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Sustainability : Featured Stories

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Our Harvest: Growing a new type of food business

Cincinnati’s Our Harvest Cooperative, the first union worker-owned food cooperative in the U.S., is focused on sustaining not only the environment, but also living-wage jobs for farmers.  

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Cincy neighborhood is model of urban sustainability

Surrounded by 200 acres of green space, the Enright Ridge Urban Eco-Village in Price Hill is blossoming with urban farms, green homes and sustainable living options.

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What smart cities can learn from Memphis

The City of Memphis is on the rise thanks to a growing startup community, investments in bike lanes, a burgeoning arts district and people moving back to the city. Through it all, the city has listened to its residents and embraced ‘lean urbanism.’


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#GivingTuesday: How to join in today's national celebration locally

There were more days than ever to kick off the holiday shopping season this year, but there’s another movement at work—#GivingTuesday—which encourages individuals to take the same fervor they have for Black Friday, and apply it to giving.  

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Hanke Exchange envisioned as business gateway between OTR and downtown

The Hanke Exchange is a collective rebranding of five buildings on Main Street from Reading Road to Michael Bany Way. With it, the Stough Group answers the revitalization boom on Vine Street by planting seeds for new, office-user tenant growth to revive its block of Over-the-Rhine.



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Putting polish on the Crown in OTR

The renovation of the much-admired but long-neglected Crown Building on the edge of Findlay Market is more than a story of timely real estate development. It's the tale of a creative and determined couple with a dedication to historic preservation and a deep belief in the value of living and working in the heart of Cincinnati.


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Shades of Grayscale: historic brewery revives to showcase local culture, spirits

On the site where the first brewery in Over-the-Rhine began operating in 1829, a new generation of artisans is redefining the boundaries of the historic neighborhood’s 21st century renaissance.

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From Guatemala with love: Deeper Roots partners with growers for richer roasts

What do a dairy barn in Mt. Healthy and this year's TED conference have in common? A shared love of top-quality coffee from a Guatemalan village that locals know thanks to relationships nurtured with Deeper Roots, a local roasting company and coffee consultancy. 

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Soapdish: Cincy Crit

Soapbox provocateur Casey Coston takes on architectural shortcomings of the city's latest developments and offers three words of actionable advice: Demand better, Cincinnati.

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My Soapbox: Sherry Carran, Covington's mayor-elect

Covington's first female mayor, Sherry Carran, takes office next month. The alum of the University of Cincinnati’s architecture program and long-time Northern Kentuckian shares her thoughts on her election, her goals, and bikes in Covington with Soapbox’s Hannah Purnell.
 

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Go West: Broadhope Art Collective inspires new thinking in Cheviot

Five artists share one vision in Cheviot: work together to share inspiration and build a creative community on the West Side. The result? The Broadhope Art Collective, which opened last week. 

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Chicks in the city: a snapshot of sustainable urban living

Boxed in the backyard of a stucco Northside home, 72 toes claw through straw and shredded compost. Nine clucking chickens are cooped up in chicken-wire-wrapped wood beams. Welcome to Chris Lamkin's world.

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Psst: Cincinnati's greener than you think

From a nationally recognized "poop processor" to a net-zero energy corporate headquarters, Cincinnati exemplifies "green" leadership to other cities and states. So why aren't more locals talking about it? Soapbox offers four conversation starters.

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The New Revolutionaries: Smarter than a Goldfish

What do shoe-making workshops, recycled sketch paper and Portolets have in common? They're all part of Main Street entrepreneur Alisha Budkie's sustainable world, one the UC design alum is helping build with support from longtime neighbors and a growing army of her peers in Over-the-Rhine.

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Second Sunday on Main

From chocolate chili popsicles to handmade shoes, from art galleries to sustainability-focused retailers, Main Street in Over-the-Rhine continues its latest renaissance. Soapbox photographer Scott Beseler offers a visual 411, with images captured during an idyllic Second Sunday on Main celebration. 

