Green Umbrella in the News

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  • June 16, 2021 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier
    By Chris Wetterich

    Kroger Health and United Dairy Farmers are donating $1 million apiece to help complete a key portion of the Crown, a major network of bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The contributions are part of $6 million in total donations announced Wednesday.

    The two companies will be represented as “crown jewels” on the trail through artwork to be commissioned. UDF’s installation will be on Montgomery Road near where UDF’s founder, Carl Lindner Sr., opened his first production facility in Norwood. Kroger’s will be downtown.

    “The impact this project brings to the city is going to be really incredible,” said UDF CEO Brad Lindner, himself a bicyclist, often on off-road mountain biking trails. “United Dairy Farmers is a neighborhood store. This is going to be something that links so many neighborhoods together. Making connections today is more important than ever. The city’s been very good to us, and I think this is a project that serves much of the city, if not all of the city.”

    Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said funding the Crown fits into the company’s broader business.

    “Our vision is to help people live healthier lives, and we believe this project will do just that. Just as healthy eating and community health care are vital to improving physical and mental wellness, so is maintaining an active lifestyle,” she said.

    A total of 150 companies and foundations have committed to support the Crown, according to Wym and Jan Portman, who are leading the private fundraising campaign.

    Spaces for two more $1 million gifts have been reserved, with stakeholders hoping to bring the total raised to $8 million. Requests for those gifts are pending, Portman said.

    Roughly $4 million will be used to match federal funding for Wasson Way, a part of the core, $50 million, 34-mile urban loop. With that contribution, it will allow Wasson Way to be completed from the University of Cincinnati to Red Bank Road. Another $2 million will go for a bike trail along the Oasis Rail Line, which runs from downtown to Lunken Airport. The city recently signed a term sheet with the railroad that has an easement on the site for its use as a bike trail.

    Portman, a longtime Cincinnati business leader who led the Portman Equipment Company and Pon North America and served on the University of Cincinnati board, said such trails are vital to attracting and retaining workers in the region, not to mention the economic development that comes along with them.

    “The talent piece is huge,” Wym Portman said. “We think this trail … will be the best trail in the Midwest. People are already buying up real estate. At Homerama (in the East End), they’re marketing homes as being close to the bike trail.”

    The Crown will be free to use and connect people and their neighbors safely to parks, universities, medical centers, arts organizations and other institution. Once additional connections to other communities outside the main loop are added, the project will encompass 100 miles of bike trails. About half of the 34-mile Crown urban loop is complete, which includes portions of the Mill Creek Trail, the Ohio River Trail, Wasson Way, Murray Path, the trail around Lunken Airport and the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The Crown will link 54 neighborhoods and 356,000 people together.

    The city, the county, their parks departments, nonprofits Wasson Way and Ohio River Way, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority and Tri-State Trails, an initiative of Green Umbrella, are involved in the public-private partnership building the Crown.

    “We’re connecting people in a safe and equitable way to places that they care about and places that can improve their lives,” said Jan Portman. “Everybody cares about safety. The trail’s really important from that perspective.”

    The private fundraising isn’t over. The Portmans said there is major interest from groups and companies in helping fund the Mill Creek phase of the Crown, which will connect neighborhoods along the creek and eventually the West Side to the rest of the network. Groups are also interest in programmatic elements that will activate the trail.

    Portman also hopes if there is a federal infrastructure bill, it will help fund the Mill Creek trial, which is broken up into several, unconnected pieces now. The Business Courier included the Crown as one of its top 5 infrastructure priorities for the region in last week’s Weekly Edition cover story.

    Learn more at http://crowncincinnati.org/

  • June 14, 2021 2:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU
    By Tana Weingartner

    Trail enthusiasts will gather Monday morning for a ceremonial groundbreaking on the final phase of the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

    Great Parks of Hamilton County says the half-mile Beechmont Bridge Connector finally ties the popular 78-mile trail from Springfield to Anderson Township into Cincinnati.

    Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston is excited.

    "We know more people are turning to the trails as a way to stay active and healthy," he says. "This is going to make trails more accessible to a wider audience of people and help people make that choice to walk or to bike more during their daily lives."

