| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Pinterest RSS Feed

Quality of Life : Development News

1298 Quality of Life Articles | Page: | Show All

Four local nonprofits receive $101,000 each from Impact 100


Impact 100, a local organization that dedicates time, effort and resources to help the community, awarded $101,000 to four organizations during its annual awards ceremony on Sept. 12.

Started in Cincinnati in 2001 by Wendy Steele, Impact 100 was created with the idea of promoting philanthropy among women — if 100 women each donated $1,000, a grant of $100,000 could be awarded to a nonprofit community organization.

Since its inception, the group has become a worldwide name with more than 30 chapters in the U.S. and two in Australia. In Cincinnati, Impact 100 has raised more than $400,000 annually, enough to give $100,000 grants to four recipients.

This year's recipients were selected from a pool of more than 100 regional charities that applied for funding in five impact areas: culture; education; environment, preservation and recreation; family; and health and wellness.

The 2017 grant recipients include First Step Home, Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, NKY Community Action Commission and Ohio Valley Voices.
 
  • First Step Home, an addiction treatment center, will utilize its $101,000 grant for the expansion of its programming for opiate-addicted pregnant women and their newborn babies.
  • Lighthouse Youth and Family Services will be using its grant money to expand its experiential learning opportunities for children in foster care or the juvenile justice system. The organization will also start work on its Lighthouse Charter School Agricultural Learning Center.
  • The NKY Community Action Commission will put its award toward the Lincoln Grant Scholar House, as well as new computer equipment. Single mothers who wish to pursue a secondary education will not only have an affordable living option, but a chance to learn about generational poverty.
  • Ohio Valley Voices is looking to relocate, as well as add a new audiology clinic and purchase new equipment for infant diagnostic testing. Its long-term goal is to increase its services by 50 percent.
“It is a privilege to support these organizations — they are making a tangible impact on our communities,” says Donna Broderick, president of Impact 100. “While we could only choose four, as an organization we learn so much about all of the wonderful groups that are working so selflessly to make a difference.”
 

Past winners include Crayons to Computers, the Freestore Foodbank, Supports to Encourage Low Income Families and the Women's Crisis Center.

For more information on the Impact 100 grant process and how to apply for the 2018 round of funding, click here.
 


Design firm relocates to the heart of downtown Newport


Notice any changes on Monmouth Street near Ebert’s Meats? Following a historic building remodel in what used to be a pet grooming business, another firm has set its foundation in Northern Kentucky.

Eighty Twenty Design Group, owned by Fort Thomas resident Michael Smith, is now headquartered in Newport. The building was purchased last October, and renovations led up to a grand opening held earlier this month.

Eighty Twenty is a residential and commercial interior design company specializing in residential room makeovers, remodel planning and design and commercial design consulting. The firm was founded by Smith in 2013 and has grown with the area, becoming one of the most innovative and balanced design companies around. While the company isn’t necessarily new, the presence it will have in Northern Kentucky continues to highlight the area's business boom.

The design firm's core offerings include startup and commercial interior design, residential interior design, paint and accessories, furniture placement and installation, antique furniture restoration and custom-made furniture. A unique feature of Eighty Twenty is that it doesn’t rely on a single supplier, which allows for an infinite selection of styles and retailers. Smith prefers customers to be involved in the process so that they can learn simple techniques to upkeep the design over time.

Using design software, Eighty Twenty can implement the desired design techniques and know exactly how a room or home is going to look before the item is purchased and renovations even begin. High-definition, 3D and virtual reality renderings take customers on a virtual tour through their redesigned home or office space.

Eighty Twenty's portfolio is extensive, from exterior residential painting and hardwood floor restoration to house flips and custom made built-in furniture and storage. You can view some of its past interior design projects here.

The Newport location will house the firm’s office and design studio, along with a retail home store and event space, "Headquarters” will sell home décor, accessories and furniture, as well as host DIY workshops and other events. Products from the home store are available both online and in-store.

If you missed the grand opening on Sept. 2, be sure to catch a glimpse of the projects and products available when Eighty Twenty is featured on the Newport Beyond The Curb Urban Living Tour on Oct. 1. Tickets are available for the self-guided walking tour here.
 


