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Hamilton Mill wins grant to fund four strategic programs


The Hamilton Mill received a $500,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovative Strategies program, the first award to an applicant from southwest Ohio.

“We are ecstatic about the grant,” says Antony Seppi, director of operations for Hamilton Mill. “The EDA saw our collaborative approach, partnerships and our co-applicant, the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Research, as a good investment.”

During the three-year grant period, Hamilton Mill will apply the funds to four projects. The first two are water-focus: the Pipeline H2O water tech accelerator program and a new web portal for water-space issues. The other two programs of focus are Industrialist in Residence, which pairs Hamilton Mill members with mentors in manufacturing; and the ongoing City as Lab partnership with the City of Hamilton.

“One of our first milestones will be the Industrialist xChange Portal to identify and catalog the challenges regional businesses are facing in the water space,” says Seppi. “This platform will allow water startups to search the problems and see if their technology could offer a solution.”

UC will be working closely with Hamilton Mill on the programs supported by the Regional Innovation Strategies grant, bringing their water center and technology commercialization arm to the table.

“Our water center is an informal group of over 30 faculty members working in the water space,” says Phil Taylor, assistant vice president for Research Strategic Implementation. “They are researching water treatment, reuse, distribution, conservation and aquifer structure, and represent many disciplines, including engineering, biology, geography, planning, physics and design.”

The subject-matter experts at UC will work primarily with the Pipeline H2O participants, offering mentorship, research and applied research.

“This collaboration provides faculty with first-hand experience of what is involved in being an entrepreneur and lets them learn what it’s like to work with industry,” Taylor says.

In addition to faculty assistance, UC’s technology commercialization experts will provide entrepreneurial support to Hamilton Mill members and Pipeline startups.

“It’s important to work together on these issues,” says Taylor. “The collaboration between UC, Pipeline and the EPA is just starting and will evolve as we partner more effectively. This regional initiative could have global impact.”

The Hamilton Mill is coordinating with the EDA regional office in Chicago on the grant implementation and will be tracking startups coming into their programs and graduating, and the number of jobs created from those outcomes.

“We have come a long way in three years,” says Seppi. “This grant will transform us moving forward. It is a huge opportunity to take Hamilton Mill to the next level.”


Hacking Heroin winners embarking on real-time implementation


The Hacking Heroin winners recently updated the Cincinnati City Council's Education & Entrepreneurship Committee and IX Health attendees on the status of their projects.

“It was fantastic to see these two teams share their tireless work with their elected leaders,” says Colleen Reynolds, director of community affairs, Office of Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld. “I'm a big believer in the collaboration between government and the tech community, especially when a tech-based solution can help us make a dent in solving a real, challenging problem such as the opioid epidemic.”

Two of the winners, Give Simply (formerly Give Hope) and Crosswave Health (formerly Window), are actively preparing their products for market. Give Simply uses crowdfunding concepts to connect individuals with local organizations fighting the heroin epidemic; Crosswave Health created a platform to match individuals with community resources for treatment.

The third Hacking Heroin winner, Lazarus, is on hold but hopes to continue working with its on-demand service platform soon.

“These teams are building tools focused on fixing local problems, but that could also be useful nationally,” says Annie Rittgers, 17A founder and one of the Hacking Heroin organizers. “Now that they are real organizations, they have much more tailored needs and are looking for mentors, funders and partners who know the markets they are building in.”

The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County recently announced each entity would commit an additional $200,000 to fighting the opioid epidemic. These funds will be allocated to building the capacity of the Addiction Services Hotline, expanding Quick Response Teams, increasing community education and training and Narcan distribution. The City also allocated $5,000 to support further development of the Hacking Heroin solutions.

“I don't think this will be the last of a city investment in ensuring the success of these projects,” says Reynolds. “As the epidemic continues to plague our community, our Council office — along with our many community partners — believes an all-hands-on-deck response is required.”

“The June hackathon is proof that a small push like a weekend event can have enormous impact,” Rittgers adds. “The world now has two more businesses focused on making a dent in the problem, and we have a whole community here in Cincinnati collaborating in new ways that will contribute to better outcomes for everyone.”

