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Parks + Greenspace : For Good

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Walk With Family 5K to support Interfaith Hospitality Network's work with homeless families

Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati is hosting its first-ever fundraising walk, Walk With Family 5K, on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Eden Park.

IHNGC started out as an emergency shelter and has been helping the homeless community since 1991. Its day center serves as a resource for families to use as a storage space if they are between homes, a place use the computer lab or do laundry or to just relax.

The fundraising walk will help IHGNC continue to help the homeless community. The organization saw a 30 percent increase in families served this year versus last year, says Development Assistant Kamal Kimball.

IHNGC’s model is unique, as it partners with local congregations of various faiths, including Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish, Unitarian, Muslim, etc. Interfaith Hospitality Networks in Ohio are located in Lebanon, Xenia, Columbus and Cleveland.

A bus takes clients from the center to the congregations, where they stay overnight. IHGNC residents usually come to the center for up to 30 days, depending on their situation, and sometimes it can take months for families to get themselves back on their feet.

“We work with them on what it will take to get their life back on track,” Kimball says. “We really hope to bring more attention to the issue of homelessness.”

Do Good:

Register for the Walk With Family 5K, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, with on-site registration opening at 9 a.m. Race begins and ends at Seasongood Pavilion near the Cincinnati Art Museum. Pre-registration is $25, and day-of registration is $35.

• Learn more about Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati on its website.

Donate your time to help support IHGNC’s mission.

OTR children and parents petition to "Keep Our Courts"

A public park sits at the corner of Main and Schiller streets across from Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine, with a few basketball courts where neighborhood children play after school and a nonprofit-operated community eco-garden that offers organic produce. Behind and surrounding the courts and garden are affordable apartment buildings owned by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH).
The area has become a space of interest for Northpointe Group, which wants to buy the land and establish Rothenberg Row, a group of 21 single-family homes costing between $400,000 and $600,000 each. This new construction would mean the destruction of the basketball courts, housing developments and half the community garden.
Northpointe’s proposal has struck a chord with parents in the community, raising concerns for the rapidly changing neighborhood and their children who are growing up in it.
In collaboration with Children's Creative Corner at OTRCH, Peaslee Neighborhood Center and the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, residents have written a petition asking Northpointe for three things: keep the basketball courts in place for public use, leave the eco-garden remains untouched and cater plans for residential development to affordable housing that meets the needs of the community.
“We can’t afford to sacrifice access to safe play, healthy foods, green community space and enrichment opportunities for more private profit,” a group letter to Cincinnati City Council and Cincinnati Recreation Commission says. “Let’s instead commit our efforts to working toward good neighbor development with community need at heart!’”
More than 400 supporters have signed the petition, but it’s not just the adults who are rallying for the area.
Recently, some of the neighborhood kids silently dribbled basketballs in front of the Over-the-Rhine Community Council in protest of the proposal. They started circulating petition postcards at the park and created a stop-motion animation video to show what they value about their community. They even created “Keep Our Courts” campaign buttons at the library’s Maker Space.
Those same kids joined their parents at the Neighborhoods Committee meeting at City Hall this week, showing their unified support of protecting the park where they play.
Do Good:

• “Like” Keep Our Courts on Facebook to stay up to date on current events.  

Sign the petition to protect the basketball courts and eco-garden.

• Watch the YouTube video the kids made to show what they value about their community.

Athletes, outdoor enthusiasts excited for annual Great Ohio River Swim (moved to Oct. 10)

UPDATE: The event, originally scheduled for Sept. 27, has been moved back to Oct. 10 at the same time and locations. A statement on the event website says: The algae is not clearing from the Ohio River as fast as expected. With no rain forecast and algae as far upriver as Huntington, it is hard to predict if it will clear by September 27. Rather than make a last minute call, the Great Ohio River Swim has elected to proactively postpone the swim to Saturday, October 10.

