Green Umbrella in the News

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  • March 13, 2020 12:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Vote Yes on Issue 7 for a Greener, Cleaner, Safer Region

    By Ryan Mooney-Bullock and Andy Holzhauser, on behalf of Green Umbrella's Board of Trustees

    Hamilton County voters have an historic opportunity to help our region become cleaner, greener, safer and more equitable by voting yes on Issue 7, which would increase funding for the region’s bus system and make other infrastructure improvements. Our organization, Green Umbrella, has historically refrained from making endorsements in ballot issues, but our board of trustees felt strongly enough about Issue 7 to endorse our first-ever ballot measure.

    Green Umbrella is dedicated to promoting regional sustainability through collaboration and collective impact. We work to provide access to healthy environments, reduce the effects of climate change, and improve the sustainability of both landscapes and the built environment. An increase in funding to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which operates the region’s bus system, will support many of our priorities:

    • Cincinnati is one of the country's 25 most-polluted cities, according to the American Lung Association, due to high levels of particulate pollution. The pollution increases asthma in children, damages lungs, increases deaths from cardiovascular disease and infant mortality. A regional transit system that offers alternatives to single-driver commutes will improve air quality.
    • Carbon dioxide emissions in the Cincinnati region have risen 40 percent since 1990, and are up 18 percent per person in the same period, according to Boston University's Database of Road Transportation Emissions. Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gases, and most of those emissions come from driving. Coupled with smart growth and other options, an improved bus system can help lower CO2 emissions in the region..
    • Pedestrian injuries and deaths from auto crashes are increasing in Ohio and due to factors such as the rise of SUVs and distracted driving. A recent study from the Ohio Department of Transportation found that Hamilton County had the highest rate of pedestrian crashes per capita in the state. Car trips are associated with more injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, as well as more fatal and severe injuries, as compared to buses. Mass transit is also associated with lower obesity rates.
    • Sitting in traffic costs the average commuter in Cincinnati 60 hours and $834 per year. If even a fraction of the people now driving by themselves to work take the bus instead, traffic improves for everyone.
    • Only 10 percent of the region’s jobs are accessible by a bus ride of an hour or less, which limits options and the economic mobility of residents who cannot afford a car. A more robust bus system would increase opportunities across the region.

    These are some of the regional challenges that could be addressed with the passage of Issue 7, but there are opportunities to capitalize on as well. Cincinnati has become a leader in sustainability over the past decade. The Cincinnati 2030 District, a project led by Green Umbrella, encompasses 267 buildings whose owners have committed to cutting water and energy use and emissions from commuting in half by the year 2030. The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council is increasing food security and cutting food waste, and Tri-State Trails is building a network of trails and bikeways to support active transportation and healthy lifestyles. The City of Cincinnati recently launched the largest municipal solar farm in the U.S., and its pace of 2% annual reduction in greenhouse gases puts it on par with climate leaders such as Paris and Oslo.

    The passage of Issue 7 will help efforts to increase the region's environmental sustainability and resilience, improve its quality of life and extend equity. We full endorse it and urge you to vote yes on Issue 7 for a greener, cleaner, safer Cincinnati.

    --

    Ryan Mooney-Bullock is the Executive Director of Green Umbrella. Andy Holzhauser is the President of Green Umbrella's Board of Trustees and a Partner at Donovan Energy.
  • March 10, 2020 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier

    By: Nikki Kingery

    ArtWorks's First Project of 2020 Will Light Up this Cincinnati Neighborhood

    ArtWorks’ first project of 2020 will feature a series of light-based installations aimed at enhancing neighborhood safety and celebrating cultural heritage.

    Artists Calcagno Cullen and Matthew Grote have been selected by an Avondale public art steering committee to create Switch On Avondale, a series of interactive public art installations along the new walking and bike trail behind the renovated Hirsch Recreation Center on Reading Road. The project is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

    “This work of creating more public art in Avondale is so important,” April Gallelli, Avondale Development Corp. community organizer, said in a news release. “The residents want more art that is reflective of our community’s rich culture and values, and we’re thrilled that a national funder is investing in this work. We look forward to what these artists partnering with the Avondale community will bring to life.”

    ArtWorks is a Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that employs youth to create art and community impact. Cullen and Grote will be working with four ArtWorks youth apprentices, ages 14-21, who are Avondale residents to create these installations, which are being created this spring and installed in the summer.

    Cullen is an artist and founder and director of Wave Pool, an arts center in Camp Washington that aims to be a catalyst for social engagement. Her design, “What We Need to Hear,” includes inspirational quotes from neighborhood residents made from neon flex material that will be installed along the walking trail.

