Posted by Terrence Dalton
Mr. Kutuchief was the featured speaker at our Tuesday, September 21, 2021 Rotary Club meeting.  Mr. Kutuchief was named program director in Akron for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in May 2015.  The foundation invests in journalism, the arts, and the success of cities where its founders once published newspapers.
In Akron, the birthplace of Knight Newspapers and the foundation, Knight focuses on downtown and inner ring neighborhoods through investments in public space and public life to increase population and advance equity. Akron is also part of Reimagining the Civic Commons, a Knight-supported national initiative that seeks to counteract economic and social fragmentation by revitalizing and connecting public spaces.
In Akron, the Knight Foundation focuses on the power of high-quality public space and public life to attract and retain people.  The program(s) that include this focus is referred to as “Reimagining the Civic Commons.”
Reimagining the Civic Commons (RCC)
This initiative intends to be the first comprehensive demonstration of how a connected set of civic assets – a civic commons – can yield increased and more equitably shared prosperity for cities and neighborhoods.
Reimagining Civic Commons involves four strategic areas.  These areas include Civic engagement, Economic integration, Environmental sustainability, and Value creation
  • Civic Engagement:  When people enjoy equal status in shared spaces, a sense of community and respectful engagement is built, and our understanding of others increases.  More people from diverse backgrounds participate in the shaping of their city’s future.
  • Economic Integration:  Overtime, urban neighborhoods have become increasingly segregated by income, with poverty that is persistent and growing.  By expanding the use of our shared civic assets by people from all backgrounds and incomes, we can improve economic opportunity from one generation to the next.
  • Environmental Sustainability:  A reimagined civic commons connects public spaces to increase access to nature and foster neighborhoods where most trips can be made by walking, biking, or transit.  Investments are anticipated to create larger tree canopies, improve storm water management and increase energy efficiency.
  • Value Creation:  Open, active and connected spaces can attract investment, helping to grow local businesses and change the perception of safety in a neighborhood.  As surrounding neighborhoods increase in value, opportunities to capture some of that value can generate public benefits and support the operation of civic assets.
Mr. Kutuchief  listed three specific Akron RCC Civic Assets.  These assets are 1) Civic Gateway, 2) Park East and 3) Summit Lake Park.
  1. Civic Gateway:  Located on the northern end of downtown, the Civic Gateway is comprised of a variety of recreational and social amenities including the Akron Civic Theatre, Lock 4 Park, Cascade Plaza, and the Akron-Summit County Public Library, as well as the workplace of thousands of employees.
  2. Park East:  Located between the Civic Gateway and the Summit Lake Park, this neighborhood is home to a variety of people, including homeowners, renters, and senior living.
  3. Summit Lake Park:  Once the “million-dollar playground,” Summit Lake is now largely an area marked by disinvestment, remembered only as a dumping ground for factories and for long-held negative perceptions of safety.
Mr. Kutuchief provided numerous PowerPoint slides of examples of what has been completed, efforts that are currently under way, and future plans that address these three areas.
I encourage anyone who is reading this article and didn’t have the opportunity to hear Mr. Kutuchief’s presentation to listen to the recording - CLICK HERE TO VIEW RECORDING or cut and paste this link
Not only will you get a more comprehensive picture of what has or will be occurring with the assistance of the Knight Foundation, but also the passion that Mr. Kutuchief has about the city of Akron and the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative in Akron.
You may also wish to check out the Knight Foundation’s website at to learn more about the other initiatives that the Knight Foundation is invested in as well the history of the Knight Foundation as it relates to its place in the history of Akron.
Terry Dalton
2021-2022 Club Secretary and Scholarship Chair