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10th annual Ride Cincinnati raises money for breast cancer research


Ride Cincinnati is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and the June 12 event promises to be the best yet, with a number of updates to celebrate. To date, Ride Cincinnati has raised more than $2 million for breast cancer research at the Barrett Cancer Institute at the UC Cancer Institute.
 
The event includes a number of different routes: 63-, 45-, 26- and 18-mile routes along Route 8 in Northern Kentucky and an 8- and 16-mile route on a closed-road loop course along Eastern Avenue in Cincinnati. All routes begin at Sawyer Point, and helmets are mandatory.
 
New this year is a 3-mile Fun Walk, a non-competitive walk for friends and family who aren’t avid riders but who want to support the cause. The course takes walkers around Yeatman’s Cove into Friendship Park, ending at an after-party where Fifty West will be selling its beer.
 
“Fifty West is a very passionate support of local cyclists, and with the opening of its new cyclery across from the brewery it’s a natural partnership,” says Allison Brinkman Schroeder, spokesperson for Ride Cincinnati.
 
There will also be honor miles along the bike routes to celebrate the strength and story of those who have been impacted by breast cancer. Each sponsored mile is a $500 donation and includes a large photo of the honoree and brief background information about his/her fight with cancer. Friends, family and coworkers are encouraged to meet at that mile to celebrate their honoree and cheer on riders. If you’re interested in an honor mile, contact Kathryn Macke at Kathryn.braun@gmail.com.
 
Like last year, Ride Cincinnati has partnered with Cincy Red Bike. A day pass for Red Bike on race day is $8; if you email randy.evans@cincyredbike.org right after the event stating that you participated, any overage fee will be waived. Bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis — the nearest stations are at Sawyer Point, Fountain Square and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
 
Ride Cincinnati starts at 6:30 a.m. June 12 with the 63-mile ride, and riders can sign up online until June 10 and can register in-person that morning. The cost is currently $40 for adult bikers, $30 for adult walkers and $15 for kids 12 and under.
 

Good Food Fund gives grants to six local food-related projects


The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council recently awarded six local food-related projects a total of $39,500 through its Cincy Good Food Fund, which is designed to support innovative and promising projects that can make a positive impact on Cincinnati’s food system.
 
Cincinnati Public Schools received $6,600 for its Aeroponic School Garden Pilot Program, which will test the potential of incorporating education about nutritious food into its curriculum by using indoor aeroponic gardens. The gardens will help students learn how to grow and harvest fresh food year-round. 
 
La Soupe’s Cincinnati Gives a Crock Cooking Classes received a total of $8,800. The grant money will allow La Soupe to expand its high school education program, which helps kids from food insecure families learn to create tasty, fresh and nutritious meals from food donated from local food businesses and farmers.
 
Northside Farmers Market’s Summer SNAP Outreach Pilot Program received $9,000 for its multi-pronged approach to reduce the barriers for those who use SNAP benefits to access fresh food at Northside Farmers Market.
 
The Ohio Valley Food Connection received $5,000 to help increase the availability of fresh, locally produced food through an online food hub that will facilitate the logistics of farm-to-table.
 
An $8,000 grant was awarded to Our Harvest’s Winter Harvest Day Food Access Program. Through the grant money, Our Harvest will increase the availability of its Harvest Day Program, which provides affordable fresh fruit and vegetables at natural distribution points like schools, churches and community centers.
 
A grant for $2,100 was awarded to the St. Leo the Great Church Community Garden. The project will help address food insecurity and community engagement by establishing a community garden in North Fairmount.
 
The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council helps bring together multiple stakeholders from the region’s food system to develop position statements, recommend policies and support initiatives that promote a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system.
 

Civic Garden Center celebrates 74 years, builds community through gardening


Now in its 74th year, Civic Garden Center (CGC) is focused on building community through gardening, education and environmental stewardship. A number of different programs help educate the public about sustainable gardening and conservation at the grassroots level, which in turn improves Cincinnati’s little corner of the environment.
 
