How local early birds are building community over breakfast
by Jessica Conti
Akron is filled with both delicious breakfast options and a significant number of creatives who are passionate about their work and their city, which helps explain why there has been a sudden takeoff in the “breakfast club” trend. Each breakfast club has a different objective but each exists to bring Akron together to create an empowering community.
A is for Akron Tech Breakfast
Over breakfast, this group, started by Jonathan Knapp, talks about the local tech community. Knapp, who runs a web development consultancy called Coffee and Code, is also the force behind Akron.io, whose mission is “Connecting the unconnected and promoting Akron’s tech community.” It’s also the heart of the Tech Breakfasts.
You may also recognize Knapp from our Big Ideas issue regarding the Akron Kitchen Community, an effort to open a shared commercial kitchen space and help Akron’s food businesses succeed by creating a network of local entrepreneurs who can learn from each other. He’s doing this with his wife Ashley, a chef, who you can meet in Issue 10 of The Devil Strip.
Knapp has been organizing web meetups for a while now and he says he noticed that people felt intimidated when they didn’t know enough on a certain topic or if they knew too much on another topic. He wants the Akron Tech Breakfast to eliminate that intimidation by fostering an environment where people of all backgrounds feel comfortable enough to discuss their expertise while connecting with new and familiar people. The conversations are unstructured and meant to include anyone that wants to join regardless of their personal history.
Knapp explains, “I wanted to help achieve diversity in our area’s tech sector. No matter our title at work, we’re all people and can contribute to a greater conversation.”
For more information about how to get involved, visit akron.io or go to meetup.com/akron-io
B is for the Breakfast Club
Unlike some other clubs, The Breakfast Club is not industry specific. Kaley Foster, the beeswax candle making owner of Urban Buzz (urbnbuzz.com), wanted to create a networking event that wasn’t about networking. The Breakfast Club meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 am at the Front Porch Cafe on Grant Street. The meetings are casual and open to anyone interested.
Over breakfast, motivational and educational speakers give a pep talk to inspire attendees to build a better Akron. (Editor’s note: Kaley was another person who responded to our Big Ideas survey because her big ideas aren’t limited to bees but how she can help build a better Akron. And she smiles, like, all the time so if you need a boost of good cheer, she’s your woman.)
“When you look around the room during the meeting, guests aren’t talking about business. They’re talking about friends, family, and ways to improve our city,” Foster says, “They’re truly connecting, not just swapping business cards. That is the main goal: to connect motivated individuals trying to make Akron a better place to live.”
The Breakfast Club is works to create a brighter future for Akron by bringing the people that care about Akron together. The attendees and speakers vary, but Foster’s core goal is to build a better community and she’s succeeding one breakfast at a time. To learn more, show up at the Front Porch Café at 7:30 am on the first Tuesday of each month.
C is for Creative Cog
The Creative Cog is the new kid on the block, the brainchild of Devil Strip contributor Katelyn Gainer. She says her goal is to bring together like-minded creative, once a month, to talk about the trials and tribulations of pursuing their career in a creative field. Each meeting will feature a different local discussing their personal and professional experiences.
Gainer says she got the idea while working on the “Art of Akron” cover story for The Devil Strip. She interviewed a significant number of artists and noticed they shared an underlying theme in their careers: failure and rejection. Each person had personal anecdotes and major life lessons that stemmed from failing. Gainer, who describes herself as a natural planner, was intrigued and wanted to find a way to connect these types of people.
Though the first meet-up isn’t scheduled until August 11, the pre-registered event attendees represent a wide variety of fields, from artists to lawyers to non-profit organizers—and that’s exactly what Gainer wants.
“I think there needs to be more attention focused on our creative community. I hope this starts a discussion and opens up more collaboration opportunities among the creative community, businesses, nonprofits, and others.”
Creative Cog kicks off at Musica at 7:30 am on August 11 and its first speaker is Devil Strip publisher and Knight Cities Challenge winner Chris Horne. His talk will be “Dancing with Failure and the Art of Living Local.”
For more information visit facebook.com/CreativeCogAkron