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City of Akron to Join

Power a Clean Future Ohio

clean future pic.JPG

Power a Clean Future Ohio (PCFO) stopped in Akron to show their support for the City of Akron's resolution to join the PCFO. 

Casey Shevlin (Director of Sustainability and Resiliency), Joe Flarida (PCFO Executive Director), Akron Mayor Shammas Malik, Alyssa Johnson (Program Manager) and Nat Ziegler (Program Manager

City of Akron Set to Join

Power a Clean Future Ohio

as 50th Member Community


Akron, Ohio, March 18, 2024  — Today, Akron Mayor Shammas Malik is introducing legislation to Akron City Council to officially join Power a Clean Future Ohio (PCFO). PCFO is a nonprofit organization focused on tackling climate change at the local level to build a more sustainable future. They help equip local leaders with tools and resources that empower them to create and implement carbon reduction plans that are achievable, measurable, equitable, and economical.

“I’m excited to team up with Power a Clean Future Ohio to pursue efforts that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental sustainability overall,” said Mayor Malik. “Preserving our environment for future generations must be a top priority. Partnering with PCFO will empower us with the tools necessary to create sustainability plans and build greenhouse gas reduction initiatives which in turn improve overall quality of life in the community.”

Participation with PCFO is free of charge to member cities. Partnering with PCFO provides opportunities to collaborate with cities/counties across the state on sustainability-related issues. It also allows Akron to share challenges and successes with peers. Akron joins other PCFO communities such as Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton and is the 50th Ohio community to join with the organization.

The City's Director of Sustainability and Resiliency, Casey Shevlin will work closely with PCFO as she sets the foundation for this newly created office and starts to lay out the vision and goals for Akron's environmental future.

“Joining PCFO is the next step in Akron’s journey towards a more sustainable future that is data driven and backed,” said Director of Sustainability and Resiliency Casey Shevlin. “In addition to joining PCFO, Mayor Malik has also formed the Office of Sustainability and Resiliency which is a first for the City of Akron. Akron was also recently announced as 1 of 25 cities selected for the Bloomberg American Sustainable Cities program. This administration is committed to and invested in building a more sustainable future for our community.”

“Power a Clean Future Ohio is looking forward to welcoming the City of Akron as our 50th member community,” said PCFO Executive Director Joe Flarida. “We are grateful for Mayor Malik’s leadership and excited to work with city staff to identify achievable goals in carbon emission reductions that are equitable, economical, and measurable.”



Supporting Life on Land in Summit County: An Introduction to SoSA’s Biodiversity Projects

Posted on January 17, 2024, by goodplaceakron

Words by Sophie Vaughan

Last month, we introduced our readers to the Summit of Sustainability Alliance (SoSA), the organization leading the way in advancing sustainability in the Summit County region through nonprofit, public, and private sector partnerships. We continue our coverage of SoSA with a deeper look into their Biodiversity program. 


We spoke with SoSA Core Team Member and Secretary Pat Gsellman, who is the Senior Advisor for Akron Waterways Renewed and Senior Project Professional for Environmental Design Group. Gsellman works with Beth Vild on the SoSA Biodiversity Team to bring the UN’s Life on Land Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to the local level, to be applicable to Summit County. The team uses the Life on Land SDG as a guide to organize activities and hopes to set goals that align with the Life on Land targets.

Gsellman explains that SoSA’s current biodiversity projects center around protecting biodiversity and natural habitats, conserving and protecting freshwater ecosystems, and integrating ecosystems and biodiversity into governmental planning. With the help of Kent State University, SoSA developed forms to assess how these current projects and activities fit under the UN SDGs, the timeframes necessary to complete the activities, and the Key Performance Indicators to ensure those goals are projecting. 

In 2024, SoSA aims to set KPIs to track progress toward their project goals and overall goals. While SoSA as an overall organization goes through the process of determining metrics and KPIs, the Biodiversity team continues their diligent work to help the region realize the Life on Land SDG. 

