Distinctly Downtown: My First METRO Experience

Having grown up in rural and suburban areas, the thought of using public transportation rarely crosses my mind. To be honest, the few times it has crossed my mind it has always made me a little apprehensive. I have had a slightly irrational fear of getting on the wrong bus and worried that I might somehow break the rules (rules that don’t actually exist except in my own mind). Inspired by a recent trip to Detroit with the Knight Foundation, and my time working at DAP, I decided to challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone and ride the METRO bus to and from work one day.

photo 1 (5)Because I had never ridden a METRO bus before I was clueless on how to ride, how much it costs, and everything else one would need to know. While preparing for my first bus ride I found the METRO website to be extremely helpful. I used their Trip Planner to find out what bus I would need to ride, where I should get on and off, what time to be at the bus stop, and how long my trip would take. If you are planning to ride the METRO in the near future, or are curious about the routes, be sure to check out the Trip Planner first!

Feeling prepared, I walked outside my apartment on a chilly Wednesday morning and made my way to the bus stop near my West Akron apartment. Standing there waiting I was transported back in time and felt like I was waiting for the big yellow school bus. When I got on the bus the driver showed me where to put my money to pay for my ride and I quickly took a seat. Riders put on their headphones and listened to music, watched out the window, or talked on the phone and almost everyone seemed to observe the unspoken one seat buffer between them and other riders. Just 25 minutes later I exited the bus outside the Shoppes at Akron Center and had time to grab a coffee from Angel Falls Coffee Shop before walking to my office.

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Boarding the bus to go home, I no longer felt nervous or scared. Instead I felt confident. I knew which bus to wait for, paid my fare, and enjoyed my ride home. While I prefer the convenience of travelling according to my own schedule, something I have become accustomed to since I got my license at 16, I feel at ease knowing I have another way to get to work should I need it.

In September, METRO and The University of Akron started a new partnership that allows students, faculty, and staff to ride for free using their ZIP Card. You can read more about this program on the METRO and University websites. Also, be sure to check out METRO’s new video, “All About the Bus!”

By: Kelli Fetter
Director of Events, Downtown Akron Partnership

Distinctly Downtown: Crafty Mart

Crafty Mart logoThe sixth annual Crafty Mart returns to the Rubber City on Saturday November 29 and Sunday, November 30, 2014.  Not only will the annual non-traditional holiday arts and crafts show take place over two days but it is stretching to include three separate locations in the downtown area. With over a hundred talented artists and makers selling a variety of unique handmade items, this is the perfect place to find distinctive gifts for everyone on your list.  Admission is free and the event runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on both days at all three locations.

Crafty Mart takes place at Musica (51 E Market St), the Akron Art Museum (1 S High St) and Summit Artspace (140 E Market St). The expansion is a coordinated effort by three community-minded venues to offer Akron residents the best opportunity to discover, meet, and purchase from some of the area’s best fine artists, artisans, and crafters.

Once again, Crafty Mart coincides with Small Business Saturday (November 29, 2014), a craftymart6thannualconsumer movement that encourages holiday shopping from small local businesses.  It is Crafty Mart’s intention to not only support local artists by giving them an opportunity to vend their wares but also to provide an exciting event for local residents to shop from small-business individuals.

The sixth annual Crafty Mart will also expand to include free workshop opportunities for members of the community to sign up and take classes from skilled artists. Crafty Mart’s workshops were first introduced during the outdoor Summer Faire 2014, July 5th Crafty Mart, and the new workshops scheduled during November 29 and 30 are expected to fill up quickly.  More information on the workshops is available at http://www.craftymart.com/#workshops

Food and coffee will be for sale during the event and deejays from The Mighty Soul Night will be spinning our favorite soul tunes at all three venues. Parking is free on the street, the Library Parking Deck on the SW Corner of High & Market Streets, and the flat lot on Summit Street across from Summit Artspace.

