Green Umbrella in the News

  • May 23, 2023 3:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Spectrum News 1

    Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit attendees work to address climate change in Cincinnati, beyond

    CINCINNATI — Green Umbrella has spent the past 25 years working to draw attention to the greater Cincinnati region’s need to embrace and prepare for climate change.

    Over the past quarter-century, the nonprofit has brought together elected leaders, subject experts and the Average Joe to discuss the region’s most challenging environmental problems. One of their primary vehicles for those conversations over the past decade has been the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit.

    On Friday, Green Umbrella convened its 10th summit at a new, bigger location at Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati.

    What You Need To Know

    • A group of 600 people gathered in downtown Cincinnati last week for the 10th Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit
    • The group spent the day attending workshops, taking part in panel discussions focused on addressing climate change
    • Duke Energy Convention Center hosted the summit this year to accommodate the record number of attendees

    A key component of the event is networking

    A group of 600 attendees spent the day in more than 20 breakout sessions, panel discussions and workshops. Some topics discussed included government policy, transportation, food systems, climate justice, eco-friendly infrastructure and the green economy.

    The third floor of the convention center served as an important gathering spot before, during and after panel discussions. (Spectrum News 1/Casey Weldon)

    The third floor of the convention center served as an important gathering spot before, during and after panel discussions. (Spectrum News 1/Casey Weldon)

    The third-floor space also featured an art show with interactive exhibits, a virtual reality space, and a healing and wellness area, according to Charlie Gonzalez, member relations and events manager for Green Umbrella.

    The summit moved downtown this year because it offered a better Cincinnati experience for out-of-town guests, Gonzalez said. He also said there were people visiting from Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and “everywhere else in Ohio and Kentucky.”

    But the move also had a practical component, Gonzalez said. This year’s registration was 50% greater than the previous record year, and they also saw increases in exhibitors and advertisers.

    That growth is emblematic of the commitment the region has made to sustainability efforts, he said.

    “We want people to think about possibilities of what’s possible if we get this right,” Gonzalez added. “This is a passion movement here in Cincinnati and we want to help empower people to find their place and creating a better world.”

    The theme of this year’s summit is “imagine what’s possible.” It was a powerful touchpoint in the keynote speech delivered by Katharine Wilkinson, executive director of The All We Can Save Project and a bestselling author.

    “The mind-boggling part of climate decision-making, and climate action is that it is happening everywhere all the time so we need leadership on this topic from everywhere,” said Wilkinson, named one of 15 “women who will save the world,” by Time magazine.

    “From different departments within a city government to different corporations operating in a city to community groups and neighborhoods — there’s such a need for climate leadership and all those spaces. But it’s unusual for those different corners to be in a shared space and have a chance for dialogue and to work together,” she added. “Spaces like this, where we can have some genuine dialogue, are really important.”

    Andy Holzhauser, a Green Umbrella board member, recalled attending the first Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit more than a decade ago.

    “It was a small group of passionate people,” said Holzhauser, a partner and the CFO of Cincinnati-based Donovan Energy. “You need to have that passion, but if it stays small, you’re never going to have the teach needed to make a difference.”

    Over the years, the event has grown into an attraction that draws CEOs of companies, government lobbyists, climate scientists, elected officials, and community leaders. He mentioned commitments from companies like Procter and Gamble and Fifth Third Bank. But they haven’t forgotten about “Jim from down the street,” he said.

    The event brought together field experts, politicians and residents to work on efforts to prepare the community for climate change. (Spectrum News 1/Casey Weldon)

    The event brought together field experts, politicians and residents to work on efforts to prepare the community for climate change. (Spectrum News 1/Casey Weldon)

    Having everyone at the table is critical, Holzhauser said, because they need every voice to speak up and weigh in to get anything done.

    “There’s a lot of work to be done. To do that, the rooms must be bigger, and we have to engage more people,” he added.

    Sherry Nicholas, a Cincinnati resident, made the trip downtown to learn about electric vehicle charging. Her condominium complex wants to install one, and she wanted to talk to people like Holzhauser to go through the options.

