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PERSON OF THE YEAR interview by Brett Dickerson, photo by Chad Bennett Douglas Sorocco moved from Chicago to Oklahoma City to help his wife pursue a dream. Leaving the city where he had established himself as an intellectual property attorney to come to the utterly unfamiliar Oklahoma City meant he had to start over. Sorocco, however, is no stranger to challenges. Born with spina bifida, he has been paralyzed below the knees throughout his life, but his parents were instrumental in shaping him to face life without excuses, but also without a too-hard resolve. Empathy, gratitude, and generosity were the values instilled early— those and hard work. As a shareholder and partner in Dunlap Codding, Sorocco uses his undergraduate (Dayton) science background combined with his JD (Northwestern) to litigate intellectual property cases involving chemistry, engineering, biotech, and life sciences, among other fields. His qualifications and accomplishments are remarkable, but his sense of humility and humor shine through in his bio: “Doug is also humbled and appreciative for his selection as Time magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year.” If the reference is lost on you, Google will come in handy. In keeping with his desire to give back, the firm included a large public space inside and outside its Film Row building that is available for use without charge. Dunlap Codding also sponsors a series of free concerts for the community. What were the intentions with the public space? Our intention was pretty simple at the beginning: provide free space, without condition, and see what interesting things our community would do with it. We have been blown away by the creativity and passion people have put into their events and gatherings. From burlesque to Baptist jazz concerts, every

group has made the space their own—infusing it with their personality and enthusiasm for life. What has been your favorite moment from the use of that public space? I am very lucky to have an office that looks into the courtyard. As I often work a few hours each weekend and there is always something happening in our space at the same time, I get to watch the activities. The laughter and noise is infectious—it provides a soundtrack that you normally don’t hear within an office. Most importantly, it provides me with inspiration. I am very lucky that I have the opportunity to be reminded on a daily basis of the innate goodness and joy found within everyone. Is there anything you hope to use that space for in the future? I would like to see more performing artists using the space in innovative ways— dancers, actors, plays, dramas…. You host dinners for homeless community members in your space, in collaboration with volunteers and food trucks who serve for free. What’s the most rewarding thing about it? Getting to know our neighbors and provide a bit of respite for folks who may not have a place to charge their phone, wash their hands, share a meal with friends on tables, or be served coffee and soda with a smile. If only for a moment, we hope that we can provide an escape from their challenging lives. La Gumbo Ya Ya (in particular) has been an inspiration—serving up hundreds of bowls of gumbo and red beans and rice while leading the charge for OKC food trucks to give back. Have the meals changed the dynamics with homeless folks in Film Row? The greatest fear our folks had moving down here was homeless people. But what the homeless dinners showed us was that the homeless included women, children, whole families. So it opened up a lot of eyes. Our kids were down here helping. It was eye-opening for my son to see another kid being homeless. We’ve not had a single break-in. We’ve had no continues on page 78 23

Territory OKC Winter Issue 5  
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