Over the past seven years more than 850 people — as young as 10 and as experienced as 85 — have completed the Great Ohio River Swim. Oct. 10 marks the eighth annual year for the event, and it’s expected to be a record-breaking year for the timed 900-meter venture across the Ohio and back.
"We are anticipating record participation this year by area high school, college and club swim teams," says Jonathan Grinder, President and CEO of Tuscon Racing Inc., which manages the event. "It’s a great way to highlight Greater Cincinnati's national reputation as a center of excellence for competitive swimming."
While the River Swim does draw participation from triathletes and conditioned swimmers, it’s also open to anyone who can swim and wants to engage in a unique and fun opportunity to take advantage of the last remaining weeks of warm weather.
Proceeds benefit Green Umbrella, a nonprofit alliance that promotes environmental sustainability in our region. Specifically, the Great Ohio River Swim will benefit the nonprofit’s Meet Me Outdoors website, which highlights recreational outings around town.

Event organizers are monitoring the recent "algae bloom" reports about the Ohio River that would make conditions unsafe to swim but say on the event website that "the weather has changed dramatically with cooler temperatures and recent rain, making the likelihood of a health threatening algae bloom increasingly remote. Nevertheless, the Great Ohio River Swim is committed to swimmer safety. We are working closely with ORSANCO and the Cincinnati Health Department to monitor all conditions that might affect swimmer safety."

"This is a fun and safe opportunity for people of all ages to swim across the Ohio," says Brewster Rhoads, Swim Chair and volunteer with Green Umbrella. "Swimmers are invariably impressed with the cleanliness and beauty of the Ohio, and they become more committed to protecting it." 

Do Good: 

Register for the Great Ohio River Swim, which takes place Sunday, Oct. 10 at 8:15 a.m., beginning and ending at the Serpentine Wall/Public Landing in downtown Cincinnati.

• Check out Meet Me Outdoors and find an event to attend with your friends or families. 

• If you're interested in supporting Green Umbrella, find out how you can get involved.

Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic returns with another star-studded collection of chefs

Washington Park becomes one big kitchen for the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic throughout the weekend of Sept. 11-13, the event's second year of hosting the best food and beverage flavors in the Midwest. Locals can enjoy culinary demonstrations, chef competitions and wine, beer and spirit tastings right on the park's event lawn across from Music Hall.

Not only will you be able to sample incredible food and drink, but CF+WC is partnering with Findlay Market and Freestore FoodBank to provide more than 14,000 meals to locals in need.

Cincinnati was recently called out as the next big food city in the U.S. by Keith Pandolfi, a Cincinnati native and freelance writer for Saveur magazine. Pandolfi — who served as a judge last year for CF+WC's Pork Chopped competition — shined a light on the restaurant scene in Cincinnati and the Midwest with good reason.

“This is the kind of thing we want to stand for,” says Courtney Tsitouris, CF+WC co-founder. “Never again and never before have you seen this particular collection of talent together. We've pulled people from the Midwest and all over the country.”

Do Good:

Register for tickets to the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic Sept. 11-13 at Washington Park. Ticket packages are available for each day as well as for the full weekend.

• Lend a hand and volunteer your time for the weekend.

• Check out the full list of this year’s participating culinary talent.

Businesses, residents, community groups transform vacant Walnut Hills lot into community garden

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful kicked off a transformative project last week to turn a vacant Walnut Hills lot into a community garden, thanks to help from more than 20 Lowe’s Heroes and volunteers from the Health & Wellness Walnut Hills initiative.
The endeavor includes plans for raised vegetable beds, an art and journaling area and a walking meditation pathway and will be completed in three to four weeks, with measures in place to ensure sustainability for years to come.
“We are continuing to build a strong team of dedicated neighborhood volunteers,” says Gary Dangel, community activist and co-founder of Elevate Walnut Hills. “With the ongoing support of local businesses and organizations such as Lowe’s and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, we will create a fun, interactive place that encourages kids to explore and discover the wonders of nature.”
Dangel led the creative process for the garden’s design on Park Avenue, just one project in the neighborhood’s push for community health and wellness.

