Best friends, community builders, serial entrepreneurs and web designers, Reuben Pressman and Hunter Payne are all over town, making things happen and spreading happiness. Natives of St. Petersburg, they focus their boundless energy, enthusiasm and sense of fun on projects that foster community and entrepreneurism. Photographed in St. Petersburg at their home in the Old Southeast and at Lassing Park.
How would you describe one another?
Reuben: Hunter is someone who has no idea what he’s doing. He prefers it that way though. You can always find Hunter in a crowd because his hair and because everyone is always looking for him anyway. He is also sometimes the loudest. His favorite thing to do is anything, as long as he’s doing something. He also expects the press to pay him for interviews.
Hunter: Reuben says he never goes to bed but sometimes he does when he leaves his phone there. Reuben has a rare disease where he actually has the biggest heart in the entire world and challenges everyone he meets to be the best person on planet earth.
Tell us about Swings Tampa Bay. Swings Tampa Bay is a spontaneous community building organization. We hang handmade, hand-painted swings all over Tampa Bay in the middle of the night. Downstairs we have over 600 swings painted by people all over Tampa Bay waiting to be hung from trees, buildings and everything else we can find!
What other community projects you’ve created.
Reuben: I started Awesome St. Petersburg, which is a self-funded micro-grant organization giving $1,000 to awesome ideas in St. Petersburg every three months. I also started the St. Petersburg Geek Breakfast which is a monthly community-driven meeting for local and visiting technology-minded people. Each month we congregate over bacon, eggs and plenty of coffee to discuss topics like social media, digital marketing, design, programming, and ways to better their communities.
Do you have a favorite project?
Hunter: No time for reflection!!! Too excited to start something new!!!
Reuben: I don’t pick favorites!
Tell us about your neighborhood, the Old Southeast.
Reuben: Old Southeast which is the hidden gem of sunny, breezy St. Petersburg, which is the hidden gem of Florida. Our neighborhood is full of artists, small business owners and fun, creative people. Everyone is as nice as can be! Our girlfriends live two houses down. The beach is a block and a half away and the homes are all different and nice.
Hunter: The Old Southeast makes me wet. I love this place. I can walk to the beach and none of the neighbors mind if I play my ukulele as loud and terrible as I can along the way.
What’s inspiring you today?
Hunter: Knowing that I might die at anytime.
Reuben: Knowing that I’m the only one that can do what I want to do.
What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
Hunter: DON’T THINK TWICE!!!
Reuben: It’s between two, both from my dad: “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it” and he when I asked how things worked, he would always just ask “How would you do it?”
Do you have a motto?
Hunter: Yes, about one a day.
Reuben: If you’re afraid to make a mistake, then you won’t make anything at all.
Fill in the blank. Nobody told me_____?
Hunter: Nobody told me I would be very good at anything, which is somewhat true.
Reuben: Nobody told me how much fun this is!
Hunter: I’m terribly excited about Congratulations You’ve Been Selected To Win Another Day On Planet Earth, my first self-published book with hundreds of totally new drawings and poems!
Reuben: Working on my first technology startup with an awesome team and getting excitingly close to launch, creating a 24/7 free coworking space in St. Petersburg for entrepreneurs and creatives, helping Creative Tampa Bay reinvent itself into a marvelous twist of a business accelerator for creative community development projects and working with a great team to create a startup day for kids in grades 6-12. I can’t remember the rest, they’re written down somewhere!
What advice would you give other young creative professionals looking at moving to Tampa Bay?
Hunter: DON’T THINK TWICE!!!
Reuben: Always make opportunities! If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right, and to quote Bob Devin Jones, “Always say YES”