SoSA’s 2023 Progress Toward Life on Land

In March, SoSA held a Biodiversity Team Workshop at Himelright Lodge in Cascade Valley Metro Park, where regional speakers and SoSA members presented on various biodiversity-related topics. The event kicked off with an introduction of SoSA by Chair Ross Widenor from Bridgestone; Vice Chair Chris Norman, MUPDD from Akron Zoo; and Secretary Patrick Gsellman, PE from Akron Waterways Renewed and Environmental Design Group. The roster was filled with local experts on biodiversity and sustainability: Chris Chaney and Janean Kazimir of Summit Metro Parks presented information on Wild Back Yards and the Importance of Understory Development; Sonia Bingham of CVNP spoke on Native Habitat Restoration; Peter Bode of Community Life Collaborative presented Collaborative Opportunities related to Environmental Social Justice; City of Akron Arborist Jon Malish presented information on the Akron State of the Canopy Report and the i-Tree Eco and Hydro tools; Akron Tree Commission Chair Sarah Vradenburg spoke about the Commission’s work; and Beth Vild from Big Love Network presented on Food Forestry and SoSA’s Spring Native Plant Distribution Event (which took place later in the spring). The workshop also included tabletop exhibits by Summit Soils and Water, Akron Waterways Renewed, Summit Metro Parks, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


Gsellman said that the topics covered in this workshop were the Biodiversity team’s main focus in 2022-23 and will continue to guide their work in 2024. The workshop also provided SoSA opportunities to work with Malish on the City’s tree canopy efforts and with Akron Zoo on their canopy efforts both at the Zoo and in their ward. Gsellman said that SoSA is working to support partnerships between CVNP, Summit Metro Parks and the City of Akron. He mentioned a program that Davey Tree created for the City of Akron, which SoSA is considering for possible county-wide implementation, and perhaps could even be adapted to local parks as well.


SoSA’s other Life on Land highlights from 2023 include:

A Volunteer Day at Elizabeth Park, where volunteers planted Akron’s first public food forest, including understory plants that will provide sustainable, lasting food access to the Cascade Valley neighborhood; SoSA’s Summit Co Org2Org plant giveaway winners also picked up plants at this event and helped with planting 

 • A tour of the City of Akron Water Supply plant in Kent, including a presentation by Jeff Bronowski, Akron Water Supply Bureau Manager, the history of the facility, the journey of Akron’s drinking water, and the City of Akron’s work to preserve the health of Cuyahoga River watershed areas

 • A virtual program by SoSA member organization Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park about the importance of green space

 • A presentation on restoration of the Little Cuyahoga River by Julie Bingham, Director of Ecological Restoration and Restoration Biologist at EnviroScience

 • A viewing of “Images of Eden,” which featured paintings of the Cuyahoga Valley Watershed by Julie Holman and excerpts from the book “Eden Unburied” by Scott Myers

Gsellman sees how SoSA’s work impacts biodiversity on private property, in a way that the governmental sector is unable to do. This is important, since 82% of the urban tree canopy in Akron is on private land.

“The City’s tree program is pretty much limited to just public land right-of-way — street trees, public parks, those kinds of things — but it really doesn’t get into private property at all,” Gsellman says. “And I think that doing what we did with the tree planting [event] really helps us get more into…private property.” 

By following biodiversity best practices when selecting trees for their planting projects or plant giveaways, SoSA can help residents contribute toward a more biodiverse tree canopy and understory.

The Current State of Life on Land in Summit County and Where We Go from Here

Ranking #32 in the 2019 US Cities Sustainable Development Report, Akron has come a long way since the days of the burning Cuyahoga River. Local naturalists and birders can see this in the influx of otters and eagles returning to the river valley.

“We’re unbelievably fortunate in this area to have the National Park and Metro Parks,” says Gsellman. “Summit Metro Parks is very impressive in the work that they do in regards to invasive and non-native plantings.” 

For example, Gsellman explains how, as part of the Gorge Dam removal project, “Summit Metro Parks is already going back into that area and removing the non-native trees that they view as being detrimental.” He clarifies that they are especially focusing on invasive non-native plants.

Summit Metro Parks also launched a new program this year called Wild Back Yards, which provides support, education and incentives for Summit County residents to plant native plants in their yards. SoSA encourages local residents to purchase their native plants through My Home Park, a web-based company specializing in Native Plant Garden sales. For customers who use the promotional code CLCMHP2023, My Home Park will donate 20% of the sale to the Community Life Collaborative (CLC) Native Plant and Canopy Program. CLC is a SoSA member organization, and this program helps to fund the Biodiversity Team’s tree plantings.

Akron’s Tree Canopy is also robust, with the most recent percentage measured at 34.1% coverage. To work toward the goal of 40% coverage, Akron Waterways Renewed has launched a 2-for-1 initiative — for every tree they remove for construction of an Akron Waterways project, they plant two trees. 