Covington's Austinburg reigniting its 27-year-old plans to better the neighborhood

 

For the past 20 years, the Austinburg Neighborhood Association has remained dedicated to its neighborhood plan, which was created in the 1990s. The plan outlines expanding greenspace, restoring historic commercial buildings and returning character to the neighborhood.

The group is hoping to reignite those plans and is collaborating with organizations and local government to execute projects to better the neighborhood.

The plan, written in 1990 and initiated in 1998, centers on four main goals: removing the state highway designation for Greenup Street and Scott Boulevard; positively developing the almost five-acre property that was once St. Elizabeth Hospital to a mixed-use project; restoring the historic commercial buildings along the 20th Street corridor between the former St. Elizabeth property and Madison Avenue to a thriving business district; and further expanding green spaces.

The state highway designation of Greenup and Scott runs through four Covington neighborhoods, including Wallace Woods and Austinburg. Since the 1960s, Austinburg has tried to remove the designation to return the streets to a quieter, neighborhood feel.

J.T. Spence of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association is optimistic. Adjacent neighborhood Wallace Woods recently removed the designation. “Because of Wallace, I think the state will be more empathetic.”

The next project on the list is the utilization of the former hospital. The property has potential for a mixed-use project to combine housing and local businesses. “We don’t have a specific use in mind, but we’re thinking synergy with the neighborhood," Spence says.

There's an existing parking garage, which would add to the potential project and help showcase "the diversity of urban life."

Part of the unique character of Austinburg is its charming architecture. The corridor between the old hospital and Madison is comprised of historic commercial properties. The Austinburg Neighborhood Association is seeking to rezone the area for the expansion of businesses.

“We hope the rezoning will entice local businesses, serve the neighborhood and increase walkability,” Spence says. This rezoning would also create jobs for neighborhood residents.

A final project for the neighborhood is improving its green spaces. Spence describes Austinburg’s open space as both small and large, with space for active and passive recreation. There is an opportunity for a park at the end of Thomas Street, which could include a water feature. Its proximity to the schools could offer an expanded learning space for students.

Spence says that Austinburg has many desirable assets. “Its accessibility and proximity to Cincinnati, the bike trails and bus lines, affordable housing and open space make it a great place to live.”
 


Two engineers embark on entrepreneurial dream with poke restaurant


Two engineers are about to step into the foodie world with a Chipotle-style, Hawaiian poke restaurant in the heart of Over-the-Rhine.

Sally Lin, who works at P&G, and her fiancé and GE employee Baret Kilbacak, chose OTR as the location for Poke Hut because of the diversity in the neighborhood and a lack of fast-paced restaurant options for busy young professionals.

“We're trying to break the mold; we're trying to offer something that fits people's lifestyle,” Kilbacak says.

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish that consists of raw, cubed pieces of fish. It is usually served in a bowl with rice and veggies.

Poke Hut will serve poke with sushi rice and a variety of toppings and sauces. The menu will also feature cooked meat dishes. The restaurant will have a beach-theme mixed with a little bit of Cincinnati. There will be bubble tea, a bar (with alcoholic bubble tea), poke burritos and steamed buns for those seeking a healthy late-night snack.

The couple are first-generation immigrants — Lin’s family is from China and Kilbacak’s Armenian family is from Turkey.

“We grew up seeing our families in small businesses, which is typical of immigrants, and I think we kind of miss that,” Lin says.

The idea for a poke spot started when Kilbacak went on an impromptu trip to Hawaii with his brother and a close friend. After a long day of surfing, the group stumbled upon a poke shop in search of a quick bite.

“We went to a shop, and within just a few minutes we had a bowl in our hands and we went to the beach,” he says. “The lifeguards were off duty and there was a lifeguard shack. We went right up there, threw our feet over the edge and watched the tide roll in and ate our food.”

After a year of planning, Poke Hut anticipates a soft opening in October or early November.

Although owning and operating a small business is something the couple has wanted to do for a long time, they don't plan to quit their day jobs. Instead, a third partner will oversee the restaurant's day-to-day operations.

Poke Hut will be located across from Taft's Ale House in the Allison Building at 1509 Race St.
 


