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Cincinnati's local food movement spurred by Partners for Places grant


The City of Cincinnati recently received a $105,000 Partners for Places grant to help strengthen the area’s local food ecosystem by supporting civic engagement, developing new food policies, creating the Cincy Food Fund and funding food fellowships. The grant was matched by Interact for Health and the Haile Foundation, stretching the potential impact even farther.
 
“Although the food movement can be very foodie and high-end, the robust and growing local food movement is also very sensitive to the underserved populations,” says Brewster Rhoads, outgoing executive director of Green Umbrella. “We’re committed to equity and access to local food, and this helps improve the health and overall welfare of our citizens while also growing small businesses with local dollars.”
 
The grant is being managed and administered by Green Umbrella, whose Local Food Action Team is at the focal point of Cincinnati’s local food movement.
 
“The whole notion of farm-to-table isn’t new,” Rhoads says. “What is new is the level of collaboration that is developing among those who are interested in and engaged in working with food.”
 
As part of this, Interact for Health recently changed its focus from healthcare to prevention, with two of the group’s four main focus areas being active living and healthy eating. The organization is helping develop the region’s walking/biking trails and funded the creation of Green Umbrella’s Local Food Action Team, which hopes to double the amount of food grown and consumed in the region by 2020.
 
Interact for Health also funded the Assessment of Local Food in Greater Cincinnati, which has lead to the formation of a number of local groups and organizations committed to Cincinnati’s local food movement.
 
“With all of these things falling into place, the food movement is just exploding,” Rhoads says. “There’s a burgeoning restaurant explosion in the region, and not just in Over-the-Rhine. With the growing interest in local food by chefs, they’re sourcing food from the region, which is creating a whole new outlet for growers in the region.”
 
The grants will be used to help provide funding for innovative projects that the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, which was launched three months ago, commissions through its four teams — production, distribution, access and land use. The teams will have funding to support pilot projects in each area of interest.
 
They’ll also be used for the Cincy Food Fund, which is patterned after a similar program in Indianapolis, and to underwrite the Food Fellows, who will do three-month internships that focus on production, distribution, community education and land use.
 
“We’re focusing on helping grow the next generation of food activists,” Rhoads says.
 
Part of this focus on local food comes down to the everyday consumer. Green Umbrella’s Local Food Action Team is encouraging people to commit themselves to spending 10 percent of their grocery budget on food that’s grown in the region. That act would put almost $50 million back into the local food movement.
 
“By changing this behavior and encouraging people to do this, it will help increase the demand on food grown in the region, and production demand will follow,” Rhoads says. 
 

Art wall to help deter crime, improve curb appeal of Pike Street


In the past year, Pike Street in Covington has seen a number of changes — renovated buildings, new businesses and apartments — that are helping attract new residents to the area.
 
The Pike Street Art Wall, spearheaded by architect and Covington resident Chris Meyer, will add to the neighborhood's positive news. The wall, located at 218 Pike St. and owned by Meyer, will display art from local and regional artists.
 
The project recently received one of eight Creative Community grants from the Center for Great Neighborhoods. The $5,000 grant will help Meyer curate the art wall and contribute to funding the space's upkeep and visual look.
 
Each display will be about 3-by-5 ft. and be covered with a sheet of acrylic to help protect artwork from the weather and vandalism. The wall will have three separate display areas for all kinds of 2D artwork.
 
Besides artwork, the project will also include an overhang to provide further protection from the elements, a few LED spotlights to help illuminate the displays at night and some flowers. 
 
The art wall will also help keep unwanted trespassers out of the vacant lot between 218 and 214 Pike, which has been a problem in the past. Meyer hopes to acquire the lot in the future.
 

Observatory engages community through stargazing events


The Cincinnati Observatory is truly a 19th Century landmark, built in 1873 by Samuel Hannaford and home to one of the world’s oldest working telescopes. In an effort to turn back the clock to those days, a number of restorations in the past 15 years have helped “demodernize” the facility located on the edge of Ault Park.
 
