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For C'est Cheese, MoLo, new locations spell opportunity

Two local start-ups, the C’est Cheese grilled cheese truck, and mobile keepsake digitizer Memories of Loved Ones (MoLo) are celebrating new digs this month.

C’est Cheese, whose founder, Emily Frank just completed the Bad Girls Ventures program, is putting the tires to the pavement with a new food truck that made its first appearance at the City Flea on July 14.

C’est Cheese’s menu features 19 grilled cheese sandwiches – up to six available on a given day – and two soups, including the obligatory tomato, and a selection of homemade, flavored pickles.

Frank says finding the truck was a matter of patience and perserverence. “It was just spending hours and hours and hours every day searching online through several different sites to find the right vehicle. I ended up finding one in Chicago where I had just moved from. It was a former chocolate burrito truck painted with this crazy spray paint. With a little TLC, she has come a long way.”

Meanwhile, formerly mobile-only MoLo moved into a permanent – and stationary – office space at 6020 Harrison Ave., while keeping its RV for home visits. The keepsake digitizing services, which prepares posters, photo books and more for funerals, special events and celebrations, needed more space, says founder Katy Samuels.

“Over the past two years, we’ve had more celebration orders; now,  we can be a one-stop shop for everything people need,” she says.

The company now offers an extended suite of services for weddings and other events, including creating logos, invitations, programs and even websites, as well as reception displays and guest books.  

Up next for these two companies on the move?  “Getting people to know us,” Samuels says. “That’s the challenge.”

By Robin Donovan

Desegregating Cincinnati through fashion

A former DAAP fashion design professor and current professor of fashion at Ryerson Univeristy in Toronto, Henry Navarro had an idea to make a public piece of art addressing the segregated nature of Cincinnati.

His vision has been transformed into a fashion show that addresses the problems of a separated city by envisioning what it can be in the future. 
Navarro started thinking about the idea two years ago when he was still a professor at UC. He saw a lot of contrast around the city and began looking at maps and census data.

After studying the history of Cincinnati neighborhoods and correlating the information to the most recent census maps, Navarro saw a city that needed to be more integrated. The name of his project is Grey Cincinnati, named after a middle ground between the black and white communities. 
“The premise is to select a location and, in a month, design, develop and produce a fashion show related to the place,” says Navarro. “Participative public artworks like ‘Grey Cincinnati’ are only possible with the collaboration of the local community.” 
Navarro chose fashion because after doing similar projects in Spain and Italy, he realized that contemporary art doesn't engage a community as well as fashion does. 
"When you tell someone you are putting together a fashion show about the people and the city they live in, it creates interest, because it isn't something usual," Navarro says. 
The fashion show will use "real-people," black and white models from various neighborhoods in Cincinnati. The outfits are designed to correspond to famous neighborhoods, iconic buildings and aerial views of the city.
"I want to show people what it can look like if everyone, no matter their background or ethnicity, came together," Navarro says. "We are trying to show what that would feel like through fashion."
Navarro says now is a perfect time for an event like this because of all the positive things that are going on around Cincinnati. From redevelopment to new development, Navarro sees the city moving forward, but wanted to return to Cincinnati to show that the future can be even better. 
Grey Cincinnat will take place July 28 at Prairie Gallery in Northside. Navarro expects to fit an audience of 100 indoors, but will project the fashion show on the outside wall. 
By Evan Wallis

Newport citizens fundraise for dog park

When Ryan Mitchell moved to Newport six years ago, the first place he met people was at a park area with his dog.

That area has become somewhat of an unofficial dog park. But with some hard work, Mitchell and his wife Sarah have led a group of Newport residents to raise money for a fence to make the dog park safer for the animals. 
It's been over a year and half, but after several fundraisers and canvasing the community for donations, they have raised almost $15,000 and plan to have the fence constructed by the end of summer. 

The dog park
, on Fourth Street and Providence Way, is in the heart of the Newport Historic District, so if fencing was to go up, it had to be a decorative fence to match the area.

The group has held fundraisers at local businesses and contacted businesses about donating money and services to get the fence built. The grassroots effort has been led by Mitchell and his wife, along with a group of about 15 other citizens who meet to plan fundraisers and find bids for construction.

On top of the money raised for the fence, the group has also raised nearly $10,000 worth of material donations for the dog park. 
"Everybody in the community has been very supportive of the idea," Mitchell says. "We've kept everybody informed, and it's brought the community together." 
Mitchell says the need for the dog park comes from the small yards that many of the homes have, but it will also create a more vibrant social center for the area.