Vision 2020 works to offer CPS students real-world experience


The Vision 2020 initiative strives to improve the city's public schools by offering students real-world experience at an early age to better prepare them to be successful students and contributing members of the community.

Established in 2016, Vision 2020 started specialized programming at seven Cincinnati Public Schools with focuses based in the surrounding community — high tech, student enterprise and environmental science.

This year, nine schools have been added to the list, along with updated programming.

CPS asked stakeholders what they would like to see improved in neighborhood schools, and Vision 2020 was born.

The perception is that magnet schools are better, says Dawn Grady, public affairs officer for CPS.

Magnet schools with specialized programming were established in the 1970s to diversify and integrate Cincinnati’s public schools. Vision 2020 brings that specialized programming to neighborhood schools to help increase learning outside the classroom and strengthen the community.

The goal is that by the year 2020, neighborhood schools will offer improved programming that offers relevant programs to get students immersed in the community, while reinforcing what they’re learning in the classroom.

Near Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Cincinnati Zoo, Avondale's Rockdale Academy specializes in global conservation. Students venture on field trips to learn about consciously taking care of themselves, their community and the environment.

Rothenburg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine learns from its proximity to the neighborhod's booming business district. Specializing in entrepreneurship, the school hosted a pop-up shop last year to sell coasters designed by students.

The West End's Hays-Porter School focuses on new technology to prepare students for the fast-moving technological world. Students work on designing and programming, along with the typical everyday classwork.

With the updates to Vision 2020, additional schools are beginning to specialize in subjects, including environmental science, high technology, expeditionary learning, contemplative arts and sciences, global environmental literacy and math and science discovery.

“Vision 2020 is about achieving equity, making sure everyone has access to programs at magnet schools,” Grady says. Hearing something in a classroom is only part of it. “If you can apply those skills, that means you can actually learn it.”

The initiative allows students to connect the dots with what they learn in the classroom to how it relates to the real world in an effort to better prepare them.

“It’s all about real-world experiences and starting it young,” Grady says.

The initial seven schools include Chase School in Northside, Woodford Paideia Academy in Kennedy Heights, Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill, Gifted Academy West at Cheviot School, Hays-Porter, Rothenberg Prep and Westwood School.

The nine schools added to Vision 2020 this year are South Avondale School, Frederick Douglass School in Walnut Hills, College Hill Fundamental Academy, Mt. Washington School, Rockdale Academy in Avondale, John P. Parker School in Mariemont, Roll Hill Academy in East Westwood, Bond Hill Academy and Ethel M. Taylor Academy in Millvale.

 


Grocery stores adapt to the recent changes in Cincinnati's food landscape

 

Various Cincinnati neighborhoods are in transition, experiencing a shifting landscape with grocery stores either entering or exiting: Kroger closing in Walnut Hills, the proposed downtown Kroger development, the new Corryville Kroger, Clifton Market, Apple Street Market in Northside and the The Epicurean Mercantile Co. in Over-the-Rhine — among others.

In May, the owners of Findlay Market staple Fresh Table opened EMC on Race Street just across from the Market, as they saw a need for a full-service grocery store in the area.

“There was a real need [for a grocery store] in OTR, but also the Central Business District,” says Meredith Trombly, owner of EMC. “We always knew we were going to form a new business, whether that was a food truck, herb garden or what have you.”

The 5,000-square-foot store is also home to The Counter, a 1,000-square-foot restaurant that serves food for dine-in or carryout.

Trombly believes that being along the streetcar line offers a convenience to downtown residents and the surrounding neighborhood, and that including a restaurant sets them apart from others. She also sees a need for other grocery stores to offer something different in the current economic landscape.

“We wanted something unique for the neighborhood — something different but also functional. People are looking for that kind of convenience, that kind of spark.”

Similarly, Clifton Market, which opened in January, has since filled The Gaslight District’s grocery store vacancy following the closure of Keller’s IGA in 2010. The market’s model is also different than other grocery stores in Cincinnati, with its many shareholders making its opening possible.

The market’s board first met in Aug. 2013 to discuss opening the grocery store, which incorporated in Jan. 2014 and opened in Jan. 2017.

