Maureen McDole started Keep St. Pete Lit, a nonprofit aimed at promoting the local literary community, with a whole lot of enthusiasm but not much money or knowledge of how to actually run a nonprofit. Through collaborations and partnerships with different community organizations, she learned the importance of slow, sustainable growth and she's proud that Keep St. Pete Lit continues to thrive despite the challenges of Covid-19. With plans to move into her first office space in The Factory St. Pete in September, McDole is excited to further her mission of bringing an approachable and engaging literary component to St. Petersburg’s vibrant arts community.
Years in St. Pete
Born and raised in St. Pete until age 19; moved back in 2002
Organizations involved in
I support monthly PBS and the ACLU and I try to donate money to lots of local organizations. I support organizations that support the arts and do advocacy in diverse populations. Anything that helps make people’s lives better, I’m into.
What gets you out of bed every day?
If I don’t have anything major planned, I’ll start my day writing and try to get in an hour and half to work on my poetry. I have a 14-year-old daughter, so now that school is back in, I have to get her up and going. Sometimes I’ll swim laps and do yoga. I like to go camping. I’m always really excited to start my day.
Why St. Pete?
I was born and raised in St. Pete and have always strived to make my community and its environment better. I wasn’t getting my needs met as a reader and writer here, and wanted to help create a strong literary presence in our city of the arts.
What is one habit that you keep?
My writing practice. I try to write three pages every day in my journal and usually my poetry comes from that.
Who are some people that influence you?
Olga Bof from Keep St. Pete Local, Lorielle Hollaway from Cultured Books and any women entrepreneur in the community, especially those who are single parents, which I relate to. I’m inspired by my daughter because she is still in school but is 100 percent an artist and lives that lifestyle and reminds me of how important it is to keep up with creative process.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
My favorite book is “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It takes the perspective of a female but can be applied to anyone. She uses shells as reference points for different parts of your life. I still read it every single year and get something new out of it.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
Everything. I started Keep St. Pete Lit with no nonprofit knowledge, except knowing that I wanted to create a literary art scene in our community and I thought it would be fun. Now i’m still learning things but surprisingly, I have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and I wouldn’t do anything differently.
In September, we’re moving into The Factory St. Pete, a 95,000-square foot art destination based in the Warehouse Arts District. We’ll have office space in there and are looking forward to what kind of partnerships it brings. It will be our first private office space, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the collaborations that come out of that. I’m also excited to have an active presence in South St. Pete where a lot of our youth programming is.