    The project includes a tunnel under the State Route 32 westbound ramp to Beechmont. It then passes under Beechmont and will cross a new bridge over the Little Miami.

    "This project is a huge, complex project, and right now, Beechmont Levee is a big barrier for most people to bike from the Little Miami (Scenic) Trail to downtown Cincinnati," Johnston says, calling it a game-changer for many because it will connect the trail to Otto Armleder Park and the Lunken Trail, and eventually to downtown Cincinnati.

    Part of that extension to downtown includes connecting with what's called the CROWN. The Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network officially launched earlier this month. It will be a 34-mile urban loop that also serves as a hub for 600 miles of trails in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

    The $7.9 million Beechmont Bridge Connector includes funds from Great Parks along with state and federal matching dollars.

    "The Beechmont Bridge Connector represents a major step forward for our regional trail system," says Todd Palmeter, CEO of Great Parks in a release. "For the first time, trail users will be able to continue from the Little Miami Scenic Trail to the Ohio River Trail safely and without disruption. The public showed their support for important trail connections during our Comprehensive Master Plan process, and the Connector has always been a top priority for Great Parks."

  • May 28, 2021 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier
    By Chris Wetterich

    Greater Cincinnati, like every community across the United States, may be in line for once-in-a-generation infrastructure investments if President Joe Biden and Congress can agree on a plan and a way to pay for it in the coming months. That’s a big “if,” but the region has plenty of nettlesome problems that may be years or decades away from being solved unless the federal government can provide assistance and financial resources.

    A major issue for the business community will be Biden’s plan to raise taxes on corporate income in order to fund the $1.7 trillion proposal, which Biden modified recently to court GOP votes. Recently, others have pushed alternatives to tax increases. To wit, increased enforcement of existing laws to collect unpaid taxes and user fees like a gas tax increase also have been floated.

    The Business Courier talked with civic, political and business leaders, and drew upon years of regional coverage for this hit list of top infrastructure needs. Some of the choices are obvious, while others likely will spark argument.

    The bridge on everyone's list comes with an asterisk

    If any project is going to get funding under a federal infrastructure bill, local officials believe it will be the Brent Spence Bridge project. Ohio, Kentucky and local officials have long touted the Brent Spence’s role in moving nearly 3% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

    Top business leaders reignited the push for the project after last year’s massive fire. It stemmed from a truck collision that closed the bridge for nearly six weeks.

    But the state of Kentucky remains the sticking point. If tolls are going to be a part of any financing plan, the Kentucky legislature would have to first remove a ban on tolling the bridge. Covington Mayor Joe Meyer remains a staunch opponent, believing his community will be hurt by the bridge’s wide footprint and by the diversion of traffic from people seeking to avoid tolls. Ohio officials recently pledged to work with Covington to mitigate impacts, but no deal has been struck.

    “There’s no way when the president says he’s going to fix the 10 most economically significant bridges that the Brent Spence Bridge isn’t on that list,” said Pete Metz, the Cincinnati USA Chamber’s transportation policy manager.

    Somehow, the leader of the project pack

    A decade ago, few would have thought the replacement for the Western Hills Viaduct, which carries 55,000 cars a day, would be on a path toward completion before the Brent Spence Bridge, which carries about 160,000. But that’s the outlook in 2021, according to Hamilton County Engineer Eric Beck.

    “I think our momentum is a little bigger than theirs,” Beck said of the viaduct. “I’m assuming we will be completed before they are.”

    Work will begin this year. Properties in the right-of-way will be demolished. A Duke Energy substation also will have to be moved. The 2020 Hamilton County transportation sales tax can be tapped to fill in project gaps. About $30 million will be available on a cash basis in the first year, although it’s unlikely all of it will be spent on the viaduct.

    The viaduct is essential, said Henry Frondorf, vice chair of the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District, a governing body that allocates funding for transportation projects in the region.

    “People always think of it as a West Side thing. But right across the viaduct you have the University of Cincinnati. If there’s a hospital run, a lot of those ambulances are coming down to the viaduct to get to the West Side,” he said. “There’s not an easy way to get to (the West Side) without that direct connection. The other viaduct or bridges are not capable of supporting those extra 55,000 cars a day.”