“We went to a co-op startup conference in 2014 and we told them we just got incorporated, and then we told them we wanted to open up in 2-3 years,” says Marilyn Hyland, founding board member of Clifton Market. “They told us, ‘No, you can’t do that. It takes 5-9 years to open up a food co-op.’”

Clifton Market began selling shares to the community in March 2014, and by Dec. 2015, it had raised nearly $1.65 million in owner shares and owner loans. It currently has more than 1,700 shareholders.

“A lot of why we felt it would be feasible to raise the money for the grocery store was in the Clifton tradition of rolling up your sleeves and planning and making happen the picture of the community that people have," Hyland says.

The market is beginning its third phase of fundraising, aiming to raise $100,000 this month and $500,000 within the next six months. This new round of fundraising will focus around a variety of events and share drives to provide a better startup cushion for the store.

Clifton Market is also preparing to offer online delivery at a cost of $2 to collect groceries in-store and $10 for delivery within a five-mile radius. There are future plans to extend the delivery service to anywhere within the I-275 loop. Hyland sees this as an opportunity to bring people from outside of the neighborhood into the area.

“The grocery store is a social space, as well as the heart of a community,” Hyland says. “But you don’t have to live in Clifton to love it. You can go there, shed your car and be a part of everything.”


Delhi looks to redevelop The Pike to attract young professionals


In 2015, Delhi Township’s Board of Trustees and the local business association created a 20-year plan that will help address the community's needs and drive the young demographic to the Delhi Pike area in the future.

Most of the buildings in the area have been around for years, and the Board is interested in revitalizing those buildings to attract new businesses and housing options for residents.

The route from Delhi's central business district to Mount St. Joseph University — referred to as "The Pike" — will become an area for restaurants, bars, grocery stores and housing.

The Board has been working to bring developers on to the project and zone the layout of the area. About 10 new businesses that are already in Delhi are joining the project, including a Waffle House and Verizon store. Although these chains will remain in Delhi, it is unlikely that others not already in the area like Target or Olive Garden will open due to no interstate access and the city's lower population.

“We would love to have them, but we're still trying to get a little bit of everything,” says Gregory DeLong, community development director for Delhi Township. A key part of the redevelopment will be to have businesses that appeal to existing residents, as well as businesses that will help draw in new residents. 

Residents are interested in microbreweries and more sit-down dining options; the plan for The Pike will have similarities between what you see in Over-the-Rhine and Oakley.

Even though Delhi is only 10 minutes from downtown, one major difference is that it's an auto-oriented community with little to no other types of transportation. There is a possibility for a bike path as part of a return investment study, which will run from Mount St. Joseph to the central business district on Anderson Ferry Road, just over one mile.

With planning already happening, current residents do not have to worry about leaving the area.

“What we're trying to do is keep them happy and keep them there with different housing options, but also try to attract new people and businesses into the community," DeLong says.

The cost of the project is still up in the air, but will cost in the millions. Delhi is looking to purchase land and raise funds for the project. But there are plans to apply for grants from the HCDC and other funding agencies.

Once funding lines up, construction will begin immediately, and Delhi's central business district will see the boom that DeLong and other members of the community are looking for.

 


What's all the buzz about the Great Ohio River Swim?


The Great Ohio River Swim is almost upon us. At 8:15 am on Sept. 24, participants will enter the water at the Serpentine Wall and swim about 900 meters to Northern Kentucky and back, ending the swim at the Public Landing.

Soapbox spoke with veteran swimmer Jennifer Mooney about how to prepare for this unique swim.

Mooney, who has participated in the swim more than seven times says, “Now is a good time to start preparing. If you’re a good swimmer and in decent physical shape and start training now, this is very doable.”

But what you shouldn’t do is go in without preparing.

Mooney explains that the swim is mostly for active swimmers and those who used to swim. However, the event is open for all ages and abilities — you just need to be a strong swimmer to participate.

Participants will need goggles, a comfortable suit, towel and an ID for registration. Required swim caps are provided, as well as an ankle time keeper. Mooney says that it’s best to arrive early and bring a friend that can wait at the Public Landing with a towel.