In 2024, SoSA will continue its Life on Land efforts with the Biodiversity Team’s help. One major focus area will center on educating local residents on the recently passed Riparian Setback Ordinance. Gsellman has been in contact with the City of Akron Director of Public Service Chris Ludle to discuss the need for workshops or an educational series for ward meetings to inform property owners of the ordinance and prepare them for enforcement.

SoSA will also continue to emphasize understory development, which it sees as a gap in sustainability focus in the Summit County region. 

“Everybody loves to plant trees, but they don’t get that excited about planting bushes, and shrubs, and underlying plants,” says Gsellman.

SoSA also wants to bring more awareness to green employment and training. Gsellman explains how in his work with Akron Waterways Renewed, they use TRY Ministries to do a lot of maintenance on their facilities. He also mentions the $1 million USDA Forest Service Urban Forestry Grant that the City of Akron was awarded for the ACORN project, noting that as part of the project, the City would develop a nursery with the help of TRY Ministries and similar organizations. These organizations would assist with planning, maintenance, and program development at the nursery, and the ultimate result would be some sort of certification. Gsellman says that SoSA will educate organizations and the public in Akron and surrounding areas to make them aware of these opportunities as they develop.

Goals, Metrics, and Getting to the Ideal State

Measuring progress toward the Life on Land SDG is complicated. Fortunately, some metrics are already available.

“The tree canopy gets the most glory, and to tell you the truth, we’re ahead of the game in regards to percentages compared to other cities of similar sizes,” says Gsellman. “I know Jon [Malish] has some specific goals as to where he wants to get it, so I think that’s being done very well.”

SoSA will also be monitoring employment in the green sector, including through Akron’s ACORN project and the Akron Waterways Renewed Program. 

SoSA’s membership numbers are perhaps the easiest metric for SoSA to gauge success toward their ideal vision: which organizations have become official members, which members are sending representatives to the monthly membership meetings, etc.

As SoSA sets goals for 2024, each member subcommittee will develop activities, goals, and metrics for their individual focus areas. 

So how do we get to the ideal state for biodiversity in the region? Gsellman says that education and workshops are key, with hands-on activities “to really get it to sink in.”  

Gsellman says SoSA also needs to get more corporate involvement, which will also help to achieve SoSA’s overall ideal vision, with partners working together across sectors toward common sustainability goals. 

“I think we’re very well represented for the non-profit and even the government sectors, but we really need to work on the corporate side of it,” says Gsellman. “I know we have Bridgestone and Cleveland Clinic Akron General, but we’re really trying to figure out how we can grow the involvement from some of the more corporate world.”

Gsellman says this corporate involvement will be especially beneficial when SoSA begins to look at other sustainability activities and other SDGs, specifically energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. 

“I know we want to kick off the greenhouse gas initiative in 2024 and get another subcommittee started up,” says Gsellman. “That will be something to get us to the ideal state.”

SoSA will also take a deeper look at the 2019 US Cities Sustainable Development Report to see how their work might help impact Akron’s score in future years.

Once SoSA develops a stable funding structure, the Biodiversity team will have the opportunity to apply for grants to help accomplish their Life on Land goals. In the meantime, Gsellman says that SoSA hopes to streamline communications between members regarding grant funding they are receiving and how that funding could help accomplish common goals. 

Gsellman is also the Web Developer for SoSA and said that the team will be making some updates to the website in early 2024, including new goals for the coming year and a list of member organizations and their representatives. 

Summit of Sustainability Alliance (SoSA) Building Ranks and Gaining Momentum for a More Sustainable Summit County

Posted on December 21, 2023, by goodplaceakron

Words by Sophie Vaughan

In Summit County, one organization is leading the way in advancing sustainability in specific focus areas through partnerships across nonprofit, public, and private sectors. With the Summit of Sustainability Alliance (SoSA), partners from these different sectors work together to inform policy, improve practices, and support innovation in building a thriving, sustainable Summit County Region. 

SoSA Chair Ross Widenor leads the Core Team, which acts as the steering group of the entire collective. Widenor runs the Core Team meetings, which help guide the decisions about what SoSA’s pilot programs will be. Widenor also works on the “rotating road show” of General Membership meetings held by SoSA to build an understanding of the current sustainability landscape in Summit County and highlight member organizations’ programs and accomplishments. Widenor says these General Membership meetings “keep the conversation going, keep up the engagement, and keep it lively so people want to show up and participate.”


