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VisuaLingual's Seed Bomb biz blooms

Tucked into the third floor of a warehouse on W. 15th Street, right above Harvest Gallery, Maya Drozdz and Michael Stout, the duo that comprises VisuaLingual, have been busy stuffing muslin bags full of Seed Bombs for everything from baptisms to orders for Williams-Sonoma.
 
The Seed Bombs are gumball-sized brown balls made out of a cookie dough-like substance that encases different seeds. The bombs break on impact with the ground and eventually start to grow in almost any environment. Seed Bombs are completely hand-made and the bags are screen-printed by the couple in Over-the-Rhine.
 
One of their recent, larger developments is a contract with Williams-Sonoma. At the beginning of April, Drozdz put together two exclusive products for the new "Agrarian" line of products. The two products are cocktail garnishes that include cinnamon basil, lemon mint and lime basil, and culinary herbs, which include parsley, basil and cilantro. 
 
"It's been in the works for a long time," Drozdz says. "Once our products get featured in one national store, people start to see it and then contact us about getting it in their store." 
 
In the midst of stuffing bags, tying knots and packing up boxes for national retailers like Anthropologie and Williams-Sonoma, Drozdz and her two after-school employees and three part-time helpers work on custom orders for people and businesses around the country. Right now, the team is stuffing 10,000 bags of parsley seed bombs, which is a digestive-aid for dogs, for the all-natural dog food company, The Honest Kitchen. The Seed Bombs will be sent out as gifts to the dog food company's customers. 
 
Seed Bombs were also featured at an Etsy event in New York that showcased one-of-a-kind Etsy products for wedding favors. In the past year, VisuaLingual has experienced much growth, which will allow Drozdz's partner, Stout, to join the team full-time in May. 
 
"We've had to learn a lot of things as we go," Drozdz says. "But I feel like I always have a challenge and am learning and doings things I never thought I would." 
 
Next up, Drozdz is already thinking about the holiday season and making their Blooming Briquettes, a creative stocking-stuffer that looks like a piece of coal but is actually a Seed Bomb
 
By Evan Wallis
 


Plan, Build, Live encourages community feedback

City and neighborhood leaders, led by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, have been building support for a new approach to development regulations for more than four years. Much of that has been developed through the program Plan, Build, Live.
 
Plan, Build, Live is a program driven by community feedback and discussion, all gathered  via the project's website. The website encourages people to share their ideas about how a city should be designed. This weekend, instead of just online, Cincinnati residents and business leaders will come together to shape our future through a citywide Urban Design Workshop. The Workshop takes place from April 28 to May 2 to help create a "form-based code" that can be used by neighborhoods all over Cincinnati -- and help shape how development happens in Cincinnati in decades to come.  
 
"Traditional zoning focuses on the use of the building and how far the building is off the street or how large the building is," says Della Rucker, public engagement office for Plan, Build, Live. "Form-based code flips that around and focuses on how a property contributes to the experience people have in the area. How it creates a vibrant, walkable community."
 
Plan Build Live is funded by a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Local funding is provided by the City of Cincinnati, the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Health Department, and the Mill Creek Restoration Project.
 
One of the Plan Build Live tools, a form-based code, encourages strong neighborhoods, business districts, and downtowns by focusing on the shapes of buildings, streets and sidewalks. Form-based codes can helps maintain or enhance a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly environment that offers a mix of residential options, transportation methods, workplaces, shopping and more. Traditional zoning codes encourage patches of similar use, forcing long distances between work, home and play. Form-based codes allow different uses to cluster – restaurants, apartments, drug stores and grocery stores, for instance – as long as they stick to rules that address the ways they relate to the neighborhood.  
 
Form-based codes are not planned to replace other types of zoning in Cincinnati, but they are intended to give neighborhoods a more flexibility.
 
A key difference of form-based codes is that even people who are not trained planners help put them together. Participants only need to be willing to share their ideas. During the Workshops, citizens will meet with planners, architects and engineers to talk about what they like and want to see -- both in Cincinnati's neighborhoods and on several "special opportunity" sites. 

The preliminary Workshop focuses on creating a city-wide form-based code that will serve as a framework for the fall workshop, which will focus on four neighborhoods: Westwood, College Hill, Madisonville and Walnut Hills. 

The estimated completion date is 2013, but feedback and participation from residents and business owners is critical to helping the city implement the program.

