Green Umbrella in the News

  • January 13, 2021 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    January 13, 2021
    CONTACT: Rob Reiman, CEO, T
    he Giving Grove
    (913) 486-2340


    Giving Grove orchards provide free fruits, nuts and berries for neighborhoods facing food insecurity 

    Cincinnati -- The Giving Grove, a Kansas City-based nonprofit serving food insecure communities, announces today it will expand to Cincinnati through a partnership with Green Umbrella and the Common Orchard Project. 

    Launched in 2013, The Giving Grove has 273 orchards across the U.S. that provide free, holistically-grown fruits, nuts and berries for neighborhoods with high rates of food insecurity. After finding success with its model in Kansas City, The Giving Grove began expanding to other cities with high food insecurity rates, launching affiliate programs in St. Louis and Omaha in 2017, and Memphis, Louisville, and rural Kansas in 2020. Giving Grove’s expansion plans include launching affiliates in 14 more U.S. cities by 2025. 

    The typical Giving Grove orchard will produce more than 10,570 servings of free, healthy foods worth nearly $9,000 each year. With a 50-60+ year lifespan, each orchard will produce over its lifetime more than 232,000 servings of food for people in need while sequestering carbon, reducing stormwater runoff and providing urban tree canopy.

    Giving Grove co-founder Kevin Birzer, CEO of TortoiseEcofin and Giving Grove Board Chair, noted that the national Board sought partners for expansion that operate well-run organizations with proven track records of successfully serving their communities. Green Umbrella, in partnership with Common Orchard Project, fit the model well.

    “We are delighted to partner with Green Umbrella and the Common Orchard Project to bring Giving Grove orchards to neighborhoods throughout Cincinnati,” Birzer said. “Green Umbrella’s commitment to vibrant, sustainable communities makes them a strong partner in our work.”

    Green Umbrella executive director Ryan Mooney-Bullock sees the alignment between the Common Orchard Project and the organization’s existing efforts. “We are excited to support this simple yet elegant solution of transforming vacant lots in food-insecure neighborhoods into sources of greenspace, healthy food and community connection.”

    The Common Orchard Project works to install and maintain hundreds of small orchard plantings across Greater Cincinnati and grows “commonly held” resources by educating communities on fresh food and urban land management. Founded in 2017 by Chris Smyth, the effort has since planted 10 orchards across Cincinnati and three in Cleveland. Smyth will continue to serve as the director of the project as it incubates within Green Umbrella and will plant more orchards each year thanks to Giving Grove’s support. Learn more about Common Orchard at


    Giving Grove’s vision is thousands of little orchards in food insecure urban neighborhoods across the nation, creating a local food production system that feeds people for decades. Learn more at      

  • January 13, 2021 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: World Wildlife Fund
    By: Mackenzie Manley

    Those outside Cincinnati, a mid-sized city of hills and valleys, might not readily see the metropolis as one of the country’s leaders in tackling climate change. Yet, grassroots organizations and community leaders have been addressing the crisis for years through on-the-ground efforts, policy, and investing in green innovation.

    Amid a global pandemic that has exacerbated existing socio-economic inequities and climate injustices, the fight continues.

    And while the most visible consequences of climate change often relate to melting ice caps, rising sea levels, forest fires, and an uptick in devastating storms, Midwestern cities like Cincinnati are already experiencing rippling effects.

    If humans are unable to limit carbon pollution, Cincinnati’s average temperature could climb by as much as seven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

    Changes will be seen across the city and region but neighborhoods won’t be impacted equally. Vulnerable populations—lower-income communities of color—have disproportionately felt the effects of climate change and will continue to suffer with greater severity unless action is taken.

    “When we think about climate disruption, in many ways, it’s a risk multiplier. It takes existing problems and makes them worse,” said Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability (OES) Coordinator Oliver Kroner. “I think you could say the same thing about the pandemic. If you’re on the brink before catastrophe you’re more likely to face hardship.

    “When you talk about resilience planning, and how we endure these changes ahead, I think some climate planners see this as an opportunity to learn about future stressors in our communities.”

    The Green Cincinnati Plan, a 273-page document released by OES that includes 80 recommendations for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, outlines an aim for the city government to run solely on renewable energy by 2035. Adopted by the City Council as a 5-year outline, their plan is currently on track; 28 municipal facilities already run entirely on renewables and the construction of what will be the largest city-led array of solar panels in the country is underway.

