Grizzzzly has started many a Facebook post from Frank Wells and you had to take the number of z's seriously. The hardest working man in community involvement often packs his days from morning till night with meetings and panels and projects and whatever else might make St Pete better. He's particularly passionate about social equity in housing and has worked tirelessly into build more opportunity for people to have stable, affordable places to live. From Venture House to the Bright Community Trust, Frank is building a legacy that will be most appreciated within the walls he helps provide for families.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
Bright Community Trust – Venture House. Florida Food Policy Council, New Leaders Council Tampa Bay, St Pete Performs.
What gets you out of bed every day?
There’s so much great work to do here. It’s a thriving town, and at the same time I feel like we’ve got a lot of challenges down in south St. Pete particularly where we are not creating as much opportunity as we are seeing downtown for some of our residents. I’m trying to level the playing field a little bit to make sure everybody in town thrives.
Why St. Pete?
This is an amazing place. When I used to consult, I’d be working in New York, Boston, D.C. or overseas and somebody would say “you’re from where again?” When I said St Petersburg, Florida everybody said “Where is that?” I said man I’ve got a great international airport. I’ve got high speed internet and a cell phone. I’ve got the best quality of life on the planet. We’ve got this great thriving art scene. We’ve got a great food scene. We’ve got super cool people and I can go play volleyball on the beach in January.
What is one habit that you keep?
I’m endlessly curious. I’m constantly reading about new things, checking out new things, trying to find new stuff, new people -connect connect connect and then connect the dots.
Who are some people that influence you?
I’m influenced by the great people I work with. Our council chair, Lisa Wheeler Bowman and some of the other leaders in south St. Pete. Carla Bristol, Brother John Mohammed, Jabbar Edmunds, Theresa Jones. Anthony Jones, our CEO at Bright Community Trust. Karl Nurse. They’ve had such an impact in the work that I do and in shaping the future of this community in ways that invisible to a lot of people.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I’m a big fan of Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki’s great book on how to start anything. I love the way he distills down to ‘what’s your mantra, what helps you really focus the work you are doing.” Get it down to 2 or 3 or 4 words. When I was running World Power and Water, our mantra was ‘Sustainable Abundance’ Anything you do you can filter through your mantra.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish I even knew I was going to be doing this work 3 years ago. It hasn’t been much more than 3 years ago that we launched the Venture House project accidentally by winning a social enterprise pitch competition with it. It’s been fascinating to see this really blossom and take off. It would have been great to know just how big how fast this was going to get.
The biggest thing that’s next is expanding this work over to Orlando and central Florida. We’re expanding the Bright Community Trust, regional trust to serve housing affordably. Our goal is to create a regional comprehensive plan for how we keep housing affordable for people who live and work in this community.