by Stephanie "Leo" Leonardi
Around noon on November 5th, a sunny, colorful Saturday, over 100 neighbors, residents and guests started to trickle into the normally empty lot across from the Pump House building in Akron's Summit Lake neighborhood for the Pump House Community Day. They had gathered to celebrate community and share their ideas for what can happen in the building, which has been vacant for 13 years. Attendees wrote their ideas for programming on a giant chalkboard or individual sheets of paper.
Non-profit Let's Grow Akron showed off their adjacent community gardens and flock of chickens. Drummers from local groups Free World and Alchemy, along with local resident musician Dennis Oliver, set up a drumming circle and led the attendees in a creation story called "The Golden Age.” Ben Karam, a member of South Street Ministries, a local organization that has an active presence in the neighborhood, set up an inflatable bouncy house and a spin art table for kids.
Jan Green and Grace Hudson from Lets Grow Akron's canning crew had arrived early with chili and all the fixings to go with it. They had been working on it for two days. Along with them was a crew of collaborators, and a handful of teens manning the hand made pizza oven, which they had made two months earlier. The apple crisp dessert pizzas were delicious and plentiful. It was entertaining throughout the day to watch the teen chefs at work.
Attendees streamed in from both the neighborhood and the Towpath Trail, which runs next to the lake and provides a safe and accessible way for families to get to the Pump House. Folks received impromptu one on one lessons from the drummers, create funky art on a postcard, or took a peek inside the Pump House at all of the large machinery still inside. Jeff Horner was out on the pier prepared to fish with any kiddos that wondered up. Everybody had something to do, and if not something specific, just enjoying the day and the conversation with somebody while eating some deliciousness food seemed just as enjoyable.
The word 'multigenerational' has as many layers to it as it does syllables and that is what the community day at the Pump House showed us. It modeled what we would like to see continued, which was a range of ages of people engaged together in creative ways and learning and listening from each other. While interacting that day we were in the very act of creating it!