Its main program, community gardens, helps build community garden plots throughout Cincinnati’s core in mainly low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. There are about 60 community garden plots in the city, and volunteers who are mostly residents of those neighborhoods operate them.
 
“It takes more than one person to build a community, and it also takes a lot of people to garden,” says Jared Queen, director of development and marketing for CGC. “When people come together to do something bigger than themselves, it can give them a sense of purpose.”
 
The focus of the community garden plots is on fruits and vegetables, not flowers — the plots yield thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year, and a lot of it is in turn donated to Freestore Foodbank.
 
Along with the community garden program, CGC operates a school garden program at 90 different schools, churches and community organizations throughout Greater Cincinnati. The gardens are living and learning labs where students have the opportunity to leave the classroom and go into the garden to learn about nature, where food comes from and the life cycle of plants.
 
On top of that, CGC offers teacher education that’s free and focused on school gardening. The organization also donates seeds and other materials so schools can operate the gardens themselves.
 
“The mission of the school garden program is to help provide positive experiences in nature for students and teachers so they can become lifelong learners and lovers of nature,” says Mary Dudley, director of children’s education at CGC.
 
This fall, Mt. Auburn International Academy will receive a new $10,000 garden with 20 seeder raised beds. CGC is helping to restart the garden at Covedale Elementary School and adding two new beds at Silverton Paideia Academy. Shine Nurture Center in Mt. Airy is also receiving a garden courtesy of CGC. By next spring, there will be about 100 school gardens inside the I-275 loop.
 
When CGC moved to its current Avondale location in 1949, there was a gas station adjacent to the property that closed in the 1950s or ‘60s. CGC purchased the site in the 1980s but wasn’t able to raise capital to fix up the blighted property until 2007. The Green Learning Station opened on the spot in 2011 and is a fully functioning educational tool that helps teach kids and adults about sustainability and environmental science.
 
For example, the Metropolitan Sewer District contributed $600,000 so CGC could help educate the public on combined sewer overflow. Through the efforts at the Green Learning Station, Queen says that Cincinnati’s total amount of sewage dumped into natural freshwater ways has been decreased from 14 billion to 11 billion gallons.
 
In order to operate all of these programs free of charge, CGC has to receive grant money or hold fundraisers. Its largest fundraiser, THE Plant Sale, will be held May 6-8. This is the 56th year for the plant sale, which started as a plant swap between gardeners.
 
“This sale really speaks to our organization because it started at the grassroots level,” Queen says. “To this day, it’s still run by hundreds of volunteers and shows our humble beginnings as an organization.”
 
The sale starts Friday night with a ticketed preview event, which sells lots of tickets because the event doesn’t restock. Once a plant is gone, it’s gone. The sale continues Saturday and Sunday and is free to attend and open to the public.
 
There will be a wide variety of plants available, including herbs, fruits and vegetables, sun perennials, hastas and donated perennials at 17 different booths. In the tradition of how the event started, you can split a plant you grew at home and donate it to the sale, with all the profit going to CGC.
 
The Green Flea, which is a nod to City Flea, will be held the same weekend, featuring new and gently used gardening implements and decorations available for sale.
 
Tickets to the Friday preview event start at $75 and can be purchased here.
 

Findlay Kitchen to offer commercial space for food entrepreneurs, classes


Findlay Market hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 23 for its new incubator kitchen, the Charlotte and Edward Unnewehr Findlay Kitchen at 1719 Elm St. The nonprofit incubator has been in the works for a year and will help give food entrepreneurs the resources, work space and support to launch or continue their businesses.
 
The 8,000-square-foot, shared-use space houses 10 separate industrial kitchens so a number of businesses can co-exist and create at the same time. Several small food-related businesses have already joined Findlay Kitchen, including Gadabout Doughnuts and The Jaded Fork.
 
Findlay Kitchen is an affordable way for entrepreneurs to get started in the food business and have access to a commercial-grade kitchen, equipment and storage space as well as resources and support. There are also plans to use the space for pop-up restaurants, cooking classes and healthy eating education.
 