By Evan Wallis

Queen City Cookies truck: pink elephants, tasty treats

The next food truck to hit the streets in Cincinnati won't look like any that have come before it. Queen City Cookies' "Schnecken Shack," set to roll through downtown before the end of April.

Sure to get attention, the truck incorporates the elephant-inspired vision of Queen City Cookies owner Peggy Shannon, with assistance from graphic designer Lisa Ballard. "I had the idea the truck should be an elephant and have the blanket area open to serve from," Shannon says. "Lisa thought to put the elephant in the back window, which I think is a stroke of genius. It completely expresses the essence of who we are: fun, unexpected, attention-to-detail and delicious."

As with the rest of Queen City Cookies' ventures, from the storefront at Findlay Market to gourmet offerings in specialty stores like Dean and Deluca and online, the focus on good taste and joy shaped the food truck's initial menu. "We’re focusing on three areas of service for the truck, so the menu will change out during the day," Shannon says. "For our breakfast fans, individual schnecken rolls (or by the box for those who can’t get enough), pig pockets (adorable pig pop overs filled with ham, cheese), my latest creation, donut toast (a baked donut in the shape of toast that’s sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, frittatas, a vegan popover option, crack pie (which lives up to its name) and of course, Coffee Emporium coffee to kick start the day. Later in the day, we’ll have ice cream sandwiches made with Madison’s gelato and our cookies, amazingly dense Oreo brownie explosions, Bundt cakes (think bourbon), cupcakes and light-as-a-feather meringue swirls in cardamom, Madagascar vanilla, heavy cream, violet lavender, tangerine, raspberry. We also have a full line of beverages — Steez Tea, Synergy drinks."

For more information, visit Queen City Cookies online and read the Soapbox Q&A with Peggy Shannon.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Brandery accepting applications for next round

Cincinnati’s nationally recognized startup accelerator, The Brandery, is accepting applications for its 2012 class via its Web site. Applications are due May 15, and early-admission decisions will be made May 1. The 2012 class of 10 companies will be announced on June 1. 
 
As a member of the Global Accelerator Network and named a top 10 accelerator by the Kellogg School of Management/Kauffman Fellows/Tech Cocktail rankings, the Brandery has graduated 14 companies in its first two classes. These companies have generated funding across the country from CincyTech, Crosslink Capital, Draper Associates and Transmedia Capital.

The Brandery runs a four-month program in Cincinnati for startups that are consumer-focused and brand-driven. It will add several aspects to its program this year:
 
Brandsmiths. The Brandery will hire developers or designers who don’t have a specific startup idea but want to work for one. They will work full-time for a stipend with Brandery participants and may have the opportunity to join one of the startups. The application and additional information can be found here.
 
edSpark. The Brandery is soliciting applications for an education-focused startup. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation has funded a new initiative called edSpark to encourage educational innovation. Startups focused on education initiatives should apply through the standard channel. 
 
Office hours. For those looking for more information or advice before submitting an application, the Brandery is holding office hours from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, at The Brandery office, 1411 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. Register for office hours.
 
“The Brandery aims to give startups an unfair opportunity to succeed by leveraging Cincinnati’s regional strengths in marketing, branding and design and world-class companies such as P&G, Kroger, LPK, Nielsen and dunnhumby,” says Mike Bott, general manager of the Brandery, a position that was added this year. “Startups are attracted by the mentors and resources associated with The Brandery. We’ve already attracted applicants from six continents.” 

The Brandery provides each company with $20,000 in seed money, training sessions with other entrepreneurs and industry experts, and networking with more than 50 mentors who work with startups to provide insights and help grow each idea into an investable, scalable product. Additionally, Cincinnati’s design agencies have donated their services to help each of the startups develop their branding and visual identity. The seed money that each company receives from The Brandery is now being provided by an award from the Ohio Third Frontier’s One Fund program for accelerators. For the first two years of the Brandery programs, CincyTech provided the $20,000 grants.

Building upon a mentor list of industry leaders, The Brandery has recently welcomed Tim O’Shaughnessy of LivingSocial, Jonathon Triest of Ludlow Ventures, Bill Hildebolt of ExpoTV and Mike Brown Jr. of AOL Ventures.
 
The 2012 session will begin July 2 and culminate Oct. 4 at Demo Day, where each Brandery company pitches its startup to a room of angel investors, venture capitalists, marketers and media. Last year’s Demo Day attracted more than 350 people to Great American Ball Park.  
 