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Share the road: A bike-friendly guide for non-bikers

Did you know that in the state of Ohio, bicycles are considered vehicles and are supposed be treated as such? Or that cyclists can be given tickets for riding on the sidewalk, and are urged, for safety reasons, to take up the entire lane while riding? As Cincinnati's bicycle infrastructure grows, it's more important than ever for everyone on the road to know how to share it safely. Soapbox cyclist-in-chief Evan Wallis shares some basic tips.
 

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On a roll: Euro Cargo bikes mix art, sustainability

What happens when a European designer lands in Cincinnati to create a new breed of Cargo Bike? Farmers, and artists, take note.

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Miracle on Woodburn

From vintage stores to high-end fashion shops and art galleries, a new day is dawning on Woodburn Avenue in Walnut Hills. Entrepreneurs who have long called the neighborhood home welcome the fresh energy and say it has already made an impact in one of Cincinnati's most iconic communities.

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Downtown on the farm

You can find Dylan Tennison's rainbow chard, French breakfast and cherry belle radishes, six varieties of lettuces, arugula, fresh garlic and Tot soy—all grown in a plot in Over the Rhine—in groceries, markets and restaurants throughout the city. The Cincinnati native bikes and harvests his way to a sustainable, and inspiring, life filled with delicious benefits.

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What The New York Times forgot: Our innovative parks

With the Smale Riverfront Park open and Washington Park debuting July 6, we take a closer look at how the Cincinnati Park Board's oft-overlooked innovations move, and in some cases outright push, the city forward.

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Price Hill community blends urban, rural lifestyles

Few urban neighborhoods offer residents a 16-acre nature center and 26 weeks of fresh produce from a community-supported agriculture program. But those are just a few of the perks in Enright Ridge Eco-Village. Nestled in Price Hill, just a few miles from the heart of downtown Cincinnati, the green community offers residents the best of both urban and rural lifestyles.

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Immigrants fuel innovative plans for revival on Short Vine

Terry Chan came to Cincinnati via Hong Kong and Carnegie Mellon. His plans for the Short Vine Innovation District reflect an international perspective on successful neighborhood redevelopment. With long-term and new investors, he's helping create a technological hub of early-stage, vibrant businesses that's built to last.

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Young and black in Cincinnati: Words from the wise

Making a city vibrant means paying attention to all of its voices and learning from all of its wisdoms. And the story –and history – of Cincinnati wouldn't be complete without the innovation, tenacity and creativity of nearly half the city's population, which is African American. Today in Soapbox, in the first part of a two-part series, we'll tell you about four up-and-coming black Cincinnatians who are making a mark in media, education and entrepreneurship.

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SpringBoard diary: business-building toolkit

In week two of her SpringBoard journey, the unseasoned entreprenuer explores her motivations, her hopes and her fears.

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Get on the bus: art abounds on urban route

The smaller buses that traverse the streets of Mt. Adams, downtown and the West End offer more than colorful exteriors and a route guaranteed to please museum-goers and downtown workers alike. Route #1 helps re-define Cincinnati's bus commuting scene with a sitting-room setting and a cast of friendly regulars. Soapbox's Jane Durrell takes a ride.

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The Talent Dividend: How more college grads can add to Cincinnati's bottom line

What's the best thing a city can do to achieve more economic success? Increase its number of college graduates. The most prosperous cities have the highest number of college grads. Read how the Talent Dividend calculates just how much college degrees add to a city's bottom line — think billions.

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Design Impact grows local social innovation roots

At Design Impact, Ramsey Ford and Kate Hanisian take their design and community development skills around the world, building sustainable social solutions that combine creativity and mutual respect.



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Soapbox special: MORE women to watch

Last week you met five remarkable women changing the city's intellectual and creative landscapes. This week, we're serving up another batch of smart thinking, creative planning and big dreaming by five more. They talked with Soapbox's Evan Wallis and Scott Beseler so you can read, enjoy and be inspired.


