Updated: Oct 29, 2019
The first thing one should know about C.G. Clarke, or simply “Clarke” as she is affectionately known, is that upon spending time with her, you will feel like the most important person in the room.
Here’s how it starts. Warmly, Clarke will initiate a conversation. She will listen more than she will talk, peppering questions throughout the conversation due to her authentic interest in understanding the person with whom she is interacting. Word of warning, especially for those not prone to comfortably sharing personal tidbits. Something magnetic happens when with Clarke - stories are unfolded and unpacked - without even realizing it’s happening. So be prepared, for one will find themselves just as engaged in the conversation as she is.
And the beauty of it all?
Clarke is genuinely interested in all things YOU.
Relationships and stories make Clarke tick.
This passion, which can be rare in the world of construction, is what makes her the perfect Project Manager for the Portobello Building.
Education and Inspiration
Sparked by her time at Chatham College, and specifically, her favorite college course, “The History of Pittsburgh, The History of the United States” Clarke developed an understanding of and interest in the terrain, industry, immigration, and ultimately the Renaissance and transformation of Pittsburgh into a cutting-edge green city. This interest, also influenced by the work of Rachel Carson (“Silent Spring”), has served as fuel for her 20 years in construction project management, which includes a Green Building Credential from the US Green Building Council as a LEED Accredited Professional. Before hopping on board with Mycelia, Clarke worked on projects for PayPal/eBay, Accenture, RCCL in Seattle, NYC, and Omaha, NE as well as many projects in Michigan where she has resided since 2004.
But, really, those are just the facts.
Behind the impressive resume is a heart which reflects a passion for improving and saving our Earth because of her greater love for people. Take her thoughts on caring for the environment,
“We are thinking short term and not long-term. There are costs that people aren’t considering. The people who will truly suffer from Climate Change caused by human activity are already people living on the margins.”
The depth of the environmental issue is not lost on Clarke. As an example, we tend to forget that Climate Change affects our waterfronts, which in turn, affects those living alongside them. As more of our waterfronts experience extreme erosion, those living along coastlines will be displaced. Clarke, rightfully so, doesn’t merely think of the planet, but also the humans living on the plant who will be affected by our indifference to treating the Earth with respect.
This is precisely why she is the best fit for the Portobello Building where relationships and stories are the heart and inspiration of the project.
NOT a meeting of “chance”
It was decades ago while they were both in Washington DC that a mutual friend first introduced Clarke and Renee. Building their friendship through the years, Clarke was then taken under the spell of Renee’s vision upon touring the then under-construction Stray Cat Studio back in 2013. Unbeknownst to them at the time, they would eventually become the dynamic duo behind the Portobello Building - expanding upon Stray Cat’s original vision by housing even more “Makers” (of pottery, food, art, and theater) in a town originally known for steel production.
“Artists inspire, they re-imagine, they are in tune with their surroundings and Mycelia Development is a project that will at its core provide a place of hope, joy, and growth.”
As Project Manager for the Portobello, Clarke holds the reins of this creative vessel and is committed to filling it with hopes, dreams, requirements, and goals (including the budget, design development, and construction schedule, long-term returns on investments, etc.). As the project advances, responsibilities will expand to overseeing a larger project team made up of architects, engineers (civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and energy modeling) and the General Contractor. It takes a lot to keep a vessel like this afloat but keeping one’s gaze fixed on the stories that the Portobello will ultimately tell, helps to center the tasks at hand.
What stories will be told?
In 2021 and beyond when locals and visitors enter the Portobello space, it is Clarke’s hope that they will be enchanted and stunned by the world in which they just stepped. Murmurs of “How did they do that?” and “Did you see what they did there?” will ping-pong across the cafe, hand-made market, gallery, ceramic studio, theater, and lobby.
Along with the professional credentials that enable Clarke to manage a project such as the Portobello is a woman who sees a larger purpose within a schematic design and blueprint.
With exuberance, playfulness, ridiculous, joy and her ability to live fully in the moment (and quickly move on if there is a curfuffle - gotta love a good "Clarkeism"), all qualities she has learned from her furry canine friends and strives to emulate, she is positioned perfectly to help Mycelia on this journey.