    This is work that Cincinnati’s current mayor, John Cranley, has supported. When the US announced its intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017, an extensive plan aimed at keeping the global temperature rise in this century well below 2° C (3.6° F) —or even 1.5° C (2.7° F)—Cranley condemned the action and signed on to become one of nearly 4,000 CEOS, mayors, governors, tribal leaders, college presidents, faith leaders and other officials to declare support for climate action as part of the We Are Still In (WASI) movement.

    On a local level, organizers have been working toward a greener Cincinnati for decades. When Cranley joined WASI—an initiative administered by World Wildlife Fund, Climate Nexus, and Ceres—the framework to meet such goals was, in many ways, already there. As local governments tackle climate and the pandemic, a resilient support system is vital.

    “Cincinnati was one of those early signatories, and has been, I think, a strong leader from the start,” said Kevin Taylor, WWF’s senior program officer for cities and climate. “From the perspective of that initiative, We Are Still In, Cincinnati is a really good example that other cities in the country can follow in taking up the mantle of leadership that's been lacking both at the federal level, and in some ways, there in the state of Ohio as well.

    “We see a mix of ambition and commitment from state governments around the country, but cities have been strong. Cincinnati is certainly one of those.”

    One such organization is Groundwork Ohio River Valley (Groundwork ORV), an environmental nonprofit that is part of a national network, Groundwork USA, that centers on racial environmental justice work.

    Groundwork ORV’s co-executive director Tanner Yess says that as a young person of color who grew up around the outdoor recreation science and environmental sustainability world, he feels that his field chose him. “I'm lucky enough to have had the privilege to parlay that into community-based conservation efforts,” Yess said. “(It’s) sustainability work with a different angle, which is connecting all that jargon to real world quality of life issues, especially to neighborhoods that have been left behind by the environmental movement.”

    Cultivating a movement

    A group of youth employees converged in Lower Price Hill, a Cincinnati neighborhood that is more susceptible to a changing climate, to install green infrastructure, beautify the community, and plant fruit trees in what was a vacant lot.

    It was an overcast, chilly afternoon and the sound of their shovels hitting rock and soil filled the air, joined by conversation and the occasional shuffle or question of passers-by. They’re part of Groundwork Ohio River Valley’s Green Team, one of the nonprofit’s many initiatives.

    Made up of high school students, the program is designed to cultivate job skills in youth and a better understanding of the environment they live in.

    The youth working on this particular project are mostly residents of Lower Price Hill and attending the neighborhood’s public school, Oyler. The fruit trees, once mature, are meant to help provide the community, a food desert, with access to fresh food at no cost; residents will be able to pluck pawpaws, peaches, and apples while enjoying the green space.

    “By planting an orchard, the work provides value to the lot and makes it more interesting and beautiful for the neighborhood,” Sophie Revis, the program’s manager, said. “And we'll add more trees to Lower Price Hill. As the climate continues to change, Lower Price Hill is poised to get hotter, wetter, and have even worse air quality. By adding these few trees, it'll help a lot to reduce the heat and make the air better to breathe.”

    This work is in collaboration with the Common Orchard Project, a program incubated by the Green Umbrella alliance that works with the Port Authority/Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority to take vacant land, which is often seen as a blight, and reclaim it as a community asset that provides nourishment and beauty.

    Studies have shown that such vacancies significantly affect the health, both physically and mentally, and the safety of residents, whose neighborhoods already lack in resources.

    Founded in 2017, the Common Orchard Project has planted 10 orchards in Cincinnati so far, , says Chris Smyth, the program’s director. Sixteen more orchards are planned by the end of 2021—and they’ll keep going until they reach 100. The project has also been brought to other areas, including Cleveland, Ohio’s second most populous city.

    Smyth, who has studied permaculture design for over a decade, also runs a two-acre farm in Camp Washington, a densely urban neighborhood similar to Lower Price Hill. He noted that Camp Washington is only covered by 8% tree canopy.

    “How can we not just plant wonderful things (on vacant land) but also productive things to add value to neighborhoods that are in some ways rapidly gentrifying? It gives neighbors an additional way to add value instead of, ‘Well, you can either add a home here or a business,’” Smyth said. “I think that perennial agriculture stands enough to fill some of the gaps in our Midwestern Rust Belt cities.”

    As the hole-digging neared completion, Smyth called the group over for a lesson in how to plant young fruit trees.

    One of the listening workers was 16-year-old Mohagany Wooten. She worked with the Green Team over the summer on another project, a trail across the city in Madisonville.

    Before she entered the program, Wooten said she knew little about environmental justice. Through the Green Team, she has been able to learn about not only broad issues like climate change, but also how the environment relates to barriers faced by her own community.

