Green Umbrella in the News

  • August 15, 2016 4:38 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Soapbox    


    Greater Cincinnati’s environment dramatically impacts our quality of life. But that broad topic encompasses so many aspects that one organization would be hard pressed to address opportunities and challenges inherent in energy, waste reduction, transportation, land management, water, local food and outdoor recreation by itself. That made the sector a perfect candidate for one of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s five-year Collective Impact initiatives.
     
    Soapbox is exploring how these initiatives have affected a series of community-wide issues. They’re being addressed through the disciplined Collective Impact approach that assembles numerous players to collaborate toward a common vision, adopting measurable goals and work to reinforce one another’s efforts with the encouragement and oversight of “backbone” organizations.
     
    The backbone organization for environmental sustainability is Green Umbrella, with a broad goal of attaining recognition for our region as one of America’s top 10 sustainable metro areas by 2020. That’s ambitious, but partnering with two regional planning initiatives — the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Agenda 360 (now folded into the overall Chamber organization) and Skyward in Northern Kentucky — and more than 300 businesses, nonprofits and governmental agencies, Green Umbrella is tackling a broad array of issues through action teams focused on numerous programs and projects.


    Northside Farmers Market helps bring healthy food options to urban residents.
    Teams have established goals and metrics to determine progress toward various 2020 targets. One seeks to reduce total energy consumption in the built environment by 15 percent, while another works double the local production of renewable energy annually. A third pursues a 20 percent reduction in gasoline and diesel fuel use. A fourth team hopes to double the amount of fruits and vegetables sourced and consumed within the region, while a fifth works on ways to reduce disposed waste by 33 percent.
     
    Additional teams conceive ways to protect and celebrate streams, rivers and other water resources — including developing and now sponsoring the annual Ohio River Paddlefest extravaganza — and to increase participation in recreational and educational activities and events by 15 percent as well as boosting the local acreage of high quality green space by 8 percent.

    The Trail to Cleaner Air
     
    Air quality, transportation and trails go hand in hand. Green Umbrella Executive Director Kristin Weiss points to research indicating that Greater Cincinnati has more air pollution than the national average in every category.


    In particular, African Americans are disproportionately impacted by air pollution, especially in the urban core. Minorities constitute roughly 45 percent of the city of Cincinnati’s population but index much higher than whites in exposure to air pollution at home.

    “Our African-American population is concentrated in the urban center, where there is more traffic and congestion,” Weiss points out. “Our topography is such that we are located in a valley, which increases our rate for asthma, especially among minority communities.”
     
    Traffic congestion, reduced transit access and households without cars further compound the situation.
     
    “When we look at the share of jobs accessible via public transportation within a 90-minute commute one-way, it’s less than 35 percent,” Weiss says. “We need to look at how to get people to destinations, to jobs, to schools, to parks in a way that’s not contributing to air pollution.”
     
    So the Green Umbrella transportation action team is pursuing a regional trail network.
     
    “Our response is trees and trails,” Weiss says. “We want our communities to be more walkable and bike-friendly, with access to trails for exercise and transportation. We need a robust tree canopy to mitigate the effect of the air pollution.”
     
    The OKI regional council of governments asked Green Umbrella to help update its long-range transportation plan stretching out to 2040.
     
    “The previous update included just three projects worth about $2.5 million,” Weiss says. “Our update identified 17 planned bike and pedestrian projects worth about $191 million. That’s a 7,500 percent increase! People want more walkable and bike-friendly communities.
     
    “Without Green Umbrella, there would have been no coordination and no overall vision. Now our region has a master trail plan. We already have over 315 miles of existing trails, and another 1,000 total miles of trails have been proposed. Now people have that data and can make strategic decisions about projects to connect people and places faster. It’s a good example of Collective Impact.”
     
    A new plan focused on the urban center called Cincinnati Connects would create a 42-mile urban loop connecting 33 communities.
     
    “More than 240,000 people live within a mile of this network,” Weiss says. “The report’s economic study suggests it would be roughly a 3-to-1 return on investment.”
     