    The new bridge will be more pedestrian-friendly, with two wide paths, which could help it secure federal money. The state recently agreed to take responsibility for building new ramps from I-75.

    “One of the reasons it was struggling for funding was because the connection to I-75 wasn’t in there,” Frondorf said. The federal government viewed it as, “not a regional project.”

    A bus more folks could get on board with

    As a part of its broad Reinventing Metro plan, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority already anticipates two bus-rapid transit lines along corridors to be selected. Using local matching funds from the 2020 Hamilton County transportation tax, the agency expects to be able to secure money from existing federal funds, said CEO Darryl Haley.

    But a major national infrastructure plan would allow Metro to add two other BRT lines, plan for additional ones, and buy new electric buses, Haley said.

    BRT is essentially a bus line that acts like a rail line, with frequent service. It has dedicated bus lanes along routes, traffic signals that give buses traffic priority, stations, fewer stops, and a fare system where a rider pays before boarding the bus.

    “A lot of businesses (are) struggling to hire people,” Haley said. “With BRT, it’s going to connect the people who need the jobs to those jobs in a convenient way.”

    BRT speeds up buses so they become even more efficient than driving. “It’ll change the view people have of public transportation,” Haley said. “Get out of your car. Get on the bus. You can work while you’re on it. It starts to make sense.”

    Consultants will review Metro’s planned BRT routes along Hamilton Avenue, Reading Road, Montgomery Road and Glenway Avenue for traffic flow, density and the possibility of bus-only lanes, Haley said.

    According to Metz, the transportation tax money will make a major difference with the feds.

    “We’ve set up Cincinnati and SORTA to be one of the best-performing transit agencies in the country,” he said. The federal government is “going to look at places that are investing in transportation systems and Cincinnati is rapidly moving up that list.”

    A "crown" jewel for the Queen City

    Five years ago, the biking community announced a sweeping vision for a network of bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County that would be used not only for recreation but as a transportation network. They’ve named it CROWN, for Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network.

    Wasson Way, a key portion that will run from Uptown to Fairfax, will be completed in the next few years. Meanwhile, the city has an agreement to acquire the rights to build a trail along the Oasis Railway, which will connect downtown to the Little Miami Trail.

    Bike trails are an amenity that attracts development, talent and jobs, leaders say. “When you buy a house, being next to a bike trail is a huge draw,” said Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus. “The pandemic has a lot to do with renewed energy for outdoor recreation and people getting to and fro on bike lanes. That is a forward-thinking way to think about infrastructure.”

    With the eastern part of the loop underway, planners are now talking about a key north-south leg that runs along the Mill Creek from downtown to Northside, through industrial and impoverished communities. “The Mill Creek corridor is best situated for what we’re hearing is going to be a priority for the Biden administration’s plan, which is equity,” said Wade Johnston, the director of Tristate Trails, a key part of Green Umbrella, the sustainability group helping lead efforts to get CROWN constructed.

    Johnston noted that the Mill Creek corridor communities were bisected and damaged economically by I-75. From there, spurs can be built out to West Side neighborhoods that are underserved. “We hope we can create support for that investment and prioritize affordable housing along the corridor,” Johnston said. “We hope the trail could reconnect these neighborhoods and make it easier and more comfortable to ride your bike.”

    Who says you can't create more land?

    Driehaus chuckled at the notion of the long-awaited decks over Fort Washington Way being a top regional infrastructure priority, noting that the city and county have undeveloped land at the Banks that still needs to be built. “I understand the vision,” she said. “I am more focused on the Banks and finishing what we started than investing in the decks. We do need to do some more infrastructure work.” Nevertheless, if the federal government is willing to pay for them, Driehaus said she would consider it.

    When Fort Washington Way was narrowed, it was rebuilt with the capability to construct decks or podiums that would hold up to a five-story building. In 2017, when the region was trying to lure Amazon’s second headquarters, a single deck was estimated to cost $25 million. In 2019, Mayor John Cranley and the late Commissioner Todd Portune pledged to work together on options to build them.

    The case for the decks is simple: Building them would fully reconnect the riverfront to downtown, and the city and county would be able to create four brand-new downtown blocks ripe for post-pandemic development, whether it be a park, office, residential or retail property. Or perhaps all of the above.