Longtime residents like Cecil Evans, who has lived in Walnut Hills for nearly 40 years, are excited to witness the transformation and to put the renovated space to use.
“It’s been a nuisance. I can’t understand why people litter the Earth,” Evans says. “I lived off a farm most of my life and plan to grow vegetables here next year.”

Do Good:

• Support Keep Cincinnati Beautiful by donating.

• Learn about ways you can get involved with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful by volunteering.

• Join Keep Cincinnati Beautiful as the organization launches a crowdfunding campaign for Over-the-Rhine's Grant Park at the Christian Moerlein Brewery Taproom 5-7 p.m. Aug. 19.

Bluegrass for Babies benefit concert returns to Sawyer Point

Enjoy live bluegrass music and favorite local foods Sept. 19 at Bluegrass for Babies, an annual concert that benefits Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The family-friendly event is presented by the Healthy Roots Foundation as a fundraiser for infant and child health in the community.

Nearly $130,000 has been raised since the first Bluegrass for Babies concert in 2009, says Anne Schneider, founder of Healthy Roots.

“This year we're going to support new research through the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth,” Schneider says. “We really want to take a new look at environment impact on prenatal care and what that looks like, what the influences are.”

Healthy Roots was established in 2009 by Anne and her husband when their youngest son, Nicholas, was born with a life-threatening birth defect. The organization aims to provide tools and resources to parents and help educate them on how to raise healthy children.

The family-friendly bluegrass concert will feature craft beer; food by Green BEAN Delivery, Eli’s Barbeque, Mazunte and Dewey’s Pizza; and live bluegrass music by Cabinet, Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Hickory Robot and Jennifer Ellis Music. There will also be interactive games and activities for children.

Adults tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Children 12 and younger are admitted for free.
Do Good:

Purchase tickets online to Babies for Bluegrass 3-9 p.m. Sept. 19 at Sawyer Point downtown.

Donate to Healthy Roots Foundation.

• Healthy Roots is 100 percent volunteer based, so donate your time as a volunteer

Rescheduled Paddlefest hosts three float events and downtown festival

The 14th annual Ohio River Paddlefest, whose original June dates were swamped by heavy rain and high river levels, is set for Aug. 2. Online pre-registration is closed, but on-site registration is available both Aug. 1 and 2.
According to Brewster Rhoads, Paddlefest Chair and former executive director of Green Umbrella — sponsor of the event — the thrill kayakers will experience on Aug. 2 is the same one that will prompt future generations of people to become invested in the Ohio River and all it has to offer as a natural resource.
“Sitting just inches above the water line in a canoe or kayak lets one feel the power of the Ohio as it conveys rainfall from seven upriver states to the Gulf of Mexico,” he says. “If you close your eyes, you can just imagine how Lewis and Clark felt as they made their way downriver in 1803.”

Paddlefest offers three opportunities to get in the water Aug. 2: a five-mile stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race, an 11-mile canoe and kayak race and the 8.2-mile paddle. The races begin at 7:30 a.m., followed by the paddle start. All boats put in at Coney Island and finish at the Public Landing downtown. Shuttle buses will take participants from downtown to Coney Island before the events (6-8 a.m.) and after (10 a.m.-1:45 p.m.).

The Gold Star Chili Finish Line Festival at Yeatman’s Cove will run 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., featuring live music, racer awards, Global Water Dancers, food, beer and exhibitors.
Kayaking between the downtown bridges with the Cincinnati skyline as a backdrop will undoubtedly be a unique experience and a scene to be remembered. It’s the largest paddling event in the country and one Rhoads says should not be missed.
“It is hard to love something you don't know. That's why Paddlefest is so effective in changing attitudes about the Ohio,” Rhoads says. “By giving 2,000 adults and children each year an opportunity to get an up-close and personal experience with the beauty and majesty of the Ohio, Paddlefest is helping to grow the next generation of environmental stewards.” 

