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Cincinnati's first minority-owned brewery coming to Walnut Hills in 2018


Beer is big in Cincinnati — it’s not exactly news. As breweries spring up around the Tristate, each one has to work hard to differentiate itself from a crowded craft beer market.

Recently announced Esoteric Brewing Company has several tactics for setting itself apart from others, starting with the fact that it will be the first minority-owned brewery in the city. Founder and CEO Brian Jackson honed his skills at MadTree before deciding to set off on his own; he's also a MORTAR grad.

“'Esoteric' means 'sophistication,'” says Jackson. “We’re trying to elevate the palates of customers and the entire experience of people coming to breweries in Cincinnati.”

He plans to offer a diverse selection of brews, which will include local favorites like traditional American IPAs and stouts, as well as more complex beers like his award-winning Belgian quadruple, Nirvana.

Jackson picked a location that matches that sense of style and sophistication: the historic Paramount building in Walnut Hills, which was once known as Cincinnati's “second downtown.”

The beautiful Art Deco-style building from 1910 has sat empty for a decade, but was purchased last year by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, and is currently undergoing renovations. Partnering with several community organizations, Esoteric plans to use the roaring '20s vibe of the space to create a modern speakeasy.

“It’ll have the beautiful, rustic feel of a speakeasy with partitions to create little pockets of intimate conversation,” Jackson explains.

Esoteric is not only committed to improving and updating the Paramount, but the community of Walnut Hills at large. Jackson and his marketing guru, Marvin Abrinica, are both minorities who appreciate the challenges of reviving a struggling neighborhood.

“Walnut Hills is such a metaphor for what’s going on in Cincinnati,” says Abrinica. “We chose a lotus as our logo because it’s a beautiful thing that grows from dark places.”

Adds Jackson: “It’s a complex problem. But our partners are committed to revitalization without kicking people out [of the neighborhood.”]

In fact, Esoteric’s business model is banking, literally, on community investment. The brewery plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign this winter that will offer equity in Esoteric. “We are a minority-owned business funded by the people for the people,” Abrinica says.

Esoteric is projected to open next winter. Abrinica says the best way to follow their progress is via Esoteric's website, Facebook or Instagram (@esotericbrewing).
 


Community event this weekend to highlight the people and stories in Price Hill


On Dec. 9, Cincy Stories will host the Price Hill People’s Celebration to cap off its residency in Price Hill and celebrate the community they’ve gotten to know over the past four months. The event will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater; the event is free, and attendees will be able to hear stories and interviews, enjoy catered food and converse with neighbors from all corners of Price Hill.

Cincy Stories strives to use storytelling as a way to encourage those from diverse backgrounds to come together and connect. Its goal is to explore, research and connect the residents of all 52 of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods.

The success of its residency in Walnut Hills attracted the attention of Price Hill Will, which reached out to Cincy Stories.

Shawn Braley, co-founder and executive director of Cincy Stories, says that Price Hill is both interesting and important to Cincinnati because it comprises 10 percent of the city’s population. The contrasts of a growing population of Guatemalan immigrants, battles with addiction, locals who have lived in the neighborhood for decades and new growth gives Price Hill a “level of tension.”

Braley explains that Cincy Stories' goal is to not just tell stories, but to have an impact. "Storytelling makes people aware that everyone is human. Sharing stories gives them a chance to hear each other."

Price Hill's diverse stories range from a profile on Mayor John Cranley to an interview with Aaron Head, a recovering heroin addict now working with men's group homes. Other stories feature Buddy LaRosa, founder of LaRosa’s Pizzeria; local singer/songwriter Tray Walker; and Margherita Gonzalez, a woman who survived an arduous upbringing and immigrated to the states to give her daughter a better life.

Cincy Stories also worked with local organizations like Holy Family Church, which recently hosted an event called Turkeys and Tamales, where everyone brought food from their own cultures to share; the infamous Price Hill Chili, a Price Hill staple; and some of the newer businesses moving to the neighborhood.

“We call it a celebration because we want to highlight the people,” Braley says. He's looking forward to Saturday’s event because it will bring together the beautiful and diverse population of Price Hill all at once.

The event will also kick off Cincy Stories' online content, which will include 60 stories in video and podcast form that will be released gradually over the coming weeks.
 


