Setup Instructions for v2.28

Welcome to Launch Effect Premium v2.28! Launch Effect Premium lets you create and customize an entire website at the click of a few buttons. Version 2.28 includes some important stability fixes and speed improvements, tweaks to the theme’s responsive styling, and large improvements to the way the theme handles the generation of meta data for Facebook sharing, as well as the theme’s ability to play nice with popular SEO plugins. Be sure to check out the Launch Effect > Designer > Global Settings panel for more information. Take a look around to see what’s new and launch something today!

Setting up is easy, but there’s definitely a few steps that have to be done in order for things to work properly. Please follow the steps below and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Please feel free to contact us at our support forums if you have questions about setup or are experiencing any issues with the theme.

Setup Instructions

Step 1 — Set Homepage

Go to Settings > Reading.
By default, WordPress shows your most recent Posts (the blog) on the homepage of your site (like the one you’re reading right now). But many WordPress users want to be able to choose a different Page as their homepage.

If you’d like to keep your most recent Posts as your homepage, you don’t have to adjust anything in this step.

If not, where it says, “Front page displays,” choose “A static page,” and select accordingly for your “Front Page”. Be sure to select “Blog” for “Posts Page”. If you’d like the Launch Effect sign-up page to be your homepage, choose “Sign-Up” for “Front Page”. Go to the Pages item in the WordPress sidebar to create new pages, which you can also select to be your “Front Page”.

Step 2 — Create Nav Menu

Go to Appearance > Menus.
This is where your navigation menu is set up and controlled. In the large panel on the right, next to “Menu Name,” write a name for your menu (it can be anything) and press save. The page will refresh and you will see a new panel called “Theme Locations at the top left. Use the Launch Effect Navigation drop down menu to select the name of the menu you just created. Then press save. Now you can use the options at left to choose what pages and posts you’d like to appear in your nav menu.

Step 3 — Select Widgets

Go to Appearance > Widgets.
Launch Effect is compatible with the standard WordPress widgets, as you can see from the ones that appear by default on the left-hand side of your website. Here you can select which widgets to keep and which to remove, as well as customize content specific to each widget.

Step 4 — Start Designing!

Go to Launch Effect > Designer.
Now for the fun part! The Designer is now divided into three sections: Global Styles, Sign-Up Page, and Theme. That submenu is located directly under the giant Designer/Integrations/Stats tabs. The best way to get started here is to just start playing around and gaining an understanding of what selections affect which parts of the design. Good luck!

Release Notes 0.1.3

This update continues my customization of the blog feed.

The featured image now alternates automatically from right to left for each post in the loop using the CSS nth-child(odd) pseudo selector. The solution was far simpler than I was making it out to be. My takeaway: Can it be done in CSS first?

The featured image for each post is now rendered as a background image inside its own div. This tutorial by Jesse Rand (which I adapted to Genesis) got me set on the right track. The approach is how desktop publishing software like InDesign and Quark Xpress have always dealt with images—and might I add, far more intuitively. There’s the box and there’s the image that goes in the box—each can be independently adjusted. I need granular control of the scaling, positioning and cropping for each of my featured images. I’ll probably create a simple gui so I can adjust my background image properties directly in the post editor, but for now, adding the properties to my style sheet will suffice.

Release Notes: 0.1.1

Today’s update deals mostly with how the front page content is displayed in the main feed.

  • Added a custom loop for my blog feed that splits the markup of the post entry into two wraps. One uses the <figure> element to wrap the featured image. The other wraps the entry-header, entry-content and entry-footer.
  • I applied style to the entry-content-wrap and featured-image-wrap. Each wrap has a 50% width and a fixed height of 600px. I’m using percentage-based padding on the entry-content-wrap to maintain the whitespace when viewed at different screen sizes. I still have to get the media queries working for the mobile viewports. This page looks like shit right now on mobile.
  • I’m still working on the logic that alternates the featured-image from left to right automatically. For this release I’m manually adding a custom post style to handle it.
  • All permalinks are being redirected until their respective inner pages are formatted.
  • The “Release Notes” category is filtered from the main blog feed. You can navigate easily to Release Notes section via the navatar side menu.
  • http://wordpress.org/support/topic/excluding-category-from-widget
  • This three-part article by Kurt Hansen of high FX media goes a long way to demystify the Genesis Loop. It’s a great read.
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Maiden Voyage

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I launched my website on April Fools Day. Is it a joke or is it a coincidence—maybe it’s both. What I do know, however, is that being a web professional for 14 years, NOT having my own website (business, personal or otherwise), yet still managing to wrangle enough clients to eek out a living—well that isn’t a joke, at the very least, it’s ironic. So after many false starts, I’m finally getting around to launching my very own space on the web. Who knew?

