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Parks + Greenspace : For Good

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Join in effort to reforest NKY

More than 300 volunteers will join together to plant 2,500 trees this Saturday at Northern Kentucky Urban Forestry Council’s annual project, Reforest Northern Kentucky.
NKYUFC tree leaders will spend the morning educating volunteers and showing them where to go onsite to plant the proper tree in the proper place.
“There’s different trees that need to be planted in different areas,” says Tara Sturgill, environmental specialist at the Northern Kentucky University Center for Environmental Restoration and PR chair for Reforest NKY.
“We want people to know where to plant to get the right species. We want them to grow and stay in the ground and not be cut down, so we’re really trying to educate people on right tree, right place.”
One of NKYUFC’s goals is to educate the public about community trees, which is important because when a non-native tree is growing in an area, it creates an unstable environment and must be cut down.
City of Covington Urban Forester Crystal Courtney has recently been working to cut down Bradford Pear Trees, for example, which Sturgill says the neighborhood is upset about because the trees are so big and have been there for so long.
“But they’re not the proper trees for that place—they’re invasive species,” Sturgill says. “So she’s spent a lot of time cutting those downs, and they’re taking a weekend where people can come out and plant a native tree. But had that education been there years ago, there would be no need for that; so that’s what we’re trying to do with Reforest Northern Kentucky—educate.” 

Do Good:

• Pre-registration for Reforest NKY is closed, but you can still volunteer to plant trees. Get the event details here. If you volunteer, consider carpooling. 

Volunteer April 5-6 to replace the Bradford Pear Trees by planting native trees in Covington.

Contact the NKYUFC to learn proper tree planting techniques, in addition to what types of trees should be planted in particular areas. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Local club teaches gardening to elementary school children

Fairy gardens, shade gardens, gnome gardens—they all make up the backyard of Joyce Mohaupt, who’s served as president of the Monfort Heights Garden Club for the past two years.
The club, which will celebrate its 85th anniversary March 28, works to beautify Greater Cincinnati by doing things like maintaining landscapes and engaging in community plantings.
“At Montfort Heights Elementary, for example, we have two gardens—one is more of a vegetable garden, and the other one grows more flowers and things like that,” Mohaupt says. “But our club does a program in connection with third-grade students, and we have quite a few of our members that come in to the school, and the students really and truly love it—they’re learning about gardening, and it’s hands-on.”
The garden club members plant corn in the elementary school’s vegetable garden, for example; so students learn how to plant seeds. They later gather the corn, and a popcorn party eventually transpires.
“It’s usually a monthly thing,” Mohaupt says. “They’ll work with potting soil. They have planters they take home—they might do something special for Mother’s Day—things like that.”
For Mohaupt and other garden club members, gardening is more than a love or a passion. It’s a duty to enhance the various communities that make up our city and its surrounding areas.
“Our projects don’t just deal with the Monfort Heights area,” Mohaupt says. “We don’t just stay local—we move around.” 

Do Good:

• Support the club in its fundraising efforts.

Contact the Monfort Heights/White Oak Community Association if you're interested in becoming a member of the garden club, or if you'd like to volunteer to help maintain community landscapes.

• Maintain your gardens so you can provide homes for our birds and bees. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Zipline on down the road or dance in public with Join the Fun

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults engage in 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times a week, or 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week.
But only 47 percent of adults in our region are attaining either of those amounts, according to the 2010 Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey.
So Interact for Health, formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, in partnership with ArtsWave—supporter of more than 100 Greater Cincinnati arts organizations—have joined together to launch Join the Fun.
“The whole premise is about having social engagement and interaction so people can go out with family, with friends, or even just to a location where they know there will be a group of people doing some sort of activity they can join in,” says Jaime Love, program officer for healthy eating and active living at Interact for Health. 
The Join the Fun initiative funds 21 total grantees and will enable community members across the region to do things like dance in public, relax while practicing yoga and even zipline down a two-mile closed-off area of a public roadway.
“A lot of times, people just get used to their same routine and being inside, or being at home and not getting out with people,” Love says. “So this is an opportunity where they can say they’re not by themselves—there’s a group they can engage with—and they can do something for fun.” 

Do Good:

• Engage in Join the Fun activities. 

