"Akron Stories is a tremendous educational and cultural resource This has been a community effort. At its peak, the rubber industry employed 70,000 people Akron-wide. It's not just about the tire companies, it's also about aerospace, the women who worked during wartime, it's about blimps and inflatables, latex gloves, rubber bands, canning machines and dental equipment. It touches many aspects of the Akron life," Love said.
He added that many people think they can't purchase a brick because their relative was a secretary or administrative assistant and didn't work in the manufacturing of tires. The project has a wide span and includes all the people related to the rubber industry.
The project also has progressed because of the help of local leaders from organizations such as the Akron Summit County Public Library, the Summit County Historical Society and the University of Akron.
"We have also gone to the University of Akron's archive and Bridgestone's archive and converted 16 mm film to digital format," Love said. "Much of the video we have used has not been seen since it was first shown or used on television. People can listen to the full recordings at the University of Akron's archive."
The stories are interesting, funny, resilient, diverse and overwhelmingly positive. Love mentioned that most of the story videos have gotten 3,000 to 8,000 views within the first week they get posted online, with some going viral with certain groups such as those on Facebook.
Ray said her hope is to hear more stories from people in the suburbs that may have family and friends that were or are in the rubber industry.
"I think the Akron Stories project can be a revelation," Love said. "The goal of developing 300 to 500 stories, I think, will make for a good representation of the over 100-year history.
"The stories are from multiple generations of people who had a special work ethic, with a special set of values—a blue-collar, and highly diverse work force that rallied around the community."
If interested in purchasing a brick or to get more information about the Akron Stories project, call 330-238-8588 or email [email protected].