Hacking Heroin successfully engaged the business and tech communities in the fight to end the opiate crisis. With two of the winners ready to implement their solutions, 17A is focusing on how to leverage the momentum from the June event to magnify the impact of Hacking Heroin locally and nationally.
 


LADD strengthens community with new health and wellness initiative


Last month, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled partnered with Hamilton County Special Olympics and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to present its first ever FitFest.


The event featured fitness instruction, group exercise classes, health screenings and presentations on health and wellness. Open to the entire community, FitFest allowed LADD to showcase and expand upon its new Health & Wellness Program that launched earlier this year.


“LADD began its Health & Wellness Program as an initiative to support our staff in lowering stress and leading healthier lifestyles, and our adults with developmental disabilities in leading fuller, more connected and more independent lives,” says Kristin Harmeyer, LADD's health and wellness coordinator.


As a result of LADD's ongoing commitment to health and wellness for its employees and clients, Fit For Life (light workouts) and High Intensity Circuits, in addition to Lunctime Yoga and Evening Yoga are offered 1-2 times each week.

 

Harmeyer says she’s already seeing an impact — an impact that’s both positive and exciting.


“People who, prior to our program, got minimal physical activity are now coming up to me regularly and asking, ‘When is the next class?’” she says. “I am seeing strengthened overall confidence and life skills as a result.”


For a program that’s already seeing success, the hope is that it can continue to grow. FitFest was the largest and newest initiative for LADD, and Harmeyer says it was important for the nonprofit to host an event for the entire community because it allowed for building connections and new relationships.

“Not only was it an opportunity for diverse people to come out, learn and be active together,” Harmeyer says, “but it was an opportunity for us to forge relationships with other organizations with shared visions who have expressed interest in more involvement with LADD’s health and wellness initiative.”
 


Local chef introduces variety, one cookbook at a time


One local chef is bringing adults of all ages together for a travel-themed potluck dinner once a month in Over-the-Rhine.

Chef and owner of the Tablespoon Cooking Co., Jordan Hamons, came up with the idea for a cookbook club from articles she read on Serious Eats and Food 52. She based her business model on other successful platforms she's read about.

Those that join, as well as the chefs, make dishes from a different cookbook each month and bring their dishes to Revel OTR Urban Winery and share with others.

“I wanted a space that was welcoming and friendly and promoted conversation,” Hamons says.

In September, the theme was French cooking. Everyone made a dish from the cookbook My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. It was about more than just the food — it was about the conversations that took place.

People started to talk about the book, the recipes they made and their travels to France or their hopes to travel to France. “You meet new people and it really encourages that type of conversation,” Hamons says.

Last month's 33-member group included adults of all ages with little to very advanced cooking backgrounds. Hamons encourages people of all kinds to cook food from the cookbooks that they would not normally cook from.

“It's like a no-risk way to try a lot from the book and find some new foods that maybe you would not have expected to like,” she says.

Hamons and some of the other chefs involved provide a few of the main dishes and pair them with tasteful wines. Anyone can sign up on Tablespoon's website and pick a dish to cook, which range from easy to very advanced. The cookbook potlucks are $30, and cover the cost of the main dishes, the rented space at Revel and three glasses of wine. The cookbooks have to be purchased separately.

The cookbook club will meet again on Nov. 7 for a Lebanese themed potluck. This time, the cookbook is Orange Blossoms and Rose Water by Maureen Abood.

“She's a friend of mine and it's an amazing book,” Hamons says. “The food is so good."

The last day to meet for this year will be the potluck on Nov. 7, but after the New Year, the potluck will return once every month. Next year, Hamons will be working on the cookbook club as well as more cooking classes and a series of tasting events with Tablespoon.

To check out what she has in the works, click here.
 


Ohio Innocence Project works with UC law students to exonerate those wrongly convicted


The Ohio Innocence Project, based at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, marked International Wrongful Conviction Day on Oct. 2 with a week of events across the state.

The expansion of programming comes on the heels of an announcement that Ohio Representative Bill Seitz introduced legislation to provide compensation to individuals wrongly convicted due to prosecutors withholding evidence.

“This will have a tremendous impact on the lives of some of our exonerees who were released from prison with nothing and with no hope for compensation for the several years of their lives lost to wrongful imprisonment,” says Rashida Manuel, outreach manager.