You'd better not pout: Six events to get you in the holiday spirit


With Thanksgiving over, it’s now time for frenzied holiday shopping, gatherings with loved ones and making as much merry as possible before winter settles in and stays a while. Soapbox rounded up some of the biggest and best events that Cincinnati has to offer this holiday season, and sprinkled in a few fun and unexpected ideas for a little extra festive magic.

Victorian Holiday Village
Dec. 1, 2, 7 and 8, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

For 16 years running, Ohio National Financial Services has hosted a festive holiday event at its headquarters near Kenwood. The family-friendly, walk-through display features thousands of twinkle lights adorning fully decorated miniature Victorian homes, cookies and cocoa, live entertainment and photos with St. Nick. The event is free and open to the public. Visit the Facebook page for more information.

Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home Tour
Dec. 1, 6 to 9 p.m. and Dec. 2, 3 to 6 p.m.

Get out and work off some Thanksgiving calories at the Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home walking tour. The self-paced, family-friendly event, now in its fourth year, offers an exclusive peek at some of the neighborhood’s most historic homes. Tickets are $25, with proceeds benefitting Future Leaders OTR, a nonprofit working with neighborhood youth. Visit the Facebook event for more info and tickets.

Crafty Supermarket
Dec. 2, 11 a.m.

Held in the newly renovated Music Hall, this year’s Crafty Supermarket is a must for one-of-a-kind holiday shopping. The huge flea market-style event brings together more than 90 vendors from throughout the region, offering handmade goods to delight even the hardest to shop for relatives. The free event also features food offerings from local restaurants like Eli’s BBQ and Fireside Pizza, a live DJ, cash bar and craft activities. Visit the Facebook page for details.

Visits with Krampus
Dec. 2 and 9

Cincinnati’s German history runs deep. The city hosts two German-themed holiday markets, Germania Christkindlmarkt and Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, and Krampuslauf Zinzinnati will be at both. Founded in 2014 with the goal of “putting the ghoul back in your Yule,” the group’s mission is to spread the German tradition of Krampus. Krampus, a legend that predates even Santa, is a creature said to punish bad children and whisk them away to the woods. Unlike the stories about Krampus, Krampuslauf Zinzinnati states that its intention is not to frighten children but to keep this bizarre slice of Bavarian heritage alive. Check out the group's website and Facebook page for upcoming appearances to get a photo with Krampus.

Mt. Adams Reindog Parade
Dec. 9, 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Hosted by SPCA Cincinnati, the annual Reindog parade is a fun outing for pups of all ages and their human families. The parade is free to enter and features a festive costume contest, street food vendors and is led by Santa Claus himself. Visit the Facebook event for all of the details.

The Naughty List starring OTR Improv
Dec. 12-28, 7:30 p.m.

When you’re ready to put the kids to bed and have a few much-needed chuckles to break up the holiday stress, look no further than The Naughty List. This holiday-themed improv show held in the courtyard at Arnold’s Bar and Grill will bring off-the-cuff laughs based on audience suggestions. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on the Know Theater’s website. Check out the Facebook page for more info.
 


New fine art gallery adds to Oakley's diverse, growing scene


Located at 3078 Madison Rd. in the heart of Oakley Square, Caza Sikes offers art and fine craft featuring diverse media from regional artists. The gallery features monthly exhibitions, live music, a rentable event space and appraisals.

The gallery opened this fall after an 18-month renovation of the historic building that once housed a paint store.

Owner and licensed appraiser Evan Sikes says he wanted the space to change the concept of a gallery. It features both high-end and more affordable pieces from everything from paintings to jewelry.

Sikes describes his vision as an “approachable, affordable gallery with cool stuff.”

The gallery features a rotating group of artists that all use a diverse range of media. Along with a collection of different painters, Caza Sikes also features mixed media, jewelry, woodwork, ceramics, photography, fiber arts and glass.

During the month of November, the gallery is hosting a collection of paintings by Cole Carothers, which showcase a 40-year retrospective of his work while living in Cincinnati.

After its successful opening at the end of September, Caza Sikes plans to host more events and hopes to engage all members of the community, from younger visitors to those already very familiar with the gallery scene.

