NEW/NATIVE | From St. Paul, Minnesota to West Hill, meet Sarah and Karen

collected by Svetla Morrison

NEWphotoSarahChubaName/Age: Sarah Chuba, 44
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Neighborhood: Northwest Akron
Occupation: stay-at-home mom, president of West Akron Moms Club, board member of Friends of Metro Parks, general entertainment enthusiast for the under-7 years set

Who do you wish was on more Akronites radar? Why?
Marissa Lange. The most inventive music instructor I may ever encounter, she is also a terrific singer. I am a lackluster piano player, but I have 11 years of experience with four different piano teachers from my childhood. In those years, nothing I saw could hold a candle to the creative and engaging and effective approaches that Marissa employs. The energies that she pours into designing lessons are reflected in my boys’ enthusiasm for learning to play the piano.

What is your favorite local culture asset?
It has to be the Akron Art Museum. We all just went to a free drop in evening to learn the basics of making pop-up books. We met a couple originally from New York (Queens and Brooklyn) who have lived in Cuyahoga Falls about as long as we’ve lived in Akron. They had come from an event at the John S. Knight Center and were commenting on the variety of things they are finding to do in Akron. This event at the Art Museum fostered a conversation and a connection, (including a lengthy discussion about working with titanium and where to buy it), that I cannot imagine finding elsewhere in town.

The museum has increasingly become a place where I connect with people from all around town. The evening events, visiting exhibits, the Family Film Festival, the upcoming Trick-or-Treat, and art classes, draw people with a variety of interests in and have me engaging with both people and ideas that I don’t encounter elsewhere. The location just across from the Main Library creates a great central hub for cultural events.

When did you fall for Akron?
During the Fall Hiking Spree. When we first moved here from Atlanta at the end of 2003, I came up first with some clothes, a coffee maker and no furniture. Our neighbors, John and Betty Dalton, adopted me and introduced me to the Metro Parks, the Civic Theatre with the showing of that year’s Warren Miller film, and a love of the history of this city. The first hike was on the Dogwood trail in Sand Run and I loved being deep in the trees and the challenge of the climb. We have being exploring all the parks during the Spree since 2004, and our boys, ages 6 and 4, love exploring the trails now too. The kinder realm classes were among our first school experiences, and they are learning to ice skate on the huge rink at the Big Bend trail head area in Sand Run Park.

Where in Akron do you like to escape?
The Akron Art Museum. I started haunting the galleries after our first son was born. It provides a sanctuary to clear my head, and now it has become an extension of the neighborhood for our two boys. Also, they always have a great soup in the cafe.

Why should everyone try your local favorite restaurant?
A person could travel far and wide and still struggle to best the fare prepared at The Blue Door Cafe in Cuyahoga Falls. The passion that is poured into selecting ingredients and marrying flavors is what makes this little restaurant unbelievably good. It’s an unassuming exterior, don’t be fooled. If a person has any doubts, try a simple croissant, you cannot find a better one even in France. And the people there are delightful.

How do you think Akron will be different in five years?
I suspect that the various neighborhoods will be more interconnected than they are now. Initiatives like Better Block brought people to North Hill who hadn’t spent much, if any time, there; Art Inside|Out has friends of mine traipsing all over the city; we have seen our downtown, just in the past five or six years, grow to be a more vibrant hub to draw people in from all the neighborhoods; even the Akron Marathon new route connected more of the neighborhoods together. I also think that the brewers in the city will have significantly expanded their audiences, we have some solid and delicious beer being brewed here.

More locally, I am hoping that I will live in a house with fewer Lego blocks on the floors.


NATIVEphotoKarenWilkieEdwardsName/Age: Karen Wilkie Edwards, 46
Hometown: Akron, OH
Neighborhood: West Hill
Occupation: Program Director, City Sprouts

What do you wish was on more Akronites radar? Why?
Modern sustainability using old fashioned methods: gardening, canning, herbal medicine, edible landscapes, rain barrels, rain gardens, permeable pavement, sewing, knitting, etc. My favorite gifts to give and receive are always from the home and heart; homemade jam or soap, a handmade scarf, a bouquet of flowers from someone’s flower garden. I know the time and love spent in creating these things.

What is your favorite local culture asset?
Don Drumm Studios and Gallery. I work there as a sales person in the fall and winter once I put the gardens to bed. Don and Lisa Drumm have created a magical place to shop and work. They represent and employ many artists. Support local business.

When did you fall for Akron?
I grew up in Firestone Park, which was a very tight-knit and proud community. It wasn’t until I left that I realized how unique that was. I missed it very much. As much as I loved being a gypsy, I was happy to come home to raise my children.

Where in Akron do you like to escape?
My favorite Akron escape is the Towpath. I walk and ride as often as I can.

Why should everyone try your local favorite restaurant?
Chin’s Place is my favorite local restaurant. Elaine Chin and her family are very involved in the community. They also have beautiful gardens and much of the produce for their dishes come from their own gardens. Szechuan Tofu is my favorite.

How do you think Akron will be different in five years?
Progressive people make progressive towns. I love the energy that many of my colleagues have for sustainability. I see Akron being a leader in the local food movement, green infrastructure, cohousing, tiny house communities and other forms of sustainability.