According to SoSA’s website, the ideal vision for the future of local sustainability would include “a Summit County region that is a successful model of a sustainable community. Partners work together across sectors to create and enhance a thriving community surrounded by a healthy natural environment.”

The website goes on to explain, “SoSA supports this vision by creating a sustainability forum in the Summit County region to unite nonprofit organizations, educational  institutions, governmental entities, and for‐profit businesses as they work together to inform policy, improve practices, and support innovation.”


“I think the more layman’s way to say it is that we see partnership as key to advancing sustainability,” says Widenor. SoSA is trying to move beyond the standard, with individual organizations merely assessing internal sustainability standards and processes. Instead, Widenor says that SoSA wants to see where these organizations can “move the needle by working together…as a whole network when we have similar issues or similar priorities or…similar pain points.”


“We can achieve more by doing that together and working across sectors, especially,” says Widenor. “So, it’s not just the business community, it’s not just the municipalities, it’s not just the universities or the non-profit sector, but crossing all of those boundaries and seeing what we can do to create solutions that make sense from wherever we are.” 


Currently, SoSA is gaining momentum towards that ideal state. Many individual partnerships exist between organizations with similar interests who have recognized the need to work with other key players toward common goals, but SoSA saw a need for a coordinated sustainability discussion that spanned the Summit County region. 

“There wasn’t anywhere for everyone to come together and really lay it all on the table and see what’s missing or what’s really great that should be replicated,” says Widenor. “We’re trying to find a home for the sustainability conversation in the region.”


SoSA is in the process of collecting information about existing partnerships to gain a better understanding of the network that already exists. 


To keep the momentum going, SoSA holds monthly member meetings, and membership continues to grow as more organizations become aware of SoSA and what they are doing. Widenor says that the next step is legitimizing the organization from a structural standpoint.


“SoSA today doesn’t exist in a legal sense — there’s no established entity; we’re not a 501c3; we don’t have a fiscal agent,” says Widenor. “We’re a collective, but that’s something we identify as a real need — to legitimize ourselves and have some staying power — is to put some formal organization behind the collective itself.”


SoSA is also in the process of developing a stable funding structure. Currently, SoSA takes donations and manages funds to back up some of the projects that they want to do themselves. In-kind contributions from their member organizations have allowed some good progress, but the Core Team is looking at options to establish an official funding structure as a necessary next step.


SoSA currently focuses action on two main projects that need funding, which is what sets SoSA apart from some other sustainability collectives.


“We’ve had other instances where people will come together and talk about sustainability at some regular cadence, but then they’re kind of missing that execution/action piece,” Widenor says. “So we don’t want to just have a feel-good meeting once a month; we want to have these teams that are doing things, actually collaborating and creating some kind of deliverable.”


SoSA began by looking at members’ common priorities and activities and then began to frame those activities around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Two SDGs in particular seemed to have a lot of overlap with SoSA priorities and activities. Life on Land aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” Responsible Consumption and Production aims to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” Specifically, SoSA will focus on promoting biodiversity toward the Life on Land SDG and zero waste toward the Responsible Consumption SDG. Zero waste efforts will begin with advancing the state of composting in the region. 


Biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms on Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi. This variety is essential to support life on Earth, as the ecosystems that provide the air we breathe and the food we eat depend upon a wide range of life. Widenor says that the biodiversity pilot program has made a lot of good headway with leadership from the Big Love Network, as well as with participation from the City of Akron, the Akron Zoo, and a number of other players. 

One player, Community Life Collaborative, secured $100K in grant funding to administer from an estate foundation, which they used to purchase native plants for a giveaway. The plant giveaways were focused on areas where they would have the greatest impact, for instance in Southeast Akron, where the tree canopy is weaker and native plants can improve the area in a measurable way. The iTree tool can be used in this scenario to measure this impact and show data such as CO2 sequestered and stormwater impacts. With one round of the giveaway complete, the Community Life Collaborative has secured funding for another round, which will take place in 2024.


Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter into a soil amendment. The SoSA composting pilot program is presently in data collection mode, as SoSA gains an understanding of the entire network in its current state: who is segregating the compostable stream of material, where it is going, who is converting it, what the offtake is for that material, and how the process is working now overall.


