Yes, we're back from a bit of a hiatus, but fear not, because we cover months of ground in this single episode: what we've been up to, and what Akron's been up to. We offer some perspective to all the construction and orange barrels downtown, and we talk about the amazing placemaking efforts happening, the importance of local sourcing, and some of the many recent Akron events, like the opening of the first floor Generator Space at Bounce Innovation Hub. Speaking of Bounce, this episode is sponsored by HAZEL TREE DESIGN STUDIO, which is behind Bounce's incredible new look and redesign. Visit www.hazeltreeinteriors.com for info.
This week we welcome Jillian Smith, founder of the ChickLits Book Club Akron, which offers a space where local women can connect through literature in an unconventional environment. The group meets monthly at Annabell’s in Highland Square, and meetups are often paired with signature drinks, food and activities to benefit local charities, along with entertainment. For example, a recent event included a body positive burlesque performance. She speaks with Shane and Chris about what inspired this group, along with her love of hot dogs and horror movies, and her favorite things to do in Akron. ChickLits meets on the third Tuesday of the month. The next meetup is Tuesday, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m. at Annabell’s. You can find the group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chicklits/, or Instagram (@chicklits_akron).
It’s going to be a busy month for Devil Strip Publisher Chris Horne. This Saturday, Aug. 11 is the second annual Signal Tree Fest, which will celebrate so many things that make us uniquely Akron: music, food, vendors, children’s activities, yoga and a long list of Akron staples at Lock 3 and Lock 4 in downtown Akron. Chris also is on his way to Stanford University in California, where he’s been awarded a prestigious John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship. Shane and Cody speak with Chris about these well-earned accolades, and we meet Rosalie Murphy, the Devil Strip magazine’s new editor in chief. Signal Tree Fest will run from noon till 10 p.m. For info, visit https://www.signaltreefest.com/.
On Saturday, Aug. 4, an estimated 1,000 people will gather under the giant awning of the Trolley Barn in downtown Akron for Akron Ale Fest, which celebrates some of the area’s best craft breweries, which organizer Mathias King says are at once chemists and artists when concocting their ale recipes. Chris and Cody talk with Mathias about the intricacies of hosting a large-scale event like this, whose proceeds will benefit Crafty Mart. Tickets and volunteer opportunities are available by visiting www.akronalefest.com.
On Saturday, Aug. 25, thousands of Akronites will celebrate our diverse LGBTQ population with the Second Annual March for Equality and Akron Pride Festival. This week, we welcome Rebecca Callahan, executive director of CANAPI (the Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Initiative), along with Phil Montgomery and Cindy Christman, from the Akron Community Foundation’s Gay Community Endowment Fund. We talk about Pride Fest — a safe, family-friendly event with live music, vendors, food trucks, children’s activities and other amenities — along with the discrimination that is still prevalent against the LGBTQ community, bringing about the need for Akron’s anti-discrimination ordinance. For info about Pride Fest, visit www.akronpridefestival.org. For more about CANAPI, visit www.canapi.org, and to learn more about the Gay Community Endowment Fund, visit www.akroncf.org/gcef.
More than 130 bands will take the stage, er, porches, for this year’s Highland Square Porch Rokr Festival, which on this very podcast was once dubbed “Rock N Roll Christmas.” This week, we speak with Katie Carver Reed, from the Highland Square Neighborhood Association, a vast network of neighborhood volunteers who go to great lengths to make sure this festival is a success each year. Porch Rokr, which takes place Saturday, Aug. 18, will feature a beer garden, morning yoga, food trucks and other vendors, a limited raffle for a guitar signed by music legends Dan and Chuck Auerbach, a karaoke stage and, of course, lots of music. And speaking of music, we also have a conversation with Luminari and Smokeface from dynamic hip-hop group Red Rose Panic, this year’s Porch Rokr main stage headliners. They explain their band origins, along with making the most of each 24. For info, visit http://www.highlandsquareakron.org/porchrokr.aspx.
It’s been a busy summer so far for the Spoils crew, but we finally have a chance to catch up. Cody has a cool new job, Shane is starting another powerful visual storytelling project, this time in North Hill, and Ryan talks about his aspirations of being a roller-skating ref. From outdoor Zumba downtown, to duck derbies and roller skating parties, the fearless hosts count the many ways Akron is as much a cool summer spot as any vacation destination, especially during August.
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/.