Do Good: 

• Interested in paddling the Ohio? Register on-site at Coney Island Saturday, Aug. 1 (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) or Sunday, Aug. 2 (starting at 6:30 a.m.). Check here for prices and details.

• If you're feeling competitive, join one of the two races Aug. 2.

• Become an environmental steward by getting involved with Green Umbrella and its other initiatives year-round.

Metro offers free Fan Shuttle in downtown, OTR to connect All Star Game weekend activities

If you’re worried about downtown traffic and parking during All Star Game weekend, look no further than Metro, which is offering free shuttle service for related festivities.
The Metro Fan Shuttle will run 7-10 p.m. Friday, July 10; 12-10 p.m. Saturday, July 11; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, July 12; and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. as well as 6-9 p.m. Monday, July 13. Buses will run a loop from Fountain Square to Government Square to Duke Energy Convention Center to Washington Park every 10-12 minutes.
“Metro is running the free Fan Shuttle as a courtesy to the community to help ease traffic congestion and allow easier access for visitors and residents to enjoy the dozens of events and activities scheduled during All Star weekend in downtown and Over-the-Rhine,” says Brandy Jones, Metro’s public relations manager.
According to Jones, an estimated 200,000 visitors are expected in town during the weekend, so there’s no better time to leave your car behind. Metro offers 21 different Park & Ride locations to bring you downtown, in addition to 50 routes throughout the region.
“It's a great way to introduce new riders to our service and remind the community just how easy and convenient it is to take Metro every day,” Jones says. “And once they're in town, the free Metro Fan Shuttle allows riders to hop on and off along the route connecting them to dozens of events at the Duke Energy Center, Fountain Square and Washington Park.” 

The Duke Energy Center is hosting the T-Mobile All Star FanFest Friday-Tuesday, and there are free events every day at Fountain Square and Washington Park. Soapbox has the full schedule of All Star Game events and festivities here.

Do Good: 

• Hop aboard Metro's Fan Shuttle. Hours of operation and details regarding pick-up and drop-off sites can be found here.

• Take part in All Star Game festivities, and attend free events around town.

• New rider? Learn everything you need to know about riding Metro here.

OTR Foundation launches crowdfunding campaign to support Rothenberg rooftop garden

The Over-the-Rhine Foundation kicks off its crowdfunding campaign for the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden with a happy hour at Goodfellas Pizzeria on Main Street Wednesday, May 20.
Tickets for the event are $20, include a slice of pizza and a beer and benefit the garden project, which is in need of everything from workstations and potting benches students can use during garden classes to mixing bowls and salad spinners for lessons on nutrition and food sources.
“The Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden is a transformational project that builds community by connecting students in OTR to the values of gardening in their school environment,” says Kevin Pape, president of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. “The Foundation proudly supports Rothenberg’s students and the realization of the rooftop garden project.”
And it has done so loyally, raising more than $300,000 for the garden to date.
Nearly 450 students at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy engaged in a multitude of unique, hands-on learning opportunities afforded by the garden during the 2014-15 school year, but needs are ongoing.
Even if you’re unable to support the launch of the crowdfunding campaign this week, you can contribute online to help the OTR Foundation and the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden reach its $5,000 goal.
For Bryna Bass, rooftop garden program manager, it’s a goal that will allow students the opportunity to further their application of gardening to real-world scenarios.
“They learn gardening, but that’s not the mission,” Bass says. “They get to garden — that’s icing on the cake — but it’s deepening their math skills, deepening their science skills, English, language arts, literacy, social studies. We get to use it in just about any curriculum.” 

Do Good: 

Contribute to the crowdfunding campaign and attend the May 20 happy hour launch.

• Connect with the Rooftop School Garden on Facebook.

