Blackbird Café is the place where people gather for more than just breakfast. It’s a place where memories are made and relived, friendships are forged, and basically where life happens.
March 23, 2015 marks ValpoLife’s sixth birthday. And we started our day with Blackbird Café, one of our great partners who has been with us for a long time. Supporters of life -Chris Sandberg, Donna Flanagin, Darlene Cohn, Jenny Craig, and Jack Hines- gathered with Chris Mahlmann, our President and CEO, and talked about the past, present, and future of Life.
Seeing as how the breakfast was taking place at Blackbird. It was only fitting that Chris share his best memory related to Blackbird.
“It was the year we moved into the Valpo office. Laura Groth told me Blackbird just signed up [with us]. All the worries in the world were gone for the moment. I’ve been a loyal Blackbird lover ever since," he said.
So where was everyone six years ago when ValpoLife happened?
“In 2009 I was catching up from the recession, catching up and making it even. – Jack Hines
“I was in a newspaper. I was working for the Niles Daily Star doing graphic design. It was my first graphic design job. – Jenny Craig
“I remember when [Chris] first came in to see me. He gave me a jacket. ValpoLife was very new. Two years before he had contacted me for a sit-down but it never happened and he surfaced again and of course I wanted to hear what he had to say. I was getting into social media and it was all new and I got it. I knew that what he had was a great idea. We had a great meeting and it’s been that way ever since. -Donna Flanagin
“I like that you could open Facebook and see something good and new. You covered events that I didn't even know happened. It was current, it was Valpo. –Chris Sandberg
“I was working here at Blackbird. I was a barista. I helped them get things ready when they opened up.” -Darlene Cohn
As the story goes, Chris met a Valpo girl and followed her to Northwest Indiana. He then had a good idea. That idea was to share the good news of the city that he had come to love and call his home. Chris spent a good portion of his life in the financial market. Going from that market to the media market was quite a change. He found that not everyone loved his idea, but that didn’t stop him.
"There are people who are for it, there are people who are neutral, but I never thought that there would be people who would be against it because it’s good news. The people that didn’t believe in me were huge motivators,” Chris said. “This job feeds the soul for me."
Where will we be in 10 years?
“When we’re 10 years old I expect that we’ll have all the northern half of Indiana covered,” Chris said. “When we launched ValpoLife we already had 150 articles. I like to make sure that we’re prepared before opening any of our sites.”
The breakfast ended with some wonderful birthday wishes.
“Happy birthday, ValpoLife! I love working with you guys. Only covering the positive has gotten the spotlight on some great things in Valpo that wouldn’t otherwise get much attention,” Jack Hines said.
“Happy birthday to ValpoLife and Ideas in Motion. I’ve been with you since the beginning and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Donna Flanagin said. “Nothing but good news; how can we not all love that? I’m enjoying watching you guys grow and watching the bigger towns come in more and seeing all that you have to offer them.”
“Happy birthday, ValpoLife! I work with you because you’re awesome. I think you have an amazing point of view for possibilities that our communities have and could have. You’re very dedicated to showing what’s good and what’s a worthwhile mission,” Darlene Cohn said.
“I can’t wait to see what the future brings for ValpoLife,” Chris Sandberg said. “It’s all about Valpo and you guys bring out the good.”
“Everything here is such an amazing grace to the community and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Lady Lifer Jenny Craig said. “I hope for 10 more years of excitement.”