• Connect with Interact for Health and ArtsWave on Facebook.

Support ArtsWave.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


NKY woman makes strides against nutritional poverty

When Monica Remmy settled on a place to live and made the decision to purchase a house, she found herself drawn to Northern Kentucky—more specifically Newport—because of its walkability and amenities.
“There’s a family-run butcher, two small theaters in walking distance—there’s a lot around here,” Remmy says.
The area is one Remmy appreciates, but she also understands the various needs of her community.
She lives just down the street from the Henry Hosea House—a nonprofit that serves those in need. And it’s the only Northern Kentucky facility that serves a hot evening meal seven days a week.
A few Christmases ago when Remmy couldn’t travel to Tennessee to visit her mother—who Remmy says grew up in Appalachia and knew what it was like to live in poverty—she took the money she would have spent on presents and instead bought items for the Hosea House.
“I dropped everything off and told them I have skills in graphic design and would like to help if I can,” Remmy says.
She later found herself putting together a fresh food drive for the organization, and spent most of 2011 helping the Hosea House apply for—and receive—a $30,000 grant to combat nutritional poverty.
“As part of the three things we wanted to do around nutritional poverty, I led a project on Hosea House’s behalf and put together a garden,” says Remmy, who now serves as volunteer manager for the garden, where she works to plant and harvest fresh produce for use in the soup kitchen.  
From non-GMO Roma tomatoes donated from someone in the neighborhood to plants offered from the individual on the other side of the neighboring fence, the backyard plot of land has transformed into a focal point in the community.
“Everyone who walked by stopped to say how beautiful it was or how impressed they were with how tall things were getting, and it really brought a nice little bright spot,” Remmy says. “And all of the produce that isn’t used in the kitchen to prepare the meals is given out to the guests. It wasn’t even definite we’d get it off the ground that first year, but we did, and it’s been amazing.”  

Do Good:

Support the Hosea House. Remmy's goal is to restore funding for educational programs with local school children at the garden. 

Contact Remmy if you would like to volunteer with the garden. 

• Support the Hosea House by donating needed items.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Cincinnati Zoo event aims to help restore region's tree canopy

Editor's Note: This event has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 1.

If restoring the region’s tree canopy and preparing it for the future is a cause for which you’re passionate, you’re invited to take part in the Taking Root campaign’s Great Tree Summit 2014.
The Great Tree Summit, which takes place at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Saturday, January 25, is a way for community members to brainstorm and form strategies to help Taking Root reach its goal of planting 2 million trees by 2020.
“We don’t want to just pump information toward people. We want them to now really get involved,” says Jody Grundy, environmental activist and campaign leader.
Saturday’s Summit will consist of breakout sessions where individuals form teams based on specific actions, like educating or communicating with others about Taking Root’s efforts, in addition to discussing how particular areas within the campaign’s eight-county, three-state region, can join together to organize specific plans of action within one’s community.
“Large trees and native trees are very important to stabilize the whole environment and all the species that are dependent on them,” Grundy says. “We want to bring to people’s attention the importance of trees and to communicate that we should not take for granted a resource we all depend on. We all need to be players in this.”

Do Good:

Register to attend the Great Tree Summit 2014 Saturday, January 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

• Plant a tree and register it to count toward the 2 million-tree goal. 

• Like and share Taking Root's Facebook page.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Save Local Waters and Cincinnati Zoo promote rain barrels through art initiative

Many individuals fail to realize that small changes can make monumental differences when it comes to conservation efforts, says John Nelson, public relations specialist for the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The HCSWD is part of The Regional Storm Water Collaborative—more commonly known as Save Local Waters—and the organization’s goal is to raise awareness about water quality issues in the Ohio River Valley by educating the public about ways to improve it.
“One of the best ways people can conserve water and also help with storm water runoff is to install a rain barrel at their homes,” Nelson says.
To encourage more individuals to make use of rain barrels by collecting water that can be reused, as opposed to allowing it to flow quickly while collecting pollutants that end up in our water systems, Save Local Waters has partnered with The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden to host its second Rain Barrel Art Project.
“Rain barrels look like trash cans—they’re very plain looking barrels—so we came up with an idea to beautify them, and to take it to the next level,” Nelson says.
From now through January 25, individuals can submit proposed artwork to Save Local Waters. If selected for the project, they’ll then have the opportunity to paint a barrel to be displayed in the zoo’s Green Garden during the month of April, with a culminating event April 24 in which barrels will be auctioned during the zoo’s Party for the Planet Earth Day celebration.
“Last year, we had about 40 rain barrels entered from people all over the Ohio River Valley, and this year we’re hoping we get more,” Nelson says. “People will take these to their homes and install them, and all the money raised from the auction is used for conservation education.” 

