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Vintage travel trailers offer chance to camp in a piece of history


Founded in 2014, Route Fifty Campers offers outdoor enthusiasts a unique twist on your typical camping experience. Owner and operator Debbie Immesoete rents refurbished vintage travel trailers to those who want to camp simply, yet with style.

Immesoete says the idea for Route Fifty came from two places: She lives in a small house and wishes she had an extra bedroom for visiting family. This practical consideration, combined with her attraction to retro style travel trailers, fit well. “I fell in love with these lovely trailers from the past,” she says.

Immesoete knew that her business would have to start small, and after saving money, she purchased her first trailer. To help her understand the business world, Immesoete took two classes at Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures).

The classes not only taught Immesoete the basics of what it means to run a business but connected her to mentors, insurance agents, lawyers and other small business owners.

Route Fifty now boasts a fleet of four vintage trailers. Immesoete says that her campers are easy to use but it still feels like you’re camping.

“People tell me they’re done sleeping on the ground,” she says. “They want something simple but they want a bed. These are perfect for that.”

None of the travel trailers have TVs or hot water, but all of them include air conditioning, board games and colorful interiors. Her travel trailer options include:

  • 14’ 1958 FAN: The compact silver trailer can sleep up to four people and includes an adorable yellow kitchenette. Immesoete says this is the only trailer without a water holding tank.
  • 15’ 1964 Winnebago: With the signature Winnebago ‘W’ streak across the side, four or five people can enjoy a sleep comfortably inside.This is the only Route Fifty travel trailer with a Laveo Dry Toilet — the rest don’t have interior bathroom facilities.
  • 15’ 1969 Aristocrat Lo-Liner: Up to five people can camp in this trailer’s bright blue interior.
  • 13’ 1985 Scamp: What the Scamp may lack in size, it makes up for in character. A family of four will fit comfortably in this blue travel trailer.
Renting the campers is a simple process and can be done either online or by phone. Immesoete says that there’s no time limit on rentals, if the calendar permits. She says campers can take the trailers anywhere except the 1958 FAN, which she prefers to keep local. Otherwise, as long as her customers can safely tow the trailers, they’re free to roam in retro style.

To rent a travel trailer for your next camping trip or for more information about Route Fifty, click here.
 

ArtWorks now accepting applications for 2017 Big Pitch business grant competition


ArtWorks is seeking Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky-based creative business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for its fourth annual Big Pitch, a mentorship program and pitch competition for established creative businesses in the area.

The program, designed for businesses with at least a two-year history and located within 30 miles of the ArtWorks office in downtown Cincinnati, selects eight finalists to participate in a 10-week mentorship program. In addition to valuable exposure, each finalist will receive business coaching and help with next steps for reaching their full potential.

The program culminates in a public pitch event to be held in late September where finalists will have the opportunity to compete for both the Grand Prize ($15,000) and and Audience Choice Grant ($5,000).

“This program gives small businesses the chance to take the next step in reaching their dreams,” says Tamara Harkavy, ArtWorks' CEO. “We thank U.S. Bank for again offering its expertise this year to this important project.”

2016 winners James Avant (OCD Cakes) and Scott Beseler (The Lodge KY) took home $15,000 and $5,000, respectively. Avant launched Bakeology classes in January and has maintained a 60 percent fill rate. Monthly social potlucks have also helped OCD Cakes to draw in community members to the unique and creative nature of both food and the business.

Avant was also awarded the OTR Chamber "Entrepreneur of the Year" Award, and is now building relationships with local community groups to tackle access to food disparities and ways to make the cooking/baking experience more accessible to a larger number of families in our city.

Avant attributes much of his recent success to ArtWorks’ dedication to local businesses.

“Besides the cash prize, each finalist walked away with hours dedicated to the intentional growth and sustainability of their business, a community of entrepreneurs and friends who want to see the other thrive in their respective businesses, a network of mentors who always want to see you succeed and exposure many people and businesses would pay to have access to,” says Avant. “I'm incredibly thankful to ArtWorks and U.S. Bank for creating a platform to give creative entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their business, expanded community outreach and actively contribute to the city's ecosystem.”