By Sarah Blazak
 

Five Design Challenge welcomes ideas for empty spaces

What do an empty lot and the wasteland underneath an overpass have in common? They're both unused space. 
 
The wide range of unused space in the city got the people at MSA Architects thinking about the Five Design Challenge. Their offices on Fourth Street overlook a lot that has been empty for too long. Instead of putting the space to good use, the owner put up a fence. That fence sparked ideas. Why not find other unused spaces around the city and see what people, designers, architects, artists, would do with the it?
 
"Michael Schuster [Founder of MSA] wanted to start a dialogue about general design issues and opportunities in Cincinnati," says Chris Rohs, project designer at MSA. "He's a very community-minded person." 
 
The competition evolved from an earlier idea last year. Last year, competitors were charged to convert drivers to riders -- to come up with a solution to get drivers off the road and using public transportation. Almost 40 entrants offered ideas, but that doesn't begin to compare to this year's level of interest.
 
The competition is to take one of the five downtown spaces, come up with an idea for it and submit it. The options are as varied as entrants' imaginations: create a destination, a park, a zoo, an art gallery, something temporary, something permanent, something temporarily permanent.

Submissions will be accepted until April 26; winners will be chosen by May 15; $5,500 in prizes will be handed out. Jurists include Tamara Harkavy of ArtWorks, Chad Munitz of 3CDC, Leah Spurrier of High Street, William Williams of DAAP and City Council member Wendell Young.
 
Five Design Challenge is meant to be all-encompassing and include as many entrants, from as many professions as possible. So far, Nick Dewald, who handles the entries as they come in, has seen entrants from Italy, China, Australia, India, Germany  and around the US. Currently, there are more entrants from outside Cincinnati than from within. 
 
"The whole idea is to get people to be more active in their community," Rohs says. "To work to make it a better place."
 
By Evan Wallis

Tranformula Studios offers holistic spa services, and more

Laura Pavey can sound a little crazy when you talk to her on the phone. But you might, too, if you wore as many hats as she does daily. She’s a trainer, an esthetician and a spiritual guru. And those are only her day job(s).
 
Pavey, 43, is the CEO of Transformula Studios in Liberty Hilli, a new wellness center that seems a bit schizophrenic in terms of the services it offers. Face peels, Pilates, yoga and eyelash extensions are just a small taste of what this new wellness Mecca delivers.
 
But there is method to Pavey’s madness. She’s not looking to just help you with dry skin or inflexible knees: she’s looking to give your body, mind and spirit a complete, youthful overhaul.
 
“Transformula Studios is all about anti aging,” Pavey says. “It’s about feeling good and looking good, but not just for vanity’s sake.”
 
Pavey traveled a multi-forked career route before arriving at Transformula Studios. Her resume reads like vocational training pamphlet. She began her career as a social worker in San Francisco. When it became difficult to survive financially, she migrated east to Colorado for grad school and then to New York, where she became a freelance make-up artist.
 
As a makeup artist “I got really obsessed with skin,” Pavey says. “Makeup looks best on good skin.”
 
She moved to Cincinnati when her father became ill and quickly dipped her toes into the wellness field. Pavey emphasizes that she’s very interested in people’s cellular-level health, from skin to joints. Many of the services offered at Transformula Studios are designed to make your cells as healthy as possible.
 
“My skin care is all about rejuvenating the cells without invasive therapy,” she says. Her skin peels – one of her most popular treatments — are done with Physician’s Care Line products that only go to the skin’s epidermis layer and no further.
 
Pavey also emphasizes Pilates for joint and cartilage health. “We’re at a crossroads where our organs are living longer,” she says. “You can beat cancer and other diseases, but our skeleton and joints have a 45-year lifespan.”
 
Pilates helps maintain and strength joint flexibility and prevents wear caused by a life’s worth of use, she says. “I can’t think about my social security running out. I’m too worried about my joints.”
 
Volunteerism is also big part of the Transformula ethos. In keeping with her social work past, Pavey encourages staff and clients to get involved in the community through fundraising and volunteering.
 
“We also believe that doing good things keeps you young inside,” she says. “Nothing ages you more than negative energy.”
 
By Ryan McLendon

Model Group work expands to north OTR

After selling all of their units available south of Liberty Street in OTR, The Model Group has set its sights on renovating 14 buildings north of Liberty to provide affordable housing. 
 