    In 2019, Cullen held “Cincinnati’s Table Dinner” at the Contemporary Arts Center where diverse populations in Cincinnati working on immigration issues came together to find solutions. As part of this project, Cullen will be bringing Cincinnati’s Table to Avondale, where a home chef will be featured and words of affirmation for the project will be collected.

    Grote is an artist and designer, and his work ranges from furniture to painted murals. Most recently he contributed artwork to the HUEmanity projection and Urban Campsite for Blink 2019. He has spent 10 years painting murals and creating art installations, most notably as part of the program at Buffalo’s Albright Knox Art Museum. Previously, Grote spent four years working in environmental graphic design at Kolar Design, where he specialized in graphics and murals for corporate clients to express their values in visual form.

    His design, “Sunflowers,” will featured solar powered lights on posts that are inspired by kente cloth designs. Each flower will have a center that will designed with community members from Avondale.

    ArtWorks is partnering with several community organizations on the project, including the Avondale Community Council, ADC, Cincinnati Police Department, Cincinnati Public Schools, Cincinnati Recreation Commission and Green Umbrella.

    NEA awarded ArtWorks a $50,000 matching grant in 2019 to support artist-led public art installations in this historic neighborhood in 2020.

    Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is the matching sponsor for the project with additional support from the SunTrust Bank Foundation.


  • March 10, 2020 10:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Fox 19

    By: Ashley Smith

    New NKY Bike Repair Stations Aim to Promote Cycling in Greater Cincinnati

    CINCINNATI (FOX19) - If you need a bike tune-up or you’ve got a flat tire that needs fixing, there’s a new place to go in Northern Kentucky — the Kenton County Library.

    “The library is such a pillar of the community as a destination and a resource,” Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston said. “And now you can come to the library and fix your bike!”

    Johnston was excited to cut the ribbon Tuesday evening on the new bike repair station.

    “Many times cyclists come to a destination and are looking for a place to park and have to chain up to a tree or a sign post,” Johnston said. “And in many cases it’s not really a secure place to lock up.”

    Devou Good Foundation helped fund this project along with installing more than 1,000 bike racks in the Greater Cincinnati area. That includes 500 bike racks in Covington, 100 in Newport and 1,000 in Cicninnati.

    “The installation of the bike repair stations and bike racks plays into this larger goal that we’re working on to make Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky more bike friendly," Johnston explained.

    The bike racks and repair stations will hopefully encourage more people to ride around the Tri-State.

    “Our region is really beautiful to explore by a bike, and I would encourage you to do it, because you get a chance to experience the world in a different way."

    You will also find a bike repair station in Newport just before going across the Purple People Bridge. There are plans to expand these bike repair stations into Cincinnati.

    “We hope that by having more facilities, that people feel safe riding, and people will make the choice to bike rather than drive for every trip,” Johnston said. “So we can get cars off the road and encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle.”

    These stations can be used for repairs or a simple tune up.

    Johnston says if you can’t fix your bike at one of these free stations, stop in your local bike shop for some professional help.


  • March 08, 2020 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: The River City News

    NKU Campus Honored for LGBTW, Tree Work

    Northern Kentucky University received a pair of national recognitions last week, for the university's work in LGBTQ inclusivity and its trees on campus.

    NKU was named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, the eleventh straight year for the Highland Heights campus.

    "Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Because of Northern Kentucky University's participation air will be purer, water cleaner and your students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide.”

    Tree Campus USA reviews five standards when evaluating institutions: establishing a campus tree-care plan, maintaining a tree advisory committee, dedicating annual expenditures for its campus tree program and holding an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project. Three hundred eighty fives institutions around the country were honored for their urban forest management efforts.

    NKU has implemented many sustainability efforts across campus, including establishing an on-campus community garden, providing alternative transportation methods and creating ‘no mow’ zones to return areas of campus back to its natural state. In November, NKU became the first organization in Kentucky to join the Cincinnati 2030 District—an international network of cities developing a new model for urban sustainability.

    Meanwhile, NKU received the highest designation by Campus Pride Index—establishing the university as a national leader in higher education for LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs and practices.

    NKU’s 5-star ranking is the best in Greater Cincinnati.

    Campus Pride Index, an LGBTQ national benchmarking tool for colleges and universities, ranked NKU as 27th in the nation out of more than 350 institutions, making it the highest-ranking university in the Commonwealth.

    “This rating recognizes what those of us who are here already know—that NKU is an inclusive community that strives to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, faith, sexual orientation or age have a sense of belonging here. I am proud of our faculty, staff and alumni who have worked diligently towards creating an inclusive culture particularly for our LGBTQ students, faculty and staff,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya.

    The Campus Pride Index assessed each institution’s efforts with LGBTQ policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety and counseling and wellness.