Beseler is continuing to work on his project, The Lodge. Located in Dayton, Ky., The Lodge is a one-stop-shop for musicians — there's a recording studio, graphic designer, screenprinter and photographer in-house, and it seems that Beseler is adding other amenities every day.

Applications for the Big Pitch are due by June 23 and require a $25 application fee. Finalists will be notified of selection by July 14 and must accept by July 17.

The 10-week mentorship program runs from July 21-Sept. 28. For more information on the Big Pitch, last year’s winners and more, visit www.artworkscincinnati.org.
 


Patty Brisben Foundation teams up with area nonprofits and doctors to promote women's sexual health


The Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health is working to promote the wellbeing of women in a variety of ways — namely by enhancing available resources and by increasing its focus on education-related events.

PBF recently announced its 2017 grant recipients, The Topsy Foundation and Cancer Support Community. Both nonprofits offer programming aimed at enhancing women’s sexual health.

“The Board of Directors that reviewed the 2017 applications felt these two organizations were using funds to truly make a difference in the lives of women within two focus areas that are tied to our mission — vulvovaginal pain disorders and the intimacy-related sexual dysfunction following cancer treatments,” says Amanda Dixon, PBF’s events and development specialist. “Both recipients have successful programs in place, and are using our support to enhance their offerings and increase their outreach.”

Since PBF’s inception in 2006, the nonprofit has awarded more than $2.5 million to nearly 20 organizations locally and nationally.

For Dixon, it’s important to help women “break the silence,” and outreach and education are two of the first places to start.

Most healthcare providers receive very little training when it comes to sexuality, and even less in the area of female sexual difficulties; while the fact is that nearly half of all women experience sexual difficulties at some point in their lives,” she says.

PBF is exploring new ways it can reach women — for example, an event with UC Health that highlights the ways in which yoga therapy can enhance sexual health.

And next week, PBF is partnering with Somi Javaid M.D. & Associates to host Women’s Sexual Health Night. The event is at 6:30 p.m. on June 14 at 7813 Ted Gregory Lane in Olde Montgomery. Dr. Javaid will speak about the importance of women's sexual health.

“Women’s sexual health impacts everyone,” Dixon says. “We hope that our mission encourages women to talk to their friends, family and physicians in order to find the right information they need to live a healthy and fulfilled life.”
 


Calling all entrepreneurs: Apply now for UpTech's sixth cohort


The Covington-based UpTech entrepreneurial accelerator is now accepting applications for its sixth class of data-driven startups ready to take their ideas to market.

As Greater Cincinnati’s premier tech accelerator, UpTech offers a six-month program that prepares burgeoning tech companies to scale by providing one-on-one weekly advising, free co-working space, dedicated legal and accounting services and valuable early-stage feedback through its extensive investor network.

"We are now entering our sixth year of UpTech and we’re never satisfied with the status quo; we are a startup among startups,” says program director JB Woodruff.

UpTech leadership is implementing two major changes this year: a focus on health tech via a partnership with St. Elizabeth and an overhaul of its investable startup curriculum.

“We believe UpTech is an important part of our community, and St. Elizabeth appreciates collaborations with partners who also want to make our community better,” says St. Elizabeth spokesperson Matt Hollenkamp. “We’re excited to see where this leads. Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology advancements are all keys to the future of healthcare."

Each of the 10 companies that are selected will receive $50,000 in seed funding, as well as access to staff resources for graphic design, entrepreneurial speaker series, mentorship, student intern grant funding and gigabit internet.

UpTech strives to invest in data-driven, tech-enabled startups offering scalable B2B/B2G solutions in large markets. For more information on what UpTech looks for in a team and company, click here.

Entrepreneurs interested in applying to the UpTech program should schedule a one-on-one appointment. Visit uptechideas.org to learn more about UpTech, or click here for scheduling info.
 