“We like to make things how it used to be,” says Dean Regas, outreach astronomer for the observatory. “With the restorations, we wanted to get back to craftsmanship and give people a more authentic experience.”
 
For example, the observatory’s two domes used to be operated by a motor. After seeing in a book that the domes used to be operated by a hand crank, Regas resurrected the hand cranks from the observatory basement and installed them.
 
The observatory has two telescopes — an 11-inch Merz and Mahler refractor that was built in 1842 and a 16-inch Alvan Clark and Sons refractor from 1904. The telescopes are used daily by the public during a number of events as well as on Astronomy Thursdays and Fridays. Admission ranges from $5 to $15 depending on the event.
 
For the past 10 years the observatory has hosted end-of-the-year school fieldtrips, many of which result from observatory staff going into classrooms and talking about astronomy.
 
Upcoming events for the general public include planet-themed nights, where people can see unobstructed views of the month’s most visible planet; Sunday Sun-day Sundae on June 14, which is an ice cream social with solar viewing; and the third Celestial Sips Wine Tasting Event on June 20 to celebrate the summer solstice.
 
This year, the observatory is partnering with Wurst Bar for the Wurst Date Night Ever on July 23. Participants will start at Wurst Bar, 3204 Linwood Ave. in Mt. Lookout, take a shuttle up to the observatory for a night under the stars and then head back to the bar for happy hour.
 
On Aug. 29, the observatory is also hosting a starlit picnic on the lawn. Guests can bring a picnic and watch the sun set and the moon rise over the city.
 
Apart from the observatory’s many events, the University of Cincinnati, which owns the observatory, uses the telescopes for a number of classes, including continuing education classes through the Communiversity program
 
For more information on the observatory’s programming, visit its website.
 

OTR continues to introduce new retail and food/drink options


The Over-the-Rhine economy continues to boom, with new street-level businesses opening every week. Entities like 3CDC, The Model Group, Urban Sites and Over-the-Rhine Community Housing have helped spur much of the residential development in the neighborhood, and the influx of residents has led to a demand for more retail and eateries.
 
A number of new storefronts have opened recently, with several restaurants coming on-line soon to add to the area’s eclectic and diverse options. Here's a quick roundup:
 
Continuum, 1407 Vine St.
DAAP grad Erica Leighton-Spradlin opened Continuum on May 8. She curates home décor, gifts and women’s clothing items that are designed by local artists.
 
Elm & Iron, 1326 Vine St.
Columbus-based Elm & Iron opened its first Cincinnati location on May 13. The store sells a mix of new and vintage industrial home décor pieces and accessories.
 
Idlewild Woman, 1232 Vine St.
Article's sister store Idlewild Woman opened on May 16. The shop features clothing and one-of-a-kind home accessories exclusively for women.
 
Kit and Ace, 1405 Vine St.
Created by the family of Lululemon Athletica’s founder, Kit and Ace focuses on luxury clothing. The OTR store will be the company’s third U.S. location, with the others in NYC and San Francisco. It's expected to open June 5.

Low Spark, 15 W. 14th St.
The overall concept and opening date are still under wraps for this tiny bar from the 4EG folks, but keep a tab on its Facebook page for updates.
 
16-Bit Bar+Arcade, 1331 Walnut St.
Stepping into 16-Bit Bar+Arcade promises to be like a blast from the past, with arcade games, music and drinks straight out of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Work at the site is ongoing, and owner Troy Allen is shooting for an early summer opening.
 
TBA, 1429 Walnut St.
An as-yet-to-be-announced restaurant concept from the owners of Cheapside Café and The Rookwood.
 

Bad Tom Brewery undergoing changes, keeping beer recipes


Bad Tom Smith Brewing will be undergoing changes in the coming months to enhance its customers’ experience. The beer will remain the same, but the look and feel of the brewery itself will undergo a facelift.
 
Bad Tom opened as Double Barrel Brewery in 2013 under the direction of Sean Smith and Charles Boucher, who left the business at the beginning of this year. Smith then brought on two friends, John Vojtush and Sheryl Gittins, who are now majority owners, with 70 percent ownership; Smith, his mother and two others retain the other 30 percent.
 
