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Film tour highlights issues surrounding the death penalty

 

On Jan. 16, 2004, the state of Ohio executed Dennis McGuire using an untested cocktail of lethal injection drugs. The result was an execution that lasted nearly 30 minutes and left witnesses aghast at what they had seen.

That execution and the litigation surrounding it is one of the storylines featured in a new documentary film, The Penalty, directed by Will Francome and Mark Pizzey. Recently, Francome and a team of activists traveled around Ohio to screen the film — with three stops in Cincinnati, including one at Xavier University last Wednesday evening.

“Ohio plays such a big part in the film,” says Francome. “We really wanted to bring it here to show the people of the state the unknown story of the litigation around lethal injection.”

The tour was co-hosted by two nonprofits, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center and Ohioans to Stop Executions. IJPC is committed to end local and global systems of injustice; OTSE is a statewide nonprofit group with a mission to reduce the use of capital punishment in Ohio, and eventually repeal it completely.

The Penalty not only focuses on the many problems with lethal injection, but also dives into issues of innocence and the difficulties faced by the families of murder victims. The film centers on three narratives: the story of a man trying to put his life back together after being freed from death row; a murder victim's family’s journey through the legal process; and the efforts of an Ohio attorney to keep his client alive, which ultimately culminated in the botched execution of Dennis McGuire.

“We filmed other stories as part of the film and these stories demanded to be the main focus," says Francome. "They were very compelling, and what makes this film good is that these characters are fighters that really go through something.”

The film's release and the subsequent tour is timely for a Cincinnati man, Raymond Tibbetts, who is scheduled to be executed on Feb. 13. Tibbetts is currently seeking clemency from Governor Kasich, an effort that’s being promoted by OTSE via an online petition.

“It’s an important time to show the film — I just hope that people think about the death penalty and consider what’s being done here,” Francome says.

Abe Bonowitz, an organizer for OTSE, wants Cincinnati to pay attention to this issue and hopes The Penalty will start the discussion in the city. “The state is carrying out the ultimate authority of life in all of our names, and whether we agree with it or not, everybody wants to be sure the system is both fair and accurate. You can’t look at how the system functions and believe that it is either.”
 


Cincinnati Opera teaming up with OIP to broaden audience awareness


Wrongful convictions occur far too often in our criminal justice system, so the Ohio Innocence Project is teaming up with the Cincinnati Opera and the Young Professionals Choral Collective to collaborate on a new project.

The opera Blind Injustice, named after UC Law Professor and OIP Director Mark Godsey’s book by the same name, will debut in June 2019. It will detail the stories and range of emotions experienced by six men and women — all of whom were wrongly convicted and later exonerated as a result of OIP’s dedication to the truth.

“The stories of these six exonerees are powerful tales of perseverance and forgiveness after going through an ordeal most of us can’t even imagine,” Godsey says.

The stories included are: Rickey Jackson, who spent 40 years in prison and was sentenced to death prior to being exonerated for a murder he did not commit; Clarence Elkins, who spent 7.5 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of rape and murder; Nancy Smith, who was in prison for 15 years as a result of invalid molestation charges; and the East Cleveland 3 — Derrick Wheatt, Laurese Glover and Eugene Johnson — who each spent 20 years in prison prior to a key eyewitness’ recanting of testimony.

According to Marcus Küchle, director of artistic operations and new work development for the Opera, opera is an ideal medium to convey the exonerees’ powerful emotions. “The general public is likely not aware of the extent of this problem. And if they are aware that wrongful convictions occur with not insignificant frequency, then it may be compartmentalized as ‘cost of doing business’ or ‘unfortunate collateral damage’ in the process of keeping society safe. But there is a steep human cost to it. It comes with feelings of being terrified for one’s life, an indescribable feeling of love and longing for family and friends who are literally out of reach and unable to help.”

The OIP will also be represented in Blind Injustice through the lens of two characters — one of which represents Godsey in the early days of his career as a prosecutor and now as an innocence lawyer, and another that will represent OIP law students.

“Cincinnati Opera is looking for innovative ways to collaborate with nontraditional partner organizations in an authentic way to tell current stories of societal importance,” says Küchle. “We are keenly interested in breaking through the stereotypes of what opera is in the 21st century, and this project is a perfect example of the type of new works Cincinnati Opera will pursue in future seasons.”
 