“We’re mixing it up a bit,” Sikes says. Along with displays, the gallery will host a series of events from jazz shows to bourbon tastings. These will start next month with a blues/jazz concert on Dec. 1.

What Sikes is really after is a representation of fine craft because there can be a lack of the diversity of media in traditional galleries. At Caza Sikes, a visitor can see and purchase jewelry, clothes made from recycled fabric, hand-made bowls, ceramic tiles and more.

“It’s been a long time coming, and a hard momentum coming up.”

Caza Sikes joins the art scene in Oakley, along with other venues like Brazee Street Studios, which offers a gallery, events and classes for all ages; Ombré Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art jewelry by art and metalsmiths all over the world; and Redtree Art Gallery & Coffee Shop, which showcases work from locat artsits and serves as a gathering space for the community.
 


Sixteen projects receive NOFA money from the City


Thanks to the City of Cincinnati's Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) program, 12 current and future local neighborhood projects will become the subject of funded development. 

NOFA allows developers, individuals, for-profit and nonprofit organizations to apply for city funds, which then allows them to create opportunities for homeownership and rental properties that have positive and lasting impacts.

This year’s NOFA funding totaled $6.4 million — $2 million more than last year’s — and has been awarded to 16 of 20 applicants. As a result, the city will see 528 new housing units, 80 percent of which will be classified as affordable.

It’s all part of PLAN Cincinnati’s goal: to provide vision for full-spectrum housing options to all individuals, regardless of income or stage of life.

“The City of Cincinnati wants quality, diversified housing options for all of our residents,” says Vice Mayor David Mann.“It is a pleasure to be able to incorporate $2 million in additional funding for affordable housing across our neighborhoods.”

Not only have these city funds increased, but funding from investors has exceeded city funding by a ratio of 16:1 for a total of $103.5 million, more than doubling the 2016 total and quadrupling that of 2014.

“Providing quality, diversified housing options for our residents is integral to our community development strategy,” says City Manager Harry Black. “Through these NOFA projects, we look forward to leveraging public-private partnerships to enhance the quality of life for thousands of residents across our neighborhoods."

Recipients of NOFA funding include the following:

  • Copelen/5 Points Alley project, Walnut Hills
  • Evanston HURC, 3476 Woodburn
  • Price Hill Homesteading
  • South Block Home, Northside
  • South Cumminsville Urban Village
  • Cedar Corridor Phase IIII, College Hill
  • Torrence Station, East End
  • Scholar House, E. Walnut Hills
  • Crosley Apartments, Camp Washington
  • Madison Villa, Madisonville
  • 821 Flats Housing, Over-the-Rhine
  • 1420 & 1422 Knowlton, Northside
  • 1714 Vine St., OTR
  • 57 E. McMicken, OTR
  • College Hill Revitalization
  • Halstead Apartments, Clifton/CUF

Drivewell empowers drivers with basic car maintenance, repair classes


Karl Laube, founder of Drivewell, teaches a free, comprehensive course on car maintenance and basic repairs. “People were constantly asking me to work on their car or calling me because they’re at the shop and they don’t know what the mechanic is telling them.”

Laube has worked on cars since before he could legally drive. He's a firefighter for the City of Cincinnati, and after seeing a need, he applied for a project grant from People’s Liberty and founded Drivewell earlier this year.

“Most people feel like they don’t have any power and going to the mechanic is an anxiety-ridden task," Laube says. "They tell you this, this and this. But you don’t know what they did.”

After the course, drivers have a newfound confidence. Along with Shelby Dunn, a technician for Volvo, Laube aims to give drivers a better understanding to help eliminate confusion and frustration and avoid unnecessary bills.

The first class was for women only. Laube says that he would frequently get calls for advice and assistance from females. He feels when it comes to cars, women tend to get the short end of the stick.

Students get to use their own cars, and they must apply to take the classes. However, Drivewell is only for cars worth less than $10,000. The intention is to serve people who have an older car that they're trying to keep up. Laube himself drives a 1992 Mercedes station wagon.

Drivewell is all-encompassing and is a wholesome lesson on vehicle ownership: how does an engine work; tire changes, rotation and alignment; electrical systems and changing fuses; checking and changing fluids; brake maintenance and checking brake pads; detecting common scams; and how to buy and sell used cars.