    While most interested in the panel on electrification, she found discussions on food sharing and sustainability through the community.

    “It was so interesting,” she said. “Glad to have stuck around for the other panels.”

    Nicholas voiced excitement over the number of government leaders, corporate partners, nonprofits and subject experts in attendance. She especially appreciated the scheduled networking time before and after the event.

    “We’re moving in the right direction,” Nicholas said of the Queen City. “I believe the grassroots movement locally is pushing corporations toward sustainability efforts as opposed to the other direction. I’m happy the big wigs are here to listen, and truly, sincerely, have a conversation.”

    One of the elected officials in the room was Cincinnati Council member Meeka Owens, chair of the Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee. She called the summit an “important part” of the city’s climate action planning because it connects experts and advocates with the needed people and resources.

    One exhibitor in the room was Blue Ocean Solids, a sustainability-focused water treatment company based in Loveland, Ohio.

    Kathleen Collier, the company’s director of sales and marketing, called the Sustainability Summit a key opportunity for Blue Ocean to expand its network. She described the water treatment market as a “this is how it’s always been done” situation. The summit gave her team a chance to “meet people that are looking to do the same things we are,” she said.

    “It’s just a wonderful community,” Collier added of those in attendance Friday.

    This summit is a gathering of the region’s sustainability community and “thought leaders,” said Oliver Kroner, director of the city of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability. He described it as an opportunity to connect and hear about emerging work in climate change preparation.

    He called it “energizing” to see how the different local efforts weave together and support each other.

    Members of Kroner’s team were at the Duke Energy Convention Center to “share and learn,” he said. Along with elected leaders, Kroner took part in a panel on the recently approved five-year update to the Green Cincinnati Plan, the city’s climate action plan. They also discussed the many city-led and community projects underway to make it a reality.

    Examples include the largest city-led solar array in the country and Cincinnati’s 2030 District, a commitment by businesses, developers and the city to cut carbon use by the year 2030.

    Other members of his panel included Owens, Council member Liz Keating and Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus.

    “Cincinnati continues to receive national and international attention for urban climate work. Of course, sustainability is not a competition; it’s work that requires collaboration and innovation,” Kroner said. “The summit is an opportunity to showcase all of this good work and inspire more.”

    “Our goal was for everyone in attendance to walk away with a sense of hope and understanding of how they individually fit into the collective climate effort,” he added.

  • May 23, 2023 3:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    West side school uses nature as a teacher in a unique way

    CINCINNATI — Over the last four years, students at nearly 20 Cincinnati Public Schools have been able to experience nature in a way they may not always get to in the city.

    Recently, Rees E. Price Academy planted trees to add to the canopy at the school in East Price Hill and soon they will have an all-new outdoor garden, a space where they will learn how to grow their own food and more.

    It is fitting for the school where "kindness is the culture," and Principal Tiffani Maher said, "bringing in a garden, the culture of our teachers, cultivating that in our kids we can't go wrong."

    This is part of a partnership with the Green Umbrella CPS Outside Impact Team.

    Cynthia Walters is the Green Schoolyards coordinator.

    "The main goal is to get more students outside and to create school teams, meaningful professional development, integrated curriculum, and really connect kids with nature. Not only that, but also create a pathway to add education, workforce skills development, and just really instilling for every CPS student, the benefits of tree canopies and benefits of growing food and good air quality for neighborhoods. Schools have a big, big role in doing that."

    Principal Maher said the data shows that these programs do help children.

    "We are in an urban oasis if you will and every last one of our kids here has experienced some sort of complex trauma. Being outside in the garden helps them to, to relax and to be calm and to help them get their hands dirty. Getting them outside breathing the fresh air, and then learning how to grow their own food and to cultivate things that are going to bring beauty and joy to them. It was I'm just glad that they chose us to be a part of this, this wonderful movement, planting trees for the tree canopies…it's a wonderful thing."