On top of that, Findlay Kitchen is partnering with a number of programs and organizations to provide the training, mentorship and resources needed for small business owners to succeed. The nonprofit will also help its members get their products in more places, acting as a conduit for wholesale and institutional customers.
 
One of those partnerships is Co.Starters: Kitchen Edition, a business development program for food entrepreneurs with ArtWorks. The 12-week program will be held at Findlay Kitchen and feature food-focused business curriculum, mentorship and networking opportunities. Class registration is $350, with sessions held 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays, May 3-July 19.
 
Findlay Kitchen is also still accepting applications for members. If you’re interested in renting kitchen space, fill out an application here.
 

Renovations to Music Hall are finally becoming a reality


The need to renovate Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine has been at the forefront of arts and culture conversations for nearly a decade. Those plans are finally being put into action in 2016 as Music Hall Revitalization Company works to preserve the 140-year-old historic building.
 
Music Hall hasn’t been renovated for more than 40 years, so this overhaul is a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that Music Hall will be closed starting June 1 and won’t reopen until fall 2017, if everything goes according to plan. This means that the building’s resident companies will perform elsewhere in their upcoming seasons — Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and Cincinnati May Festival will perform at the Taft Theatre for the 2016-2017 season, while Cincinnati Opera will perform at the Aronoff Center for the Arts for its 2016 and 2017 summer seasons.
 
A few smaller renovations are already in the works, such as structural and office demo. Within the next 90 days, the larger part of the work will begin.
 
Renovations include:

Smaller seating capacity: 1,000 seats will be removed from Springer Auditorium to make the auditorium more intimate, and false walls will be erected on two levels of the concert hall to amplify sound. All of the seats will be replaced, and the new seats will be wider with more legroom. The main floor will be resloped, along with the balconies, and new boxes will be installed. A new thrust stage will be added for the orchestra.

Updated lobby: The lobby, which will be renamed the Edyth B. Lindner Grand Foyer, will have new torchiere lighting along the balcony railings to show off the ceiling, and the smaller Czech chandeliers will be replaced.

New patron lounge: A new lounge is being added at the back of Springer Auditorium, and new bars, concessions areas and LED screens will be installed. The box office and gift shop are getting a facelift as well.

New windows: The currently bricked-up windows on Music Hall’s facade will be restored to allow in more light, and new accent lighting will be installed to illuminate the building at night.

More restrooms: Bathrooms for both sexes will be added, increasing the number of stalls by more than 50 percent.

Improved access: There will also be improved access for patrons with mobility issues, including street-level access through the box office, more wheelchair accessible seating, mobile wheelchair charging stations and an assisted listening system inside the auditorium. Two new elevators are also being installed that will give patrons access to all floors.

Orchestra library reorganization: Music Hall currently houses the world’s largest orchestra library, but it’s not stored in any one location within the building. When it reopens, more than 140 years of music will be represented in one fire-protected room on the first floor. 

A public campaign is currently underway to raise the remaining $5 million of the $135 million needed for the renovation. To donate, click here.
 

Center for Great Neighborhoods announces third round of Covington creative grants


The Center for Great Neighborhoods recently announced its third round of Creative Community Grant recipients. A total of $30,000 was awarded to seven Covington projects designed to engage and impact the city through art.
 
The focus this round is on inclusion, highlighting the uniqueness of Covington’s residents and working to make all feel welcome in the community.
 
Braille-ing a New Trail (Northern Kentucky Council of the Blind)
NKCB is partnering with Covington chefs to encourage a more inclusive restaurant experience in the city. A number of restaurants are offering group cooking classes for the blind and visually impaired; in exchange, NKCB will give the restaurants large print and Braille menus. The Braille printer will be purchased with funds from the grant and housed at CGN for use by any Covington restaurant or service provider who’s interested in the feature. Wunderbar, the program’s first participant, will be teaching NKCB members how to make its famous pretzels.
 