    “Inclusiveness is part of the culture at Northern Kentucky University. The LGBTQA community is represented throughout the campus leadership, and this leadership regularly visibly celebrates our community. The Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services works with campus and community partners to cultivate a welcoming, inclusive campus for LGBTQA students, faculty and staff,” Campus Pride stated in its review.

    Campus Pride highlighted NKU’s advocacy programs and services, campus inclusivity and resources like the Name Change Form and P.R.I.D.E Mentor Program. Each year, the university also celebrates LGBTQ History Month in October with multiple events throughout the month.

    “We’ve been recognized with a 4.5-star rating over the last several years. Finally achieving a 5-star rating continues to be a campus-wide effort that we’ve engaged in over the last six and half years,” said Bonnie Meyer, director of NKU’s LGBTQ Program and Services. “NKU’s rich culture of acceptance has allowed any student to find their authentic self, and as the founding director of the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services, I could not be prouder of our university.”

    “This ranking is a direct reflection of the values of the university. It is our vision and mission to create a community that welcomes all students. It is important to not only acknowledge but to celebrate the diversity of our students who call NKU home,” said Darryl Peal, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and Title IX Coordinator.

    The LGBTQ Programs & Services Office was created in the summer of 2013. As part of the Office of Student Affairs, it’s committed to offering programs and services to increase visibility, awareness and advocacy for the LGBTQ students, staff and faculty at NKU.


  • March 05, 2020 1:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NKY Tribune

    Horizon Community Funds, community partners create Licking River Conservation, Greenway Fund


    Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky has joined community partners to establish the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund, which supports land and water conservation and greenway initiatives in the Licking River watershed.

    “This is an exciting, and critical, fund for us to offer Northern Kentucky,” says Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson. “It shows the breadth of partnerships we’re able to create as a community foundation serving Northern Kentucky. Together, we can better address the many diverse needs of our community, including helping to preserve the natural and historical heritage of the Licking River.”

    Through the new fund, Horizon Community Funds and supporting donors will gather financial resources to invest in the conservation and stewardship of the Licking River, while helping to raise awareness of its value as a natural, historical, and economic resource.

    The Licking River, named for the many prehistoric salt springs and licks in the region, is a historic and natural treasure for both Northern Kentucky and the Commonwealth. With ties to Native American history, the Revolutionary War, the Underground Railroad, and the state’s original bourbon journey, the Licking River watershed also sustains a wide range of biodiversity and boasts more mussel species than the entire continent of Africa.

    Within the Northern Kentucky area, most of the Licking River watershed exists in Campbell and Kenton counties. Several creeks in the area act as tributaries to the river.

    For more information or to make a gift to the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund at Horizon Community Funds, visit www.horizonfunds.org or call 859.757.1552.

    Comments from Project Partners:

    Kris Knochelmann, Kenton County Judge Executive

    “The Licking River is an incredible natural resource in our community. The Conservation and Greenway Fund will be another tool available to help protect this asset and make it accessible to folks for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, camping and a whole host of outdoor activities. The work to restore and conserve the Licking River watershed will be generational, but all great efforts start with seemingly small steps forward that compound significantly over time. If you want to be a part of potentially the largest land and water conservation effort in Kenton County’s history, let me know. We want to work with you.”

    Steve Pendery, Campbell County Judge Executive

    “The Licking River is central to the story of Northern Kentucky. The streams of twenty-three Kentucky counties lead to this place, and hundreds of years of the Commonwealth’s history flow along with it. The Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund fills a gap in the tools available to our community to conserve and activate this natural asset. I appreciate Horizon Community Funds’ partnership in creating this mechanism and hope that it fulfills its potential to assist in conserving and restoring the watershed’s corridor. This is a long-term project, but I’m excited at the steps being taken forward and am confident that our younger generations will see it through and celebrate its success.”

    Rich Boehne, Horizon Community Funds Council of Trustees

    “Setting up this conservation and greenway fund and bringing the many tools of Horizon Community Funds to the effort will be foundational in reaching long-term goals for development of the Licking River as a leading destination for recreational and environmental tourism. The fund also will be a platform for supporting and facilitating investments in the conservation and health of this critical watershed that binds together a significant portion of the Commonwealth.”

    Amy Winkler, District Coordinator of Campbell County Conservation District

    “The opportunity that has arisen and made possible through the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund has connected numerous organizations for the purpose of land conservation and recreational uses. The Campbell County Conservation District looks forward to working with these groups through our common goal of being good stewards of the land and highlighting the natural beauty of the Licking River Corridor. Our Hawthorne Crossing Conservation Area is just one step toward conserving the Licking River corridor in Campbell County.”

