Today’s tire industry is home to legacy brands such as Goodyear, Firestone, BF Goodrich, General Tire, Mohawk Rubber. The list goes on. Though the ones listed here have one thing in common: They started in Akron, Ohio. In fact, as these tire manufacturers developed, so did the city of Akron. Now, the memories and stories from those that helped build these tire giants are being immortalized for years to come in the Akron Rubber Worker Statue & Stories Project.
The project started seven years ago, when Akronite Miriam Ray realized there was nothing in the city to honor early rubber industry workers, which included some of her family members. However, with the help of Mac Love, head of creative intelligence agency Art x Love, and the City of Akron and other sponsors, a Rubber Worker Statue was recently unveiled in downtown Akron. The stories of these rubber industry workers live on in the Akron Stories project.
In this episode of What’s Treading with Tire Review, we invite Ray, the project’s founder, and Love, the project lead, into our studios to explain more about the Akron Stories project and how you can contribute to it.
Ray and Love discuss:
- How the Akron Rubber Worker Statue & Stories Project came to fruition [1:19]
- What inspired the look of the statue and how its origins were told through stories [4:02]
- How the oral history storytelling element of the project was developed and how a grassroots effort spurred a movement to commemorate the people who made Akron the “Rubber Capital of the World” in the early 20th century [6:00]
- Details of the statue and how it’s becoming an Akron landmark that memorializes city’s early rubber industry history [8:09]
- How, due to its rubber industry roots, Akron was on the cusp of societal innovation, from creating the Pre-K school system to inventing the football huddle [12:02]
- Challenges the group encountered initially with the statue and project and how they overcame them with a motto of doing the project for the people of Akron [13:40]
- How the Akron Stories project is being funded currently and how you can contribute to the cause, submit a story and show your support [16:10]
- Ray’s and Love’s favorite stories from the early days of the rubber industry from the hundreds of stories submitted to the Akron Stories project [18:57]
To learn more about the Akron Stories project, its sponsors and how you can contribute to the cause, click here.