Among the nearly 70 organizations that make up the Innocence Network, which is a collective of projects around the country working to exonerate wrongfully convicted men and women, OIP is unique for several programs.

“While many projects use law students to help investigate their cases, OIP’s one-year fellowship allows students to have a more in-depth view of innocence work and gain substantial hands-on experience,” Manuel says.

OIP is also the only program in the country to work with undergraduate students.

“We introduced OIP-u, a program for undergraduate students, two years ago,” says Manuel. “A core group of students from six universities in Ohio — UC, Xavier, the University of Dayton, OSU, OU and John Carrol University — work closely with us to host events on their campuses aimed at raising awareness about wrongful conviction.”

One of the UC events is the annual Dash and Bash and Freedom Walk. The race raises awareness of wrongful convictions, with exonerees participating in the Freedom Walk, as well as funds for OIP’s work.

Although focused on overturning wrongful convictions in Ohio, OIP works with organizations in Europe and Asia to start their own innocence projects through its Center for the Global Study of Wrongful Conviction and the European Innocence Network conference.

In September, OIP director Mark Godsey released a book, Blind Injustice, about his transition from prosecutor to innocence attorney and the causes of wrongful convictions. The Mercantile Library will host Godsey and several OIP exonerees for a reading and talk on Nov. 8.

“A central tenet of our mission is to inform the public of criminal justice system flaws, and our hope is that as communities become more educated on wrongful conviction, substantial change can be made,” Manuel says.

As OIP approaches its 15th anniversary next year, it is celebrating its work in freeing 25 Ohioans who were wrongfully convicted, and anticipate more exonerees in the future.
 


Cincy hosts nationally recognized TechStars Startup Week Oct. 9-13


During the week of Oct. 9-13, #StartupCincy will host Techstars Startup Week Cincinnati powered by CincyTech — a first of its kind for the city. The five-day event is free and open to the public. Denver-based Techstars is a worldwide network that helps cultivate relationships among entrepreneurs, bigcos and startups in order to help them all succeed.

In years past, NewCo and FounderCon have showcased Cincinnati’s capability and talent as a startup hub, but for Cintrifuse’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager Henry Molski, the local startup scene has never seen an event quite like this.

“This year's event rides on the momentum of last years’ successes and pushes us into a new territory, but now we're telling our own story — that #StartupCincy has some of the best tools in the Midwest for you to launch a successful business,” says Molski. “Five full days of events: more than 60 speakers, 50 sessions, five happy hours, two demo days and a pitch competition. It's a big week.”

Each day, the public is invited to see what the local startup community is all about. The entire week is free and open to anyone who is interested. It’s a time to engage with others, source talent and learn best practices, all while creating opportunities for collaboration and growth.

And it’s all happening the same week as BLINK and Music Hall’s grand re-opening, which is no coincidence, says Eric Weissmann, Cintrifuse’s director of marketing, as the arts and innovation go hand-in-hand.

It was just a few years ago that event organizers were encouraged to space things out in the city, but Molski says the concentration of events this year “is a function of how much our city has grown and continues to work together.”

One of the 60 speakers at Startup Week is Alicia Kintner, CEO of ArtsWave, who will be speaking about the arts’ role in the innovation and entrepreneurship community.

“It was our intent to overlap with the [various arts-related] openings because it shows the energy that is pumping through our arts and innovation district in Over-the-Rhine,” Molski says. “It's very vibrant.”

For him, it’s impossible to walk the sidewalks of OTR without bumping into members of the arts and entrepreneurial communities every few steps, but there are still individuals he says who may not be in-the-know when it comes to the other community.

“With all of this happening at once though, it's impossible to miss out on the connection,” Molski says. “If you're involved in one, you're involved in the other.”

Check out Startup Week’s complete schedule of events, and read about another startup-related event in this week's issue that's happening later in October.


Hacking Heroin leaders to present ideas at IX Health event on Sept. 29


The Innovation Xchange fall program, IX Health 2017, will explore civic health technology on Sept. 29, which is organized by Cintrifuse and The Health Collaborative. Organizers expect over 175 attendees from local and national heavy-hitters in the healthcare and technology industries, such as Humana, Microsoft, P&G, Mercy Health, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Johnson & Johnson and the City of Cincinnati.

