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Rothenberg rooftop garden will give OTR students new growth opportunities

Rothenberg Preparatory Academy will see the completion of its 8,500-square-foot rooftop teaching garden this year, thanks to many donations and supporters in the local community. 

Edwin “Pope” Coleman, rooftop project manager, has worked with the Over-The-Rhine Foundation for the past eight years to bring the rooftop garden to life

When Rothenberg was vacant and facing demolition, Coleman, as well as many residents of the community, approached Cincinnati Public Schools and asked for a renovation instead of a replacement.  

“[Rothenberg] was a flagship and point of pride for the neighborhood,” says Bryna Bass, full-time teacher and garden manager. “The community fought hard to prevent it from being torn down.” 

With the understanding that CPS wouldn’t be responsible for providing anything more than the space, the OTR Foundation took on fiscal responsibility and began restoring Rothenberg through Coleman’s vision. 

Fundraising for the rooftop garden began in late 2008, and more than $300,000 has been raised since then. The recent Midsummer Night’s Gala raised additional funding also need for construction and operation.

The teaching garden, which was once a playground, will allow students to explore science and nature. The developed curriculum uses garden-based lessons to deepen students' educational experience through hands-on problem-solving activities, Bass says.

The rooftop teaching garden educational program will launch at the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year. 

Do Good:
  • Visit Rothenberg and go on a tour of the garden. 
  • “Like” the rooftop garden progress on Facebook. 
  • Make a donation to the OTR Foundation

Taking Root offers $5 trees to home and land owners

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD) has sold more than 43,000 trees to Hamilton County residents as a result of joining a local campaign, Taking Root.

Taking Root, which kicked off in September 2013, is a collaborative effort of eight counties in the tri-state area working to raise citizens’ awareness of our region’s tree canopy crisis. The campaign is educating the public on the value and need for trees and how to care for them with a goal of planting 2 million trees by 2020—one tree for each resident in the tri-state region. 

The program allows homeowners and landowners to purchase a tree for $5 in an effort to reduce the threat of the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle and bush honeysuckle as well as many other tree-destroying culprits. American Elm, Ohio Buckeye, Allegheny Serviceberry, Hardy Pecan, Black Gum and Swamp White Oak are the trees available to be purchased and planted.

The deadline to order trees is Sept. 25, 2014; trees will be available for pick-up in October. The district is also asking residents to send in a photo to make sure the trees are planted correctly and maintained. 

But it doesn’t stop with just buying and planting trees. John Nelson, HCSWCD public relations specialist, says there are also ways citizens can protect and maintain existing trees.

“It’s very important to make sure you’re not a victim of these invasive species,” Nelson says. “Inspecting your existing trees is a great way to prevent and control the problem before it worsens.”

Do Good:

•    Buy a tree from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.

•    Sign the Taking Root pledge

•    Maintain existing trees in the community. 

Occupational therapist founds volunteer group for Summit clients

In her four years as an occupational therapist at Summit Behavioral Healthcare, Laura Menze says she’s noticed her clients’ strong desire to be helpful.
 
“They enjoy working around the unit, whether that’s wiping tables or watering plants, so they have a longing to engage in productive occupations,” Menze says.
 
Clients are sometimes limited, however, when it comes to engaging in meaningful work outside of the facility.
 
So Menze started a volunteer group that allows Summit’s clients to work with one another, in a safe environment, for a positive cause.
 
“Most have been on the receiving end of things for most of their lives and are grateful for the services they receive, but this puts them in the position of the ones who can give, and that’s significant,” Menze says.
 
The volunteer group meets once a week, and for the past few months, Menze says about 10 males have joined together to do things like plant seed trays for Peaslee Neighborhood Center’s Early Learning Center, make birthday cards for residents at Lydia’s House, craft packets for children at the Ronald McDonald House, and fleece blankets to donate to The Healing Center.
 
“I think they’ve taken pride in their work,” Menze says. “There’s just a great amount of stigma related to this population of folks; so to be able to hear, ‘Thank you for what you did. That was really meaningful. Someone will be grateful,’—that provides something for their self-esteem, their self-worth.” 

Do Good:

•    Contact Laura Menze if you're a nonprofit interested in a collaborative volunteer opportunity that could be completed on site at Summit. 

•    Volunteer with a local nonprofit.

•    Support a cause you're passionate about.

E-Waste recycling drive saves 75 tons of electronics from landfills

With the beginning of May came the fifth annual Players for the Planet electronic waste recycling drive. The four-day drive ran from May 1-4, and an estimated total of 150,000 pounds (75 tons) of e-waste, including cellphones, computers and printers, was collected.
 
