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Public Interest Design Institute to educate attendees in community design

On Nov. 9 and 10, the Public Interest Design Institute will offer a two-day course in public interest design at the University of Cincinnati. Attendees of the conference will receive SEED® certification and learn ways to get involved with public interest design projects.
The course will feature speakers who will talk about specific public interest design projects and funding for those projects. Bryan Bell, founder of Design Corps and the Public Interest Design Institute, will be certifying attendees in SEED, or Social Economic Environmental Design. SEED helps guide, evaluate and measure the social, economic and environmental impact of design projects.
Public interest design enhances the existing design practice by putting design skills to use in the community. Many public interest design projects are for nonprofits and are funded through grants, foundations and collaborations with other organizations.
But public interest design isn’t just for designers or planners. The workshop is open to anyone, including students, interested in public interest design, specifically those in the development, government development, planning, urban design, landscape, interiors and industrial design fields.
“There’s an ever-growing recognition of both the need and opportunity for public interest design,” says Michael Zaretsky, associate professor in the School of Architecture and Interior Design at DAAP. “We know that in the past, design was really just for those that could afford it, but there are now so many examples of work that is for communities, and everyone benefits from it.”
In recent years, more and more large design firms are beginning to require that their employees donate a portion of their time to public interest design projects, some through organizations like theonepercent.org. The One Percent Project links nonprofits that need design projects with firms and individuals who want to donate one percent of their time to a project.
“It’s not just volunteering, but a chance to use our skills and knowledge to benefit a community,” says Zaretsky.
The speakers at the workshop include Maurice Cox, an urban designer and architecture professor at the University of Virginia; Ramsey Ford, co-founder and director of design for Design Impact; Emilie Taylor, design build manager at the Tulane City Center; and Zaretsky.
Zaretsky will be talking about a project he worked on in Tanzania with the Village Life Outreach Project. He serves as director of the Roche Health Center Design Committee, which, along with a nonprofit, helped build a health center in a rural Tanzanian village that has no power or running water. Zaretsky worked with students and engineering and architecture firms to complete the project.
There’s still time to sign up for the Public Interest Design Institute’s workshop. The cost for the course is $450; it’s $350 for AIA members and $250 for students.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Cincideutsch to deck Fountain Square with traditional Christkindlmarkt

The weekend after Thanksgiving heralds the start of the Christmas season, as Fountain Square becomes the set for Macy’s Light Up the Square and Downtown Dazzle, but this year, a new addition to the festivities adds a distinctively German twist. Cincideutsch, Cincinnati’s newest German society, will host a Christkindlmarkt on the Square, Nov. 23-25.
A Christkindlmarkt is a traditional German market that pops up around Christmas time. In Germany, the markets start at the beginning of Advent and last until Christmas. Cincideutsch's Christkindlmarkt is Cincinnati's first open-air Christmas market, and although it's only one weekend, the group hopes that in the future, the market will last longer, says Olaf Scheil, Cincideutsch’s president and one of its co-founders.
Scheil came to Cincinnati 14 years ago for work, and after the company he moved for closed, he decided to stay. Many of the members of Cincideutsch are German natives who have moved to Cincinnati, or are Americans who have lived in Germany, like Linda McAlister, co-founder, VP and treasurer of Cincideutsch. Peter Rother, the third co-founder, is VP and secretary.
Plans have been in the works for a Christkindlmarkt since Cincideutsch was founded in 2011. “It was something we all missed about Germany, so we decided to start one here,” McAlister says.  
Cincideutsch’s Christkindlmarkt will have feature 10 booths selling things that are both German in nature and local. The Germania Society of CincinnatiMunich Sister City Association of Greater CincinnatiRookwood PotteryServatii Pastry Shop and Deli, Ultimate Almonds and Mecklenburg Gardens will have booths selling Christmas ornaments and crafts, beer and Glühwein (German mulled wine). 