    Maher said it also builds community.

    it helps to build community, when you have teachers as amazing as ours are, they help the children realize like if you plant a tree in your community, you can come back in 1015 years later, and say, I planted that tree and sit in second grade. And that was one of the things that we did here, they're going to be able to come back to their school with their children, with their grandchildren. And say, we planted that tree right here when I was eight years old.

    Maher added, "to be able to say I helped, and I contributed to the backyard garden or the front yard garden or my community garden. Those are life changing little nuggets that we're planting in kids so that they will be able to move forward and do great things."

    Walter said this is just the beginning of further site improvements, school yards into parks, more visual pathways for a greener future. She wants to see it spread further.

    "It needs to be a district wide effort, we have to put things in place that really sustain it, support teachers. It has to be an equitable distribution of resources. I also want to see the city involved. I really want this to be in an amazing partnership, especially with the new green Cincinnati plan. There is such potential, and we're beginning that right now and that's going to really set a precedence for the years to come and really inspire our next generation because they really need to be in control of what happens next."

  • May 09, 2023 2:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    Growing Green: How Building up the Urban Canopy Can Help Cincinnati Create a Sustainable, Cooler Future

    CINCINNATI — Crystal Courtney has a vision for Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods. As the division manager of natural resources for Cincinnati Parks, she wants to see a future with more trees, better air quality and less flooding.

    "More voices saying the same thing affects change more quickly," she said. "It just feels like the whole world is becoming more environmentally conscious."

    For the last few years, Courtney said the city conducted study after study, and talked with hundreds of residents about what they wanted to see come out of a climate action plan. What they found, is that it all starts with trees.

    "To see exactly where canopy is needed to support the communities that need it most, the communities that may not have the resources to mobilize some of the benefits that come from tree planting," Courtney said. "It's a plan that is guiding the future of the next 10 years of how we actually build out our communities to make them more resilient long term."

    The city's already seen a boost in tree cover, up from 38% in 2010 to 43% in 2020.

    "All the neighborhoods that were below the canopy goals are all increasing as well," Courtney said. "So we see good trends happening."

    But according to Courtney more needs to be done.

    Residents from various neighborhoods across the city met in groups to create climate safe neighborhood plans. The goal, according Green Umbrella Climate Action Director Savannah Sullivan, is "to understand what their experience with environmental impacts, climate impacts are, and what solutions they want to see in their neighborhood."

    Green Umbrella brought in people from the Beekman Corridor (Millvale, South Cumminsville, North Fairmount, South Fairmount, and English Woods), Bond Hill, Roselawn Avondale, Paddock Hills, Carthage, Over-the-Rhine, West End and Camp Washington.

    "We've engaged 11 neighborhoods so far. And what we've heard from residents is that they're really experiencing flooding, not just on their property, but in their basements. So, sewer overflows are a huge concern. They're also experiencing extreme heat, and associated air quality issues," Sullivan said.

    There are a lot of partners working to get the green plan moving. Groundwork's Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson said, "Not only do we talk about climate change, but we do talk about historic segregation and racism as well. And what that looks like within our community, why their community looks the way it does, because of those policies. Our community engagement process focuses on these neighborhoods first because they are not only the most underserved, but they are most urgently in need of the types of resources that we can use to improve heat conditions, reduce flooding, and so on."

    Those concerns are big, over-arching ones. Anthony Smith, who was in the Beekman Corridor group, said "I got involved, because I wanted to make a change in the community and in the world itself. "

    Smith said his main goals for his neighborhood is "to see more trees. I want to see more community gardens so people can get fresh fruits and vegetables. It's coming together. But it's coming slowly. The more people we get into it, the faster it may come to existence."

    Bond Hill's Margaux Roberts was part of the climate advisory group and said her biggest takeaway is that her neighborhood was one of the hottest in the 52. On any given day Bond Hill and Roselawn can be 12 degrees hotter than other neighborhoods with more tree canopy.

    Heat is just one part of the problem.

    "We have a major problem with stormwater. We deal with flooding and that's been a key component of some of the frustration with the residents is we need help with this, Roberts said. "So, people need to understand that trees help with that. And it's a natural way to be able to, to help with that stormwater to help with just being able to give back to the community."