TEDxCincinnati returns for its fifth year with a new format and location


TEDxCincinnati returns for the fifth year on June 17, but this time to a newly renovated Memorial Hall. The 2017 Main Stage Event not only features a change of venue, but also a new, innovative program format.

“We had a great turn out for our Thursday night Main Stage Events, but moving to Saturday opens up the event to an entirely new crowd,” says Jami Edelheit, director of TEDxCincinnati. “This year, we’re offering the Main Stage twice, which lets attendees make it part of a whole night out, grabbing dinner before or after the show.”

The 2017 Main Stage Event will feature a mix of local and national speakers and performers who will give their TED Talks at both shows.

“TEDxCincinnati had a big audition night in March and two of those speakers will be on the Main Stage,” says Edelheit. “We had great submissions and it was really hard to narrow them down.”

The first Main Stage Event will run from 5 to 7 p.m., and the second will be from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. In between the two shows, attendees will be able to network with each other and meet the speakers. The complete list of speakers and performers will be revealed next week; however, all previous TEDxCincinnati Main Stage Events have been sold out prior to speakers being announced.

“TEDxCincinnati is an experience,” says Edelheit. “There are some wonderful stories and ideas, but this is not about looking at a list of speaker's names and deciding to attend based on that. TEDx spurs conversations you might not otherwise have. It creates energy, excitement and engagement.”

The theme for the 2017 Main Stage Event, “Connected,” will be addressed by speakers that range from a retired member of the Special Forces, a 13-year-old working on artificial intelligence and Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco.

“This is one of the best themes we’ve had,” Edelheit says. “It’s about being human and all the ways we connect in the world through personal interactions, medicine and technology. And it’s central to our mission to live consciously, be authentic and empower others. We are right there in the word: connecTED.”

This year, TEDxCincinnati is also making an effort to connect with local organizations and businesses through its new Community Partners program.

“We want to feature what others are doing by bringing the community together to share ideas,” Edelheit explains. “TEDx is a neutral platform that builds relationships and connects people. We are always looking for new partners and ideas.”

Tickets for the Main Stage Event are on sale now. A limited number of bundle tickets are available, which includes two tickets for a reduced price of $99. All tickets include admission to the between-show reception.
 


Drone research lab provides wide-ranging solutions for American companies


Drones have officially landed in Cincinnati with the opening of Tata Consultancy Services' first U.S.-based Drones Research Lab at its Seven Hills Park Innovation Center earlier this month.

“In 2008, we established the Innovation Center to provide advanced technology solutions and niche capabilities for our North American customers,” says Greg Asher, TCS Delivery Center Head. “We have 20 labs globally and we wanted to bring the best in innovation to Cincinnati to serve as a showcase and provide pure research on topics that have traction and markets.”

Although drones are just one of the research areas at TCS’s Innovation Center, the multi-disciplinary nature of those devices has applications for a wide range of technologies and industries. The Drones Research Lab will explore IOT, machine learning, computer vision systems and sensor systems to create custom solutions for TCS customers.

“The U.S. market is the best place to launch these innovations,” says Asher. “America is on the forefront of technology and drone regulatory guidance. When solutions hit the market, U.S. companies will lead the charge.”

TCS’s drone research focuses on finding autonomous flight and data collection solutions to existing challenges that businesses face.

“Supply chain problems are an area where drones can help,” Asher says. “To do a physical inventory of a warehouse, a company has to shut down for at least a day. Drones could count automatically as they fly up and down the aisles, improving efficiency, accuracy and speed to market.”

At the Drones Research Lab, TCS staff build prototypes and establish proof of concept that they work. Drones are flown in large indoor spaces that replicate warehouse environments and soon will be tested outdoors on the 223-acre campus by on-staff FAA certified drone pilots.

“Although corporate applications are our first focus, we are building relationships with academic institutions as well,” says Deepak Sharma, Business Unit Head for TCS Cincinnati. “Cincinnati stands out for the local universities already excelling in research.”

Asher adds: “What’s going on in Cincinnati is very exciting for us. We are well connected with the startup community in town. Our job is to see what’s relevant and what we can apply now.”

TCS uses a co-innovation network model framework to collaborate with startups around the world. Innovations and technologies developed by partner startup companies are included in solutions that TCS can commercialize and produce for their customers.

As TCS expands globally, Asher and Sharma see continued growth opportunities for the Cincinnati facility.

“The secret sauce at TCS is our people,” Asher says. “Our rapid growth is one of the reasons our Innovation Center is here. Cincinnati has phenomenal talent attracted here by opportunities and produced by regional universities.”
 


POSSIBLE brings innovative ideas to the advertising industry


In Cincinnati, the presence of business partnerships between large and small businesses is furthering growth and bringing more innovative practices to what used to be a simple advertising build.

Local firm POSSIBLE dares to take on new approaches to more traditional advertising mechanisms. It has more than 1,500 employees around the globe with an innovative vision. Its ideas evolve with the ever-changing digital landscape to provide the full-service advertising experience from strategic planning and e-commerce to web development and analytics.

Among one of its most recent projects, POSSIBLE Cincinnati has taken on an iconic P&G brand for the launch of the ‘Febreze Song Ads.’

The creativity within POSSIBLE’s employee base shines through in these advertisements, which aren’t actually ads at all, but instead, a unique campaign that capitalizes on the growing popularity of streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora by creating 30-second song ads for the air freshener brand.

The team at POSSIBLE worked with music industry icons to write, compose and produce original songs that make Febreze sound more like a band than a brand. The ‘advertisements’ blend in with the ebb and flow of listeners’ lives by using popular genres like rap and R&B.

The first #FebrezeSong video was released on Youtube in Aug. 2015 — to date, it has received over 300,000 hits. (Check out the Febreze commercials and jingles.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the Febreze song ads had been played more than 180 million times, and listeners sought the songs out on YouTube more than 1 million times. The campaign also generated a 56 percent higher tap-through rate compared to other ads on streaming music platforms, making it one of the most successful and innovative P&G campaigns thus far.

POSSIBLE is now being recognized for its hard work and creative thinking. The #FebrezeSong ads received special recognition from the 2017 WEBBY Awards, and the campaign recently won “Judge’s Choice” and gold in two categories at the American Advertising Federation’s District 5 ADDY Awards earlier this year.

In June, the campaign will head to the national ADDY Awards, where it has the chance to be named one of the best advertising campaigns of the year.

Other companies and brands that POSSIBLE has worked extensively with include Coca-Cola, other P&G brands like Pringles, Starwood Hotels, Heinken, the MLS app, the Better Homes and Gardens app, Amazon and many more.

To keep up with more projects and innovative ideas from POSSIBLE, visit its website or Facebook page.

 


Aviatra Accelerators' Flight Night celebrates LAUNCH finalists


Stephanie Tieman of CoreStrong Fitness took home the big prize — $25,000 in low-interest startup loans — at Wednesday’s Aviatra Accelerators pitch event.

The event, which capped off a nine-week entrepreneurial support program, featured live pitches from Tieman and four other female-led startups representing this year’s LAUNCH class.

A crowd of around 150 attendees gathered at New Riff Distillery in Newport for the event, which kicked off with keynote messages from former LAUNCH winner Allison Chaney (who went on to found Bare Knuckle Media), and celebrity mixologist and businessperson Molly Wellmann.

“I knew I had something good that not a lot of people were doing at the time,” says Wellmann, who got her start serving signature craft cocktails at local venues.

Wellmann's Brands now includes an ever-expanding bevy of popular local watering holes. “You all are very fortunate to have a resource like Aviatra, where you can turn for advice and support to make your ideas come to life,” Wellmann told attendees.

In addition to LAUNCH winner Tieman’s female-centric fitness center, this year’s class of LAUNCH startups included:

  • Your Stylist LLC, a Cincinnati-based wardrobe consulting and personal shopping service focused on helping women look and feel their best. Principal: Jackie Neville
  • Allie's Walkabout, an off-leash dog care facility in Northern Kentucky that offers services from boarding and daycare to grooming. Principals: Allie, Audrey and Mary Clegg
  • Black Career Women's Network, a career empowerment and professional development resource for African-American women. Principal: Sherry Sims
  • The Healing Kitchen, purveyor of healthy foods free from gluten, soy and dairy sources from local farms. Principal: Tiffany Wise

Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures) is a nonprofit organization committed to helping female entrepreneurs achieve success and positive community impact. Headquartered in Covington, the organization also maintains offices in Cincinnati and Cleveland, serving women throughout the Tristate area.

Since launching in 2010, Aviatra Accelerators has educated and assisted more than 1,100 female entrepreneurs and awarded more than $850,000 in low-interest startup loans.
 


Studio C helps nonprofits tackle Cincy poverty issues


With just a few weeks remaining, Studio C participants are delving deep into their projects as they work toward finding solutions that empower families to break generational cycles of poverty.

After stepping outside the walls of their respective nonprofits, teams continue to experiment with new approaches that are inspired by design thinking and intended to move communities forward.

The eight participating teams include the following: Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, Children Inc., Churches Active in Northside, Cincinnati Works, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, NKCAC Head Start, Starfire Council and Women Helping Women.

For Design Impact’s Sarah Corlett, co-facilitator for Studio C, the process has been rewarding in that it’s inspired collaboration and new ideas that possess a timely relevance.

Cincinnati Works

Cincinnati Works is collaborating with Villedge — a social enterprise that “provides Cincinnati youth the opportunity to develop their mind, body and spirit within a community context.”

“Cincinnati Works does a lot with the adult population, while Villedge serves young people between the ages of 16-24,” Corlett says. “So they’re bringing youth expertise into their team. They see an opportunity to build life skills in a nontraditional way — through collaboration rather than implementing another program.”

Its goal: to teach young people how to do things Corlett says are typically taken for granted — balancing a checkbook, cooking and shopping, among other things — so that they’re better prepared to budget and set financial priorities as they move forward in life.

CAIN

For MiMi Chamberlin, executive director of CAIN, Studio C has created a space to listen and learn. “It provided tools and a process to help connect as partners and co-creators of services and opportunities. We want to further develop as a neighborhood service and community engagement hub.”

CAIN’s collaborative efforts include gathering together 28 nonprofits that serve Northside — WordPlay and Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Allied Health, for example, are key players — to “start a conversation about being more intentionally unified in our efforts.”

The impetus comes from CAIN’s interviews and research, in which Chamberlin says she discovered the great work nonprofits are doing when it comes to serving Northside’s low-income population, but also the difficulty residents have when it comes to being able to access resources and information.

More specifically, when it concerns basic needs like mental health and employment.

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative is exploring the following question: “How might we enhance our youth services with family-centered partnerships and principles to break generational poverty for youth?”

While the nonprofit’s focus is on youth, with what team member Kayla Ritter Rickles, CYC College & Career Success Manager, says is through an education and social-emotional learning lens, the organization recognizes it can do a better job of working comprehensively with families.

“Our focused efforts are looking at family engagement,” she says. “This includes how we define ‘family’ through the lens of our students and their families, how we engage family through our programs and services and who our partners are or should be in this endeavor.”

Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio

Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio is focusing its efforts on Cincinnati’s immigrant population and how to best support them.

“When I think about what is happening in our world and with the current administration — with Cincinnati just being designated as a sanctuary city,” Corlett says, “I can’t help but recognize that Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio is a strong team. It’s a small team that’s focused on something really relevant.”

This concludes our Studio C coverage. Keep up with the individual nonprofits to see how they continue to change the landscape of Cincinnati by taking strides when it comes to tackling the problem of generational poverty.
 


More Cincinnatians going solar thanks to regional energy assistance program


The benefits of solar home energy are many: It’s better for the planet; it can increase property value; and perhaps most appealingly, it can drastically reduce or even eliminate monthly household electric bills.

Cincinnati currently leads Ohio in solar installations and regional leaders are taking steps to keep it that way, thanks to a partnership between the City of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.

Solarize Cincy, created in response to increasing demand and decreasing installation cost, is helping make solar power a realistic — and affordable — option for families throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Residents who take advantage of the program prior to June 30 can receive assistance with out-of-pocket installation costs.

Through the Solarize Cincy program and tax credits, residents can go solar for around $8,000 and meet most of their electricity needs without a monthly bill. Solar panel production has also evolved; panels have become sleeker, more durable and customizable to unique roofs.

“With competitive pricing and federal tax incentives, this is a golden opportunity for anyone thinking about going solar,” says city sustainability coordinator Ollie Kroner.

The GCEA is a nonprofit development agency that promotes investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the region. The organization provides education, project management and innovative financing solutions, with more than $40 million in projects completed. The GCEA, as part of the National Energy Alliance, receives funding from local foundations and governments, including the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The program was a huge success with residents last year,” says GCEA CEO Jerry Schmits. “This year, we’ve put together an even more compelling program. Through Solarize Cincy, we are looking to keep Cincinnati number one in Ohio for solar installations.”

For more information, visit SolarizeCincy.org or call 513-621-4232, ext. 2.
 


Food exhibit at Behringer-Crawford examines immigrants' impact on local cuisine


The #StartupCincy scene includes hundreds of entrepreneurs working in incubator kitchens or developing technology around food-based businesses. A new exhibit produced by graduate students in Northern Kentucky University’s Public History Program, Culture Bites: Northern Kentucky's Food Traditions at the Behringer-Crawford Museum explores the impact of earlier food entrepreneurs, with a focus on restaurants and businesses established by immigrants.

“We wanted to talk about how immigrants have shaped our food choices and tastes,” says Dr. Brian Hackett, director of the masters in Public History Program. “What we found was that these outsiders quickly added to the Northern Kentucky mix by not only changing our palate but also our neighborhoods. We also wanted to show how outside becomes mainstream. In the past, Germans, Irish and Catholics were unwanted here, but now they are among the leading ethnicities in our community.”

The last half of the 19th century saw waves of arrivals from Europe fleeing famine and political turmoil, including Georg Finke, who moved from Germany to Covington and established Finke’s Goetta in 1876, the oldest family-run goetta producer in Northern Kentucky.

At the turn of the 20th century, political upheaval and two world wars launched a new wave of immigration to the United States, including Nicholas Sarakatsannis, who left Greece for Newport where he founded Dixie Chili.

“From my conversations with the restaurant owners, most came here because they already knew someone in the area,” says Maridith Yawl, BCM curator of collections. “They settled in Northern Kentucky with these people and opened the restaurants to serve them and others.”

Food, its production and consumption, is something all people have in common. Family recipes, conversations over dinner and cozy kitchens are memories and experiences nearly everyone shares. The exhibit offers a historical and contemporary perspective through the lens of food on a hot-button contemporary issue.

“Food and restaurants break down barriers, creating safe places for people to meet and create understanding,” says Laurie Risch, BCM's executive director.

Recent immigrants from China, Iran and Korea have also established themselves in Northern Kentucky and opened restaurants to share and celebrate the cuisine of their homelands. These restaurants include Mike Wong’s Oriental Wok, Jonathan Azami’s House of Grill and Bruce Kim’s Riverside Korean.

“They have contributed to the community, both in terms of serving food and being good stewards and helping out various local charities and events,” Yawl says. “They have each brought pieces of their homelands to the community. They love to serve friends from their own ethnic groups and also enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds and teaching them about their foods and culture.”

Adds Hackett: “We forget that we are all immigrants, and that immigrants shaped what we are now. Can you imagine Northern Kentucky without Germans or Catholics?”

The exhibit, which runs through Aug. 31, features interviews with these food entrepreneurs or their descendants, as well as artifacts from their businesses, political cartoons, vintage kitchen equipment and accessories and recipes for visitors to take home.

For more information, visit bcmuseum.org.
 


NKY Innovation Network to host writers' networking event May 11


Calling all visionaries, creatives and “writerpreneurs:” got a great idea? Come share it (and discover a few more) at NKY Innovation Network’s IdeaFestival on May 11.

The event will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at KY Innovation Network’s headquarters in downtown Covington. Keynote speakers include Roebling Point Books & Coffee founder Richard Hunt and Jack Heffron, award-winning magazine columnist and author of The Writer’s Idea Book.

Participants will be able to join breakout sessions that address five areas of writing: regional, fiction, memoir, poetry and travel/diversity. The event will provide an opportunity for one-of-a-kind networking with members of the local literary community, as well as developers and lenders committed to supporting tomorrow’s creative entrepreneurs.

Attendance is free, but registration is required. The event is sponsored by the U.S. Bank Foundation, with Renaissance Covington and Roebling Point Books & Coffee serving as partners.

Covington’s chapter is part of the 12-office KY Innovation Network. NKY Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED) oversees the group’s mission of building a healthy and robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Kentucky.

NKY Innovation is located in the one-block area adjacent to Mother of God Church that is known as Covington’s “Innovation Alley” — the cradle of a burgeoning innovation corridor that is home to Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures), UpTech, bioLOGIC, Braxton Brewing and TiER1 Performance Solutions.

“We have a local network that is teeming with creativity and connectivity,” says NKY Innovation Network director Casey Barach. “We are beyond excited to host local writerpreneurs in our space in Innovation Alley for a night of discussion, debate and discovery.”

IdeaFestival was founded in 2000 with the goal of bringing together visionaries and innovators in the Louisville area. Since then, the group has expanded to host IdeaFestival events throughout Kentucky.

To learn more or to register for IdeaFestival on May 11, click here or call 859-292-7780.
 


An inside look at the real-world problems Studio C teams are trying to solve


Studio C has been underway for the past several weeks, as teams — now narrowed down to eight nonprofits — have conducted research and interviews to learn more about problematic issues related to poverty among the populations they serve.

They’ve also engaged in private studio time, and this past Thursday, the teams began brainstorming potential solutions as they continue to engage in design thinking and creative ideas that lead to change.

The eight remaining teams are as follows: Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, Children Inc.Churches Active in Northside, Cincinnati WorksCincinnati Youth Collaborative, NKCAC Head Start, Starfire Council, Women Helping Women.

Starfire continues to explore ways of creating an inclusive artist collective in Lower Price Hill, complete with an Artist in Residence program at Community Matters.

The NKCAC Head Start is exploring the question of “How might we build a culture of care for early childhood teachers to retain and attract professionals?”

According to Design Impact’s Sarah Corlett, co-facilitator for Studio C: “The NKCAC Head Start interviewed teachers within its own programs and found that they’re stressed — wages are too low.”

While preschool teachers love their students and love teaching, there are changes, Corlett says, that NKCAC recognizes it could explore in order to retain these teachers who make such an impact on young children.

Children Inc. is exploring the question, “How might we provide families with knowledge of, and access to, resources that can move families out of poverty?”; Women Helping Women hopes to develop a project that will prevent homelessness as a result of domestic violence.

“I want to help facilitate relationships between housing agencies or landlords and their tenants who are survivors of domestic violence so that we can keep people off the streets and in their homes,” says Cara Caudill, a crisis intervention specialist at Women Helping Women.

According to Corlett, Women Helping Women is a strong team. “When you think about Women Helping Women, you think about domestic violence survivors. But they’re looking at it from another person’s role.”

Teams will begin testing their most viable solutions in the weeks to come.

“We’re getting them to think outside of the box,” Corlett says. “And from there, we’ll move forward with our favorite idea. With 4-5 weeks left, they’ll be moving toward a reality in a quick, rapid way.”

This week, we looked at four of the eight participating teams; we will conclude our Studio C coverage in next week's edition.
 


Drawnversation helps people and businesses communicate without words


MORTAR graduate Brandon Black doesn’t believe we have to communicate with words.

“Words are a useful tool but they’re not the only tool,” says Black, who last year was awarded one of two prestigious Haile Fellowships by People’s Liberty. “Drawnversation means to have conversations through images and pictures.”