Visitors can also buy special edition mugs and tote bags designed by Saint Ursula Academy’s design program. The students from Saint Ursula’s also designed the Christkindlmarkt posters.
Scheil didn’t want Cincideutsch’s Christkindlmarkt to be pop-up tents in the middle of the street, so the booths resemble traditional German-style houses. The market will look like a little German village lit up for Christmas, he says.
Cincideutsch is still seeking sponsors for the market; it has one official sponsor so far, Christian Moerlein Brewery.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Modern Makers builds community in Uptown

A collaboration between the Uptown Consortium and Hark + Hark sets its sights on engaging community members in Uptown in the arts in new, creative, and super cool ways.

Together, they host monthly art events as Modern Makers. This month, Modern Makers presents performances from ALICE (in wonderland) by Cincinnati Ballet II Second Company at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center on Wed., Oct. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. Modern Makers is sponsored through Uptown Consortium and Hark and Hark, both nonprofits.

“Bringing and highlighting arts and the arts environment to uptown Cincinnati by featuring and displaying different art programs and opportunities for everyone…is the main key of what we’re trying to do,” says Janelle Lee, Uptown Consortium’s Director of Business and Community Affairs and a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Board of Trustees.

Most of the monthly art shows are held in Corryville on Short Vine or on Glendora Avenue, right behind Bogart’s. 
About a year and a half ago, Uptown Consortium partnered with Hark and Hark, an art and community-based firm started by two former University of Cincinnati DAAP graduates, Catherine Richards and Ahn Tran, to create Modern Makers. The second season of Modern Makers coincides with UC’s school year, with different art shows each month from August until June. 

This year’s MM season kicked off with a chef, who prepared food through art. The event was an overwhelming success, according to Lee.

All MM events are free and open to the public; food is provided by a restaurant on Short Vine. Each event also features an interactive creative art project; for example, last year for Mardi Gras, participants created masks.

In November, Modern Makers will present the second annual “Light Up Short Vine,” Wed., Nov. 28—a Christmas celebration complete with lights, a Christmas tree, Santa Claus and CCM carolers.

By Stephanie Kitchens

CoSign unveils winning sign concepts for Northside

If you want to be incrementally better, be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better, be cooperative.

In announcing the 11 Northside businesses who have won its CoSign signage design contest, the Haile U.S. Bank Foundation is proving that point. Collaboration between businesses and artists, non-profits and city zoning departments, fabricators and museum administrators has succeeded in producing imaginative new signage for Northside’s eclectic streetscape. 

After a lively competition between more than 20 Northside locales, the Foundation upped its original plan to fund 10 signs and chose 11 for the project. Business selected are:

Casablanca Vintage

Northside Surplus

Northside International Airport


Tone House Music

WordPlay/Urban Legend Institute

Django Western Taco

Off the Avenue Studios

Northside Tavern

Market Side Merchatile


The new signs, now being fabricated, will appear first in the American Sign Museum before their unveiling on the morning of Black Friday, Nov. 23, in Northside. Signs were chosen by a jury who judged the designs based on concept, construction and context.  

In five, short months, the Haile Foundation has taken the idea of supporting new neighborhood signage from concept to creation. Initially proposed on a grander scale for three Cincinnati neighborhoods, the Haile Foundation scaled back to just one when ArtPlace rejected its grant proposal last spring. Funding the project on its own with $150,000, the Haile Foundation found itself in a new situation.

“This was a collaborative idea from the start, and a huge learning experience,” says Eric Avner, vice president and senior program manager in community development for the Carol Ann and Ralph V Haile Jr. U.S. Bank Foundation (and lead Soapbox provacateur).  “We were funding a project AND designing it, which is not normal for us.”

The plan – to pair Northside businesses with artists, who would design signs that conformed to City of Cincinnati signage regulations – required building close relationships with city zoning departments, educating artists and businesses through workshops on those regulations, and working with the American Sign Museum to provide expertise and exhibit space for the signs before their installations on the street.  

With its success, says Avner, “Haile plans to share this collaborative idea with granting agencies, other Cincinnati neighborhoods and other cities around the country.”

Find out more:

• Visit: the American Sign Museum now open at 1330 Monmouth Street for a sneak peek at the CoSign signage before it is installed in Northside.