“There are a lot of organizations that would like to compost, but they don’t know how, or they don’t have a cost-effective way to take action on that,” says Widenor. “So, I think if we can get a view of the whole system and how it’s working, we can figure out how to better optimize it.”


As part of the data collection process, SoSA is asking organizations to distribute a survey to their members. This survey will ask for basic organization information, details regarding existing compost systems, factors that make it difficult to compost, current supported zero-waste initiatives, and more. Organizations and businesses can fill out the survey here. Any questions about the survey can be directed to Rachel Madigan, at

SoSA is also considering launching a third project in the Sustainable Cities and Communities SDG category, which aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”


“With the network we have, we feel that we can do something meaningful on CO2 reduction in the region,” says Widenor. 


This network includes Summit County representation and Cuyahoga Falls membership, and Widenor says that the City of Akron Mayor-Elect Shammas Malik is very interested in what SoSA is doing, even sending a representative from his team to attend their meetings. SoSA also continues to reach out to other municipalities to connect with their sustainability teams. 


“I think we’re bringing the right team together to have in the same room, with the corporates and the non-profits, so that we can really make an impact where it’s most urgently needed to combat climate change,” says Widenor. “We definitely have an eye on the future on getting more intentional about that space.”


SoSA Core Team member Gina Burk believes the bigger picture is going to be related to collaborations on achieving goals, and will include the Zoo, the parks, biodiversity, and zero emissions. 


“It is going to be, ultimately, because it is in the best interest of all the entities involved, to position the region as a leader in sustainability that would attract people to want to live here,” says Burk. 


Burk says that the most strategic position has been to get the City of Akron to have a Director of Sustainability. “To me, that is the key piece to establishing a seriousness that this region is going to be moving in the same direction,” Burk says. 


“We have an extremely unique story in Northeast Ohio because of the Cuyahoga River being so significant to our environmental laws, with the EPA and the Clean Water Act,” Burk says. “And we have the national park connecting the watershed communities. We have to think about the future, we have to think about where we’re going to be because the world is going to know about us…Freshwater is the key component. Not only is it going to draw people here for recreation, but it’s our story. It’s inherent, it’s in our DNA.”

General SoSA membership meets from 1:30pm – 2:30pm on the 4th Wednesday of every month. Project teams are self-directed and meet as needed, reporting progress up to the Core Team members. There is no fee for membership, to eliminate the cost barrier to participation. Organizations that become members send representation to the monthly meetings and give in-kind contributions of time, attention, and collaboration.


Individual project teams determine what other resources are needed and where to source them. Member organizations have the opportunity to collaborate as part of the project teams, and there are also currently a couple seats open on the Core Team. To join, visit the SoSA membership application page.

Mayor Horrigan Launches Glass Drop Off Recycling Program

5 drop off locations throughout the city


Akron, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2023 — Today, Mayor Horrigan held a press conference to launch a glass drop off recycling program throughout the City of Akron. The purple recycling bins will be available in five locations: Diamond Crystal Ballfield (2175 Edwin Ave.), Akron’s Dog Park (499 Memorial Parkway), Behind Spaghetti Warehouse (510 S. Main), Goodyear Heights Metro Park (1950 Eastwood Ave.), and Goodpark Golf Course (530 Nome Ave.). The city will accept all clean food and beverage glass bottles in the recycling bins. Glass will NOT be accepted in curbside recycling carts.


“We know how important recycling is to our residents and we’re proud to offer this solution for glass recycling here in Akron,” said Mayor Horrigan. “Glass is infinitely recyclable if we can capture it without contaminating the supply with other recyclables and waste, which is exactly what this program will do. Akron, our residents, Ohio manufacturing, and our environment all benefit from this program, and I can’t wait to see our residents utilize this sustainable solution for glass.”


Here's How To Recycle Glass in Akron:


  • Gather your glass jars and bottles – no need to remove labels.

  • Wash them out and remove any caps or corks.

  • Find the nearest City of Akron bin near you using this map.

  • Drop your glass in the bin.