    “Lower Price Hill really doesn't have a lot of open green space. But we do have certain little patches. There was this one patch by the bus stop,” Wooten said, adding that she thought the space could be used as a community garden. Instead, she learned there were plans of putting an apartment complex there.

    “It threw me off and put me in the environmental injustice spot because instead of them trying to put vegetables or something healthy there, they just wanted to put a building there,” Wooten said. “There's a lot of abandoned buildings in Lower Price Hill and I feel that they should probably try to fix them to be better instead of taking away the green spaces.”

    Many kids in her school, Wooten said, get their work done, try to graduate and either go to college or get a job—that’s the basic plan. But this program instills in students a desire to learn about their environment and apply that knowledge into changing their communities for the better.

    Groundwork’s Yess said that one of the best parts of the program is seeing where students go after their time with Groundwork is done. One Green-Teamer, now in his early 20s, moved on to run one of their Green Corp Young Adult workforce groups. Other now-adults work in fields such as the forest service.

    Of course, not everyone who leaves the Green Team goes on to an environment-adjacent career. But that’s not really the point, Yess said. Rather, it’s that they understand the impact the work has on their communities and how to direct that knowledge into action.

    Climate safe neighborhoods

    Climate change means a less healthy and prosperous Cincinnati—but the city’s neighborhoods won’t suffer the social, health, and financial consequences equally.

    With an old building stock and high renter population, Cincinnati is the US city where low-income residents paid the eighth-highest energy burden, according to a 2016 report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

    And neighborhoods subject to government-sanctioned racist housing practices in the 1930s and ‘40s are at higher risk to experience extreme heat and flooding today due to more heat-retaining surfaces, such as highways and lack of green spaces.

    The effects of a smaller tree canopy coverage are already being felt, from higher rates of asthma, worse air quality, increased flooding, and more mold—lower-income communities and neighborhoods with large Black populations experience them at higher rates.

    According to Yess, Cincinnati neighborhoods with higher percentages of tree canopy coverage are 10 to 12 degrees cooler than highly urbanized neighborhoods, which are disproportionately made up of low income residents and/or people of color.

    Parts of the city are hotter than others. But what to do about it?

    “We're arming ourselves and citizens with the language that policymakers use so that they can advocate for themselves,” Yess said. “We’re doing short- and medium-term action mitigation strategies, everything from projects as simple as planting trees to more intensive green infrastructure policy work.”

    Kroner said that maps of temperature differences can be used to help inform where Cincinnati focuses its tree-planting efforts. Another slice of the pie, he said, is private land or other areas that require planting.

    That’s where partnerships like the one OES has with Groundwork are crucial. Beyond “greening” spaces, the work is focused on connecting people with land and democratizing data. The latter helps people better understand what’s happening in their own communities and the policies that affect them.

    OES also looks at energy burden, or the percentage of income a household spends on utility bills. Because tenants often foot the utility bill, there’s no economic force that incentivizes landlords to make energy improvements.

    “We're trying to insert our policy, our programs, our resources, into that intersection,” Kroner said, “to try and deliver energy efficiency to these households that are really paying exorbitant amounts of money just to heat their homes.”

    According to Kroner, approximately 60% of Cincinnati’s carbon emission comes from its built environment—the city’s buildings and how they’re powered, heated, and cooled. Another 30% comes from transportation and fuel.

    “A number of our strategies focus on making buildings more efficient, powering them with renewable energy, and then electrifying transportation and improving transportation choices,” Kroner said.

    Greener, more accessible transportation

    With transportation accounting for a big chunk of the city’s carbon emissions, increasing passenger miles travelled via public transit ridership by 25% by 2035 is also a goal of the Green Cincinnati Plan.

    A recently passed 0.8% sales tax to fund a more robust transit system will help the city achieve this. Cincinnati also aims to double the lane miles of bike trails, improve walkability and pedestrian safety, and encourage the transition to electric vehicles.

    This October saw the unveiling of the city’s latest Metro bus transit hub in Northside, the city’s second busiest transfer location. For residents, it’s a community asset that has been years in the making. Features include eight sheltered boarding stops, electronic signage that gives real-time bus arrival time updates, and a lot for drivers using park and ride services complete with charging stations for electric vehicles.

    One grassroots organization is Better Bus Coalition, led by lifelong bus rider and Cincinnatian Cam Hardy. A resident of Northside, Hardy said he was “extremely happy” to see the hub come to fruition. “I would like to see this at a lot of our bus stops, actually,” Hardy said. “This is excellent. This has been great for the community. And it's been great for the city overall.” He’s excited for other neighborhoods to open similar hubs. It’s advocacy like the coalition’s that has made such improvements possible.