• Mark Your Calendar: For Nov. 23, Black Friday, when Northside will unveil its new signs at a “shop local” event for the start of the holiday season.

• Watch for: Queen City Projects video documentation of the project, so that others may learn from and replicate this collaboration in different neighborhoods and cities.

By Becky Johnson

Requiem Project takes root, grows community

Just one year ago, the Emery Theatre, one of the nation's top acoustic concert halls, sat empty in Over the Rhine. For decades, its once-sumptuous spaces were neglected. They eroded. They crumbled. They gathered more than their share of dust.

Since last November, more than 6,000 guests have seen art shows, watched dancers perform, heard beautiful music and witnessed a dream unfold in the spaces Mary Emery had built to serve the people of Cincinnati.

That dream, known as the Requiem Project, continues to build this fall with a five-event series called "Art Moves Here," which debuts Sept. 30 with a FotoFocus-affiliated exhibit called "Handsome" by Chris Hoeting.

Hoeting built "Handsome" specific to the Emery's nooks and crannies, knowing that his show would run in tandem with Midpoint Music Festival performances at the site as well as a showing of Mike Disfarmer's beautiful and sometimes unsettling portraits, set to be on display starting .

Like so many other endeavors over the past year, "Handsome" reflects the power and the potential of the Emery to occupy an emerging space in the local arts scene—to bring together art forms, artists and neighbors and together, to build a stronger, vibrant and diverse community.

"All of these things live together," says Requiem Project co-founder Tara Lindsey Gordon. She and partner Tina Manchise lead the all-volunteer effort to restore the Emery, which publicly kicked off on 11.11.11.

Since then, the two have built a non-profit business dedicated to the idea that Cincinnati needs the Emery. The idea that the space gives something powerful to the community, from guests at performances and fundraisers to the four neighborhood kids who "work" at the Emery after school.

Their fall season is filled with partnerships that bring something new to the city, from multimedia shows in conjunction with FotoFocus and independent artists, to a show with the Contemporary Arts Center that features Andy Warhol screen tests that will be projected on stage during a music performance.

"This is a huge endeavor," says Manchise. She could be talking about the complex programming line-up that involves Requiem's five major events this fall or the massive renovation work the Emery needs. The building sat empty for years, she notes, because keeping its doors open requires near-constant work.

She and Lindsey Gordon, who average between 40 and 80 hours a week doing Requiem Project work, take no salaries. They admit the task before them can feel daunting. But unlike last year, when some looked at the Emery as "the Tina and Tara show," now they know there are far more people involved, and invested in the theater's success.

First, there's the core of more than a dozen dedicated volunteers who help with everything from volunteer coordination to site logistics. Then, there are the neighbors, from fellow business owners to the fire marshall (who checks in weekly) to neighbors who find support and respite at the Emery.

Manchise and Lindsey Gordon take the "open door" policy seriously, partnering with groups large and small to offer spaces, time and support to independent artists, groups like the YPCC, Exhale Dance Tribe and even the Starfire Council, who look to the Emery as a safe place for practice and experimentation.

"We're not only a venue," says Manchise, who notes that one of the "Art Moves Here" events takes place outside of the historic theater.

"Contained," a collection of 11 shipping containers filled with different artists' works, will be set in the Grammer's parking lot on Walnut Street. The Oct. 20 event illustrates the Requiem Project's goal to connect with the community both inside and outside of the Emery.

Manchise and Lindsey Gordon know the stakes are high. It will take $25 million to revive the Emery. For now, the partners are in a sense performing perpetual CPR on the site, keeping it alive, making improvements as they can and building a community of supporters who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, literally.

They work with partners who accept the extra challenges inherent in a space with a temporary certificate of occupancy. (Manchise and Lindsey Gordon will apply for another next year.) They work with weekend volunteers who clean under every seat in the auditorium because maintenance doesn't come cheap. They head home with green hands and way too much information about Port-o-lets and water supplies.

They stress over taking on too many projects. They squabble over printer jams and QuickBooks. They joke that they spend so much time together that it's like they are sharing tight quarters on a ship.