Collective Mosaic Mural (Ximena Flores, Anne Marie Herrera, Luis Laya)
The mosaic will depict flowers blossoming into birds and flying as a flock, reflecting the Westside’s diversity, growth, community and transformation. The community is invited to help assemble the mosaic as well as bring items to incorporate into the design.
 
Little Free Art Studio (Annie Brown)
The free-standing weatherproof art studio will be much like the Little Free Library, but for art. The studio will have a variety of art supplies and invite passersby to create something unique.
 
The Mini Microcinema Exhibition at The Carnegie (The Mini Microcinema, C. Jacqueline Wood)
During March and April, The Carnegie will host a small pop-up movie theater in its gallery space. Seven weeks of programming will include film screenings, performances and moving image installations by a variety of national, regional and Northern Kentucky artists with diverse backgrounds and POVs. The Mini Microcinema installation is free and open to the public.
 
Raymond Thunder-Sky Spirit Tower (Thunder-Sky Inc.)
Thunder-Sky plans to erect an outdoor sculpture to commemorate the life and legacy of Raymond Thunder-Sky, a Native American artist who had a developmental disability. He traveled the region dressed as a construction worker and clown, drawing construction and demolition sites in Greater Cincinnati. Tom Tsuchiya, a Cincinnati sculptor whose work is on display all over the world, will create the sculpture.
 
Westside Makers: A Community Event (Calcagno Cullen)
The project aims to illuminate makers by hosting a “meet the makers field day,” which will produce the DIY Westside Makers Book. Any Westside maker is invited for an afternoon to set up shop outside, welcoming the community to join in. It will serve as a release for the book, which will feature DIY recipes, designs and instructions as well as stories and portraits of Covington makers.
 
What Makes a Street Pleasant? (Anissa Lewis)
Starting with one conversation, Lewis hopes to engage those who live on and around Pleasant Street in the Eastside neighborhood and find out what Covington means to them. The event will culminate in a large community-based conversation and will conclude in a face-to-face community meal.
 
Creative Community Grants are funded through a multi-year grant from The Kresge Foundation to help implement creative placemaking actitives in Covington, particularly the Westside neighborhood. CGN will continue awarding up to $5,000 per grant to a variety of projects over the next two years, addressing a different issue and theme each round.
 

Duke Energy Holiday Trains return to Cincinnati for 70th year


Now in its 70th year, the Holiday Junction exhibit featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains just opened at the Cincinnati Museum Center with working model trains on display throughout the holiday season. 
 
The exhibit has been a Cincinnati staple since 1946. It’s one of the largest portable models in the world and features authentic “O” gauge trains, which means that a quarter inch of the model is equivalent to one foot on a real train. All of the rail cars, tracks and buildings are 1/48 actual size, and while on display the trains will travel more than 100,000 scale miles.
 
A few changes have been made to Holiday Junction this year, including adding a raised platform around the exhibit so everyone can view the trains. There is also more family-friendly programming than ever before.
 
Members of the Ohio Kentucky Indiana LEGO Users Group have built a 12-by-24-Ft. LEGO train and landscape, which includes Cincinnati landmarks and 100 mini figures with characters like Spiderman, Batman, Ghostbusters and the Scooby-Doo gang.
 
Also new this year is a rare Carlisle & Finch Company train set that dates to 1904. The model includes the train and the trolley as well as overhead wires. Carlisle & Finch was headquartered in Cincinnati and invented the first electric toy train in 1896 — it featured metal cars and a train that ran on metal rails set two inches apart. At the start of WWI, the company was ordered to stop toy train production and focus on making searchlights for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, and although Carlisle & Finch never returned to building toy trains its legacy lives on.
 
Returning this year is Pogie and Patter Super Spectacular Holiday Fun Hour, a train ride, the observation deck that overlooks the trains and an expanded gift shop with trains and other toys. Santa will arrive just in time to light the Union Terminal Christmas Tree at 11 a.m. on Nov. 27.
 
Rocky Mountain Express is showing at the OMNIMAX Theater, celebrating the age of the steam engine and construction of the railroad through the Canadian Rockies.
 
