BIG IDEA: Rick Stockburger and Firestone Park

Yo, Rick, what’s your BIG IDEA for Firestone Park?

photography by Svetla Morrison

See more of her work, including her Akron’s Big Ideas series, at her website here

Name: Rick Stockburger
Age: 31
Hometown/Home now: I am from a delightful little farm field called North Georgetown, Ohio but I live, love and play in Firestone Park.
Occupation: President, Stockburger Consulting
Contact: and on Twitter @rickstockburger

Rick 1What’s your Big Idea?

“To engage my neighborhood to not only retain it’s history but to go forth and create a culture of awesomeness, that includes young people recognizing that Firestone Park is an amazing place to live, love and play. We do this by creating opportunities to engage from both a business perspective on Aster Avenue and from a housing perspective around the amazing shield that is our beautiful park. The goal is to insure that we are not the last bastion’s of progress.”

Why do you pursue your Big Idea?

“I believe cities were built the way they were out of necessity, we came together and lived beside each other because we needed each other. We craved social interaction, we had to walk to work, we had to grow gardens. Sometime in the 20th century we acted like we stopped needing each other, we were sold on the American Dream to have that house with the white picket fence, that we no longer relied on anyone but ourselves. With the latest recession I believe a lot of us learned that no one was safe, from losing their livelihood or making a bad investment. We remembered why we lived in cities, it’s because in actuality, this entire time we needed each other. Now young people don’t just need each other because they are saddled with college debt and starting out in their careers with a debt load the size of a mortgage and they have no where to live but that we actually want to be around each other. We want to walk to work because we spent our entire youth in front of a TV, now it’s time to see the world and be a part of it. Even if that new world is just exploring the first 100 feet off your front step. These Rust Belt Cities are a new frontier, a place rampant with wild history and a cast of characters that simply could not be fictionalized. I do it for the adventure.”

When did you know your Big Idea was actually a good idea?

“When nearly 50 people showed up on a 35 degree day to walk around my neighborhood on the first #Akron2Akron tour. I knew Dina, Jason, Nicole, Kyle, Amber and I were hitting on something with the walking tours but I didn’t know just how necessary my work would become until I wasn’t standing alone saying this is a great place. Sometimes, we just need a little validation.”

How do you hope your Big Idea helps Akron get a little better?

“My idea is just a conglomeration of a bunch of other people’s great ideas. If I am successful in advertising, branding, and building Firestone Park in the way it deserves to be it will mean a number of things happened. Dina Younis’ work with #Akron2Akron was a raging success, Jason Segedy’s BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of 250,000 by 2050 is on it’s way to becoming reality. Akron’s Start Up scene has taken off under Nick Petroski’s leadership and Jon Knapp and Ashley Young’s idea of creating co-working kitchen’s has created not just new restaurant’s but a restaurant district that has sustained. The thing about what my idea, is that it’s our idea, I’m just one of the folks that is dumb enough to invest my life into it, instead of my lawn in the suburbs.”