    Chris Kaeff, Kenton County Soil & Water Conservation District

    “On the map, it may serve as the official boundary line between the counties, but in reality, the Licking River brings the people of Northern Kentucky together. It is an essential feature of our shared landscape, our shared heritage, and our shared future. The new Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund will provide critical resources to the public agencies and nonprofits, on both sides of the river, who are dedicated to improving the health and vitality of this magnificent waterway. The Kenton County Conservation District welcomes the opportunity to work with new partners through the Fund in order to protect the natural beauty of the Morning View Heritage Area and enhance public recreational access to the river.”

    Donavan Hornsby, Campbell County Conservancy

    “As stewards of the land, Northern Kentucky residents and stakeholders have an opportunity to elevate land conservation and stream restoration to the same level of reverence and commitment afforded by the community to values such as public safety, education, and economic vitality. Many recognize that these core values are interdependent and crucial to our collective future. Realization of our potential as a region will require acceleration and deepening of conservation’s impacts. We greatly appreciate Horizon Community Funds’ commitment to and investment in that realization.”

    Wade Johnston, Director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella

    “Many of us drive over the Licking River on a daily basis, but few have an opportunity to interact with the scenic and historic waterway. The unprecedented multi-jurisdictional effort to conserve and celebrate the Licking River corridor will make this amazing asset more accessible to Northern Kentuckians. The Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund is a critical tool to enable the community to take part in preserving this natural resource for future generations.”


  • March 04, 2020 1:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: The River City News

    New Fund Established to Support Stewardship of Licking River Watershed


    A new effort to preserve and improve parts of the Licking River watershed was announced on Wednesday.

    Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky announced with community partners the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund to support land and water conservation, and greenway initiatives.

    “This is an exciting, and critical, fund for us to offer Northern Kentucky,” said Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson, in the announcement. “It shows the breadth of partnerships we’re able to create as a community foundation serving Northern Kentucky. Together, we can better address the many diverse needs of our community, including helping to preserve the natural and historical heritage of the Licking River.”

    Through the new fund Horizon Community Funds and supporting donors will gather financial resources to invest in the conservation and stewardship of the Licking River, while helping to raise awareness of its value as a natural, historical, and economic resource, a release said.

    The Licking River, named for the many prehistoric salt springs and licks in the region, is a historic and natural resource for both Northern Kentucky and the entire Commonwealth. With ties to Native American history, the Revolutionary War, the Underground Railroad, and the state’s original bourbon journey, the Licking River watershed also sustains a wide range of biodiversity and boasts more mussel species than the entire continent of Africa.

    Within the Northern Kentucky area, most of the Licking River watershed exists in Campbell and Kenton counties. Several creeks in the area act as tributaries to the river.

    Local officials and project partners applauded the new effort.

    “The Licking River is an incredible natural resource in our community," said Kenton Co. Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann. "The Conservation and Greenway Fund will be another tool available to help protect this asset and make it accessible to folks for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, camping and a whole host of outdoor activities. The work to restore and conserve the Licking River watershed will be generational, but all great efforts start with seemingly small steps forward that compound significantly over time. If you want to be a part of potentially the largest land and water conservation effort in Kenton County’s history, let me know. We want to work with you.”

    “The Licking River is central to the story of Northern Kentucky," said Campbell Co. Judge/Executive Steve Pendery. "The streams of twenty-three Kentucky counties lead to this place, and hundreds of years of the Commonwealth’s history flow along with it. The Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund fills a gap in the tools available to our community to conserve and activate this natural asset. I appreciate Horizon Community Funds’ partnership in creating this mechanism, and hope that it fulfills its potential to assist in conserving and restoring the watershed’s corridor. This is a long-term project, but I’m excited at the steps being taken forward and am confident that our younger generations will see it through and celebrate its success.”

    “Setting up this conservation and greenway fund, and bringing the many tools of Horizon Community Funds to the effort, will be foundational in reaching long-term goals for development of the Licking River as a leading destination for recreational and environmental tourism," said Rich Boehne, a member of Horizon Community Funds council of trustees. "The fund also will be a platform for supporting and facilitating investments in the conservation and health of this critical watershed that binds together a significant portion of the Commonwealth.”

    “The opportunity that has arisen and made possible through the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund has connected numerous organizations for the purpose of land conservation and recreational uses," said Amy Winkler, district coordinator of Campbell County Conservation District. "The Campbell County Conservation District looks forward to working with these groups through our common goal of being good stewards of the land and highlighting the natural beauty of the Licking River Corridor. Our Hawthorne Crossing Conservation Area is just one step toward conserving the Licking River corridor in Campbell County.”

    “On the map, it may serve as the official boundary line between the counties, but in reality, the Licking River brings the people of Northern Kentucky together," said Chris Kaeff of the Kenton County Soil & Water Conservation District. "It is an essential feature of our shared landscape, our shared heritage, and our shared future. The new Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund will provide critical resources to the public agencies and nonprofits, on both sides of the river, who are dedicated to improving the health and vitality of this magnificent waterway. The Kenton County Conservation District welcomes the opportunity to work with new partners through the Fund in order to protect the natural beauty of the Morning View Heritage Area and enhance public recreational access to the river.”

