AKRON, Ohio — A unique series of community events set for this weekend meld indigenous peoples’ traditions with the Jewish faith while highlighting the role of seniors in the community.
The Akron Weekend for Water features Minnesota-based Ojibwe writer, playwright and artist Sharon Day, founder and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force. Day also came to Akron in 2019 for the 50-year anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire, which spurred federal lawmakers to pass the Clean Water Act.
Weekend for Water is part of the annual series of the Elder Wisdom Academy of Lippman School a private school in Akron for kindergarten through 8th grade.
The Elder Wisdom Academy offers programming for life-long learners and highlights Jewish and Native American traditions because they share rites of passage, said Angela Miller, community engagement coordinator for the Lippman School.
“In particular, the function of an elder,” Miller said. “Western-minded people often are at a loss when they are beyond their careers. That’s because they don't have the structure around them, the scaffolding of a culture that elevates elders to a position of dignity.”
Miller said she helped launch the academy in partnership with the Lippman School because of the school’s longstanding exchange relationship with the Northern Cheyenne nation, which has supports for elders, as does the Jewish community.
Weekend for Water events include:
Friday, March 17 at 6 p.m. — Day will speak at an Elder Wisdom Shabbat followed by dinner hosted by Beth El Congregation at the Shaw JCC, 740 White Pond Drive in Akron.
Saturday, March 18 at 2 p.m. — Our Nature: Caring for Our Watershed is a family-friendly event in the Cascade Valley Neighborhood. The interactive experience will feature local leaders who are working together to care for the Cuyahoga Valley Watershed and the Lake Erie Basin. Activities are planned for all ages at the Cascade Lofts Trailhead Event Space, 21 W. North St. in Akron.
Saturday, March 18 at 4 p.m. — Day will lead a Native American Water Walk, traditionally led by Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) grandmothers as a form of respect for water as a life-giver and a prayer for the health and flourishing of rivers, lakes and oceans. Known as a Nibi Walk, the event will take place along the Little Cuyahoga River and Towpath Trail. The one-mile walk and blessing of the Little Cuyahoga River will begin at the Stuber Street Bridge, 179 Stuber St. in Akron.
Weekend for Water events were organized by the Elder Wisdom Academy, in partnership with Community Life Collaborative, the Jewish Community Board of Akron, the JCC, Beth El Congregation, the Lippman School, Cascade Locks Park Association, Friends of Elizabeth Park and others.