    "It's really nice to be able to say that I've done something that can impact my community," Roberts said, but she also wants to impact her 15-month-old son, "so this work is really critical to me thinking about what will be helpful to him."

    You can find more about the entire 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan here.

  • May 08, 2023 2:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    ‘Healing the Land’: Tri-State Organization Plans to Create 100 Orchards in the Region

    MOUNT HEALTHY, Ohio — For hundreds if not thousands of years, communal spaces to grow food meant camaraderie, comfort and sustainability. Now, an organization here in Greater Cincinnati wants to bring that back.

    The Common Orchard Project, part of Green Umbrella, has 30 orchards in our area with plans to build ten a year until they reach 100.

    "We're trying to put it into production for community. So, like a lot of people can eat from a fruit tree, you don't need many fruits yourself from one tree. So why don't we plant some fruit trees and get a bunch of people together to enjoy that?" said Chris Smyth, the director of the project.

    "Really, we're trying to reactivate unused or vacant spaces. Maybe a lawn next to a church or a field next to a community garden."

    Smyth said that in five to seven years, they should be producing around 1,000 pounds of food.

    "I would say it's a really high return. But it takes patience. And if we're investing in our places, like we're all going to be here in five years, like let's invest in it, plant fruit trees, and keep showing up each year."

    One orchard is growing in Mount Healthy's Tikkun Farm. They already planted fruit trees, but the project came and added more. Staff at the farm are learning how to better care for the trees.

    "So it's good to bring the networks together and connect people in the environmental community to share knowledge," said Isabelle Booker. She is the urban farming instructor for the job training program at Tikkun Farm. She is also now the orchard steward.

    Booker said, "This year, I really hoped to focus on bringing the fruit to a free market, where we have shoppers come three times a week, and then being able to have access to produce that was locally grown here on site.

    Smyth said that is another part of the process.

    "We're also trying to help people who've had the good intention to start fruit trees to kind of come alongside guide and mentor them and to how to better care for these trees."

    At Tikkun Farm the orchard, and the fruit borne from it in the coming years just means they can give back even more to neighbors.

    "Creation care is what we consider all of this, which means healing the land," said Booker. "So being able to educate people and get them involved in the service projects that we do around here weekly, is how we keep this sustainable."

  • April 03, 2023 2:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Spectrum News 1

    Green Cincinnati Plan: City unveils playbook for creating more climate resilient, equitable city

    CINCINNATI — After more than a year of planning, more than three dozen of community meetings and thousands of comments from residents, the city of Cincinnati has unveiled its framework for preparing for climate change over the next five years.

    On Monday, elected officials, environmental agencies and city staff debuted the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan (GCP) update at the Civic Garden Center on Reading Road. Considered the city’s playbook for climate action, the 172-page document includes 30 goals, 40 strategies, and 130 actions aimed at making Cincinnati more sustainable and resilient.

    The last update in 2018 created a path for meeting the city’s previous goals for carbon reduction, she said. That included creating a 100-megawatt array in Highland County, Ohio, to power city-owned buildings.

    The city of Cincinnati placed an emphasis on equity in its five-year update to the Green Cincinnati Plan. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    The city of Cincinnati placed an emphasis on equity in its five-year update to the Green Cincinnati Plan. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    But recent science shows more needs to be prepare the city to deal with them, said Council member Meeka Owens, chair of the Climate, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee.

    The 2023 GCP plan reasserts the city’s desire to cut local carbon emissions in half by 2030. But for the first time, the city is committing to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

    The City Planning Commission approved the draft plan in mid-March 17. It’ll go before Owens’ committee on April 11. The goal is to have a full vote on City Council to approve it the next day.

    “The continuing growing threats of climate change will require all of us to do something differently and demand more from ourselves,” the first-term City Council member said.

    Creating a more equitable and resilient city

    Climate change is a clear and present danger to all residents, Owens said. But she stressed it won’t affect everyone in the same way. She noted the quality-of-life of those who are Black, brown or live in low-income neighborhoods face greater risk of health issues, or financial hardships related to climate change.