Crafty Mart was first established in 2009 as a haven of uncommon, quality-made, local arts and crafts. In 2013, Crafty Mart was voted one of the “Best of the City” by Akron Life Magazine. For more information on Crafty Mart’s past and present, go to: www.craftymart.com.

Distinctly Downtown: Akron History Exhibit and The American Toy Marble Museum

Akron History Exhibit and the American Toy Marble Museum

I did not know what to expect when walking into a museum that focused on toy marbles. It never really struck me as a crucial piece of history that one city could find important. I was wrong; it is a big piece to a much larger, captivating puzzle that is Akron’s history.
The museum has so much more than marbles in glass cases. It is a gleaming reminder of the history of Akron that anyone who lives in Akron must attend. I am from Cincinnati, and I had never expected so much affluent and pivotal history to engross Akron. No wonder LeBron wanted to come back. Akron has history and who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?

DSC00812When you enter the exhibit, everything you see is engulfed in fascinating history. The first thing that greets you when you walk in is a staunch, tall gate, which was actually the original gate in the Summit County Court House. There is also a display that shows you Akron in its earliest days as a simple village with the canals running through it. It is an interesting piece as it washes away the concrete buildings you see today and takes you back nearly a century and a half. The display was also built by students of the University of Akron.

DSC00828I found the most interesting history surrounding the marbles to be that they signified the birth of mass production of toys. Due to mass production becoming prominent, toy prices dropped and more than 250 manufacturers sprouted up during that time, making Akron a beacon of toy manufacturing, bringing joy to children throughout the nation. It did not stop there when it came to toys. Akron was producing so much rubber at the time; they began wondering what to do with all of the excess rubber. This created a new market for rubber toys, such as the Rubber Duck, which became a staple of children’s lives. Akron in many ways was a huge part of creating a memorable childhood for children across the country.

The manager, Michael C. Cohill, is absolutely phenomenal in explaining all of the displays and history that is housed in the museum. Writing it all down in this blog would be an extreme disservice to Mr. Cohill, as the sheer passion he exudes during his explanations of the displays is simply enchanting. You can see he cares thoroughly about the city of Akron, and is ecstatic to shed light on its history of Akron with anyone. Mr. Cohill knows what Akron has been, what it is, and has visions of what Akron could do in the future.

DSC00821There is so much more housed in this museum that will absolutely stun the Akron community and visitors. It would be a travesty to pass up. It is extremely family focused and the people who work there absolutely love families of all ages and sizes to see all that it has to offer. “We love the holidays,” said Michael C. Cohill, “The busiest times of the year are October through December.” They love to decorate for the holidays and enjoy getting Akron involved with activities to decorate their area in Lock 3.

I could gush for hours about all that I had learned in my short visit to the museum but I would rather leave it up to you to go check it out and piece the puzzle together yourself. A piece of Akron you might not know anything about will captivate you as Akron was a pioneer of many things that you’ve come to know today.

Founded by the City of Akron, the Akron History Exhibit is a project of The Summit County Historical Society of Akron in partnership with the Akron-Summit County Public Library.

Partners:
Akron Police Museum
Akron Fire Department
All-American Soap Box Derby
Cascade Locks Park Association
Hower House
The University of Akron
The Lighter-Than-Air Society
Summit Metro Parks
The Shirla McClain Gallery for Black History & Culture (U Akron)
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
The TV Dinner Club Museum
The University of Akron Archival Services
Wacky Woodcarvers

By: John Frank, Downtown Akron Partnership Intern

Distinctly Downtown: My Summer with DAP

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Hillary working on her final blog for DAP

The summer is finally coming to a close and so is my internship at Downtown Akron Partnership. To be honest, I am quite sad that I’m leaving such an excellent non-profit organization. As a small town girl from New Philadelphia, Ohio and a KSU student, I never knew or heard of DAP until my advisor informed me of the opening. As soon as I heard it was a non-profit, I applied immediately mainly because I’ve always wanted to work for a non-profit organization to help out the community.

