Guest blog by Lindsey Phillips (Torchbearers Class 2018)
As a member of the 2018 Torchbearers class, we partook in the best new member orientation in Torchbearers history January 19-20 (I can say that, because it’s the only one I’ve been to, but I believe it to be true). For the first nine years I lived in Akron, I had absolutely no idea what the city had to offer and very little appreciation for supporting local business. Last spring, I completed a program sponsored by Leadership Akron and I came out of that with a new set of eyes. How was it that I never knew about amazing local resources and businesses like SEI, GAR, Knight Foundation, Downtown Akron Partnership, Summit Artspace, Uncorked Wine Bar, or Zeber-Martell to name a few? With new knowledge in hand, I began to thrive in our city and longed to know more. I also purchase from local businesses for gifts since then (shout out to Rubber City Clothing for making me some stellar tees…repeatedly).
I was overjoyed to be accepted into the 2018 Torchbearers class, based on a personal goal to use my skill set to better our city, while learning even more about Akron! Opening night of orientation did not disappoint. As we packed into an auditorium, I noticed a set on stage that reminded me of a Renaissance Fair I went to in 8th grade. Not long after, there were three actors from Ohio Shakespeare Festival (which I didn’t know about before) on stage sword fighting with some fancy flips, slides, and grunts. The lesson presented was that to achieve their goal of entertaining, they also had to achieve their goal of good communication. For sword fighting, it meant “communicating with eyes” and making sure the other person will meet your move so you don’t get, you know, punctured and die. Just kidding. I think.
It brings me joy that Torchbearers chose to support local arts. It was an amazing start to a year-long commitment of growing our skills and bettering our city. But more importantly, it gave the new class permission to be creative before anything else. Truly, highlighting creative arts before discussing the accomplishments of previous years or goals for the current year resulted in higher engagement and exemplified how important creativity is in the program’s success. This theme played out again on day two, as we guided blind-folded TBs through “lava”, competed for the best time of putting puzzles together, and drew art of local landmarks. I left feeling invigorated, bursting with ideas and excitement for the coming year. I am so grateful that after 10 years, I can say I am part of this community and claim Akron as home.