The dog park will be right next to a garden club, which works on projects to beautify the neighborhood, and a pool club that is packed with children from the area, both which have created social centers for the tight-knit, walkable neighborhood. 
"This area was the first place I looked to meet people when I moved here," Mitchell says. "The dog park can help make it more attractive. It's nice to know the community has a place where they know they can gather." 
Contact Mitchell about the dog park here
By Evan Wallis

Design challenge yields implementable ideas

In April, MSA Architects launched The Five Design Challenge, and now, after sorting through more than 40 entries, from as far away as China and Portland, Oregon, the winners have been chosen. 
The challenge was to choose one of five unused spaces around Cincinnati and come up with an idea to transform the space into something useful. The spaces ranged from empty lots to a space underneath a highway.
The entires were judged by Tamara Harkavy of ArtWorks, Chad Munitz of 3CDC, Leah Spurrier of High Street, William Williams of DAAP and City Council member Wendell Young. Nick Dewald and Chris Rohs, employees at MSA, say all the judges picked ideas realistic and implementable. 
"We don't push the judges in any way," Rohs says. "All the judges seemed to be more interested in the ideas that could actually happen, instead of the pie-in-the-sky sort of stuff." 
The top prize was split among three entrants:

• SEED, Sustained Employment & Entrepreneurship Developmen,t was a proposal for a small business incubator with short-term lease spaces and start-up support services. It used several of the under-utilized spaces in Over-the-Rhine: vacant lots, empty buildings and alleyways. These stereotypically ‘bad’ spaces are reinterpreted to create a 24-hour mixed-use building that serves as a catalyst for the neighborhood, creating local jobs, promoting a start-up culture, and improving perceptions of safety. 
• Loop Cincy took all five sites and connected them with a bike path and to Cincinnati landmarks and attractions to create a more connected city. The five sites were designed into an outdoor gym, a small park and even a small concert space.
• 4Hostel created a hostel on one one of the spaces, which was an empty lot, providing low-cost accommodations for travelers.
MSA plans on hosting the competition each year, but changing the theme. 
"We want to keep the theme pretty broad," Dewald says. "Instead of focusing on one building, like many architectural challenges do, we want to focus on improving Cincinnati in a more general way." 
By Evan Wallis

Brandery lures young, coastal talents to Cincinnati

What do a former Indian national tennis champion, a former metal band drummer, the founder of DUMBO start-up lab in Brooklyn and three teenagers on leave from MIT, Harvard and Princeton have in common?
They’ll all be sharing space at The Brandery in Over-the-Rhine, where they’ll begin 14 weeks of classes, mentoring and accelerated business development this summer.
The new Brandery class is more about people than specific ideas, according to Brandery General Manager Mike Bott. He expects their business designs to evolve and clarify through their work in Over-the-Rhine.
In all, the class of 11 new start-ups includes entrepreneurs from Chicago, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle and Cleveland. They bring experience from Google/You Tube, Goldman Sachs and Beerology. Go ahead, look it up.
Like other Brandery newbies, they’ll get $20,000 and 14 weeks of support, guidance and access to mentors. After they, they’ll have a chance to pitch their business ideas to a room full of investors at Demo Day.
Stay tuned for more stories from this new Brandery crew in the weeks and months to come.

Branding 'Vikings' land in OTR

The Vikings are coming to OTR, and you'd better get ready. 
Jason Snell and Mike Gibboney, two veterans of the branding and marketing world, are opening up a storefront office for their "creative house", We Have Become Vikings, on 1417 Vine Street. Until now, Gibboney and Snell have been working remotely on both national and local products, but decided it was time to build more of a presence in Cincinnati.
Snell, a former employee at Lightborne and Possible Worldwide, decided he wanted to stick around Cincinnati and build his own company. In 2007, when his focus on clients in New York, Austin, Los Angeles and Portland, almost led Snell to skip town and set up shop elsewhere. But friends and family anchored him in Cincinnati. Gibboney left his job as a higher-education administrator last year to pursue a career in advertising; he freelanced for Empower MediaMarketing and started conversations with Snell about working together. 
The first large project the two worked on was a campaign from Cincinnati to Austin for South By Southwest. They called it "Down." WHBV worked with Landor to create a day party full of Cincinnati bands, and even drove a flatbed truck into downtown Austin from which they gave away 100 guitars.. 
"We just wanted to make a big splash," Snell says. "After that went well, we decided it was time to open up a storefront." 
But what about that name? We Have Become Vikings doesn't exactly roll off the tongue easily. Snell says it was inspired by small ad firms in New York with eye-catching names--and the ubiquitous nature of advertising.
"As a society, branding and advertising has kind of taken over the world, just like Vikings," Snell says. "It's come into everyone's life, whether you like it or not. [The name] also makes for some badass graphics." 
Just take a look at the faceless Viking decal on both the storefront windows. 
The duo's website lists six areas of expertise, ranging from animation to branding, but Snell says he wants to be known as a full-service branding agency. 
"With branding, you can really make someone and their company realize their full potential," Snell says. "We can help people portray exactly what they want to be."