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Harvest time

From a freshly painted storefront at Findlay Market to neighborhood coffee shops, fall is the season of harvest. This month, Soapbox features stories and images about harvests of ideas and personal passions that follow our neighbors from the field to the dinner table, from the iPad to the office, and far beyond.

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State of the arts

Steel drums and sculpture. Photography and modern dance. With passionate, eclectic leaders and a host of talented supporters, Cincinnati's local community arts centers deliver an array of classes and concerts designed to bring neighbors together. Soapbox tours a few of our region’s growing, vibrant cultural gathering spots.

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Talent search

As cities realize the importance of attracting and retaining talent, smaller development projects and neighborhood investment are becoming a crucial part of some cities' revitalization efforts. 

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Streetcar Facts, Figures and Fights Mirror Other Cities

Cincinnati is one of 80 American cities currently considering, planning or building a streetcar line. While it might seem that the challenges we're facing in making this a reality are unique, most are common among cities pursuing this revitalized form of public transit and the economic development boon that follows.

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Building a Green Legacy in OTR

The US Green Building Council's Legacy Project partners with preservationists and affordable housing advocates in Over-the-Rhine for a first-of-its-kind green historic housing development. 

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Building a 21st Century Arts Center with parProjects

Who would have thought old shipping containers could be trendy? parProjects' founders, Jonathan Sears and Chris Hoeting, plan to use the containers for more than storage, building a community arts center in Northside out of the sustainable structures. 

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Divine Inspiration: New Uses for Old Churches

A recording studio, boutique hotel, and arts center are just some of the innovative approaches Cincinnatians are taking to preserve and reimagine our historic houses of worship.

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Reimagining the Urban Grocery

Urban areas with limited access to healthy food are commonly referred to as "food deserts." Learn how local entrepreneurs and leaders are making efforts to improve access to healthy, sustainable food options in Cincinnati through innovation and legislative incentives.

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Taking Education Through the Roof at Rothenberg

Take a historic school building, a new attitude about green roofs, and a visionary, community-led project and you get a 21st century outdoor classroom that's four stories off the ground.

All Aboard in Cincinnati?

The 3C passenger rail plan would link Ohio's major cities and provide connections to regional hubs in Chicago and on the East Coast, but Ohio's next governor doesn't want it. How about you Cincinnati?

Project Groundwork

As many residents learned this spring, Cincinnati has a runoff problem. Enter "Project Groundwork," the first phase of a public works project designed to counter stormwater and sewer problems using innovative green solutions.

Soapbox Speaker Series: Urban Pioneers

Come meet some of the pioneers who have reinvigorated Cincinnati's past and are working hard on its future by reviving vital, urban neighborhoods at the Soapbox Speaker Series.

Green BEAN Delivers The Goods

Green BEAN Delivery is more than just a food delivery service - it also educates the public about healthy lifestyles and better food options. Delivering organic produce and natural groceries weekly, Green Bean Delivery is growing into a model 21st century grocer.

Bioneers Will Inspire Local Green Activists

For those trying to change their lives and their community to be more environmentally aware and active, the challenge is to not feel isolated and alone like a struggling pioneer in the hostile urban frontier. But you're not alone - you can be part of a growing local and national (and international) network designed to share new "green" solutions for restoring cities, neighborhoods and the entire planet. Bioneers, an organization dedicated to making people aware of the relationship of environmentalism to social justice, holds its annual conference Oct. 15-17 in San Rafael,  California, but this year the gathering will have a live satellite feed in Cincinnati, as part of a local, concurrent conference that will feature its own speakers, field trips and discussions.

Raising the (Green) Roof

Not long ago, spotting vegetation on the roof of a building in Cincinnati was a sure sign of urban decay. If a building was so neglected that plants were taking root in the dirt on its flat surfaces, one could reason, it wouldn't be long before wind, snow or a wrecking ball brought the roof down on the place. But now, roofs are sprouting green throughout the city. And people aren't shaking their heads in dismay or calling in the demolition teams - in fact, they're praising the spread of a very visible, and often beautiful, environmentally conscious technology.

