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The Interview: Jason Bradley-Krauss

Graphic Designer / Dad / Ambassador For Love Jason Bradley-Krauss has a love story to share. For twenty-three years he and WBNS Chief Meterologist Chris Bradley shared their lives as partners, then as adoptive parents, then as a married couple. They lived in near-perfect synchronicity until Chris became ill with leukemia, passing away earlier last [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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Graphic Designer / Dad / Ambassador For Love

Jason Bradley-Krauss has a love story to share. For twenty-three years he and WBNS Chief Meterologist Chris Bradley shared their lives as partners, then as adoptive parents, then as a married couple. They lived in near-perfect synchronicity until Chris became ill with leukemia, passing away earlier last month.

But from this partnership, Bradley-Krauss still carries two projects of love. The first is Spencer and Maria Bradley-Krauss, both adopted from Guatemala, who are the fulfillment of their dads’ lifelong desires to be parents. The second is Design with Heart Studio. Bradley-Krauss, a corporate graphic designer who announced his career ambitions in the third grade, was inspired to begin a paper goods company when he was unable to find a suitable announcement for his engagement to Chris. Design with Heart has now expanded to retailers across the country, as well as the UK, Australia, and Canada, announcing to the world that Love is indeed Love.

On falling for Chris Bradley: In 1995 I did the design work for Steppin’ Out AIDS Walk Detroit. And it was a run, rollerblade, walk event. And I chose to rollerblade. I knew who Chris was; I’d seen him on the news and thought he was incredibly handsome, but I turned around in the registration line in my rollerblades and he was standing right behind me. It caught me off guard and I literally slipped and fell. But I fought falling, so it was arms and legs all about me and I landed right on my bum. And he started laughing, and I thought, “That turkey.” But I still kind of thought, “Well, I’d still like to meet him.” And about two weeks later a friend of ours introduced us and we hit it off immediately.

On life together: Chris was very supportive of my career and my goals as I was his, and I really think we were on the same page with just about every life issue. That made parenting together easier. We talked a lot, you know. To know Chris is to know that he was a very chatty person. I remember when we first met, he called me at my office and we talked, and then about thirty minutes later he called me again, and was telling me, “I’m defrosting pork chops for dinner tonight and I’m going to go the the gym.” And he called me like two hours later, and I thought, “What’s happening?” But we remained that way. We talked throughout the day on a constant basis over the past twenty-three years.

On adoption and raising a family in Columbus: When we moved here in 1998, I was uncertain whether we would stay here in Columbus very long. And Chris was also in a business that moves people around quite a bit. But I used the opportunity to launch my design firm and establish creative roots here. Within a very short period of time Columbus felt like home. When Chris and I decided to adopt, we did not know another male couple who had gone through this process…. So in terms of arriving at parenthood, we really has to carve out and learn a lot about the adoption process, the international adoption process and then about raising kids. But we have found Columbus to be a very welcoming community and we feel really blessed to have raised our children here. Moving forward with adoption was God’s greatest gift to us. Those children are our life’s greatest blessing.

“We’ve made choices that not everyone has had the courage to make. But we didn’t make those choices to be cutting-edge. We made those choices because those were the choices that resonated with us.”

On living with integrity: When I look at Chris’ life, I see it in three segments. I see the way he lived his life, the way he fought his disease, and the way he died. And he was very consistent in each of those three categories. He wanted to live an authentic life. He led a spiritual life. He wanted to be a family man. When he was diagnosed with his illness, he wanted to make certain that something good would come out of that illness…. I remember distinctly a conversation that we had where he said, “The world seems so dark right now, but I want to shed light and make certain that something good comes out of this.” And I really think at that moment I could see cracks in the darkness and I could feel the light entering into our cancer journey. In dying, he showed such great faith. He showed such a sense of peace that he belonged to God and that God had a bigger picture for him. He knew where he was going. He was proud of what he had done. We were proud of the choices we had made as individuals and as a couple…. We’ve made choices that not everyone has had the courage to make. But we didn’t make those choices to be cutting-edge. We made those choices because those were the choices that resonated with us.