The annual recycling drive came together through a partnership between many different organizations. Players for the Planet, a nonprofit organization designed to bring professional athletes together to inspire and educate communities about environmental issues, partnered with the Cincinnati Reds, who co-sponsored the event and had players like Jay Bruce and Mike Leake in attendance.
 
Additional sponsors included Cohen Recycling, PNC Bank, Macy’s, Remke Markets, Kroger, Duke Energy, Green Umbrella Cincinnati, the recycling and solid waste district of Cambell, Hamilton and Butler Counties, and more.
 
“Over 70 percent of electronic waste ends up in landfills and is not properly disposed of,” says Brewster Rhoads, executive director of Green Umbrella, an alliance of organizations in the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana tri-state area working to preserve the region's greenspace. “This is one opportunity to make sure that doesn’t happen; Cohen Recycling has the highest standard you can achieve for proper recycling of electronic equipment, so they are an important partner in this event.”
 
The recycling drive took over a different parking lot each day, taking place outside of PNC locations in Colerain, West Chester, Hyde Park and Newport. In total, 1,669 cars participated.
 
“As far as I know, this is the largest recycling drive of its kind in the country,” Rhoads says. “It’s grown considerably each year, from the amount of sponsors to the amount of e-waste we’ve recycling. We’re really lucky to have the support of the entire Reds organization on this. They’ve helped us take the issue of recycling away from being something political and simply make it a mainstream value.”

New anti-littering campaign promotes shared responsibility, city pride

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful’s “Don’t Trash The ‘Nati” campaign from the '90s is back, but this time it’s personal.
 
Instead of the phrase “The 'Nati,” it’s rebranded as “My 'Nati” so individuals will be more inclined to take collective action and ownership of their communities.
 
“If people took pride in their neighborhood and wouldn’t trash it or litter, it would result in less crime, higher property values—just an overall better quality of life,” says Brooke Lehenbauer, public awareness and volunteer coordinator for Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.
 
According to Lehenbauer, people sometimes justify littering—whether intentional or not—by saying it provides a job to those who clean the streets, but in actuality, that time spent comes from tax dollars and only takes away from time that could be spent doing more beneficial things.
 
“That’s time they’re away from filling potholes, cutting grass,” Lehenbauer says.
 
Campaign designs relay the message by showing what individuals should trash—things like coffee cups and banana peels—next to Cincinnati staples that shouldn’t be trashed at all.
 
“It has iconic Cincinnati landmarks like Union Terminal, 20th Century Theater, the Reds’ stadium—that kind of thing—so the idea is that we want people to recognize that the city is ours to enjoy,” Lehenbauer says. “Keeping it clean has to be a shared responsibility between all of us.” 

Do Good:

•    Check out Keep Cincinnati Beautiful's upcoming events and opportunities to get involved.

•    Take photos of your favorite Cincinnati spots, and use the hashtag #MyNati to connect with others through social media.

•    Suppor the campaign by donating.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Eleven local communities receive grants to increase physical fitness opportunities

Eleven area communities and organizations are the recipients of Interact for Health grants to develop or improve upon spaces for physical activity.
 
“It’s all about creating infrastructure in places where people can be physically active,” says Jaime Love, Interact for Health’s program officer for healthy eating and active living.
 
The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, for example, was one the eleven organizations awarded; and as a result, Latonia Elementary School will be the site of a new area from which the whole community can benefit.
 
“They worked in partnership to convert the dilapidated playground at the school and turn it into a community park,” Love says. “So there’ll be a new playground, fitness equipment—there’ll be a walking track—and it really will be something that both the school and the community residents can enjoy.”
 
Other organizations will receive things like a pool lift to increase accessibility, and exercise equipment to add to a fitness trail.
 
According to Love, creating a culture of wellness where people have easy access to physical activity is the goal.
 
“We want to encourage public places that are free of charge as well, because we know cost can be a barrier to some people being able to participate,” Love says.
 
“So when we have lots of public spaces that are safe and up to date and easily accessible—people can walk or bike to them, they’re not too far away from their homes—that just increases the likelihood that they can get out with their family and friends and have some activity on a regular basis.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the 11 physical activity and environments grantees, and make use of the spaces when they become available for use.

•    If you're interested in applying for a grant to receive funds for physical activity environments in 2015, there is still time. Proposals are due by noon, May 1. 

•    Connect with Interact for Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Metro launches year-long contest to promote green living

Metro kicked off a new initiative this Earth Day by launching a year-long contest that gives riders an incentive to recycle their used passes.
 