Do Good:

Register with Save Local Waters to paint a barrel.

• Visit the zoo between April 1-24 to view painted barrels, and attend the benefit auction April 24. 

Learn about what you can do to clean up our waters, and contact the organization to get involved by volunteering.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Price Hill Will introduces new model for community gardening

Part of Price Hill Will’s mission is to improve the neighborhood through community engagement, and the organization has found an innovative new way of doing so—by shifting the traditional model of community gardening.
“Not everyone’s going to be able to come out to a community garden, so we wanted to diversify our green program so that we can help people in their own places and really meet everybody’s needs where their needs are,” says Pamela Taylor, Price Hill Will’s community outreach coordinator.
So the nonprofit created a program called Grow It Forward.
“We come to your home, install garden beds and get you started with planting free of charge,” says Chris Smyth, sustainability coordinator at Price Hill Will. “All we ask in return is that you help with three more garden installs.”
So a community member requests a garden setup, which is customized depending on how much space is available and what an individual wants to grow. Then they volunteer their time by interacting with their neighbors to help them do the same.
“It’s kind of a decentralized model of community gardening by bringing people together to help with each others’ gardens,” Taylor says. “Or people can share seeds or sprouts, plants, or even produce later on.”
In addition to receiving a garden setup and the motivation to meet your neighbors while offering a helping hand, Taylor says there are a multitude of other benefits the program offers.
“It’s fun to be out in the back yard gardening in the sun. It’s healthy growing fresh fruits and vegetables, and it’s much cheaper to grow your own foods and supplement nutrition than it is to go out and buy produce at the grocery store or the farmer’s market where it might be even more expensive,” Taylor says.
“And if people have difficult work schedules or transportation issues getting to a community garden, it’s a lot more accessible for them. There are also a lot of barriers people have—but there’s a source of knowledge we can share about what goes together well, what types of plants will grow when, and things like that.”

Do Good:
• Contact Chris Smyth if you'd like a garden set up, or if you're interested in volunteering your gardening skills and knowledge.

• Support Price Hill Will by donating. 

• Sign up for Price Hill Will's weekly newsletter.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Place from Space seeks to transform vacant spaces

For local architects Elizabeth Schmidt and Brad Cooper, transforming vacant and underutilized space is one way to enliven neighborhoods and encourage community members to interact with the built environment.
So the two architects, with the help of the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati and a recent grant from FUEL Cincinnati, launched Place from Space—a competition that allows individuals to submit ideas for making use of empty and available spaces throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
“Thus far, we’ve received a handful of submissions that are kind of all over the map in terms of what they’re proposing,” Cooper says. “That was the idea—to generate a wide variety of ideas that are creative, innovative and aren’t just cleaning up the trash or cutting the weeds in the lot—they’re supposed to be simple but innovative.”
The competition will be open for submissions through November 4, and participating neighborhoods include East, West and Lower Price Hill, Over-the-Rhine, Covington, East Walnut Hills and Walnut Hills.
A designated neighborhood group from within each community will select the finalists, while the public will vote on the People’s Choice finalist; and come spring, Schmidt and Cooper say transformations should begin.
“We’re both very interested in community design and designing for people,” Schmidt says. “We had seen some competitions in other cities that seemed to be really successful, and we thought with all the new energy and excitement in Cincinnati and with all of the momentum Cincinnati has in its unique neighborhoods, that it’d be a great fit for the city as well.” 

Do Good: 

• Submit your ideas for turning underutilized spaces into active and vibrant places.

• Check out ArchiNATI for more fun ways to engage with Cincinnati's built environment.