As far as eating before the swim, she suggests “whatever you feel you need,” the morning before the swim, but nothing too heavy. But afterward, you're going to need a high-protein meal.

A big question about the event is whether it’s even safe to swim in the Ohio River. Mooney says that she has never had a negative impact. Event coordinators check the water quality up to the week before the swim. They will reschedule the event if the water quality is unfit for swimmers, which has happened in the past.

The river is blocked off for the duration of the event, and a team of kayakers observes the water should swimmers need assistance.

On average, it takes swimmers about 20 minutes to complete the route, but the water remains open for about an hour.

What’s it like swimming in the Ohio River? This time of year, the water is usually warmer than the air. And while the visibility isn't great, Mooney says she hasn't encountered debris or strong currents. The route is triangulated, and the current pulls you in a relatively straight line, but it's not a strong current. The biggest obstacle is actually other swimmers.

The Ohio River Swim is gaining popularity and diversity. With an average of about 200 swimmers, organizers expect more participants this year, which always includes an influx of high school swim teams.

This year, the swim will honor Bill Keating, Jr., best known as the head of Cincinnati’s first swimming family. He was the first person to sign up for the inaugural event in 2007; he won the male swim but lost the overall title to his daughter, Caroline. Over the years, three of Keating's children and his father swam the event with him, and he was a big supporter of the event and convinced others to sign up. Earlier this year, he lost his battle with brain cancer.

The $40 registration fee ($25 for kids ages 12-18 and $35 for college students ages 17-23) goes to Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, a nonpprofit dedicated to getting urban teenagers involved in outdoor programs.

You can register for the swim here.

“It’s a fun, tranquil experience,” says Mooney. “It’s a chance to see the city from a totally different point of view, a point of view you never get. It’s very beautiful. I like to take the time to experience it.”
 


Newly founded The Welcome Project integrates refugees into local community through art


Over the last few years, bringing new life to Camp Washington has been a challenge as businesses (and residents) face a different economic climate and lack adequate resources. However, many of the redeveloped areas of the neighborhood are focusing more on community values to build their businesses, including The Welcome Project, which is run by Wave Pool Art Gallery.

Artist Cal Cullen teamed up with Sheryl Rajbhandari, executive director and founder of Heartfelt Tidbits, to tackle a current local, national and world issue. Through this humanitarian effort, The Welcome Project has become a natural fit to provide solutions to the gaps many immigrants and refugees face within the community.

“Camp Washington's business district has been neglected for a long time and is pretty vacant,” says Cullen. “This endeavor brings a retail location and restaurant, as well as a third space for education, community gathering and cross-cultural development to the neighborhood.”

Empowering immigrants and refugees both economically and socially, helping them integrate into our community and giving a sense of positive contribution can help break down barriers that may naturally occur when dealing with other languages, backgrounds, etc.

“While the city has more than 80 providers that do a tremendous job in assisting with welcoming refugees, we recognize the need to expand this,” Cullen says. “Art enables them to share their voice without a common language, build friendships and provide economic opportunity for them. We think we can do all of this while revitalizing two pivotal storefronts in Camp Washington's business district at the same time.”

The refugees participating in The Welcome Project yield from many areas of the world, including Bhutan, Eritrea, Somalia, the Congo, Syria, Guatemala, Mexico, Sudan and Iraq.

Refugee service organization Heartfelt Tidbits focuses on the “long welcome,” and supports refugees and immigrants through the transition of moving and adjusting to a new cultural environment. It helps with housing, language, employment, education and everything else that is needed that they may not receive during the first 45 days of support from the government.

“We're doing programming 3-4 times a week, which includes art and sewing classes, as well as a gathering space for refugees and immigrants to socialize and learn soft skills while making friends, learning English and picking up talents like crochet, needlework, beading, ceramic, and more,” Cullen says. “Right now, we only have the boutique half of the endeavor open, and only part way.”

The end goal is to have a full-service boutique that sells refugee-made goods and is able to employ and train them in both product development, manufacturing, store management and sales, as well as have a kitchen/cafe that does workplace training for restaurant and cooking/kitchen skills.