    New this year, City Council asked the administration to place an emphasis on climate equity and environmental justice. The team targeted feedback from residents of those “frontline communities” to improve long-term health outcomes and create more resilient neighborhoods overall, Owens said.

    Priority actions outlined in the plan include increasing funding for neighborhood gardens and urban agriculture, ensuring all rental housing has at least one room with adequate air conditioning and addressing brownfield properties.

    Brownfields are abandoned or under-used properties, such as industrial and commercial facilities, where redevelopment or expansion may be complicated by possible environmental contamination.

    City leaders stressed Monday that climate change tends to impact Black, brown and low-income neighborhoods more than others. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    City leaders stressed Monday that climate change tends to impact Black, brown and low-income neighborhoods more than others. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    The recommendations are broken into eight focus areas: Buildings and Energy, City Operations, Community Activation, Food, Mobility, Natural Environment, Resilience and Climate Adaptation, and Zero Waste.

    The document has strategies for things such as adapting to clean energy and improving pedestrian and bike safety. Ollie Kroner, who leads the city’s office of Environment and Sustainability (OES), voiced a desire to take better advantage of the region’s recent public transit levy to make it easier to live in Cincinnati without a car.

    Kroner voiced excitement about available federal dollars for those efforts from 2021’s $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It committed billions of dollars toward clean transportation and other infrastructure projects around the country.

    “Bringing in some of that federal money will allow us to invest in neighborhoods by making improvements to homes and businesses here,” he said.

    It’s not just federal dollars either, Kroner said. City Council provided $4 million for environmental projects in the last year’s budget. That money is going toward infrastructure and renewable energy needs, but also what he called “frontline” or priority communities experiencing high levels of energy poverty or neighborhoods that don’t have enough tree canopy.

    Cincinnati’s “urban heat island” areas — those with a lot of impermeable surfaces like parking lots and large buildings — can get up to 12 degrees warmer than those with more tree canopies and green spaces.

    “The structure for deploying those funds is still coming together, but we have more momentum here than we’ve ever had. We really want to make the most of it,” Kroner said.

    While most of the talk was about safeguarding against the negative effects of climate change, Peter Blackshaw, CEO of Cintrifuse, referred to the Green Cincinnati Plan to showcase the city as a hub of environmental innovations.

    Green and climate technology is a $2.7 trillion business, said Blackshaw, executive director of Cintrifuse. He mentioned several green startups that call the region home — Donovan Energy, Electrada, GoSun, Blue Ocean Solids and 80 Acres Farms. He views the plan as having the power to attract more talent and eco-friendly businesses to Cincinnati.

    The Green Cincinnati Plan has the potential to transform the city into a “green lab of the future,” Blackshaw said. He views it as a job creation tool as well.

    “This is the signal we want to send to (businesses) as they figure out where to invest the federal dollars to unlock the innovation, we need for jobs inclusivity and more,” he added.

    Giving voice to the people of the city

    Kroner described the plan is the community’s long-term vision for how Cincinnati can achieve sustainability, equity and resilience.

    His team used feedback from nearly 3,800 residents. They collected it during a “robust” outreach campaign that included 42 community meetings over the past nine months. They also allowed the public to comment online.

    Joining the collection of elected leaders and project partners on Monday was a group of residents. One of them was Larry Falkin, who led OES for nearly 13 years until 2020.

    Falkin worked with then-Mayor Mark Mallory in 2007 to bring a resolution through City Council asking the administration to create the city’s first Cincinnati climate plan. They did a public engagement process throughout the year, leading to the adoption of the first Green Cincinnati Plan in 2008.

    Since then, the plan has received an update every five years to reflect changes in climate science and technology, as well as the changing needs of the community. The timeline, he said, provides enough data to set ambitious goals.