Soapdish: Educating Tomorrow's Urbanists Today

Located in a historic building on Short Vine in Corryville, the Niehoff Urban Studio is dedicated to addressing urban issues that challenge the quality of life in Cincinnati, and helping educate not just students, but the community at large in the "pleasures of the urban lifestyle." Soapdish columnist Casey Coston takes a look inside this innovative think-tank that's pushing the city's urban core to grow, expand and thrive.

Soapicks June 15-21

Soapbox invites you to get your tickets now for the Cincinnati Equinox: Pride 2010, an event we proudly support. Cinci Eco Go-go brings sustainability to the runway while Suds + Signs + Saving Our City is a beer tasting like no other. Cap it all off with A Night With the Phantom at Below Zero Lounge.

TEDxCincy Gets Passionate About Big (and Small) Ideas

This October, Cincinnati will welcome TEDxCincy - a locally produced and independently organized event modeled after the uber-popular TEDTalks - you know the ones all over Youtube that have featured tech giants like Bill Gates and rockstars and activists like Peter Gabriel and Jane Goodall.  Soapbox gets the exciting scoop on TEDxCincy from event co-chair Michael Bergman.

We Are What We Eat: A Look at Our Local Food Ecosystem

This past week, local thought leaders, urbanists and Soapbox readers got together at UC's Niehoff Urban Studio to break bread and talk about food in the first installment of the Soapbox Speaker Series. What we found out about how we eat, what we eat, and where it all comes from offers important insights into the role food plays in our community.

Layers of Flavor: Exploring Cincinnati's Food Ecosystem at the Soapbox Speaker Series

This Wednesday,  May 26, Soapbox kicks off a new Speaker Series with the UC Niehoff Urban Studio.  "Layers of Flavor - Exploring Cincinnati's Food Ecosystem," will take a look at food in our community, the importance of local sourcing, and where the holes are in our food ecosystem.  And this isn't any ordinary speaker series: keeping with the theme, there will be 'street' food from Cafe de Wheels and Senor Roys, along with refreshments for attendees. So join us to start the conversation about local food along with local thought leaders. RSVP's are strongly encouraged for this event. For more details and to register, read more inside.

Cincinnati Cyclers Have a Plan

Cincinnati celebrates May's 'Bike Month' with style - and substance. A comprehensive bike plan, new bike lanes, 'sharrows', designated bike 'parking' spaces and even a bike corral in Northside are just a handful of the successes local bike advocates and city officials have achieved in the past year.  Soapbox's Jeremy Mosher says that their efforts are not only making Cincinnati more bike friendly, but changing the way we'll all get around in the future - hint: two wheels are better than four.

Ubiquitous City Comes to Northern Kentucky

A regional community development firm has big plans for a sleepy river town right across from Cincinnati.  C&M Investment Group hopes to transform Dayton, Kentucky into the nation's first 'Ubiquitous City' -  a city in which all of the information systems including residential, school, medical, business, and governmental - would be interconnected. Soapbox writer Alyce Vilines takes a look into this technological 'future world' and finds we're closer than you might think.  

Is Cincinnati Ready to Zip It?

Although it's not here yet, the car-sharing program Zipcar - already a staple in larger, dense urban areas - has a fan base in Cincinnati. With its cost saving, environmentally conscious approach to shared transportation, the member based program allows residents to dump their auto-burdened lifestyles and use a car only when they need it.  So what would it take to bring Zipcar to Cincinnati? 

Locals Slow It Down for Food's Sake

Greater Cincinnati's slow food movement has its share of local purveyors. From Slims in Northside to Virgil's in Bellevue, local chefs and restaurant owners are embracing slowing things down a little, bringing community and local farming together. And slowing things down not only tastes better - it's better for the environment, and might just be the new business model for local restaurants trying to ride out a tough year in the industry.

Sustainability 101: UC Heads the Class

After decades of development, UC has become the region's leader in sustainability. Innovative practices, partnerships with local corporations, and assembling one of the largest collection of LEED certified buildings are just a few of the efforts that have received national attention. UC's initiatives are a primer in how to marry green programs that combine ambitious academic and community goals all in the name of sustainability.