As for funding, The Welcome Project recently received a grant from the Haile Foundation to start a pilot for the retail half of the project. The program will bring much needed employment and workplace training to local refugee and immigrant women while paying them a live-able wage and offering childcare during their work hours. Mid-range art objects will be available for sale from contemporary artists in an effort to continue to support the refugees.

“The pilot is just starting — we're hoping to have fabrication begin this fall and have items for sale in the winter,” Cullen says.

For more information regarding The Welcome Project, as well as upcoming events and ways to get involved as a community member, click here or visit its Facebook page.
 


Living walls blooming in two central neighborhoods


Urban Blooms is growing something beautiful in the heart of two Cincinnati neighborhoods. Last Friday, construction began on a 1,500-square-foot living wall at 4912 Reading Rd. in the Bond Hill business district. A similar project will begin in Corryville this fall.

Tyler Wolf, executive director of Urban Blooms, says the organization really wanted to connect its mission of sustainable green living to neighborhood development. The result is the Cincinnati Grows program, a $25,000 matching funds grant that gives neighborhoods the chance to apply for a living wall installation in their community.

Living walls are essentially a ‘wall of plants’ — a vertical hydroponic system with automated irrigation.

“It’s a great way to bring a natural aesthetic in any space,” Wolf says. “One of the big goals is to create more walkable communities.”

Seven neighborhoods applied for the installation but Corryville and Bond Hill were ultimately chosen. The walls in both neighborhoods will feature thousands of plants that will bring color to the neighborhood year-round.

“We wanted to make the largest impact possible,” Wolf says. Along with beautifying the space, the living walls have many other benefits for the community. They increase the biodiversity of urban areas by providing a safe haven for pollinators like butterflies and bees. The walls also create healthier environments for local residents.

“The walls are actually cleaning the air we breathe — they’re great at removing particulate matter from the air,” Wolf adds.

The living walls help keep the buildings they inhabit cooler, which reduces energy costs for the inhabitants. Brandon Gumm, a development associate with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority says that’s great news for Bond Hill. “As we move businesses into Bond Hill, any cost saving measures we can provide are beneficial."

The living walls will also serve as educational opportunities for residents. “We want to open kids’ minds up to new possibilities and technologies,” says Wolf. “We see education going beyond any programming. We want to show that people don’t need to make sacrifices to live a more sustainable life.”

The living wall in Bond Hill will be unveiled at the inaugural Placemaker Pacer 5k Race and Fun Run on Aug. 26.
 


Jen Meeks has a unique relationship with one of the Zoo's biggest stars


At 5:30 on the morning of Jan. 24, Jen Meeks, dive safety officer at the Cincinnati Zoo, received an alarming text message: “There’s a hippo in your office.”

Meeks’s first thought, “Am I being punked?”

She was not.

In fact, this little surprise was merely the beginning of an extraordinary interaction between Meeks and the Zoo's famous Fiona.

When the premature baby hippo was born on a cold winter morning, the staff needed to find the warmest place — and fast. That just so happened to be a room adjacent to the dive office, located in the same building as the hippo enclosure.

“That’s really why I had anything to do with her in the beginning,” Meeks says. “At first, I just stayed out of the way. I didn’t get involved until it was time to dive.”

Before Fiona could be reunited wither her mother, she needed to learn to handle herself underwater.

In the wild, mother hippos guide their newborns through the water until they are capable of independence. But hippos don’t technically swim. They're negatively buoyant so they can settle on the bottom and feed on grass. When it’s time to come up for air, their bodies have just the right amount of buoyancy to help them jump to the surface.

Fiona's swim lessons started in baby pools and gradually moved up to the 5-foot indoor hippo pool.

For these deeper swims, the Zoo needed a safety diver in the water should Fiona need assistance.

Although Fiona knew Meeks before that first dive, she turned and took off the other way, into the arms of her favorite keeper when she saw Meeks in her underwater dive gear.

This left Meeks with a problem to solve. Before working at the Zoo, she dove for the Newport Aquarium, where her interactions with fish, sharks and rays meant wearing gloves and a mask that hide your eyes. She was used to simply ignoring the animals to prove she wasn't a threat.