“A healthy city equals healthy people,” says Emily Geiger, managing director of Spry Labs. “So how do we get people to the right resources to address social determinants of health like transportation, substance abuse, safety, food and housing? IX Health starts that conversation across the community between civic leaders, healthcare and others about these issues.”

Previous IX Health events have been less focused on a single theme, instead exploring innovation around multiple health topics. The Hacking Heroin event earlier this summer, and its success at bringing together disparate sectors around a single issue, prompted this year’s focus on civic health.

“What Hacking Heroin showed us is that by focusing on one issue, you can address the many social determinants contributing to the problem and the technology that offers solutions,” Geiger says.

Following a kickoff talk by Ted Smith, former chief civic innovation officer at Louisville Metro, attendees will break out into three civic health salons, presented by Spry Labs, the Health Collaborative and 17A.

Spry Labs will explore on-demand, consumer-focused models in healthcare. The Health Collaborative will look at an innovative model being tested in Cincinnati that connects healthcare providers with the social service sector. 17A’s salon will feature an interactive panel on the opioid crisis.

“We are excited to have representatives from regional health systems, social services and the tech community all in the same room,” says Geiger. “Startups will demo and get exposure, and they will hear what the community needs, which could spark new ideas.”

Over lunch, keynote speaker Adam Hecktman, Microsoft Chicago’s director of civic technology and innovation, will talk about his work partnering with public organizations and nonprofits to apply tech solutions to civic problems.

After lunch, startups working on civic health issues will pitch and demo their ideas. “We put out a call to action to local and national startups that are increasing the accessibility of services,” says Geiger. “The pitches will be problem-focused using a civic health mindset to provide solutions.”

To wrap up the day, the three Hacking Heroin winners will offer progress updates and demos of their projects. The final session will be followed by a networking happy hour.

“People in the tech industry are looking for a purpose-driven opportunity in the work they do, even if it is a side project,” says Geiger. “IX Health can flip the pitch by connecting the problems with the resources and help to solve it.”

IX Health will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 29 at Union Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Click here to view the day's schedule of events and to purchase tickets (range from $50-99).


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalist: Circus Mojo


Circus Mojo’s Paul Miller says “there’s no business like show business,” and he should know. He has performed as a clown with the “Greatest Show on Earth,” also known as the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey Circus, as well as Off Broadway shows and soap opera gigs.

He is now channeling his inner (and outer) PT Barnum to start a new venture called BIRCUS Brewing Co., which is located in Ludlow. This idea is about 20 years in the making and dates back to when Miller first arrived in Cincinnati.

In 2009, Miller relocated to Ludlow and founded Circus Mojo to offer circus classes, corporate team building opportunities and special events, and to create and run the Circus Wellness Program for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

That same year, Miller also bought a former Ludlow movie theater built in 1946 to provide a home base for Circus Mojo and a venue for homegrown, non-site-specific events and productions. Now known as The Ludlow Theatre, a venue for music, comedy, plays and circus, it was recently named to The National Register of Historic Places.

From 2009-2014, the space was successful as a venue for showcases and events produced by Circus Mojo, as well as a space for private rental until it became the temporary incubator/brewing space for BIRCUS. Today, the space is under construction to better accomodate BIRCUS.

Circus Mojo is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

The "Big Pitch" that Circus Mojo is making is to use the potential $20,000 award to take the plastic kegs that BIRCUS is made in and have them shredded, melted and poured into a mold that will be converted into spinning plates. These plates will be distributed during Circus Mojo's performances and classes, as well as to its nursing home clients and the kids at Cincinnati Children's. 

“The concept of taking our own plastic kegs and recycling them into a product that I have been buying for 20 years is gigantic,” says Miller. “Our kegs that hold our fantastic beer will be transformed into circus props and given away to people who will be entertained by our performers.”

During the Big Pitch process, Circus Mojo will be mentored by Vance Marshall, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Mike Zorn.

“Oh and another thing: Don't be afraid of clowns,” Miller says. “We have existed since the dawn of time and our goal is to make people laugh while subverting authority.”


______________________________________________________________________________________________________

How to Attend the ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank:

ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

Read the previous profiles of 
Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop + Studio and CGCERAMICS and Untold Content LLC.
 