Jeff Graff, owner of Paradise Brewing Supplies, was recently brought on as Bad Tom’s head brewer and is also an equity partner in the business. A full-time assistant brewer, Eric Napier, was also hired.
 
Bad Tom Smith beer recipes will remain the same, but Graff and Napier plan to better the products’ overall quality. Changes will also be made to improve the taproom experience and make it more inviting for customers. Bad Tom is working with a new marketing partner as well, and the overall brewery and taproom will soon have more of a Western saloon feel.
 
Plans are also being circulated for a new brewery location, which could happen as early as the first quarter of 2016.
 
Bad Tom is open from 5-10 p.m. Wednesdays, 5-11 p.m. Thursdays, 4-11 p.m. Fridays and 1-11 p.m. Saturdays. The brewery is located at 4720 Eastern Ave., East End.
 

Cincinnati State adds craft beer classes to help grow local job market


Starting this fall, Cincinnati State will offer two classes that are designed to complement the city’s growing craft beer industry. Both classes will be three credit hours and available only to students taking other Cincinnati State classes.
 
Carla Gesell-Streeter, chair of the Communication and Theater Department at Cincinnati State and co-owner of the Hoperatives blog, designed the classes. She’s been writing about Cincinnati’s beer culture for about six years and has seen the number of active breweries and brewpubs here grow from five in 2009 to about 30 by the end of this year.
 
“These classes will help bring exposure to what the professional world of brewing is,” she says. “Right now, if a brewery wants to hire a brewer with experience, they have to hire away from another brewery. The same is true for sales representatives at different brewing distributors. As a community college, we look at the workforce and identify the need. We’re looking to help build up the field and the knowledge basis.”
 
Gesell-Streeter submitted a proposal to the school four years ago for the new classes and recently took a sabbatical to research different programs.
 
BREW 100: Introduction to Craft Beer will be offered for the first time in the fall. The class will cover the history of beer and brewing as well as the different styles of beer. The class will also partner with Rhinegeist to design a beer, which will be brewed and tapped at the brewery. A sales and marketing rep will then talk to the class about possible next steps to roll out the new beer. If another section is added in the fall due to demand and when the class is offered again in the spring, a different local brewery will be invited to work with the class.
 
BREW 160: Sensory Evaluation will focus on cicerone, which is the craft beer equivalent of wine sommelier. There are three different levels of cicerone, with BREW 100 getting people ready for the first level, certified beer server. BREW 160 will focus more on the second and third levels, which deal with how a beer tastes and when a beer doesn’t taste right. At this point, BREW 160 doesn’t have a true pre-requisite, but it will require instructor approval.
 
“These classes aren’t about homebrewing, but more for people who are trying to get into the business of craft beer,” Gesell-Streeter says.
 
If you’re a Cincinnati State student who is interested in either beer class, email Gesell-Streeter at carla.gesell-streeter@cincinnatistate.edu for more information.
 

Second annual Quest for the Queen provides participants a day of adventure


In its second year, Quest for the Queen will lead participants on an “Amazing Race” of sorts through Cincinnati May 23. Teams of two compete for a prize, but they can’t use cars, smart phones, the Internet or navigation systems to get from Point A to Point B.
 
At the beginning of the event, participants are given a stack of riddles that will direct them to different local landmarks and small businesses. Teams can choose how they want to tackle the clues and can visit the landmarks in any order. Teams have to snap a photo at each stop to prove they were there.
 
Since teams can’t use their phones to look up an answer to a clue, Quest for the Queen forces people to interact with strangers to figure out where to go next.
 
“We were pretty ambitious last year as to how much people could do,” says John Klinger, who organizes the event with friend Matt Feldhaus. “The winners finished in seven-and-a-half hours, and when everyone arrived at the end location at Rhinegeist they were exhausted. There were a few too many checkpoints, and they were too spread out.”
 
This year’s event will cover less mileage and fewer checkpoints. There will also be two different routes — one for bicyclists and one for walkers or bus riders. Everyone had the same route last year, and those not on bikes weren’t competitive. The checkpoints and riddles will be different between bikers and non-bikers.
 