    "As stewards of the land, Northern Kentucky residents and stakeholders have an opportunity to elevate land conservation and stream restoration to the same level of reverence and commitment afforded by the community to values such as public safety, education, and economic vitality," said Donavan Hornsby, of the Campbell County Conservancy. "Many recognize that these core values are interdependent and crucial to our collective future. Realization of our potential as a region will require acceleration and deepening of conservation's impacts. We greatly appreciate Horizon Community Funds’ commitment to and investment in that realization."

    "Many of us drive over the Licking River on a daily basis, but few have an opportunity to interact with the scenic and historic waterway," said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella. "The unprecedented multi-jurisdictional effort to conserve and celebrate the Licking River corridor will make this amazing asset more accessible to Northern Kentuckians. The Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund is a critical tool to enable the community to take part in preserving this natural resource for future generations.”


  • February 27, 2020 1:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Indiana University

    Cincinnati, Ohio Amends Zoning Code to Support Urban Agriculture

    In 2019, the City of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council worked to streamline urban agriculture policies in the zoning code. Prior to the update, farming regulations were dispersed across multiple chapters. Now there is a single chapter related to all things agriculture with updates that make it easier for residents and businesses to establish community gardens and urban farms, compost food waste, and keep animals for farming purposes. The effort was supported by local Councilmembers, multiple municipal departments, and an extensive network of stakeholders and community members.

    Background

    In 2017 the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, a local non-governmental organization, and two Cincinnati City Councilmembers hosted a large stakeholder meeting to explore ways to integrate supportive urban agriculture regulations across City departments. A City Council motion passed shortly thereafter tasking the Planning Department to make the municipal code to be more permissive for urban agriculture, setting the stage for future community-wide engagement that would redesign the zoning code.

    Implementation

    After the motion passed, the Planning Department convened a variety of City departments (Law, Buildings and Inspection, Office of Environment and Sustainability, Health) and the Food Policy Council to undertake a collaborative redesign process. With the goals of ensuring flexibility for residents engaged in urban agriculture and ease of inspection for regulators, the group led by the Planning Department met several times over the year to identify priorities, host focus groups, and translate feedback into draft code. Two focus groups of community growers discussed horticulture and animal keeping. Two sessions per focus group were held. All draft language was made available and posted on the Planning Department website throughout the process.

    Another key priority was equity. Participants in the stakeholder meetings raised a concern that white, affluent interests would begin to farm and gentrify underdeveloped/underserviced plots in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. In order to ensure that all communities were aware of the upcoming zoning changes and farming opportunities, the stakeholder hosted discussions at public libraries and community council meetings in the neighborhoods that could be vulnerable to this change.

    Supporting the Right to Food Access and Agriculture through Zoning

    Food security and sovereignty refer to the availability, access to, and right to healthy, affordable, sustainable, and culturally-appropriate food. In addition to allowing and regulating farming, community gardens, and composting across city districts as Cincinnati's code update has done, there are other zoning strategies that can address food-related goals in cities and towns. According to Sustainable Development Code, the following approaches are some of the most successful food-related strategies/codes:

    Remove Code Barriers

    Allow for recycled water irrigation systems in new developments, including for agricultural uses

    Reduce barriers to encourage Cluster/Conservation subdivision in rural/urban areas

    Increase the opportunity for healthy food development by limiting the prevalence of fast food, drive-through services, etc.

    Create Incentives

    Offer incentives for construction green roofing

    Fill Regulatory Gaps

    Create an Urban Growth Area in order to designate areas where development is permitted

    Establish an Urban Service Area in order to define areas that receive access to public services such as water.

    Designate setbacks to protect agriculture, sensitive habitats, and water quality

    Encourage the implementation of rainwater harvesting systems or rainwater catchment plans

    It is important to note that other municipal, state, and federal law also applies to agricultural activities in the City (for example, Board of Health, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Agriculture, etc.). Cincinnati’s urban agriculture zoning revisions did not modify any of these requirements.

    Funding

    Beyond staff time, this was a no-cost initiative.

    Timeline

    After approximately 2 years of working to update the code, the City Planning Council voted unanimously to confirm the updates in 2019.

    Outcomes and Conclusions

    The final code went into effect in September 2019. The updates make it easier for residents and businesses to establish community gardens and urban farms, compost food waste, and keep animals for farming purposes. There are also provisions for indoor farming and aquaculture. Importantly, since the old agriculture-related code provided insufficient/scattered coverage and was too restrictive for property owners, the updated code language improves enforcement clarity for inspectors and establishes farming as a right for property owners.

