Things We Love: Picks from Willowbeez Soulveg's Carnell Willoughby

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Carnell Willoughby wears many hats around here. Initially gaining notoriety in Columbus as a member of S.P.I.R.I.T., one of the city’s oldest hip-hop collectives, Willoughby is now less involved in music but no less engaged in artistic expression. He heads up and is involved in numerous creative events in the city’s Near East Side when he isn’t managing his pop-up food business, Willowbeez Soulveg (best vegan chili ever, trust me). We recently spoke with Carnell about his favorite things.

Upper Cup Coffee Co.

It’s one of my favorite comfort places. It’s owned by three young guys from Africa and the atmosphere is absolute love. Most of the baristas know exactly what I want and make it on sight before I even make it up to the counter. For me it’s the Cheers of the neighborhood. I absolutely love it.

Creative Control Festival

It’s a weekend full of workshops so that other collectives can pretty much help each other economically, creatively and keep each other afloat. It’s a huge economic-building exercise, and I absolutely love it. They have informationals … dynamic speakers. It’s always packed with information and good people. Such a good vibration for the city. Hopefully it doesn’t outgrow the city and leave. It’s definitely needed.

Battiste LaFleur Galleria

They’ve been in existence for three or four years. They do really good business and have obtained a whole lot of business in the area. I’m thinking they’re about to expand to [something] much bigger. It’s a beautiful, beautiful spot. The owners treat you just like family — coffee, tea, whatever you want. It’s wonderful.

Maroon Arts Group

It’s a collective that brings cultural and relevant arts to the city. They’ve since brought a play called “A Real ‘Nigga’ Show” and it was a sold-out show. It talked about the etymology of the [n-word], the induction of modern day use from a racial standpoint to the endearment standpoint and everything in-between. [Maroon Arts Group] has more stuff coming. If you’re not familiar with the Maroons, they were captured slaves, primarily out of Jamaica, who took their freedom back and made their way to the mountainous region in Jamaica. The Maroon Arts Group [name] is taken from them, wanting to preserve tradition and stay relevant.

ROOTS: An Open Expression In Identity

It’s a poetic expression that takes place every third Friday of the month at Battiste LaFleur. Some dynamic features have come out of there. There’s also the Reggae Revolution that comes after it at Zanzibar. Fantastic event.

Carnell Willoughby

Owner, Willowbeez Soulveg