On grief: What I’m walking through now is what they call anticipatory grief. We knew in September that we had exhausted the treatments that were available. For me, doing everything I could to honor Chris’ wishes which were to come home and […] to be with his family, to spend as much time with his family as possible, and to die peacefully at home. And I was able to help facilitate that, and there’s a certain amount of peace that comes from that.

On Design with Heart: I set out to just design just a few cards I thought might be appropriate for male couples or female couples. And as I did that work, I thought, “I love this.” It taps into my love of typography, my love of graphic design, my love of illustration. But also, it allows me to put forth really positive messaging. And so I intended for the line to be simply based around marriage equality and LGBTQ lives. But then the message that came back to me is that love permeates all that’s good and hopeful. Love is present in all of life’s greatest celebratory moments: a new baby, new home, birthday, even thank you and thinking of you. And so I just had a little bit of time that opened up with my client work and I decided I would just give myself a week and see what I came up with. And at the end of the week I had forty-five designs done, and I had forty-five more that I wanted to get done. I just thought, “There’s something here.” I launched Design with Heart in May 2015 at the National Stationery Show in New York and it was a mad scramble to put together an entire product line, website, catalog, inventory, shipping procedures, but it was a passion project, and I derive great joy from it.… Immediately we took orders from museum stores and high-end boutiques around the country…. I think for me as a creative person the greatest thrill has been having the line picked up by the high-end museum stores because what else as a creative person was I ever going to design that would end up in a museum, right?

“But then the message that came back to me is that love permeates all that’s good and hopeful. Love is present in all of life’s greatest celebratory moments: a new baby, new home, birthday, even thank you and thinking of you.”

On the written word and love: It’s fun to know that the work that we’re doing is actually a touchpoint between people. We try to have our greeting cards start a conversation, as opposed to trying to be the conversation, so it is a connection point between two people…. It’s been really amazing also in Chris’ illness to see just how many people still take the time to understand that there is power in the written word. There is power in the connection of reaching out to someone with a written note. I hope we don’t lose that as a people. No one is ever going to take an email and print it out and save it, but I can tell you there are handwritten notes that were sent to Chris and to our family during this time that I will forever treasure.

Find out where you can buy Design with Heart stationery at designwithheart.com.

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Former OSU player starts career as Columbus Firefighter

614now Staff

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Former Buckeye and New Orleans Saints running back running back Antonio Pittman is trading the pads and helmet of the gridiron for a fire hose and a...different helmet in his new career, according to ABC6.

https://twitter.com/mariawsyx6/status/1228415062051819520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fabc6onyourside.com%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fformer-ohio-state-nfl-running-back-opens-new-chapter-as-a-columbus-firefighter

Having recently graduated from the Columbus Fire Academy, Pittman is now on his first week on the job at fire station 12 on the city's west side.

A native of Akron, Pittman played for Ohio State from 2004 to 2006, and was part of the number 1 ranked team that defeated number 2 Michigan 42-39 in the "Game of the Century."

Pittman was then drafted by the New Orleans Saints, but was forced to retire from the NFL following a persistent knee injury.

"My goal was just to play football and honestly, I did that. And the dream was to have a ten-year career and to retire at 32 years old and be off in the sunset and just living comfortably. But you know, plans change and in life, you have to adapt to the change," Pittman told ABC6.

"My goal was to one day give back to a community, a city that's given me so much. A city that changed my whole outlook on life as a kid growing up in Akron."

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The Rest Is History: Couples in Columbus share their stories of falling in love

Mitch Hooper

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Illustration by Sarah Moore

If Hollywood would ever pick up a romantic comedy about a couple falling in love in Columbus, how would it look? Would it be an epic story ending in an intimate proposal on the Scioto Mile, or two strangers bumping into each other at the Varsity Club on game day?

Funny enough, both are very plausible.