Night market to provide late night NOMs

Over the Rhine is about to get some new late night food options, in the form of a night market, Night Owl Market (NOM), set up in the parking lot at the corner of Central Parkway and Main Street.
Nadia Laabs and Sally Yoon, two Procter & Gamble employees, turned their late-night frustration into a new business opportunity. When they were out late one night and could find nowhere to eat, they saw a hunger to fill a gaping hole in the downtown food market. So, they decided to try to fill it themselves. 
The two first looked at the alley on Walnut Street adjacent to Nicholson's Pub, but the space was being used for the construction of the new 21c Museum Hotel. So they finally settled on the OTR location. 
"At first, Sally suggested parking lots, and I hadn't really thought about it," Laabs says. "But they turned out to be the best option because they are private property, and there are a lot less regulations and permits." 
After securing the parking lot for Final Friday in July, Yoon and Laabs began talking to organizers of events like the City Flea, Second Sundays on Main and the Asian Food Fest to get an idea of how to plan for the NOM. Next, they sent out surveys to test interest in the idea. After good feedback and requests for specific types of food, Laabs and Yoon began contacting vendors. 
NOM is currently ranked in the top 10 for the Cincinnati Innovates contest based on public voting. If they win, Yoon and Laabs would use the money for NOM start-up costs. 
NOM will be open from 10 pm - 3 am and feature up to 11 vendors, including food trucks and booths from local restaurants, complete with tables and chairs, live music and even security. 
"If it's successful, we'd like to do it every weekend," Laabs says. "We definitely think there is a need and interest."
NOM is tentatively planned for every Final Friday from July until November, based on vendor interest and overall business. Check the website for the latest news.

Rise of the cool kids in Cincinnati

Nathan Hurst founded Cincinnati Fashion Week in 2010, and as it rolls into its third year, more and more people are getting involved. 
One Cincinnati resident, who has worked with Fashion Week before, pitched an idea to Hurst about highlighting the young, adventurous and energetic street fashion scene growing in Cincinnati. That person, who wants to keep his name a secret for now, is creating a team to help him develop the event, "Rise of the Cool Kids."
"I don't want people to associate a person with this, but rather a movement or a kind of person," says the Cincinnatus Kidd, a moniker that has been created to promote the event. 
Street fashion at the event shows that all fashion doesn't have to be expensive and unattainable; it should be more of a personal expression.
"When people use the word fashion, they use it in reference to the highest forms of fashion, but fashion is an everyday thing," Kidd says. "There is a pretty good understanding now that art used to be a painting in a frame, but now it can be anything, including street art. I don't think that same idea has come across to fashion."
The event will be held Oct. 6, tentatively on the roof of a parking garage, and will highlight local boutiques in a runway fashion show. The parking garage will be transformed into a streetscape, complete with street signs, scale models of OTR buildings and even shoes hanging over wires highlighting some of the brands being showcased.

There will be local DJs, hip-hop artists, visual artists, dancers and skateboarders on site. Rise of the Cool Kids will also team with Original Thought Required, Corporate and Flow, all local clothing shops, to create preview events at each store. 
"Street fashion is getting noticed more around here, and it's time to recognize it," Kidd says. "This has been a very mall-driven city, but now people are expressing themselves differently."
By Evan Wallis