So this is it—my website. At first glance, there’s not a whole lot to it, but I can assure you—there is a whole lot to it. Much of what you see right now is still buggy, broken or incomplete, but despite my tendency towards perfectionism, I decided to go ahead and push it out—as is.

April 1st seems like a nice round number and an easy date to remember. It’s also the most ridiculous holiday ever created; a day when people are allowed to lie with impunity—in the name of good humor. Something about that juxtaposition appeals to me. We’ll see how it all works out when I commemorate my first anniversary.

I suffer from one of the worst afflictions that can plague a creative—being my own worst critic. I earn my living helping people get unstuck so they can get on with their pursuits, but for some reason I’ve been unable unstick myself—that is, until now.

Being in perpetual pre-launch mode has been a reinforcing crutch for my old bad habits. For what it’s worth, I’ve decided to publicly iterate this web site (with all its flaws) into existence.

Coming from nothing, do I really have anything to lose? A website, after all, is never really finished. It’s like a living binary-based organism. If nurtured, it will grow, thrive and evolve. If neglected, it will wither on the vine just the same.

In 1994 my world came to a screeching halt—I stopped cold from the pursuit of my goals. 20 years later, those goals have remained in a state of suspended animation. Once upon I was young buck wielding a machete, carving a path to my life’s purpose, but somewhere along the way—I lost my way. 2014 is the year all of that changes. I’ve christened it with a hashtag—#TheYearOfDoing. The Internet is my port-of-call. This website is my vessel. Through it I will embark upon a journey to reclaim what’s left of my so-called life. My sail is unfurled and ready to catch the wind.

This is my maiden voyage.

 

The theme of this post was inspired by Herbie Hancock’s 1965 classic jazz recording Maiden Voyage. It was Herbie’s 5th album as a bandleader and probably his most well known 60′s-era recording.

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Communi-TEA

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You say Ka•LEE•sha, I say Ka•LAY•sha, but ask anyone in the know and they’ll tell you that it’s, Ka•LY•sha, as in Kaleisia Tea Lounge. “Our name is definitely a conversation starter,” says Kim Pham. “It’s a combination of the words Kaleidoscope and Asia.” The name celebrates the Asiatic roots of tea and the infinite varieties of tea that are cultivated around the world. Kim, along with her partner, Lan Ha, founded Kaleisia Tea Lounge TheTeaLounge.com in the least likely of places and circumstances with a mission to uplift the community and nurture a tea culture where none had ever existed. Six years later, not only have they remained true to their mission, but they have accomplished so much more.

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SIMPLICI–TEA

A visit to Kaleisia immediately invokes the feeling of a sense of place. The space is intimate and the atmosphere is welcoming. Positive vibes and comfortable seating (both indoor and on their patio) are abundant. The walls and shelves are adorned by paintings and ceramics sourced from local artists. Books and eclectic board games like the Chinese game of GO abound — they clearly want you to stay a while. If you know what you want to drink, you can go straight to the counter and place an order. It won’t take long for the friendly staff to learn your name AND your favorite beverage. But for many, one of the most pleasurable aspects of a Kaleisia Tea Lounge excursion is undoubtedly…

The Wall Of Tea

As you walk into the tea lounge, you’ll immediately notice over 100 varieties of loose tea neatly organized in small stainless steel canisters. Each one is color-coded with an easy to read label that is also easy to reach. That’s right, customers are actually encouraged to touch, smell and compare the different teas that Kaleisia offers. All teas are custom blended in-house, and according to their website, “no two teas are alike.” One could spend quite a bit of time at The Wall of Tea; the experience is very engaging and the presentation made a strong impression on me. My personal favorite is the Indian Masala Chai, and dare I say, it rivals the Masala Chai that I’ve had in the homes of some of my closest Indian friends. Another great tea that I tried was during one of the interviews for this article. I came to the tea lounge noticeably under the weather, and without missing a beat, instead of my normal Chai, Kim prepared me an IMMUNITEA (a special blend of echinacea, chamomile, peppermint, ginger, cardamom and other botanicals) that immediately opened up everything that was clogged in my head and chest—good stuff, ‘nuff said. But TEA is only part of the story.