Admission to Holiday Junction is included in the All Museums Pass ($14.50 for adults, $10.50 for children) or to the Cincinnati History Museum ($10.50 for adults, $8.50 for children). Duke Energy customers can go online and print off a special code for free admission to the Holiday Junction.
 
Holiday Junction is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, with some extended Saturday hours. Museum Center is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day but is open New Year’s Day. The display continues through Jan. 3.
 
Check out the Cincinnati Museum Center’s website for a list of other holiday-themed events. There’s sure to be something for everyone!
 

Fountain Square ice rink opens early with new events and features


The U.S. Bank Ice Rink on Fountain Square opened on Halloween, 21 days earlier than last year. Along with the longer season, the rink boasts a number of new features for the holidays.
 
Like other outdoor rinks across the country, the U.S. Bank rink uses a special type of ice that stays solid at temperatures of up to 65 degrees. This helps the rink stay open even on unseasonably warm days and allows 3CDC, which manages the rink, to extend the skating season.
 
A 60-foot warming tent was added adjacent to the rink, and the skate rental booth doubled in size along with double the number of skates available to rent. A larger concessions tent with an expanded menu has debuted as well.
 
3CDC also expanded the programming offered at the rink, including weekly theme nights in November and December:

After School Special 2-5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays through Nov. 26: Students under 18 receive free skate rental and can watch cartoons on the Fifth Third Bank LED Video Board

Meet Your Match 5-10 p.m. Mondays through Nov. 23: Show your online dating profile for free skate rental

Bowling on Ice 5-10 p.m. Tuesdays through Nov. 17: Human bowling on ice; bring two non-perishable food items for free skate rental and bowling pass, with proceeds going to St. Vincent de Paul

Watch It & Wear It Wednesday 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Nov. 25: Catch a Disney movie on the video board and come dressed as your favorite character for a chance to win a prize; films include Frozen, Toy Story and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

College Night 5-10 p.m. Thursdays through Nov. 19: Show your school ID for free skate rental

Santa Skates 12-1 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays Nov. 28 to Dec. 20
 
Macy's Light Up the Square is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27.

The rink is open 12-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 18, with extended hours on Thanksgiving Day and the day before. Holiday hours (Dec. 19-Jan. 4) will be 9 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Hours will change again for the remainder of the skating season (Jan. 4-Feb. 15).
 
Admission to the rink is $6, and skate rental is $4.
 
For a full schedule as well as special holiday skates and post-holiday events, visit Fountain Square’s website.
 

Northside Porch Tour to showcase neighborhood's history and hospitality


Northside will host its 10th annual porch tour at 6-9 p.m. Oct. 10. This year, the tour will include houses along the full lengths of Haight Avenue, North Argyle Place and South Argyle Place as well as portions of Hamilton Avenue. 
 
Two 20-person horse drawn carriages will tour the route, and tour guides will provide information about the history of the houses and porches. Tours will depart from Jergens Park at 1615 Bruce Ave.
 
Carriage rides will cost between $4 and $10 depending on the amount you want to spend to support the Northside Porch Tour. You can also walk the route and take in the tour at your own pace.
 
This year’s tour includes 150 porches, plus thousands of luminaries that will line the route to light the way.
 
Along with the tour, there will be hotdogs provided by Citizens on Patrol, a youth bake sale and music by Northside’s jazz/blues/funk quartet Evanston Kinney. Food and entertainment will also be set up in Jergens Park.
 
The tour is made possible by the Northside Community Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provided funds to offset the cost of the live music and the luminaries.
 

Parklets coming to Covington's downtown and MainStrasse


A new People’s Liberty project called Curb’d will set up shop in Covington’s central business district and MainStrasse next spring to turn ordinary parking spaces into miniature parks, or parklets. It’s a concept People’s Liberty tried this summer as a temporary project outside its Over-the-Rhine headquarters.
 