Two local architecture firms form wg:Architecture

A 30-year partnership between two local architecture firms, GBBN and WA, led the the creation of a new, specialized architecture firm, wg:Architecture. 
wg:A was formed in December 2011, but officially launched March 1, after noting an opportunity for a minority-owned firm that specialized in healthcare architecture. Many healthcare organizations seek out minority-owned firms for many types of services, including architecture in their procurement processes--the rapidly evolving healthcare field requires constant change, which includes planning and designing new buildings as well as renovating old ones. 
"Many local healthcare businesses were looking for local firms to hire, but since healthcare is such a specialized field, they were having to go outside the region to hire firms," says Kevin Holland, managing director of wg:A. "There was a void here and we took the opportunity to fill it." 
GBBN is a large general architecture firm with offices in Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Beijing and has worked on dozens of projects with WA, a small, healthcare and education focused, minority-owned firm, and decided to form the co-own the new firm, with the majority of ownership belonging to WA, so wg:A can fulfill the minority-owned stipulation that is being requested by healthcare organizations in the area. 
"The old model of working together with WA really only benefited GBBN," says Greg Otis, president of GBBN. "With wg:A it benefits both firms and gives us authentic leadership and that will recruit talent to Cincinnati."
Holland moved to Cincinnati to take the job and will begin to working with employees from both WA and GBBN on projects and plans on growing to employ six or seven architects in the near future. Holland has begun to scout out the best healthcare architects in the country and will bring them to Cincinnati. 
"We hope down the road wg:A will grow and eventually compete with the two parent companies for projects," Otis says. "Our definition of success would be to compete against this entity that we created. It's an effort to create something this city needs."
By Evan Wallis

Cincy Coworks brings indie workers together

American entrepreneurial activity in 2009 was at it's highest point in 14 years, according to an article in The Atlantic. Freelance job postings have risen dramatically as well. Despite the value of independence in work, one simple loss for freelancers and one-person businesses is a byproduct of their careers: the lack workplace camaraderie.
Bill Barnett and Gerard Sychay both had this problem. The pair of web developers were tired of working from home and not having anyone to talk to to or go take a break and get lunch with. With this in mind, set out to make Cincy Coworks. It started as a once-a-week meet up in Over-the-Rhine and brought together nearly 20 people to work together for the day. After a few months of successful meet-ups, Cincy Coworks moved into its own space in June 2010 with six people committing to sharing the space. After outgrowing the small space, Cincy Coworks moved to its present location in Walnut Hills in April 2011. 
Presently, five people, including developers and writers, share the space, which allows for part and full-time rentals. Cincy Coworks even offers student rates of only $25 per month. 
"Cincy Coworks is about bringing people of different disciplines together," says co-founder Sychay. "We like all things creative. Bringing all these people together can help us to raise the city's profile." 
He sees strength in the diversity of talents in both the community workspace and in events Cincy Coworks sponsors, such as Queen City Merge, which took place last week. QC Merge worked to bring people of all different web expertises together. 
"No one ever hangs out together across their lines of designs or developers," Sychay says. "As a developer myself, I have so many moments where I think how much easier something would be if I had a designer right next to me. If you bring all these people together, I think businesses will start to come together." 
Sychay poses the most important question Cincinnati needs to face now as this: If New York is the financial capital of the country, Austin is the musical capital, and Los Angeles is the entertainment capital, what is Cincinnati? 
By Evan Wallis

CEOs report: Cincinnati highly engaged, not-so-weird

During its spring conference hosted here in Cincinnati last week, CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban, civic leaders, released its second ever “City Vitals” report, a kind of scorecard that measures and ranks key development and quality-of-life indicators for cities around the country.

Using the acronym of CITY (Connections, Innovation, Talent and Your Distinctiveness), report authors analyzed mostly Census data to explore what makes cities vibrant, appealing and successful.

Here’s a roundup of where Cincinnati rates among CEOs’ 51 identified cities and regions.

First, some good news. Cincinnati ranked in the top 20 in the following catgories:

•  Voting. Nearly 65 percent of Cincinnati’s population voted in the 2008 Presidential election, putting us in 13th place. (Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked first with more than 76 percent of the population casting ballots.)

Community involvement. We squeaked in the top 20 at number 19, with close to 29 percent of the metro population reporting a volunteer effort in the past year. (In Salt Lake City, more than 42 percent of the population reported volunteering.)

Economic integration. Cincinnati ranked 11th in the percentage of the population living in middle-income neighborhoods, with 76.1 percent. (Minneapolis-St. Paul topped the economic integration list with more than 84 percent of the population in middle-income homes.)