    Portune believed the region could secure the funding for one deck and use the property, sales and income tax generated to construct the next one and so on.

    “Capping the highway, in theory, would pay for itself,” Frondorf said. “They have to sell it like that.”


  • May 24, 2021 2:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU
    By Michael Monks

    There are many reasons to get excited about Bike Month in Cincinnati. The pandemic has brought an unexpected bike boom, with more people hitting the road in the last year. There are also new trails opening up.

    The Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network, or CROWN, is serving as a hub connecting Greater Cincinnati's regional trails to Downtown. Several stretches of the 34-mile urban trail loop were connected over the past year and more work is underway.

    Also new for cyclists, Tri-State Trails has released a new tool for beginning bikers to use to navigate the urban core. The Low Stress Bike Map provides comfortable routes, hand-picked by experienced local cyclists to help you plan your next bike commute.

    And if you're looking for a cycling tour of our region, a new book for cycling enthusiasts takes readers through towns including Edenton, Loveland, Felicity and Utopia. Bicycling Through Paradise is a collection of 20 historically themed cycling tours broken into 10-mile segments. The authors Kathleen Smythe and Chris Hanlin join Cincinnati Edition along with Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston to discuss Bike Month.

    Listen to the episode at https://www.wvxu.org/post/more-ways-hit-trails-bike-month-2021#stream/0

  • May 19, 2021 2:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: River City News

    National Bike to Work Day will be celebrated Friday near the Purple People Bridge in Newport.

    Breakfast on the Bridge is being held on May 21 from 7 to 9 a.m. for the twelfth year, presented as part of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Bike Month.

    Though the Purple People Bridge remains closed to traffic due to falling rock and an ongoing evaluation of the structure, festivities will be head at the approach of the bridge, just east of Newport on the Levee.

    Bicyclists can ride the Metro and TANK buses for free if they bring their bike on the bus on May 21.

    The event is presented by Tri-State Trails, an initiative of Green Umbrella.

  • May 11, 2021 2:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Cincinnati
    By Elizabeth Rojas

    Recently, President Joe Biden committed to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal that a visionary group, the Cincinnati 2030 District, has already been working on for more than two years, with lessons that may help the entire region respond to the crisis of climate change.

    The Cincinnati 2030 District brings together property owners and managers, developers, and commercial tenants in the urban core to reduce their buildings’ energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 50% over the next nine years. Many climate researchers believe it’s important to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if we hope to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

    So far, our 39 members have committed more than 300 buildings with 26 million square feet to the same goals proposed by President Biden. Our members include some of the region’s largest employers, as well as small and medium-sized businesses that believe environmental sustainability is good for workers, their company, and the community as a whole.

    They are taking stock of how they use energy, water and transportation to find both small wins and grand solutions to reducing consumption and emissions, such as changing to LED lighting, purchasing power from green sources, and installing EV chargers.

    The 2030 District is part of a nationwide, 23-city network that targets energy and water use in urban business districts. Our first progress report shows we are on target to reach our goals. The urban built environment is estimated to generate 75% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, with buildings alone responsible for 39% of all emissions.

    This work is especially important in Ohio, which is the sixth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions among U.S. states due to reliance on coal and natural gas, yet also ranked eighth in the country for clean-energy -energy jobs.

    Of course, it’s not just energy consumption that’s important to building health: We also believe that well-run buildings support the health of their occupants. That’s why the Cincinnati 2030 District is proud to be the first district in the network to launch an effort to make buildings healthier for the people who work in them by improving air and water quality; providing access to natural light, nutritious food and ergonomic work environments; and eliminating harmful chemicals and building materials.

    Our guide to occupant health will be released in the coming months. We worked with The Health Collaborative and the International Well Building Institute to ensure the Occupant Health Pillar targeted the health challenges specific to our region, and we’re excited for the project’s potential.

    The Cincinnati 2030 District is an initiative of Green Umbrella, the regional sustainability alliance. Green Umbrella is hosting the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit May 12–14, with a theme this year of “Accelerating Action: The Path to 2030.” The summit will feature healthy buildings and a wide range of sessions on how to respond to the climate crisis and create a stronger, more resilient region.