Flywheel's second cohort to present at Demo Day on Feb. 7


The second cohort of Flywheel’s Elevator social enterprise accelerator program will pitch their companies at a demo day on Feb. 7.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature alumni from the first Elevator program; Tamaya Dennard, who was on the leadership team; and former cohort member Katie Nzekwu of Village, as well as a conversation with Joe DeLoss, the social entrepreneur behind Columbus-based Hot Chicken Takeover.

“If you’ve never attended a demo day, it will be an opportunity for a ‘Shark Tank’ look at four companies,” says Bill Tucker, Flywheel's executive director. “If you’ve attended a demo day for another accelerator, it’s an opportunity to learn about the social enterprise space.”

The four members of Elevator’s second cohort are:

  • Dental Access for All works with under-served communities to provide access to dental care
  • Journey to Hope offers affordable coaching and support groups to individuals
  • urbanHive connects employers with potential hires through a skills-based online platform
  • Workforce Connections provides in-house training, coaching and counseling for entry-level employees

Tucker hopes Elevator Demo Day will attract a diverse audience to learn about these companies and get involved with the program.

“Demo Day is for the business leader who wants to improve both her company’s financial ROI and her care for her employees by becoming a customer of one of our companies; the marketing professional at a bigco that can leverage their marketing talent for the benefit of the companies; the high net-worth individual who is reframing his philanthropy as an investment; and individuals who are interested in making our community stronger, ensuring a thriving economy and sustainability for our families,” Tucker says.

The second Elevator cohort experienced a revamped program that included consumer marketing, business development and branding.

“We really ramped up the curriculum, expanded the length of the program from eight weeks to 12 weeks and increased the ‘bench strength’ of mentors,” says Tucker. “We set higher standards for the participating companies, one of the reasons why the cohort is smaller this year. These are not just business ideas, they are businesses with revenue or pilots in place.”

Unlike other accelerator programs, there won’t be a pitch competition or prizes.

“The ‘winner’ is the company that is still standing years from now,” says Tucker. “We’re proud of the fact that five of the seven companies in our first accelerator are still standing."

Although Demo Day is free, registration is required for the event.
 


SEED Ohio pilot allows orgs, individuals to donate to saving the planet


SEED Ohio, a pilot program to help raise funds for Ohio environmental nonprofits, will wrap up its inaugural campaign at the end of this month.

“Only three percent of all philanthropic giving goes to environmental causes,” says Jon Cocina, COO of 1% for the Planet, a global network of businesses, nonprofits and individuals working together for a healthy planet. “With this pilot, we wanted to increase impact and innovate to tackle environmental issues in a bigger way."

1% for the Planet not only targets Ohio residents, but also shares the SEED Ohio campaign on its global platform, which provides visibility and awareness of Ohio causes to its members and social media channels.

“SEED Ohio targets people who might not be familiar with environmental organizations so they would be hesitant to pick one nonprofit or one issue to support," Cocina explains. "We created a mobile-friendly, engaging donation platform, and are working with organizations that provide knowledge around their issues that we can share with the donors.”

Donations to the SEED program are split evenly between six Ohio environmental organizations, each one addressing 1% for the Planet’s key issue areas: land, water, climate, food, pollution and wildlife.

The six Ohio organizations include Cuyahoga River Restoration and Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Cleveland; Clean Fuels Ohio and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association in Columbus; and Building Value and Ohio River Foundation in Cincinnati.

“The SEED partners were already working with 1% for the Planet and doing great, innovative work,” says Cocina. “Each participant will provide metrics on how the donations were used and every donor will receive an impact report.”

1% for the Planet began in 2012 with the idea that companies would donate one percent of their sales to environmental causes. “All businesses take from the environment in some way,” says Cocina. “1% for the Planet offers a way for businesses to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”

1% for the Planet has over 1,200 business members and recently launched an individual membership program for people to commit one percent of their salary to support environmental nonprofit organizations.

“We realized that not everyone is ready or able to give one percent of their sales or salary,” says Cocina. “This pilot is a new platform and engagement opportunity for individuals to give. SEED Ohio lets anyone be part of the movement.”

SEED Ohio will accept donations through Dec. 31. 1% for the Planet will be evaluating the six-month pilot and planning next steps in 2018.
 


