Rooted Akron has played a large part in helping develop and improve the Middlebury neighborhood. Following Envision Akron earlier in the summer, the organization, led by Kelly McHood and Caitlin Boyle, will also take part in Middlebury Better Block!, July 30 and 31 at the corner of East Market Street and South Arlington Road. The event will feature a neighborhood pool, coffee shop, fresh market, safe street crossings, a spare tire jungle gym and bicycle lanes, along with live music and other family friendly events.
Why are you participating in Better Block?
We have truly fallen in love with the Middlebury community. We feel connected to and at home here. We believe in the power of community, that we are truly able to create and implement what we all need and desire.
By listening, networking, collaborating and creating places and spaces for people to be and gather, we truly feel we are able to create the community we all need and desire, together. Leading up to and at Envision Akron, we were able to connect with residents in a way we hadn’t before and saw Middlebury Better Block as a platform to continue to engage and connect with the community.
Rooted Akron is opening office space in Middlebury at The Well Akron Community Development Corporation, led by Zac Kohl and we hope to soon live in Middlebury.
What will be your specific role in the event?
Rooted Akron is working to serve Middlebury Better Block in a few capacities. We are Volunteer Coordinators for the event and are so grateful to have volunteers from Middlebury
Residents, the Oriana House, Family of Faith Church, NNUP Core Team, Firestone Football Team and Cheerleaders and other Akron residents.
Rooted Akron and the Big Love Network are striving to reduce our impact into the waste stream by working to make this a zero-waste event.
We have also been helping to co-coordinate other aspects of Middlebury Better Block, such as sound, music, logistics and marketplace vendors.
Rooted Akron will have an “Envision” Booth where event-goers can share their gifts, assets, jobs and talents to the community on a “Share Your Gift” map. Participants will also offer their zip codes and some other pieces of information so we can connect the strengths of our community together!
We have worked with the city of Akron and Akron League of Creative Interventionists to launch a pilot project for a tire jungle gym that will be created and semi-permanently stay at the Middlebury Better Block site for children to play on. We are so grateful to the city of Akron for the donation and delivery of tires, mulch and dirt and their willingness to implement and support projects such as this.
Rooted Akron is also a part of the “What Comes Next Committee” working with other community stakeholders to bring permanent components of the needs and desires of neighborhood residents to Middlebury.
What ties do you have to the Middlebury neighborhood?
We first became connected to the Middlebury neighborhood through The W.O.M.B. (The Way of Mind & Body), which is a powerful community center in the heart of Middlebury that offers so many different types of community engagement events, programming, a beautiful community garden and open mic nights (Expression Lounge). Kelly taught Yoga at The W.O.M.B. a couple of years back and our dear friend, Beth Vild, ran The W.O.M.B.’s Community Garden when we first became connected to this neighborhood.
More recently, we worked with The WOMB to host Envision Akron at their beautiful community garden. Envision Akron was a powerful, interactive community event focusing on the expression of the needs, wants and desires we all carry to create a truly thriving community. With Envision Akron, we really fell in love with Middlebury and its residents.
Rooted Akron is excited to move into The Well Akron CDC, a new Middlebury CDC led by Zac Kohl, in September. We will have office space there and are striving to provide programming for the community in a variety of ways.
What do you hope this Better Block event will accomplish long-term for the Middlebury neighborhood?
We hope that Middlebury Better Block will provide a space for community connection, dialogue, creativity and fun that will continue to be felt in the neighborhood. It’s imperative to continue the momentum of these community engaging events and discussions so we can really learn about and connect with the community. With the support and development of local businesses, creative place-making like Akron City Repair (there is an installation site in Middlebury!), safe gathering spaces, projects surrounding health, healing, agriculture and wellness and the voice of the community, we are able to work together to create the community we all truly desire.