Three “urban innovators” will highlight this year’s University Park Alliance Speaker Series.
UPA, a nonprofit group working on the redevelopment of 50 city blocks around the University of Akron, sponsors the speaker series each year to keep the dialogue going about the “issues that we think are critical for the Akron community,” Director Eric Anthony Johnson said.
“It’s important for us to continue to have these series to talk about, introduce new concepts and flesh out new ideas. It’s not just for University Park, but anybody in the Akron area interested in these ideas and how it can help move the community forward,” he said.
The alliance looks for speakers “who are considered some of the thought leaders on those subject matters.”
The events are free to the public, but reservations are required and spaces fill quickly. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-777-2070 to reserve a seat.
The events are 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Andrew Jackson House, 277 E. Mill St., Akron.
The speakers and their topics are:
• Jan. 30 — Redesigning the Urban Landscape: Developing a Natural Sense of Place. Sabrena Schweyer & Samuel Salsbury from Salsbury-Schweyer Inc.
Salsbury and Schweyer are international award-winning designers recognized for their use of nature’s systems in the creation of beautiful, personal and earth-minded landscapes. For more than 15 years, they and their Akron-based firm have been at the forefront in advancing the field of landscape design toward sustainability and toward creating a “sense of place.” They work with organizations and individuals throughout the country to devise ways to incorporate more sustainable and beautiful aspects into places.
• Feb. 20 — Transforming Vacant Spaces: Creating Value from Vacancy in the Urban Footprint. Terry Schwarz from Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.
Schwarz is the director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. Her work there includes neighborhood and campus planning, commercial and residential design guidelines and ecological strategies for vacant land reuse. She launched the collaborative’s Shrinking Cities Institute in 2005 in an effort to understand and address the implications of population decline and large-scale urban vacancy in Northeast Ohio. As an outgrowth of the Shrinking Cities Institute, she established Pop Up City, a temporary-use initiative for vacant and underutilized sites in Cleveland.
• March 20 — Cohousing: A Unique Approach to Alternative Housing. Sharon Sykora from Slippery Rock (Pa.) University.
Sykora is a professor in the university’s political science department and specializes in American political behavior. In her 24 years at Slippery Rock, she created the course “Utopian Experiments,” through which her professional and personal interest in co-housing has developed. Sykora recently was granted a ye arlong sabbatical to investigate the principles and practicalities of co-housing communities across the United States.