    Prior to the code update, farm-stands weren’t allowed, especially in residential areas. Now farm-based businesses are regulated like other home-based businesses. Areas that allow home-based accounting or doctor’s offices now also allow the sale of farm products from home. Similarly, it was difficult to implement community composting because the old code prohibited people from using off-site land materials. Since September, additional stakeholder convenings were held around community composting and gardens. In collaboration with the Hamilton County Solid Waste District, the City and Food Policy Council are working to develop a comprehensive approach to neighborhood composting. The current goals of the community now are establishing best practices for community composting, connecting with interested local businesses, and creating guidelines for composting infrastructure.

    Challenges

    Due to the complexity and many obligations of those involved with the code revisions, the process took a long time. By nature, updating zoning language is a deliberative process and it is important to keep all participants moving at the same pace and in a similar direction. This, therefore, required all involved departments and organizations to have regular attendance at meetings and provide an allowance for last-minute input from previously non-engaged groups. While the effort was successful in the end, additional staff resources can help future efforts expedite the long planning process.

    Another challenge will be making the updated code language accessible to all residents. Zoning code language often includes terms that are unfamiliar to the general public such as the difference between “conditional” and “exemptions.” To address this issue, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council Director created a simple document to make the updated language more accessible and included cross-referencing and linking to other relevant codes.

    Keys for Success

    Important keys for success were having a stakeholder-driven process, initial political backing from Council, pre-planning from community groups, and an emphasis on ensuring inclusive internal and external engagement processes (such as the inter-departmental collaborations, focus groups, and updating of low-income neighborhoods and communities color).


  • February 15, 2020 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Butler County News

    Fairfield Connects: City looks at more sidewalks, trails, and paths

    By Staff Report

    Connectivity has been a key concern for those that live, work or visit the City of Fairfield. Residents have overwhelmingly expressed the need for more sidewalks as well as walking and biking trails in response to recent comprehensive plan update.

    The comprehensive plan, Fairfield Forward, was adopted in December 2019. The comprehensive plan looks at things like zoning, goals, policies and land use as well as the city’s vision in the future. As part of that process, the city received a lot of input about connectivity, sidewalks, and multi-use paths, connecting the parks and schools.

    That led to the “Fairfield Connects” project or connectivity initiative, which is an extension of the comprehensive plan. “Fairfield Connects” will address access to and between neighborhoods, activity centers, and existing recreational regional trails such as the Great Miami River Trail.

    “We decided from what we heard during that process to, essentially, take the connectivity part a step further, and engage a consultant (MKSK, a Cincinnati-based engineering firm) to do a Citywide Active Transportation Plan, which would help improve pedestrian interconnectivity” said Ben Mann, Deputy Public Works Director of the City of Fairfield.

    In December, the City also launched the “Fairfield Connects” online survey to solicit community input on how to better connect the city. The goal of “Fairfield Connects” is to make Fairfield more bikeable and walkable. The survey was promoted through the City’s website, on social media, and advertised in the Fairfield Flyer newsletter. More than 1,000 people responded to the survey. The survey was administered in hopes of helping city officials identify the ways to improve access. The online survey closed on January 31.

    Mann said the survey results will be presented to City Council in the form of a briefing early in February. Then, the community will have another opportunity to offer input during a public open house, which will be held on Tuesday, March 3 at the Community Arts Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. After those meetings, the hope is to have a finalized plan by late spring to early summer that Council can review for adoption.

    Mann said the city has a relatively comprehensive sidewalk network throughout the City of Fairfield, but it’s still a suburban city without connectivity to every neighborhood or park. There’s not a lot in the way of multi-use paths in the city. However, the city does connect to the Great Miami River Trail.

    “…We’ve been adding a lot of paved pathways within parks, and we’ve started to think about connectivity and connecting those parks via sidewalk. So, the plan started out with where we would want to extend, and where we would want to make connections with sidewalks that are missing, or where we would want to make connections with multi-use paths that maybe hadn’t been thought of. We started thinking of bicyclists as well, and how you might walk or bike to different locations,” Mann said.

    He said the City hopes to continue to hear more from the public, so they can confirm they are on the right track, evaluate if anything is missing, and prioritize what’s most important.

    “The expansion of trails is happening everywhere. It’s something that people are asking for everywhere, not just in Fairfield,” Mann said, “I think there’s definitely a push for trails, and there are more people getting out and using them, recreationally.”

    He continued, “Largely, what we’ve heard is people want easier access to the recreational trails.”

    Additionally, some have expressed interest in sidewalk connectivity to the high school, the freshman school and the area around Jungle Jim’s.

    Nick Dill, engineer, City of Fairfield said the survey revealed the top four locations that people want access to walking or biking were the city parks, Village Green, regional trails and the surrounding/adjacent neighborhoods.