Cincinnati is no stranger to parklets. The first was installed outside of Tucker’s restaurant in Over-the-Rhine in 2012, and a number of them were built along Pleasant Street as part of the pedestrian walkway proposed by UC’s MetroLab. Park + Vine also had a parklet installed last year.
 
Parklets can host any activity from extended seating for restaurants to a swing set or a small movie theater.
 
Curb’d will soon begin accepting applications from Covington businesses that are interested in turning one of their curb-side parking spaces into a parklet. If a business is chosen to receive a parklet, People’s Liberty would match it with an organization that would install it.
 
People’s Liberty will fund five parklets in Covington, including reimbursements to the city for lost parking meter revenue. Each parklet will cost between $5,000 and $10,000 and be active from May to October 2016.
 
Covington was also recently chosen as one of 10 semifinalists for the 2016 Great American Main Street Award. The award is given by the National Main Street Center, whose next step is trimming the number down to five. If Covington makes it to the final round, representatives from the National Main Street Center will come here to shoot a video that will depict why Covington deserves to win. The winner will be announced at the organization’s national conference next year in Milwaukee.
 

Fuel Cincinnati awards micro grants to 3 community programs


Fuel Cincinnati, the grant-making arm of Give Back Cincinnati, recently awarded grants to three local nonprofit organizations to help them launch new ideas or projects focused around education, community building, diversity and the environment.
 
The long-running Cincinnati Film Festival received a $2,500 grant to expand its offerings during the nine-day event, scheduled this year for Sept. 10-20. The 100-film festival will begin with a special invitation-only screening, followed by shorts, features, narratives and documentaries as well as filmmaker workshops, post-film Q&As and an awards ceremony.
 
Pub Inc., a resource center for new and professional authors, also received a $2,500 grant. The organization’s mission is to challenge authors to envision the future of entrepreneurship while also providing them the tools to make publishing their work a reality. Pub Inc. targets low-income authors in order to provide a secondary source of income to help them become more self-sufficient and not rely on public assistance.
 
A $2,500 grant was awarded to Under the Stars, a weeklong outdoor immersion program that will help foster fun, friends and family for recently emancipated youth. The program will be held at YMCA Camp and will help kids face the future by helping them build strong support networks, teach them networking skills, connect them with mentors and introduce them to resources within the community.
 
Fuel Cincinnati is also launching a new campaign, #WeFuelCincy, to highlight how community leaders have used and are using their vision, passion and ideas to make the city great. Stories will be shared via social media as well as on Fuel Cincinnati’s website.  
 

The Cure Starts Now beer & wine festival relocates, adds art element


The Cure Starts Now hosts its sixth annual Beer, Wine & Food Festival fundraiser this weekend, providing an opportunity to sample 80 craft beers and wines, try food from a number of vendors and enjoy music from local acts. By the end of the summer, The Cure Starts Now will have received over $5 million in research funding to help find a cure for childhood cancers.

The festival has been outgrowing its location in Glendale and organizers wanted to add a number of new elements, so they’ve moved it to downtown Wyoming, where it’s expected to draw its largest crowd yet.
 
“Wyoming allows us the space to grow, and the city deeply believes in our mission, which speaks volumes when trying to execute an event,” says Brooke Desserich, founder of the Cincinnati chapter of The Cure Starts Now.
 
Also new this year is the Street Chalk Art exhibition, which will feature artists recreating masterpieces from Edward Hopper, Michelangelo and Monet in the street. Kids will also have the chance to try their hand at a masterpiece and draw alongside the professional artists.
 
With this addition, The Cure Starts Now goes back to its artistic roots. When the founder of the nonprofit’s daughter Elena was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she used drawing as an outlet. Her painting entitled “I Love You” was installed in the Cincinnati Art Museum next to a painting by her hero, Pablo Picasso. That painting became the organization’s first fundraiser and now serves as the inspiration behind its logo.
 
“We’re proud to be bringing art back into our events through the Street Chalk Art exhibition in memory of Elena and all children who are battling cancer,” Desserich says. “Art is what built our charity, and being able to offer these masterpieces in a unique way will be incredible.”
 