Innovative grantmaking program to help transform the region's health


Today, Bethesda Inc., a major funder of health transformation and cosponsor of TriHealth, announced the launch of bi3, a dedicated grantmaking initiative meant to transform health in the region. bi3 will invest in ideas, with the potential to start and scale health innovation. This will result in better overall health for all of Greater Cincinnati's residents.


“bi3 is the evolution of Bethesda Inc.’s grantmaking work, which builds on our rich history of health-related innovations,” says Mark Holcomb, chairman of Bethesda Inc. “The bi3 initiative better positions us to invest in collaborations and partnerships that lead to breakthrough change in health and healthcare.”

The letters "bi" honor the Bethesda Inc. heritage; the number "3" recognizes that the initiative is built on three core elements — ideas, investments and innovation. It's not a foundation or a hospital, but the result of a philanthropic investor that wants to help transform the health of the region.

As a cosponsor of TriHealth, Bethesda Inc. and bi3 will be able to create and fund collaborations between TriHealth and community-based organizations. As a result, bi3 will have the ability to scale programs more rapidly, setting it apart from other health-related grants.

The initiative will build upon Bethesda Inc.'s learnings and past successes by focusing on four funding priorities, which represent the top health needs in the community: maternal and infant health; behavioral health; palliative and hospice care; and health innovation that are enabled by new technology or accelerate the integration of care.

Overall, bi3 is particularly interested in efforts that achieve health equity by addressing the social determinants of health and health disparities for underserved populations. In the coming months, bi3 will be flexible in its approach to funding in order to best respond to new opportunities and changes within the community.

As part of the launch, bi3 also announced $3.8 million in funding to TriHealth and local nonprofit organizations. Recipients and program info are below:

  • TriHealth in partnership with Hospice of Cincinnati will receive $3.35 million in grant money over three years to launch the first health system-sponsored community-based palliative care program in the region. Once established, the program will relieve physical suffering, manage symptoms, address social needs and support care choices for vulnerable and seriously ill patients and their families. The program, PalliaCare Cincinnati, is expected to provide better care for patients, better health by addressing emotional and phsyical suffering and lower costs from decreased use of acute healthcare services.
  • The Center for Addiction Treatment received a $100,000 grant to provide seed money for the start of a primary care clinic and medical resident training program, specifically designed to treat patients suffering from addiction. The clinic will also serve as a training site for TriHealth residents and others in family practices and internal medicine, so residents can learn evidence-based practices for treating addiction as a disease.
  • Thanks to a $50,000 grant, TriHealth Behavioral Health will define and deploy a Substance Use Disorder Program that will provide clinical training and patient education on comprehensive treatment options. The program will initially focus on patients facing opioid addiction, and will include links to outpatient treatment upon discharge to help prevent further admissions. This program is in the pilot stage at Good Samaritan Hospital.
  • Spry Labs received a $45,000 grant to create a benefit tracker designed for mobile apps, in collaboration with TriHealth. This will allow health system employees a quick, intuitive and convenient way to track time and activities related to delivering community benefit programs. The tracker will also better enable healthcare systems to measure community impact.
  • A $100,000 grant will allow St. Vincent DePaul-Cincinnati to complete a consult agreement with Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill in order to allow immediate patient care services like modifying current drug therapy, starting new therapy, ordering labs and/or physical assessment of patients. The agreement will have the added benefit of providing insight into this community healthcare model and will offer a breakthrough in safety-net healthcare for patients without insurance.

A collaborative film project to showcase what makes Walnut Hills unique, special


Communities around Cincinnati are experiencing a renaissance — new businesses are recognizing the beautiful bones of our neighborhoods and growing into these interesting spaces.

Walnut Hills is one of those neighborhoods. Its proximity to downtown, historic Art Deco architecture and greenspaces have made it a highly-coveted community for businesses looking to establish themselves.

Yet some residents are concerned about losing the spirit of their neighborhood to the so-called renaissance.

That’s why a new artistic collaboration called “Here. Now. This.” seeks to preserve the character of the neighborhood and make the argument to keep Walnut Hills a little "weird."

“Here. Now. This” is a documentary film that includes footage and still shots by photographer Michael Wilson that capture the eclectic beauty of Walnut Hills. The film is the result of a collaboration between Wilson, musician Ric Hordinksi and the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, along with funding from ArtsWave.