The following items are acceptable for glass recycling:


Glass food jars

Spirit and wine, beer, & champagne bottles

Non-alcoholic beverage glass bottles


The following items are NOT Acceptable for glass recycling:




Light bulbs

Solar panels

Heat-resistant glass (e.g., Pyrex)

Drinking glasses

Computer/TV screens




The city has partnered with Ohio-based company,  O-I, one of the world’s leading glass packaging manufacturers, for this program. O-I donated the recycling bins to the city of Akron and has partnered with CAP Glass who will transport and process the collected glass before supplying it to an O-I facility where it will be made into new glass bottles and jars.


“O-I is committed to sustainability and social impact, and glass recycling contributes to these commitments in many ways, including waste reduction, material conservation, energy reduction and job creation,” said Elizabeth Hupp, Global Social Engagement Leader at O-I. “We are excited to launch this partnership with the City of Akron to create a more circular economy for glass packaging. The glass recycled in Akron will be recycled at our Zanesville facility, where it can become new sustainable glass packaging in as little as 30 days.”


For more information on the program please visit the city’s Engage page here.

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For Immediate Release

Contact: City of Akron Press Office or 330-375-2754


City of Akron Issues Request for Proposals for Solar Energy Developers


Akron, Ohio, August 16, 2023 — Today, the City of Akron is seeking proposals from solar energy developers to lease land at Hardy Road Landfill to construct, own, operate, and maintain a ground mounted Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System and associated equipment necessary for interface with electrical distribution facilities.


The goals of this project are:


  • Provide the City with a consistent and sustained revenue stream by leasing and/or otherwise utilizing a former City-owned landfill to a private company or developer to construct a Solar PV System on the Property.

  • Provide greater access to renewable power capacity to the electric grid.

  • Provide a positive re-use of the closed landfill where environmental or other attributes make traditional, alternate land uses difficult.

  • Advance the City’s sustainability goals.


The City is looking for qualified vendors interested in the lease or other potential land-use of the landfill to allow for the construction and installation of a Solar PV System to be installed on approximately 77 acres of the property.


“We believe this could be a uniquely mutually beneficial project which would allow the city to lease land for an additional revenue stream, and for a solar energy developer to utilize currently vacant land for their business,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan. “I look forward to seeing the responses to our RFP.” 


Putting a Solar PV System on a closed landfill provides an important opportunity for increasing localized generation of renewable electricity on a parcel of land that is currently unused. In addition to the desired revenue stream, the City’s goal is to add resiliency to the electric generation system and promote further reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by increasing local renewable electricity generation.


See the full RFP here. Applications, questions, and comments can be submitted through the city’s Bonfire system. To register and submit your proposal, click here.       Applications are due by Sept. 19, 2023.

The City of Akron, Akron Parks Collaborative and Wild4Ever Announce New Opportunities to Improve Your Neighborhood Park


Akron, Ohio, June 8, 2023 — The City of Akron has been working in partnership with Akron Parks Collaborative (APC) to revitalize our neighborhood parks since 2018. Today, APC is launching a new website at to better communicate the organization’s mission and provide access to important information. A new logo and strategic plan are featured. APC is also featuring two new ways they want to work with neighborhoods to improve city parks.


1.  Work with APC on a Micro-Grant or “Nature in Your Neighborhood” Grant

Akron Parks Collaborative is known for the Akron Parks Challenge; which invites residents to pitch their vision for how to improve their favorite Akron park by collaborating with their neighborhood to support design, implementation and upkeep. Through this program, over $2,000,000 of city and private dollars have been invested in neighborhood parks since 2018. 

This year, APC and the City of Akron are pleased to announce two new award opportunities:

The Akron Parks Collaborative Micro-Grants supported by the City of Akron
Akron Parks Collaborative and the City of Akron are offering small grants to neighborhood residents and groups for park improvement projects.  Grants will be awarded for between $1,000 and $10,000 with a total of $20,000 in funds available. Projects must be physical improvements to parks including but not limited to seating, landscaping, animal attractants (such as butterfly houses), kiosks, signage, artistic elements, and play features (such as chess tables, disc golf, cornhole).


The Nature in our Neighborhood Grants funded by the Wild4Ever Foundation
Additionally, two $5,000 grants from Wild4Ever will be awarded by APC for projects helping to support native wildlife and native flora in a City of Akron park. Neighborhood awardees will work with APC to design the park “wild space,” which is expected to include creating new native plant areas and could include installing animal attractants like butterfly houses, bat houses etc. and seating.


