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The House We Can Build

This week’s blog is from Ivey Cananoglu, history buff, talking head, queen of quirky, and a Savannah resident bitten by the entrepreneur bug.  Ivey has combined her interests and talents to launch The Great Takeover, a new tour service offering “offbeat experiences” for visitors and locals alike. Read on as Ivey leads us through her entrepreneurial journey and unveils the appeal behind her new venture.  FYI – The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonders. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map…

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By now we have all heard the famous quote by Steve Jobs about connecting the dots and perhaps have even grown tired of it. In case you haven’t, here it is –

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

This quote was in the back of my mind when I began to dig into Savannah’s history in 2014 and finally sat down to write my tour in 2015, after much procrastination. During the process of researching and writing, a lot of important questions about Savannah kept coming up. I had chosen to use the six degrees concept to tell a different story on Savannah. After living here for about 10 years and getting to point where I felt like I really needed to connect the dots in my own life or as Pamela Slim puts it, “find the thread that ties my story together”, I came back to my fascination with past and the concept of untold stories.

There are a few things that just stick with you and fascinate you more than others for some unknown reason and mine have included the six degree concept. With my revived interest in the past, I gave Savannah a second look.

On a previous visit to Savannah before I moved here, I too, stood in the middle of the streets mesmerized, just staring at the architectural gems throughout the city completely drawn in, and oblivious to everything around me (something we have witnessed with many tourists).

My second look at Savannah, the city’s image and how our history has been interpreted, made me realize that we are missing the connections, the thread that ties everything together, and the vital stories.

It made me contemplate whether the image of Savannah we currently present to tourists and visitors is like a glass house, fragile and vulnerable, and susceptible to shattering. This may lead to the development of superficial interest and understandings relegated to short term memories and experiences due to our inability to make deeper connections. Does a deeper connection solely rely on a feeling, the built environment, and a select group of stories? If so, as Savannah evolves and as we struggle with a host of current issues (including crime), how brutal is the awakening for tourists, visitors and new residents when they are confronted with an image, an incident, or a story that completely disrupts their fragile image of Savannah?Takeover

It is possible to achieve deeper connections with the Savannah experience which is essential as a younger generation makes its way to the South seeking this out? How does all of this connect to what Savannah can become, alas the future of our beautiful city?

This was the inspiration for the creation of my company, The Great Takeover. If you are wondering….yes, the name came from my fascination with craft beer and the ingenious tap takeovers; but the name has a power on its own and has a positive connotation for creating the ultimate Savannah experience.

The role of the company is to connect the dots in the past to have a deeper understanding of where we are. It will take innovation and disrupting existing tour structures, while developing a direct link to the community, understanding where it has come from, and where it is going, and consequently reinvesting in the Savannah community. I call these concepts the three pillars of the business and they are intended to support and build a stronger Savannah.

Are We There Yet?

There is a long road ahead for the company. After a period of testing, my first tour, Six Degrees of Savannah, has launched. It is a far cry from the experiences I would like to see in the future but it is reaching for the deeper connections while testing and learning the market. I am starting at the very beginning, the founding of the colony, and using familiar characters such as Juliette Gordon Low, Henry Ford, and Eugene Talmadge to create a different story that pulls from past and current events in the U.S. and Savannah.

It is an attempt to put Savannah’s story in context, connect the dots, highlight the repetitive nature of history, and test stories. That is only a small piece of how it is attempting to disrupt the current structure of tours. The games and interactive parts of the tour are meant to keep you engaged and make it an experience that sticks with you. Experiences will evolve as we begin to pull from the community.

As a company, we are experimenting with how to deliver our message, our branding, our story, and how we can fit into the overall growth of the community. It is like putting a puzzle together. We have our why (our mission) and now we just have to lead with it.

As for the glass house that represents Savannah’s current image? I believe it can become a brick house. It is a house that has been through it all, lived in by many families that have contributed their own stories of good and bad, adding to the character and history of the house. Requiring it to be rebuilt when disaster has struck, using old and new materials because it is understood that it only makes the house stronger. Developing a resilience that welcomes updates and revisions because it can strengthen the bones of the structure, it morphs into the most beautiful and admired house on the block.

Ivey

The Creative Coast was founded in 1997 by the Savannah Economic Development Authority, Chatham County and the City of Savannah to foster the creative, technology and enterpreneurial ecos-system.

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