“Drop It In To Win” encourages riders to submit their used 30-day passes, stored value cards or 1-ride tickets for the chance to win a duplicate copy of their submission.
 
“Here at our offices, we’re big on recycling,” says Jill Dunne, Metro’s public affairs manager. “We added stored-value cards, so there’s more and more paper out there, and we thought this would be a good way to reward our riders and also be environmentally friendly, because at the end of the year, we’re going to recycle all of them.”
 
Five winners have already received their free passes, and five more will be selected at the beginning of each month for the next year.
 
“Someone could win a pass of up to $170 dollars value if they had a Zone 5, 30-day rolling pass and put that in there,” Dunne says.
 
According to Dunne, being environmentally friendly is one of Metro’s priorities, and doing what it can to improve the quality of life within our community is key.
 
“If you’re interested in the environment, if you want to improve the quality of life for your community, riding on Metro is going to provide that opportunity,” Dunne says. “There’s less pollution—it’s an opportunity for you to get out of the car—and a full bus can take up to 50 cars off the road, so that’s going to be a lot of pollution you’re going to save if you’re riding the bus.” 

Do Good:

•    Get the deals on the contest, and Drop It In To Win

•    Ride the Metro

•    Like Cincinnati Metro on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Rooted communities at The Civic Garden Center

The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati’s annual plant sale is just two weeks away.
 
It’s the nonprofit’s largest fundraising event and brings plant lovers of all kinds together to talk, shop and have all their gardening questions answered by other likeminded individuals—all while helping The Civic Garden Center raise enough money to fund one of its programs for an entire calendar year.
 
“That allows us to do our youth education programming, or it allows us to do community gardens for another year. It’s substantial,” says Vickie Ciotti, executive director. “If we did not have this fundraiser, we would have to eliminate one of our programs, so that’s like saying, 'You can’t keep all your children.' How would you decide?”

For Ciotti, the gardening, education and environmental programs all build camaraderie; and everyone involved—whether it's one of the 500 volunteers who assist the nonprofit, or the visitor who happens upon the unlikely refuge nestled within the city—feels welcome.
 
“You see people who you haven’t seen in a long time, and it’s the most enjoyable, relaxed fundraiser I’ve ever been a part of,” Ciotti says. “There’s just this spirit to the place—we see people as they are, meet people where they are—and it’s not a pretentious group of people at all.”

Do Good:

Register for the plant sale's preview party. 

• Attend the plant sale is May 3-4. View details here.

Volunteer with the Civic Garden Center.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


 

Join in effort to reforest NKY

More than 300 volunteers will join together to plant 2,500 trees this Saturday at Northern Kentucky Urban Forestry Council’s annual project, Reforest Northern Kentucky.
 
NKYUFC tree leaders will spend the morning educating volunteers and showing them where to go onsite to plant the proper tree in the proper place.
 
“There’s different trees that need to be planted in different areas,” says Tara Sturgill, environmental specialist at the Northern Kentucky University Center for Environmental Restoration and PR chair for Reforest NKY.
 
“We want people to know where to plant to get the right species. We want them to grow and stay in the ground and not be cut down, so we’re really trying to educate people on right tree, right place.”
 
One of NKYUFC’s goals is to educate the public about community trees, which is important because when a non-native tree is growing in an area, it creates an unstable environment and must be cut down.
 
City of Covington Urban Forester Crystal Courtney has recently been working to cut down Bradford Pear Trees, for example, which Sturgill says the neighborhood is upset about because the trees are so big and have been there for so long.
 
“But they’re not the proper trees for that place—they’re invasive species,” Sturgill says. “So she’s spent a lot of time cutting those downs, and they’re taking a weekend where people can come out and plant a native tree. But had that education been there years ago, there would be no need for that; so that’s what we’re trying to do with Reforest Northern Kentucky—educate.” 

Do Good:

• Pre-registration for Reforest NKY is closed, but you can still volunteer to plant trees. Get the event details here. If you volunteer, consider carpooling. 

Volunteer April 5-6 to replace the Bradford Pear Trees by planting native trees in Covington.

Contact the NKYUFC to learn proper tree planting techniques, in addition to what types of trees should be planted in particular areas. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Local club teaches gardening to elementary school children

Fairy gardens, shade gardens, gnome gardens—they all make up the backyard of Joyce Mohaupt, who’s served as president of the Monfort Heights Garden Club for the past two years.
 
The club, which will celebrate its 85th anniversary March 28, works to beautify Greater Cincinnati by doing things like maintaining landscapes and engaging in community plantings.
 