A number of local breweries and wineries will be present, including Bent Tree Winery, Burnet Ridge Winery, MadTree Brewing, Rivertown Brewing and Stone Brewing Co., as well as offerings from popular national craft breweries and some sneak peaks of seasonal brews.
 
Food will be available for purchase from Best Thing Smokin, Distasi Banquet Center, Just Jerks, Fireside Pizza, Pit to Plate BBQ, Renegade Street Eats, Schell’s Sweet Sensations, Urban Grill Food Truck, Wicked Hickory and Wyoming Meat Market.
 
The Beer, Wine & Food Festival will be held from 5 p.m. to midnight on Aug. 28 and from noon to midnight on Aug. 29, with The Websters with Ricky Nye highlighting Friday night and The Carter New Band on Saturday. Non-tasting admission is $10 and tasting admission is $30, which includes a wristband and five tasting tickets.
 
For the first time, there’s also a VIP experience available for purchase. Guests will receive unlimited tastings and a commemorative glass and are invited to a VIP reception 5-6 p.m. on Friday. The cost is $50, and you must be 21 or older to purchase the VIP admission.
 

Cincinnati's local food movement spurred by Partners for Places grant


The City of Cincinnati recently received a $105,000 Partners for Places grant to help strengthen the area’s local food ecosystem by supporting civic engagement, developing new food policies, creating the Cincy Food Fund and funding food fellowships. The grant was matched by Interact for Health and the Haile Foundation, stretching the potential impact even farther.
 
“Although the food movement can be very foodie and high-end, the robust and growing local food movement is also very sensitive to the underserved populations,” says Brewster Rhoads, outgoing executive director of Green Umbrella. “We’re committed to equity and access to local food, and this helps improve the health and overall welfare of our citizens while also growing small businesses with local dollars.”
 
The grant is being managed and administered by Green Umbrella, whose Local Food Action Team is at the focal point of Cincinnati’s local food movement.
 
“The whole notion of farm-to-table isn’t new,” Rhoads says. “What is new is the level of collaboration that is developing among those who are interested in and engaged in working with food.”
 
As part of this, Interact for Health recently changed its focus from healthcare to prevention, with two of the group’s four main focus areas being active living and healthy eating. The organization is helping develop the region’s walking/biking trails and funded the creation of Green Umbrella’s Local Food Action Team, which hopes to double the amount of food grown and consumed in the region by 2020.
 
Interact for Health also funded the Assessment of Local Food in Greater Cincinnati, which has lead to the formation of a number of local groups and organizations committed to Cincinnati’s local food movement.
 
“With all of these things falling into place, the food movement is just exploding,” Rhoads says. “There’s a burgeoning restaurant explosion in the region, and not just in Over-the-Rhine. With the growing interest in local food by chefs, they’re sourcing food from the region, which is creating a whole new outlet for growers in the region.”
 
The grants will be used to help provide funding for innovative projects that the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, which was launched three months ago, commissions through its four teams — production, distribution, access and land use. The teams will have funding to support pilot projects in each area of interest.
 
They’ll also be used for the Cincy Food Fund, which is patterned after a similar program in Indianapolis, and to underwrite the Food Fellows, who will do three-month internships that focus on production, distribution, community education and land use.
 
“We’re focusing on helping grow the next generation of food activists,” Rhoads says.
 
Part of this focus on local food comes down to the everyday consumer. Green Umbrella’s Local Food Action Team is encouraging people to commit themselves to spending 10 percent of their grocery budget on food that’s grown in the region. That act would put almost $50 million back into the local food movement.
 
“By changing this behavior and encouraging people to do this, it will help increase the demand on food grown in the region, and production demand will follow,” Rhoads says. 
 

Cincinnati Development Fund adds nonprofit loan program to redevelopment efforts


The Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) recently unveiled its nonprofit facilities and equipment loan program designed to help nonprofits obtain affordable long-term loans in order to renovate, maintain and improve existing facilities. The program is made possible through a partnership with IFF and a $1.4 million grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
 
“The program enables nonprofits to continue to invest in their core missions while also meeting critical facilities and equipment needs,” says Debbie Koo, loan officer for CDF.
 