    For Hardy, it started with him getting fed up with buses that continuously broke down or were late. One night, he took to Facebook Live and asked: “Why is this acceptable?” That led him to being invited on a bus ride with Metro’s then-CEO. After learning about how policy affected the bus system and joining forces with other riders, Hardy officially formed the coalition in 2017.

    “We looked at it as a way to take ownership and have some pride about our transportation system because we weren’t seeing that from anywhere else,” Hardy said. It’s a volunteer gig for Hardy and other coalition members.

    Hardy said buses lacked investment because bus ridership was looked down on as a poverty issue. But transit should be seen broader than that. As Hardy described: “It’s not just about moving poor people around. It’s for the greater good."

    Looking forward, part of their advocacy includes adding cleaner, more fuel-efficient buses to Metro’s fleet. For Hardy, a stronger Metro is integral to a more sustainable Cincinnati. He hopes that, as the city recovers from COVID-19, transit can be a part of the rebuild by giving citizens a safer, more effective means of returning to work.

    More food, less waste

    Rebuilding efforts after COVID-19 will reach far beyond just transportation. The pandemic also highlighted and exacerbated existing stressors on the national and global food system.

    Despite as many as 1 in 6 Americans experiencing hunger, according to Feeding America, an estimated 30% to 40% of food produced in the US is thrown away. Back in 2017, Cincinnati-based supermarket retailer Kroger launched its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan that aims to address this absurdity in the US food system. In line with that mission to help create communities free of hunger and waste, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is a supporter of WWF’s Food Waste Warriors conservation curriculum.

    Last year, the program audited school cafeteria plate waste in 46 schools across nine US cities, including Cincinnati. WWF’s Amanda Stone, director of engagement and communications for markets and food issues, noted that there are multiple ways climate change is tied to food waste. For one, all of the water, land, and resources that go into producing food are wasted when food is tossed. From the farm and all the way through the supply chain to the point it arrives to the consumer, any given product comes with its share of emissions. “If the product is wasted, the emissions are for naught, and then methane, another climate change pollutant occurs as food rots in landfill,” Stone said.

    The pandemic has had an enormous impact on schools writ large. As Stone said, that also means food in schools. As districts move between in-person and remote schooling, Food Waste Warriors’ primary focus has been finding ways to support schools through initiatives like redeveloping their virtual curriculum and making it accessible to teachers.

    “The most important part for the school nutrition directors and educators is getting nutritious school meals into the hands of students through a variety of superhero strategies—from more packaged in-classroom meals, to curbside pickup and bus-based delivery routes—all of which might need to change on a day-to-day basis,” Stone said. “Our work with The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation and the Food Waste Warrior program has shifted to support teachers and education groups on the ground that want to integrate these concepts into their virtual learning environments. We’ve found teachers are eager to help kids explore how food and nature are connected, and how the need to address waste is more important than ever, even from the space of their kitchens at home.”

    Ryan Mooney-Bullock, the executive director of Green Umbrella, the regional sustainability alliance of Greater Cincinnati, said that the pandemic has, in many ways, increased a sense of urgency around addressing local food system security.

    “People are seeing how important it is to have a diverse and flexible food supply chain that includes farms and processing operations of many scales,” Mooney-Bullock said. “In 2020, local farmers struggled to get their excess produce to the consumers who needed it most, while food banks struggled to meet increased demand for food. By working to solve disconnections in the food system, we can make sure our region is prepared for future disruptions, whether they are caused by pandemics, natural disasters or the effects of climate change.”

    There are multiple programs that are attempting to make better use of the food available and get it to the plates of people who need it. But it’s an area where the city is still learning.

    Mooney-Bullock said that if 10% of the region’s population shifted their food budget to local foods, $67 million would go back into the local economy.

    But many areas may lack access to a grocery, more so a reliable place to buy local food.

    Mooney-Bullock said one of Green Umbrella’s current projects—Community Voices for Food Movement—is aimed at incorporating the perspectives of the population that experiences food insecurity in designing solutions to food access and nutrition education.

    “We are also looking at how we can create better access to local food, and just healthy food in general, in communities that are currently underserved by a full-service supermarket,” Mooney-Bullock said. “That might look like increased farmer's markets in those places, or some way to effectively distribute fresh food to the corner store or other hubs where people could pick it up.”