Soapdish: Bucktown Rising

Soapdish columnist Casey Coston heads east this week, to the edges of downtown proper and finds what's left of Bucktown - an industrial enclave with a colorful past and potentially brighter future.  Amidst the surface lots and abandoned warehouses that sit in the shadow of P&G's world headquarters, lie commercial spaces that serve as home base for first class architecture and design businesses and offer creative opportunities with room to spare for more.

10 Things to Watch in 2010

The first Downtown skyscraper in 20 years gets her crown, a contemporary theatre group creates Cincinnati's first LGBT Theatre Festival, a pioneering vegetarian eatery gets a new life and the completion of the nation's first K-12 arts school are just some of the things Soapbox will be watching in 2010.

The Greenest Neighborhood in America

Who has the greenest neighborhood in America? The answer might surprise you. With an estimated 500 vacant historic buildings in Over-the-Rhine the opportunity to create America's oldest and largest green neighborhood exists right here. An innovative study compiled by local architects, historic preservationists, developers, and environmental experts reveals that 19th century design intuition melded with 21st century innovation might give Cincinnati the leg up and make other cities green with envy.

Soapdish: Over the (green) Rhine

Tucked into a corner of OTR on Stark Street works a tireless 4th generation Cincinista and OTR booster by the name of Bryan Vielhauer whose vision to convert gas guzzlers into electric vehicles is a beautiful reality. Soapdish columnist Casey Coston takes an inside look at the folks behind the Over-the-Rhine Electric Motor Car Company. 

Recycling Cincinnati's Suburbs

Cincinnati's suburbs could use a facelift.  Nationally, sprawl and declining family populations are leaving behind outmoded and vacant strip malls and underutilized buildings and the midwest is no exception. By using urban design solutions developed by national experts to recycle these underperforming spaces and implementing innovative ideas developed locally in UC's Niehoff Urban Design Studio, Cincinnati has a great opportunity to revitalize its aging, inner ring suburbs and turn these spaces into the focal point of walkable communities. 

Energy Allies

A new alliance in Cincinnati is forming - this one provides education, job training, advocacy and awareness of energy efficient work and policies. The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance's efforts are part of a national drive to cut back energy use and educate consumers, but this alliance could also pump some life into Cincinnati's economy by retraining workers on the latest energy efficient trends.

Betting the Farm on Home Grown

Cincinnatians are buying the farm - literally - by partnering with local farmers who use an innovative business model to provide residents with home grown produce.  By buying 'shares' and occasionally getting their hands dirty, city dwellers are getting fresher, locally produced goods that are better for you and the environment.

Portland: From the Passenger Side

This week, Soapbox provides a first-hand account of a native son's visit to Portland, Oregon, and his observations of how a streetcar, and mass transit in general, could benefit a city like Cincinnati.  From revitalized retail districts to the creation of eminently walkable neighborhoods, Mosher explores the benefits of 21st century transportation, and realizes it's not all concrete and steel - like the shared public experience that draws Portland's residents out into the open and, ultimately, together.

Disciples of Dirt

The Cincinnati Off Road Alliance keeps local trails open for nature lovers of all walks - or rides.  If you've been hiking or biking in a local park, you may want to thank a mountain biker. There are more than 50 miles of trails in the region's parks and forests, thanks to the volunteer efforts of Cincinnati Off Road Alliance's members.

SoapDish: Bull Market

Soapdish columnist Casey Coston takes a leisurely stroll through the new and improved Findlay Market and finds a veritable cornucopia of fresh, tasty food and even fresher, innovative ideas in Ohio's oldest open air marketplace.

Madeira Schools' Energy Solution

Madeira city schools strive for greener energy pastures with a significant gift  from an anonymous donor and inspiration from a Northern Kentucky neighbor.

Soapdish: Now IS the Time

Soapdish columnist Casey Coston is a lover of newspapers. This week he examines the ever transforming local print media including the Enquirer's recent stunning editorial calling to table the city's streetcar project.