“This event gives people a way to see the city in a new light,” Klinger says. “When you live somewhere, you often forget about its little quirks. You get in your habits and you forget about things that are there, but you don’t usually do them.”
 
The event starts between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 23 at Washington Park. The checkpoints will be spread across different neighborhoods but stay within Cincinnati city limits, so participants won’t be crossing over into Northern Kentucky or visiting the suburbs.
 
The cost is $30 per person, and 100 percent of the money goes back to funding the event. Dinner is provided at the end of the race, and participants receive Metro passes so they can ride the bus between locations if they wish. Each team member also gets a Quest for the Queen T-shirt, and the winners receive a prize, which hasn’t been announced yet.
 
The deadline to sign up is May 18. Visit questforthequeen.webs.com to register for the race, or send an email to questforthequeen@gmail.com for more information.  
 

Annual bike event raises money for local cancer research


To date Ride Cincinnati, now in its ninth year, has raised more than $1.9 million for the University of Cincinnati’s Barrett Cancer Center to fund 34 breast cancer research projects, including five so far in 2015. This year’s event is June 14 and is open to riders of all skill levels.
 
“The greatest thing about Ride Cincinnati is that the dollars raised stay local and benefit local people,” says Allison Schroeder, spokesperson for Ride Cincinnati.
 
The event features longer rides along Route 8 in Northern Kentucky and shorter routes on Eastern Avenue in Cincinnati. All bike rides begin and end downtown at Yeatman’s Cove at Sawyer Point.
 
There won’t be a kids’ ride this year. Instead, the 8- and 16-mile routes in Cincinnati will be closed-road courses, which means that families will be able to enjoy a safe ride.
 
Ride Cincinnati 2015 has two honorary chairs, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and his wife, Jane. The event is close to Jane’s heart in that her family has been touched by breast cancer. The Portmans will help kick off the event and plan to ride, as they’ve done in the past.
 
This year Ride Cincinnati partnered with Cincy Red Bike, which has agreed to waive the overage fee for event participants. A day pass is $8 per bike, and there’s a bike station at Sawyer Point as well as nearby ones at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Fountain Square.
 
“We wanted to engage with Red Bike because it helps us appeal to a new audience of people,” Schroeder says. “Red Bike is ideal for the 8- and 16-mile rides.”
 
To have the overage fee waived, participants must send an email to britt.glenn@cincyredbike.org prior to race day.
 
Race day begins at 6:30 a.m. with the 63-mile ride. The 45-mile ride begins at 7 a.m., the 26-mile at 8 a.m. and the 8- and 16-mile rides at 8:30 a.m. Event registration is $40 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under. All who sign up to ride get a Ride Cincinnati T-shirt, and participants who raise at least $100 in pledges receive a bicycling jersey.
 

With building purchased, what's next for Clifton Market?


The Clifton Market co-op recently purchased the old IGA building at 319 Ludlow Ave. in Clifton, completing one phase of a long process to bring a grocery store back to the business district.

The market currently has more than 1,000 members and is aiming for 1,500 by the summer and 2,000 by the time the new market opens near the end of 2015. The co-op has raised about $1.3 million so far, with plans to continue fundraising in the coming months.
 
“This store isn’t just for Clifton, it’s for the whole Cincinnati area,” says Adam Hyland, president of the Clifton Market board. “We want it to be uniquely Cincinnati as well as a celebration of what a grocery can be.”
 
The old co-op model, in which shareowners work in the store, isn’t as popular any more. Clifton Market’s model is a democratic form of ownership, which means that no matter how many shares you own no one can buy out majority ownership and each shareowner gets one vote to elect the board.
 
“When we first approached the community about a grocery store, they wanted a sustainable, long-term system, and that’s exactly what this model is,” Hyland says.
 
Shareowners vote for board members, and a general manager will then report to the board on how the day-to-day business is going. One of the things that will set the market apart from other grocery stores will be its staff, which Hyland says will be chosen carefully in order to help provide the ultimate grocery store experience for customers.
 
