If you see a guy flying a drone, or zipping through the streets of Springfield on a motorized skateboard — which around Christmastime was transformed into Santa’s sleigh — you’re looking at the one and only Soner Acar. But when he’s not up to his usual antics, he’s serious about bettering Springfield as a SPAR board member.
How long have you lived in Springfield, and how long have you been a board member?
It’s been six years since we moved from San Marco. We moved into Springfield in July and got married in August. It’s me, my wife Stephanie, and four cats — of course, all strays that we’ve found — Kiki, Sammy, Taco and Caesar. They all have their own attitudes.
I will have been a board member for two years in October.
What are your duties as a SPAR board member?
It’s two-part. Being on the board, you are part of a volunteer group that helps with protecting and advocating for this community. You vote on funding, positions, and more that affect the events, the neighborhood and what we participate in with Downtown.
The second part is we ask that all the board members lead a committee, and my committee is Block Captains. Block Captains is a pretty broad committee. We work to help keep the streets and parks clean with monthly cleanups, help with the annual river cleanups, work with the Sheriff’s Watch and help organize other beautification events. If we get together to plant flowers, cut vacant lots or clean alleyways, those things are all through Block Captains.
You’ve been here for six years. How have you seen Springfield change in that time?
I would say between Year 1 and Year 4 of us being here, it was slower developing, a business here and a business there. It wasn’t until we had the two breweries and Crispy’s moved in that it really felt like there was substantial growth. Ever since then it has been on the upswing, not just the businesses but the market, the events and more. I’ve seen some many young families and met so many great friends with those recent years.
Are you a resource for neighbors who have concerns or questions?
What’s great is you can approach any board member with any question you have, we work together really well and always communicate with each other. If you come to me and say, “Hey Soner, I want to be more involved with events in the neighborhood, where do I start?” If we don’t know the answer, we will find it or help guide you with where to go next.
Where are people most likely to run into you in the neighborhood?
I attend every SPAR event either by volunteering or participating and oftentimes I run into people there, that’s where I meet people I don’t usually see out and about. For example, we host the cleanups once a month, and every month I meet new neighbors. It’s a good opportunity for new residents to come out without having a major social commitment. You come out, say hi, introduce yourself and grab a bag.
Many of the friends I see, we mainly meet at the breweries, not just for the unique flavors but also for the great variety of food options.
What is something you look forward to in the neighborhood?
My favorite event is Porchfest. I like it not only because it’s a huge music fest, but because it brings in my friends from outside of the neighborhood. It makes me feel proud of the neighborhood and what it has become, it has been a lot of work from many outstanding people, not just from SPAR.
What can Springfield residents support and improve neighborhood?
If I had one request for all the residents, it would be keep supporting our local shops, meet your new neighbors at events and continue being an advocate for us outside the neighborhood. It creates a community for yourself, people who live here now and for other newcomers. If we have a family move into Springfield, it’s going to make them feel like they belong, like they’ve become part of an even bigger family.
Also, I would love to see more people come out to the cleanups. It’s an easy way to give back to the community, and something that’s very much needed. We have a few great neighbors who go out all the time with a trash grabber and a bag who clean up the roundabouts, alleyways, streets, and that’s what I’d love to see more of because that’s what creates community. That’s what’s makes us unique – not just our common goal, but how we achieve those goals.
What is your favorite thing to order at some of our local restaurants and breweries?
Bleu Chocolat Cafe: Biscuit breakfast sandwich, that thing is a monster!
Tommy’s Breakfast in a Cup: Breakfast in a cup with sausage
Crispy’s Springfield Gallery: The best wings and pizza in town
Hyperion Brewing Company: Porchfest Gold or Gnarles Barley
Main & Six Brewing Company: Staycation or the Anvil if I feel daring
Wafaa & Mike’s Cafe: Avocado hummus, and any Saturday special items, specifically the chicken shawarma tacos
Tuni’s: Gyro (but only when Wafaa & Mike’s is closed) and curly fries
Uptown Kitchen and Bar: The French 75, and chicken and French toast instead of chicken and waffles