    He said. when asked if a complete trail network existed in the City, what kind of connectivity it would be used for, 91 percent of survey respondents said they would want to use it for recreation and exercise. About 80 percent of respondents said they would want connectivity to access a park. About 45 percent of the respondents said they would use it for shopping, and 25 percent said they would use it for commuting or getting to school.

    Dill said of those that responded, 95 percent of the respondents are homeowners in Fairfield. The largest number of respondents, about 25 percent, are ages 41 to 50.

    “The survey is fairly anonymous. We did have age and homeownership. Those are the two demographics questions we asked,” Dill said.

    People that live in Fairfield were the top responders at about 80 percent. Those that shop in Fairfield followed at 75 percent, and those that work in Fairfield made up 55 percent of the responders.

    He said routes that survey participants prioritized on the map in top order, included River Road West, Harbin Park, Pleasant Avenue, and Route 4/Dixie Hwy.

    Another route suggested by those who took the survey was the Symmes Road connection, and officials said that will be discussed further.

    Internally, Mann said added connectivity has been discussed on Mack Road from Route 4 to South Gilmore and Ross and Woodridge Roads (which is already 95 percent connected.)

    “What we’ve found, I guess our two cents worth would be, there seems to be a lot of support for trails. There’s a lot of support for sidewalk connectivity. There’s definitely support for incorporating these into projects when we can, and I think there’s support for looking for outside funding. There’s a lot of support for connectivity between parks,” Mann said.

    Unless we hear differently from our elected officials, or from the people that live here, I think we are going to focus on getting them better access to the recreational trails from where they live, he said.

    “A big part of this, we found, and as we’ve developed this has been connecting people to the town center, to Village Green, so we want people to able to come there to eat and to shop. That’s the area where we hold our festivals and concerts. From that standpoint, that’s more cultural than recreational,” Mann added.

    In speaking with as many people as possible, and thinking more regionally, the City has also talked to the Tri-State Trails group, for example. Part of that discussion includes the extension of the Great Miami River Trail, and where the trails might link up.

    Right now, the Great Miami River Trail in Fairfield ends at Waterworks Park. The potential plan is to extend it through Marsh Park, down to Furfield Dog Park, essentially falling on River Road into the Great Miami. Hamilton and Butler County are also working on a portion of the Great Miami River Trail that would extend the trail to Fairfield.

  • December 11, 2019 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last night, Green Umbrella hosted its Annual Meeting. Over 170 members gathered to share stories, connect on ideas and hear what Green Umbrella has planned for the coming year. We talked about the fruits of our strategic planning process, the highlights of which are a new mission and vision and a new set of Impact Areas and Impact Teams to help us get there. If you weren’t able to be there, here is what you missed.

    Mission: We lead collaboration, incubate ideas and catalyze solutions that create a resilient, sustainable region for all.  

    Vision: A vibrant community where sustainability is woven into our ways of life.

    Audience: Organizations and individuals interested in convening around sustainability; Community influencers and decision makers capable of driving impact.

    This year our community thought a lot about what impact we want to have. With our combined efforts we are inspired to improve the health of our region’s people, climate, and landscape through the work of our collective impact teams. 

    In 2020 and beyond, our passion and expertise will be focused in four Impact Areas. 

    • People: We want residents of our region to thrive because they have access to nature, healthy environments, fresh food and transportation options. 

    • Policy: We want local governments across our 10 county region to reduce their climate footprint and use natural systems and smart development to improve their livability and resiliency. 

    • Built Environment: We want property managers to improve the sustainability of their campuses and the health of people who work and play in them. 

    • Landscape: We want our vibrant landscape to provide quality habitat, ecosystem services (including carbon sequestration and stormwater management) and connect people to place and each other.

    Impact Teams within each of the Impact Areas will pull together key stakeholders to focus on a specific, strategic goal that contributes to the vision of the Impact Area. We announced a set of teams that have been proposed by our Action Teams, initiatives and partners. Some of these are already up and running, some will be forming in early 2020 and others will begin exploratory work to determine if the time is right for collective impact on this issue, and if Green Umbrella is the right entity to convene it. Your feedback will help us start that process.


    Proposed Impact Teams by Area

    • People: Tri-State Trails, the Food Policy Council and the Outdoor Action Team have long focused on the human-health side of sustainability by improving access to healthy food, active transportation options and time in nature. We’ll continue their work.

      • With Schools:

        • CPS Outside is working to create equitable opportunities for Cincinnati Public Schools’ students to get outside and experience environmental education.

        • The Farm to School team is coordinating planning with 4 school districts to increase purchasing of locally-grown food by schools and educate students about where food comes from.

      • With Health care providers:

        • The Healthy Eating and Health Care team is developing partnerships with healthcare institutions to solve the issues of food as a social determinant of health in our communities. 