• Support your local community and neighborhood groups by volunteering, participating in activities or simply getting reacquainted with your neighbors.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Greater Cincinnati Foundation celebrates 50 years with Big Idea Challenge

To honor 50 years of contributions and volunteers who enable The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to support nonprofits in the region, the organization decided to launch the Big Idea Challenge

“We’re a permanent community institution and plan to be here for at least 50 more years,” says Elizabeth Reiter Benson, GCF’s vice president of communications and marketing. “So we thought about people in the community who aren’t familiar with the foundation or who haven’t been part of our work in the past, and thought about what sort of project or gift to the community we could give that would get more people involved.” 

Inspired by a similar challenge in Minnesota, the Big Idea Challenge highlights submissions for potential projects that would make our city better, and allows people living within the community to vote on which idea they would most like to see come to fruition. 

Seven different segments of community life are represented in the ideas—everything from cultural vibrancy and education to the environment and health and wellness. 

“The category we call Strong Communities received a lot of entries, because a lot of people—when thinking about making the community better—center on community engagement or getting particular groups of people together,” Reiter Benson says. “But I think what was impressive to me in the finalists’ results was really the breadth of ideas. They had things from very specific parts of neighborhoods, all the way to trying to bring the whole region together—almost neighborhood Olympics.” 

Voting is open through Sept. 27, and winners will be announced in October, when local nonprofits will be matched up with winning ideas and will receive the funds needed to pilot a project and get the ball rolling. 

“We had a goal of about 1,000 votes and already have 3,000, so the community is clearly excited about the opportunity that they get to pick the winner,” Reiter Benson says. “We didn’t know what the response would be, so to have this many people involved in something is really a great fiftieth anniversary gift to us.” 

Do Good: 

• Read all ideas and vote for your favorite.

• Like the Big Idea Challenge on Facebook, and share the page with your friends. Encourage them to vote.

• Continue to check the site even after winners have been chosen so that you can help keep the ideas in motion. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Cincinnati Fondo brings cyclists together in support of Freestore Foodbank

The second annual Cincinnati Fondo takes place September 22 when cyclists will come together to ride one of two courses—a 57-mile Fondo or a 114-mile Gran Fondo—along the roads of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s countryside to raise money for the Freestore Foodbank.
For novice cyclist Ramon Rodriguez, who serves as vice president at Fifth Third Bank and as a board member of the FSFB, the race is a way to enjoy beautiful scenery while also supporting a great cause.
Rodriguez joined the board of the FSFB about six years ago at a time in his life when he says his scope of understanding with regard to the organization’s goals was limited.
“Like many people here in Cincinnati, we see the lines that form in front of our Liberty distribution center, come Christmas and come Thanksgiving, where families go and get their boxes for holiday meals,” Rodriguez says. “But the scope of services and the reach that the Freestore has was something that was totally new to me.”
The organization’s reach is far more apparent to Rodriguez at this point in time, and while he’s inspired by all of the programs offered by the FSFB, he says he has a particular affinity toward the Power Pack Program.
“These are packages of food that are assembled for the benefit of children that have food insecurity when they come home after school. So, either they pick it up on Friday, and they have food for the weekend, or once there’s longer breaks from school, they’re able to have some form of food security available to them,” Rodriguez says. “And we provide that, and it takes only four dollars to create one power pack for a child every week.”
Registering for the Cincinnati Fondo, Rodriguez says, will provide the funds necessary to help the FSFB with programs like the Power Pack, and in this case, would be enough to provide a child with enough packs for an entire month.  
“We have major corporations based here in Cincinnati, but you still see a large number of children that still come home to empty pantries,” Rodriguez says. “That’s been a big driver. I have a 7- and 9-year-old at home, and thinking of them going without—it’s unimaginable.”

Do Good: 

• Register for the Cincinnati Fondo.

• Support the Freestore Foodbank by making a donation.
 • Volunteer with the Freestore Foodbank.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

The Giving Fields' volunteers help fight food insecurity

At Colliers International’s Building Up Communities program, giving back to the neighborhoods in which volunteers live and work is a core value. 

For Joe Hartmann, managing director of corporate services for Colliers International Ohio, his most recent volunteer experience at The Giving Fields is one that he says will stick with him because it gave him the opportunity to serve others in a way that’s different from what he does on a daily basis. 

