New/Native: Brant T. Lee & Christel Silas



christel-silasName: Christel Silas

Occupation: Global Sourcing Specialist at Gojo Ind. The West Akron 5K program coordinator.

Hometown: B-Town (if you don’t know, ask somebody).

Current Neighborhood: Northside, Cascade Valley, Elizabeth Park, Downtown, it depends on who you ask. Akron neighborhoods are in the midst of being redefined.

What do you wish was more on Akronites’ radar?

I wish more Akronites were aware of the local happenings that have been established as ‘the thing to do.’ My goal for 2017 is to get Akronites outside of the Highland Square and Downtown areas more involved in: Akron Bike Party, PechaKucha, the Akron Art Walk and  Mighty Soul Night at Uncorked, just to name a few things.

What is your favorite local cultural asset?

Mustard Seed Market in Highland Square. That is one place where you can’t go wrong. I can grocery shop or dine in, catch live music, hold an event, take a class and eat overlooking the city. The fact that it’s a healthy establishment offering vegetarian options that I need is the cherry on top.

When did you fall for Akron?

In 2014, I took part in the Neighborhood Leadership Institute of Summit County. I have met so many wonderful people through the program, with so much information about the neighborhoods they come from. The group projects exposed me to little gems in each neighborhood that I had never knew of before.

Where in Akron do you like to escape? The Towpath. I have a trade-off: own a house with a backyard or live along or near the towpath and use that as my backyard.

Why should everyone try your favorite local restaurant?

Please refer to #3.

(Photo of Christel Silas by The Wilder Lens Photography)

NOTE: The print version of this story had an incorrect location listed for Cristel’s current neighborhood. This version has been revised.



brant-t-leeName: Brant T. Lee

Occupation: Law Professor

Hometown: San Francisco

Current Neighborhood: Merriman Hills (Palisades)

What do you wish was more on Akronites’ radar?

Substantial economic development has not reached many Akron neighborhoods that are still struggling or even crumbling. All the exciting developments in the Arts and downtown—which I love!—shouldn’t distract us from that.

What is your favorite local cultural asset?

PorchRokr, hands down. It’s hard to describe how happy I am just wandering the streets and listening and browsing and eating and people-watching. I want to die at PorchRokr.

When did you fall for Akron?

It’s been a very slow, gradual process. For the first few years, we didn’t think we were staying. Then we developed a grudging love/hate relationship. As our kids got older, our familiar sites shifted from the zoo and the library and the beaver dam to the farmer’s markets, Lock 3, and the Nightlight. Warm summer nights at Canal Park have been a constant. Somewhere along the way we realized that we were recognizing familiar faces and fond memories almost everywhere, and how can you not love a place like that? After almost 20 years, It’s A Wonderful Life.

Where in Akron do you like to escape?

On a lazy weekend afternoon: The Bookseller.

Why should everyone try your favorite local restaurant?

I don’t have just one! But the place I drift back to most often is Taste of Bangkok, because of the authentic cheesy decor, and because a good bowl of pho with all the trimmings is irresistible. You will need a nap afterwards.


(Photo of Brant T. Lee courtesy of Brant T. Lee.)