Creativity and innovation to be highlighted at upcoming Maker Faire


Cincinnati prides itself on local talent, craftsmen and creatives who make, create and hone their craft all over the region. There are designers, artists, homebrewers, screenprinters, textile makers and writes a-plenty, and on Oct. 7 & 8, the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire will highlight many of these individuals at a "show-and-tell" type event.

The Maker Faire is organized by the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the global Maker Faire network, which was created by MAKE Magazine. Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and is a celebration of the greater Maker Movement. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community by incorporating local crafters, collectors, tech enthusiasts, scientists and more.

In sharing their skills with other community members, makers not only enhance the variability of their craft but also the reach. Maker Faire uses the opportunity to showcase individual crafts among amateurs and professionals alike so that they may continue to pass those skills along to others.

Some of the makers included in this year’s festival are Careers in Welding, Choitek Megamark, OKILUG, OpenHeart Creatures, Project Build It (via the CAC) and Shari the Bag Lady.

For the second consecutive year, the fair will be held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, and the Cincinnati Museum Center's media relations manager Cody Hefner hopes that the event will push the limits of the location this year and use it to its full potential.

Makers can still apply for a booth to showcase their chosen skill and share what they have learned through their craft. There's a separate event for filmmakers, the CurioCity Series: ShakesBEERean Film Festival, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7. 

For ages 21 and up, this includes a Shakespearean film festival, opportunities to meet with some of the festival’s makers and some of Cincinnati's finest beers.

Tickets for Saturday and Sunday, the ShakesBEERean film festival or all three can be purchased here. For more information, visit the Maker Faire homepage or Facebook page.
 


Jubilee Project addresses food deserts and job training in Westwood


Food deserts — or communities without easy access to fresh foods — are a growing concern nationally and in Greater Cincinnati. Among other things, the Jubilee Project is bringing fresh produce to the McHenry corridor of Westwood and East Westwood through an innovative urban farm and market program.

“We have five lots in Bracken Woods, a small area next to the market and two front yards that we farm currently,” says Thomas Hargis, pastor at Calvary Hilltop United Methodist Church. “We not only grow outdoors but we grow in basements as well. We are currently growing out tilapia and have been doing aqua and hydroponics for over a year. We grow lettuce, basil and micro greens throughout the year that provide amazing produce during the wintertime.”


The Jubilee Market, which opened in June, sells produce from Jubilee Farms as well as clothing and merchandise from local vendors. The project was part of a City of Cincinnati collaboration between Place Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories and the Neighborhood Enhancement Program.

“The NEP coming behind PIVOT played a huge role in galvanizing the community, not only around the market but several other projects that have been completed in that area,” says Hargis. “We asked the community what they would like to have in their neighborhood and evaluated what made sense economically. We have since had over 1,000 hours of volunteer labor helping to restore the market and ready the plots for farming.”

The Jubilee Project, a pilot effort of six local Episcopal and Methodist churches, began with a construction job training and housing program.

“Any time you work in a community, you face all the issues that prevent the best parts of the community from blossoming,” says Hargis. “While construction was the first thing Jubilee started working on in Cincinnati, plans for food and other ventures were always in different stages that just needed the right opportunity and space to thrive. Traditionally, farming has not been a career path for most individuals. Urban agriculture, however, has created an opportunity for small businesses to be not only sustainable but provide a thriving wage.”

Jubilee Market also hires neighborhood residents who will learn retail skills and customer service that will hopefully lead to more permanent employment. The Market is currently only open on Saturdays, but the hope is to expand hours soon. Jubilee Farms produce can also be found at the Northside Farmers Market on Wednesday evenings and the Lettuce Eat Well Farmers' Market on Fridays.
 


Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's CINC program celebrates five years


For the past five summers, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Cincinnati Intern Network Connection program has helped connect college students to the region while they work in their respective summer intern and co-op positions.

CINC is a summer-long program that exposes interns and co-ops around the Cincinnati area to all that the region has to offer. It's free to students and participating companies, thanks to the help of many investors, including Presenting Investor: Xavier University’s Summer Intern Housing; Excellence Investors: P&G and Western & Southern Financial Group; Participating Investors: Cintas, EY, Kroger Technology, Miami University, Northern Kentucky University, Patheon Pharmaceuticals and the University of Cincinnati; and Contributing Investors: the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

The program showcases the Cincinnati region through a series of four summer events, which are also free to all interns and co-ops that attend. According to Jules Shumate, special projects leader for the Chamber, it was a record summer for CINC.