    Residents attended more than 40 community meetings and provided thousands of recommendations. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    Residents attended more than 40 community meetings and provided thousands of recommendations. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    “What we’ve seen is that each time we do a five-year plan, by the time you’re two or three years into it, half of the things you set out to do are done and another small slice of the things may have turned out to be impractical,” Falkin added.

    Falkin feels one reason people are more engaged this year is people are realizing climate change isn’t “just in California, where it’s burning and, on the coasts, where the hurricanes are,” he said.

    As of last April, Cincinnati had experienced nine 100-year rainstorm events in the past decade, according to data from OES. The city had spent more than $150 million to address basement flooding and hill-slide issues related to excessive rainfall in recent years.

    “It’s gotten to where that connection has become very visceral, and communities, and it’s inspiring people to want to become more involved,” Falkin said.

    The city set a “pretty high bar” in 2018 in terms of public engagement with 30 public meetings and in terms of the ambitiousness of the plan, Falkin said. He was “blown away” by how the group took this update to the next level this time around.

    “I didn’t know there was another level, but they reached it,” Falkin said with a laugh.

    Owens and Mayor Aftab Pureval praised the community outreach used to get feedback from residents. Much of that was led by Groundwork Ohio River Valley, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit focused on environmental justice.

    The organization worked with Green Umbrella, an environmentally minded nonprofit, to support the broadest community engagement effort in the history of the Green Cincinnati Plan.

    The kickoff meeting took place on June 1 at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Since then, events took place in areas around the city. Staff also visited frontline neighborhoods to ensure their viewpoints made their way into the final document.

    Thousands residents contributed feedback to the draft version of the plan. The city plans to continue working with residents over the next five years to ensure the recommendations are being executed. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    Thousands of residents contributed feedback to the draft version of the plan. The city plans to continue working with residents over the next five years to ensure the recommendations are being executed. (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)

    Residents submitted more that 600 comments on a working version of the draft posted online between January and February. They got only 18 responses during that same period for the 2018 update.

    “It’s been a long year,” said Tanner Yess, Groundwork’s co-executive director.

    “A lot of comments, a lot of data, a lot of opinions, a lot of feelings, a lot of advocacy work, and really a lot of emotion,” he added, “but now the work begins.”

    Groundwork Ohio River Valley is leading the way on Climate Safe Neighborhoods partnership with the city and Green Umbrella. Through that, they’ll work to receive feedback from residents to learn about specific needs there.

    “We have the data and know the hard science, but it needs to be paired with the lived experiences of residents,” he said. “They’re the ones experiencing the effects of climate change in their communities every day and have great insights into what can be done to address those things.”

    Ashlee Young, chair of the Equity Committee, praised the work of the Green Cincinnati Plan for its work to assemble the update. But she emphasized a lot can happen over the course of five years.

    She told residents to continue to talk to leaders at City Hall about what they’re seeing or not seeing in their community. She reminded city leaders of the importance of continuing to be purposeful about their engagement and to “invest in the people and communities most impacted by environmental injustices.”

    If not? “Hold them accountable,” she added.

    To help with transparency, the city partnered with a Swedish company called ClimateView. The company created a dashboard platform specifically for climate action reporting, to help with accountability efforts, Kroner said.

    The dashboard will feature real-time data about local carbon emissions, strategies being used, and GCP milestones.

    Cincinnati is the first major city in the United States to use it, Kroner said.

    “I will tell you that members of the Green Cincinnati team have poured themselves into this work,” he said. “We experience tremendous pressure to get this right — to meet this moment of urgency and opportunity. But together, I believe we can achieve these goals.”

  • January 14, 2023 2:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: The Enquirer 

    Marching for Justice on Mlk Day Displays Compassion Through Action

    On Monday, we will commemorate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our country’s most revered civil rights icon. Our community will do so with a series of inspiring events that call upon all of us to work for a "beloved community."

    Among the events on MLK Day will be a march that fittingly begins at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center at 10:30 a.m. Amid the hundreds of marchers that day will be persons of faith, of many faiths, whose respective religious teachings instruct them to pursue compassion and justice for everyone, believers and non-believers alike. More than 14 world religions, both eastern and western in origin, encompassing three dozen distinct traditions that worship here in our community share this moral mandate. They are brothers and sisters for a compassionate and just Cincinnati. On Monday, we will march in solidarity.

