Akron2Akron: Become a tourist in your own city
I have this simple philosophy where I believe that it’s sort of silly to not love where you live, so ‘Stuck in Ohio‘ bumper stickers have always confused me. No city is perfect, including Akron, but in order to live a fulfilling life, we need to make the most of our surroundings. Part of the vision behind Akron2Akron is to fulfill this simple first step: let’s get people excited about where they live and see where that takes us.
Akron2Akron is heading into its fourth walking tour this March, although many community advocates were hosting informal tours of their own neighborhoods before this initiative was given an official label, including tours of Kenmore led by Nolan James and Crestland Park led by Jermey Lile.
The tours are simple and straight forward but have received positive feedback from the local community. Every tour has reached full capacity at registration and over 40 people showed up to walk the downtown Akron Historic Cultural District on a frigid Valentine’s Day in February.
Every month Akron2Akron selects a neighborhood to tour on foot and a neighborhood champion to lead it. This is a person who lives in the neighborhood and is proud to show it off . Having a new voice and perspective every month keeps the tours fresh, interesting, and authentic.
One of the many great things about the tours, aside from the colorful conversations among the participants, is that sense of discovery. Just when you thought you knew everything about a particular neighborhood, there’s that one new thing that surprises you. I didn’t know I could get a bowl of Chat Pattey for $2 at the Nepali / Indian market in North Hill nor have I ever been to the Western Fruit Basket in the Historic District.
I recently heard the phrase “Become a tourist in your own city” at a meeting about the upcoming Jane’s Walk event hosted by AMATS and I perked up in my seat. It summed up perfectly in mind how I view the Akron2Akron initiative.
By becoming a network of tourists in our hometown for one Saturday every month, we are continuing the critical conversation about the many ways we can make Akron an even better place to live, work, and play. And maybe then we can eliminate those ridiculous Stuck in Ohio bumper stickers once and for all.