“What are you doing out here?” is a question that I get a lot as an artist and designer from the southern California coast. I’ve had a number of different answers to that question over the years, but in May, I got married, and that has shifted my perspective on what makes a place, well, a home.

A number of years ago, while finishing my master’s at Washington University in St. Louis, I had the good fortune of briefly working with Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design’s Director of Exhibitions Stefanie Kirkland. That experience gave rise to a friendship with Stefanie and her husband, Chef David Kirkland (Turn Restaurant), who, a year later, asked me to work the bar at the Contemporary Art Museum during an especially busy evening. That night, I met my future wife. Our early dates took us all over the city — drinks on Cherokee Street, museum hopping in Grand Center, outdoor concerts at Forest Park and Missouri Botanical Gardens as well as dancing in the Grove. A particularly memorable date was at a live shadow-puppet concert that took place in a North Side church turned skate park. I had met my soul mate, and within a year and a half, we were engaged. This May, we were married in Benton Park with a reception a short walk away at our new home. Our rehearsal dinner the night before was at Anew, a rooftop test kitchen in Grand Center that we had watched being built from the window of our first apartment on the seventh floor of the Metropolitan Artist Lofts. The band that played that memorable shadow-puppet concert? We’re friends now, and they performed at our wedding. David and Stefanie Kirkland catered while their daughter led the procession as our flower girl.

My wife L. Irene Compadre now runs her own landscape architecture firm, Arbolope Studio, located only one block from where we danced through our first date. And I’m now the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Craft Alliance, the place where, in some ways, it all began. I don’t know if it is the city itself or just the people it attracts, but there is something in the water that makes for good relationships, not just good beer. People get tangled up in each other here. Newly married, people often ask if I have any advice I would give future grooms. The answer to that question, and the question of why I stayed, are the same.

I made a life here because of people. As you hire caterers and address invitations and reserve the band, take a moment to appreciate your community — your chosen family — the friends and places with which you have intertwined your life and made a home.

I am Michael Powell, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Craft Alliance. I am MAX. M