February 2011 Issue
News makers, news stories and new stuff around Ohio.
When he talks about the past, Robert Smith doesn’t mince words. “Every
minute of every day,” he warns, “we’re losing a piece of history.”
Which is why the former television producer founded the African American
Legacy Project (AALP) seven years ago. Headquartered in Toledo, the
nonprofit organization is dedicated to collecting, documenting and
displaying artifacts and historical information representative of
African-American culture in northwest Ohio.
Over the years, Smith and his team of volunteers have acquired more than
6,000 items, most of which are catalogued, stored and often displayed
in the AALP’s Upton Avenue offices.
Every artifact in the collection tells a story: A case in point are the
tap shoes donated by 93-year-old Prince Spencer. The Toledo native is
the sole surviving member of The Four Step Brothers, a dance quartet
whom Smith explains was the first black attraction to play New York’s
Radio City Music Hall.
Treasures have turned up in unusual places. Recently, a maintenance man
discovered a century’s worth of death records in the basement of
Toledo’s Dale-Riggs Funeral Home — the city’s oldest-operating
African-American mortuary. The legacy team is in the process of raising
funds for a computer database that would categorize the information in
Because African-American culture has a long history of passing
traditions and stories down orally, Smith says, “seeking and discovering
who you are is critically important.”
“Imagine,” he adds, “not knowing.”
For more information about the African American Legacy Project, visit africanamericanlegacy.org or call 419/720-4369.
— Colleen Kennedy
Thrills of Victory
When it comes to karate, Ashley Hill is clearly an athlete
extraordinaire: The Chillicothe resident has been a member of the United
States National Karate Team for nine years, is a four-time Junior
Olympics and two-time Pan American champion and ranks third in the World
And she thanks the city of Columbus and Arnold Schwarzenegger for
launching that success. For 22 years, the capital city has hosted the
Arnold Sports Festival, a multisport health and fitness celebration like
no other. Through the decades, the fete has become a proving ground for
many aspiring athletes — Hill among them. The 23-year-old entered her
first karate competition at “the Arnold” in 1998. Since then, she’s
returned annually to hone her skills.
Hill also credits the experience with giving her the confidence to land a
modeling contract with Wilhelmina and begin an acting career. (That’s
her executing some smooth moves in the new Powerade sports drink
commercial, along with New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain and
Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony. Hill also has a stunt-double
role in the upcoming James Gandolfini film, “Violet & Daisy.”)
“I’ve competed around the world — from France to Serbia,” she says, “and
there’s nothing like the Arnold Fest. Nowhere else can you watch or
compete in 13 sporting events in one place –– from archery to
weight-lifting, from table tennis to fencing. It is one of the most
amazing contests I’ve ever participated in.”
Schwarzenegger’s love affair with Columbus began in the ’80s, when he
traveled there to participate in a bodybuilding competition. The
movie-star-turned-politician was so impressed with the location that,
when he created the festival in 1989 to promote health and fitness,
Schwarzenegger decided the city would be the ideal spot to host it.
Hill, who’s recently added boxing and tae kwon do to her athletic
repertoire, looks forward to this year’s event, which will be held March
3–6, in a variety of venues around town.
“I enjoy coming back,” she says. “It’s one of the most exciting weekends of the year for me.”
For more information, call 614/431-2600 or visit arnoldsportsfestival.com.— Linda Feagler
The custom greeting cards, stationery, bound journals, pop-up books and posters adorning the tables and lining the walls of Igloo Letterpress are eye-catching. The ink embellishing them is thick and bold, and the paper has a quality that’s at once nostalgic and modern. But while the work of printer Allison Chapman is quite stunning, there’s something else within the small shop that’s truly attention-getting: the big, gleaming, no-nonsense printing presses that fill the spaces between merchandise.
Using the 19th-century printing presses handed down from her granddad, who taught his offspring the tricks of the trade, Chapman has created a one-of-a-kind niche in Worthington: She crafts distinctive paper products with old-fashioned appeal.
“I’ve always loved paper and books, and I feel like part of my secret mission with Igloo is to help people be more thoughtful in sharing what they’re thinking about,” explains Chapman, who taught at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts before moving to Ohio three years ago and opening Igloo Letterpress.
In addition to selling gifts, Chapman also enjoys offering classes to customers because, as she notes, creating your own valentine, for example, can be an incredibly gratifying and enjoyable experience.
“I think it is that sense of accomplishment,” she says, “in being able to take an idea that’s in your head and transform it into something you can share with other people that is really satisfying.
“And,” Chapman adds, “it’s also very rewarding for me to give other people that chance, to let them know that what they’re thinking about has value and is worth sharing.”
Igloo Letterpress, 39 W. New England Ave., Worthington 43085, 614/787-5528, iglooletterpress.com
— Jennifer Rogers