This month, we wanted to answer the question: what do love stories in Columbus look like? And what we found is sometimes love stories don’t happen in Columbus; instead they happen because of Columbus. While some folks were high school sweethearts who rekindled the flame, others struck up conversation in countries far away just because they shared the same ZIP code. In part, where you’re from shapes who you are, and for these couples, the capital city holds a special spot in their hearts. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Rachel Grauer and Aaron Guilkey

Aaron and I first met in the early 2000s at Eli Pinney Elementary in Dublin. He was my first boyfriend in fourth grade and broke my heart on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger, for the young folk). We didn’t speak a word to each other all of high school, thank you high school social hierarchy. I went on to OU and he to OSU. We reconnected after college while on a bar crawl in the Short North and the rest is history. We are getting married September 2020!

Lauren Sheridan and David Tripp

All of this is true: We met at a Clippers baseball game. It was a team outing for work. I worked with his mom and she was setting us up. This story is meant to be a complete disaster. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Our first o cial date was at 16-Bit, where we would take our engagement pictures over two years later. He lived in Arizona for 10 years before moving back to Columbus in 2016. It’s been fun reintroducing him to the city, especially our food and beer scene. I can’t imagine having these adventures with anyone else.

Misty and Erin Dickinson

We met at Rendezvous Hair Salon, where she is a hairstylist. Then we spent time together at Drauma at the Bluestone, followed by a night out for a Nina West show at Axis complete with dinner at Union and after party drinks at Macs. We were with my friends and I o ered to walk her to her car which had been towed because, well, Columbus. I stayed with her until we finally found her car at 3 a.m. We started hanging out a lot after that while we both swore we were “just friends”! Almost five years later and we are back in Columbus after a two year move to Tampa. We married (twice, but the story will be way over 100 words! Second time at LaNavona), and have a thousand Columbus stories. Columbus is our home. The place we love and always come back to. There is no place like it.

Kellie Anne and Carl Rainey

I moved to Columbus from LA in 2014 and met my now-husband a month after the move. We found out quickly that we were both California sports fans and went on our first date on Halloween. Lakers vs. Clippers was on the TV at the bar, so we made a bet and the loser had to pick up the tab. My Clippers beat his Lakers, so he had to pay up. We’ve been inseparable ever since. We got married March 23, 2019, and I’m so happy to call Columbus my forever home now!

Daniel Custer and Jenny Harris

I met Jenny on a wine cruise in Santorini, Greece. I saw her from across the pier before we boarded and knew I wanted to chat her up—she was gorgeous. She and her friends sat by me on the catamaran and we began telling one another where we were from. When it got to Jenny, she said she was from Columbus. I said, “Where?!” and she said “Grandview!” We spent the rest of the weekend together, along with the past three years.

Brittany and Ethan Monk

We met as employees at Scioto Country Club in UA. He was a broke server and I was a broke student working as a hostess. We spent many holidays away from family but with each other. We are complete opposites that were impossibly attracted to one another. We married and have 2 children. Still opposites—I work in clinical research and he is a musician and stay-at-home dad. We both have made Columbus our home!

Nicole Erdeljac and Andrew Crowell

We spent the day (separately) at the 2019 Memorial Tournament and were hanging out at the Bogey Inn afterwards. He was standing at the bar and I was behind him, waiting to be served. His friend kept accidentally hitting my shoulder while trying to reach over me to get his attention. I was visibly annoyed when he asked me to tap him. But, I did. We spent the rest of the night dancing to the live band and had our first date a week later at the Columbus Arts Fest, once again, dancing to the live sounds of Anderson East. The rest is history!

Tracie Lynn and Adam Douglas Keller

It was one month to the day after my mother had lost her battle to cancer in 2007. It was one of my favorite nights for being out in Columbus—Red, White, and Boom. After my sister’s and my friend’s group persistently encouraged us to go out for fireworks and time with friends, we agreed. We needed something light and fun. What could possibly come of that?

I’ll never forget the moment that I made eye contact with this handsome, tall and smiling man. He had happened to be out with a mutual friend of our group. We made small talk, listened to live bands, and, well—the rest is history. Nearly 13 years later, we now have two great kids, two dogs, and a rich, full life in Columbus. This is the city we met in, and the one we made a life in. I couldn’t ask for a better love story.

Rebecca Scha er and Peter Yeager

We met at Ledo’s, the first bar on our OSU senior bar crawl list. Flash forward 12 hours later at World of Beer, we bumped into each other again and he handed me a raw russet potato with his name and number written on it in Sharpie. Super weird and random but it did the trick. I called him my soul mate to his face that night. Last winter he took me around town. We stopped at both those bars, reminiscing about our time together. He asked me to be his wife in the middle of the same World of Beer where he gave me that first potato, hiding the ring in a large toy Mrs. Potato head. There’s no other way I would have liked the beginning of our story to go.

Victoria and Ryan Metzinger

I met my amazing husband in Columbus on a blind date set up by mutual friends (sounds very 1995, but it was actually 2011). He suggested a casual drink at Grandview Cafe and I upped the ante for dinner at Third & Hollywood. We continued to Spagio and ended at Grandview Cafe and the rest is history! Now, with two beautiful boys, our WiFi network will always be labeled “Third and Hollywood” as an ode to the perfect setting for a first date. We also visit the restaurant every year on our anniversary and it will never lose its luster.

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Arts & Culture

The Interview Issue: Author Saeed Jones

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Each January, we feature the movers and shakers of the city in in-depth, in-person interviews that dig into their backgrounds, their plans, and what ties them to the capital city. While our interview issue subjects are all Columbus-based, their stories are universal. So settle in, cozy up, and give yourself some you-time. You’ll want to read every word.

Saeed Jones has traveled across the country promoting his new memoir and chosen Columbus for his own next chapter.

Author and new Columbus transplant Saeed Jones finally has a break after wrapping up his 16-city tour to promote his new memoir How We Fight for Our Lives. It’s a book that isn’t solely about his past, but is designed as an earnest conversation with readers. The book succeeds Jones’ previous poetry collections and a stint as Executive Editor of Culture at BuzzFeed, and is already receiving numerous honors and highly- publicized acclaim.

“It took a long time to write the book, almost a decade. So, I had a lot of time to think about writing it [being] one thing, but when you publish it, it becomes something different. I tried not to think so much about other people and the audience, but I think I trusted that if I could write to myself sincerely [and] candidly, that would be a bridge for other people,” he said. “It’s like you’re encountering someone when they just had a transformative experience. Something that’s really important for me in my writing is the cost of silence and the ways we silence ourselves. I think it’s powerful—as a writer, with the fortune I’ve had in my career—for people to be like, ‘I’m going through it’, and for me to be one more person who goes, ‘Me too.’”

Though some authors intend to tell their stories later in life, Jones wanted to focus his story on the time period from his upbringing in Texas through his mid-twenties to capture a specific ethos that informed his narrative. Concerned that segments of his life would become deemed irrelevant to readers, he found the immediacy of the news sparked him to publish the book sooner than later. Soon after Jones considered writing in detail about the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, which shifted the LGBTQ+ conversation, the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting occurred.

“Whenever I would get a little hard on myself about the book’s intentions, it felt like America would go, ‘We gotta do this now,’” Jones said. ”Everything’s not perfect but a lot has changed from 1998. [While writing,] I was like, ‘I don’t know if it’ll be a perfect book, but it’s gonna be the book that I want and need now.’”

Photos: Brian Kaiser

After his mother’s passing in 2011, Jones is attentive to their relationship in How We Fight for Our Lives, endearingly dedicating the book to her even after a moment of uncertainty that occurred when he came out. In spite of having a vibrant relationship with his mother, Jones jokes that the two weren’t able to naturally discuss sexuality. Promoting the memoir before Thanksgiving, Jones mentions that some LGBTQ+ readers confided in him about their own awkward conversations with family.