        • Outdoors Rx will partner with health care and insurance providers to encourage prescriptions for time outside to improve health outcomes for patients.

      • The Zero Food to Landfill’  impact team will work on best practices to prevent wasted food and recover surplus food to feed hungry people, while organizing wide-spread adoption and implementation in our region. 

      • Exploring new territory for us, the Environmental Health and Housing team is interested in responding to growing concerns that conditions in and air quality around low-income multi-family housing are bad for residents’ health. We will look to connect various efforts regarding energy efficiency, landlord accountability and environmental contaminants in low-income multi-family housing.

    • Policy: Green Umbrella is pursuing funding for a new staff member to lead a set of teams designed to support local governments in adopting carbon-reduction targets, smart development and transportation planning and land management practices that mitigate against an unpredictable future. Not all governments have the staff capacity to pursue these on their own. Our members can use their expertise to develop model policy, ordinances and other tools that will be valuable to governments across the region and accomplish our shared goals. The specific teams would be Energy, Transportation and Land Use and Ecosystem Services.

    • Built Environment

      • The Cincinnati 2030 District is working towards four major targets with the buildings committed to being part of the District. Each goal will have a team of experts and “users” designing and vetting solutions in that area.

        • The 2030 Water team focuses on rolling out strategies that reduce water use 50% by 2030, to include water harvesting and reuse technology.

        • The 2030 Transportation team works on employer-driven solutions to cut in half emissions related to commuting. Their work is going to be a lot easier if the Reinventing Metro plan gets funded in the March election.

        • The 2030 Energy team guides members in reducing their energy use 50% by 2030 and increase purchasing of renewable energy.

        • The 2030 Health team is working to improve the health of building occupants by implementing key WELL building recommendations.

      • We envision our work in the built environment stretching beyond the 2030 District and local government. Two opportunities are emerging thanks to partnerships, which we look forward to exploring. 

        • Commercial Waste Reduction: through the Beyond 34 collaboration we hope to forge the silver bullet that will improve recycling in the commercial sector.

        • Faith Communities Go Green: religious congregations own and manage properties in every corner of our region. We will explore how we could support congregations from all faiths to decrease their climate footprint through their campuses, educational programming and household commitments to going green. 

    • Landscape conservation depends on collaboration across geographies, sectors, and cultures to protect and restore our landscapes and the ecological, cultural, and economic benefits they provide. 

      • The Priority Land Protection team will develop a regional greenspace prioritization tool designed to coordinate local entities in their land management and preservation strategies. 

      • The Healthy Soils team is building a coalition of farmers and policy makers to champion Healthy Soils state legislation so that land managers adopt regenerative practices that are good for climate, crops and communities.

      • The Riparian Restoration team will start by supporting local agencies in crafting the Nine Element Plans that will allow them to access large pots of state and federal funding to restore local waterways.

    In order to get anywhere close to this vision, we need to step up our game. We need to engage all of the organizations who have a stake in this work. We need to continuously improve our process for convening collective impact. Based on the feedback you provided in our strategic planning process, and our experience over the last 9 years, we have developed a framework for taking our impact to the next level. Each Impact Team should be populated with the full range of perspectives needed to make progress towards a goal. Team members will be engaged in work that directly aligns with the work of the team, either through their job, community involvement or lived experience. The collaborative work should help everyone do what they do better. A Green Umbrella staff member, including our initiative staff, will support the teams to plan and facilitate productive meetings, keep members accountable, lead evaluation processes and connect the dots between teams. Overall, we want to create high quality, consistent, engaging experiences that make participants excited to come to meetings and amazed by how much they accomplish together. Our staff will be skilling up for this task and we invite you to join us. We will bring in experts for quarterly professional development so we can all advance our practice in collaborative change. 

    Now that you have a sense of our potential scope of work for 2020, you’ll see why we need more support from our members than ever to move from concept to action. We want you to let us know which of these teams directly connect to your work, or the work of someone else at your organization. To do that, just complete this survey. If you give us your feedback by Monday, December 16, we will be able to include your interest in our first round of communications around the teams.  

    If you are not already a member of Green Umbrella (either as an organization or an individual), we encourage you to join today so you can get the inside scoop on the roll out of our new Impact Teams. If you are a member, we ask you to consider taking your commitment to the next level. We want people to see Green Umbrella as more than a membership organization. We want people across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to see us the same way funders from across the country see us: as a best-in-class investment opportunity delivering efficient and effective environmental change across a multitude of impact areas. Donate today to fuel our progress towards this ambitious scope of work.

    Thank you for your continued, and hopefully expanding support of Green Umbrella with your time and resources in 2020.

    Ryan Mooney-Bullock
    Executive Director
    Green Umbrella

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