• Share your time and materials as a volunteer. Contact Bryna Bass if you're available to help. 

Starfire members explore passions, engage with community

For Starfire members like Matt Weisshaar, working on a community project is an important responsibility prompted by passion and accompanied by the development of leadership skills and relationship building.
Starfire is focused on decreasing the social isolation felt by people with disabilities. The Madisonville-based nonprofit is a conduit to relationships for those with disabilities, family members and community residents looking to get involved, and its approach is “one family, one person at a time,” says Rachel Almendinger, director of donor relations.

“We have a brainstorming night for each member to discuss what they’re interested in, and we get people there that are interested in the same thing to help us connect, network and ideate,” she says. “Then they start a project, so Starfire facilitates it but it’s really about Matt.”
Weisshaar, whom Almendinger says “loves science, loves nature, loves animals,” is currently working with Cincinnati Nature Center to put together a Citizen’s Science Day, when community members will join together to bond over bird-watching and compete in a nature-related activity.
“Our hope with that is Matt will be able to find some more long-term friends and create deeper relationships, not based on his disability but based on his interests and passions,” Almendinger says.
It’s work like this that Starfire will showcase at its Annual Celebration, which for the first time will comprise not only the Evening Celebration but also a Breakfast Celebration for business professionals unable to attend the nighttime happenings.
“At first it was a way to celebrate members, but people started loving the stories so much that more and more started coming who wanted to live a more inclusive life,” Almendinger says. “It’s meant to inspire that. Our goal is to help people make friends.” 

Do Good: 

• Kick off the work day by supporting Starfire and purchasing seats for the Breakfast Celebration, June 24 at 7:30 a.m. at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley.

• Celebrate the work and passions of Starfire members at the Evening Celebration June 24 at 6:30 p.m., also at the 20th Century Theater. This event is free and open to the public.

Contact Starfire if you're interested in partnering with the organization. Members would love to visit your business and explore potential opportunities and career paths. 

Derby party to benefit Special Olympics equestrian training program

Gather your fancy clothes, find your big hat and prepare your palette for a Kentucky Hot Brown and, of course, some Mint Juleps.
Derby Day is upon us, and Parkers Blue Ash Tavern is hosting a party for the second year to benefit the Winton Woods Riding Center (WWRC) Special Olympics Hamilton County equestrian training program.

Admission to the party is just $10 and includes finger foods and derby staples like pimento cheese and cucumber sandwiches, specially-priced Mint Juleps in commemorative Derby glasses and a variety of prize opportunities. The grand prize, a limited edition framed print commemorating the 141st Kentucky Derby (pictured above), will be awarded at 7 p.m.
Last year’s event generated about $1,000 for the Special Olympics Equestrian Team, which Rachel Neumann, manager of the WWRC, says enabled the team to pay its entry fees for both the Ohio and Kentucky State Equestrian Competitions.
Neumann, who also coaches six of the WWRC’s Special Olympics Equestrian competitors, says the program instills confidence and independence in its riders.
“Some of my athletes have been training with us for 10-plus years, and we’ve watched them grow up and learn independence on horseback,” she says. “One of my riders rode for five years without being able to handle without his dad being more than 10 feet away at any time, because of his anxiety. He is now riding independently at our highest level of competition. Such an achievement!”
Neumann’s goal, however, is to see that sort of impact in more riders. But more volunteers are required for that to occur.
“Our therapeutic riding program (Special Riders’ Program), which feeds into our Special Olympics program, has a waiting list several years long,” Neumann says. “We are only limited by the number of volunteers willing to be trained and make a weekly commitment. New volunteers would allow us to bring new riders into the program who have been waiting three, four, five, sometimes six years.” 

Do Good: 

Contact the Winton Woods Riding Center if you're interested in volunteering. No experience required. 