My words to express the atmosphere of Downtown Akron Partnership is endless, I’ve had loads of fun during my summer doing several different tasks, like promoting new businesses, working the Market at Lock 3, helping out with the Akron Art Prize, and writing blogs. I would have to say, working the Market at Lock 3 with Tony Long (Assistant Operations) was the most fun because I was out of the office, interacting with the community advising them to be healthy. As a health freak myself, I really enjoyed giving some healthy tips to Market-lovers and telling them different ways to live a healthy life.

I also did a lot of writing for DAP, one of my biggest projects of the summer was writing a press release about all the new businesses in Downtown Akron, that was also a lot of fun. I got to go around downtown and interview business owners and CEO’s of new companies and write about what they do, what they offer, and how they benefit Downtown Akron.

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Getting recipe cards for the Market at Lock 3

I wrote a blog about The Coffee Pot that’s located in the Akron-Summit County Public Library. I went down on a Friday morning and met with the owner, Scott Malensek. We sat, drank coffee, and talked for about an hour about his two businesses. This was by far the best interview I have experienced. He was so excited and so enthusiastic about his business, it made me excited for him. He even let me try out some of his new menu items and talked me into going to his other business, The Stew Pot Kitchen. I tried some of his famous Tomato Basil Soup, and let me tell you, BEST SOUP EVER!

There are so many restaurants and activities to do in Downtown Akron, it’s quite overwhelming! But it also makes me want to move here because it’s such a great community with something always going on. Downtown Akron provides a great community for locals and that’s what I love the most about DAP. They really care about providing a fun, safe, and clean place for people to live and have fun.

Joining in the Fit & Green Ride at The Market at Lock 3

Being a Downtown Akron Partnership Intern, I’ve learned so many great things that I will carry on all through my life. I’ve learned how to interview people professionally, I sharpened up my writing skills, I learned how to use different software to update the DAP website; I also learned how to break out of my shell and talk to people in the community to promote a healthy living style. I am truly thankful that I got to experience working at Downtown Akron Partnership.

By: Hillary Walker
DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: We Gallery

Creative inspiration.
Everyone has a creative side, but most people need inspiration before they can create amazing works of art. If you’re anything like me, you can use a creative push sometimes. Downtown Akron Partnership would like to reintroduce you to the We Gallery. We Gallery is the perfect place to spark your creative nature. we-gallery-logo

We Gallery opened in 2008 when two sisters decided to collectively bring handmade fine art to Downtown Akron. The name “We” means more than one and “Gallery” means building or location. When put together the name “We Gallery” means bringing together all art forms in one location and that’s what the two sisters did. Erin and Karyn Ludlam created a retail space that allows you view and purchase the beautiful hand- crafted art on display.

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Reasonably priced hand-crafted jewelry

Before the sisters opened We Gallery, Erin successfully managed an art gallery in California where she developed long lasting relationships with artists around the United States. Karyn, fine arts graduate of The University of Akron, convinced Erin they could run an art gallery here with Erin’s national contacts and Karyn’s artistic ceramics pieces and her local contacts We Gallery was born. The gallery carries local and national handmade items that are available for sale such as ceramics, fine jewelry, paintings and photographs.

We gallery pottery wheel

Pottery wheel demo during Artwalk

As you enter through the door of We Gallery, the first thing you will notice is the jewelry case. Inside of the case are handmade one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry such as rings, earrings and necklaces. “The jewelry is reasonably priced to fit any shoppers’ budget,” said Karyn. “The jewelry is really popular and sells pretty fast.” As you continue to walk around you will see beautiful glass blown bowls, vases and table center pieces from designers in New York and California. In the back of the store you will also see a display of ceramic pieces created by Karyn. This room also has a display of painting and photographs on the wall from local artists and another jewelry case that shows rings made of vintage buttons. The center part of the back room has a table where handmade purses, small sculptures and one-of-a-kind greeting cards are located. As you gaze around the store in amazement you will become aware of this creative energy the store has from the displays of artwork to the vintage feel of the actual building. The We Gallery has created a retail location where you can shop and become inspired to tap into your own creative talent.