Loan amounts in the nonprofit loan program can range from $50,000 to more than $1.5 million, providing flexible capital for nonprofits that might not be able to get financing through traditional lenders. An appraisal isn’t required, and CDF can advance up to 95 percent of the project cost.
 
Nonprofits can use the loans for capital projects (acquisition, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements or refinancing); maintenance and improvements (roof repair, new windows, ADA code repairs or HVAC); and capitalized equipment purchases (computer hardware/software, furnishings, medical equipment or service-oriented vehicles).
 
To date, CDF has made loans to Findlay Market for its new incubator kitchen and to Kennedy Heights Art Center. With interest growing in the new program, several other projects are currently in the works.
 
“CDF is focused on revitalizing neighborhoods, which includes providing support for the people who live and work in those communities,” Koo says. “With this program, we are able to expand our reach beyond residential and mixed-use developments to include nonprofit facilities and equipment.

“If we can help improve a nonprofit’s cash flow by providing low-interest, long-term financing, that leaves them more money to invest in their missions. If more nonprofits own their own real estate, they can build equity and strengthen their balance sheets.”
 

Gabriel's Place seeks grant support for Avondale community health initiatives


Gabriel’s Place recently applied for a $25,000 grant from Convergys in order to further its community health initiatives in Avondale. Convergys' Corporate Social Responsibility program centers around issues that impact the community, such as workforce development and skills training, health and wellness, housing, transportation, financial literacy, child care and food security.

"We were introduced to Gabriel's Place during our United Way Service Day," says Karen Ryan, Convergys' director of government and community affairs. "We admired their commitment to not only feeding their neighbors but also their desire to educate and provide for others."

Avondale is considered a food desert, which means that there is no fresh food retailer or grocery store in the neighborhood. Instead, there are lots of fast food restaurants, corner stores and mini-marts. Residents in food deserts generally have poor health outcomes, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and preterm births.
 
Gabriel’s Place served over 8,000 plated meals in 2014 through its Share a Meal program. On Tuesdays, the community comes together for a donation-based, restaurant-style meal designed by a chef and prepared at Gabriel’s Place using fresh ingredients. Volunteer nurses are also on hand to perform health screenings during the meal.
 
There’s also a Thanksgiving Share a Meal event called ThankFALL, which served over 250 people in 2014. The meal is locally sourced and focuses on food and health education.
 
Share a Meal is designed to help start conversations about food, health and heritage. It helps people make healthier choices, and facilitates skills-based learning in the kitchen so Avondale residents can learn to cook and share skills while preparing a weekly meal together. Yes, Gabriel’s Place is always looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve at Share a Meal events.
 
Gabriel’s Place also hosts a weekly farmers market on Thursdays at 4-6 p.m. The majority of the fresh produce sold at the market is grown in the organization’s garden or provided by Pic’s Produce and ranges from $.25 to $2. The farmers market is the only fresh food retailer currently in Avondale.
 
In conjunction with the farmers market, there are plans to offer interactive cooking demonstrations featuring seasonal ingredients. Residents will have the chance to cook alongside a chef, taste-test snacks and take recipes home.
 
Gabriel’s Place also offers two cooking classes. The first is the Jr. Chef Institute, a free eight-week summer culinary education program that's open to high school students who have a passion for food or an interest in pursuing a career in the culinary arts. The program creates a pipeline to the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State and helps prepare kids for jobs in the food industry.

The other cooking class, which is still in the works, will be an eight-week skills-based class that features a basic cooking curriculum designed by Gabriel’s Place. This class will not only teaches the basics but also designed to focus on different aspects of cooking, including healthy meals and meals on a budget.
 
There are also plans to partner with the Hirsch Recreation Center to host dinner theater vignettes with neighborhood performers to showcase Avondale's talent as well as connect residents in a new way.
 
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