• Attend the Kentucky Derby Party at Parkers Blue Ash Tavern 3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Tickets must be purchased in person, either in advance or on the day of the event. The Kentucky Derby itself is run at 6:24 p.m.

Support the WWRC by donating to the Great Parks Foundation. 

Pedaling 4 Paddy to generate support, awareness for Wasson Way

Pedaling 4 Paddy has become an annual tradition since it kicked off in 2011 when bike enthusiast Maggie Brennan told a group of friends they should initiate a community ride in March to celebrate community, cycling and one of her favorite holidays,  St. Patrick’s Day.
“I wanted to keep it grassroots,” Brennan says. “Ride your bike and have drinks and food after.”

The 2015 event happens Saturday, March 21, starting at Fifty West Brewing Company and offers trail options for cyclists and non-cyclists alike — hop-on and hop-off options for the leisurely in addition to a 52-mile trek to Morrow and back for the more avid riders.
The event is free, though participants are encouraged to donate $20 to benefit Wasson Way, a project Brennan learned about just prior to the inaugural Pedaling 4 Paddy.
“I had just learned of their volunteer efforts to build a bike trail connecting several neighborhoods in the city,” Brennan says “It’s a 7.6-mile trail starting at Victory Parkway near Walnut Hills High School and eventually connecting to the Little Miami Bike Trail in Mariemont and is going to be a huge asset for the community — especially students from Xavier, UC, Withrow and Walnut Hills.”
A dedicated team of volunteers, like Brennan, hope to take their vision for Wasson Way and make it a reality, but they need support to make it happen.
“We're looking forward to the day when we can have Pedaling 4 Paddy on the Wasson Way,” Brennan says. “It’s a fun event, bringing together cyclists and non-cyclists to raise money for it.”  

Do Good:

• Learn about how you can get involved with Wasson Way.

• Support Wasson Way by donating.

• Join the fun by participating in Pedaling 4 Paddy on Saturday, March 21.

• Read about Wasson Way as one of Soapbox's top 10 transportation stories to follow in 2015.

Devou Park to gain 2,700 trees in reforestation effort

The Northern Kentucky Urban & Community Forestry Council’s annual Reforest Northern Kentucky program seeks volunteers who can assist in planting about 2,700 native tree seedlings across 2.8 acres of land in Covington’s Devou Park.

Over the past eight years, more than 2,000 volunteers have joined together to cover 30 acres worth of previously mowed property in an effort to restore Kentucky’s native woodlands.

According to Tara Sturgill, Reforest NKY secretary and chair of public relations subcommittee, the greatest impact of the event — aside from the planting of thousands of native trees — is the knowledge gained by those dedicating their time. 

“Volunteers learn proper planting of a tree, the multiple benefits to our communities of healthy native forests, selecting the most appropriate tree species for a specific location, and current impacts effecting our native forests,” Sturgill says. “And (they also gain) a general appreciation and yearning to be a steward of our natural woodland areas.”

In addition to planting trees at the event itself, 900 “take home” seedlings will be distributed to volunteers who can then apply their knowledge following the morning’s activity. 

For Sturgill, it’s important to cultivate “a spirit of stewardship for our native forests,” as the benefits of reforestation stretch far into the future. 

“Native woodlands provide improved air quality, storm water reduction, a habitat for various types of wildlife, increased property value, and natural spaces for education and recreation,” Sturgill says. “Reforestation is more than just planting trees and recreating a natural forested landscape. The value added by a woodland has advantages that cannot be measured by monetary means to our communities, and to us as individuals." 

Do Good: 

•    Register for Reforest Northern Kentucky on Saturday, March 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

•    Plant a tree at home or in your community and empower yourself with the knowledge of proper planting and care of your selected tree.

•    Support organizations and businesses that recognize the importance and value of trees.

