Pub Notes: What we believe

Who we, the people of The Devil Strip, aspire to be for the people of Akron

Curmudgeonly Chris delivers a dramatic reading of SWV’s “Weak” as a friendly birthday offering for Bucky Willis of Bleeding Heart Design. (photo by Dessa Lohrey/NASCCF)

The best advice I ever got wasn’t really advice. It was only implied. It didn’t tell me what to do or what came next. It just told me what I needed to believe to keep moving forward.

My habit was to avoid emotional pain instead of confronting it, awkwardly making metaphorical eye contact then crawling into the nearest black hole I could find. Part of this early 20s ritual involved forcing my poor mother to endure my laundry list of complaints.

On one such occasion, Moms said, “You’re stronger than you think.”

The orphan thing was a Superman reference, just in case you missed it.

She wasn’t chastising me. The opposite, in fact. She may as well have whispered a closely-held secret about how I possess super powers because I’m actually an orphan from Krypton. But I didn’t need (so much as want) heat ray vision or the ability to fly. I just needed to believe I could handle what was in front of me. Then believing it, I did. And when the next thing came, I handled that mofo too. Then the next and the one after that, and so on and so forth, and so it goes until I became the head of a billion-dollar publishing empire, who also happens to have thick, wavy hair. #Dreams

What we believe is important. To remind myself of this pretty simple fact, I keep this Simon Sinek quote by the door in our office: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Belief is where our actions start.

That’s what my mom did for me. She believed something about me so I could too eventually. But it wasn’t a Hallmark moment. She essentially gave me a shovel and told me to start digging until I struck oil.

Shortly after Signal Tree Fest, I sequestered myself for nine days with more than two dozen strangers on a farm in Vermont. This was for the National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellowship, which put me in a cohort with some truly amazing people, including fellow Akron fellow Greg Milo. I left feeling brand new because as much as I’d learned professionally, I was mostly challenged personally, which forced me to embrace what I believe and be responsible to it.

Dinner for two dozen every night and the meals were insanely good. If you’re interested, you can see some of Dessa Lohrey’s best photos here.

I returned and started working with our lil’ team to strengthen the mag’s foundations so we’re able to handle the changes to come. Though we started amongst ourselves, we’re going to build this next version of The Devil Strip with you. We begin with what we believe.

This is a living document so tell us what you think. This is who we aspire to be. This is the standard to which we’ll hold ourselves. But is this how you see us? Is this who you want or need us to be? Please highlight what you like or dislike, make notes, post comments. This is practice for what’s coming up next. — Chris Horne

Stories matter

We believe the most important stories are the ones we tell ourselves about ourselves, and that this is as true for cities as it is individuals. For better or worse, every city’s chief storyteller is its media. We consider this a sacrosanct responsibility because our work shapes the way our fellow Akronites see each other, and we believe the way we see each other influences how we treat one another.

For Akron

Our work is for Akron. This isn’t merely our angle for stories but rather our reason for existing. To that end, we are advocates for Akron and allies to its people, not cheerleaders afraid to acknowledge the city’s flaws. We praise what makes this place so unique and seek in our challenges the opportunity to improve because we don’t see the point in continuing if we can’t help make Akron a better place for people to live.

With Akron

We would rather build trust through cooperation and collaboration than authority. We believe our place in the community is alongside it, not the outside looking in. We embrace this responsibility by thinking first about the human beings who live here.

Neighborhood watch

We’re delighted to challenge the status quo. However, we believe conflict and antagonism should be regarded as powerful tools to agitate for change, not cheap tactics to boost clicks, views, comments, shares and “eyeballs”. We are a watchdog to hold our leaders accountable, not to keep the neighbors up all night with our barking.

Love our neighbors

Our stories humanize the people in our city — not to counter sensationalized or alarmist reporting but to eventually render it obsolete. We advocate for justice, freedom and equality because those qualities make this city, and our lives, better.

Beyond the page

Informing the public is not enough for us because information without context or connection is inert. We believe journalism can connect people to each other, our city and sometimes even a sense of purpose. Though our work begins on the page, both printed and web, we promote (and sometimes plan) events so people can meet face-to-face because that’s still where real life happens.


This magazine will never be a coat hanger for advertising. We don’t accept ads for national chains, things in large metros outside of Summit County and businesses that profit off the exploitation of women. The local businesses, nonprofits and civic orgs who support The Devil Strip are part of our community and are as vital to our culture as our artists and musicians.

Good times

Look, we still want to have fun. We want our readers to have a good time, to fall in love with their city again and again. It’s easier now to live vicariously through our devices, but we believe that art, theatre, dance, music, film, food, civic engagement, biking, hiking and beering give us common ground and foster connection, offering us entry to community, which makes us all a little bit happier. And that’s what it’s all about.

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