The Globemother

Downtown pioneer and arts booster JoEllen Schilke.

click to enlarge IT'S JoELLEN'S WORLD: And anyone who visits the Globe is welcome to it. - Marina Williams
Marina Williams
IT'S JoELLEN'S WORLD: And anyone who visits the Globe is welcome to it.

JoEllen Schilke came to St. Petersburg in the '80s to attend Eckerd College. After graduation, she kept coming back and finally decided to settle down and open the Globe in 1999. Since then, the coffee lounge has become an iconic representation of the funky side of downtown. With its haphazard design, home-cooked casseroles, walls covered in local art and impromptu music events, the Globe is a surprising place to find in modern downtown St. Pete.

Schilke acts as the Globe's dark-haired denmother, and can also be heard — loudly, joyfully and forcefully — hosting the WMNF local-arts interview show Art in Your Ear on Friday afternoons.

Two years ago, at the end of the real estate boom, she was planning on leaving St. Pete for good. Now that the economy has settled down, she's decided to stick around.

Here's what she says about the changes she's seen in downtown St. Petersburg:

"It's great to have a good economy, but lately it's been about making a quick buck instead of seeing how these projects will benefit the community 10 years down the road.

"When I opened the Globe, people went out of their way to help me and do things for me; they were kind and generous, they were excited about something that will make the community better. Now people are coming in [to downtown] to find financial opportunities, to make money, so they don't really care about their neighbors, they're not really engaged with their neighbors. That's not true for everyone that comes in, but most are only concerned with creating their specific visions.

"My block is dead, but I can't say I hate not having neighbors, considering some of the people who propose being my neighbors.

"There are good things. ... it's fun having a lot of stuff to see, and fun to have more people and fun to feel safe (it used to feel a little sketchy, although nothing ever happened to me). There are definitely more college kids now, more sophisticated people from all these other places who have come in, and that's definitely to our advantage. More bands because there are more places for bands to play, more younger working people."

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