The North Rhine Heights Project is scheduled to be completed by late summer and includes buildings on various streets. The renovated buildings will offer high-quality housing for low-income residents. Low-income housing is determined by calculating 60 percent of the neighborhood's household median income. 
 
"The existing affordable housing was in really bad shape," says Bobby Maly, COO and principal at The Model Group. "In a neighborhood like Over the Rhine, you want a good mix of market rate and affordable housing, but it all needs to be high-quality."
 
With continued renovations in the Gateway District, The Model Group looked for a new focus area. With much of the area north of Liberty Street still blighted, The Model Group went to work the build affordable housing that is indistinguishable from its market-rate neighbors. With the help of Federal Historic Tax Credits, The Model Group will open 65 newly renovated units this year. The Model Group sees the new rehabs as replicating the work they did south of Liberty. With all their completed condos sold out, the area north of Liberty was chosen because of its potential. 
 
"We went in with the same idea we had when working on our developments in other areas, and that is blight is blight, no matter where it is," Maly says. "Blight deters investment, and we want to turn that around."
 
The Model Group has spent more than $100,000 on police details in the neighborhood while completing the rehabs, which Maly hopes will also contribute to further revitalization. 
 
"We want to make the neighborhood safer for investment," Maly says. "We worked on making high-quality affordable housing a priority in other areas, so we're doing the same with this project." 
 
By Evan Wallis
 

City Flea sets 2012 sites on Washington Park

City Flea co-founders Nick and Lindsay Dewald are poised to make cool-shopping history again this year, with a new schedule and more venues, including stops in the reopened Washington Park in OTR.

“We loved how the flea was jammed into an underutilized lot last year, but feel that being integrated into the park will prove to be a great move for us, the vendors and the shoppers,” the Walnut Hills’ couple writes in an email. “We will be sharing the park with a dog run, a state of the art playground, brand new restroom facilities, a parking garage, fountains, a grassy lawn, shady benches and so on.”

Four of the couple’s seven June through December monthly events will be held at the OTR park, with Music Hall as a beautifully historic backdrop. Additional stops are slatted for the original 12th and Vine Street lot and at the American Can Lofts in Northside. They will also be a part of the OTR Summer Celebration, and have a mystery, yet-to-be-announced location for the November Flea.

With the application process for vendors open now through May 12, the Dewalds are looking forward to creating even better experiences for vendors and shoppers alike. For now, that means keeping the Fleas monthly instead of making them more often. “We feel like keeping them once a month is a nice frequency and forces people to make sure they definitely go instead of just saying they'll make it next week,” they write. “Lots of the vendors are very small operations and we think that a month in between each event allows them to restock their shelves.”

In the future, though, those monthly shopping sprees may not be enough. “We would love to get to a point where The City Flea could be a weekly event that is sustained by a steady combination of tourists and a critical mass of urban residents,” they write.

And the entrepreneurial-nurturing entrepreneurs are trailblazers, too. “We have heard of at least four or five other urban flea markets that are about to pop up in other cities, several of which have contacted us for info,” they write. “Hopefully the city will continue to embrace our events and we will be thought of as being a bit ahead of the curve. We would love for The City Flea to gain a reputation that extends outside of Cincinnati and contribute to bringing visitors and import residents.”  


By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

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.



Student Designed brings real work to design students

Completing assignments in college can seem pointless when there is no more return than a grade. So, instead of designing a fictitious building, why not pair students with the developer to design viable ideas for a real structure in their own city?

The pilot project for the startup Student Designed (SD), founded by Adam Treister, did just that. Treister, a DAAP architecture alumni and architect at City Center Properties (CCP), paired CCP with 34 interior design students to spend an entire quarter working on developing ideas for the Guildhaus building in Over-the-Rhine. Last Friday, all 34 students presented their ideas for the ground floor, basement and sub-basement of the building on Vine Street. CCP doesn't yet know if they will use one of the designs, but the project gave students real-life experience and a development company 34 ideas for the development of their building.

"The building has a lot of potential," Treister says. "We are seeing some very innovative uses for the Guildhaus."