Patents. Cincinnati ranked 19th in number of patents issued per 10,000 employees with 5.9. (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara dominated this category with 83.5 patents per 10,000 employees. The next closest city, Austin-Round Rock, issued 31.9 per 10,000 employees)

Creative professionals, or folks employed as mathematicians, scientists, artists, engineers, architects and designers. Four percent of Cincinnati’s workers come from this creative group, making the city 18th on the list. (The number one slot went to San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, where 7.6 percent of the population fits into this category.)

Now, some challenges, or, as we like to call them, room-to-grow areas:

Greenhouse gas emissions. Cincinnati earned its highest ranking, second, in this not-so-positive category of per capita carbon emissions. While we emitted 3.28 tons per person, per year, Los Angeles emitted just 1.41 tons per person per year. Yes. Los Angeles.

Entrepreneurship and small businesses. In these increasingly essential categories for cities, Cincinnati ranked 46th and 43rd, respectively. (See Cincinnati growing Cincinnati for some examples of how to increase those numbers significantly.)

Weirdness index. Cincinnati nearly bottomed out this category with a ranking of 48th out of 51. What this means, basically, is that we tend to buy what everyone else in America buys. Weirdest cities on record: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and San Francisco, not surprisingly, rank first and second. But number three? Salt Lake City, Utah. That’s just weird.

The CEOs for Cities report can be accessed in its entirety online. Overall, it provides a fresh lens for city dwellers, city lovers and city officials through which to view the present and plan for the future.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Brandery renovates to welcome, support startups

Managing Editor’s Note:

If you’ve noticed dust settling around The Brandery building in Over the Rhine, that’s because new General Manager Mike Bott is overseeing a massive remodeling project. The building's first-floor space is being renovated for a new class of startups (applications being accepted now) while graduates Choremonster, Road Trippers and Venue Agent will maintain workspaces on the third floor.

Soapbox Media, also a web-focused startup, can be found in the space as well.

In addition to dedicated space at The Brandery on Vine Street, we will also maintain office space in Northside as part of a collaborative office suite we will share with startup local nonprofits.

While the Brandery caters to and nurtures high-tech startups, the collaborative space in Northside serves as a new home for disparate, community-focused nonprofits.

In Northside, at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock, the space currently occupied by Shop Therapy will soon serve as the home for The Urban Legend Institute, the retail store element of the literacy and creative-writing focused nonprofit WordPlay. With creative and marketing support from Possible Worldwide, WordPlay plans to offer preview tours by July.

The second floor of the building houses the offices of the educational nonprofit as well as two other nonprofits: parProjects, which is focused on building a community arts center and providing arts programming in Northside, and 350.org, the local arm of the national environmental nonprofit. (Full disclosure: Soapbox's managing editor sits on the Board of the nonprofit WordPlay.)

One thing that has not changed is the best way to reach Soapbox with your story ideas, questions and comments. Connect with us via email. But if you want to send us a letter, old-school postal-style, you can find us:

Soapbox Media via The Brandery
1411 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Soapbox Media via WordPlay
4041 Hamilton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45223

Downtown bicycle club explores Cincinnati

As they prepared for Bike Month, Casey Coston, an OTR resident and avid bike rider, paired up with Mike Uhlenhake, to plan a group ride in the urban basin of Cincinnati. 

After gauging interest via Facebook and holding one planning meeting at Neon's, the Urban Basin Bicycle Club was formed and launched their first ride from Fountain Square April 17. The ride was planned on Tuesday to not interfere with the Thursday evening Slow and Steady Ride, which starts at Hoffner Park in Northside. The UBBC's main goal was to give downtown residents a group ride with a more accessible starting point. 

The first ride brought more than 20 riders sporting bikes from 1960's Schwinn cruisers to road bikes to mountain bikes. They rode along the river, through Sawyer Point and ended with post-ride libations at The Lackman on Vine Street. Since the first ride, two more rides have happened with the most recent leading more than 30 riders, of all skill and experience levels, on a tour past some of Cincinnati's historic breweries. The second ride crossed the Roebling Suspension Bridge and went through Covington and Newport before making the trek back to OTR and ending at Neon's, but not before stopping for a beer on the patio of Party Source. The upcoming ride on May 15 will take riders past all of the Art Deco landmarks in the urban basin, including Union Terminal and the main post office and as always, will end with a post-ride meet up at a local business. 

"We'll be meeting up at a different local business after each ride," says Coston, a Soapbox columnist. "We want to spread our business around and support as many as we can." 