For more information and to apply, please visit


2. Tell us how we can support you and your neighborhood around your shared space


Listening Sessions: To better serve individuals and groups interested in stewarding their city parks, Akron Parks Collaborative will be hosting several listening sessions throughout the city this month. Those interested are encouraged to attend so that they can:

  • share why neighborhood parks matter to them

  • share how APC can best support their ongoing stewardship

  • learn more about this year’s micro grants


Individuals and groups are invited to attend whichever of the following sessions is most convenient for their schedule:


Tuesday, June 13, 5:30p @ Joy Park Community Center

Wednesday, June 14, 12p @ Firestone Park Community Center

Saturday, June 17, 11a @ Lawton Street Community Center

Tuesday, June 20, 5:30p @ Patterson Park Community Center


A meal will be provided. Registration is free, but required through or directly at (

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Akron, Ohio, June 2, 2023 — Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced the winners and honorable mentions for the 2023 Mayors’ Climate Protection Award. Mayor Horrigan received an honorable mention for modernizing Akron’s District Energy Steam Plant. He joins other honorable mentions: Chicago's Lori Lightfoot, L.A.'s Karen Bass, San Diego's Todd Gloria, and Tallahassee's John Dailey. The top two winners were Denver’s Mayor Michael B. Hancock and River Forest’s Mayor Cathy Adduci.  Full descriptions of the 2023 Mayors Climate Protection Awards winning programs can be found at:


In 2018, during Mayor Horrigan’s first term, Akron City council authorized a $25.4M renovation of the city’s district energy plant. That investment has allowed Akron Energy Systems (AES), who operates the city’s steam plant, to transform the city’s waste-to-energy power plant from a dangerous, trash-incineration facility to a safe, cost-effective power-generating operation. As the City of Akron’s community energy system operator, AES delivers a finished heating and cooling product to buildings in the city’s downtown business district including City Hall and the hospitals.


“I’m honored to be recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors for Akron’s work to reduce carbon emissions,” said Mayor Horrigan. “Our partnership with Akron Energy Systems is a real sustainability success story. By modernizing our steam plant, we have reduced fuel use by 46% since 2010, reduced annual output of carbon emissions by a staggering 117,000 tons, and reduced water use by 30M gallons per year. In Akron, we’ve reduced governmental emissions by 40% since 2005 simply due to our investment in our steam plant.  I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to better our environment here in Akron.”


“Again and again, mayors throughout this nation are showing all of us how to be more efficient in the use of our energy resources and cut carbon use in the process,” said USCM President Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “These awards help tell the story of mayoral leadership, one where these local leaders confront the real challenges of the day and do so in ways that make our cities cleaner, smarter and more livable.”


In 2022 alone, Akron’s district energy system accomplished the following for our community:


  • 97% reduction in air pollutants

  • 46% improvement in energy efficiency

  • 99.999% reliability of system operations

  • 27 jobs were retained and 10 new jobs created

  • Added 6 new customers to the system including Akron Summit Library Main Branch, Ocasek Building, and Goodrich apartments

  • 50% increase in cooling sales

  • $155 million in community investment savings


AES founder and CEO Marc Divis said, “Congratulations to Mayor Horrigan on his numerous, generational achievements in environmental sustainability, with the district energy system being just one of several projects.  Mayor Horrigan and his administration provided tremendous leadership, dedication and support to bring this critical, low-carbon infrastructure solution to downtown Akron.  This project required a whole-of-the-community effort over a period of years.  The team at Akron Energy Systems is honored to be a collaborative partner with the City of Akron, Akron Children’s Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Akron General in making this project an environmental, operational, and financial success.  Mayor Horrigan’s achievements to improve the environment will benefit Akron for generations.”

Mayor Horrigan Recognized as a Leader on Climate Action at U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting

Summit Metro Parks Wild Back Yards

This year, Summit Metro Parks invites you to explore ways to make small changes in your own yard and make a big impact on local wildlife.


Help wildlife and earn rewards from the comfort of your own home! We can help wildlife thrive with small actions in our own back yards or adopted gardens. Download a form below and track your progress with simple checklists and tips from SMP experts.



Humans are a part of nature, too. When the plant and animal communities around us are healthy, it helps us thrive as well. Wild Back Yards encourages our community to work together to help wildlife and counteract the effects of habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. At Summit Metro Parks, we’re your back yard. And what you do in your yard can help us make an even bigger impact! Join us to receive more information about Wild Back Yards, with tips and useful guides for your back yard!


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