    The nonprofit EquaSion through its several interfaith programs has brought them together. Its annual Festival of Faiths has fostered greater awareness, understanding and respect among our diverse faiths. Its "A Mighty Stream" racial justice program has given them an avenue for sacred activism. And, its Faith Communities Go Green initiative, a collaboration with Green Umbrella, engages our diverse faiths in common cause of caring for creation. Together, these and other activities serve EquaSion’s motto of "compassion through action."

    Marcus Parrish, with Sinai Temple No. 59, from East Walnut Hills, center, listens to a prayer at the end of the 47th Annual Commemorative March to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day, Jan. 17, 2022. The march started at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and concluded at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine.

    One such action is marching for justice on MLK Day. Why do we march? What’s the point of this seemingly mild gesture of good will in the face of our highly polarized and politicized environment that discourages our aspirations and mutes our hopes for ever achieving a beloved community in Cincinnati? What can we marchers accomplish?

    In truth, it’s a lot. By getting out of our comfortable homes and joining others at the Freedom Center on a winter’s morning, we achieve some important purposes. Here are some that I have experienced:

    I have been inspired by the warm camaraderie from walking with others who share my social values and hopes, comforted in knowing that I’m not alone.

    I have felt a measure of religious integrity for acting on what my good book tells me to do.

    I have felt that I am making a modest contribution to a righteous cause by my taking of a public stand for justice (in stark contrast to the postings of anti-social tropes on social media).

    Despite the freezing temperatures hundreds participated in the 47th Annual Commemorative March to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day, Jan. 17, 2022. The march started at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and concluded at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine.

    This simple gesture of participating in the MLK Day march has motivated me to do more for the cause of social justice. History tells us that marching leads to stronger actions. Moreover, as part of a large assemblage of justice-seekers, I have felt, as other marchers for justice and freedom have before me, some political power in this exercise of protesting the unjust inequities that persist in our society. The forces of division and hate must be reminded that we exist, we persons of faith, and that we represent the predominant values of our community.

    These and other benefits of marching on MLK Day await all those who want to be counted, who want to live out their faith, by showing up at the Freedom Center on Monday at 10:30 a.m. We look forward to seeing you there.

    Chip Harrod is the executive director of EquaSion, a nonpartisan, civic nonprofit informed by interfaith dialogue that promotes inclusion, equity, and justice for everyone in Greater Cincinnati. For more information:

  • January 13, 2023 2:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Highland County Press

    10th Annual Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit Announces Keynote Speaker; Is Accepting Submissions, Nominations

    Green Umbrella’s 10th annual conference for environmental advocates, the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit, will take place May 12 at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati and feature keynote speaker Dr. Katharine Wilkinson.

    The Midwest Regional Sustainability brings together hundreds of visionary leaders to share inspiring, forward-thinking and solution-oriented ideas that propel us toward a healthier, more resilient, sustainable and equitable future.

    Green Umbrella is accepting submissions from those interested in presenting short talks, leading workshops, participating in panel discussions or displaying art at the Summit.

    This year’s Summit theme of “Imagine What’s Possible” invites us to explore possibilities that empower and motivate us to build a more vibrant and equitable region. Submissions may explore this theme through a variety of climate-related topics, including but not limited to: healthy & resilient communities, local food systems, justice & equity, green workforce development, high-performing infrastructure and clean transportation.

    Nominations for the 2023 Summit awards are open now. Organizations, individuals, businesses and communities that make strides in the areas of impact, innovation and leadership can be nominated for recognition of their accomplishments at the Summit. Summit submissions and nominations will be accepted through Jan. 31.

    This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, is a bestselling author, strategist and teacher. She leads the All We Can Save Project and co-hosts the podcast A Matter of Degrees. Her TED Talk on climate and gender equality has over 2 million views and she has been featured by Time magazine as one of the 15 women leading the fight against climate change.