    The summit is open to the public. To learn more, click here.

    We hope you’ll join us in the search for ways to meet the 2030 challenge.

    Elizabeth Rojas is Director of the Cincinnati 2030 District, an initiative of Green Umbrella
  • May 11, 2021 2:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Movers & Makers

    With President Biden committing to a 50-percent reduction in US greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030, a dramatic shift is underway to support climate action at all levels. At the 2021 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit, attendees can learn how to work to create healthy and resilient communities where everyone can thrive. The summit will feature Midwestern businesses, organizations, universities and local governments already leading on strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The theme of this year’s Summit is Accelerating Action: The Path to 2030. “With the possibility of once-in-a-generation investments in the physical fabric of our communities, our region needs to be prepared to coordinate and collaborate at all levels of activity,” said Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella. “Events like the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit help us do that.”

    The three-day virtual event will feature a keynote by author, professor and climate policy expert Joan Fitzgerald. She will focus on how cities can recover from COVID equitably while making environmental advances. Two plenary panels will convene local, regional, and national environmental leaders to envision how the Midwest can collaborate on strategic infrastructure and business investments and lead the transformation to the green economy. Voices will include the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, the Marshall Plan for Middle America, Groundwork USA, National League of Cities, and the Hoosier Environmental Council. More than 30 breakout sessions and short talks will cover topics from reducing food waste to housing density for sustainable growth. Explore the program.

    Green Umbrella is presenting the Summit with the City of Cincinnati and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University. Planning partners include the City of Silverton, Hamilton County Planning and Development, and the Greater Cincinnati Green Business Council. The event is sponsored by the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, and Xavier University’s Brueggeman Center for Dialogue. 

    Speakers and attendees are from Fortune 500 companies, innovative small businesses, government agencies, academia, faith communities and NGOs, all committed to innovative public and private solutions for healthier people and communities, more resilient regions, vibrant landscapes, and a built environment that lowers its climate footprint.

    midwestsustainabilitysummit.org


  • May 10, 2021 2:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU
    By Michael Monks

    The United States officially rejoined the Paris climate agreement in February and President Biden said tackling the climate crisis is among his highest priorities. So how is our region meeting the challenges of a changing climate? This week the 2021 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit explores this topic. The theme of this year’s Summit from May 12 to 14 is "Accelerating Action: The Path to 2030."

    This year's keynote speaker is climate policy expert Joan Fitzgerald, whose talk will focus on how cities can recover from COVID-19 equitably while making environmental advances. Green Umbrella is presenting the Summit with the City of Cincinnati and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University.

    Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit are Green Umbrella Executive Director Ryan Mooney-Bullock; Northeastern University Professor of Urban and Public Policy Joan Fitzgerald, Ph.D.; Groundwork Ohio River Valley Program Manager Sophie Revis; and Village of Silverton Village Manager Tom Carroll.

    Listen to the episode at: https://www.wvxu.org/post/path-2030-focus-midwest-regional-sustainability-summit#stream/0

  • May 07, 2021 2:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By Chris Mayhew and Wayne Baker

    About two miles of new bike trail from the Cincinnati neighborhood of Mount Washington to Anderson Township was ceremoniously opened Saturday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

    There event was held to celebrate the new Salem Road to Sutton Avenue section of the Ohio River Trail on the trail near where Salem intersects with Kellogg Avenue.

    “This trail is a perfect example of regional collaboration,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella. “Now you can ride the Ohio River Trail 22 miles from Smale Riverfront Park to New Richmond in a trail or a bike lane.”

    East from Downtown, the trail utilizes bicycle lanes along Riverside Drive and Kellogg Avenue to meet the Salem Road section of the trail. The Ohio River Trail will be part of a statewide series of trails stretching from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, according to Johnston.

    "This route connects Anderson Township to the planned CROWN 34-mile trail loop," he said.

    Tri-State Trails, Ohio River Way, City of Cincinnati, Great Parks of Hamilton County, and SORTA are partnering to secure funding and take the Ohio River Trail off road along the former Oasis rail line 4.5 miles from Lunken Airport to Friendship Park, Johnston stated.

    The Little Miami Scenic Trail will soon connect to the Lunken Airport, Armleder Park, and Ohio River Trail at Beechmont Avenue.

