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[Text by Carly Planker and Hillary Lyon]

[Photos by David Schwartz and Carly Planker]

It was the first 80 degree day in Cleveland, Ohio and I was cruising through Gordon Square with a trunk full of beer from Brooklyn Brewery.  We rolled through the west side arts district in Cleveland and it was abuzz with activity.  Excited, we arrived at 78th Street Studios ready to see what all this hype was about.  One young lady arrived promptly at 6 PM looking for some home cooked food and we welcomed her with open arms and a large, empty plate for her to fill.  As more people arrived it became clear that yoga is popular, vegan dishes were aplenty, and everyone favored the delicious Summer Ale.  I had to fend people off the social media darling of the evening, the cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-dipped strawberries, in warrior one as I went back for seconds.

As the sun set, folks gathered around for the slideshow not quite sure what to expect.  The exciting mix of local and international artists kept everyone’s attention and was the topic of much discussion at the after party.  Local artist David Schwartz took us on a journey down Route 66. Matt Eich showed us an Ohio some of us had never seen before. The quirky slideshow by Liam Tickner was a debate-inducing crowd favorite.  The House on Elwell, a piece by Cleveland expats Daryl Matusak & Willi Wilber echoed the Ohio City landscape next door.

The slideshow ended and the chatting moved outside as we headed to local bar XYZ. Cleveland folks are definitely friendly: two young Episcopalians literally tried to carry me out of the bar as to stop me from returning to Brooklyn the next morning. Local Director, Hillary Lyon, valiantly saved me in Warrior 2. Thank goodness her asanas were strong from her yoga teacher training graduation the night before. After all that vegan food, we ate two hamburgers (of the meat variety) and discussed what was making the burger so delicious. Whether is was the bun or the fried pickle, it was the perfect reward for the work everyone had put in to bring SLPS to Cleveland.  As we careened back to the east side of Cleveland, I took a full, deep breath in and as I exhaled, I thought, Cleveland rocks!

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