    The plan’s momentum is driven by cross-disciplinary engagement, made possible with funds from Interact for Health, a grant-maker supporting community-wide health initiatives. Groundwork Cincinnati Mill Creek manages the project, and partners include Cincinnati City and Hamilton County parks, Little Duck Creek Trail, Wasson Way, The Ohio River Way, Ohio River Trail West as well as businesses such as Kolar Design and Human Nature landscape architects.

    (Read a full Q&A with Kristin Weiss in the right-hand column of this page.)
     
    Connections for Better Lives
     
    Wade Johnston is Green Umbrella’s regional trails coordinator. He suggests that the Mill Creek Greenway Trail will improve several impoverished neighborhoods.
     
    “A couple of sections are built,” he says. “One in Northside connects from South Cumminsville all the way to Spring Grove Village. The vision is to connect from Downtown near Lower Price Hill to all the way north out of Hamilton County. It’s a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail that can accommodate bikes and walking.”
     
    Such a trail through low-income neighborhoods will positively affect residents’ lives.
     
    “Those communities have located there because that’s where affordable housing is found,” Johnston explains. “Having a trail to connect them to Downtown and the West End and other industrial areas will provide opportunities to get to work. Having a bike is more accessible than a car and generally more convenient than a bus for a short distance.”


    Groundwork Cincinnati employs local teens to help restore the Mill Creek and other urban greenways. 


    Johnston mentions environmental restoration along the Mill Creek Corridor, work being carried out by Groundwork Cincinnati, part of an international network of trusts focused on environmental issues that improve the quality of life, especially for minority and low-income residents.
     
    Tanner Yess, Groundwork’s youth leader, fieldwork manager and trail coordinator, is deeply involved in the restoration, largely carried out by about 1,000 teens annually that he supervises. They’re not just labor.
     
    “They also learn about sustainability,” Yess explains, “and about the connection to conservation as a whole — not just the Mill Creek but to the Ohio River, the Mississippi and the ocean. They participate on learning projects in reforestation, planting perennials like milkweed, removing invasive species and maintaining green structures.”
     
    Yess also manages an in-depth summer youth employment program.
     
    “With the help of the City of Cincinnati we employ teens for local cleaning projects,” he says. “They get more in-depth restoration experience and learn about conservation and sustainability. Some of them travel to regional preserves and national parks.”
     
    Safer Routes for School Kids
     
    As part of this web of interconnected projects related to traversing urban environments, one with special impact on children in troubled neighborhoods is the “Walking School Bus,” a Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) program spearheaded by one-time banker Carmen Burks.
     
    A federally funded “Safe Routes to School” study caught her interest a decade ago. It revealed that Cincinnati had numerous children walking to school because busing is provided only if they live more than a mile from the school building. CPS has approximately 14,000 students in elementary schools, and about 45 percent don’t need or have access to busing.

    When the study was overlaid with crime mapping, a light bulb went off.
     
    “The one-mile walk that some kids take,” Burks realized, “meant that they were potentially facing hazards.”
     
    She became an involved volunteer and eventually a program director.
     
    “Everyone is entitled to a public education,” she points out, “but there isn’t equity in that process. How could we make sure it becomes equitable and, regardless of where you live or where you’re at on that socio-economic status, your kid can get to school to get an education?”
     
    Her response: the “Walking School Bus” with mapped routes and trained “conductors” to walk approximately 10 kids to and from school. Adults receive meaningful training and are paid a stipend, supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice. (The funding for 2016-2017 has stalled, but Burks is confident it will be restored so she can expand her corps of 75 conductors.)
     
    Burks is a leader of Green Umbrella’s transportation action team. It’s enabled her to connect with the Cincinnati Health Department and an organization dedicated to healthy outdoor activities for kids, Leave No Child Inside.
     
    “Being out in nature does something for kids. It connects them with nature,” she says. “Safety is certainly an issue, but kids don’t play outside anymore. We had Cincinnati Parks come and teach about local trees and vegetation.”
     
    That’s the kind of connection the Collective Impact initiative supports.
     
    “I’ve traveled around the country a lot and seen what happens in other communities,” Burks says. “The great thing about Green Umbrella is the Collective Impact model. Just because your focus is on transportation doesn’t mean you don’t have an impact on safety or on schools. More organizations like Green Umbrella would make our country a better place.”