Treister has been working on the idea for more than a year, and now, with a site designed by Mindbox Studios, SD is launched. SD is a database-driven site that brings students, professors and companies together. The idea was born out of seeing countless hours spent on projects that never came to fruition. The site allows businesses to submit projects, teachers to review them, and students to search and send on to their professors. Businesses will specify a charitable donation when they post a project that they want to outsource to a university. Universities can then search through the projects, and assign them to students. SD will provide a cheaper outsourcing of work for businesses and provide income to universities, all while giving students real-world experience.

"Student Designed provides a better experience for everyone involved," Treister says.

After winning Xavier's Launch-A-Business competition in 2011, Treister received six months of mentorship and assistance in developing his idea, and now, after launching the site, he is applying for a spot in the first round of UpTech in Northern Kentucky. At first, Treister plans on working on getting projects for UC and Xavier, but thinks the business will grow organically. 


By Evan Wallis

Sushi Bears expanding to Main Street

With cooking lessons booked until June, Dan Wells, owner of Sushi Bears in Findlay Market, is bringing his culinary knowledge to Main Street. 

Wells is opening a 1,700-square-foot space called Main City Station March 30, on the corner of Orchard and Main Street.. MCS will house Well's own Panda Chef, a cafe, complete with table service and and kitchen that will serve and teach Thai, Indian and Sushi cooking classes. To cater to people who want to try out their newly-learned cooking skills at home, MSS will also house a small market. 

"There aren't many places around where you can get all the ingredients you need to cook the food we offer lessons on," Wells says. "People can take lessons then buy what they need to make it at home, all in the same place." 

Sushi Bear will still operate its Findlay Market location, which has been open for a year and a half and hosts cooking classes every day. Wells has been looking for a location to expand with the high, and growing, demand for classes they offer. The idea for the co-op space was formed after finding the large space at a cheap price. Renters will use utilities, internet and a security system. 

With the large space, Wells knew they could rent out some of the space to other tenants and have found two so far. Flashbox and The Cincinnati Film Festival are confirmed and a vintage and upcycle jewelery retailer is in the works.  Flashbox, a photography company, will house its offices in MSS but will also have a permanent photo booth on site. Each month, the photo booth will be designed by a local artist and be open to the public for events, like Final Friday.

The Cincinnati Film Festival will host screenings of local and independent films, as well as plan their upcoming three-day festival.

Main City Station hosts a grand opening party Final Friday, March 30. 

By Evan Wallis


Migrate mag looks to grow global brand

Richard Inman has been booking bands at local venues since he was 17. His love of music eventually transformed into a event production company and online publication, Migrate. 
 
The online publication, Migrate Music News, supplies visitors with music reviews, interviews, show listings and downloadable songs. Migrate focuses on underground music in genres from rap to classical, but it started as an event production company.

The event production side of the business was Inman's main goal, but after seeing his long-time friend, Matthew Dickson, post the articles and reviews he wrote about lesser-known bands, the publication side of Migrate was born. Inman approached Dickson about working with Migrate, and the publication was soon launched with Dickson as the editor.
 
With goals of launching additional websites, print publications and creating events around the country and beyond, Inman needed a business partner. He ran into high-school friend, Brandon Walker and discussed his plans for Migrate. Walker joined the team a few days later. 
 
After only a few months, Inman and Walker were receiving press releases and albums from bands around the world. Now, they employ a web developer, an editor and six writers.

With the interest they received, the pair decided a print publication was a realistic option. The plans are to print two publications, Migrate Music News, which will feature information similar to the website, and Migrate, a magazine that will have feature articles in areas from fashion to music to lifestyle. Migrate is also working with venues such as the Emery Theater to bring live entertainment to Cincinnati.
 
"We chose the name Migrate because we won't just be based out of Cincinnati," Inman says. "We are building relationships in Colorado and even Europe to grow our brand worldwide."
 
Inman and Walker have their eyes on an OTR office space, which will serve as a headquarters once their printing gets started, which they expect to be before the year's end. They will distribute the magazine in Ohio and surrounding states and expect it to expand into other states once they build momentum. 
 
"It sounds chaotic when we say we are going to be doing all these things so soon," Inman says. "But we have everything balanced and have a good plan behind it."
 
By Evan Wallis

OTR townhouses sold out before completion

Twelve new townhouses being built in the 1400 block of Pleasant Street in Over-The-Rhine, as the final phase of City Home Cincinnati are already sold out, and the company behind the transformation has left its surburban roots to build new ones in the city's urban core.