The 23,000-square-foot space will be a full-service grocery, with everything from natural, healthy options to Pampers and dog food. The market will have what the community needs and will also boast the community’s culture, Hyland says.
 
Highlights will include special attractions, signature products and featured products, all with a housemade objective. Keith Wicks, a grocery market analyst who has been helping develop Clifton Market, says that the market will partner with a few specialty retail partners — specifically bakery partners — to bring back the old stone-ground, German master pastry ways.
 
“There are lots of really interesting foodie-related things happening in the business district in general, and we hope that the market helps make it a foodie’s destination, both locally and nationally,” Wicks says.
 
Since Clifton’s IGA closed, the Ludlow Avenue business district has lost about 40 percent of its business, Wicks says. He hopes that Clifton Market will bring back that traffic and help promote the street’s other retailers and services.
 
“We’re all in this together,” Wicks says. “As the anchor goes, so goes the district.”
 
The market’s business model projects that it will see about 10,000 transactions per week, with about 15,000 people coming through the door. That kind of foot traffic will benefit not only Clifton Market but the surrounding businesses as well.

Apart from turning a profit, Clifton Market has another objective: to work cooperatively with the Ludlow Business District. Even though retailers like Ludlow Wines will offer some of the same items as Clifton Market, it won't be a competition for customers. Ludlow Wines will have something that Clifton Market doesn't, and vice versa. Plus, if you need to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner, you'll also be able to pick up the things you need to make dinner from the market.

“Part of the idea of the co-op business model is that you’re community-minded,” Hyland says. “Most businesses are about how much profit can you get out of one location, but we’re focusing on how much profit can we help bring to the business district. As a business ecosystem, we all rely on each other.”
 
The goal is to have the market open in about six months, but that timeline could change depending on how quickly additional fundraising money comes in. Once the funds are raised, interior and exterior remodeling will happen quickly.
 
If you’re interested in being a shareowner in the Clifton Market, you can purchase shares online for $200. There is also an option to make an owner loan to the market, which will be paid back 100 percent in full.
 
Clifton Market is hosting a foodie event on June 14, when the market’s wholesaler, produce supplier and Boar’s Head will be providing tastes of a wide range of products. They’re still looking for vendors to participate; those interested can contact Charles Marxen, field developer, at 614-432-6663.
 

Brewery culture continues to grow, this time in Walnut Hills


Chris Mitchell, formerly of Listermann Brewing, has been homebrewing for about 15 years. After talking with a number of partners, he decided to pursue opening The Woodburn Brewery, which will debut later this summer at 2800 Woodburn Ave. in Walnut Hills.
 
“The neighborhood is up-and-coming and looks like it will be a nice entertainment district here pretty soon,” Mitchell says.
 
The building, which was built in the early 1900s, is just over 4,000 square feet and is being designed as taproom/brewery with capacity for about 120. Mitchell says they’re going to cater to the taproom experience and customers won’t feel like they’re in a brewery, even though they’ll be able to see the tanks through a giant glass wall.
 
“Lots of breweries feel like you’re sitting in a brew house, but we’re going for a different experience,” he says. “This will be somewhere everyone wants to go.”
 
The Woodburn Brewery will open with 4-6 flagship beers, including a pineapple saison, a cedar IPA and a German pilsner. The recipe and name of the German pilsner, which will be released at opening, comes from Espelkamper Brau in Germany — the owner of that brewery won four gold medals for the pilsner and has signed over the rights and name to The Woodburn Brewery.
 
Mitchell also plans to release seasonal beers and sours as well as bourbon barrel releases, experimental batches and limited-edition bottle releases. The Woodburn Brewery will also be serving from Brite tanks, which means that the beer is carbonated and served from the same tank.
 
There are plans to distribute to bars, restaurants and retail stores, but Mitchell says they’ll start small with a few select spots. When the brewery opens, there won’t be a food menu, but there a light appetizer menu is in the works.
 