    Greening the Food Deserts
     
    Another focus area for Green Umbrella is food, especially “food deserts,” where low-income populations have very little access to grocery stores.
     
    “We want to get fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to our residents,” Weiss says. “We do that through our Food Policy Council, and our local food action team has a campaign asking people to spend 10 percent of their food budget on local food. That would drive $56 million into our local economy.”
     
    The council came together in October 2014 with a grant from Interact for Health. Today, 40 representatives from organizations in the 10-county region come together regularly to focus on healthy food access and consumption from a policy standpoint. They address distribution and procurement, food production and land use as well as community assessment, planning and zoning.
     
    To create equity and better health, Green Umbrella is the fiscal sponsor for a new program called Produce Perks. It’s a dollar-for-dollar incentive program offering up to an additional $10 in value for SNAP participants (the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program once called “food stamps”). It’s available at farmers markets across the region.

    Ana Bird heads the year-round Northside Farmers Market, operating 4-7 p.m. every Wednesday from May through October in Hoffner Park. It’s indoors at North Church, 4222 Hamilton Ave., when necessary.

    For 2016 there have been 40 vendors selling produce, fruit, bread, cheese, pastries, jams, meats, gluten-free baked goods, spices, chocolates, coffees and more. Two-thirds of visitors are from Northside, but lots of others from Finneytown to Northern Kentucky make it a regular stop.
     
    Bird has enhanced Produce Perks with a “Budget Recipe Menu Plan” in partnership with the Rainbow Choice Food Pantry operated by Churches Active in Northside (CAIN). They teach SNAP participants how to spend $40, enhanced by the $10 supplement from Produce Perks, and create five dinners for four people.

    With the support of a grant from Green Umbrella’s Cincy Good Food Fund this year, the market now provides a free shuttle service around the 45223 ZIP code to enhance access. The grant also makes possible cooking classes for kids and adults with a special emphasis on preparing seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables.
     
    Bird has established a partnership with the Apple Street Market Cooperative, working to bring back a grocery store to Northside sometime in 2017. Apple Street presently has a booth at the market to sell items not grown locally as well as packaged goods like canned beans and rice.


    “Green Umbrella does a really great job, even beyond Produce Perks,” Bird says. “The food action team brings together people and ideas. It gives us networking opportunities with other farmers markets and sources for local foods. They really are an ‘umbrella.’ Their name says it all — a connector for people to meet with the food action team, join forces, learn what’s going on.”
     
    That’s the point of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Collective Impact initiatives: concerted, focused, broadly supported efforts that make a difference in Greater Cincinnati.
     
    This is Part 3 of a Soapbox series of reports exploring how Collective Impact is changing and improving Greater Cincinnati, with future reports to come on Sept. 20 and Oct. 18. Support for this "Collective Impact" series is provided by The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
     


  • May 30, 2016 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Journal News 

    BUTLER COUNTY - MAJOR BIKE TRAILS IN SOUTHWEST OHIO


    Great Miami River Recreation Trail: This 75-mile trail has a few missing links between Hamilton and Middletown; and between Middletown and Franklin, but it stretches from Hamilton and into the Dayton area bike trails and further north to Piqua.

    Little Miami Scenic Trail: The longest trail in the U.S. at 76 miles stretching from Springfield to Newtown, Ohio. The trail will be extended to connect with the Ohio River Trail.

    Ohio River Trail: Under development with some sections completed in downtown Cincinnati. When completed it will be 23 miles long stretching from Coney Island to Sayler Park.

    Queen City-South Mill Creek Greenway Trail: Under development with the section between Winton Road to the Mill Creek Bridge completed. The trail will eventually connect the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Carthage to the Cincinnati Riverfont Park and the Ohio River Trail.

    A feasibility study done in 2002 by a group of Butler and Warren county communities is getting some new attention again.

    Tri-State Trails, a non-profit organization that focuses on developing multi-use trails throughout southwest Ohio, convened a meeting earlier this month to see where area communities were on trying to link the two main bike trails in the region.

    “This meeting was to better understand what the priorities are in the communities and develop action steps to look at these corridors of the 2002 plan,” said Wade Johnston, regional trails coordinator for Tri-State Trails. “We want to work with local communities to take the next step and maybe apply for funding.”

    In 2002, the Miami 2 Miami Connection was proposed as an 84-mile network of interconnecting bike trails made up of 10-feet wide trails; 5-feet wide bike lanes on roadways and signed shared roadways to connect the Great Miami River Recreation Bike Trail to the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The two trails already link into bike trail systems in Dayton and Cincinnati areas.

    John Heilman was part of the 2002 study. He said that the Miami 2 Miami connection and the missing links along the Great Miami River Recreation Bike Trail were the top projects that have yet to be completed. Heilman said the study recommended roads with bike lanes; separated paths; shared roads with signs; and future trails.

    He said that the study then was a guide to connect both trails via two routes, a north and a south route from the Little Miami trail in Warren County and across Butler County to the Great Miami River trail.

    The north route would have started at Mason-Morrow-Millgrove Road to Bethany Road in Warren County and continue east into Butler County through other trails and roads to reach the Great Miami River trail. The south route would have gone from the Kings Island area to Western Row and continue east on Tylersville Road. The trail would use the former Miami-Erie Canal right of way and other roads as it continued into Hamilton.

    “Off road trails are what’s needed to get families out there,” said Matt Latham of MetroParks. “It takes a certain amount of courage to ride in bike lanes

    Since 2002, a number of communities have been developing their own trails and are looking for ways to extend and interconnect them with other trails. A number of agencies such as MetroParks of Butler County and the Miami Conservancy District have also acquired land and right of way easements to develop other trails.

    Some communities have bike paths that already go east and west that create a number of rungs between the Great and Little Miami rivers. Liberty and West Chester Twps. have some segments and there are proposed segments between Mason and Franklin as well as Monroe to Lebanon.

    Matt Obringer, a Warren County planner, suggested that communities “stitch a number of the smaller trails that would connect to the larger trails” and develop destination points.

    Hamilton Councilman Rob Wile said there would be an advantage to finishing the original southern route.

    “There’s a lot of right of way already owned by MCD and MetroParks and that could easily connect to Joyce Park which has facilities,” he said. “Tri-State Trails has done a good job of bringing people together. I’m also glad to see there are 18 or so (bike path) projects on the 2040 plan.”

    The communities and Tri-State Trails are planning a follow-up meeting to continue the conversation and determine future action steps.

    “It’s a big vision and everyone agrees it needs connected,” Johnston said.


  • May 04, 2016 1:05 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Cincinnati.com

    Forty-six years ago, the first Earth Day was held to unite efforts around the world to create a healthier and more sustainable environment for everyone. While we can look back at the great strides that have been made since that day, it’s clear there is still much work left to do – and it’s work that requires something from each of us.

    At Green Umbrella, the region’s environmental sustainability alliance, we’re working daily to unite businesses, nonprofits, local governments, universities and individuals in a collective effort to make Greater Cincinnati one of the most sustainable U.S. metro areas by 2020. Our Action Teams tackle key topics – including water, land, outdoor recreation, food, waste, transportation and energy – to reach our region’s sustainability goals.

    This environmental work has the benefits of improving the health of our residents while creating thriving communities in which to live, work and play. Creating solutions like bike and pedestrian-friendly communities can help us be healthier, avoid chronic diseases like diabetes, and breathe cleaner air. Those same solutions also help us attract new businesses and employees who want to live here.

    We’re making progress. With over 300 partners to date, we are accomplishing more together, and faster. The Cincinnati region is top-rated for our parks and growth in bicycle commuting. We also now have Red Bike, Tri-State Trails and a master trail plan, Taking Root – our region’s tree planting campaign, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, MeetMeOutdoors.com, and a series of free and well-attended community events that get our region outdoors and into nature.

    There’s still work to do, and we need your help. We’re asking you to find one thing you can do locally this month from the list below. To get started or become a member, visit www.greenumbrella.org.

    1. Eat Local: Take the Local Food Pledge to shift 10 percent of your food budget to locally grown food.

    2. Get Outdoors: Find Tristate area events including the free Opening Day on the Trails Challenge.

    3. Go Solar: Get a free assessment and see if your home is solar ready.

    4. Select Native Plants: When you plant, choose native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses.

    5. Become a Transit-Friendly Destination: Apply for your workplace or business to become a certified Transit-Friendly Destination.

    6. Recycle: Help reduce landfilled paper and cardboard, which is 67 percent of the waste stream for an average office.

    7. Choose Active Transportation: Bike, walk or run, especially for errands within 2 miles.

    8. Know Your Watershed: Volunteer for citizen water quality monitoring and watershed cleanup events.

    9. Plant a Tree: Join our region’s effort to plant 2 million trees by 2020.

    10. Plan to Attend: Learn how we can build a more environmentally sustainable and economically vibrant region at the June 10 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit.

    One person, one day, one thing. Together we can make the Cincinnati region a healthy and sustainable place to live, work, play – and call home.

    Kristin Weiss is executive director of Green Umbrella.


  • April 30, 2016 4:47 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Batesville Herald Tribune  

    Now that the weather’s in that sweet spot between not too cold and not too hot, several activities are planned along sections of Franklin County’s Whitewater Canal Trail, reports member Terry Duffy.

    Saturday, April 23, area residents can celebrate Earth Day and the grand opening of the Billy Jean Jobe Trail at 10 a.m. Participants should meet at the bottom of 7th Street hill just west of Main Street in Brookville.

    He says, “It’s a short section of trail that runs along the old canal right of way along the Whitewater River at the south end of the Owens Corning facility and goes off into the woods.” WCT members “have this saying, ‘We don’t mind building short sections because we collect the dots and then we connect the dots.” Someday this 0.3-mile trail – “a nice little in-and-out walk for somebody at lunchtime” – will connect with the Whitewater Canal Trail, which is planned between Metamora and Brookville.

    The trail has a woman’s name because “Billy Jean and Dob Jobe have been major contributors to the community and big supporters of the canal trail. They’ve been our cheerleaders since Day One. There’s an overlook above that section of trail named after Don Jobe,” according to Duffy.

    “Come help us celebrate! Refreshments will be provided. Be the first to take a tour of the trail.”

    A free Whitewater Canal Trail Historic Walking Guided Tour is slated for Saturday, April 30, from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    The 1.5-mile hike on “pretty much level” ground will be led by WCT board Secretary Mike Morthorst, Cincinnati, who’s involved in lots of historic canal activities.

    Participants should meet at the trailhead parking area, which is located across from the Duck Creek Aqueduct on Pennington Road (Main Street) just east of the Metamora village.

    This event is part of the Tri-State Trails Challenge. For more information, persons may go to the Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance Web site at www.greenumbrella.org to register, sign up for weekly e-mails showcasing free group events on the trails, download a Trails Challenge Passport to log your activities and possibly win prizes. The Web site suggests, “Visit our National Trails Day Celebration June 4 to turn in your Trails Challenge Passport. Finishers get a Tri-State Trails Nalgene water bottle stuffed with trail goodies and will be entered into a raffle for bigger prizes.”

    Two separate events will converge on the same day, Saturday, May 14. For more competitive citizens, a Tow Path Dash 5K and 10K Fun Run and Walk begins at 8 a.m. at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, Metamora, says organizer Anne Fairchild. Registration is at the nearby gazebo starting at 6:30 a.m. The historic site is partnering with WCT on the event.

    Fairchild says, “All ages are invited.” The event is timed and there are awards. Jay Dishman, Whitewater Canal State Historic Site manager, observes, “Participants really enjoy coming out for this event each year. They like the ambiance of the old canal town and the scenic views of the Whitewater Valley.”

    The 10K course begins in the pre-Civil War village and snakes past the old grist mill, covered bridge-style aqueduct as well as the 19th century shops and homes. The main portion of the trail continues into the fields and woods of the Whitewater Valley alongside the original canal towpath. Following the 5K and 10K, tours of the working grist mill and a canal boat ride on the Ben Franklin III will be available.

    The fee is $25. If registration is received by April 25, a T-shirt is included. To register online (add $2.50), go to whitewatercanaltrail.com and click on the red Eventbrite Registration button. Fairchild can answer questions at 812-273-4531 or afairchild@indianamuseum.org.

    Those who would rather mosey along the trail may take part in the Whitewater Valley Walkers 10K May 14 between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Registration is at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site.

    According to Duffy, “It’s just a casual group of people walking up and down the trail. You can just show up and walk.”

    The Whitewater Canal Trail group always is scouting for volunteers to do “really light work, like picking up sticks and clutter on the trail. Sometimes we organize crews to take out a big tree that fell over,” Duffy says. Persons willing to help may call WCT President Shirley Lamb at 765-647-2583.



  • April 20, 2016 5:25 PM | Anonymous
    Source: City Beat

    This year marks the 46th-annual Earth Day celebration, which started in the United States in the spring of 1970. The holiday has since become an international movement aimed at building a healthy, sustainable environment, addressing climate change and protecting the Earth for future generations.
    Locally, the nonprofit Green Umbrella, the region’s environmental sustainability alliance, is working with businesses, universities, individuals and local governments — including the city of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment & Sustainability — to make Greater Cincinnati one of the most sustainable U.S. cities by 2020. Oliver Kroner, sustainability coordinator for the city, helps lead local government and the community toward the practice of good environmental stewardship. “Broadly speaking, my role is to identify and help implement measures that improve our environment, our economy and quality of life for Cincinnati residents,” Kroner says. Founded in 1993 as the Office of Environmental Management, the scope of Cincinnati’s environmental program has grown to include sustainability — hence the name change — and is now active in air quality, climate protection, energy management, environmental justice, urban agriculture, recycling and waste reduction. At the moment, I am focused on developing a ‘dashboard’ to track progress on the 60-plus sustainability initiatives established in the Green Cincinnati Plan,” Kroner says. “The plan lays out goals for everything from energy to food, transportation, water, land use, etc. The dashboard will help the city decide where to invest energy and resources.” Established in 2008 and reworked in 2013, the Green Cincinnati Plan, developed in partnership with Green Umbrella, is considered a roadmap of recommendations to make the city a leader in addressing global climate change, as well as a healthier place to live.  The five-year 2013 update called for revisions to renewable energy recommendations and a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below the 2006 levels by the year 2028, according to Kroner. “Cincinnati is now among only a few cities in the country that made a commitment to 100-percent renewable energy,” Kroner says. “We now have solar installed on 24 city facilities around town.”

    The city of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance have also teamed up to offer incentives to homeowners to help them move to solar power; based on the size of the solar system you install, you can earn up to $1,500. (Learn more about the rules for installation credits at greatercea.org.) The 2013 Green Cincinnati Plan also re-energized a focus on bicycle transportation, helping lead to the creation of Red Bike in 2014. “In the last year, of the top 100 cities, Cincinnati was ranked No. 3 in fastest bike-commuting growth, according to the League of American Bicyclists,” says Kristin Weiss, executive director of Green Umbrella, a Red Bike partner. “We’re really excited about this because bike commuting helps us reach our regional sustainability goals around reduced gasoline consumption and increased participation in activities that get people outdoors.” Another eco update both Green Umbrella and the city are touting is the net-zero District 3 Police station headquarters.  “Not only is the building beautiful, but it uses cutting-edge technologies like geothermal and solar to generate more energy than the station consumes,” Kroner says. And when asked what he’s currently most excited about, Kroner says, “poop!” We are getting ready to make some major advancements in how we handle the city’s sewer sludge,” he says. “The Metropolitan Sewer District has presented a forward-thinking plan to install a biodigester to use microbes to convert the region’s sewer sludge into energy and fertilizer. From a cost perspective, a sustainability perspective and a quality-of-life perspective, biodigestion would be a major step forward.”
  • April 20, 2016 2:18 PM | Anonymous

    Source: City Beat

    The theme of this year’s Green Issue — our annual and fully recyclable print edition dedicated to exploring local eco issues and advances — is “Small Steps, Big Change.” Every year around Earth Day, we take a second to evaluate our impact and ask a couple of questions like, “What’s my carbon footprint and how can I reduce it?” “Should I be biking more?” and “Why isn’t my compost working?”  We also take a second to notice the people in our community working to make Cincinnati a healthier and more sustainable place to live, like those highlighted in the following articles:
    • Starting Small: Cincinnati's first tiny living project aims to create affordable and sustainable urban housing
    • Pocked-Sized Power: Water-purifying packets distributed by a local nonprofit are helping rural Kenyans affected by HIV/AIDS
    • On-Point Natural Nails: OTR's Spruce nail salon offers eco-friendly services and modern manicures for conscious consumers
    • Sustainable Cincinnati: City moving forward with proposed greening goals
    • Go Green: Sustainable events in Cincinnati and beyond
    But if you’re ready to quit reading now and just want all this distilled down to a Top 10, you’re in luck, because Kristin Weiss, executive director of local sustainability alliance Green Umbrella, gave us the organization’s top things you can do right now to help make Greater Cincinnati one of the most sustainable cities in America by 2020.


    Green  Umbrella's Top 10 Tips 

    Eat Local: Take the Local Food Pledge to shift 10 percent of your food budget to locally grown food. According to Weiss, if just 10 percent of Greater Cincinnati pledges to shift 10 percent of their food budget to locally produced food, it will generate more than $52 million for the local economy. “For the average family, taking the pledge means shifting $12 a week to local food,” she says. “Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables sustains local farmers, tastes better and is more nutrient-dense and requires less energy to get to you.” Get Outdoors: Green Umbrella partner meetmeoutdoors.com helps connect users with outdoor events and activities. You can also check out our green listings on page 20. Go Solar: Get a free assessment and see if your home is solar-ready. Select Native Plants: When you plant, choose native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses. Become a Transit-Friendly Destination: Apply for your workplace or business to become a certified Transit-Friendly Destination.  Recycle: Help reduce landfilled paper and cardboard, which is 67 percent of the waste stream for an average office.  Choose Active Transportation: Bike, walk or run, especially for errands within two miles. Know Your Watershed: Volunteer for citizen water-quality monitoring and watershed cleanup events. Plant a Tree: Join the region’s effort to plant 2 million trees by 2020.  Plan to Attend: Learn how to build a more environmentally sustainable and economically vibrant region at the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit on June 10. (Learn more about the summit at greenumbrella.org.)
  • April 19, 2016 2:28 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Soapbox Media

    Green Umbrella’s 
    Local Food Action Team, the Central Ohio River Valley Local Food Guide and the Northside Farmers Market have teamed up to inspire individuals to eat local, an idea the community will both promote and celebrate at “Eat, Shift, Party LOCAL” April 20.
     
    Green Umbrella will launch a campaign at the free event encouraging individuals to pledge a 10 percent shift in their food budgets.
     
    “If 10 percent of our Greater Cincinnati population pledges to shift just 10 percent of their food budget to locally produced food, it will infuse over $52 million into our local economy,” Green Umbrella Executive Director Kristin Weiss says.
     
    In addition to building the local economy, eating local promotes good health, tastes better, allows local families to feel and be supported and preserves open green space, according to Green Umbrella’s Top 5 Reasons to Eat Local. It’s also affordable and more doable than you might think.
     
    “For the average family, taking the shift means spending only $12 a week on local food,” says Marian Dickinson, local food advocate with Green Umbrella.
     
    The Central Ohio River Valley Local Food Guide will release its 2016 publication of local food directories at the event, educating eaters and growers on how to promote a more vibrant local food economy, and festivities will take place within the setting of the Northside Famers Market at North Presbyterian Church, so individuals know of at least one place to return to for local products after pledging their 10 percent shifts.
     
    In 2016, specifically, the Farmers Market — a year-round effort — is promoting its Get Local Food Challenge, which features a different local item each month. Cooking classes for both children and adults are also offered throughout the year to encourage patrons to buy local but to also feel empowered when preparing food.
     
    All parties involved are working collectively to direct people’s attention toward locally sourced products, and Green Umbrella is making it easy to follow-through after pledging by distributing a monthly newsletter with tips, recipes and updates on the local scene.
     
    “It’s a decision you can feel good about,” Dickinson says. 

    Do Good: 

    • Plan to attend Eat, Shift, Party, LOCAL at 5-7 p.m. April 20 at North Presbyterian Church

    • Make the pledge.

    • Check out other available resources for eating local

  • April 16, 2016 4:49 PM | Anonymous

    Source: WLTW

    Check out the link below to see a video of GU hosting the trail challenge. 


  • April 15, 2016 4:53 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Urban Cincy  

    Tri-State Trails is aiming to encourage the public to get outdoors with the Opening Day on the Trails Challenge – a seven week series of hikes, group bike rides, and other events on trails and in parks throughout the Cincinnati region.

    The challenge starts with an event at Sawyer Point from 12pm to 5pm on Saturday, April 16, which is also Earth Day.

    The Opening Day on the Trails Challenge is part of a national kickoff by the Rails-to-Trail Conservancy to promote the spring outdoor season. Running from mid-April to early June, the challenge overlaps with National Bike Month in May.

    Information on the challenge can be found online at MeetMeOutdoors.com. Participants can register on the website, and sign up to receive email newsletters and social media alerts. A Trails Challenge Passport is also available for download. To participate, individuals and families attend group events, which are listed on a schedule included with the passport. Attendance at activities is logged on the passport, and those who attend at least one event are eligible to win a prize.

    Organizers say that the challenge will conclude with an award ceremony on National Trails Day on June 4 at the Purple People Bridge. Participants who complete the challenge will receive a Nalgene water bottle and other items. A raffle will also be held to award prizes, donated by local businesses and Cincy Red Bike, to registered participants.

    Tri-State Trails, a program of Green Umbrella, is the local host of the challenge, and is hoping it will encourage more people to get out and explore the region’s network of bike paths and trails.

    Wade Johnston, Regional Trails Coordinator for Tri-State Trails, sees the event as an opportunity to showcase not only the many multimodal trails in the Cincinnati region, but also the hiking and mountain biking trails. Tri-State Trails has been told by the Rails to Trails Conservancy that the Challenge in the Cincinnati region is the largest and longest program of any opening day trail event in the United States.

    Johnston told UrbanCincy that public support and usage of the region’s trail system is increasing, citing the Cincinnati Connects plan, and efforts to expand the Mill Creek GreenwayOhio River Trail, and Wasson Way.

    The Opening Day on the Trails event is supported by a $25,000 grant from Interact for Health. While this is the first year for this event in Cincinnati, it is intended to be an annual event in the future.

    Green Umbrella’s Outdoor Event Series will continue through the summer with the Kids Outdoor Adventure Expo on July 22 at Winton Woods Harbor, and the Great Outdoor Weekend on September 24 and 25 at a variety of locations around the Cincinnati area.

  • April 15, 2016 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    Source: WHIO  

    It’s the unofficial “Opening Day” Saturday for bike trails across the country.

    Locally, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is hosting events across the Miami Valley to celebrate the kick-off of biking and walking trails for the spring and summer season.

    Different opening day events will be held in Yellow Springs, Xenia, Dayton, Springfield and Cincinnati.

    And this weekend will be the perfect weather for getting outside, said StormCenter 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. High temperatures will reach the low 70s on Saturday, and it will remain dry this weekend.

    Get your up-to-date weather forecast by downloading the free StormCenter 7 weather app.

    Opening day bike trail events:

    • 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Dayton Performance Bicycles, 4466 Indian Ripple Road, Dayton. Join for a neighborhood ride for all skill levels. The group will start and finish as a unit. Brunch-style snacks and refreshments after the ride, as well as a bicycle maintenance clinic and bicycle bingo.
    • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Yellow Springs Station, 101 Dayton St., and John Bryan Community Center, 100 Dayton St. There will be trail rides, bike fix and safety check stations and a kids bike challenge
    • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Un Mundo Cafe/Heritage Center Trailhead, 117 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield. Join Bike Springfield in welcoming trail users. Maps and local trail information available. 
    • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Xenia Station Trail Hub, 150 S. Miami Ave. Join the Friends of Xenia Station for Opening Day activities. We will have maps and trail information available for the five trails that converge at Xenia Station.
    • Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Sawyer Point Park, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati. The region’s first Opening Day on the Trails Challenge will kick-off at the annual Earth Day celebration at Sawyer Point.


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