"A record 1,050 interns and co-op students signed up for CINC this summer, representing 216 companies, 165
colleges and universities, 45 countries and 36 states,” Shumate says. “Over 500 of those interns came from outside the Cincinnati MSA. CINC significantly increases our ability to attract and retain skilled, global talent to the region’s workforce."

While many of the interns stem from local colleges and universities, some come from schools outside of the Greater Cincinnati area as well.

Heeding from the University of Florida as a Material Science and Engineering major, Ilana Krause has been participating in CINC throughout the summer as she continues her internship with P&G. She says that while she came to the area hesitant, the program and Cincinnati in general has exceeded her expectations.

"I really enjoyed the work experience itself, as the opportunities that P&G provides give interns a lot of freedom and autonomy on their projects, while also giving them the resources to enable them to really contribute to the company,” Krause says. “The work we are given is challenging and interesting, and the people within the company are so supportive and genuinely want interns to succeed and have a great experience.”

According to the Chamber, over 51 percent of the students in CINC are currently employed or have already started their careers in Cincinnati, highlighting the strength of the program in developing area connections for interns and co-ops.

“By connecting students to internship opportunities, interest groups, social scenes, community engagement and Cincy’s flavor, we will deepen their affinity for the region and what it means to have the best in life when they choose Cincinnati after graduation,” Shumate says.

And, from what Krause says, her experiences here have deepened her personal connection with the area. “Coming from Florida, I was hesitant that I would ever consider any other place like home. But after this summer with P&G, programs by the Chamber and the incredible people I met, I could see myself returning back to Cincinnati and continuing to create a network in Ohio.”

Leading up to its closing event for this year’s program, the 2017 CINC program surveys say that 93 percent of interns will consider starting their careers in Cincinnati, something locals can look forward to in the professional realm.

The Chamber is ecstatic to introduce college students and the local community to a brand-new event that will amplify Cincinnati as the #hottestcityinAmerica to over 2,000 students from 18 local member colleges and universities. The Big College Event is a large-scale event for college and university students from all over the region, which will take place form 4 to 9 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Click here for more information regarding the event.
 


Sibling duo brings ancient art of tea ceremonies to East Walnut Hills


Siblings Lily and Max Raphael are the founders of Hearth, a project that creates community through tea and ancient ceremony. You can most often find them at Clear Conscious Movement in East Walnut Hills, where many healers and teachers share a space for their events and classes.

Soapbox sat down for a Q&A with the Raphaels to learn more about how they strengthen and heal Cincinnati through tea.


Why did you choose your location?

Lily: Hearth exists wherever we are. At this time, most of our activities take place at Clear Conscious Movement; however, we also take Hearth to the community, stewarding tea ceremonies at yoga studios, retreats, nature hikes, festivals, art installations and most recently, the Covington Farmers Market.

 

Max: Doing ceremony after ceremony at Clear, we’ve witnessed not only how tea can positively impact the space it’s in, but also all the people who share it. While we hope to expand beyond just tea with Hearth, I think the stillness and connection these ceremonies offer — on so many levels — really captures the overall spirit behind our project.

 

What services do you offer?

Lily: Inspired by our travels in Southeast Asia and Latin America, the goods we offer capture the beauty, culture and human connection we have found in the many places we have gone. These goods root back to all things cozy, providing a sense of home and respite while on the journey. Currently, we offer a selection of teas that Max came across while practicing tea ceremony in Asia. All our teas are clean, organic and in some cases, even wild, and sourced from personal connections to farms and tea merchants in Taiwan and Southern China.

 

Max: Our inspiration to share tea comes from connecting with it as a plant medicine, as I first did while studying in Taiwan. So rather than approach tea as a fancy or exotic beverage, we hope to facilitate a deeper, more personal connection to it, which we’ve found for ourselves.

 

What would surprise people about a tea ceremony? Why would someone want to try it?