And still, they couldn't be more proud of the space where they have invested their money, their time and their lives.

"The theater is doing exactly what it is meant to do," Manchise says. "A buiding like this can do so much good."

Find out more about the Requiem Project's fall season as well as the fall line-up of events at the Emery on the newly re-launced website, built by Mower + Associates.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter.

Covington rehabs boost support for great neighborhoods

The 900 block of Banklick Street in Covington was an urban disaster. 

Included in the historic area of Covington’s Westside, it had fallen into grave disrepair.  Despite its good location near an elementary school, the block was completely vacant and had been for years.

Today, construction is nearing an end on the 900 block of Banklick, and the friendly streetscape is filled with new or rehabbed houses.  Two homes are already under contract for sale, and given the increasing need for moderate income housing, the others may sell quickly, too.   

The entire transformation of a city block is the work of Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods (CGN).  This non-profit, neighborhood-based community development organization has been around for almost 40 years, beginning in 1976 as the Covington Community Center.  

Its goals are to support neighborhoods and housing, youth development and financial education.  

It was while working with the 18 different neighborhood associations in Covington that CGN heard residents voice their concern for more home ownership and neighborhood revitalization.   

Following residents’ lead and funded by United WayPlace Matters and other granting sources like the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, CGN began to purchase structures a decade ago to rehab them for private sale.    

Since that time, 33 homes have either been rehabilitated or newly constructed as in-fill housing.

Adam Rockel, CGN’s community development specialist, praises the City of Covington for its ongoing support.  

“Without them, we would not be doing the things that we do,” he says. 

Over the years, the city had purchased many blighted properties that it has sold cheaply to CGN for rehabilitation, and it supports CGN’s work with grants and assistance to meet building standards for historic structures. 

Rockel sees more good in CGN’s work than just repopulating blighted neighborhoods. “We’re…transforming them into really beautiful homes, raising appraisal rates, and giving people pride in their neighborhoods again.”    

By Becky Johnson

West McMicken shows off 'streetcar suburb' history

Tucked at the bottom of the Clifton hillside, the West McMicken neighborhood features historic housing stock in an isolated area easily overlooked by passersby.

But its well-maintained greenspaces and award-winning beautification programs offer a glimpse of the dedication of its neighbors, which will be on full display during the Cincinnati Preservation Association’s first “Fall into Restoration” series next month.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” says Margo Warminski, CPA’s restoration director. 

The program features a tour of a restoration-in-progress—an 1885 Queen Anne that once served as the home of a streetcar conductor, is in the process of being restored to its original state. 

“It’s a glimpse of late Victorian middle-class life,” Warminski says of the house, which was part of the neighborhood that grew up along Cincinnati’s original streetcar line. “We are very excited to be able to do this program.”

She notes that members of the West McMicken Improvement Association will be on hand to discuss their work to keep their community green and flourishing. In addition to reclaiming abandoned buildings in the University Heights neighborhood, members have also fought off an intrusive highway plan and are currently working with Spring in our Steps volunteers to beautify the Warner Street steps.

For more information about the neighborhood and the Sept. 22 tour, visit the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Historic Linden Grove receives $30K to restore vital pond

Tucked amid concrete streets within the Westside neighborhood of Covington, KY just east of Interstate 71-75 lies an oasis of tranquility, and arguably the only viable green space in the city’s urban core.

The historic Linden Grove Cemetery and Arboretum was consecrated in 1843 and is the final resting place for more than 22,000 burials across a span of 22 acres.

Linden Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is at once environmentally and civically significant. The cemetery provides important green space, and comes with a built-in history lesson as the burial site of many important civic and community leaders, congressmen and important historical figures.

Soldiers from as far back as the war of 1812 and the Civil War are buried there, along with soldiers from every other American war since. Dr. Louise Southgate, early female physician and women’s rights activist in Covington, Thomas Kennedy, one of Covington’s original founders and land owners, William Wright Southgate and Brigadier General John W. Finnell, Kentucky’s Adjutant General during the Civil War are among the important historical figures interred at Linden Grove.