The Woodburn Brewery will partner with Firehouse Pizza and local food trucks to feed their customers in the first few months, Mitchell says, and there are talks of a cidery/restaurant in the future.
 
“We’re excited to see the explosion of breweries happening in Cincinnati,” Mitchell says. “We’re also excited to see Cincinnati restored to its original brewery status. In its heyday, there were a ton of breweries here and Cincinnati was known for its beer. We’re excited to be part of it and to see lots of new faces pop up.”
 

Camp Washington developments help build community


Camp Washington, lovingly called “Camp” by its residents, owes much of its stability and growth to the Camp Washington Community Board. The organization has renovated 52 neighborhood houses to date and is now overseeing four new development projects.
 
The Camp Washington Community Board currently funds the $150,000 house renovations and sells them for about $85,000. City grants help with the deficit, and the organization does much of its fundraising through a bingo hall it owns in Cheviot.
 
This year, however, they’re using a different model to fund houses. A PNC Charitable Trust grant will help the board replan the development strategy, which is focused now on a six-unit apartment building, two four-unit buildings and three single-family houses.
 
“We’re also trying to get outside people to come into Camp and redevelop,” says Joe Gorman, community organizer for Camp Washington Community Board. “We’re trying to attract new residents, especially young professionals and families.”
 
On Spring Grove Avenue, a former meatpacking plant was recently demolished near the railroad tracks. The 15 acres of developable property is currently waiting for a developer, and Gorman says any number of things is possible.
 
At the other end of the neighborhood, Indianapolis-based Core Redevelopment plans to redevelop the Crosley Building, which has been vacant for about 30 years, into 238 market-rate apartments. The $35 million project will be much like the American Can Lofts in Northside but about twice the size.
 
“The fact that Camp is landlocked gives people a sense of belonging and ownership of the neighborhood,” Gorman says.
 
Volunteers from the neighborhood will also be planting two large beds in Camp’s urban farm, which is on Monmouth Avenue between the River City Correctional Center and the Machine Flats apartments. The neighborhood leases two acres of land from the city for the farm.
 
The urban farm has two donkeys that help tend the grass and produce manure for the compost pile. There are also plans for a beehive in the fall, as well as a “walk through the fall” to include a number of historical signs along the path provided by the American Sign Museum.
 
Gorman says the community is hoping to provide enough fresh vegetables from its urban farm to supply Camp’s food pantry and Churches Active in Northside (CAIN).
 

SoupCycle delivers healthy food to people without access to it


In December 2011, Harriet Matthey met with a group of homeless people in Over-the-Rhine and saw a real need for healthy food options for those who didn’t have access to it. From those conversations she came up with Oatmobile, a SmartCar that would provide hot porridge to people in Cincinnati’s food deserts.
 
That idea became what is now SoupCycle, a bike that transports soup to community centers, parks and events. Suzy DeYoung of La Soupe has been supplying the soups for about a year, and they’ve been a huge hit with those on the receiving end.
 
“My daughter was a pedi-cab driver in Boston, and she said anyone can pedal 350 pounds thanks to gears,” Matthey says. “So I thought, why not give it a try?”
 
DeYoung’s soup is made with ingredients bought or given from local chefs and discounted produce from grocery stores. Soup is a great way to help people experience healthy eating as well as introduce them to ingredients they’re not familiar with, Matthey says, and SoupCycle also helps kids learn to make more informed eating decisions.
 
Matthey says that engineering students at the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University have helped contribute to SoupCycle, and engineering heads at Purdue University and Ohio State University have also given their time and advice on the project.
 
So far, SoupCycle has shared soup as well as porridge in Avondale, Walnut Hills and downtown. Matthey currently serves soup at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays in Piatt Park downtown and has plans to take SoupCycle to the May 8 Ride for Reading event, which is part of Bike Month, and the May 16 Health Fair at Riverview East School.
 

Bike Month promotes bicycle safety, healthy lifestyles


The tristate area is increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, with new bicycle lanes in many neighborhoods and Red Bike locations throughout the city, with expansion coming soon. May is Bike Month, a time to reconsider healthy lifestyles and the use of bicycles as transportation.
 