Urban mushroom farming project launches on Kickstarter

For Alan Susarret, owner and operator of Probasco Farm on West McMicken Avenue, urban farming is officially underway. He's been growing oyster mushrooms for two urban farmers markets and some local restaurants for the past couple of years, and now he’s ready to expand production.
Susarret is passionate about his work and deeply rooted in sharing his passions with the community. In October he provided a free workshop at the Village Green Foundation in Northside, and in April he’ll share his knowledge about growing mushrooms on straw at Garden Station in Dayton.
He’s now asking for the community’s help in an effort to jumpstart his endeavor. Susarret recently launched his urban agriculture project on Kickstarter, and in just nine days he reached his $719 goal — yet the project is ongoing, as costs from farming continuously add up.
“A promo I’m doing for the Kickstarter will involve donating mushrooms to Cincinnati Food Not Bombs,” Susarret says. “They get together, cook vegan dishes and share the food at Piatt Park on Saturday afternoons.”
Susarret has volunteered with the organization in years past and says the mushrooms — which differ from conventional farmed mushrooms in that they're both preservative- and pesticide-free — will most likely be used in a casserole or stir-fry dish for sharing.
“The greatest part about the sharing, being across the street from the downtown library, is we'll get a few suits, some down-and-out folks that may or may not know to look for us, and everyone in between,” Susarret says. “Lots of people stop to ask, ‘What is this?’ We respond, and regardless of class or ethnic origin some will turn up their nose and keep walking, while others will stop for food and/or conversation.

“That's the ultimate goal, community building, and providing a safe public space for meaningful interaction.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the promos and consider pledging to support Susarret's urban agriculture project.

•    Connect with Probasco Farm on Facebook. Beginning Feb. 4, if you "share" the project an added basket will be donated. 

•    If you're interested in volunteering with or learning more about Cincinnati Food Not Bombs, contact the organization. 

DAAP students lead hands-on effort to fix vacant lots

Students from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning have spent the past two years working with the City of Cincinnati, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Building Value to propose sustainable ideas to neighborhoods about what can be done with vacant lots.
“It’s a major land use issue, it’s a planning issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s a social issue, it’s a cultural issue,” says Virginia Russell, facilitator of the Vacant Lots: Occupied project at DAAP.
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful approached Russell, director of DAAP's horticulture program, to come up with a plant-based response as opposed to “turf and mowing.”
So Russell recruited Ryan Geismar, adjunct professor and landscape architect with Human Nature Inc., to get students together for a charrette — an intensive class that met for an entire weekend — and periodically reconvened throughout the course to meet with community stakeholders to discuss ideas.
“It was an academic way to get students of architecture, planning and horticulture together to imagine what those lots could be,” Russell says. “Because they can’t all be community gardens, they can’t all be pop up micro pubs, they can’t all be this one cool thing.”
In the first iteration of the class, DAAP students created the pattern book Vacant Lots: Occupied, which is meant to serve as a resource for neighborhoods when determining what they can or should do with their newly deconstructed properties.
“Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is working with citizens groups to say, ‘Here’s the pattern book. This is what we recommend that you do,’” Russell says. “So you’re thinking about doing a community garden? Here are some things you need to think about before you do that move. You want to do a pop up cinema? Here are the patterns you need to view.”
The project is a win-win for all parties involved, and the students are certainly benefitting. The horticulture capstone class received 2014 Honor Awards — the highest honors — for their work from both the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Cincinnati Design Awards.
“Any time the students get to work directly with the people who benefit from their work, it’s all good,” Russell says. “The students really enjoy the work, and we had two students who were born and raised in Price Hill [the neighborhood served in this fall’s capstone course], so that was really helpful. But we’ve had students from all over the world working on these projects — three students from France in the fall class — and they just had this image of what they see on the news, the bombed out neighborhoods like Detroit and things like that, so they learned a lot about the truth of the vacant lot problem.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the work Keep Cincinnati Beautiful does by donating.

•    Do your part in keeping Cincinnati beautiful by volunteering.

•    Connect with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful on Facebook.
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