    In this together

    From planting orchards to building better bus benches to rain gardens and river cleanup—each piece from hundreds of regional organizations adds up to Cincinnati striving to be a more sustainable, equitable city.

    “One of my worst fears,” Yess said, “and what Groundwork does so well, is: I’m so scared that there’s a little brown or black girl or boy or other out there in some neighborhood that does not have access to green amenities, parks, education or recreation and they could have been the next great conservationist.”

    That’s why they work with hundreds of youths a year through education and workforce programs.

    Currently, Groundwork Ohio River Valley has 12 staff, dozens of youth employees all over the tristate area, and many partnerships. And their work hasn’t slowed due to the pandemic. On the contrary, Yess said their work, which for the most part takes place outside in small groups, has exploded.

    “We've expanded and…it's a testament to the fact our work has always been rooted in racial justice and environmental issues, and we're ready to go,” Yess said. “We've grown rapidly because the need is so great.”

    The hope is to build the organization to 200 youth employees, or as Yess puts it: “a small army of green workers across the city” doing work from trail building to green infrastructure in communities.

    Yess said that the word that best evokes what Groundwork does is restoration.

    “And I'm not talking about just land, right? It's heart, mind, body, soul,” he said. “It's the process of people and the land connecting. And if you have that connection, the climate change discussion is not an issue.”

  • January 08, 2021 10:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Press Release For Immediate Release  

    For more information contact:

    Elizabeth Rojas, 513.633.5823
    Director, Cincinnati 2030 District

    Cincinnati 2030 District Releases Building Progress Report and Grants Funds to Member Upgrades

    Cincinnati -- The buildings in Cincinnati’s central business district and uptown areas are making better-than-expected progress toward measuring and reducing their carbon footprint, according to the Cincinnati 2030 District’s first-ever building Progress Report.

    The Cincinnati 2030 District 2019 Progress Report includes aggregated energy data from participating member buildings falling within the Central Business District and Uptown, the District’s defined geographic boundaries. The District, which supports building owners and managers in making bold reductions to their buildings’ carbon footprint, aggregates and uses the data as a benchmark for cutting emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Across the Greater Cincinnati region, property owners and managers from 197 buildings voluntarily reported their building’s energy data as part of their commitment to make the needed reductions.

    “This is significant,” said Elizabeth Rojas, Director of the Cincinnati 2030 District, “because our members and leaders are committed to making these reductions. This is evident not only by the high percentage of organizations sharing their data, but also that we are on track to achieving our energy goal, even as a fairly new district. This showcases Greater Cincinnati as a leader in sustainability.”

    According to Architecture 2030, the urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions. Buildings alone account for 39%, and in Cincinnati, that number is nearing 60% according to the City’s Office of Environment and Sustainability. Ohio’s carbon dioxide emissions rank 6th in the U.S. because of reliance on coal and natural gas. Reducing energy use in buildings decreases carbon dioxide emissions by lessening our need to burn carbon-emitting fuel sources.

    Measuring energy usage of the nearly 300 properties committed to the District is the first step toward reaching the goal of a 50 percent reduction in emissions. Armed with usage data, building members and partners collaborate to design and implement creative strategies, best practices and verification methods for measuring progress towards a common goal. Professional and Community Partners in the areas of engineering, design, construction, building analytics, transportation, renewables, EV charging, water conservation and building health all support building members in reaching their goals.

    In addition to benchmarking member performance, the District will fund member projects that increase their energy efficiency. Leveraging funds from the Duke Class Benefit Fund, the District announced four winners of its Business Incentive grant. Selected through a request for proposal process, awarded business owners received a combined $65,000 in 1:1 matching grants for energy efficiency upgrades. Projects were selected based on the percentage of energy reductions anticipated and contract value awarded to the District professional partners contracted for the work. The recipients and partners selected are:

    ● Cincinnati Art Museum with CMTA and Siemens

    ● Mercantile Center with Johnson Electric

    ● Our Lady of Grace with PRO Lighting and Solar, and Paff Electric

    ● Sleepy Bee Cafe with Melink Corp.

    Both the District Progress Report and the Business Incentive grants support the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan, which found that the two largest sources of emissions in the region are in the commercial building and transportation sectors. Establishing a 2030 District was a key goal set forth in the Green Cincinnati Plan because it had the highest potential for emissions reductions. The 2030 District name stems from the belief that drastic changes to the sources and methods of our energy consumption are required by 2030 to stave off the worst possible effects of climate change. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 212 is a proud sponsor and a trusted partner of the 2030 District.