“At Montfort Heights Elementary, for example, we have two gardens—one is more of a vegetable garden, and the other one grows more flowers and things like that,” Mohaupt says. “But our club does a program in connection with third-grade students, and we have quite a few of our members that come in to the school, and the students really and truly love it—they’re learning about gardening, and it’s hands-on.”
 
The garden club members plant corn in the elementary school’s vegetable garden, for example; so students learn how to plant seeds. They later gather the corn, and a popcorn party eventually transpires.
 
“It’s usually a monthly thing,” Mohaupt says. “They’ll work with potting soil. They have planters they take home—they might do something special for Mother’s Day—things like that.”
 
For Mohaupt and other garden club members, gardening is more than a love or a passion. It’s a duty to enhance the various communities that make up our city and its surrounding areas.
 
“Our projects don’t just deal with the Monfort Heights area,” Mohaupt says. “We don’t just stay local—we move around.” 

Do Good:

• Support the club in its fundraising efforts.

Contact the Monfort Heights/White Oak Community Association if you're interested in becoming a member of the garden club, or if you'd like to volunteer to help maintain community landscapes.

• Maintain your gardens so you can provide homes for our birds and bees. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Lower Price Hill Community School set to expand community outreach

In the coming months, the Lower Price Hill Community School will undergo a name change as it expands services to focus its efforts on education and improving the community through two nonprofits: Education Matters and Community Matters.
 
“But the Lower Price Hill Community School is not going away,” says Mike Moroski, LPHCS director of outreach services. “The administration’s staying the same. We’re not only going to be providing the same services we always have—we’re going to provide them on a larger scale—plus offer new services to the community.”
 
Moroski will transition into the role of director for Community Matters, which he says will function as a safe haven for residents, while offering access to more community events and opportunities.
 
“One of the things I’ve always been attracted to about LPHCS is they’re not interested in coming into the community and saying, ‘Here’s what you need to be better,’” Moroski says. “They’re interested in finding out what the community wants and then providing it.”
 
Lower Price Hill, for example, has no laundromat; so the nonprofit is working with Xavier University to launch one through the Washing Well project, which will eventually be turned over to the neighborhood as a co-op.
 
A business plan is currently in the works, and Moroski says the long-term vision is to work with Xavier University professors to offer a business incubator course, which would be open to anyone—Lower Price Hill resident or not—who would eventually like to open a new space in Lower Price Hill.
 
Jack’s Diner will also enter the neighborhood, as it takes shape within the renovated property that once housed the Urban Appalachian Council. The diner will serve not only as the only restaurant within the neighborhood, but the upstairs will function as a service learning center for high schools and colleges.
 
“It serves the neighborhood, it could be a revenue stream for the nonprofit Community Matters, and it’s a gathering place,” Moroski says. “So now we have the opportunity to provide educational space and have another revenue generator for the school.” 

Do Good:

Support Community Matters through its crowdfunding campaign. 

Support the Lower Price Hill Community School by donating, volunteering or spreading the word.

Contact Mike Moroski if you're interested in volunteering. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Zipline on down the road or dance in public with Join the Fun

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults engage in 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times a week, or 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week.
 
But only 47 percent of adults in our region are attaining either of those amounts, according to the 2010 Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey.
 
So Interact for Health, formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, in partnership with ArtsWave—supporter of more than 100 Greater Cincinnati arts organizations—have joined together to launch Join the Fun.
 
“The whole premise is about having social engagement and interaction so people can go out with family, with friends, or even just to a location where they know there will be a group of people doing some sort of activity they can join in,” says Jaime Love, program officer for healthy eating and active living at Interact for Health. 
 
The Join the Fun initiative funds 21 total grantees and will enable community members across the region to do things like dance in public, relax while practicing yoga and even zipline down a two-mile closed-off area of a public roadway.
 
“A lot of times, people just get used to their same routine and being inside, or being at home and not getting out with people,” Love says. “So this is an opportunity where they can say they’re not by themselves—there’s a group they can engage with—and they can do something for fun.” 

Do Good:

• Engage in Join the Fun activities. 

• Connect with Interact for Health and ArtsWave on Facebook.

Support ArtsWave.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


 

NKY woman makes strides against nutritional poverty

When Monica Remmy settled on a place to live and made the decision to purchase a house, she found herself drawn to Northern Kentucky—more specifically Newport—because of its walkability and amenities.
 
“There’s a family-run butcher, two small theaters in walking distance—there’s a lot around here,” Remmy says.
 
The area is one Remmy appreciates, but she also understands the various needs of her community.
 