Over the cemetery’s 169-year history, the site has fallen into various stages of disrepair and neglect only to be brought back to life with the help of caring citizens and the local courts.

Although the site is now more like a 22-acre park, Pete Nerone, Chairman of the Board for Linden Grove, says that the grounds lost its pond in the early 1960s when it was filled in during the construction of Interstate 71-75.

The pond once supplied a local brewery and provided a self-sustaining water source to the grounds. Thanks to the work of people like Nerone and former board member John Dietz, the pond is about to make a comeback.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer serving in West Africa, Nerone was instrumental in securing a $30,000 environmental stewardship grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation for the reconstruction and development of the pond.

Why does the pond matter so much? Nerone says that according to studies, the City of Covington is actually 20 percent deficient in green space, permeable surfaces and adequate tree canopy.

A healthy tree canopy provides a filter for noise and air pollution resulting from the neighboring interstate highway. It also provides homes for various birds, wildlife and aquatic species. Water from the pond can be used to improve the tree canopy as well as provide much needed hydration for landscaping and ornamental gardens.

“Linden Grove is very important real estate from an ecological point of view,” says Nerone. “It sits in an old neighborhood in the urban core of Covington. The existence of a pond on the grounds is key to the site’s longevity.”

The new pond will be controlled with a safety shelf and controlled overflow. With the grant award and the restoration of Linden Grove’s pond, Nerone says, “We can enhance and protect our beautiful green space, making it more available as a place of recreation for the community.”

By Deidra Wiley Necco

Newport citizens fundraise for dog park

When Ryan Mitchell moved to Newport six years ago, the first place he met people was at a park area with his dog.

That area has become somewhat of an unofficial dog park. But with some hard work, Mitchell and his wife Sarah have led a group of Newport residents to raise money for a fence to make the dog park safer for the animals. 
It's been over a year and half, but after several fundraisers and canvasing the community for donations, they have raised almost $15,000 and plan to have the fence constructed by the end of summer. 

The dog park
, on Fourth Street and Providence Way, is in the heart of the Newport Historic District, so if fencing was to go up, it had to be a decorative fence to match the area.

The group has held fundraisers at local businesses and contacted businesses about donating money and services to get the fence built. The grassroots effort has been led by Mitchell and his wife, along with a group of about 15 other citizens who meet to plan fundraisers and find bids for construction.

On top of the money raised for the fence, the group has also raised nearly $10,000 worth of material donations for the dog park. 
"Everybody in the community has been very supportive of the idea," Mitchell says. "We've kept everybody informed, and it's brought the community together." 
Mitchell says the need for the dog park comes from the small yards that many of the homes have, but it will also create a more vibrant social center for the area.

The dog park will be right next to a garden club, which works on projects to beautify the neighborhood, and a pool club that is packed with children from the area, both which have created social centers for the tight-knit, walkable neighborhood. 
"This area was the first place I looked to meet people when I moved here," Mitchell says. "The dog park can help make it more attractive. It's nice to know the community has a place where they know they can gather." 
Contact Mitchell about the dog park here
By Evan Wallis

Keystone Community Garden supplies food kitchens

Every Earth Day for the past fives years, Neyer Properties has held events or educational seminars to promote sustainable lifestyles, but last year company employees decided they needed to give back to the community. So, they built the one-acre Keystone Community Garden outside their office in Evanston. 
According to Neyer Properties, a development company that builds or redevelops only LEED-certified projects, community involvement is a big part of sustainability. That's why they used the land they had available as the garden site and recruited company volunteers to maintain it. The garden now supplies OTR and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry with produce. 
While many food pantries and soup kitchens are forced to shut down in the summer months because of lack of air conditioning, the OTR kitchen has been serving meals through the heat since 1976. Now serving more than 4,000 meals per week, the OTR kitchen gets a much needed produce delivery of peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and squash after 50 volunteers to tend the garden through the summer. 
“We rarely receive fresh produce to prepare for our meals or to distribute to our guests in their groceries,” says Patricia Wakim, executive director of the OTR and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry. “We are absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of the produce from the Keystone Community Garden again this year.”
This is the second year that the OTR and Walnut Hills kitchen will receive the produce from Keystone Community Garden. Volunteers log more than 50,000 volunteer hours each year in the effort that is almost entirely sustained through private monetary donations and donations from local grocery stores and restaurants. 
"It's just the right thing to do," says Karman Stahl, director of asset management for Neyer Properties. "Doing something for those that have less is just something that is necessary to our company."
By Evan Wallis