Lily: During the ceremony, what I find time and again is that people are surprised by the level of stillness and connectedness they experience through a fairly simple practice. The mere act of sitting in silence and drinking tea allows us time and space to journey inward in a very accessible way that can easily be replicated at home. So much of our time is spent interacting with others, it is hard to find a moment to look inward. Even in just under two hours, it is amazing what one can discover about him/herself while silently sipping a bowl of tea.

 

Max: What’s most surprising is how close everyone feels with one another by the end of the ceremony, even though we’ve never met before, and just spent about an hour or more in silence, not conversation! The ceremony is its own sort of nonverbal conversation; with yourself, with nature and even with others.

 

Actually, the organic flow of it all, and the beautiful responses from people right after it, often catch me by surprise, too. Each ceremony is completely different, even when the same people are gathered. In the Japanese tea ceremony, there’s a saying that captures this: ichi go ichi e, "one chance, one encounter." One meaning of this is that any ceremony (or really any kind of gathering) has its own flavor and essence that could never be duplicated again. This exact assortment of people might never gather again. So tea can help us enjoy this unique time and space together. I usually like to start the gatherings by saying “this experience would not be the same if even one of us weren’t present."

 

How does this ceremony enhance the culture of Cincinnati?

Max: It’s a really special way to spend time with people, whether they’re new or old friends. We have many ways to connect and gather, but so few like this, if at all. To share silence with each other, without it being awkward or rigid, is both rare and meaningful. Most of us already drink tea, and this is just one way to find an even deeper connection with it, and through it, to something beyond tea itself. And the best part is, you don’t have a to be a certain way, or believe in any particular idea. You don’t need to know anything about tea or be a meditator, anything like that. You just sit and drink tea, and without any effort you begin to relax. Your senses gently awaken, and you feel you can set aside the usual masks or armor that some of us need just to get through the day.

 

We’re not sharing tea or the ceremonies to push any ideas, or even to make it into something exotic. We’re just creating a space each time for you to simply be as you are, and take away whatever meaning the experience has for you. To us, this is something so rare and needed not just here in Cincinnati, but everywhere.

 

What rewards you about this business?

Lily: There are so many rewarding aspects to Hearth. I love that it gives everyone an excuse to sit down and connect with each other, and that we have the opportunity to share these very special pieces of our journeys with people in our hometown. I am also grateful that it has brought so much purpose and continuity to what my brother and I love doing.

 


Urban agriculture efforts growing in Cincinnati communities


An innovative inter-departmental collaboration, Urban AgricultureStat, launched in June with a motion passed by Cincinnati City Council. The goal is to expand Cincinnati's urban agriculture footprint and invest in ways to develop blighted properties for the purpose of urban farming.

“Many cities, including Cincinnati, have highly successful urban agriculture programs, and many of those programs are expanding,” says Larry Falkin, director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability. “Currently, gardening is occurring on approximately 40 city-owned parcels.”

OES, working with other City departments including law, health, economic development, planning and water, is developing a pilot project to convert publicly owned vacant land or buildings into urban farms.

“Next step will be presenting a report to the City Council,” says Falkin. “OES always tries to learn from both the successes and failures in our own programs and those in peer cities.”


As urban farming grows in popularity globally, the benefits — open green space, absorption of carbon and heat, sourcing local food and developing local economies — are being weighed against the potential drawbacks. Agriculture needs considerable space and water, which could limit land development options and impact a city’s potable water supply.

Cities including Austin, Detroit and Vancouver have had complaints from community residents about land use, access, odors and especially neighbor engagement and inclusion. RE: VISION in Denver has successfully worked with residents to develop an extensive urban agriculture program. Across Cincinnati, community organizations have started neighborhood gardens.

“Over the past several years, we have engaged in conversations with residents about what we as a community should do with vacant/blighted lots in Lower Price Hill,” says Mary Delaney, executive director of Community Matters. “After many conversations and a few vision gatherings, we heard a desire for space to garden.”

Community Matters hired a resident leader to coordinate the garden project and engage the community. Its test project, converting an empty lot on St. Michael Street into a garden, was so successful that two additional gardens were created and, this year, four neighborhood teenagers were hired as summer garden apprentices.