    Great Parks is currently constructing a separate bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists that is scheduled for fall 2022 completion.

    People participating in the ribbon-cutting will included Mayor John Cranley, members of city council, Anderson Township Trustee Josh Gerth, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments Trustee Bob Koehler, Rick Greiwe of the Cincinnati Riding Or Walking Network (CROWN), Wade Johnston of Green Umbrella, and John Brazina, director of Cincinnati's Department of Transportation and Engineering.

  • April 22, 2021 2:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By: Ryan Mooney-Bullock

    Studies show that half of all kids worldwide spend less than an hour outside each day, and a third of kids less than 30 minutes – less than the outdoor time mandated for inmates in U.S. prisons. This was a crisis before the pandemic, but the past year has underscored the important health benefits of spending time outdoors.

    For Cincinnati Public Schools students who returned to their classrooms last month, the crisis of the pandemic is also an opportunity. CPS and three dozen partners – including Green Umbrella, the regional sustainability alliance – have developed a collaborative called CPS Outside to get more kids into nature for learning, recreation and after-school programs. Though the coordination was underway before the pandemic, the need has intensified in the past year, with outdoor activity being more important than ever for students and teachers.

    Our partners are now assessing CPS campuses to find ways to promote outdoor, nature-based activities. The vision is for every school in the district to have a Green Schoolyard for students and the community to use for learning, play and exploration. That work will be guided by Cincinnati’s participation in the Green Schoolyards Technical Assistance cohort organized by Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN), a national joint initiative of the National League of Cities and the Children & Nature Network. Mayor John Cranley and CPS Superintendent Laura Mitchell signed the Green Schoolyards Pledge, committing to work towards equitable access to nature for all children.

    The benefits of getting kids outside more during the school day are many: better physical and mental health, improved behavior and focus, increased environmental awareness, pursuit of green careers and improved academic outcomes. These align so well with Cincinnati Public Schools’ strategic goals that the school board and administration have made it a strategic priority to get students outside.

    CPS Outside partners are working at all levels of the education system to achieve this goal. In the coming year, we will help teachers get more comfortable taking students outside, integrate outdoor learning into the district’s curriculum maps, provide outdoor camp-type experiences for students at schools and expose teens to green career pathways.

    Cincinnati Public Schools has many large campuses surrounded by greenspace where the outdoors is, or could be, a vibrant part of the learning day. Smaller campuses require a more creative approach. No matter where the school, CPS Outside wants to make sure ALL students have access to rich outdoor learning environments.

    • Students at Dater Montessori’s Nature Center have been learning outside for 20 years! The Westwood school serves as a nationally recognized example for in-school and after-school programming. It inspired the school’s choice of “Green and Healthy Living” for its Community Learning Center focus.
    • At Lighthouse High School in Madisonville, students work with Groundwork Ohio River Valley to manage a hoop house with aquaponic beds for growing vegetables and fish. They monitor the water quality in the tanks and use the fish and plants to study biology.
    • A rooftop garden at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy makes creative use of a tiny campus in a dense urban environment by bringing nature onto the roof. A stand-alone organization, Rothenberg School Rooftop Garden, maintains the garden and provides engaging programming for students.
    • Volunteers coordinated by the Civic Garden Center are restoring forest at Walnut Hills High School, removing invasive species and planting 1,300 native pollinator plants and 800 trees to date.

    We are also encouraging schools to take walking field trips to explore nearby natural areas. Most CPS schools are within a quarter mile of greenspace, which they could walk to for lessons, exercise, or unstructured exploration time in nature. We’ll be sharing an interactive map later this year to help school staff identify places to explore near their campus.

    The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but especially children. CPS Outside is finding a silver lining in the cloud of COVID-19, by capitalizing on the safety of gathering outdoors. By getting kids outside we will strengthen the relationship they have with the living world, help them relieve stress, be healthier, think more clearly and build community with their teachers and peers. This Earth Day, join CPS Outside in advocating for the students in your life to get outside and into nature.

    Ryan Mooney-Bullock is executive director of Green Umbrella. She is a former high school teacher and environmental educator and the mother of four children attending Cincinnati Public Schools.


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