Bike Month is organized by Queen City Bike, but a number of local organizations and businesses offer bike-related deals, lead bike rides and host events throughout the month. Things kicked off May 1 with a poster show at Coffee Emporium that runs through May 26; and on May 2, a ride to various pubs in the basin area.

If you missed these events, though, don’t worry. There are plenty more coming up — 21 below, to be exact.

Bicycle Happy Hour at The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills: Ride your bike to The Brew House and, if you’re wearing a helmet, get a free appetizer during happy hour. May 4, 11 and 18 at 5-8 p.m.

Urban Basin Bicycle Club, meet at Fountain Square: Join the club for a slow, interesting themed ride for all skill levels that begins and ends in the basin. Every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Hump Day Hill Challenge, meet at greenspace by the old SCPA building in Pendleton/Over-the-Rhine: A difficult ride up and down Cincinnati’s hills. To check out the routes, use the Hill Challenge App in the Google Play Store. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Thursday Night Slow & Steady Ride, meet at Hoffner Park, Northside: These rides are open to anything with wheels and take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Eastside to Findlay Market Ride, meet at Coffee Emporium, 3316 Erie Ave., Hyde Park. Every Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Findlay Market Bikegarten, Findlay Market, OTR: Learn more about the bike-friendly changes that are coming to the city, pick up free bike maps and lots more. Every Saturday at 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Ride for Reading, meet at Coffee Emporium Warehouse, 12th and Walnut Streets, OTR: Join in the bike parade, then distribute books to students at Chase Elementary in Northside. May 8 at 10 a.m.

The Color Ride, meet at Washington Park: Grab the kids and dress in a single color from head-to-toe and take a short ride through OTR and downtown. May 9 at 4 p.m.

Element Cycles City Ride, meet at Element Cycles, 2838 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park: This casual ride will end at the Growler House in East Walnut Hills. May 9 at 4 p.m.

Bike Happy Hour, Fries Café, 3247 Jefferson Ave., Clifton. May 12 at 5-7 p.m.

Trivia Fundraiser for Mobo, The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills. May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Breakfast on the Bridge, Purple People Bridge on the Newport side: Pastries and coffee will be available, and there will also be a station set up with a mechanic to help you fix up your bike. May 15 at 7-9 a.m.

Bike to Work Day: All rides are free on Metro, Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and Clermont Transportation Connection for those with bicycles. All day May 15.

Bike to Work Day Celebration, MainStrasse, Covington: Rides will be led to Fountain Square and back. May 15 at 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Bike 2 Baseball: Ride to Great American Ball Park for the sixth annual event. A free bike valet will be available, hosted by Red Bike. Tickets must be bought in advance. May 17 at 1 p.m.

Second Annual Preservation Ride, meet at Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., OTR: The Cincinnati Preservation Collective is celebrating Bike Month by hosting a slow riding tour of some of the urban basin’s historic sites. May 17 at noon.

Trivia Fundraiser for Queen City Bike, The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills. May 20 at 7:30 p.m.

The Pink Flamingo Bike Ride: Ride from Covington to Bellevue Beach for this family-friendly event that touts Northern Kentucky pride. May 30 at 10 a.m.

Queen City Bike+Dine: Email info@parkandvine.com for more information about the 10th annual event on June 6.
 
There will also be three Blinkie Light Distributions throughout the month:

• Kenton County Health Center, 2022 Madison Ave., Covington, May 10 at 3 p.m.
• Campbell County Health Center, 1098 Monmouth St., Newport, May 17 at 3 p.m.
• Boone County Health Center, 7505 Burlington Pike, Florence, May 24 at 3 p.m.
 

Clifton House Tour provides inside look at unique neighborhood homes


Once every three years, a number of Clifton homeowners invite us into their homes on Mother’s Day for the Clifton House Tour. The 2015 version will be held 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 10.
 
The seven homes on this year’s tour were built between the 1800s and 1970 and range in style from Italianate and Victorian to American Four Square and Mid-Century Modern. The specific addresses haven’t been released to the public yet but will be later this week.
 