Brandery renovates to welcome, support startups

Managing Editor’s Note:

If you’ve noticed dust settling around The Brandery building in Over the Rhine, that’s because new General Manager Mike Bott is overseeing a massive remodeling project. The building's first-floor space is being renovated for a new class of startups (applications being accepted now) while graduates Choremonster, Road Trippers and Venue Agent will maintain workspaces on the third floor.

Soapbox Media, also a web-focused startup, can be found in the space as well.

In addition to dedicated space at The Brandery on Vine Street, we will also maintain office space in Northside as part of a collaborative office suite we will share with startup local nonprofits.

While the Brandery caters to and nurtures high-tech startups, the collaborative space in Northside serves as a new home for disparate, community-focused nonprofits.

In Northside, at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock, the space currently occupied by Shop Therapy will soon serve as the home for The Urban Legend Institute, the retail store element of the literacy and creative-writing focused nonprofit WordPlay. With creative and marketing support from Possible Worldwide, WordPlay plans to offer preview tours by July.

The second floor of the building houses the offices of the educational nonprofit as well as two other nonprofits: parProjects, which is focused on building a community arts center and providing arts programming in Northside, and 350.org, the local arm of the national environmental nonprofit. (Full disclosure: Soapbox's managing editor sits on the Board of the nonprofit WordPlay.)

One thing that has not changed is the best way to reach Soapbox with your story ideas, questions and comments. Connect with us via email. But if you want to send us a letter, old-school postal-style, you can find us:

Soapbox Media via The Brandery
1411 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Soapbox Media via WordPlay
4041 Hamilton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45223

Downtown bicycle club explores Cincinnati

As they prepared for Bike Month, Casey Coston, an OTR resident and avid bike rider, paired up with Mike Uhlenhake, to plan a group ride in the urban basin of Cincinnati. 

After gauging interest via Facebook and holding one planning meeting at Neon's, the Urban Basin Bicycle Club was formed and launched their first ride from Fountain Square April 17. The ride was planned on Tuesday to not interfere with the Thursday evening Slow and Steady Ride, which starts at Hoffner Park in Northside. The UBBC's main goal was to give downtown residents a group ride with a more accessible starting point. 

The first ride brought more than 20 riders sporting bikes from 1960's Schwinn cruisers to road bikes to mountain bikes. They rode along the river, through Sawyer Point and ended with post-ride libations at The Lackman on Vine Street. Since the first ride, two more rides have happened with the most recent leading more than 30 riders, of all skill and experience levels, on a tour past some of Cincinnati's historic breweries. The second ride crossed the Roebling Suspension Bridge and went through Covington and Newport before making the trek back to OTR and ending at Neon's, but not before stopping for a beer on the patio of Party Source. The upcoming ride on May 15 will take riders past all of the Art Deco landmarks in the urban basin, including Union Terminal and the main post office and as always, will end with a post-ride meet up at a local business. 

"We'll be meeting up at a different local business after each ride," says Coston, a Soapbox columnist. "We want to spread our business around and support as many as we can." 

Members of the UBBC will be led on a themed ride each week as a way to explore the downtown area. All riders are welcome and the group makes a conscious effort to keep all riders in one group. Monthly Saturday destinations rides are being discussed, including a potential early afternoon to Terry's Turf Club for lunch and back. Whatever the ride, riders can expect a leisurely, friendly exploration of Cincinnati.