Downtown Akron has numerous family-friendly shops and restaurants but if you are looking for a place to draw some creative inspiration, please visit We Gallery located at 20 N. Main Street. Hours of operation are Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. We Gallery is also a part of the monthly Artwalk.

By: Ciara Milton 
DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: The Coffee Pot

photo 5The owners of the Stew Pot Kitchen are proud to announce the opening of their new business called “The Coffee Pot” located inside the Akron-Summit Library near the Main Street entrance. Scott Malensek, the owner, thought it would be a wonderful idea to offer customers a quick, grab-and-go, breakfast that’s not offered at the Stew Pot. The main reason why Scott decided to open The Coffee Pot is because his customers kept asking him to serve breakfast. Since the Stew Pot Kitchen is only 180 paces from the library, he gets a lot of people and employees from the library come into the Stew Pot. The employees from the library told him about the empty space inside the first floor of the library and Scott thought it was the perfect place to serve breakfast to his customers. The Stew Pot Kitchen and The Coffee Pot are both family-owned; Scott works with his wife and kids which makes both restaurants family-friendly.

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The Coffee Pot has a very settled, calm, and quiet environment with veggie plants growing in the windows and new paintings and photos hung on the walls. The vegetable plants growing inside of the Coffee Pot are used in the recipes at both restaurants, which makes the food even better since the plants are homegrown! The plants consist of basil, (for the tomato basil soup), hot peppers, lettuce, cherry and yellow tomatoes, cucumbers and much more. Since the Coffee Pot just opened they are still doing renovations on the inside. Scott likes to feature local artist work and by the end of the year he wants to make the Coffee Pot an “urban jungle”. He wants it to be warm and a bright green space whenever it’s grey and nasty outside in the winter. “Next time we get seven months of winter, I want it to be summer in the Coffee Pot,” he said.

The Stew Pot Kitchen offers soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch while the Coffee Pot offers grab-and-go food and drinks that are made to order. They serve a wide variety of coffee and tea that change daily.

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They offer Jamaican coffee that smells strong but taste light, kind of like tea, and it tastes amazing. Another coffee they offer is Kenya coffee, the smell is just what you would imagine Africa to smell like with a strong taste. The Coffee Pot also offers salami and American cheese, custom roast beef with homegrown lettuce sandwiches, basic salads, muffins, fresh fruit, and to-go snacks for when you’re in a hurry. In the near future, Scott plans to add more items to the Coffee Pot menu that includes more flavors of coffee and more sandwiches. He also wants to grow more varieties of plants in the Coffee Pot along with getting more artist work on the walls to give it that urban jungle feeling.

The Coffee Pot and The Stew Pot Kitchen have pretty much everything in common. Everyone who works at the Stew Pot Kitchen also works at The Coffee Pot. The customers that come into the Stew Pot for lunch also come into the Coffee Pot to grab a quick coffee and sandwich for breakfast. The Stew Pot offers a wide variety of soups, have you looked at their website? There are over 100 different kinds of soups, all from the customer’s feedback! Scott is the kind of person who loves customer input, every soup and sandwich on his menu has had some kind of customer feedback, like if they have suggestions on what he should add to it. He really values his customers and what they have to say about his recipes. If you don’t like the soup that you ordered, tell them and they will keep trying until they get it perfect just for your satisfaction. Most of the ingredients put into the soups are homegrown or they get them from a local homegrown market. They not only grow plants inside of the Coffee Pot, they also have their own garden at their home and that’s how the Tomato Basil soup is made.

The Coffee Pot is a unique addition to Downtown Akron with a homey, calm, and green photo 3 (1)environment that is always welcoming. He wants to make his customers happy by offering the best coffee and food in town. So stop by and have a cup of coffee before work or stop by the Stew Pot Kitchen and try their phenomenal tomato basil soup or their famous chili.

This year in July marks the 4th anniversary of the Stew Pot Kitchen and they are offering specials everyday and lots of awesome deals. Check their Facebook daily to catch the new specials offered the whole month of July.