She lives just down the street from the Henry Hosea House—a nonprofit that serves those in need. And it’s the only Northern Kentucky facility that serves a hot evening meal seven days a week.
 
A few Christmases ago when Remmy couldn’t travel to Tennessee to visit her mother—who Remmy says grew up in Appalachia and knew what it was like to live in poverty—she took the money she would have spent on presents and instead bought items for the Hosea House.
 
“I dropped everything off and told them I have skills in graphic design and would like to help if I can,” Remmy says.
 
She later found herself putting together a fresh food drive for the organization, and spent most of 2011 helping the Hosea House apply for—and receive—a $30,000 grant to combat nutritional poverty.
 
“As part of the three things we wanted to do around nutritional poverty, I led a project on Hosea House’s behalf and put together a garden,” says Remmy, who now serves as volunteer manager for the garden, where she works to plant and harvest fresh produce for use in the soup kitchen.  
 
From non-GMO Roma tomatoes donated from someone in the neighborhood to plants offered from the individual on the other side of the neighboring fence, the backyard plot of land has transformed into a focal point in the community.
 
“Everyone who walked by stopped to say how beautiful it was or how impressed they were with how tall things were getting, and it really brought a nice little bright spot,” Remmy says. “And all of the produce that isn’t used in the kitchen to prepare the meals is given out to the guests. It wasn’t even definite we’d get it off the ground that first year, but we did, and it’s been amazing.”  

Do Good:

Support the Hosea House. Remmy's goal is to restore funding for educational programs with local school children at the garden. 

Contact Remmy if you would like to volunteer with the garden. 

• Support the Hosea House by donating needed items.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Cincinnati Zoo event aims to help restore region's tree canopy

Editor's Note: This event has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 1.

If restoring the region’s tree canopy and preparing it for the future is a cause for which you’re passionate, you’re invited to take part in the Taking Root campaign’s Great Tree Summit 2014.
 
The Great Tree Summit, which takes place at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Saturday, January 25, is a way for community members to brainstorm and form strategies to help Taking Root reach its goal of planting 2 million trees by 2020.
 
“We don’t want to just pump information toward people. We want them to now really get involved,” says Jody Grundy, environmental activist and campaign leader.
 
Saturday’s Summit will consist of breakout sessions where individuals form teams based on specific actions, like educating or communicating with others about Taking Root’s efforts, in addition to discussing how particular areas within the campaign’s eight-county, three-state region, can join together to organize specific plans of action within one’s community.
 
“Large trees and native trees are very important to stabilize the whole environment and all the species that are dependent on them,” Grundy says. “We want to bring to people’s attention the importance of trees and to communicate that we should not take for granted a resource we all depend on. We all need to be players in this.”

Do Good:

Register to attend the Great Tree Summit 2014 Saturday, January 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

• Plant a tree and register it to count toward the 2 million-tree goal. 

• Like and share Taking Root's Facebook page.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Save Local Waters and Cincinnati Zoo promote rain barrels through art initiative

Many individuals fail to realize that small changes can make monumental differences when it comes to conservation efforts, says John Nelson, public relations specialist for the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.
 
The HCSWD is part of The Regional Storm Water Collaborative—more commonly known as Save Local Waters—and the organization’s goal is to raise awareness about water quality issues in the Ohio River Valley by educating the public about ways to improve it.
 
“One of the best ways people can conserve water and also help with storm water runoff is to install a rain barrel at their homes,” Nelson says.
 
To encourage more individuals to make use of rain barrels by collecting water that can be reused, as opposed to allowing it to flow quickly while collecting pollutants that end up in our water systems, Save Local Waters has partnered with The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden to host its second Rain Barrel Art Project.
 
“Rain barrels look like trash cans—they’re very plain looking barrels—so we came up with an idea to beautify them, and to take it to the next level,” Nelson says.
 
From now through January 25, individuals can submit proposed artwork to Save Local Waters. If selected for the project, they’ll then have the opportunity to paint a barrel to be displayed in the zoo’s Green Garden during the month of April, with a culminating event April 24 in which barrels will be auctioned during the zoo’s Party for the Planet Earth Day celebration.
 
“Last year, we had about 40 rain barrels entered from people all over the Ohio River Valley, and this year we’re hoping we get more,” Nelson says. “People will take these to their homes and install them, and all the money raised from the auction is used for conservation education.” 

Do Good:

Register with Save Local Waters to paint a barrel.

• Visit the zoo between April 1-24 to view painted barrels, and attend the benefit auction April 24. 

Learn about what you can do to clean up our waters, and contact the organization to get involved by volunteering.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 
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