“So much of what we do every day—all of us—not just at Colliers—but any time you’re engaged in a career, it’s about trying to work and do what’s best for your client, but you’re certainly benefitting from your efforts,” Hartmann says. “But in this case—what’s so refreshing about this is that you are engaged in an activity that’s benefitting others, so at the end of the day, you feel all that sweat equity that you put in is going toward a great cause.” 

At The Giving Fields, Hartmann, like other volunteers who assist the nonprofit in providing fresh food to Freestore Foodbank agencies throughout Northern Kentucky, composted, dug irrigation ditches and staked tomato plants. 

Out of the thousands of working adults, seniors and children in our community, 17.3 percent live in Kentucky and are food insecure, the Freestore Foodbank reports. 

So to help narrow the gap between food security and insecurity, Doug and Sheila Bray, with the help of various agencies and volunteers, have maintained the community farm for three years now. 

With six acres of land that yields fresh produce, The Giving Fields has been able to supply Northern Kentucky communities with hundreds of thousands of pounds of vegetables that they would otherwise have limited access to. 

“It’s a great cause, and they’re doing a great job,” Hartmann says. “But they’re toiling down there on a daily basis.” 

Do Good: 

Donate to The Giving Fields.

• Contact volunteer services at 513-482-7550 if you're interested in volunteering at The Giving Fields.

• Like The Giving Fields on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Beast Bash brings pets and pet owners together for day of fun

Furry friends and their owners are invited to come to the fourth annual Beast Bash, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Kenton Paw Park. The event benefits the Kenton County Animal Shelter and the dog park, which was named one of the top 10 dog parks in the United States by Dog Fancy magazine.
This year, the kids’ area is bigger than ever before, with a craft area, demonstrations by the local sheriff’s department SWAT and K9 teams, a dunking booth, blow up jump house, petting zoo and the fire department’s smoke house. There will also be a look-alike contest for owners and their pets, a best-behaved competition, giveaways, food vendors and a pool party.
“Every year, we expand the Beast Bash,” says Dan Evans, director of the Kenton County Animal Shelter. “In the future, we hope to get the entire park—the tennis courts, soccer fields—so we can have events going on everywhere.”
The Beast Bash’s emcee this year is JoLynn Johnston, with special guest Fox19’s morning news anchor, Rob Williams. Different vendors will be hand, including local pet stores, rescue groups and vets who will be available for free advice and information.
At 8:30 a.m., owners and their dogs can compete in the Beast Bash & Dash. The cost is $25 per dog if you pre-register, $30 per dog if you register day-of. If you pre-register, you’ll get a “doggy bag” with a T-shirt and doggie bandana.
The Beast Bash is free, but a $5 donation is encouraged to raise funds for the animal shelter and the dog park. All dogs must be licensed, registered and on a leash, but no retractable leashes.
“It’s a fundraiser for the animal shelter, and it’s one of our bigger events,” says Evans. “It showcases the animal shelter and dog park, and shows people what is in the community and the resources that are out there for them.”
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

Sawyer Point celebrates 25 years

Twenty-five years ago, scrapyards and storage facilities spanned the mile-long stretch of land that now composes Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove. 

“When Cincinnati took on the development of Sawyer Point, the City and Cincinnati Recreation Commission were dedicated to reaching out to the local community,” says Deb Allison, Cincinnati Parks’ business service manager. 

That dedication created an area of greenery that now fits into a two-mile stretch of award-winning landscape along the Ohio River—and it’s one that Allison says should be honored.

“It’s really important to celebrate the vision that the City, the recreation commission and the park board had at that time in what the riverfront could be,” Allison says. 

To celebrate that vision, the Cincinnati Park Board will host a Rockin’ Birthday Bash for Sawyer Point. 

The all-day music festival will take visitors back to 1988 when Sawyer Point first emerged as a spot for community gatherings, and it will do it in 1980s fashion with throwback bands that Allison says might remind guests of the time when the park was first commissioned. 

Like all birthday bashes, the event is intended to be a celebratory happening, but it’s also a time to reflect on how far the riverfront has come in recent years and the impact the parks and local developments have had on the city. 

