Monthly Archives: February 2015

South Street Coffee House Provides Sanctuary for the Hopeless


Story by Chris Miller, The Akronist

Along this rough stretch of South Street, hope can be an elusive commodity, something just out of reach from the more destitute Akron residents. But at the Hope Cafe, the doors are always open to anyone, regardless of where they come from. Operated by the Akron Bible Church, this small coffee house hosts free meals, AA meetings and Bible studies, among other services for residents to whom many have turned their backs.

Continue reading

Drama duo offers therapy, creative space for autistic students

story1Photo: Tara Dedmon
Story by Thom Callahan, The Akronist


Inside the Balch Street Community Center one cold, snowy Saturday morning, a group of children play a game called Flock of Seagulls.

Each one takes a turn breaking away to soar on their own and strike a pose, at which time everyone else mimics, sort of like playing Statue. Limbs splay across the worn wooden floor, bodies leap, crouch, stand on one leg, twist – the poses are as unique as the children portraying them.

“They say, ‘If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism,’” says Wendy Duke, emphasizing that no two people on the autism spectrum are alike.

Duke and fellow instructor Laura Valendza are the founders of the Center for Applied Drama and Autism (CADA), which for the past three years has been helping high-functioning autistic students navigate their world. Before moving to the Balch Street Theatre, classes were held at the Weathervane Playhouse.

Continue reading

Maps to Help You Understand Akron’s Neighborhoods – Urban Places

Story By Jason Segedy

TreeMy street, located in Akron’s west-side Wallhaven neighborhood


Akron: A City of Neighborhoods

I have written before about the importance of rejecting false choices when it comes to discussing our places.

Most urban places are large and diverse enough that they cannot be easily pigeonholed or painted with an overly broad-brush.

Is Akron getting better or getting worse?  The answer, of course, is “both”, or “neither”, or “it depends”.  And what it depends upon is which neighborhoods we are talking about.

Akron, like all larger cities, is full of a wondrous array of people, places, and things. It is at the neighborhood level that its diversity becomes most apparent.

The great American writer E.B. White penned one of my favorite descriptions of the way that the ultimate city (New York) functions as a series of small places, rather than as one large place:

The oft-quoted thumbnail sketch of New York is, of course: “It’s a wonderful place, but I’d hate to live there.”  I have an idea that people from villages and small towns, people accustomed to the convenience and friendliness of neighborhood over-the-fence living, are unaware that life in New York follows the neighborhood pattern. The city is literally a composite of tens of thousands of tiny neighborhood units…Each area is a city within a city within a city…So complete is each neighborhood, and so strong is the sense of neighborhood, that many a New Yorker spends a lifetime within the confines of an area smaller than a country village. Let him walk two blocks from his corner and he is in a strange land and will feel uneasy till he gets back.

E.B. White – Here Is New York

While Akron is far smaller than New York, its neighborhoods still contain considerable variety in terms of history, culture, socioeconomic characteristics, and the built environment.

The city contains neighborhoods that were built in the 1920s, where every fourth house today is vacant, and the median sales price is below $50,000; and it contains neighborhoods where houses built during that same time period regularly sell for $500,000.

The city is home to neighborhoods where upwards of 75% of the residents are college-educated, and it contains other neighborhoods where less than 50% of the residents have graduated from high school.

My purpose in writing this post is to give the reader a sense of the rich cultural and socioeconomic diversity that can be found here.

In the first section of the post, I give a general overview of Akron’s 20 primary neighborhoods, dividing them into seven general categories.

In the second section of the post, I present a variety of socio-economic data for 210 secondary neighborhoods, in order to illustrate what our neighborhoods look like and who lives in them.


“Urban Core” Neighborhoods


Two neighborhoods (Downtown and University Park) – form the urban core of the city.  Both of these neighborhoods are located on or near the original site of the City of Akron, which was established in 1825, and expanded primarily toward the south and east until around 1890.

Today, these neighborhoods form the commercial, cultural, and government center of the city.  They have gone through a dramatic transformation over the past 60 years, as many of the original buildings and houses have been torn down and much of the street grid has been altered beyond recognition.

“Formerly Independent Place” Neighborhoods


Three neighborhoods (Middlebury, Kenmore, and Ellet) once existed as independent cities and towns.  Middlebury, the oldest of the three, was established in 1822, and actually predates Akron itself.  It was annexed by the City of Akron in 1872.  Today it suffers from widespread vacancy, and is one of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the city.

Kenmore and Ellet developed as outlying “streetcar suburbs” and were both annexed by the City of Akron in 1929.  They were both settled heavily by Appalachian whites (primarily from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee) that moved to the city to work in the rubber and tire industry.

Both neighborhoods maintain a strong identity up through the present day, and when residents are asked where they live by someone from out of town, they are as likely to reply “Kenmore” or “Ellet” as they are to say “Akron”.

To read the rest of this story go to:  January 9, 2015 post in  Notes from the Underground   or Follow Jason Segedy on
Twitter thestile1972

Local man brings suicide awareness with Akron’s refugee community


Amber Subba, who works as a case worker at the
International Institute in Akron. (Photo: Chris Miller)

Story by Chris Miller, The Akronist

A case worker at the International Institute is tired of seeing the depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts that overwhelm some of his fellow Bhutanese in Akron. The suicide rate among refugees is nearly double what it is for U.S.-born residents, says Amber Subba, (pronounced Ahm-ber), who is co-hosting a “Stop Suicide” event Feb. 28, 1 p.m. at North High School. The event will include live music, and local mental health professionals will attend to spread the message that help is available for residents battling with depression.

Continue reading

The Next Frontier Academy



Story By Dorothy Markulis

John Hairston is boldly going where no man has gone before – at least, not in the Akron area, or for that matter, Ohio.

In September 2013 the educator founded the Next Frontier Academy featuring agricultural-based curriculum.

As a guidance counselor and high school history teacher, Hairston, 60, saw many students withdrawing from education.

“The students were more focused on their cell phones than learning in the classroom,” Hairston said. Continue reading