SOLIDARI–TEA

Kim and Lan are not just business partners, they are also first cousins. Born one month apart, they were raised as sisters and best friends (their moms are actual sisters). Lan arrived in the United States from Vietnam with her family in 1986. Kim and her family arrived one year later. Life was difficult for Vietnamese refugees in those days. They grew up dirt poor. And without a safety net their families could have easily become homeless at any time. Kim and Lan struggled to find their place in American society and learning English was a big part of the challenge. But through it all, they were raised to always value humanity over profits. As Kim recalls, “Every spare moment outside of work or school was devoted to service. Our families were very active in the community.” And thus, the seeds of COMMUNI-TEA were planted. When the time came for college, Kim left to study in California, Lan remained and studied in Tampa. Whenever Kim would return to visit, she would always gripe that there were no real places for people to gather in the USF area, much less to gather and drink tea. They often dreamed what it would be like to have such a place. When Kim returned home after graduation she set her sights to begin graduate studies and possibly earn an MBA. That’s when her mother intervened. Kim’s mother has always been her closest advisor. Kim’s desire to open a tea shop was often discussed at home, but she figured that she might as well get an MBA. She could then start the business and if all else fails, at least she would have the degree as her fall back position. As Kim recalls, “My mother asked me, ‘Why don’t you get a real MBA instead of a fake piece of paper? Starting a business from scratch will be the best lesson you could ever learn. If you succeed, great. If not, that’s your MBA. You would have learned something real that can be transferred to the workplace.’” This was all the encouragement that the girls needed.

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OPPORTUNI–TEA

The stage was set, Kim and Lan made the decision to open a tea shop, but they had their work cut out for them. Neither Kim nor Lan had much knowledge or experience in starting or running a business. “We felt going into this that we would lose,” says Kim. Nonetheless, fueled with a passion for tea and a desire to establish a community, the two embarked on a journey to figure it all out. Along the way they would challenge common wisdom, rewrite the startup playbook and embrace an emerging business model that was congruent with being profitable AND socially conscious.

By Any Other Name

In addition to picking a name that is difficult to pronounce, the location for Kaleisia presented its own challenges. Kim studied public policy at Occidental College in California. Her experience working in the field provided insights into how they would approach choosing a location for Kaleisia, but not necessarily for the reasons one might expect. They chose a location in the heart of Suitcase City, an area adjacent and to the west of USF, so-called for its transient population, high crime rate and urban blight. “If tea was the number one reason for opening our business we would have done so in a place like Hyde Park or New Tampa.” For Kim and Lan it was “a no-brainer” to open the tea lounge at the precise corner where the crime rate was highest—15th and Fletcher. Businesses were shutting down and relocating from the area to places like New Tampa or Citrus Park. The commercial properties that were vacated became run down and useless. When this happens the city has to assume control, but it’s difficult to stop the hemorrhaging, so the crime rate increases causing more businesses to flee—it’s a catch-22. Kim and Lan wanted to change that.

CREATIVI–TEA

The decision to bring tea culture to Suitcase City would be one of many pivotal decisions that Kim and Lan would make on their way to becoming entrepreneurs. Says Kim, “We read so many business 101 and entrepreneurial books, but we ultimately went against most of the conventional advice.” For starters, after they signed their lease, they waited six months before opening the doors to the public. Most people who lease a storefront are usually open for business within a month or two. Kim and Lan are perfectionists, they wanted to take the time to research their products and get everything just right. It would be easy to assume that Kim and Lan were well-funded, and thus, could afford the luxury of taking their own sweet time. To the contrary, the entire Kaleisia startup was funded on credit card debt (much like an indie filmmaker might fund a movie production). “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Ben Franklin. In Kim’s words, “Our reasoning at the time was that it’s better to suck up the cost now, or rush in and forever be out of business. Customers don’t see your business as an evolving project. They’ll buy one product, and if they like it they’ll return, if not, you’ll never see them again.” The moral—first impressions matter.

