Amanda Graor, of the Mid-America Regional Council, cheers soccer and asks for book recommendations in The Pitch Questionnaire
Occupation: Principal planner (transportation and environment), Mid-America Regional Council
Twitter handle: @angraor
Hometown: Livonia, Michigan
Current neighborhood: Downtown Kansas City, Missouri
What I do (in 140 characters or less): Work every day to make our corner of the world a happier, healthier place to live, work and play, through projects, outreach and education.
What’s your addiction? Coffee. Specifically, almond-milk lattés. I can’t seem to go more than a day or so without one.
What’s your game? Soccer, mostly, but I get really excited about college football. (Go, Blue!)
What’s your drink? Bell’s Two Hearted Ale or a hearty red wine, usually. I enjoy a good Horsefeather every now and then.
Where’s dinner? Milwaukee Delicatessen for a slice of mushroom pizza, most likely. Or one of any number of delicious taco stops in the metro — I am always up for Rico’s or El Camino Real. Or wings at the Peanut. OK, maybe I just really like to eat.
What’s on your KC postcard? An aerial view of downtown KC, including the downtown airport and the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers.
Finish these sentences: “Kansas City got it right when …” The soccer supporters banded together to keep the Wizards in Kansas City. The growth and camaraderie around soccer in this town continue to amaze me, whether it’s MLS, World Cup or USL. Those videos from the World Cup watch parties at P&L will continue to be used as B-roll for years to come.
“Kansas City screwed up when …” It turned its back on the river so long ago. I grew up in Michigan, around a lot of water, and it’s one of the things I miss the most. The new development on the riverfront is promising, and I would love to see it become a more legitimate and inviting destination.
“Kansas City needs …” More diners and late-night coffee shops.
“As a kid, I wanted to be …” A Rockette. Maybe there’s still hope for that one.
“In five years, I’ll be …” Using a hyperloop to get from KC to L.A. in under an hour … right?
“I always laugh at …” A well-played animated GIF, giant pandas doing somersaults and memes that are actually clever.
“I’ve been known to binge watch …” Entire TV series on Netflix that ended years ago, like Frasier, Cheers and Twin Peaks. Also, Bob’s Burgers and The West Wing are also on pretty regular rotation.
“I can’t stop listening to …” Podcasts! Stuff You Missed in History Class and Slate’s Political Gabfest are heavy in the rotation.
“My dream concert lineup is …” Jack White, Fiona Apple, Damien Rice and Glen Hansard. This answer would probably change almost every time I answered this question, though, depending on what mood I was in and how life was going at the time.
“I just read …” Deploying Clean Truck Freight Strategies Guide. I know you’re jealous. I’m always looking for new book recommendations, though, so … send them my way!
What’s your hidden talent? Making wine and cheese disappear with alarming efficiency.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Super campy television and made-for-TV movies. It’s so bad, but it’s so good.
The best advice I ever got: Just because you went to college for [insert major here] does not mean you have to do that forever, and careers are not life sentences. If you don’t like what you went into first, figure out what it takes to do something different and work toward that.
Worst advice? “Stick with what you know, even if it makes you unhappy.” Sometimes taking chances leads to opportunities you’d never thought of on your own.
My sidekick? My dog, Aubry. I’m convinced that some of my friends only come over to hang out with her.
What is your spirit animal? Giant pandas. Lots of eating, lots of napping. I can get behind that.
Who is your hero? The people who work tirelessly to make their communities better places just for the sake of the future, particularly in volunteer roles or really challenging professional work. It’s really awe-inspiring.
Who (or what) is your nemesis? Time. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done in a day or a week, and it slips by so quickly.
What’s your greatest struggle right now? Knowing where to focus my energy to make the biggest impact in my community and support my incredible friends while also taking care of myself. That balance is so difficult sometimes.
My favorite toy as a child: Probably the basketball hoop I got in the driveway for my 8th birthday. I still love it when I go home for a visit.
My dating triumph/tragedy: That I still have hope for the human race even after the messages received using online dating services is a pretty solid triumph, in my book.
My brush with fame: I filled in as weather anchor on a local TV station a few years back. I learned that way more people watch local news than admit to watching local news, after everyone started their next conversation with me with, “I never watch local news but I happened to catch you on Sunday night!”
My soapbox: Step outside of your paradigm every once in a while and re-examine why you feel the way you do and how it impacts others. It’s incredibly easy to go day to day only concerned with your personal microcosm, but people’s situations are so wildly different and we can learn so much from just talking to people about their perspective. You definitely won’t always agree with the person, but it’s so helpful to understand where they’re coming from.
My recent triumph: I finished my master’s degree in public administration at KU earlier this year and have had a few smaller work-related wins since then that definitely benefitted from my academic work, making the years of full-time employment and grad school seem worth it. There were a times when it felt overwhelming, but I’m pretty pumped I saw it through to the end.