By Evan Wallis (Follow him on Twitter)

Greater Cincinnati Foundation invests in Energy Alliance

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation has supplied the The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance with grants since its inception. Last week, the Energy Alliance received a $500,000 from the GCF to help fund their GC-HELP loan program. 
The program supplies homeowners in Hamilton County in Ohio and Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Kentucky with up to a $20,000 unsecured loan to upgrade their home's energy efficiency at a fixed interest rate of 6.99 percent, as opposed to unsecured loans' 15 percent rates and credit card rates, which can top 20 percent. These efficiency upgrades typically save homeowners more than 20 percent on their annual energy bills and up to 35 percent on the costs of the upgrade. There are no application fees.
To get a loan, a homeowner must complete an energy audit from the Building Performance Institute, which helps determine appropriate upgrades. After the audit is completed, the homeowner can apply for the low-interest loans to cover everything from HVAC systems to new windows.
The goal of the nonprofit Energy Alliance is to create a $10 million pooled loan fund, seeded with $2.5 million of a $17 million U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings grant. That means raising $7.5 million in private capital to sustain the loan program.
"The idea is to show that there is both the demand from consumers and that these loans perform better than unsecured loans," says Al Gaspari, financial director of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.
The $500,000 from the GCF brings the Alliance's fund to $1.5 million so far. For GCF, this was an 'impact investment." 
"An impact investment is where we take foundation assets that would normally be invested in bonds or mutual funds and invest them in a non-profit organization that has an opportunity to make a significant social impact," says Robert Killins, program director at the GCF. "What we are investing in has to make a real, significant difference for the organization and the mission that they have."
Killins cites many reasons the Energy Alliance was chosen, including potential jobs, cost-savings for homeowners and smaller carbon footprints around the region.
"This is one of those investments that has a triple bottom line," Killins says. "We are almost certain we will get a small return on our investment, and it helps people and the environment."
By Evan Wallis

ArtWorks plans heat up for summer

This summer, the little piggies will be back, filled with porcine glee, as ArtWorks once again brings a herd of pig sculptures to downtown and OTR for the Big Pig Gig. With 70 pigs already lined up, the arts nonprofit expects 100 porkers to hit the streets as the season heats up.

With additional schools and nonprofits in search of pig sponsorships, ArtWorks is looking for donors to bring in the bacon for either “Whole Hog” sponsors, who get to keep the pig for $8,000; or “Sow-lo-ist” sponsors for $5,000, with the pig going to auction. For businesses or individuals who want to help a school or nonprofit get their pork on, $4,500 covers a pig and an artist, while $3,500 covers a pig who already has an artist standing by.

Schools and nonprofits that still need support include: Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Moeller High School, Art Beyond Boundaries and JDRF.

But pigs are the only goings-on at ArtWorks. While the Big Pig Gig takes shape, the organization is also gearing up for its summer mural projects in neighborhoods around the region. For the next six weeks, donors can sponsor apprentice artists in their efforts to beautify communities while learning skills and making money.

Building Value hosts third ReUse-apalooza

This weekend, upcycling creatives and fans of REM join supporters of Building Value in Northside for the third annual ReUse-apalooza fundraiser, April 27.

“We are very excited about this chance to truly engage the community in reuse with ReUse-apalooza!,” says Tina Dyehouse, event volunteer and the chair of the designer challenge contest that rewards creative re-use of building materials. “The real magic of the event is it brings the community together to make a positive impact on our neighborhoods by raising awareness about sustainability and helping those with disabilities and disadvantages.”

In the spirit of Building Value's focus on "green" building practices, the event this year includes an after-party at Northside Tavern where  local favorites Messerly and Ewing will perform the entire "Green" album by REM. The band contributed REM memorabilia for the event auction as well, and will entertain the Building Value crowd before heading to the after-party.

All proceeds benefit job training program for people with disabilities and disadvantages at Building Value and its parent organization, Easter Seals Work Resource Center. Building Value employs people with disabilities from Easter Seals who staff the reuse center, which sells some of the more than 3,000 tons of building material waste Building Value diverts from landfills each year. 

Do Good:

Attend ReUse-apalooza. Tickets are available online.

• Find out more about Building Value and its impact on the community.

Donate used building materials to support the nonprofit and its environment-friendly practices.

By Elissa Yancey
52 Non-Profit Articles | Page: | Show All
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