But Meeks knew Fiona was different. “A lightbulb went on. She’s a toddler. She’s a baby mammal. I came back with a clear mask, took off my gloves and talked through my regulator. This was completely new. Here I am under water going, ‘Come on girl.’”

And it worked.

“It wasn’t long before she started ignoring the gear and we started playing chase games.”

For one hour five days a week, Meeks and Fiona played tag under water. Then it was time for the big pool, which is outside and with a depth of 10 feet.

They took it slow. The plan was to let Fiona swim into the deep end and give her two attempts to jump to the surface before helping her out.

The first few attempts at a big jump didn’t go smoothly and Fiona panicked. The divers reminded her of their support. And before they knew it, they were playing chase.

While she ended up standing on a diver’s head at one point, she quickly got the hang of it.

“I’m fairly certain I’m the first person to knowingly dive with a hippo,” Meeks says.

In Africa, hippos kill more people every year than any other animal. But not at the Zoo. “I knew it was going to be a one-time thing. Everyone did such an amazing job. That was just my little job. I learned something too.”
 


New Herzog Music in the CBD much more than record store

 

As soon as you walk into Herzog Music, it’s obvious that this place is more than a record store.

Andrew Aragon describes himself as the “day-to-day guy” at Herzog Music, which officially opened July 22. Aragon says Herzog was the brainchild of Elias Leisring, the owner of Eli’s BBQ.

“Even though he’s known for the barbecue, music is a huge part of his life — it’s a huge part of everyone’s life,” Aragon says.

Herzog Music resides in the former Herzog Studio, the last standing space where Hank Williams Sr. ever recorded. Leisring is a member of the Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation, an organization that managed the studio space before Herzog opened.

“We’re here so we can bring awareness to that space, the history and its importance to the city,” says Aragon. “The ultimate end goal is to make sure that space is not only preserved, but transformed back into a working studio so we can keep the music heritage of Cincinnati flowing.”

The store prefers an “adopt, don’t shop” policy, stocking vintage records and antique musical instruments that range from rare guitars to well-loved saxophones and an Omnicord. Aragon says Herzog will acquire new things, but they are fortunate to have a diverse inventory. Their records span genres that represent a little of everything: Christmas albums, comedy, indie, R&B, classic rock and more.

“Overall, we want to facilitate not only people that play music; we want to be able to help out people that just love listening to it. We want to grow that community in the central part of downtown,” Aragon says.

In addition to its eclectic merchandise, Herzog endeavors to be more than a store.

It's also home to the Queen City Music Academy, where student musicians of all ages can take lessons. In the future, the space will host other educational opportunities for the community.

“We’re going to have everything from a kids’ folk puppet show to a clinic on how to spot vintage guitars and how to use microphones properly,” Aragon says.

Herzog hopes to draw residents and tourists to experience Cincinnati culture in a different part of downtown.

“It’s just like any culture, you experience the most of it through the food and the music,” Aragon explains. “We’re trying to put the best foot forward of our culture here through the things that we know the best.”
 

 


Family movie nights return to Avondale area with PL grant project


FamilyFlickn, a newly funded People’s Liberty project, is bringing back movie nights to the neighborhoods of Avondale, Bond Hill and Roselawn. The first event of a four-part free movie series will happen on Aug. 12.

PL project grantee and Bond Hill native Amber Kelly noticed the lack of opportunity for families in these neighborhoods to go to the movies. After almost 20 years in business, Showcase Cinemas in Bond Hill closed in 2009, and since then, the area hasn't had a movie theater.

Kelly describes the joy of taking her children to the movies, but says that the biggest hurdle is that it's expensive. She wanted to create the opportunity for families in her former neighborhood to experience that same family event without the steep costs.

Although Kelly now lives in Kennedy Heights with her family, she's involved in and invested in community building and saw this idea as an opportunity to bring together families and strengthen communities.

The movies will be shown at Mercy Health (1701 Mercy Health Place), at the same location as the former cinema. The first of four free movie nights will be shown on four party buses rented for the occasion, each showing a different movie. Fitting 25 people per bus, about 100 people will be able to enjoy a movie at a time. Movies include Boss Baby, Red Dog, Smurfs and Sing.