Linking Ohio through the power of rail

Connecting Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland with a 120 mph train that runs multiple times a day may become a reality if All Aboard Ohio has their way, and the implications could be significant.

Talking architecture with Aaron Betsky

Conversations with Aaron Betsky, Cincinnati  Art Museum director, are likely to wheel around to architecture. He and Jane Durrell settle down to talk on that subject itself, beginning with Betsky's "Of course, architects never do what you expect them to."

Bringing on the power: Ohio's push for advanced energy

Solar paneled rooftops? Wind generated electricity? Geothermal heated homes? It's all possible in Cincinnati with a little help from a multi-million dollar Ohio economic stimulus program aimed at tapping into clean, renewable energy sources manufacturing innovation.

How green jobs are taking root in Cincinnati

With the volatility of energy prices, the sagging economy and the continued loss of manufacturing jobs across the Midwest, the environmentally conscious or modern “Green” phenomena is set to become more than a marketing tag or a trend for the Cincinnati region.

Working the numbers on Agenda 360 and Vision 2015

The region's newest long-term planning strategies, Agenda 360 and Vision 2015, hold great promise to go beyond "plans in a binder" and generate real transformative momentum making the region a power magnet for talent, jobs, and economic opportunity.


Waste not, want not - it's the Toyota way

Their trash cans gone, employees at Toyota's North American manufacturing and engineering headquarters started thinking seriously about recycling, helping the 1,400-employee site reach the goal of sending no waste to landfills.  And the managers there also helped drive an even bigger goal -- zero waste to landfills at its 12 factories in North America, a goal it's close to achieving. 

A Streetcar Named Renewal: If We Build it, Will They Come?

Despite naysayers' doubts, a  zealous group of advocates believes a streetcar could help breathe new life into Cincinnati.  After a little convincing, we at Soapbox do too.

Regaining our Competitive Advantage: A National Blueprint for Prosperity

It's a different global world today and yet our federal government is still stuck in the '80s, argues Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution. More than a bold plan for big themes like transportation, his national Blueprint for American Prosperity is a call to action for those who care about their cities. Are you game?

Local Lessons Help Guatemalan Poverty

Cincinnati has a long history of philanthropy. Two local brothers have discovered a way to creatively export that good will by founding Cooperative for Education, a non-profit that raises $2 million a year to improve the lives of Guatemalan children from our own backyard.

Raising kids urban in a suburban world

Melissa and Damon Gray wanted a neighborhood that had everything they needed to raise their two adopted children.  The two musicians tell us why being close to Findlay Market, Sawyer Point, Fountain Square, The Main Library and Grammer's is more important than cul-de-sacs and mass retail.

Cincinnati Public School designs attract national spotlight

The Cincinnati Public School system has much to crow about this Earth Day as the Earth Day Network (EDN) in Washington DC looks to our school system's forward approach to sustainable design as a model for education programs in 40 schools in cities across the country.

Soapbox Derby to benefit neighborhoods and Boys & Girls Club

The gauntlet was thrown at the feet of the Soapbox staff recently as we were challenged to build and sponsor an actual Soapbox Car in Cincinnati's Soapbox Derby come this June. The smack talk has already started as the online community wonders if we'll be able to live up to our namesake. Confidence is high as we await to hear the name of our ace driver who comes to us through the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati.

An eco-industrial vision for Queensgate

An economic development strategy from a team of consultants recommends a visionary transformation of part of Cincinnati's Queensgate neighborhood into an eco-industrial park so it can host the next generation of green manufacturing,  It would be the first of its kind in the Upper Midwest and would be a way to attract companies committed to reducing their ecological footprint, a growing part of the industrial sector, the authors say.

Cincinnati's Centennial Parks Master Plan: Our quiet strength

Keeping Cincinnati's more than 100 parks and greenspaces relevant and user-friendly is a major undertaking requiring relentless planning and coordination, and Christopher Manning and Steven Schuckman know this more than most.

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