    To learn more about becoming part of the solution to decrease our region’s carbon emissions and secure a sustainable future for all our community members, visit or email Elizabeth Rojas.


    Green Umbrella leads collaboration, incubates ideas and catalyzes solutions to create a resilient, sustainable region for all.

  • January 01, 2021 11:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Local 12
    By: Jenna Cisneros

    Wasson Way's trails connect communities once divided by a major roadway, and leaders behind the project are asking for community support and input in the New Year.

    The Wasson Way Trail network creates a ladder to opportunity for 83,000 people living in eight Cincinnati neighborhoods and three municipalities along the trail.

    “CROWN stands for the Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network. It's going to be a network of 34-mile urban loop of multipurpose trail that goes around the city of Cincinnati, and Wasson Way is the first major leg of it that's being completed right now,” Sean McGrory, board president for Wasson Way, said.

    The biking and walking path helps connect many of the east side communities, from Xavier University through Hyde Park.

    “2021 is really going to be a breakout year for the CROWN. In a strange way, the pandemic and everything that's accompanied it has really shone a light on why a project like this is so vital to the city. With adversity comes opportunity, and this is an opportunity to really bring the city together,” McGrory said.

    Phase 3 connecting Madison Road to Marburg Avenue was completed this past November, but the work to reach the end goal is far from over.

    “We want to do landscaping. We want to plant probably 100 trees along Wasson Road. We want to put in some bushes and some other landscaping to make it more attractive,” Jay Andress, co-founder of Wasson Way, said.

    “Phase 4 is going to start in the spring, and it’s going to connect going...east to Ault Park, so it'll connect one of the great assets to the city, Ault Park, and ultimately in 2022, then we're going to go west and connect up to the Uptown Innovation District and the University of Cincinnati,” McGrory said.

    As we enter 2021, the organization is asking for more community input.

    “Come out, share your voices, let us know how you're using the trail, what you'd like to see and join us on this journey,” McGrory said.

    Click here for a closer look at the timeline.

  • December 03, 2020 9:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Press Release

    For Immediate Release      

    For more information contact: Ryan Mooney-Bullock

    Executive Director, Green Umbrella


    Green Umbrella Hires Climate Policy Lead for Greater Cincinnati

    Cincinnati, OH — Green Umbrella, Greater Cincinnati's regional sustainability alliance, has hired Savannah Sullivan as its Climate Policy Lead. Sullivan will launch and lead the organization's work with local governments to plan and prepare for a changing climate. Sullivan will facilitate collaboration among government leaders to adopt proven solutions that will improve the quality of life in their communities, resilience of their infrastructure, and predictability of their budgets.

    While climate change is a global issue, local governments end up absorbing many of the costs. The Cincinnati region is seeing more extreme heat days and more frequent and heavier rain events due to changing climate patterns. Hotter summers can cause more air quality alert days, heat-related illness, and deaths, and extreme precipitation events can cause flooding, landslides, and increased water pollution. These impacts are not felt equally across communities -- people of color or with low incomes are hardest hit by climate change because they are more likely to live near sources of pollution, in flood zones, in homes with frequent sewer backups, and without air conditioning.

    Policies and programs to address climate impacts are often most effective at the local level, but most local governments in the Greater Cincinnati region lack capacity to adapt and build resiliency. “Our region’s elected officials and government staff are looking for ways to connect with each other and share solutions. Savannah will serve as a climate action point person for local leaders,” said Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella.

    Sullivan brings direct experience working with local governments and concerned residents to design sustainability and resilience plans and advance environmental justice priorities. Most recently, she served as a Climate and Community Resilience Analyst for the City of Cincinnati's Office of Environment and Sustainability. In this position, which was supported by the Energy Foundation, she co-led the development of the City's Energy Equity programs. Sullivan also led local implementation of two national climate programs: the National League of Cities 2020 Leadership in Resilience Cohort and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2020 Urban Heat Island Community Science Campaign. Sullivan has also worked for Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute and Rural Action, a nonprofit building a more just and sustainable economy in Appalachia Ohio. She spent four years in Washington DC, where she led green chemistry programs and analysis for the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute and the US Environmental Protection Agency. "Greater Cincinnati is a region ripe for action. I look forward to working alongside communities to learn from their lived experiences, leverage their local expertise, and collaborate to build a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable region." says Sullivan, who begins her work with Green Umbrella this month.

    The Climate Policy Lead position is supported by The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation and the Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation. “When local governments prepare for climate change they see more predictable spending, the health of their residents improves, and their infrastructure responds well to the shocks and stresses of a changing climate,” says Jerry Newfarmer, board President The Agnes and Murray Seasongood Good Government Foundation.