“I hope ‘Here. Now. This.’ preserves the beauty of what Walnut Hills is now," says Betty Waite, CFO for the WHRF. “The beauty is going to change. It’s like the high school graduation picture, preserving the beauty before the big makeover.”

The documentary is scored by Hordinksi, who has been a resident of Walnut Hills since 1992. He says that the stories and sights of his community inspire him every day.

“I’m constantly running into interesting characters. I really love the physicality of the neighborhood; the architecture of the neighborhood.”

Hordinski says he hopes the project can unify redevelopment efforts with the diverse population of Walnut Hills. “When a neighborhood starts to have a renaissance, the things that make the neighborhood unique tend to get washed out,” he says. “I’ve been here for 25 years and we’ve worked hard to preserve the parts of the neighborhood that are amazing and unique.”

“Here. Now. This.” is still being developed with an eye toward completion in early 2018. The collaborators plan to host screenings in Walnut Hills, while also making the film available online.

“It’s important because I want to do my part to give back,” says Hordinksi. “I’ve been enriched by the neighborhood and my neighbors. I just want to share that with other people.”
 


People's Liberty announces its first round of project grantees for the new year


People’s Liberty, a philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Cincinnati, has announced its grant recipients for the first part of 2018.

Launched in August 2014, PL has constructed a philanthropic experiment that will come to a close in 2019. Since its inception, it has awarded grants to 55 people.

Eight grantees are announced per cycle, and there are two cycles per year. Project grantees are awarded $10,000, a six-month series of launch events and access to mentorship and workspace provided by PL. The first round of 2018 winners will implement ideas ranging from artistic basketball courts and care packages to weaving together the community and improving nutrition for local individuals.

Cycle 6 winners and their projects can be found below:

- April Culbreath: Operation Comfy Chair will teach veterans how to reupholster and refinish furniture, which will then be donated to various organizations that help veterans and the homeless.

- Clayton Brizendine: Courts of Art will turn dilapidated, outdoor basketball courts into works of art where people of all ethnicities, religions and racial backgrounds can gather and play.

- Eric Gruenstein: BioChar will teach children and their families how to use charcoal as soil to produce healthy vegetables and to remove greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. His hope is to mitigate the dangers of climate change and to improve nutrition through awareness.

- Jay Kalagayan: MeSseD is an underground installation in a real service tunnel that will create a social “moment” using his comic MeSesD, which features a sewer worker named Lilliput. He hopes his project will create an appreciation for MSD employees who treat, process and provide life-sustaining water to the city.

- Simone Cocks-Charles: Campus Closet is a mobile recourse for college students from low-income households that will provide care packages and other upcycled necessities, making the transition into college life easier.

- Jeffrey Miller: Lunchbox is a lunchtime pop-up destination that will provide a diverse range of meal options using ingredients rescued from local grocery stores and farms. His hope is to educate the community about food waste and “ugly food.”

- Geralyn Sparough: Shelter from the Storm will be a large weaving shelter in a public space in Cincinnati. She hopes this structure will help illustrate and strengthen our ties to each other as a community.

- Tina Dyehouse: She wants to create an ombudsman for the Cincinnati area using social media and a blogging platform called Urban Ombuds. An ombudsman, or ombuds, will investigate, negotiate and resolve problems for individuals with a government or public agency.

On Nov. 16, PL kicked off a celebration for the halfway point in its five-year venture with Intermission. The multi-week celebration includes reflection on past grantees and projects accomplished through PL, as well as conversations about future projects to come, including the opening of a new storefront in Camp Washington next spring.

Intermission will also include an extended program called PL20, which will focus on 20 days of grantee- and resident-led special events and programs. These programs will take place through Dec. 14, and will range from hour-long to day-long projects. More information about PL20 can be found here.

PL is currently accepting residential applications for its Residency Program, including positions in design, digital, writing and more. For more information about PL, its stories and to apply for the residency program, click here.
 


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.


 


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.
 


WordCamp returns for second year, aims to provide training and networking for Wordpress users


For the second year in a row, volunteers have come together to make WordCamp a reality. WordCamp is a volunteer-run, grassroots business seminar that focuses on website development in WordPress.

According to Marce Epstein, part of the award-winning marketing strategy team for WordCamp, WordPress is responsible for hosting about 29 percent of websites on the internet, which is why it makes sense to learn about the free and open platform.