By: Hillary Walker
DAP Intern

 

Distinctly Downtown: Biking To Work

suzie biking 2Inspired by the Chicago 8-80 Doable Cities Forum in Chicago last week and AMATS’ Switching Gears Active Transportation Conference yesterday I rediscovered a love for my neighborhood this morning by biking to work! Only eight minutes slower than driving in (obeying speed limits) and far better for my health and sense of well-being, my 20 minute ride began by appreciating how my old Akron street is built at a beautiful human scale with porches and windows facing the street to encourage a watchful and engaged neighborhood.

Every pedestrian I passed, even on the four lane Market Street route that I took, smiled and said hello. I took the street versus the sidewalk and braved the traffic. Cycling is not just for the lycra people – stuff a blazer and change of shoes in your backpack ad enjoy the ride. Hooray for our old neighborhood streets, built close-in to the city center so we can take advantage of a better life.

Skip the suburbs, stay in Akron. Thanks to the Knight Foundation for inspiring us to think differently about modes of transit and their impact on quality of life. Hope to see you at the lunchtime University of Akron’s How We Roll bike tour today with the fabulous Christine Mayer, president of GAR Foundation! The lunchtime bike rides take place every Friday at 12:15 p.m. with the Market at Lock 3. Click here for a full schedule of rides and celebrity tour guides and be sure to join us.

By: Suzie Graham
President, Downtown Akron Partnership

Distinctly Downtown: Towpath Trail

Spring has arrived, which means it’s time to get out and enjoy some sunshine. The blog Towpath_Downtown '04Towpath Trail runs through the city of Akron allowing residents and visitors to bike or walk when the weather is nice. The Towpath is great for any exercise or leisure activities around or in the city. The trail makes it easy to navigate to different attractions located throughout the city. “There are so many things to see via the Towpath Trail through downtown Akron,” said Lynn Williams, executive assistant/office manager of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.

The final stretch of the Towpath Trail that allows users to stop at various attractions in downtown Akron was completed in October of 2011. This was a major step for the Towpath because Akron was the first city to be marked on the trails map. It made the city more accessible for users to explore all it has to offer. Residents and users have the options of getting off of the trail at Lock 1, Lock 2, Lock 3, State Street, and Bowery & Quaker Street, The Towpath Bridge at the Innerbelt (Route 59), Beech Street and the Mustill Store.

howe houseThe Richard Howe House Visitor Center, located at 47 West Exchange Street, serves as an information center, which has been restored to its original beauty. If you decide to cross over the bridge along the Towpath you will find yourself at Canal Park Stadium, home of the RubberDucks, or maybe catching a quick meal at Bricco, Cilantro or the Barley House. If you continue down the Towpath you will find yourself at Lock 2, an urban park that is the home of a reconstructed canal lock with a ghost frame of a life sized 1820s canal freighter boat. The next stop on the trail is Lock 3. Here you will find a large variety of entertainment. The area hosts live concerts, Akron festivals, a Farmers Market and the Holiday Market. If you decide to get off the trail at Lock 3 you will be among many restaurants such as The Lockview, the Peanut Shoppe, Baxter’s and Street Treats Grill. The Akron Civic Theatre is located here as well for more entertainment options. The next stop on the trail is Lock 4, home of the Lock Bottom Blues and Jazz Club. You can cross over Bowery Street and take the Towpath Connector Bridge over Route 59 to the Mustill Store and Visitor Center at Lock 15. The store opened in 2000 and offers the history of the Cascade Locks with the development of Akron.

blog Hikers & BikersThe Towpath Trail now provides access for those bikers or walkers who are not as experienced to still enjoy some good fun. The Bike Aboard program allows users to bike to a destination and take a short train ride back to their original destination for only $3 each way. “It allows you to take your bike on board the train, and ride one way on the train, and bike back,” said Lynn. Starting in May, Bike Aboard will be offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In June it will begin being offered Wednesday through Sunday afternoons. The train can be easily flagged down by standing on the deck station 10 minutes prior to the train’s arrival schedule. The fee must be paid in exact when you first board.