    Since most local governments in the region are small, they often lack the staff support or budgets to carry out sustainability goals, even when elected officials champion them. Green Umbrella seeks to address this issue by building on regional strengths, and growing capacity through collaboration and leveraging local to national resources. “The Climate Policy Lead will equip community leaders to make meaningful change and encourage collaboration – further strengthening regional resiliency,” says Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation. “Unlocking solutions and removing barriers at the local level are often most effective to help lift up the community.”

  • November 28, 2020 10:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: FOX 19
    By: Ken Brown

    The next portion of the 34-mile trail that is set to loop the city was opened Saturday.

    This phase of the Wasson Way Trail was financed through a federal grant, says city department director John Brazina.

    Brazina says this is the first time the city has received federal funds to help build a trail here and, “we’re really delighted about it.”

    Just four months ago Mayor John Cranley was breaking ground for the trail’s path through Evanston and Avondale.

    Saturday morning phase three opened up to the public and it’s one the city expects to be very well-traveled.

    “It is exciting that we now have, thanks to the Crown Vision, a commitment over the next three years, not only to go to Ault Park which we’ll do next year, but in 2-years we’re going to go all the way to UC and we’re going to land in Avondale and we have leaders from Avondale here today,” Mayor John Cranley said.

    The Crown vision Mayor Cranley is talking about is a massive effort coordinated by Tri-State Trails to make a 34-mile trail that loops around the city of Cincinnati, today’s ribbon cutting was a small portion of that project.

    “In this time of COVID where outdoor recreation is one of the only things we’re allowed to do. It’s the perfect time to keep building Wasson Way and this trail going forward,” said Cranley

  • November 25, 2020 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier

    With a bold goal to end hunger and eliminate food waste by 2025, the Kroger Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation was created to support entrepreneurs and innovations that advance that goal. In partnership with Flywheel, Cintrifuse, and HCDC, SustainableCincy was uniquely designed to foster collaboration and innovation among individuals and organizations that are just starting their journey as sustainability change-makers.

    While political leaders debate the merits of sustainable development, business leaders are realizing that it’s more than just a marketing tool - it’s an operational imperative. Procter & Gamble’s “Ambition 2030” set sustainability goals that “inspire positive impact on our environment and society while creating value for us as a company and you as a consumer.”

    P&G knows sustainability is good for business because it lowers costs and generates revenue. Kroger Co., another sustainability hometown hero, recognizes the same and has long been a leader in energy efficiency. Plenty of other regional businesses are on board and SustainableCincy hopes to help grow that number at the grassroots level.

    Eight companies were selected as the first cohort to participate in SustainableCincy’s six-week business accelerator. Encompassing a wide array of business models, these startups address sustainability goals in this region and beyond.

    • Cincinnati Recycling and Reuse Hub maintains a network of partnerships to keep everything from televisions to cigarette butts out of our landfills.
    • B the Keeper reduces landscaping costs for corporate clients by converting lawns into biodiverse pollinator habitats.
    • Transmissions allows event planners to choose sustainable vendors and waste solutions for their events.
    • Wrm empowers consumers with their own carbon footprint monitor to make sustainable decisions and influence corporate change.
    • Urban Farming Initiative equips aspiring urban farmers with tools, guidance, and knowledge to convert unused commercial properties into food-producing community assets.
    • Last Mile Food Rescue mobilizes volunteers to rescue food and distribute to community partners with a technology platform.
    • Naturally Homegrown provides delivery services for fresh, local produce to underserved communities through a subscription model.
    • Our Harvest Co-Op strengthens Cincinnati’s local food system by creating farm jobs that pay family-sustaining wages while employing responsible growing practices.

    Community partners such as Green Umbrella, the city of Cincinnati, EY, Xavier University and many others make for a rich learning experience for the SustainableCincy startups. In addition to these partners, we have over sixteen coaches who bring business expertise and extensive connections.

    The goal of SustainableCincy is for the participating startups to develop a viable business model and a clear path to generating revenue. Along the way, each of the startups set milestones that advance them toward those goals and qualify them to receive a small amount of funding. More than a pitch competition, the SustainableCincyGO! event is their introduction to the larger ecosystem of innovators, investors and changemakers in this region.

    Bill Tucker is the executive director of Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub.