INGENUI–TEA

When they finally opened their doors for business in April of 2005, it was very important for Kaleisia to not only be perceived as a safe place to come and buy tea, but a place to also stay, hang out and drink tea. According to Kim, “Tea is what brings people together.” When she speaks, her passion for tea culture is refreshing and infectious. She further explains, “Yes, we sell tea. Yes, tea is a big part of who we are, but when we opened our shop, we really wanted to create a sense of community.” Among the ways that Kaleisia expresses its support to the community is by providing space for local artists to display and sell their works. They never charge a commission or any type of fee. The walls and shelves always look beautiful, and Kim and Lan are grateful to have the space to provide. They recently held a Henna 101 workshop and Knitting Night is a popular weekly event. Of course, one of the primary ways Kaleisia makes itself accessible to the community is with their prices. Kim and Lan understood right away that their prices had to be affordable. Students from USF and others from the area can’t afford to, nor should they have to, pay a premium or be overcharged for style, just because Kaleisia is a niche business. Most drinks at the tea lounge average around $3. Instead of selling a bunch of random food, they choose to sell healthy all-vegan fare—everything is priced under $5. It is also worth noting that Kaleisia’s prices have not been raised since they first opened—not for inflation or even the bad economy. “The USF community supports Kaleisia tremendously,” says Kim. “It’s fair to say that we probably would not have survived without them.” Kim credits the student community for keeping things fresh. “College kids are so much fun to be around. Students like change, they help us change. They keep us on top of the latest trends, and they’re very innovative and creative. We wouldn’t want to be very far away from them.” Before buzzwords like Social Media and Crowdsourcing became part of the vernacular, Kim and Lan, from the beginning, solicited feedback from the community on everything you could possibly imagine. But it wasn’t just feedback that they were after, they literally wanted their customers to make suggestions and decisions. For example:

  • The community picked the design for their logo and branding.
  • The community asked for T-shirts. A T-shirt design contest was held that resulted in the stylish “I Love Tea” shirts which they sell for $10 at the shop or online. Initially, they were only available in red. Customers asked for (and got) more color choices.
  • In the beginning they didn’t have food until everyone started asking for it. Now they have food.
  • Music nights, multi-cultural workshops, etc. are all community driven.
  • The community even chose which day of the week the tea lounge would be closed. FYI, it’s Tuesday.
  • The list goes on, but Kim and Lan are quick to downplay their influence on the whole operation. And they’re not feigning modesty either, they really mean it. “We simply had an idea,” says Kim. “Beyond getting things started, the success of this place really has very little to do with us. This business exists on its own and it’s here to be molded by the people who utilize the business.” More evidence of this reality, this truth can be found among the staff.
  • In six years, Kaleisia has had zero staff turnover. As Kim explains, “From day one, we’ve never lost a single person. Everyone who has ever worked here, still works here. They might leave town, graduate or move on to other careers, but they all remain part of the family. In their spare time or if they come back to town, someone will always come to the shop and lend a hand.” Why on Earth would this be so? The answer is simple. The same empowerment that exists for the community also exists for the staff.

Here’s why:

  • Shifts are not imposed. Everyone works out their schedule according to their needs.
  • If someone needs a day off or can’t work on a particular day, and if no one else is available, Kim or Lan will fill in. They don’t see this as an inconvenience, they view it as their responsibility to the staff.
  • The staff earns above the living wage for restaurant workers.
  • If a raise is offered, so too is the choice of having their health insurance or some other benefit covered in lieu of a raise.
  • The staff eats and drinks for free.
  • The staff helps decide the pricing, menu items, entertainment choices, and even hiring decisions.

POSSIBILI–TEA

There’s a lot to wrap your head around when thinking about how all of this community love could possibly be self-sustaining, or even profitable. But according to Kim, after only two years, they were able to pay off their credit card debt, pull a modest income, and be completely debt free and in the black. They even saved enough money for a possible expansion, but when the economy tanked, they pulled back (though, they may revisit the idea at a later date). Even Kim’s mother was surprised after learning just over a year ago, that the business was doing so well. But to really understand how a community has coalesced around Kaleisia, you’ll need to experience…

Gifts Of Love

GIFTS OF LOVE is Kaleisia Tea Lounge’s annual community charity fundraiser. Each year in March, the tea lounge holds a mini festival for the benefit of a local community charity or cause. Over 200 people are usually in attendance. A section of the parking lot is cordoned off to make room for a stage area. The inside and outdoor patio of the tea lounge is partitioned for various activities like a photo booth, face-painting, henna tatoos, a caricature artist, etc. Music, live entertainment and raffles run throughout the event. But the highlight of GIFTS OF LOVE are the auctions (both silent and live). Local businesses from within and outside the community donate various items of moderate value which are put up for bid. To encourage participation, starting bids are between $20 and $40. One hundred percent of all proceeds are donated by the community directly to the charity as a single cash payment. This year’s GOL recipient was an organization called, B.R.I.D.G.E., a free health clinic run by students from the USF School of Medicine. Instead of just having a fundraiser for a faceless charity, the idea behind GOL is to bring the local charity and the community together so they can interact and learn about one another. The charity is guaranteed at least $3000 by Kaleisia (whether they raise it or not). GIFTS OF LOVE money has been raised to fight autism and has even made its way to Africa to help build a birthing center for women in Uganda.