The Towpath Trail gets you to numerous exciting destinations with just a short ride or walk. Downtown Akron is booming with live music, great food and the arts. The Towpath is a great way to explore the city. “It’s fun for all ages,” said Lynn. Come out and take a ride or stroll along the Towpath Trail to see what the city of Akron has to offer you.

By: Madeline Hartman
DAP Intern

Discovering Downtown: an Intern’s Perspective

The warmer weather is headed our way (hopefully) and high school and college students anticipate receiving their diploma. This can only mean one thing; my days as a Downtown Akron Partnership Public Relations intern are dwindling.

Bre at workI have lived in Downtown Akron since August of 2011 when I became a freshman at The University of Akron. As a student I made sure to take advantage of the city life by attending Akron RubberDucks games (previously Akron Aeros), eating at the beloved Diamond Deli, dancing the night away at various downtown bars and enjoying the sunshine on a stroll through Lock 3. Being a DAP intern for the past five months gave me an exclusive opportunity to explore the many aspects of downtown that I had not previously noticed.

From the monthly Downtown Akron Artwalk to the unique monthly menus at Urban Eats Café, there is always something new to be uncovered in the city. I have discovered that there is no excuse for boredom as a resident of Downtown Akron. Managing DAP’s online event calendar gave me insight into all of the diverse events I can engage in downtown such as Free Thursdays at the Akron Art Museum, glassblowing workshops at Akron GlassWorks, live music at Jilly’s Music Room and free yoga classes at lululemon athletica.

WSL pick upSome of my other responsibilities as part of the DAP family included creating social media promotions via twitter, reaching out to downtown employees to write blogs and oversee the Do Downtown Blog, administering Discover Downtown Akron Passport e-mails and newsletters, conducting press releases regarding events in downtown Akron and promoting our non-profit organization throughout the city. One of my press releases was even published in the West Side Leader newspaper!

These obligations allowed me to participate in preparation for many popular occasions including the University of Akron Housing Fair, Kiss My Akron campaign, 7th Annual Green & Clean Day, 2014 Market at Lock 3 and more. I even attended the State of the County address and was ecstatic to introduce myself to many restaurant and bar owners, members of the Akron RubberDucks and Rubber City Rollergirls and the mayor of Akron himself, Don Plusquellic.

Working alongside other staff members at Downtown Akron Partnership has been an incredible experience. I am saddened to leave the organization but I am looking forward to utilizing my skills and experience in my future in communications; the exploring does not stop here.

Signing out:
Bre Koch, DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Kelli Fetter

Kelli FetterHeadshot(2)The Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) welcomes our newest member, Kelli Fetter, to the team as the director of events. Kelli joined Downtown Akron Partnership  in March of 2014. As the director of events Kelli oversees the outreach efforts of DAP by planning innovative programs that bring community members to the downtown area and gets them involved with what the city has to offer.

Some of these outreach programs include First Night Akron, Akron Artwalk, Akron Art Prize, Green & Clean and many more.  “I have always loved putting on events and this is a much bigger scale than what I was doing before, which is really exciting as a growing professional,” said Kelli.

Kelli has had experience for several years in this area. She worked for the University of Akron as the event coordinator for the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering and as a board member for the Akron Alumnae of Delta Gamma. Kelli earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing management from the University of Akron as well as her master’s degree in higher education.

“I have been in the downtown area for a long time, but I am realizing there is a lot that I was not aware of and connected with before working here at DAP,” said Kelli. Being a student for six years at the University of Akron and then going on to working for the university, Kelli decided it was time to experience a different side of the professional world. “I really like what DAP does and what they stand for,” said Kelli.

When Kelli is not busy working she enjoys cooking, baking and anything creative. She likes that she can incorporate her love for creative activities into the work she does at DAP. Kelli brings a warm smile and positive attitude to the DAP office. The staff of DAP are excited to have her as a part of their team.

By: Madeline Hartman
DAP intern