“I want to use this as a tool to empower people,” Laube says.

Moreover, Laube’s ultimate goal is to combat consumerism and encourage a habit of fixing rather than disposing. “People don’t fix things anymore.”

People end up spending more money than they need to, and this class teaches drivers to fix their own vehicles. “It’s a source of pride when you own something and can work on it and take care of it," he says.


Laube is currently looking for a new location to continue the next round of classes, which he is hoping will take place in the spring. In the meantime, interested drivers can apply online or fill out an interest form for the next round of classes.

Along with the women’s only course, Drivewell plans to add two new classes to the roster: a workshop on driving a stick shift and a course for new drivers.
 


Supercade bringing spot for the whole family to Westwood this spring


As Soapbox reported in August, Westwood is on an upswing. The planning efforts of the Westwood Coalition, a group of community members and civic organizations, have begun to pay off with increased city investment and an influx of new businesses like Lillywood Home Décor, Muse Café and West Side Brewing.

Leslie Rich, a long-time Westwood resident and board chair for community building nonprofit Westwood Works, has been instrumental in stewarding this positive change. Now she and her husband Bill are striking out with their own new venture, Supercade, to bring some added fun to the neighborhood.


“I spent the last nine years promoting the neighborhood, so it made sense for us to invest in it,” says Rich. "We saw a lack of spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds to gather in a fun way.”

To fill this gap, the couple will be opening a retro arcade with upright cabinet games, pinball machines and air hockey. Though Supercade will serve alcohol, “it’s not going to be a place where you have to drink to play,” Rich says.

The arcade will also offer local snacks, popcorn and cane sugar sodas, and is hoping to work with West Side Brewing to develop a signature root beer.

Supercade, which is slated to open by March, will charge $7 for one hour of free play or $12 for two hours of free play access, and will also be available to host parties and team-building sessions for local companies.

The Riches began collecting game consoles back in 2016, and turned their living room into a mini-arcade before securing the former Keidel Plumbing building at 3143 Harrison Ave. for their new venture.

“We’ve been driving all over the Midwest to build our collection,” Rich says. That collection includes a Donkey Kong cabinet signed by world record holder Billy Mitchell, whose high score is still on the machine.

The couple is excited about how the arcade will be more than just a business, but also a way of building community. “We think there is a physical community that can be built on top of the virtual community,” Rich says.

In an increasingly tech-driven world, Rich believes that people are looking for those places where they can have relationships, physical interactions and conversation.

Supercade has a Kickstarter campaign running through Dec. 11, with a goal of raising $20,000 in additional capital. “Up until this point we’ve bootstrapped and done it ourselves, but this will help us get up and running even faster,” Rich says.

Visit Supercade's Facebook and Instagram for more information and to stay up-to-date on the storefront's progress.
 


Developments at Newport on the Levee to provide a more integrated experience


Newport on the Levee is undergoing major changes to contemporize its attractions and everyday offerings. The Northern Kentucky destination is slowly moving away from the 21-and-over nightlife scene to more of a family experience.

Across the country, the entertainment game is changing: Shoppers are choosing online shopping over retail stores, and fewer movie buffs are filling the seats in theaters.

“In the past, it was about outdoor shopping and eateries,” explains Levee spokesperson Vanessa Rovekamp.

Longtime dining favorites Mitchell's Fish Market and Brio Tuscan Grille are being joined by newer, locally owned spots like Greek Burrito and The Dog House hotdog restaurant.

The Levee wants to become an entertainment destination. Current attractions like the Newport Aquarium, Axis Alley and an AMC movie theater will provide the backbone for that plan.

On top of that, the theater, which was built in 2001, is undergoing a major renovation that will be completed in late November. Updates include power reclining seats, an updated snack bar menu and new screens, sound systems, speakers, carpet and paint. The changes aim to broaden the theater's demographic. While young adults used to make up its largest group of visitors, the updates are intended to create family entertainment for all ages.

Most of the changes at the Levee are not public at this time, but they are expected to reveal themselves over the next two years.