The Clifton House Tour Committee began planning the event last May and chose homes based on significance, historical relevance and importance to Clifton. The list of 20 homes was eventually narrowed down to seven and includes a number of one-of-a-kind homes, says Tony Sizemore, president of Clifton Town Meeting.
 
“This is a unique opportunity for people to get inside some of these homes,” Sizemore says. “People really take pride in the event, and people come from all over the city.”
 
This year’s tour will also include a stop at the Henry Probasco Fountain, which isn’t a house but does have historical significance in Clifton and is relatively close to houses on the tour.
 
Built in 1887 on Clifton Avenue, the fountain was donated by hardware magnate Henry Probasco as a gift of gratitude to the people of Clifton (he also donated the fountain at Fountain Square downtown). The 10-foot-tall fountain was designed by Samuel Hannaford and features four separate basins that hold drinkable water — one for humans, one for horses, one for dogs and another for birds. The fountain was fully restored and rededicated last month and is a natural gathering place for the neighborhood.
 
CTM began the house tour in the late 1960s, taking a break from 1988 to 1997. Tour proceeds support the community council’s mission to help enhance and improve the quality of life for Clifton’s residents and visitors as well as to create a beautiful and vibrant neighborhood, Sizemore says.
 
Ticket sales for the home tour help fund various other CTM events and activities, including the Clifton Chronicle, CliftonFest, the Memorial Day parade and picnic, the Lantern Walk and carriage rides during Holidays on Ludlow.
 
If you’re interested in the tour, get your tickets early — only 1,200 will be sold. They’re available for purchase online at CliftonCommunity.org or at Ace Hardware, Hansa Guild, Ludlow Wines and Clifton’s Skyline Chili. Tickets are $18 in advance or $22 day of the event.
 
A free shuttle will be available during the event, departing from the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, 3711 Clifton Ave., and Clifton Plaza, 333 Ludlow Ave. Local businesses will also be open during the tour to provide food, drinks and shopping.
 

Cincy Stories events help break down barriers, create empathy


MOTR Pub will host the second night of the Cincy Stories series on Tuesday, May 5, to continue breaking down walls and helping create a safe place for people to share and hear the stories of fellow Cincinnatians.
 
Shawn Braley and a group of his friends started Cincy Stories because of how hard it is to get to know people in a large city.
 
“You might meet someone in a bar and get to talking, but it’s hard to know their story,” Braley says. “We wanted to bring something like the podcasts we listen to to Cincinnati, where even the boring stories can be exciting.”
 
Cincy Stories invites public figures to share their stories, which helps the audience see them as human beings rather than just a prominent figure, politician or entrepreneur. The first Cincy Stories event in February featured Ryan Messer, a community leader in Over-the-Rhine; Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay politician elected to the Cincinnati City Council; and Molly Wellmann of Wellmann’s Brands.
 
Everyone’s story is different and range from heartbreaking to beautiful to funny. Braley says the events don’t have an overarching theme, but he likes the idea of each event being open and seeing where people go with their stories.
 
“As an English major, I read a lot of fiction and nonfiction, which I think made me a more empathetic person,” he says. “The stories taught me empathy, and I hope these events help create more empathy in people and show that there is something deeper beneath the surface in all of us.”

Cincy Stories fits in well with Cincinnati's growing interest in storytelling, a trend that's popular in major cities across the country. Comedian/performer Paul Strickland holds regular storytelling workshops at Know Theatre, which has also hosted True Theatre's storytelling nights for several years. The Cincinnati Enquirer is doing its own storytelling events. And this week the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is hosting local nonprofit leaders to tell the stories of how they decided to “change the world.”
 
Guest speakers for the May 5 event (beginning at 7 p.m.) include Joe Boyd of Rebel Storytellers; John Faherty, who organizes The Enquirer's storytelling events; Kathryne Gardette, who recently was honored as an Enquirer Woman of the Year; Allen Woods of MORTAR; and writer and teacher Elissa Yancey. Music will be provided by the band The Part-Time Gentlemen.
 
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