Saturday, August 19, 2006

Festival Day in Akron

"We are the village green preservation society."

Here in the village of Kenmore, a long-neglected neighborhood of Akron, Ohio, the boulevard could use some care and attention. The old diner closed sometime within the past few months. Karl and Bob's Elbow Inn moved to Kenmore after losing their spot on S Main Street to Canal Park. But it has vanished from the Boulevard and I have to wonder where is the model of the Taj Mahal now?

I live on the west side of Summit Lake, the side with the least murders. The east side of the lake borders a section of housing that is very run down. Here and there are a few well tended aging homes, fronted by carefully planted flower beds. But most of the house fronts look as sad as the people living inside them.

I went to the Summit Lake Community Festival today to work at the Sherrod Brown table with five other campaign volunteers. All members of the Summit County Progressive Democrats. I'm not an official member yet, but today I got the scoop on the organization and I can see that I'm going to be pulled in pretty quickly. They got together originally through and worked on the Kerry campaign. After the election was stolen, the group decided to stay together and work harder. They've worked their way into the local democrat organizing scene, gaining 25 precinct captainships and nominated one of their members to a county wide democrat party office. The ones I've met so far are good people, dedicated and very organized.

The Blackwell campaign had a table at the festival. They gave away Blackwell teeshirts, and we gave people Sherrod Brown stickers to stick over the Blackwell lettering. People stopped at our booth all afternoon. Most refused the write in ballot application. They want to go to the poll in person. So somehow, we have to figure out how to make sure their votes are counted correctly.

On this particular Saturday, three festivals were going on less than a mile from each other, but in completely different settings for diverse populations. The Summit Lake Community Festival was about 95% African-American. At the north end of town, the University Arts in the Park Festival took place in notorious Grace Park, known as a gay male pick up park for decades. On this Saturday, it was full of large tents housing some upscale art objects for sale. The crowd was about 3/4 middle to upper class arts patrons while the rest were either denizens of the homeless shelter round the block or else senior citizens bussed in from various places around the city.

The third festival did not happen. The Art in the Square Fest at Highland Sq was cancelled due to rain. It is postponed until Aug 26th.

No comments: