“We both [have] worked and are working [Abbey] in early, childhood education and as much as there are pros to social interaction with day care, it’s also important to have strong relationships with your kids,” he shares. “It’s been good for us as a family; we’ll never get these first few years back.”
Staying at home provided Wakefield the opportunity to connect not only with his daughter, but also with his neighborhood. When the family moved from Detroit to Charlotte in 2014, they moved into low-income housing in First Ward. The Wakefields made it their home; Johnny made it his work. In 2015, he was one of 25 from around the country selected as a K880 Emerging City Champion. The fellowship was supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and provided mentorship, training and $5,000 to help those selected to develop “ideas to make their cities more vibrant and livable”. Wakefield’s idea “Small Town Uptown” had a big goal: connect real-life neighbors to “build a tighter-knit, more connected, more attached community in Uptown CLT.”
Wakefield’s innate ability to connect humans and build communities has fueled his latest venture. He is the Founder and Managing Editor for Soccer ‘n Sweet Tea – a “locally-brewed source for all things Carolina soccer”. With a team of approximately 20 writers, the popular blog cover 13 teams across North Carolina and South Carolina; the blog is also supported by a podcast; the entire platform is powered by Orthocarolina.
Wakefield himself grew up a baseball fan in St. Louis. It wasn’t until he spent a year in Africa following college graduation and working in disaster relief that he learned the world’s most popular sport.
With his daughter bound for school this year, Wakefield started to consider where he wanted to spend his time. He met Garrett Tichy years ago through fellow 880Cities honoree, Varian Shrum. Tichy introduced him to Hygge – or more specifically – the podcast studio at Hygge West.