Akron Civic Commons: A Story of Robust Collaboration and Reconnected Communities

Akron is reconnecting people, not online, but in our trails, parks and community centers.

by Dan Rice, President & CEO, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition

You see it in the news every day. Nearly every trend line shows that the U.S. is in the grips of increased polarization, segregation, social isolation and economic inequality. Health, happiness and trust in free fall. There is an urgent need to reverse these trends.

Akron is starting by reconnecting people, not online, but in place through our trails, parks and community centers. A cross-sector collaboration of more than a dozen organizations and hundreds of community members, Akron Civic Commons is recommitting to our civic assets with the intention to deliver outcomes that matter. Through investments in three neighborhoods and the Towpath Trail that connects them, it is knitting together isolated communities through collaborative re-imagining of public places. Temporary and permanent design features and programming is reestablishing a 100-acre lake as a place of civic pride and play, bridging diverse neighborhoods and fostering economic development and public life in Akron’s downtown.

Learning Objectives:
  • Reconsider the greater social value of their trails
  • Discover a new approach to collaboration
  • Gain a new outcomes-oriented metrics system.

About the Author

Daniel M. Rice is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, headquartered in Akron, Ohio. The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition (OECC) is the regional non-profit organization working for the conservation, development and interpretation of the natural, historical and recreational resources along the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, Ohio. Since 1994, Mr. Rice has worked with over 150 community partnerships and raised over $75 million in development funds for the preservation of historic structures, the development of the 101-mile multi-use Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and the conservation of natural resources along the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway. Mr. Rice is a native of Ohio, with a B.A. in history from the College of Wooster and M.A. in American History from the University of Akron. Mr. Rice is married to Nancy Neagoy Rice and lives in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with their daughter Rachael.

Contact: [email protected]

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