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BEAU-TEA

April marks the sixth anniversary for Kaleisia Tea Lounge. What began as a made up word with little meaning to anyone but its founders, has grown and evolved to mean many things to many people. “What we do is not proprietary,” says Kim “we run our business the way we run our lives.” Many people from the community who may have moved on to other states will still order loose tea through TheTeaLounge.com. They could easily buy their tea from any number of places, but they continue to buy from Kaleisia because they know that they are participating in something bigger. People who were never exposed to tea, who never touched it, who never smelled it have become tea connoisseurs purely on the basis of having direct access to a place like Kaleisia. Chances are, you already drink Kaleisia Tea and don’t even know it. Places like Cafe Hey, The Corner Store, Grass Root Organic Restaurant and many others buy their tea wholesale directly from Kaleisia. There was a time, in the beginning, when Kim had to personally deliver tea to businesses that would simply refuse to come to “the hood”. Today, most buyers have no problem making the trek to 15th and Fletcher to pick up their tea. Says Kim, “We believe that if you have a good product and you love the people that you serve and you really treat the business, not just as a money maker, but as a community builder, then people from all over will come. And a once declining neighborhood will gradually shed its bad reputation and regain the trust of its people and ultimately, its good standing in the community.” For me, the story of Kaleisia is like the story of the Lotus. The Lotus grows from the mud through murky waters. Its flowers blossom pure and unstained. The idea of Kaleisia was like a journey from the mud, through murky water manifesting itself as pure, unstained BEAU-TEA.

STAGGERING UNDER THE WEIGHT OF HIS GENIUS!!!

Kaleisia relies entirely on word-of-mouth to promote awareness for the tea lounge. Social media plays a major role in how information is spread to the community. They used to publish an email newsletter but the discontinued it because the community preferred instead to engage via Facebook, Twitter and TheTeaLounge.com. Social media was taking off so they needed to hire someone to help out in that area. Long-time customer and friend, Matt Murchison @MattMurchison was the obvious choice for the job. He had already been a huge supporter of the tea lounge, was net-savvy and plugged in to all the relevant social networks. But more importantly, he was plugged into the Kaleisia culture. Matt once wrote a review on Yelp about Kaleisia in the form of a poem (see right). When word got back to Kim about it, she read it and knew that they had found their man. Matt has been posting news and specials for about a year now, and true to Kaleisia form, he is empowered of his own accord to engage on Kaleisia’s behalf.

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Oh, Kaleisia, you bring me the tea
to help me make it through my day
The blacks, the whites, the reds, the greens
the blends that blow my blues away

Your staff: courteous, quick, and kind
Your cafe: comfortable and clean
though I have searched, I couldn’t find
a better Tampa Bay tea scene

Your board games never leave me bored
The artworks on your walls delight
your snacks are easy to afford
and feed my soul with every bite

I love your wall of fragrant tea
that transports me around the sphere
I buy some loose to bring with me
so I can brew and drink them here

I recommend Kaleisia to
all those who like amazing things
Just try them for yourselves and you
will see the joy Kaleisia brings

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Kenyan Gold

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A typical winter day in Tampa Bay is anything but typical. You are more likely to see sand angels on white sands before you see anything that resembles snow.

But on occasion, and sprinkled throughout the Winter season, the Bay area is prone to experience a cold snap or two. And on those thin-blooded days when socks are NOT optional, Café Kili in Temple Terrace is a welcome respite from a brisk day; a place where hot coffee and a warm smile will bring your temperature back up to sub-tropical norms.

Café Kili (named after Mt. Kilimanjaro) is owned and operated by Patrick and Rose Waruinge. They opened for business in 2007 and are a thriving mainstay of the Temple Terrace and USF communities. They roast their coffee in-house. Raw beans are imported from Kenya, Tanzania, Sumatra, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and Brazil. You haven’t tasted coffee as rich and flavorful until you have experienced the taste of a bean that has been brewed within a few hours from the time it was roasted.

All of the usual varieties that discerning coffee drinkers are accustomed to can be found on the Café Kili menu. My personal favorite is the Café Mocha. At the franchise coffee shops, I’m normally a quad-shot-espresso kind of guy, but let me warn you right now, the brew at Café Kili is of such a high grade that it makes the corporate swill seem like watered down Prohibition-era hooch served at a speakeasy. So, if you’re like me, you might want to dial it back a couple of shots—I’m just saying.