The event is first come, first serve, but Kelly didn't want to hinder those latecomers from attending; an overflow room at the Mercy Health complex will allow for those who didn't make it on the bus to catch a film.

"Because this was directly for the people, it was easier to obtain a grant,” Kelly says. FamilyFlickn fits within PL's vision to address challenges and enact change in communities.

Showtimes for the first FamilyFlickn are from 12 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. The next scheduled event is Oct. 22, which will feature two party buses and two showtimes (12 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.). The third one is Feb. 3 and will be held indoors (3 to 5 p.m.); a date for the fourth event hasn't been announced yet, but will be an outdoor screening.

More information and updates can be found at FamilyFlickn's website. All moviegoers will receive popcorn, candy and a drink.
 


Pho Lang Thang owners team up with Eli's BBQ for East End roadhouse


The Lang Thang Group, which owns Pho Lang Thang and Quan Hapa in Over-the-Rhine, have teamed up with Elias Leisring of Eli’s BBQ to create a new roadhouse for East Enders called The Hi-Mark.

Located alongside Riverside Drive, the restaurant will reportedly be a laid-back affair, serving all kinds of beer — including local craft varieties — and highball cocktails, as well as bar food, with some food inspiration from Eli’s, Quan Hapa and Pho Lang Thang.

The current plan for The Hi-Mark menu is to develop items over the coming months, but some things we're working on are housemade dips to complement Hen of the Woods' chips, wings, fries and sandwiches,” says Mike Dew, a partner in the Lang Thang Group.


The Hi-Mark has about a 150-person capacity, and space includes a bar area, a second-floor mezzanine, an outdoor deck and a game room in the basement, which could open this fall.

Located at 3229 Riverside, it's right down the street from Eli’s, and was named The Hi-Mark due to its location and history.

After the 1997 flood, the whole East End was considered a disaster area. Therefore, the group had to raise the building out of the danger zone and remodel the entire space.

For us, this meant getting creative with the construction of the building and essentially gutting the entire inside, raising the floor out of the floodplain and designing an entirely new floor plan,” says Dew. “Our neighborhood's history with the flooding, coupled with the new building design, made the name a natural fit.”

Even through the group is focusing on its newest restaurant, Pho Lang Thang and Quan Hapa will remain open.

The slow roll out opening for The Hi-Mark started on July 27, with the hours of 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 14, and the hours will then shift to 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends.
 


OTR A.D.O.P.T. organizes clean-up of vacant West End church for new concept


Local redevelopment organization OTR A.D.O.P.T. has begun rehabbing the church at 1815 Freeman Ave. It's been vacant for over 30 years, and the hope is that it will become the first climbing gym in the city of Cincinnati.

On Saturday, volunteers gathered at the church to clear out the trash and begin basic refurbishment work.

Constructed in the 1880s, the intricate structure has sat vacant since the 1970s, and was filled with trash with graffiti covering the walls.

OTR A.D.O.P.T has been involved with the church building for about five years, but the project is just getting to the beginning stages. Brenden Regan, project manager for OTR A.D.O.P.T. says, "If it’s going to be anything, it’s got to be watertight. The main goal is to get the building stable, dry and secure by winter."

The development is in the very early stages, and the climbing gym concept is still young. The gym is the first viable offer OTR A.D.O.P.T. has received. Other options included a music venue and doctor’s office, but the stakeholders were unable to pursue the project.

A big room with 30-foot ceilings is a difficult space to work with. But a climbing gym could be just the right match for the historic building.

OTR A.D.O.P.T is a nonprofit organization that looks to historic buildings that have long been empty and ignored. To save these dilapidated structures, it takes notice of and fixes them up in the hopes that they will be more attractive to a buyer. According to its website, OTR A.D.O.P.T. matches "deteriorating historic buildings in Cincinnati’s core neighborhoods with new owners."

Right now, the organization is working with around 10 properties. And contrary to its name, OTR A.D.O.P.T. is branching outside of Over-the-Rhine, and has worked in a number of developing neighborhoods, including Covington, Mt. Auburn, Camp Washington and Walnut Hills.

As for the West End? "It has a lot of great buildings that deserve to be fixed up," Regan says.
 

1298 Quality of Life Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts