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Eight must-follow Instagram accounts that rule the Queen City

As you read this, phones are hovering over heads at a concert and poached eggs are dripping with hollandaise; people are posing in front of bathroom mirrors and sweeping the vista for that perfect panorama of Eden Park. Instagram unites our city shot-by-shot, uncovering the particulars through the eyes of those who live here. As you discover #cincinnati on Instagram, these accounts might help illuminate your community in unexpected ways.



Cincinnatians have known for a long time that our zoo is one of our city’s best attractions. However, Fiona's saga has caused the @cincinnatizoo's social media to explode. The world can’t seem to get enough of the littlest hippo that made it despite all the odds.



With creative perspectives and subjects, professional photographer David Schmidt looks at the Queen City in a fresh, exciting way. With regular features like #RoeblingWednesday, @cincygram captures iconic structures as well as the lesser-known details that make our city beautiful. Alarmingly technicolor sunsets and moody shots of a mausoleum tell the story of a dynamic, if complicated, city.



Instagram exists, in part, as a place for people to put pictures of the delicious food they're eating. If you need inspiration on which meal to snap next, @cincinnatifoodie is an excellent place to start. Focusing on artfully arranged plates, the meal portraits include restaurants from a range of price points, styles and locations.



Since Instagram is so food-oriented, it’s easy to get caught up in pictures of…food. @cincinnatifoodtours is an actual tour company that features plenty of plates from the spots their customers visit, but there’s also a healthy dose of Cincy food trivia and little observations about our city. Those who like to experience food will find many local opportunities as they scroll.



As Cincinnati reclaims its glorious brewing heritage, @the_gnarly_gnome has made it his mission to capture the boom of the microbrewery. @the_gnarly_gnome documents brewery openings, new brew releases and even explores some of the wineries in the area. The account proves that the ambiance of the tap room and the bottle are as important as the beer itself.



@cincinnatidoors is a reminder to stop and remember the impeccably designed details of our favorite city. By focusing on the doors around town, this account not only encapsulates our community’s diverse aesthetic, but also the history literally built into our walls.




@dogsofcincy celebrates our canine citizenry with whimsical, often hilarious portraits and brief stories of the featured pet. The account “finds the coolest dogs in Cincy,” and so far, it's been massively successful. Followers can even lobby to have their furry friend featured by using #dogsofcincy in their own Instagram post.



@outandoutfit’s Katie loves this city and the style it inspires. Often featuring her latest grabs from local boutiques, this mom also reviews nights out on the town at Cincy bars and eateries. Though her account definitely leans feminine, she posts fashion ideas for men, too.


 


Drees builds 200-home "agrihood" in Deerfield Township


Drees Homes has begun work on a model home at Elliot Farm, a 100-acre site in Deerfield Township that will eventually be home to a 200-unit agriculturally based community.
 
The so-called “agrihood” will feature community gardens, walking trails, a pool, parks, fishing lake and additional residential amenities.
 
“Our pre-sales are doing fantastic,” said Ray Neverovich, president of Drees’ Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky division. “This is a Drees flagship community.”
 
The land that Drees purchased from the Elliott family this summer for $2.5 million will be subdivided into three distinct neighborhoods: Legacy, Traditions and Heritage.
 
Legacy at Elliot Farm is the patio-home portion of the community, providing lawn care and snow maintenance with homes priced between $290,000 and $350,000.
 
Traditions will feature ranch-style homes with mostly two- and three-car front entry garages, priced between $346,000 and $435,000.
 
Finally, Heritage at Elliot Farm will include larger-scale homes with side-entry garages and a price range of $466,000 to $600,000.
 
Elliot Farm, unlike other neighboring agriculturally driven communities like Aberlin Springs by Pendragon Homes in Morrow, will not feature a full-fledged farm.
 
Once completed, the Elliot Farm development is expected to cost about $90 million.
 

OTR Chamber's Star Awards mixing it up March 16


The Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Star Awards March 16 at The Transept. The event features a change in venue, timing and format, shifting from a presentation-packed luncheon to a shorter program with more networking time.
 
“We have had a really successful luncheon in a room packed with 400 people, where the program goes to the last second and then everyone has to race back to their offices,” Chamber President Emilie Johnson says. “This year, we tried to embrace a format that would allow this group of people who are committed and passionate about the neighborhood to have more time to enjoy each other’s company.”
 
The brief program for the 2016 Star Awards will feature keynote speaker Harvey Lewis, a marathon runner and educator.
 
“He is an amazing individual,” Johnson says. “Harvey is an educator at the School for Creative and Performing Arts and has been in the neighborhood a number of years. He’s also an athlete with a really compelling and inspirational story.”
 
Lewis won the Bad Water ultramarthaton, a 135-mile race in California’s Death Valley. He teaches social studies and economics at SCPA, running to and from work every day.
 
The program is scheduled for 4-6:30 p.m. Following Lewis’ talk, Star Awards will be presented to these 2016 winners:
 
Mortar, Chairperson’s Award
Woodward Theater, Norma Petersen Arts and Culture Award
Chatfield College, Property Development of the Year
Sundry + Vice, New Business of the Year
The Transept, Business of the Year
Red Door Project, Individual Contribution of the Year
OTR Community Housing, Nonprofit of the Year
Cydney Rabe, Off the Vine and Core Movement Studio, Entrepreneur of the Year
Taft’s Ale House, Restaurant of the Year
Future Leaders OTR, Community Impact of the Year
 
The Star Awards Review Committee chooses winners for the Chairperson’s Award and the Norma Petersen Arts and Culture Award, while the remainder of the awards are selected by the committee based on nominations from the community.
 
“What’s really cool about this process is that anyone can submit a nomination for the Star Awards,” Johnson says. “This year we had the most nominations we’ve ever received. These nominations celebrate Over-the-Rhine and all the great things that are happening here. We’re glad to have such a diverse pool of recipients who are uniquely contributing to OTR.”
 
The Chamber is also gearing up for the 10-year anniversary of the OTR 5k on May 21, with runner registration open now. Organizers are looking for volunteers to help with the race and the Summer Celebration in Washington Park immediately after.
 
“The 5k highlights the neighborhood and all that’s happening here,” Johnson says. “City Flea will kick off its season with us again. Art on Vine is also back on board, bringing their festival to the bandstand area. And the OTR 5k is still one of the few races that’s stroller- and dog-friendly.”
 

After pause to rework Haile Fellowship goals, People's Liberty names 2 winners


People’s Liberty announced last week that Chris Glass and Brandon Black are its 2016 Haile Fellowship winners and will each receive $100,000 grants, office space and mentoring over the next 12 months.

Glass will celebrate local communities by photographing every Greater Cincinnati neighborhood while engaging residents and local organizations throughout the process. Black will explore traditional apprenticeship in the age of technology by connecting Baby Boomers and Millennials through home repair projects that bring out the best in both generations.

After a successful first year of the Haile Fellowship program in 2015, People’s Liberty originally planned to have this year’s Haile Fellows start work in January but called a timeout in late Fall. Staffers were actually nearing the end of the 2016 application process when they decided it needed to change.
 
CEO Eric Avner explained that the catalyst for the change was a forum the organization hosted of funders from all over the country who provide grants to individuals, where it was suggested the People’s Liberty team stop the application process to rethink the questions it was asking applicants. The goal changed to focus less on the proposed projects and more on the applying individuals in order to grow strong local leaders and create lasting impact beyond the fellowship year via “a civic-based sabbatical.”

People’s Liberty says Glass’ project will be “transformative for him and will bring together the collection of creative pursuits he has built over the years.” Black, meanwhile, “hopes to reimagine the role of elders, beautify neighborhoods and increase home values (and) to develop a model that could incorporate other disciplines with intergenerational apprenticeship.”

This week, People’s Liberty is opening the application process for its next round of Project Grants, which provides eight winners with $10,000, a launch event and access to office space and mentorship. Applications will be accepted through March 23, with winners announced by April 22.

An information session will be hosted at 6 p.m. March 2 at People’s Liberty HQ in the Globe Building, 1805 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. Get more information here.
 

Curb'd now taking applications for Covington parklet designs


The application process is now open for artists and designers interested in Curb’d, a program to create parklets next year in Covington’s MainStrasse and Central business districts. The collaboration between Renaissance Covington and MainStrasse Village Association is funded by the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation.
 
Curb’d is working closely with businesses in those areas to select parking spaces to house parklets and is preparing to bring designers, artists and engineers into that collaboration.
 
Businesses already have applied to host a parklet in a parking space in front of their location, and 13 parking spaces have been selected as finalists. They’ll go forward in the design competition, with five businesses submitting their own designs and the other eight working with art and design teams who enter the application process.
 
The 13 final designs will be judged by a jury panel that will choose which five parklets are actually constructed.
 
Katie Meyer, Executive Director of Renaissance Covington, is excited to see a wide variety of creative ideas.
 
“I think that we are going to have a really diverse group of artists and designers and people of different design backgrounds,” she says. “Parklets are being done in many cities right now, and a lot of times they become an extension of outdoor seating. We want to go further than a table and chairs.”
 
Meyer emphasizes that Curb’d is looking for unique, site-specific designs for interactive installations that activate space. The intensive application process reflects the high standards the project is looking for — those interested in submitting a design must attend a mandatory informational workshop on either Nov. 16 or Nov. 18 in order to qualify to submit proposals by Dec. 2.
 
The design teams whose installations are chosen to be fabricated will be rewarded with a $1,000 honorarium. Even the teams who go through the design process but whose parklets are not chosen will be compensated with gift cards donated by participating Covington businesses.
 
The businesses will also benefit, since the parklets, which will be installed from May through October of 2016, are predicted to attract foot traffic to and between the two business districts. They’re intended to help activate the space, make the areas more pedestrian-friendly and bring people into businesses.
 
Meyer says she’s already seeing excitement from the business community in the few months the project has been percolating.
 
“There are a couple of businesses that aren’t always engaged that are participating, and that’s exciting,” she says.
 
Anyone interested in designing a Curb’d parklet should review the application process and attend one of the mandatory informational workshops at Braxton Brewing Company on Monday, Nov. 16 at 6-8 p.m. or Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7:30-9:30 a.m.
 

Cincinnati Design Awards to celebrate architecture, interior design, graphic design


Five local design organizations join together to celebrate the year's best architecture, interior design, graphic design and landscape architecture projects on Friday, Nov. 13 at the Cincinnati Design Awards. The 19th annual event will be hosted at the Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine, where awards in 11 categories will be presented.

CDA19 is organized by the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Cincinnati), the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Cincinnati/Dayton City Center, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Cincinnati/Dayton, the Society of Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Cincinnati Chapter and the Miami Section of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Award categories include built work, unbuilt work (studies/reseach/analysis), small projects and open design recognition for Design Excellence and Design Advancement.

Entries are reviewed in a blind jury format by a diverse panel of design professionals from around the country who are recognized leaders within their organizations. Jurors include Eddie Jones, Principal of Jones Studio in Phoenix, Ariz.; Natalie Engels, Design Director of Gensler in Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cybelle Jones, Principal and Studio Director of Gallagher & Associates in Washington, D.C.; Meg Storrow, Principal of storrow/kinsella in Indianapolis; and Mike Tittel, Executive Creative Director of gyro in Cincinnati.

The event begins at 6 p.m. with a reception and dinner, with the awards presentation following at 8 p.m. and then dessert and coffee. Tickets are $75 for individuals and $600 for a discounted group of eight, with student tickets available for $25. Reservations are required and can be made here.
 

People's Liberty announces second round of Project Grant winners


People’s Liberty moves its experiment with a new model of philanthropy into a second full year of grantmaking, announcing its second round of Project Grant winners on Oct. 16.
 
The first round of project grants, awarded in April, included ideas as diverse and dynamic as a way to teach Cincinnatians how to build their own Andriod apps, a high-quality print magazine on historic architecture and renovation, a huge interactive retro video game to activate space and a curated online platform for local makers to sell their wares, among others.
 
As those projects are now seeing the fruits of their labor in the Cincinnati area, the next eight grantees are just beginning their journeys to turn their own visions into reality. They’ll be developing projects ranging from exhibitions focused on both art and science to tools for real estate development to solutions for the sharing economy.
 
As with all People’s Liberty grants, these projects will be undertaken by individuals, not organizations. Each project is awarded $10,000 and 10 months to complete its work as well as mentorship and resources from People’s Liberty.
 
The Project Grants are the first of People’s Liberty three major grant programs — also Globe Grants ($15,000 for a three-month installation in the organization’s Globe Building in Over-the-Rhine) and Haile Fellowships ($100,000 and one year to complete a project) — to announce a second round of winners. The first round of Globe Grant awardees were announced in August and the second round of Haile Fellows is scheduled to be unveiled Nov. 4.
 
The new Project Grant winners are:
 
1 Degree of Separation by Kailah Ware: An interactive mobile installation using audio and visual components to both ask and answer the question, “What do you love about Cincinnati?”
 
N.O.M. by Kevin Wright and Joe Nickol: A step-by-step guide to public space activation in pioneering locations and emerging markets to empower community stakeholders to create demand for additional and ongoing real estate development.
 
The Solar System by Josiah Wolf, Elisabeth Wolf and Matt Kotlarcyzk: The project will create and install a scaled model of our solar system for permanent display in a public setting.
 
Let's Dance by Gregory Norman and Kathye Lewis: Cincinnati’s long history of ballroom dancing will be reinvigorated through fifth and sixth grade students in South Avondale to instill a sense of pride and confidence.
 
Plop! by Amy Scarpello and Abby Cornelius: The creative project will add engagement and fun in Cincinnati Parks through the deployment of giant 15-foot bean bags.
 
State by Nate May: A series of performances featuring MUSE, MyCincinnati, singer Kate Wakefield and other local musicians centering around the premiere of an oratorio about Appalachian migration to Cincinnati.
 
POPP=D'ART by Janet Creekmore, Ben Neal and Melissa Mitchell: A 1963 Rainbow caravan travel trailer will be converted into a tiny mobile art gallery to introduce affordable art in unexpected places while also elevating exposure and recognition for up-and-coming local artists.
 
A Sharing Solution by Adam Gelter and Andrea Kern: The project will leverage the power of the “sharing economy” to connect Over-the-Rhine businesses, institutions and public spaces with those who live, work and play there in a way never before attempted.
 

AIA Cincinnati program to address "missing 32 percent" of women in architecture

 
Gender disparity in the workplace has been big news this year, particularly in the tech industry and in coverage of the ongoing gender wage gap. The field of architecture has taken a proactive approach to addressing gender equity within that profession.
 
“Recent discussions and initiatives regarding gender parity in various fields have helped to push this topic to the forefront in our industry,” says Heather Wehby, Project Architect at emersion DESIGN and Co-Chair of AIA Cincinnati’s Equity in Architecture committee.
 
In 2011, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Francisco launched The Missing 32% Project, an initiative to start a conversation about gender representation. Several successful symposiums and events led them to pursue a national study, “Equity in Architecture,” in 2014.
 
AIA Cincinnati is bringing Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Principal Consultant at Cameron MacAllister Group, to present the findings of that study at the Mercantile Library at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22. The free program, supported by an AIA Ohio Opportunity Grant, is open to the public and requires advance registration.
 
“This program is especially relevant to all those in the design, engineering and construction industry who are passionate about creating a more inclusive community and workplace,” says Jeffrey A. Sackenheim, Vice President at SHP Leading Design. “For us at AIA Cincinnati, this is the next big step in delivering content rooted in critical conversations affecting architectural practice now and 20 years in the future.”
 
“We are hoping that all members of Cincinnati's architectural community — including students, interns, professionals and firm leaders — attend to help position architecture as a 21st Century profession that more closely reflects the people and communities that it serves,” adds Kathryn Fallat, Co-Chair of the local Equity in Architecture committee. “We also encourage people who don’t have a direct connection or involvement with architecture to attend, as we’ll be discussing unconscious bias and how it affects everyone in any and every workplace.”
 
Earlier this year, AIA Cincinnati formed its own Equity in Architecture committee to address workplace disparities attributed to gender, race and socioeconomic status.
 
“Ms. Dennis-van Dijl’s presentation is the first of many that will not only help spark dialogue on what is typically considered to be a challenging subject matter but will also inform and shape it,” Fallat says. “Our goal is for a lively yet positive discussion to develop, focusing on steps that both employees and firms can take to improve workplace policy and culture.”
 
The “Equity in Architecture” survey assessed the current career status of architects as well as challenges to success and efforts made by employers to recruit, retain and support professionals. The study report examines the “pinch points” where architects choose to leave the field.
 
On the national level, women represent nearly half of graduates from architecture programs but make up only 20 percent of practitioners and 17 percent of partners or principals in architecture firms. Thus the “missing 32 percent” are the women who graduate from architecture programs but aren’t currently working as architects.
 
The slippage is even worse locally. According to the Ohio Architects Board, only 13 percent of active, registered architects in Ohio in 2014 were women, significantly less than the national average.
 
“We have done some investigation into local numbers, but more study needs to be done,” Wehby says. “No matter which statistics you look at, a significant and undeniable gap lies between the number of women graduating from architectural programs and the number of women who are registered architects.”
 
The “Equity in Architecture” study and the Sept. 22 Dennis-van Dijl program focus specifically on gender, yet other disparities also exist within the field. AIA Cincinnati plans to work with the National Organization of Minority Architects on future Equity in Architecture programs.
 
“In order for architects to successfully design for and engage with a diverse and changing society, our profession must be comprised of members that reflect and represent it,” Fallat says. “If architecture is to remain a relevant and influential profession throughout the 21st Century, then it needs to recruit, retain and promote talented individuals of all genders, races and socioeconomic levels.”
 

DAAP class presents new visions for OTR Brewery District


On July 30 students from UC’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP) presented ideas for Cincinnati’s Brewery District — the area of Over-the-Rhine north of Liberty Street — and Brewing Heritage Trail.
 
The students had been working on their designs in teams of four or five as part of the class titled Design Systems: Re-Envisioning Cincinnati’s Brewery District. Each year the studio class works with a real client to create real solutions, and this year’s client came into the picture through university connections. Steve Hampton, executive director of the Brewery District, is an architect and DAAP graduate.
 
The students’ projects are helping the Brewery District develop its Brewing Heritage Trail, which is envisioned as a world-class walking tour and district celebrating Cincinnati’s brewing history that would bring heritage tourism into the area.
 
“Being able to access all this young talent is fantastic,” Hampton says. “I love that with this kind of studio you’re going to get a variety of options.”
 
Hampton is looking forward to putting some of the ideas into practice in the Brewery District. The students are also excited about the prospect, as the district has become a passion for many of them through the course of the project.
 
“They felt the passion for the neighborhood,” says professor David Eyman. “It took one walk through the area for them to fall in love with it. So what they did was 200 percent of what you usually see from a class.”
 
“We put our hearts and souls into this,” student Caycee Boyce says, “and a lot of time!”
 
Her classmate Jenny Beruscha adds, “It’s interesting how a bunch of students with the same education could come up with such different designs.”
 
Their July 30 presentations showed the variety of ideas they worked on as well as some similarities.
 
Many students emphasized the need for public gathering spaces, drawing on the brewing heritage connection and the inspiration of biergartens as places to bring people together. Better lighting and seating was a common theme to improve safety and comfort in the neighborhood. Several groups also emphasized public art installations, consistent signage and gateways at main intersections to define the district’s boundaries and overall feel.
 
Many of the young designers gave nods to brewing history and OTR’s heritage while integrating modern twists. The browns and ambers of beer even worked their way into the aesthetics of designs as main colors, along with materials like wood and steel inspired by the brewing process and the brick texture already ubiquitous in the neighborhood’s architecture.
 
At the same time, the groups worked to make sure their designs were fresh and modern.
 
Two groups actually rejected the connection of beer itself, favoring the idea of “brewing” as a metaphor for creating or making and focusing on the district as a daytime space for residents to complement OTR’s thriving nightlife scene south of Liberty Street. One group even expanded its scope from the Brewery District to the entire branding of Over-the-Rhine.
 
The presentations were hosted at Roadtrippers in the Brewery District, an app and website that aims to help travelers drive to the most interesting places on their journeys. This was another UC connection, as Roadtrippers has DAAP graduates on staff.
 
The students were critiqued by a panel of judges ranging from DAAP faculty and successful professional designers to Brewery District representatives and a practicing OTR brewmaster.
 
The students’ range of possibilities and quality of work impressed even their professors.
 
“Who better to design the future than the future themselves?” professor Kelly Kolar, who runs Kolar Design, asked after the presentations.
 
With all of these new ideas, the Brewery District’s future looks full of possibility.
 

