In this series, we speak with local entrepreneurs, creatives, and changemakers about how they would spend a perfect day in the Champion City.
Born and raised in Springfield, Rod Hatfield is an artist and entrepreneur specializing in photo, video, and event production.
As a fourth-generation native, he says his upbringing here was “idyllic.” After graduating from college, he “set out on a five-year odyssey to explore my own version of the American Dream (California to Maine to Colorado to Washington) before settling in Seattle to pursue a career in media and event production,” he says. His talents took him all over the world for Microsoft and MSN Autos and for organizations like The United Nations FAO and the Seattle International Film Festival.
Family brought him back to his hometown and he found himself falling in love with Springfield. He also started getting more involved and noticing several issues, including “brain drain” that lured young talent (like himself) away.
During his extended visits home, “I saw myself in that picture and suddenly felt selfish, guilty, and embarrassed. But I also saw an opportunity,” says Hatfield, who was active in the DIY arts and entertainment scenes in the Bay Area, Seattle, and Boulder, Colorado.
He found he wasn’t alone and connected with fellow returning ex-pats. Now firmly rooted in Springfield, he’s the creative director for The Turner Foundation and a co-owner of Hatch New Media (with Brian Traylor) and Street Car Spirits (with Andrew Lazear).
What does he enjoy most about living here? “Besides the fantastic people and the great golf courses? I enjoy the exquisite human-scale architecture and the beautiful parks, but there is something even more palpable. I love the spirit, the creativity, and the momentum of the downtown revitalization effort. We’re on fire right now and it’s super fun to be a part of it,” he says.
Here’s how Hatfield would spend his ideal day in his beloved hometown. As a true entrepreneur and creative who doesn’t have a lot of time to spare, many work meetings happen at his favorite spots.
8 a.m. – ‘Breakfast of champions’ with local goods
Hatfield starts off the day with Highlander Grogg from Winans, jalapeño buttermilk biscuits from Le Torte Dolci, and farm-fresh eggs from On-the-Rise, while corresponding with clients and colleagues from his home office.
9:30 a.m. – Hatch Artist Studios
First stop of the day is Hatch Artist Studios, a studio space for working artists, with his creative team to “embark on today’s masterpiece.” Hatch Artist Studios is open 24/7 to local painters, photographers, sculptors, collagists, glassmakers, wood artisans, potters, jewelry makers, and more. Spearheaded by The Turner Foundation, the arts space was dormant for years and now is an example of “an adaptive re-use of another iconic building in downtown, The Springfield Metallic Casket Company,” he says.
12:30 p.m. – Trying to decide what hot spot to hit up for lunch
Hatfield then heads off to either Seasons Bistro, Speakeasy Ramen, Stella Bleu, or Fratelli’s. He suggests the bibimbap at Seasons or the Spicy Tuna Temaki at Speakeasy Ramen.
Fountain Avenue is home to many businesses where Hatfield spends a majority of his time during the day.
1 p.m. – Coffee break
At this point, Hatfield is in search of a caffeine boost. Un Mundo is his “go-to” afternoon cafe. “It’s owned by an awesome family (the Levels), it’s in the most iconic building in town (The Heritage Center) and serves up super strong, free trade, organic coffee — and by no coincidence — a lot of people I need to see today will also be in line,” he says.
1:30 p.m. – Merch and music
It’s time for another meeting, this time at Champion City Guide & Supply to talk music programming for IndieCraft, the annual live music and beer festival held at Mother Stewart’s Brewery. While there he also checks out fresh local merch. “They have a deep supply of Springfield-centric merchandise designed by ex-Hollister superstar and now Hucklebuck Design Chief Andy Hayes,” he says.
2:30 p.m. – More meetings
Hatfield has another meeting, this time with the design team for COHatch, The Market, where he's starting a new business with his friend Andrew Lazear. Hatfield says COHatch will be a “community town hall 2.0,” Hatfield says. Set to open this month, the new hybrid co-share-workspace aims to bring together startups, small businesses, large corporations, and nonprofits under one roof. COHatch is based in Columbus and is expanding with regional satellites. For its Springfield location, it recently completed renovation of the historic Myers Market. Hatfield and Lazier "are going to help ‘shake’ and ‘stir’ the community there. Andrew is an insanely talented mixologist who will be rocking The Market Bar, a new craft cocktail concept and I’ll be hosting some stellar live music with Thad Williams and crushed velvet movies with Brian Traylor in the cozy performance space called The Exchange.”
Aside from coworking and office space, COHatch The Market will feature a shared kitchen for food entrepreneurs and a year-round market that carries locally produced food items and more—and all within the confines of a revamped and repurposed Myers Market building, which dates back to 1908.
3 p.m. – Work with a view
It’s time to edit photos from the previous day’s shoots so he posts up at The Turner Foundation.
“The view from the eighth floor always inspires,” he says.
5 p.m. – Board of Trustee meeting at Hartman Rock Garden
Work doesn’t end at 5 p.m. as Hatfield squeezes in one more meeting, this time at Hartman Rock Garden where he admires the work of Ben Hartman, who constructed a world out of concrete, metal, stone, and other found objects. It’s one of the “most endlessly alluring places I’ve ever seen,” he says.
6 p.m. – A quick stroll through Snyder Park
With no more meetings on the calendar, Hatfield tries to get his steps in at Snyder Park. The downtown oasis of 212 acres of nature and recreation is “poetic and picturesque,” he says. “Historic landmarks and placid lagoons epically line the main thoroughfare running along scenic Buck Creek.”
7 p.m. – First Friday and food trucks
If it’s the first Friday of the month, Hatfield heads back to Hatch Artist Studios for “First Friday” and a quick dinner at the Painted Pepper food truck (the “fish tacos and Southwest corn cakes rule,” he says). “Hatch is now ground central for the local art scene,” he says. On the first Friday of every month, Hatch opens its doors to the public for meet and greets, exhibition, and sales, and what Hatfield calls “one of the best parties in town.” Often he’ll hear first-timers say that they can’t believe they’re in Springfield. His response? “Believe it!”
10 p.m. – Jazz and a nightcap
It’s time for live music and local beer at Mother Stewart's Brewing Co. Hatfield's favorites are Disco Dancer IPA, Truck Stop Pils, and Imperial DeBubba DIPA. "Did I mention the Tannin Fodder and the Barrel Aged Permafrost Vanilla Porter? Kevin Loftis is a true brewmaster,” Hatfield says.
Salvadore Ross is one of Hatfield's favorite bands to check out live.
12:30 a.m. Calling it a night
After a full day, Hatfield heads home to wait for his wife, Brittanie, to return from her shift as a charge nurse in the emergency room at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She is literally a real-life superhero who was recently featured on the local news after responding to an accident on her way home from work, he says. While he waits, he watches “The Twilight Zone,” his favorite show since he was a little kid. Fun fact: “Creator Rod Serling graduated from Antioch College in nearby Yellow Springs and got his professional start developing his dramatic radio plays at WJEL in downtown Springfield! It puts a big bounce in my step every day walking the very same sidewalks as this Pop Culture Hall of Fame genius,” he says.