Two developments recently opened at the Levee: a new 238-apartment complex, Aqua on the Levee, offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and another 8,300 square feet of retail space and a 144-room Aloft Hotel. Apartments and a hotel are totally new concepts for the Levee area, and encourage a new "stay and play" atmosphere.

Over the past few years, the Levee has also experienced a revolving door of tenants. Despite empty properties, the Levee holds events to keep the entertainment going as renovations continue.

Recent events include the 11th annual Wine Walk (March), supported by Levee tenants and featuring local wines; LIVE at the Levee summer concert series showcasing local bands; Local Brews and Blues (June); Margarita Madness (August); fall events and country concerts to complement the winding down of Riverbend’s schedule; and Light Up the Levee, which will kick off the holiday season on Nov. 21 with festive activities for kids on the weekends.

Visit the Levee's events page for a full calendar of events, which includes tenant-related events and specials too.


Tether Cincinnati connects local creatives to job opportunities, other creatives


One local woman is using her $100,000 Haile Fellowship grant from People’s Liberty to start Tether Cincinnati, a way to connect local image makers (photographers, wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, models, creative directors and fashion designers) in the Cincinnati area.

Tether’s mission is to make it easier for local image makers to connect to each other, and to opportunities for work so they can thrive — and stay — in Cincinnati.

The idea ignited when fashion blogger and former Cincinnati Magazine stylist Tamia Stinson traveled to London. She did a co-op at a British magazine and was inspired by the international image maker directory book, Le Book.

“It was extremely valuable because that was how you found people to execute those types of jobs,” she says.

When she started working, Stinson received many requests from clients, especially from out of town, about the image making industry in Cincinnati.

“I was getting all these inquiries from people and they wanted to know who do I follow, who I get in touch with, what's the best resource for doing this or that,” says Stinson. “And I thought it would be really cool to have a one-stop shop for that information.”

Her passion for design mixed with the resources at People’s Liberty, which helped jumpstart her entrepreneurial career.

“I think it's important to be a part of that creative community and to make sure that I'm supporting people financially in much the same way that I'm trying to get people to do for this community,” Stinson says.

Since its launch in May, Tether has a growing community of about 91 members — and that's just online. Anyone can connect through the Tether Cincinnati website, the print sourcebook and through networking events.

“I think people really get a lot out of that face-to-face interaction, which is why we do events,” says Stinson. “Probably about once a month there's an opportunity for people to actually gather together.”

As much as face-to-face communication is important to her brand, social media is also a key ingredient. “This is a very visual community. So Instagram is where people would tend to hang out the most, but also Facebook and Twitter.”

Aside from social media and events, Stinson also helped organize a sourcebook — a combination fashion magazine and phonebook that features Cincinnati image makers. It will launch in December to agencies and brands nationwide. At the launch, Stinson is planning to "make the sourcebook come to life".

“The plan is to have guests walk in and get the experience of walking into a photoshoot; there will be some kind of interactive part on set to create some of the imagery for the book itself,” Stinson says.

Stinson has been working on this since the beginning of the summer and as of now, the date for the sourcebook launch is Dec. 13. The plan is to have the book come out annually.

The next Tether event is scheduled for Nov. 15 at Alias Imaging, where people from different communities will meet.

Keep tabs on all things Tether by signing up for its newsletter.
 


NKY redevelopment project will go forward despite failing zoning vote


Despite the failing vote regarding the zoning of the historic Kent Building on Grand in Bellevue, the plans to rejuvenate the building and transform it into an apartment building have not yet died.

Currently for sale for $1.2 million, the Kent has been a spotlight for potential redevelopment — and misinformation. “Contrary to misinformation on flyers that have been placed on cars in the neighborhood, there is no plan for Section-8 housing on this site,” says the City of Bellevue.

Wrapped up in zoning issues but carefully moving forward in an effort to purchase the building, Covington-based Orleans Development approached the city in August. Their plans are to convert the former manufacturing facility into a residential building, which would include 66 market-rate apartments.

Because the current zoning does not fit the number of apartments desired in the plans, Orleans Development had to submit an application to the city’s Board of Adjustments to allow for rezoning. On Oct. 3, the proposal didn't pass, but the opportunity for new zoning still lies ahead.

Why is the Kent such a big deal for Bellevue?