Brush Factory builds exciting future on a base of craftsmanship and tradition

 
Hayes Shanesy and Rosie Kovacs established Brush Factory in 2009 as a working studio to produce custom furniture and handmade clothing and restore vintage motorcycles. After exploring storefront retail and sewing classes, Brush Factory has refocused its business to hand-made furnishings and design objects.
 
“Our business grew organically,” Shanesy says. Brush Factory today is “more intentional in focus, concentrating on our core values.”
 
Their experience and hard work is paying off, earning Brush Factory a place as a finalist in the 2015 ArtWorks Big Pitch program.

UPDATE: Brush Factory won both awards at the Big Pitch finals.
 
Shanesy, a third-generation woodworker, focuses on design and craftsmanship “not because it's trendy but to build on and celebrate tradition.”
 
Brush Factory produces custom furnishings for individuals as well as business clients such as People's Liberty, Salazar, Noble Denim and Cintrifuse. The idea of ordering custom furniture may sound intimidating to people who don’t know the difference between a finger joint and a lap joint, but Shanesy’s conversational and unpretentious approach puts clients at ease.
 
“Some people come to us with a piece in mind,” he says. “They might have a photograph from a magazine or a particular style that they’re looking for. We work from that initial idea to create a concept to present to the client.”
 
The Brush Factory name comes from the business’ first location in Brighton, where their building was a former brush manufacturer. Today, Brush Factory calls Camp Washington home. Shanesy intentionally chose a neighborhood where they would have easy access to manufacturing and distribution resources.
 
“The metal shop where we have some parts made is literally 500 yards away, and our finishers are even closer,” he says. “It’s crazy how many resources there are right here.”
 
The growing interest in well-made, hand-crafted, locally sourced goods has been a boon for Brush Factory and other Cincinnati makers. Shanesy, one of the first Cincinnati Made members, credits that organization and other regional makers for creating a vibrant and engaging movement.
 
“The community at large has been so supportive,” he says. “The interest in mission-focused business and collaboration with other organizations and companies has created a great word-of-mouth audience for us.”
 
Brush Factory applied for the ArtWorks Big Pitch this year to access the mentorship and business resources offered in the program. They’ve been paired with Bob Bonder from Rhinegeist as well as a US Bank small business specialist.
 
“We’ve been working toward really diving deeper into our business plan and taking it to a better place than it’s ever been before,” Shanesy says. “We are spending a lot of time on what strategies we’ll approach in the next year, including how to work from where we are today and take it to a place that’s exciting and more efficient, interesting and fun. The Big Pitch is a great opportunity to really force us to think about very specific goals and to be able to share those with a wider community.”
 
Shanesy encourages people to attend the Big Pitch finals on Aug. 27.
 
“It’s a fun event,” he says, “and it’s exciting to hear these ideas and have the people behind them talk about what it is they do and how they want to move forward.”
 
What will the Brush Factory pitch? You’ll have to attend to hear the details, but it will involve producing more “ready to go” goods.

Soapbox is profiling each of the eight finalists in the 2015 ArtWorks Big Pitch, a 10-week mentorship program that offers artists, makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs a chance to claim up to $20,000 in cash prizes and professional services. The program concludes Aug. 27 with the finalists giving five-minute presentations to a panel of judges and an audience.
 

Look Here to reveal layers of Over-the-Rhine's past


Historic preservationist Anne Delano Steinert wants people to discover the layers of Over-the-Rhine’s past. Her place-based public history project, Look Here, will mount historic photographs around the neighborhood as close as possible to the vantage point from which they were originally taken, comparing historic views to the view of that location today.
 
“There are layers of the past around us in the built environment all the time,” Steinert says, “and it’s really important to me to give people the skills to read the clues to those layers. This is my way of giving the people in Over-the-Rhine a way to connect to the past.”
 
Steinert’s fascination with the layers of the past actually began in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. As a teenager in the 1980s, she would take the bus downtown from her home in Clifton.
 
“OTR was definitely low-income then and there was a lot of urban decay, but it was also still really rich,” Steinert explains. “There were a lot more (historic) buildings standing in 1982 than there are today. So it’s where I really got a sense of the power of the past to speak through the built environment.”
 
Now she wants to help a wide range of residents and visitors in the neighborhood hear those voices, too. Recipient of a People’s Liberty Project Grant, Steinert is using her own background and several other projects as inspiration to make Look Here into an experience that can reach viewers from all economic classes.
 
A simple design of presenting photographs on street signs with minimal explanatory text will allow people to create their own meaning from the similarities and differences between the historic present landscapes. Brightly colored borders will grab people’s attention and hopefully pull them into the images and into parts of the neighborhood they may not have explored before.
 
The signs are meant to create a “serendipitous, sudden, unexpected experience of connection to space,” Steinert says, by giving people a glimpse of the past from their exact location. She also hopes they’ll help add a dimension of history to the cultural vibrancy already existing in the neighborhood.
 
As Over-the-Rhine goes through a period of intense transition, Steinert observes, “something gets lost in the remaking, so these signs are really an attempt to remind people some of what’s being lost, that we have to be mindful of what came before.”
 
Look Here’s historic photographs will provide people a chance to meditate on what came before and decide for themselves what it means. The People’s Liberty project grant will allow Steinert to make tools providing deeper meaning and engagement.
 
Before receiving the grant, she’d identified more than 320 possible photographs (although only 40-70 will be in the final exhibit) and knew she wanted to display them on aluminum signs similar to “No Parking” signs. The People’s Liberty funding allows her to create programming around the signs — a launch event, resource packet for teachers, curator-led tour of some of the photograph sites and a website with a map of all images and more information about each one. The website will also provide viewers a way to have a dialogue with the curator.
 
“We’re encouraging people to send me their experiences,” Steinert says, “take photos of themselves looking at Look Here and share the stories of how they’re interacting with the signs.”
 
Steinert hopes the interactive elements may even inspire other neighborhoods to set up similar exhibitions. She also hopes that positive feedback on the project might make it easier for those neighborhoods to complete such undertakings.
 
“This project involves coordinating an unfathomable number of small details and particularly small logistical details,” Steinert says, “and many of those are contingent on the city’s policies.”
 
Since Steinert will be using city-owned poles to mount the photographs, she is in the process of obtaining installation permits. Once she does, Look Here will be the first exhibit to obtain permits of this kind in Cincinnati.
 
If these layers of the past prove meaningful, it may make it easier to reveal more layers all around us.
 

Magazine & website to highlight art and craftsmanship in historic building renovations

 
With countless renovations going on in Cincinnati's huge stock of historic buildings, two recipients of a People’s Liberty Project Grant hope to become a voice for excellent craftsmanship in remodeling work. Focusing on attention to detail and respect for the heritage and integrity of historic buildings, Kunst: Built Art will tell the stories of people using high-quality practices in historic buildings.
 
The quarterly magazine's creators, John Blatchford and Alyssa McClanahan, want to highlight people “doing renovation right.” They were inspired by their own experience renovating a historic building in Over-the-Rhine. As they strove to do quality work on their own building, they also saw a lot of renovators favoring speed and price over craftsmanship.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Blatchford says. “There’s a lot of emphasis on doing it quick, making it cheap, rolling it over and moving on to the next project.”
 
In contrast, Kunst aims to raise the standard of renovation and design in Cincinnati. Taking their title from the German word for “art,” Blatchford and McClanahan emphasize architecture and remodeling work as a form of built art.
 
“These historic buildings were built artfully, and they really cared about all the details,” Blatchford says. “The idea is we’re trying to highlight people doing that today, building Built Art.”
 
To reinforce that idea, Kunst will be sold at arts events and pre-release parties centered around art communities when the first issue debuts in September.
 
They also see the potential for art in their product.
 
“We want to have a really well-produced, beautiful print magazine that in and of itself is art and is featuring art around Cincinnati,” says McClanahan.
 
The Kunst magazine will run in-depth features on individuals and the buildings they work on as well as advice and “how-to” tips from developers, architects, preservationists, historians, designers, artists and other experts in the building community. McClanahan and Blatchford want the magazine to reflect the same level of craftsmanship and quality highlighted in their content.
 
That level of excellence is made possible by the People’s Liberty grant, which provides up to $10,000 to complete the project over 10 months. It provides much more than finances, though, as grantees get access to mentorship and consultations with experts and are able to use the resources of People’s Liberty's Globe building near Findlay Market.
 
At the projects’ launch weekend at the end of May, Blatchford and McClanahan says they were able to make “invaluable” connections with designers, branding experts and people in the publishing industry. They’re excited about the community created by the grant’s structure and the resources and connections available to grantees.
 
Blatchford bought a brick building in northern Over-the-Rhine built in 1845, and the couple is using Historic Tax Credits to renovate it into three one-bedroom apartments for rent. As part of the historic tax credit process, they discovered the building had been occupied by a tailor in the mid-19th century and named it Tailor Shop OTR. They’re hoping to make the apartments available for rent by August.

Blatchford has degrees in industrial engineering and business, while McClanahan is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Cincinnati. Both are active in the Cincinnati Preservation Collective and Cincinnati Preservation Association.
 
While they value artistry, they reject the idea that quality craftsmanship has to be elegant or elevated.
 
“We don’t want to be chic,” says McClanahan in the middle of working on the Tailor Shop. “These projects are kind of down and dirty. John and I are covered in dirt right now. This is not glamorous work, and I think that’s the point of it.”
 
They want to make Kunst accessible to encourage a wide audience to embrace excellence in remodeling. The website, which is live now, will expand on the “how-to” sections of the magazine, offering advice on sound renovation techniques and resources for historic preservation.
 

ArtWorks summer murals to feature Ezzard Charles, James Brown, breweries, high-profile restoration


ArtWorks has lots of exciting projects planned for this summer's mural program.

Work is already underway to restore the Homage to Cincinnatus mural on the Kroger headquarters at Vine Street and Central Parkway. ArtWorks is coordinating the restoration with the mural's original artist, Richard Haas, and the Thomas Melvin Studio.

Because of the swing-scaffolding that will be used on the seven-story mural, professional local artists have been hired to complete the project. ArtWorks apprentices, who usually paint the summer murals, will instead work with local filmmaker Lauren Pray on a documentary about the restoration project.

In the 30 years since Homage to Cincinnatus was completed, the mural-making process has remained largely the same in terms of execution, according to Christine Carli, director of communications at ArtWorks.

“The paint we use is a specific kind, NovaColor, which is a very durable paint for outdoor use,” she says. “After the mural is painted, we put on several clear coats to protect it from sun and rain damage. We expect the murals to last for at least 20 years.”

Preparation work is also underway for the Ezzard Charles mural at Republic and West Liberty streets in Over-the-Rhine. Once the wall is ready to go, ArtWorks apprentices will work with artist Jason Snell to transform the wall into an homage to the “Cincinnati Cobra,” as Charles was known to boxing fans.

This mural is part of the Cincinnati Legends series, which includes Snell's design of the Henry Holtgrewe mural on Vine between 13th and 14th streets. The Charles mural will be “more figurative and less illustrative” than the Holtgrewe design, Carli says.

“ArtWorks is really excited about the Ezzard Charles mural,” she says. “It will officially be our 100th mural, and we will be doing a lot of programming about that, including a celebration at the end of the project when we dedicate the mural.”

Charles was chosen for the 100th mural subject because of his “rich history in sports and Cincinnati and because he has so many ties to so many famous Cincinnatians, including Theodore Berry, who was his mentor,” Carli says. “We are excited to celebrate Ezzard Charles with this really beautiful image.”

A mural at Main and East Liberty streets will honor Cincinnati's musical heritage and the individuals who shaped the “Cincinnati Sound.”

“The image will be a really cool graphic portrayal of James Brown,” Carli says. “This is a part of Liberty where not a lot of people walk but where a lot of people drive by, so we wanted to choose one really stunning image.”

Cincinnati's brewing heritage will be showcased in two murals. The Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Community Redevelopment Corporation is sponsoring its second mural, this one located on the north side of the new Christian Moerlein brewery housed in the historic Kauffman malt house. The second mural will be located on the historic Schoenling brewery at Liberty Street and Central Parkway, now home to the Samuel Adams brewery.

“In the next three to five years there will be a nice cluster of public art in the Northern Liberties,” Carli says of the area north of Liberty Street.

In the fall, ArtWorks will add another mural to the Cincinnati Masters Series, the first female depicted is the series. A painting of artist Elizabeth Nourse will be done in collaboration with the Mercantile Library.

As ArtWorks completes its 100th mural this summer, are they struggling to find subjects? Carli says no.

“We never run out of ideas because a lot of them come out of the community and Cincinnati history,” she says. “Our work with communities and neighborhoods keeps everything fresh and evolving.”

The public and communities are able to get directly involved with ArtWorks mural projects by helping support a $25,000 matching grant given by The George and Margaret McLane Foundation. Five ArtWorks projects — including the Ezzard Charles, Cincinnati Sound and the Brewery District murals as well as a community mural in Evanston — are featured on Power2Give. Donors can choose which of the five projects they want to support with a donation.

“Depending on where you live or work or the type of art you're interested in, you can pick your favorite mural to support,” Carli says. “This matching gift and Power2Give gives us a conduit to empower communities to raise funds for the projects they're supporting. The matching grant gives people an immediate way to click and donate.”

ArtWorks and its community partners will be promoting the grant and matching opportunity through community council meetings, newsletters and social media.

People are also encouraged to engage with ArtWorks apprentices through social media and the ArtWorks walking tours.

“Last year we started using #ArtWorksHere for apprentices to document their experiences on the worksite,” Carli says. “We encouraged apprentices to share positive experiences, friends they've made, progress on the mural, something new they learned that day and to say thank you.”

Carli advises those interested in following the 2015 and hashtag that many of the apprentices use Instagram rather than Twitter or Facebook.

Apprentices also conduct two Saturday walking tours each weekend showcasing ArtWorks murals in Downtown (Cincinnati Genius Tour) and Over-the-Rhine (Spirit of OTR Tour). The ArtWorks apprentice program is “not just learning how to paint,” Carli says. “We provide training for public speaking, and by the end of the experience they grow up and become more poised and confident.”

As ArtWorks apprentices are busy with murals and media projects, the staff will be planning for next summer, their 20th year bringing art to Cincinnati neighborhoods.
 

Start Small housing concept gaining big momentum


Nearly halfway through his year-long People's Liberty Haile Fellowship, Brad Cooper’s Start Small project is starting to gain momentum.
 
Cooper was awarded the grant based on his proposal to build two 200-square-ft. single family homes on an otherwise unbuildable lot in Over-the-Rhine as a model for net-zero, affordable infill housing. He presented an update on his project, along with information for potential buyers, at a public event May 13 at the Over-the-Rhine Community Center.
 
Since starting the program, some aspects of Cooper’s design and concept have changed. The houses will now be 250 square ft. in order to accommodate the city’s zoning regulations. The two houses on Peete Street will also be attached to leverage potential energy and cost savings as well as to better fit the historic character of Over-the-Rhine.
 
Cooper's initial plans for composting toilets and water reuse will also be modified to meet building codes.
 
“The building codes need to adapt, and I think they will, but it will take time and people calling for the change,” says Cooper, who presented his project concept and suggested code changes to City Council’s Education and Entrepreneurship Committee in February.
 
The houses will be net zero, with solar panels providing all electricity. Cooper is working with Sefaria, an application that supports high-performance building design, to optimize the homes’ HVAC systems. Each house will have monitors to track the occupants’ energy usage as well as energy production from the solar panels.
 
As the popularity of the tiny house movement grows, it’s also come under criticism.
 
“This project is not for everyone,” Cooper acknowledges. “Start Small is providing choice and creating thoughtful infill development.
 
“The idea that tiny homes encourage less density is a myth. Zoning regulations that require minimum lot sizes encourage less density. Zoning regulations that prohibit two tiny homes being on the same lot encourage less density.”
 
Although not currently permitted under zoning code, “small homes could be developed as accessory dwelling units, which add density to areas,” Cooper says. “Multiple homes on one lot is permitted in neighborhoods that have adopted Form Based Code, and here I would expect the same density to be met as with a traditional project.”
 
Cooper encourages residents with concerns about density and other zoning issues to review the draft of the Land Development Code and contact the City Planning Department with any input.
 
As tiny homes become more common and zoning codes are updated to accommodate their construction, Cooper predicts ongoing evolutions of the concept to make tiny homes more appealing. “
 
I expect to see tiny homes with shared resources,” he says. “A communal kitchen, shared waste remediation, shared energy production and other communal ideas are a challenge to figure out but would make tiny living more affordable.”
 
Since January, Cooper has been working to develop financing options for potential Small Start homebuyers as traditional mortgages may be difficult to obtain.
 
“The main challenge is the unconventional nature of the project,” he says. “There is not a lot for an appraiser to compare the homes to locally, so having a lender feel comfortable with the value of the home is critical.
 
“Additionally, most mortgages are not held by the initial lending institution but bundled and sold on a secondary market dominated by government-subsidized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Those entities require the home to be at least a 1-bedroom. The tiny homes will qualify not qualify as 1-bedrooms. I’m anticipating the need for a (local) bank or even an individual to step forward and provide a loan to a tiny homeowner. This institution would be willing to take the risk on something out of the box and hold onto the mortgage.”
 
Initially, Cooper projected the houses would cost $80,000, although it now seems they may list for $70,000. He hopes to have buyers in place before fall so construction can be completed before the end of the year, allowing residents to move in to the homes by early 2016. Cooper has partnered with Working in Neighborhoods to help potential buyers through the process.
 
Community engagement is a big part of the Start Small project. Cooper hosted a one-day exhibit called “Size Matters” at Assumption Gallery to invite the public to explore ideas about tiny living and affordable housing. In March, Cooper invited the neighbors to 142 and 144 Peete St. to introduce himself and his idea for the property. Keep Cincinnati Beautiful organized volunteers and residents to help clean up the lot in April.
 
Cooper has also solicited public feedback on the design and amenities of the tiny houses. He plans to hold additional presentations and information sessions in the coming months.
 
It’s looking like his Start Small project may in fact turn into something big.
 

People's Liberty announces first 8 Project Grants, final grant program to launch


People’s Liberty continues to redefine the mission and tools of philanthropy, announcing its first Project Grants April 24 at its new Globe Building headquarters in Over-the-Rhine. Like all of its grant programs, the Project Grants were awarded to individual area residents with innovative ideas to positively impact their communities and, in the organization’s hopes, disrupt the status quo.

Eight winners were presented by People's Liberty co-founders Eric Avner (Haile Foundation) and Amy Goodwin (Johnson Foundation) and asked to sign their contracts, which stipulate that each would receive up to $10,000 to complete their projects within the next 10 months. A second round of Project Grants will be awarded in the fall.

The winning projects represent a wide array of community engagement, from site-specific events to arts and culture to online community building to public transportation. They were selected by an external panel made up of local civic, creative and business leaders.

People’s Liberty has now launched all three of its intended grant programs: $100,000 Haile Fellowships, awarded in December to Brad Cooper and Brad Schnittger; $15,000 Globe Grants to activate the Globe Building's ground-floor gallery space, with the first exhibition, Good Eggs, on display through June 12; and these $10,000 Project Grants.

The Project Grant recipients are:

Giacomo Ciminello: Space Invaders
An interactive outdoor installation with a projection-mapped video game designed to activate Cincinnati’s abandoned spaces.

Anne Delano-Steinert: Look Here!
A site-specific public history exhibition to take place on the streets of Over-the-Rhine.

Quiera Levy-Smith: Black Dance Is Beautiful
A cultural event designed to showcase diversity in Cincinnati dance and encourage youth to pursue their passions and break down barriers.

Alyssa McClanahan w/ John Blatchford: Kunst: Built Art
A quarterly printed magazine featuring redevelopment projects of historic Cincinnati buildings.

Mark Mussman: Creative App Project (CAP)
A project to certify up to 20 local residents from a broad range of backgrounds during a three-month Android App Developers educational series.

Daniel Schleith w/ Nate Wessel and Brad Thomas: Metro*Now
A set of low-cost, real-time arrival signs for the Metro bus system to be installed in storefronts at or near bus stops.

Nancy Sunnenburg: Welcome to Cincinnati
A new tool is designed to effectively welcome newcomers to a community by connecting them with local organizations, businesses and civic opportunities.

Maija Zummo w/ Colleen Sullivan: Made in Cincinnati
A curated online marketplace to encourage shopping local by showcasing products created by Cincinnati’s best makers and artisans.

The eight grantees will have access to workspace, mentoring and design and communications support at People's Liberty starting May 30. Look for Soapbox profiles of each of these eight projects as they ramp up over the next few months.

Applications for the next round of Project Grants are due by Sept. 14.
 
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