“I believe that urban farming is a great way to activate vacant properties and engage residents in ‘owning’ the spaces,” says Delaney. “Urban farming could also be a source of employment. I think Waterfields, a local aquaponics company that started in Lower Price Hill, is a great example of this. They have a great business model and are dedicated to providing sustainable wage jobs to local residents.”

Over the coming months, Urban AgricultureStat will be working with community stakeholders to research and plan for a future expansion of the City’s urban agriculture program.
 


Four UC entrepreneurial law students are using their knowledge to help other entrepreneurs

 

Four University of Cincinnati entrepreneurial law students are gaining experience and valuable mentorship as they work to provide eight startup clients with free legal assistance through HCDC. The startups applied for assistance in the spring; all eight businesses are HCDC entrepreneurs.

The students’ work consists of everything from preparing service contracts to website terms and conditions — legal work that is often difficult for small startups to afford.

“Everyone really benefits from this,” says Thomas Cuni, supervising attorney and mentor to the four students placed at HCDC this summer. “The attractiveness is that students get to deal with clients. This isn’t mock trial — not that there’s anything wrong with mock trial — but they gain practice learning how to interview, which is most important.”

This is the fourth summer that students have collaborated with HCDC, which is touted as one of the top business incubators in Ohio. However, the program has been around since 2011, when UC’s College of Law opened the doors to its Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic under the directorship of Prof. Lewis Goldfarb.

While the program occurs on a year-round basis, summer sessions are more intensive, as students work full-time for their clients.

For Maximilian DeLeon, working at HCDC has been his favorite experience as a law student.

"Some highlights I’ve had this summer include forming a Delaware C Corporation, drafting a convertible note for an investor and drafting a service agreement that will be used across the whole country," he says.

Alex Valdes, another student placed at HCDC, shares similar sentiments."I have noticed my own personal growth this summer, but the most rewarding aspect of working at the HCDC has been the relationships forged with my clients who are incredibly passionate small business owners who would not be able to afford legal work if it were not for the services of the clinic. I am proud to play my small, humble role in the growth of Cincinnati."

Check out this story from earlier this year that explains more about the partnership between UC and MORTAR.
 


Social innovation groups unite to tackle the heroin epidemic


An innovative collaboration between Cincinnati City Council, Spry Labs, 17A and Cintrifuse is tackling the opioid crisis with technology to find solutions to help addicts, their families and the community.

“Everyone knows opiates are a huge issue here,” says Annie Rittgers, founder of public sector strategy firm 17A. “But unlike other social problems, there has been little solution-oriented conversation around it. With the vibrant tech scene here and the willingness of agencies to collaborate around the issue, we were able to bring the right people to the table and help them connect.”

Hacking Heroin worked with representatives from tech, public safety, healthcare, venture capital, government and recovery services to craft eight challenges around prevention, response, response-to-recovery and recovery. Over 200 people took part in the three-day hackathon, which was held in June.

“People who wouldn’t normally show up together were there, including socially conscious people who want to be part of an economy and community that solves problems this way,” says Emily Geiger, managing director of the consumer-driven healthcare studio Spry Labs.

Although hackathons around public sector issues are not a new concept, results from other cities have been mixed. The Cincinnati organizers were determined that not only would Hacking Heroin generate solutions, but that winning ideas would receive additional support and development.

  • First Place: Give Hope — Develop a crowdfunding application for organizations on the front lines of addressing the heroin crisis and help them with tools to reach donors
  • Most Community Impact: Window — An application to connect patients and families to real-time availability of treatment options and service providers
  • Crowd Favorite: Lazarus — An Uber-like service to provide on-demand, location-based help for those needing treatment or support

Spry Labs is providing workspace for the winnings teams, and the entire collaborative is connecting them with resources to de-risk and test their applications, including experts on HIPPA privacy implications.

“Now we need to figure out the infrastructure to support the projects and what the follow up should be,” says Rittgers. “There is a real gap in how to pilot new technology within existing delivery models. Cincinnati is unique in creating a collaboration that will help these teams do that.”

In September, the winning teams will present a status update on their projects at IXHealth, where leaders from Microsoft's Technology & Civic Innovation will be in attendance, as well as City Council's Education & Entrepreneurship Committee. Meanwhile, Hacking Heroin organizers continue to meet to work on next steps.
 

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