The new townhouses are the final phase of the development by Schickel Design Company. The block's renovation began in 2006, and when finished it will blend historic OTR architecture with modern living, complete with private yards. The new homes also include parking. Seven houses are registered to be LEED-certified and the other five, built during the project's initial phase, have received Energy Star’s highest rating.

“This is a testament to the value design provides," says Schickel Design principal Martha Schickel Dorff. "The new construction meets the requirements of an upscale modern buyer, yet capitalizes on the beautiful fabric of small lots, alleys and pocket green spaces of this historic walkable neighborhood.”

Dorff designed City Home Cincinnati to appeal to young families and older buyers. Once finished, the project will have added 25 new homes to an area better known for blight than beauty. The project accomplishes its goals while using 100 percent of the existing historic shells of buildings.

The new homes, which extend continued development in OTR westward toward Findlay Market and Music Hall, have already received plenty of praise. In 2009, they were named Greater Cincinnati’s Most Outstanding Collaborative Effort, and in the same year Cincinnati Magazine dubbed the area the city's "Best Street Makeover." Further kudos have come from Urban Land Magazine and Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce.

To top it all off, Schickel Design itself is making an investment in the neighborhood. They recently moved from their Loveland location, which has been the companies’ home since being founded in 1948, to OTR.

By Evan Wallis

Asian Food Festival to hit the Banks

The Asian Food Festival, which was founded in 2010 and has been held at the Kolping Center near Mt. Healthy until now, will celebrate its third anniversary with a move to The Banks in downtown Cincinnati.

The AFF serves as a fundraising event for Care 2 Share, a non-profit organization of Vietnamese-American volunteers who work to provide funding, ideas and the human touch to the people of Vietnam. The festival has drawn crowds of 4,000 attendees who enjoy the food, performances and live bands.

The move downtown is just one of several changes for the AFF this year. In its attempt to highlight the cultural diversity in Cincinnati, the group hopes to reach a broader, and larger, audience.

“The move to downtown Cincinnati marks the start of what we hope to be an ongoing relationship with the urban core of this city.” says Rome Ntukogu, marketing director of the Asian Food Festival. “We want to contribute to the growth of the Banks.”

Leading up to the festival on May 19 and 20, the AFF hosts a four-week cook-off series at Findlay Market. Every Sunday in March, a free cook-off will include prizes for audience and judge favorites. Each week will feature a different Asian item, from fried rice, congee and curry to Asian barbeque. Each cook-off is limited to 30 entrants.

In May, the festival will be held on West Freedom Way between Elm and Rosa Parks Street, just east of Paul Brown Stadium. More than 30 vendors will be present, including sponsoring beer Mt. Carmel, so attendees can expect a mix of Cincinnati beer and Korean barbeque. Entertainment will include a children’s play park.

By Evan Wallis

New choral collective looks to change perceptions

Last Tuesday, the downstairs of Below Zero Lounge hosted the first performance by the newly formed Young Professional’s Choral Collective (YPCC).

KellyAnn Nelson and her husband Christopher Eanes formed the YPCC after talking to friends about their love of choral music, but lack of interest in attending concerts.

“There’s a disconnect somewhere,” Nelson says. “People used to perform in high school or college for social reasons, so we decided to try to recreate that.”

In November, Nelson and Eanes started recruiting and thought they could find around 20 people to form a choir and a practice space with a piano nearby. That’s when Nelson met Nigel, the owner of Below Zero. Nigel allowed the newly formed choir to use the club space, along with a hollowed out piano that houses a keyboard, all for free. The YPCC held two open practices in November to see how much interest they could garner. The results were more than Nelson and Eanes had hoped. Now with more than 60 members, the YPCC did Caroling in the Quarter, performed their first concert to around 200 people at Below Zero and already have another performance scheduled at Memorial Hall, May 22.

With only six rehearsals before the first performance, Nelson and Eanes didn’t know what to expect, but the event went off without a hitch. More than 150 people made reservations to attend.

“It was this little idea we had,” Nelson says. “Now it’s really happening and we have some momentum.”

The YPCC has received attention for its unique structure, so Nelson and Eanes want to find unique venues to perform and different organizations open to collaboration. Because of busy work and social schedules, the YPCC features different singers in each performance.

“We need our experiences to be unique,” Nelson says. “We want it to be something that draws new listeners in but still connects to old music fans.”

By Evan Wallis
 
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