“Sure, it’s important for us to write about clear and present danger, whether that’s police brutality, homophobic or racially-driven violence, [but] I think that it’s also important for us to pay attention to the more subtle hurts that come to define us. Sometimes those hurts are a result of failings; loved ones who just can’t support us because they’re like ‘I don’t get it’ and they kind of give up,” he said. “My mom was working two jobs, so a lot of times she was just tired. She was like, ‘Sorry, we can’t have a heartfelt conversation today, I gotta go to my second job.’ That had an impact on me, and I know that has an impact on a lot of other people in those moments. In any meaningful, long-lasting relationships—certainly family relationships—it is going to be complicated. If you don’t have multiple colors in how you’re thinking about that relationship, the truth is that something is being deadened, something is being intentionally or unintentionally ignored or silenced.”

An avid reader of works by Margaret Atwood and Audre Lorde, Jones recognizes a similar urgency from his memoir through his influence James Baldwin, admitting to reading his 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room repeatedly, revisiting it at different points of his life to gain a new perspective. Identifying with different characters each time, Jones focused essentially on Baldwin’s deconstruction of queerness and social dynamics, which intersected American politics with racial identity. “[Baldwin] wasn’t going to pretend that there was this monolithic Blackness. He wasn’t just going to pretend that there weren’t Black men—who he was advocating for in terms of civil rights— who weren’t homophobic. He was like ‘We’re gonna do all this together’” Jones said. “He’s drawing from his background in Christianity, but he’s changed; he’s not practicing his faith in the same way. He [was] just doing a very good job of showing how we’re in flux and that it’s natural and better to embrace that. I feel like that set me up to start paying attention.”

Habitually enthusiastic about settling in Columbus (or what he calls “the promised land”), Jones speaks gleefully about The Great Migration and Ohio boasting essential Black authors—Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jacqueline Woodson, Hanif Abdurraqib and Toni Morrison. While he notes that Black authors have thrived

in Ohio through a formidable writing scene, in How We Fight for Our Lives, Jones touches keenly on the fragility of Black life. Days prior to our conversation marked the one-year anniversary of the death of 16-year-old Julius Tate, who was shot by Columbus police during a sting operation.

“If we’re able to villainize people we have wronged—and Julius was certainly wronged—it eases the rhetoric of brushing the wrong aside,” Jones said. “It happens so often and so much of our culture grooms all of us to move on. I’m not the one to say what justice for Julius and for Black people impacted by that violence looks like, but I would love to hear it. I have no interest in telling people to be quiet. I’m a writer, so I think a lot about editing and revision, and how you polish and the drafts you don’t want people to see. Cities are text, too.”

While Columbus continues to be a work in progress through systematic tensions, Jones is embracing the city’s tangible LGBTQ+ scene after residing in New York City, Atlanta, and San Francisco. In support of the Black Queer & Intersectional Collective, he attended the Columbus March for Black Trans Women in November, where he felt a sense of cohesiveness within the city. “I feel like the march was a great example of waking me up—unsurprisingly, it’s easier for cisgender gay men to live and feel embraced here than Black trans women in Columbus,” Jones said. “The stakes are high, but it feels possible. Here it feels like, ‘start reading up, go to that march, talk to people,’ as opposed to ‘here’s the finished story.’”

With a story far from over, Jones reveals that his next life work is to write about joy to balance the scales with his past struggle within How We Fight for Our Lives. Avidly writing about pain and loss, he vows to dabble into more written frameworks outside of his comfort zone. “I feel like I’ve written about myself so damn much, maybe learning to write in other forms—fiction—would be fun. I want to learn more, I feel that’s when I’m most alive, when I’m learning and realizing that I’m learning,” he said. “That’s when I feel fully present as a person, not when I think I know the beginning, middle and end.”

Follow Saeed Jones on Twitter and Instagram at @theferocity.

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