Roller derby is a full contact sport, but the athletes are much more than their tough exteriors depict. Envision football on roller skates, says Kiwi, one of the athletes for Akron Roller Derby, which will play its next bout Saturday, June 16, at the Summit County Fairgrounds. This week, we speak with a number of athletes from the team and learn about the stories behind their roller derby monikers, along with what they do when they’re not skating. The team is a “mega-team” comprising former members of NEO Roller Derby and the Rubber City Rollergirls. Roller derby skaters must pass a number of tests to join the team, one being 27 laps around the track in five minutes (which is more challenging than it sounds). Plus, they’re some of the hardest working athletes in the area. For info, visit www.akronrollerderby.net.
Akron Adventures is a mystery podcast for young listeners that’s inspired by real Akron events. This week, we’re happy to welcome Julie Drew and Casey Shevlin, two of the three women behind this new podcast, with a team that comprises writers and educators who pull from a host of experience, including children’s literature, storytelling, film and production. Julie and Casey discuss this compelling form of serial storytelling that involves written scripts, actors and sound effects and hearkens back to radio plays of the past. They also talk about their affinity for Akron, a “right-sized city” for creative work such as theirs. The first season of the podcast is based on a mystery surrounding the graves at Akron’s Schneider Park, which was once the site of the Summit County Infirmary (or poor house). You can listen to Akron Adventures through iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud (and anywhere else you hear podcasts). For info, visit https://www.snowdayproductions.com.
Even if you haven’t heard of Amp Strategy, chances are you’ve seen their work. Founded by sisters Kat Pestian and Morgan Lasher, the marketing and communications company is behind a number of successful local campaigns to personalize the messages of nonprofits, businesses and other organizations and share authentic stories of the people within. While their careers have taken them all over the country, like Boston and Los Angeles (where Kat actually brushed elbows with George Clooney), Kat and Morgan were happy to return to Akron early in their careers to make their mark on Akron. The entrepreneurs join Ryan and Cody to share their own personal stories, along with what inspired them to branch off and start their own business. They also talk about their many connections to the community, like Morgan’s recent appointment to the Akron Public Schools Board of Education. To learn more about the amazing work they do, visit http://www.ampstrategy.com/.
This week, we welcome Hannah Comeriato, who collected personally powerful stories for the book “TransAkron,” which was published by the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation and spotlights a range of gender noncomforming community members. For the book, Comeriato collaborated with Shane, who took photos, and the people the two of them met have made a lasting impression. Hopefully, this storytelling project also will serve as an educational resource for those who are cisgender who may want to learn more about what it means to be transgender, including meanings of pronouns and terms, along with awareness of the discrimination and danger faced by transgender residents. For info about this story series and the Gay Community Endowment Fund’s news, visit www.akroncf.org/gcef.
Akron is at the tipping point of innovation and entrepreneurship, says Heather Roszczyk, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advocate for the city of Akron, who joins Shane and Chris to discuss the landscape of local business startups, including the opening of the new Bounce Innovation Hub in downtown Akron. And innovation doesn’t necessarily mean tech-based inventions, it’s merely a revolutionary way of looking at something, she adds. It’s apparent that Akronites take a unique view of the world around us, which is likely why we were selected for eBay’s Retail Revival program, and Heather points this out as an example of e-commerce and bricks and mortar working hand-in-hand. We also learn about Heather's operatic college studies and her endurance running accomplishments, along with what keeps her in Akron. To find out more about Heather’s amazing work in the community, visit akronisforentrepreneurs.org.
This week, we welcome the multi-talented Courtney Cable, Creative Director of the Curated Storefront program, which manages multimedia public art installations in some of downtown Akron's vacant buildings, helping to beautify these spaces as they await development. Courtney, who’s also a jewelry maker and musician, shares a unique vantage point of Akron’s arts landscape, along with leading Shane and Chris in a singalong, featuring commercial jingles for Tootsie Rolls and Ms. Pac Man Cereal. We also talk about local paw-paw harvests and getting buried in a Don Drumm casserole dish. For info about Curated Storefront, visit http://www.curatedstorefront.org/.
This week we visit Pub Bricco in the Merriman Valley, one of many local places where you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year. We try some of their great food (the sauerkraut and corned beef bites are like "little fried Ruebens," notes Shane) and talk about the history of the eatery, along with the unique Black Box Theatre, that’s also part of the building. If you do celebrate St. Patrick’s with a drink or two, be sure to have a designated driver or call an Uber, Lyft or cab. Also, check out our Facebook page for a video from this episode. And for info about the restaurant, visit https://www.pubbricco.com/.
Ma’Sue Productions has helped preserve the African-American experience through theatre and storytelling. This week, Shane and Chris sit down with Ma-Sue’s John Dayo-Aliya and Vince Tyree to talk about their Knight Arts Challenge grant for a tour of the play “Or Does It Explode?” (donations and support are being accepted to help fulfill their grant match), a new story series called #Blakron, and the origins of theatre company’s name, along with an upcoming fundraiser March 23 at the Akron Civic Theatre, which happens to also coincide with a birthday party for local journalist and Ma’Sue supporter Yoly Miller. And when they’re not busy producing quality theatre, John and Vince play in a local band, Church of Starry Wisdom, which is described as macabre worship music with pop sensibilities. For info on attending the fundraiser or contributing to the grant match, visit www.facebook.com/masueproductions.
This week we welcome Amber Cullen, organizer of “Until Name Becomes Prayer,” which takes place Monday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. at Summit Artspace and will feature award-winning Samoan poet and educator William Alfred Nu’utupu Giles, who will stop through Akron as part of his national poetry tour. We also speak with Pumpkin, a Native-American artist, writer and speaker, whose pottery demonstrations will join a number of other local artists at the "Until Name Becomes Prayer" event, including Himalayan Music Academy (music/dance), Gum-Dip Theatre (theatre), Hula Fusion (dance), Akron BMe Community (poetry) and Poetry is Life Publishing (poetry). Pumpkin, who moved to the Akron area from the Southwest, shares an indigenous perspective to being an American and talks about how Giles’ visit will help raise native voices through creativity, meaningful discussion, arts and other avenues. Giles’ visit also will include writing workshops and open mics, like an "open mic response" Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. at The Exchange House (760 Elma St., on North Hill). Visit the “Until Name Becomes Prayer” event page for info.
Yeah, we know. This is a tagline from another podcast (My Favorite Murder), but it seems like a useful piece of advice, one of many we share as the “Core Four” catches up and talks about the myriad cool developments in town, like eBay choosing Akron for a first-of-its-kind retail initiative, the new Akron Art Library, along with self-help tips like using car karaoke as therapy. We also discuss our new podcast direction, which will center around interesting local people in more experience-based interviews. If you have any ideas for future episodes, please send them our way at email@example.com.