At WordCamp, attendees are able to choose different tracks to learn more about WordPress and website development. This year’s schedule includes topics like WordPress 101, search engine optimization, code review and more.

WordCamp takes a different approach than most business seminars. Epstein says one of the main differences is its affordability. “Whereas you might pay $400 for a multiple day conference, WordCamp is intentionally financially accessible to the masses."

A $40 entrance fee grants attendees access to the weekend's events, including lunch and a T-shirt.

Financial accessibility means a diverse population of people are able to attend WordCamp. Entrepreneurs, bloggers, website development teams and anyone curious about Wordpress are encouraged to attend.

Epstein says the conference is a great place for those who often work within their own silos of expertise to "geek out" with one another.

“The benefit of WordCamp and business conferences like this is the gargantuan benefit of networking. The face-to-face time is invaluable, and I find it’s a great catalyst for sparking ideas and facilitating relationships.”

Susan Rodgers, an independent website developer, agrees. “It’s a little like going to Comic-Con. WordCamp has done a really good job of getting users together to make a community. It’s unusual to have users together to share insights and advice.”

Fellow 2016 WordCamp attendees Guarav Srivastava and his sister Shweta DuMont were inspired by the energy surrounding the WordCamp community.

“It was more like a family,” says Srivastava, who runs the blog unvrslminds.com. “I could approach speakers and ask questions. Everyone was excited to be there and were very friendly."

DuMont says she hopes to be a writer someday, and WordCamp has helped her learn the tools to create and sustain her own blog. “I wanted to get into blogging but was pretty intimidated by the idea of creating your own website. It seemed pretty complicated."

This year’s WordCamp will be held Nov. 11 and 12 at the University of Cincinnati. Click here to buy tickets.
 


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).


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.
 


Local program partners YPs with nonprofits to achieve goals


ReSource On-the-Rise helps local millennials apply their talents to projects and challenges facing nonprofit organizations.

“Young professionals have a lot to offer and are our next generation of leaders,” says Christie Brown, ReSource's executive director. “Our goal is to plant the seed for these YPs so that they will be best equipped to serve on a future board or committee.”

Through its core mission — offering corporate donations of excess office furniture and supplies to area nonprofits — ReSource already has established relationships with small and big cos throughout the region. It also sees the need its nonprofit partners have in developing capacity as well as engaging younger volunteers and donors.

Several years ago, ReSource piloted a YP program and revived it last year to help fill that growing need. The second On-the-Rise class began in June.

After recruiting YPs through board and sponsor contacts, ReSource asked its nonprofit partners to submit projects or problems that would benefit from the expertise of the 16 On-the-Rise participants.

“ReSource acted as a match-maker, connecting the best candidates with the projects that made the most sense with their skills and talents,” Brown says.

After some initial training by ReSource on the world of nonprofits, teams of four YPs went to work with their partner organizations. The four On-the-Rise teams began meeting monthly last month, in addition to spending time outside the meetings working on their projects, which are:

  • Helping Cancer Family Care develop a method to recruit volunteers to assist its cancer clients with household work.
  • Organizing a block party in Milford to celebrate Cleats for Kids, which is opening a location there later this summer.
  • Helping The HealthCare Connection plan its 50th anniversary gala, which will take place in October.
  • Working with the Interfaith Hospitality Network to coordinate and staff its third annual Walk with Family 5K in August.

“Our hope is that as they learn more about the agency they are working with, they will continue to work with them or help another organization in the community,” says Brown. “YPs utilize the program as an introduction to the nonprofit world. They gain valuable exposure from our training, with their partner agency and from the other agencies involved. It's up to them if they will stay involved long-term, which is our hope and goal of the program.”

The third class of ReSource On-the-Rise will take place in the spring. Application information for young professionals and nonprofit organizations will be available through Facebook.
 


Cincy Stories opens second gallery in Price Hill as part of Street Stories project


The Greater Cincinnati area spans communities across Hamilton County, each holding their own contribution to the city, its history and unique stories.

Last year, community building initiative Cincy Stories opened an unusual gallery in Walnut Hills that created a snapshot of the neighborhood at that moment in history. The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation approached the storytelling initiative, offering a storefront free of charge (for the month June, 2016) to help build the community and allow visitors to the gallery to record their own five-minute story about their lives in Walnut Hills.