“The community and the residents of the City of Cincinnati are extremely dedicated to their parks, and put a lot of effort into ensuring the sustainability of the parks now and in the future,” Allison says. “With the development of different parks—you can see that people are being drawn into those areas. Whether it’s to the restaurants or the residential areas that are either for rent or for sale, or the different businesses that have been able to open around the Banks development—people and visitors make it a beautiful, safe and friendly environment for people to enjoy.” 

Do Good: 

• Attend the Rockin' Birthday Bash.

• Like Cincinnati Parks on Facebook.

Support the parks.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Behringer-Crawford showcases local history

When people travel, museums often become tourist attractions for those who hope to learn more about their surroundings and immerse themselves in the town and culture they temporarily inhabit.  

But museums don’t have to function solely in that capacity, nor should they, says Tiffany Hoppenjans, curator of exhibits and collections at the Behringer-Crawford Museum.

“We don’t appreciate what’s in our own backyard and the rich heritage that’s a part of our lives and our culture,” Hoppenjans says. “So this is the place to come—we’re the biggest museum in Northern Kentucky and are trying to tell Northern Kentucky’s story. Not just who’s important and what they did or what groups settled here, but how we as a community fit into the Greater Ohio Valley and the country and the nation.”  

The museum, which is housed in Devou Park, was donated along with the surrounding land to the city of Covington in 1910. It later became a museum when William Behringer donated his collection of oddities and objects in the 1950s. 

Behringer-Crawford houses a variety of items—everything from a restored 1892 streetcar to a two-headed calf. 

“Many museums have their own oddities," Hoppenjans says. "it’s a throwback to how museums started—as curiosity cabinets. People were collecting weird things from their travels—interesting things they came by.” 

What began as a 5,000-square-foot space now has plenty of room to share—far more than one man’s collection. With four floors and an area that has now quadrupled in size, the museum tells the history of Northern Kentucky, using transportation as a mode to travel through time.

“We’re not a transportation museum,” Hoppenjans says. “But we have some wonderful pieces, and you time-travel. You go from the rails to the rivers to the roadways to the runways, and have fun along the way.” 

Do Good: 

• Visit the museum, and check out the current featured exhibit, which honors Northern Kentucky musicians over the years.

Support the museum by contributing monetarily or by donating artifacts. 

• Become a museum volunteer.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Art Off Pike revitalizes urban arts fair

For this year’s Art Off Pike, a group of about 30 creatives and business professionals will converge to bring artists, musicians and street performers together for the ninth annual urban arts fair. 

“It started as this grassroots arts festival, and what has happened is it’s situated on this precipice of needing a little bit of new life and energy breathed into it,” says Cate Yellig, arts director of the City of Covington. “We’re looking at really having a feast for the senses. We’d love to have street performers and dancers and [make it] a little more multidisciplinary so that we can distinguish it from a lot of your other art fairs.” 

Yellig says about 50 volunteers from the community run the event each year, so the tight-knit ties are particularly unique and inviting. 

“It’s definitely embracing emerging artists and people who live in your urban environment,” Yellig says. “Covington is a city that’s really trying to embrace the arts as economic development. And by showcasing the talent found here locally and providing them the opportunity to sell their work to a crowd where they get 100 percent back for themselves—this is a really great visibility opportunity.” 

Hub +Weber Architects’ Jim Guthrie, who served as last year’s chair and who is on the board this year, says he appreciates the diversity of the art, in addition to its accessibility. 

“Last year, there was an artist who did sketches and doodles of anything you wanted,” Guthrie says. “It made art very important. If you could have a piece of art reflecting anything you wanted, what would it be? I struggled for hours to come up with something worthy.” 

Organizers are currently accepting entries through the Call for Artists, and Yellig says the more varied, the better. 

“We want 2D and 3D, mixed media, crafts—we’d love performers and musicians, and if there’s a glassblower that has a mobile truck of some sort—we really want to kind of have this high-level of quality but also affordability with the arts or with the offerings for each artist,” Yellig says. “But we also want to have a really diverse group of artists as well because that makes it more attractive to people coming to the festival.” 

Do Good: 

Volunteer at this year's festival.

• Submit your work by applying through the Call for Artists.

• Like the event on Facebook, and mark your calendar to attend September 29.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

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