According to Chelsey Lonneman of Orleans Development, the building has become a big community concern. “It's a very small, close knit community. Bellevue citizens are worried about losing street parking and increasing density (more people) in the neighborhood. The difference between American Can and Kent Lofts is the size of the lot and neighborhood.”

Northside's American Can building sits on a spacious lot with its own parking lot. It's also in a more commercial area. Kent Lofts is situated on a tight lot, and the building takes up about 95 percent of it. It's in a residential neighborhood, and the point of community concern is geared toward who purchases the property.

Bellevue is phasing into a “newer, younger” time in terms of the residential space and desire for more residential options and attractions for the community, so it's important for the Kent to maintain that residential feel.

“The resurgence of urban living is affecting all of the river cities," Lonneman says. "The more Northern Kentucky is seen as a viable urban living option in comparison to Cincinnati, the better it is for the general area. Bellevue and Covington are like apples and oranges. Bellevue has a more residential feel than Covington. It is inviting, charming and we do see the next generation flocking to it.”

Shaping the development and rejuvenation of Bellevue is inevitable, according to the city's zoning commission. However, it doesn’t want to stop the potential of newer and younger heading in its direction, and Orleans Development understands that in taking on this project.

“We want to bring more urban living options to Bellevue," Lonneman says. "Bellevue's population has declined over the past decade. This development will bring young professionals and millennials to the area. We've seen it in Covington — millennials rent in the city, become involved and take pride in the community and eventually buy homes.”

For more information regarding the project and purchase of the property, click here.
 


Green Cincinnati Plan updates focus on water resilience and renewable energy


The City of Cincinnati is updating its Green Cincinnati Plan, which was first adopted in 2008 and then revised and readopted in 2013. City officials met with residents on Sept. 27 at the Cincinnati Zoo, also known as the greenest zoo in America, to present and take new recommendations to help improve Cincinnati’s sustainability.

Mayor John Cranley, who is supporting the plan from his own budget, began his presentation by saying, “I believe that climate change is real.” He continued to stress the importance of adaption, “We owe it to our kids and grandkids to do what we can to combat climate change. We have to do what we can in our corner of the world to live up to our moral responsibility to care for this earth.”

With over 250 people in attendance, the meeting was the largest climate change one yet. Three different task teams examined the main aspects of the plan: sustainability and managing and overcoming greenhouse gasses; equity and determining the costs and benefits of different areas of the plan; and resilience to climate change.

The themes will be used to evaluate sustainable improvements on energy, transportation, waste minimization, built environment, food, natural systems, education and outreach and resilience within the city.

Since its inception, the plan has been successful. Oliver Kroner, Cincinnati’s sustainability coordinator, explains that because of its success so far, the city is hopeful for the next updates.

It’s a high impact plan that focuses on many different areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, reducing waste, land management, land use, food, water, outdoor recreation and nature awareness and climate adaptation.

The plan will work for the city as a whole, but part of the updates include a neighborhood vulnerability assessment to predict climate change impacts. As storms increase, the city desires to strengthen resilience — water management has been a major issue, and some neighborhoods are more vulnerable than others.

“The city has already had to pay $50 million in damages from storms just this year,” Kroner explains. “The updated plan focuses on resilience planning, recognizing changes and what we need to do to adapt.”

Another major update to the plan includes a new solar installation. “The goal is to build the largest city-owned solar energy array,” Kroner says.

This initiative will take advantage of city-owned properties at Lunken Airport, Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Center Hill landfill.

According to Cranley, the proposed solar panels are enough to produce 25 mega watts of energy, which is the equivalent of 33 million kilowatt hours per year. That's enough to power 3,400 homes and could cover 20 percent of the city’s total energy.

By 2035, the city hopes to convert to 100 percent renewable energy.

Now that the event is over, the City is quantifying impacts and evaluating recommendations in preparation for the next climate change meeting, which will be held the week of Nov. 13.
 


Writers join together for bi-monthly social engagement series


This July, Union Institute & University launched its Live Reading Series to offer a free event for the public where writers, journalists and poets can converge to read and speak about their works — all of which target important societal issues. The new series is also meant to help start a dialogue that furthers knowledge and initiates forward thinking.

The university, which has campuses in five states, specializes in adult education and offers a curriculum that takes flexibility into account with online, hybrid and face-to-face course options.

Ohio’s campus is located in Walnut Hills and seeks to not only deliver high-quality education to its students, but also play a prominent role within the community.

“We chose topics for our series that touch or impact everyone’s life,” says Donna Gruber, executive director of Cincinnati’s Academic Center. “The series is designed to open dialogue in a non-threatening way.”

The series occurs bimonthly. Last month’s topic was “Women’s Issues in Society,” and featured Bhumika Patel, a regional coalition specialist for the Salvation Army's Anti-Human Trafficking Program.

“Bhumika sees human trafficking as an issue that is often misunderstood and unrecognized in our community and seeks to address misconceptions and offer resources,” Gruber says.

Lo Kwa Mei-en, a poet and author, was another featured speaker at the Sept. 29 event. She addressed trauma and survival.

“The community doesn’t have to come up with solutions, but think and reflect on what they hear,” Gruber says. “Often change comes from within.”

Upcoming Live Reading Series events are Nov. 17, Mental Health Issues in Society, and Jan. 26,  Business, Industry and Leadership in Society. The next event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Union's Cincinnati Center.
 


King Records' legacy lives on through new collaborative education program


Despite launching the career of James Brown and spawning major hits like “The Twist,” Cincinnati-based King Records fell into relative obscurity. The studio on Brewster Avenue was once a bustling hive for both country and R&B recording artists, but was closed in 1975 and all but forgotten in the years that followed.

A new educational initiative led by King Studios LLC — a collaboration between Xavier University and the neighborhood of Evanston — seeks to change that.

The King Studio’s Traveling Suitcases are a set of five different kits filled with replica historical objects and lesson plans in key subject areas. K-12 Cincinnati teachers can check out a suitcase for a week at a time from local nonprofit Crayons to Computers, which is handling pick-up and drop-off logistics.

The cases were fabricated by the Cincinnati Museum Center and contain curricula developed by a group of classroom teachers and Xavier professor Dr. Christine Anderson in one of five subject areas: Great Migration, Civil Rights, Science, Math and Music.

According to education committee co-chair Sean Rhiney, who also serves as director of the Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning at Xavier, the traveling suitcase project has been eight years in the making. Part of the reason for the long period of development is that the cases were collaboratively made, drawing on community and teacher feedback to ensure they would be relevant in today’s classroom.

“We started by asking teachers how they would share the King story," says Rhiney. "We heard back ‘Well, we’re limited in class time,' so they worked with us to develop the suitcases with tested subjects.”

The King Records story is a unique one. “King was innovative in that everything happened under one roof — recording, promotion, publicity and pressing," says Rhiney. "Very few major studios were doing that at the time and King was independent."

King was also special in that it blended genres, bringing together African-American and Appalachian artists during a time when strict segregation was the norm. These parts of King Records' history are woven throughout the lesson plans in the traveling suitcases, which Rhiney says are a fun, powerful way to tell stories while reinforcing core subjects.

Rhiney is excited about how the traveling suitcases will make Cincinnati history relevant to young people. “It’s our history and I think it’s important," he says.

The first cases were made possible in part by support from the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation and the Charles H. Dater Foundation, but the goal is that the program will grow; there are plans to create five more suitcases, if funding is available.

For more information or to reserve a traveling case, visit the King Studios Education Website.
 


P&G's biannual alumni conference touches down in Cincy Oct. 9-13


Every two years, P&G holds a global conference that not only allows for networking opportunities, but also identifies the progress and innovation patterns found in the many P&G brands. This year, the alumni conference returns to Cincinnati for the first time in a decade: home to P&G's headquarters and a thriving technology and arts scene.

The conference will occur in a series of roundtables, panels, TED-style talks, keynote speakers, break-out panels and more. Comprised of six major events, the conference includes P&G CEOs, CFOs, board members, media leaders, innovators, founders of companies breaking ground, nonprofit leaders and leaders of small businesses.

The P&G Alumni Network Global Conference will take place Oct. 9-13, and three of the events are open to the public (Generation NOW, Innovation Summit and the Small Business Symposium).

CEO Roundtable:
On Oct.10, the CEO Roundtable will kick off the conference with four keynote speakers, including AG Lafley (retired P&G CEO), Jim McNerney (former CEO of Boeing and 3M), Meg Whitman (CEO of Hewlett Packard) and Scott Cook (founder and former CEO). All P&G alums, they have made their way into leadership and highly profitable P&G brands.

Generation NOW:
The Generation Now event will also be held on Oct. 10. Inventors, startup founders, digi-experts and funders will cover topics ranging from the startup atmosphere in Cincinnati to making your passion into a career to making investments in the startup community. Speakers for Generation Now include Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital & social media, Nestle; Julie Eddleman, global client partner, Google; Jack Rouse, founder of Braxton Brewery in Covington; and many more.

Innovation Summit:
Tuesday's Innovation Summit will bring together leaders and experts to discuss the latest innovation trends, success models, and tools. Among the topics for this portion of the conference are innovation, innovation in product supply chains, leading innovation, and social innovation.

Central Conference:
The Main Conference on Oct. 11 will bring together a group of speakers from different backgrounds to share their thoughts on the future, leadership and how to stay ahead. Among the range of topics are a CEO panel, CFO panel, global panel, investments, conscious business leadership, emerging issues in information technology, the future of digital marketing, nonprofits and more. Speakers include Jonah Peretti (founder and CEO of BuzzFeed), Greg Wasson (former CEO of Walgreens) and Benno Dorer (CEO of Clorox). These talks will be reminiscent of TED talks and will be interactive.

Small Business Symposium:
The Small Business Symposium on Oct. 13 will give alumni the chance to connect, learn and showcase their work. An open-to-the-public trade show will be held later in the day to present new ideas and opportunities to Cincinnati residents and business leaders. The symposium is geared toward those that wish to leave the corporate world and focus on owning and running their own small business.

A gala dinner and reunion party will cap off the conference on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Happy hours will also be held each evening for both business and public interactions with P&G leaders and alumni.

The entire conference will be held at a variety of locations, including P&G Towers, the downtown Westin, Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine, Crossroads Oakley and Rhinegeist Brewery. For more information regarding the conference, click here or visit the Facebook event page.
 


Interconnected trails network to provide alternate means of transportation for region


What if there was a healthy, affordable, environmentally-friendly way to get to work? What if you could skip the headache of traffic every morning?

CROWN, formally known as the Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network, is a series of trails that loops and connects Cincinnati’s existing biking and walking trails. Interact for Health funds the promotion of CROWN, highlighting the collaboration of nonprofit, government agencies and transportation organizations to expand and promote the trail network.

Wade Johnston is the director of Tri-State Trails, a Green Umbrella initiative that's committed to connecting and expanding the region's trail system. Tri-State Trails is one of the many organizations working to make CROWN a reality. Johnston says that CROWN will connect neighborhoods, taking us back to the basics of transportation and recreation.

“What better way to connect neighborhoods than to connect trails?” he asks.

The CROWN network also keeps us competitive with similar efforts happening in Louisville, Columbus and Cleveland, which are also building ways to actively transport their citizens to their destinations.

The CROWN is founded on five pillars of benefits to our city:

  • Active transportation: “Forty percent of car rides in an urban environment are trips that are two miles or less,” says Frank Henson, the chair for Tri-State Trails. The idea is to get people safely between destinations without a car.
  • Economic development: “There’s already evidence that trails increase property values,” Johnston says, pointing out the examples of development happening along the Little Miami Trail.
  • Public health: “Ohio and Kentucky are near the bottom of public health rankings for cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” says Johnston. “If we can make it an easy choice to bike or walk every day, it can reduce healthcare costs collectively.”
  • Transportation equity: Providing biking or walking options to impoverished areas can provide additional connectivity to people who don’t have access to a car.
  • Environmental sustainability: “We have some of the worst air quality here in Cincinnati and fumes from cars contribute to that,” Johnston says. Walking and biking will have the added benefit of improving air quality and lowering the instances of pulmonary diseases.

The work for the CROWN network is ongoing, with 48 miles of the 104-mile network already built. The vision is to have the entire network completed in 5-10 years.

Meanwhile, citizens can enjoy the portions of the CROWN that already exist (check out the map below).



“It’s very appropriate for the Queen City to have a CROWN,” Johnston adds.
 

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