As the next project for Cincy Stories’ executive director Shawn Braley and creative director Chris Ashwell, another story gallery opened on July 7 in Price Hill. Made possible through partnerships with the Haile Foundation, LISC, Price Hill Will and Artswave, this gallery is just the second of many future community steps for the duo, as they see the friction between long-time residents and newcomers, as well as economical shifts, that can weigh on a neighborhood.

“Through the work of storytelling in Walnut Hills, an entire neighborhood little league is being started by neighborhood residents,” Braley says. “Cincy Stories will capture the shifting populace and stories that intersect as the neighborhoods develop and varying people groups learn to become neighbors.”

The story gallery is an actual gallery — Braley says to picture an art gallery, coffeehouse and living room all in one. Free food and drinks from local eateries, live music and more are available for attendees, depending on the day. It's a place where people can come together and bridge the gap in what can often be tough neighborhoods, allowing for more understanding and sustainable change.

By sharing who they are through community narratives, people can come together more effectively than just sharing opinions on the neighborhood itself.

Now through Oct. 31, people can stop by the neighborhood story gallery in East Price Hill and share their stories with others. Making it their goal to go where the people are and not wait for people to come to them, Braley and Ashwell will produce the stories tod by community members, as they did in the Walnut Hills gallery last year, and the stories will be published on their website, cincystories.net.

Visitors will be able to share stories in face-to-face interactions as well as in a private story booth. The booth is set up as a small, private tent with a chair, microphone and video camera. Braley and Ashwell then take each video segment and edit it into a three- to five-minute video segment that airs on the television screens in the “living room” area, as well as in conjunction with other videos.

Over time, Braley and Ashwell hope that they can collect at least 20 stories from each of the 52 neighborhoods in Cincinnati. By creating relatable stories, the pair believes they can change communities for the better.

While the grand opening was held on July 7, there are gallery parties every Friday in July from 6 to 10 p.m. Weekly events will also be held throughout the duration of the gallery. The gallery is open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday at 3117 Warsaw Ave.

Click here for more information about the gallery, Street Stories and the two-year nonprofit Cincy Stories.
 


Five local artists will showcase their findings about segregation through art


Five artists immersed themselves within the Walnut Hills community to chat with residents and business owners about the issue of segregation and how it’s affecting their community.

The project was initiated by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and is inspired by renowned activist Carlton Turner and his vision of artists as researchers who take their findings to create art that prompts discussion and pursue social justice.

Community members are invited to Cincy Stories at 4 p.m. on June 30 to see the walking exhibit where they can see the interpretations by artists Alan Haley, Michael Ellison, Dyah Miller, Herschel Johnson and Benjamin Thomas.

There will be a break for dinner, and the WHRF encourages people to try the restaurants in the business district. At 7:15, there will be a panel at The Monastery with the artists and community leaders.

According to Johnson, the goal of the project is to empower residents to continue the conversation the artists began.

Here’s what the artists discovered:

“People said they see the kids hanging out with their own race at school,” says Thomas. “And Kroger — it should have been in a thriving place — but people weren’t feeling comfortable to come into a predominately black neighborhood to shop. Businesses close because of that.”

Thomas is using the mediums of aerosol and paint to create “We Are Cincinnati," a mural of four Walnut Hills residents — everyday people without privilege whose portraits will be iconic in nature. Those who attend next week’s event will have the opportunity to see a live demonstration, as Thomas will be working on the mural at the time.

For Ellison, the neighborhood scape has changed. The highway now inhabits his former home, and he rides his bicycle to Clifton to go grocery shopping. He and fellow photographer Miller will display their collection of portraits and places, and at the culmination of the project, will auction their photos off with 25 percent of the proceeds benefitting the Walnut Hills Little League.

Other projects include a documentary, a 3D shield and a partnership with St. Francis de Sales to offer students the opportunity to learn to sculpt. Each artist’s project includes a plan for community building and community betterment, both now and in the future.

“Segregation is a condition,” Thomas says. “It’s really a mentality that’s subconsciously or intentionally placed in the minds of folks because of money, greed, power — whatever it is — and I don’t want to point a finger, but I want to recondition the condition of segregation by introducing people to others and giving platforms to people who don’t have them.”
 

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