of Commerce, Washington Civic Industrial Corporation, the Redevelopment Corporation all work with the City (as well as all of our civic organizations) to make Washington a wonderful place to live and work. The word volunteerism is sometimes overused to describe what makes this community special, however it best exemplifies our success. I see our job now is to build on that success by creating a livable community where people not only shop and work, but can also live here and become vested in the community. They are our future volunteers. Many of my colleagues in other communities are jealous of all of the resources I have at my disposal. This community sells itself when the opportunity arises and makes my job a lot easier.
Downtown: The sense of place that should define our community. I think the collective efforts of Downtown Washington, the Chamber and the City have done a great job in keeping downtown as a sense of place for the community. So many cities within the St. Louis suburbs have tried to invent a downtown and would kill to have what we have with our riverfront and downtown area. As one senior planner put it, it doesn’t happen overnight. To use a baseball analogy, successful downtowns do not occur with a homerun. It is a series of hits, walks and sacrifices.