Drawnversation provides graphic facilitation and graphic recording for people and businesses looking for new ways to communicate ideas. Black defined graphic facilitation as utilizing drawn imagery and words to enhance a process or communicate an idea, so that people are able to see the ideas in front of them. Graphic recording is the art of capturing communication in a visual format.

By creating the most relevant visual representation of the presented concepts, Black believes everyone can get on the same page.

“Drawnversation is a way of thinking and doing things differently and processing information and creating an equal playing field for people,” says Black. “Even when people use the same words or terms, those words can still be interpreted differently by everyone in the room.”

Using pastels, markers and a giant sheet of paper, Black records and facilitates meetings and presentations for people and organizations around the city.

Interact for Health uses Drawnversation’s unique approach to communication to visually capture their meetings. Program manager Jaime Love says Black’s graphics not only captures the content of the meetings but shows the dynamic of the conversation.

“People are just amazed at what he’s able to capture in the picture,” she says.

Love says there are a variety of different uses for Black’s drawings. Interact for Health displays Black’s drawings in their lobby as a way to encourage and continue conversations around important topics.

“The graphics stand out versus reading something on paper,” says Love. “Brandon does such an excellent job.”

Black hopes graphic recording and facilitation will become a more accepted form of communication.

“If we continue to focus on the model of printed word as the only way to gauge intelligence, we are missing out on a lot of great ideas and brilliant minds.”
 


Chamber's new program to help increase cultural awareness and diversity in region


The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber launches a new program this week called Building Cultural Competence for leaders and influencers from around the region.

“When we did research on overall inclusion in our community for our Diverse by Design report, a key insight was that increasing the cultural competence of our community could be a competitive advantage,” says Mary Stagaman, senior inclusion advisor for the Chamber. “As markets and companies become more multicultural and more global, the ability to work across many identities and cultures goes from 'nice to have' to essential.”

Although some corporate and government entities offer implicit bias training or other cultural awareness classes, the Chamber was starting from scratch in building this initiative. It is unique in that it operates at a community-wide level.

“We worked with a thoughtful group of corporate and nonprofit volunteers to build a prototype program, which is what we are launching May 9,” says Stagaman. “The time seems precisely right, as the need to successfully and respectfully bridge differences in our community and our country has seldom been greater. Our long-term goal is to build a community of leaders who can effectively interact with our changing and challenging world and to have leaders who actively seek to engage and influence others to do the same.”

There is an application process and fee for the program, which will be led by nationally recognized diversity and inclusion experts and cover subjects like the neuroscience of bias, emotional intelligence, building rapport across cultures, conflict resolution and adaptive communication. Participants will also take the Intercultural Development Inventory and receive a one-on-one coaching session.

When the program ends in July, each participant will have developed an individual action plan to take back to their organization, business or community.

“The key strategy is to recruit leaders into the program,” Stagaman says. “While we have certainly attracted people in prominent positions in our region, we also have a wide range of individuals who have strong networks in unique sectors of our community. We believe that by raising their awareness around cultural competence, and giving them tools to be more effective, they will in turn influence others in their networks, creating a magnifying effect.”

The Chamber sought applicants from across the region and different sectors of the community; the inaugural class will begin at full capacity with 30 participants.

“We have a very diverse group with representatives from large corporations, large and small nonprofits, working media, law and law enforcement, secondary and higher education, the startup community, healthcare, real estate and more,” Stagaman says. “The age range of participants is from 26-70, suggesting that we can increase our cultural competence at any stage of life or career."

Upon completion of the pilot program, the Chamber will evaluate the results and determine how to move forward with future iterations of the program.

“The great thing about cultural competence is that it can be learned —it's not an innate skill that we are born with," Stagaman says. "Increased cultural competence can help us retain the talent we need to continue to attract jobs. It can ensure that people in our community, no matter what their country of origin, color, faith and so on, receive appropriate medical care. And it can help us build a workforce that reflects the changing demographics of our country as we reduce bias and increase welcoming people who represent different cultures and identities.”
 

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