One would be hard pressed to find a barista in the Bay area with the intimate knowledge of the “sacred bean” as Rose Waruinge—her passion for coffee runs deep. “Rose can taste a bean and tell if it is an African bean or tell you where it is from,” says her husband, Patrick. She was raised on a coffee plantation in the central province of Nyeri, Kenya. Along with her ten siblings, she learned to cultivate raw coffee beans that would, in turn, be sold exclusively to the Kenyan government. “Growing coffee was a family operation,” says Rose. “Our father could not afford to hire workers so he used us [his children] as laborers to care for the coffee plants, pick the ripe cherries and deliver them to the factory. He paid for our educations in this way.”

“Kenyan Gold,” as coffee is commonly known in Kenya, is one of the country’s top cash crops. It is grown on family-owned plantations, but the prices are fixed and regulated by the government. Ironically, according to Patrick, “Coffee growers are not allowed to process for consumption the beans grown on their own farms; it is an export-only industry.”

The idea to open her own coffee shop came to Rose after she observed the wild success of Starbucks. She recalls saying to herself, “I think I know more about coffee than most people. I think I can try and start a coffee shop.” Since she only knew how to grow and sell the raw coffee beans, she had to learn the art of roasting coffee. She and Patrick bought a roaster and spent a couple of years perfecting their roasting methods. If you come to the café on a Saturday afternoon you might find Patrick roasting the beans that will be sold for that week.

Because they roast their beans in-house, Café Kili is able to offer better prices for their coffee than the corporate chains. Once a month they have coffee tastings. It’s a great opportunity to sample different blends. They value their customers’ opinions and feedback. And like any good mom and pop shop, you can be certain that Rose and Patrick know the names and drinks of all their regular customers.

If the coffee alone weren’t reason enough to patronize Café Kili frequently, the decor will surely draw you in for an extended stay. Rose single-handedly designed the interior around the textures and colors of Africa. Real bamboo trim, comfortable seating, free wi-fi and warm lighting create a welcome atmosphere spacious enough to be suitable for group meetings, first dates, poetry readings, studying and even live music. If you really want an idea of what I’m talking about, the photograph and colors used in this article’s layout were shot on location.

Café Kili was recently voted one of the Top 10 coffee houses in the country by The Huffington Post—well-deserved praise for Patrick and Rose and a testament to the foundation of excellence that they have established and maintained throughout the years.

Café Kili’s location in Temple Terrace is on Fowler Avenue right off the corner of 56th Street behind the Applebee’s. If you rarely visit or pass through Temple Terrace, consider making the trip if only to stock up on a bag or two of “Kenyan Gold” (their premium house blend which they sell by the pound).

I’m certain that after an initial taste of the coffee and the hospitality, you’ll find a reason to come back again and again. cafekili.com

Originally published in the Winter 2010 edition of VERTICAL Tampa Bay magazine. Republished here with permission.
Photo by Papergirl Press.

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Apocalypse How?

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my-least-favorite-things

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Imagine the hit theme song by Susan Boyle from the blockbuster film Deepwater Horizon, starring Kevin Costner and directed by James Cameron. Full-scale surface and underwater sets will be built and principal photography will take place off the coast of New Zealand. You’ll marvel at the cgi renderings of oil-drenched pelicans and beached dolphins with bubbling crude oozing from their blowholes. Ee-vil corporate villains with British accents and majestic score composed by James Horner will tell the story of greed, love and betrayal in the age of corporate sovereignty, set against the worst man-made environmental disaster in US history. The elevator pitch for such a film—if it weren’t so utterly absurd, so utterly horrific, so utterly true is likely to be circulating among Hollywood execs just like the millions of gallons of crude circulating in the gulf at this very moment. The uncertainty of what lies ahead for the gulf and the dread of what lies beneath its surface is not something that VERTICAL can consciously ignore. Our mission is to celebrate all that is precious and sublime in Tampa Bay. Preservation of the environment is intrinsic to the fulfillment of that mission. We are reminded by this tragedy that the gulf is our goodwill ambassador. To sustain our way of life, the gulf must be sustained. Though, not just for the sake of our leisure and our business, but for the sake of the gulf itself—and its is-ness.

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Originally published in the Summer 2010 edition of VERTICAL Tampa Bay magazine. Republished here with permission.
Photo by Braun Tomlinson

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