Members of the UBBC will be led on a themed ride each week as a way to explore the downtown area. All riders are welcome and the group makes a conscious effort to keep all riders in one group. Monthly Saturday destinations rides are being discussed, including a potential early afternoon to Terry's Turf Club for lunch and back. Whatever the ride, riders can expect a leisurely, friendly exploration of Cincinnati.

By Evan Wallis (Follow him on Twitter)

Ensemble Theatre rebrands, rebuilds

Ensemble Theatre opened its doors in 1986 as a place to give professional artists a place to work without having to travel to Hollywood or Broadway. The theater has since become a landmark in Over-the-Rhine. Now, for the first time, Ensemble has unveiled new branding, a new website, and a refreshed exterior.
With attendance at an all-time high and after being awarded a $1.2 million grant from the state of Ohio, ETC is in the midst of a long-overdue makeover. 
"We've been in the neighborhood for 26 years, I think it's time to celebrate," says D. Lynn Meyers, artistic director. "The tenacity of us staying here through times that weren't as good as they are now is something special." 
With a new user-friendly website designed by LPK and a facade that is currently being painted, the goal of the rebranding and renovations is to raise visibility and mirror ETC's ambitious schedule in both building and branding. The branding has four main colors -- blue, red, green and purple. All represent the four "E's" ETC strives toward: Excite, Enliven, Enrich and Entertain.
"What we do on stage has a very eclectic feel," Meyers says. "Our branding was very typical. We wanted something more exciting and colorful, like what you see on stage." 
Visibility was also a concern for ETC. Meyers says patrons have sometimes walked by the entrance. New banners outside of the entrance should alleviate confusion. 
"I think a lot of people walk by and wonder what we are," Meyers says. "We want people to know we are here and want people to come in and check us out."
The grant ETC received won't be awarded until the group raises $1.2 million in matching funds. So, ETC is in the midst of kicking off its "Next Stage Capital Campaign," a $6.5 million renovation plan. Renovations will include a larger lobby, increased accessibility, a new HVAC system and building connections between the main theater building and other buildings ETC owns on the block.

Capital funds must come from contributions, since ticket sales support 10 full-time employees and more than 180 professional set builders, actors and other artists throughout the year. One the state grant is matched, ETC can begin renovations.
"We have a lot of fun neighbors now, and that means more people walking around," Meyers says. "People are walking in and buying tickets. That never used to happen, so we want to continue to make sure people feel welcome and know what we're about."
By Evan Wallis

OTR Kickball back for season three

This summer, the third season of the OTR kickball league will return to Cutter Field, this time, with a little more organization.
The kickball league was started two years ago by Jenny Kessler, who, until now, has found sponsors, rounded up teams, organized referees and scheduled the 22 teams who have competed during the first two seasons. At the end of last season, Tom Hodges, an OTR resident and lawyer, asked Kessler if she was going to plan a third season. After a short discussion, Hodges and Kessler, along with Joe Yoo, decided to form Urban Sports Cincinnati (USC), an LLC which will help govern the kickball league, and other downtown games like bocce ball at Neons and ping pong at the Drinkery. 
"The idea is to have something in place so once the person who started doesn't want to run it anymore, it still continues," Hodges says. "It's about the neighborhood. We want it to continue to thrive, and small things, like kickball, contribute to why people want to live here."
USC will create an infrastructure, complete with a website, to help in the planning of sports in the downtown area. 
"When I decide I don't want to run kickball anymore, someone won't have to build it from scratch again," Kessler says. "I can give someone the contacts, the set-up and all the other information they need to keep it going."
USC will also help keep the funds in one place. Soapbox contributor Casey Coston started ping pong at the Drinkery last year, but it has since stopped because of a lack of functioning tables. Hodges hopes that with USC, gathering the money needed will be easier, and better than having one person invest in the equipment alone.
The third season kicks of in late June and runs through August with a cost of $15 per person. The low cost has always been a goal, and is aimed at making the league more relaxed and all-inclusive, rather than ultra-competitive. It was a goal of Kessler's to bring the community together. Neighborhood children have always been encouraged to join teams when substitutes are needed, and those children have since become welcomed members of some teams.  
"I think the organization will give these games legitimacy, so people won't mind paying the $15," Hodges says. "But it's also cheap enough to keep the feeling that this is for fun and to make the community a more vibrant place." 

Sign your team up here.
By Evan Wallis

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