  • November 18, 2020 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Press Release: For Immediate Release

    For more information contact:

    Michaela Oldfield
    Director, Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council

    Food Policy Council awarded federal grant to expand local food access

    Cincinnati, OH - Cafeterias in local schools and office buildings will see an increase in fresh, local foods thanks to a federal grant for the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council. The $610,000 award from the US Department of Agriculture will accelerate local efforts to build a comprehensive, institutional investment into the local food system and increase consumer access and consumption of local foods. 

    “We have been working for 5 years to build a coalition of partners to work collaboratively on addressing regional needs in our food system,” said Michaela Oldfield, director of Green Umbrella’s Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council. “This grant is a testament to our success thus far and to our well articulated plans to create a food system that is healthy for people, healthy for communities and healthy for our environment.” 

    The funding will support the Food Policy Council’s partnerships with The Health Collaborative’s Gen-H, local health departments, food entrepreneurs and nonprofits to encourage anchor institutions like Cincinnati Public Schools, area hospitals and local corporations to invest in building an equitable local food system. Modeled after the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Feed Our Future campaign, the goal is to transform local institutions into anchors of health that invest their buying power into local economies, adopt sustainable practices, incentivize employees to purchase local foods and align their messaging around shared local foods priorities. Additionally, the Food Policy Council will direct funds toward increasing consumer access and consumption of local foods by supporting needed upgrades for farmers markets that make it easier to buy locally produced foods and working with community based organizations to address food access issues in neighborhoods.

    “This funding infuses resources into implementing win-win projects that will increase the economic success of farmers and ensure children and families can enjoy a healthy diet,” says Oldfield.  

    One third of the funding will be directed to partner organizations to support their ability to participate in the program. The funding will allow the Food Policy Council to hire a Food Systems Analyst to manage research and reporting needs.

    To learn more or get involved visit or register to attend the next Food Policy Council meeting on  Wednesday, November 18th from 2:30-4:30 pm via Zoom.  

  • October 22, 2020 12:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NKY Thrives

    By: David Holthaus

    Gunpowder Creek in Boone County.

    Two Northern Kentucky sites have been named “Greenspace Gems” by a regional environmental group.

    Green Umbrella has recognized Gunpowder Creek Nature Park in Boone County and Battery Bates Woodland in Kenton County with the honor, which spotlights the region’s protected landscapes.

    Three Ohio sites were also recognized: Buttercup Valley Preserve in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood; Riverside Natural Area in Butler County; and Kelley Nature Preserve in Clermont County.

    Launched in 2018, the Greenspace Gems program has recognized 30 local properties for their scenic value, biodiversity, scientific importance, or historic interest. The sites are selected by a team of volunteer conservation experts to showcase the region’s variety of natural sites.

    Green Umbrella says the program aims to tell the stories of these places to grow public support for greenspace conservation and the organizations leading this work.

    “Greater Cincinnati has a wealth of diverse natural environments,” says Green Umbrella executive director, Ryan Mooney-Bullock. “Residents and visitors have access to grassy knolls, forested wetlands, and breathtaking riversides all within a relatively short distance from our city center. We’re excited to share the stories behind these beautiful spaces.”

    Boone County’s Gunpowder Park encompasses 122 wooded acres. It features an unpaved, upgraded 1800’s logging trail that travels from an elevation of 830 feet to 620 feet and ends near Gunpowder Creek at a stone seating area. The park also has a stand of mature oaks on the northern hillside that is considered one of the best remaining undisturbed areas of woodland in the region.

    The Battery Bates site in Devou Park is considered the best preserved of Northern Kentucky’s two dozen or so Civil War fortification sites. Many have since been destroyed by development. The Battery Bates earthwork built by Union soldiers during the war is clearly visible and still stands up to four feet tall in places. Rifle trenches are still visible as is a section of a military road.

    Green Umbrella has also launched an interactive story map featuring pictures of each Greenspace Gem and facts about them.

  • October 20, 2020 12:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Cincinnati

    As a 2030 district, the city is committed to creating greener businesses.

    A new six-part documentary, “Modern Metropolis,” tells the story of how Cincinnati formed its own sustainability district, designed to make healthier buildings and communities. Part three focuses on the Latin phrase inscribed on the city’s official insignia: “juncta juvant,” or “strength in unity.”

    The focus is on Cincinnati’s work to become more sustainable, which started in 2008 as the Green Cincinnati Plan and was updated in 2018, the same year that Cincinnati became a 2030 district. It lays out two main ambitions: an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and for Cincinnati to be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2035. Guided by local businesses, faith-based organizations, nonprofits and government leaders, the plan was built on three central pillars: sustainability, equity, and resilience.

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