    Learn more about the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit by contacting Charlie Gonzalez at

    Green Umbrella is Greater Cincinnati’s green alliance. It brings together businesses, governments, and organizations to make our region a green, healthy and beautiful place for people who live here now and for generations to come.

  • January 10, 2023 2:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Cincinnati

    Group Touting Locally Grown Food Selected for Nationwide Project

    The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council has been selected to participate in an 18-month nationwide project that will explore how regional food systems work and how to improve. Fifty councils from around the country applied but only 11 were invited.

    The Food Policy Council is a collective impact organization, where many come together in a structured way to achieve change. The group works to get quality, locally grown food to people who can benefit from their services.

    The Council grew out of an alliance with Green Umbrella, the tri-state’s green sustainability organization. They currently examine ways to efficiently deliver locally grown food from a 10-county area of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana to clients in the area, and also how to benefit the growers. The main beneficiaries of the food network are institutions like schools and hospitals, as well as area chefs, farmers markets, and SNAP recipients.

    “A more competitive, fair, and resilient food system requires investment in regional supply chains, and food policy councils can play a critical role building bridges between rural communities and consumer markets,” says Tricia Kovacs, deputy administrator of the transportation and marketing program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Marketing Service.

    The council is working on a number of projects. They work with area schools to provide fresh food connections and instruction for their students. They also offer guidance about nutrition and food preparation guidance for parents and clients.

    “When we think about food systems, it makes sense for us to work regionally, as our food distribution networks cross state and city boundaries to bring food through the value chain,” says Maddie Chera, director of Cincinnati’s Food Policy Council (FPC). “We are excited that the timing of this community of practice coincides with the implementation of our new strategic plan, role changes in our Food Policy Council, and growth in our parent organization, Green Umbrella.”

    On the surface, it may appear to be a simple process to connect farmers to consumers, but there are often barriers, such as regulations or local policies that interfere, which complicates the process.

    FPC has had some success influencing policies in schools and local governments, Chere says. “Cincinnati changed zoning ordinances to offer more opportunities for urban agriculture," she says.

    In essence, they are using food to build better communities. Over a five-year period, Green Umbrella and the Food Policy Council's collaboration with partners saw annual sales increase from a baseline of $21,500 to $734,843 at the project’s completion.

  • January 06, 2023 2:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: CSR Wire

    Fifth Third Sustainability Business Resource Group Plants Trees for Local Orchard

    As part of its efforts to advance environmental sustainability in the communities it serves, members of Fifth Third Bank’s Sustainability Business Resource Group helped to plant fruit trees in a local Cincinnati neighborhood on Nov. 16.

    Planted in the Evanston neighborhood, the new orchard was overseen and installed by The Common Orchard Project, a local non-profit organization that works to install and maintain hundreds of small orchard plantings across Greater Cincinnati. The orchards provide increased food access, tree canopy and walkable greenspace in neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment. The Common Orchard Project has planted 14 orchards in Ohio to date and plans to plant 50 more by 2024.

    Established in 2022, the Fifth Third Sustainability Business Resource Group is an enterprise, or company-wide, BRG that comprises nearly 800 employee members from across its footprint. The Sustainability BRG is focused on sustainability in the areas of employee development, community involvement and business innovation.

    More information about Fifth Third’s Purpose-driven culture and its commitment to corporate sustainability can be found in its 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance Report.

  • December 29, 2022 12:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Smart Business

    2023 Pillar Award for Community Service – Greater Cincinnati

    Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award

    Jeffrey March

    Board Member, Best Point Education & Behavioral Health

    From the beginning, Jeff March has been a living embodiment of The Best Point Story. As a baby, he was adopted from the agency when it still provided adoption services to the Cincinnati community. As he continued to grow, he never lost his gratitude for the organization that helped him start out in life.

    March has continued to push forward and has had a successful career as one of the founders of BRG Realty Group, where he serves as CEO. Today, he continues to help Best Point and the 16,000 children and families it serves each year. He, along with his wife, Jeanette, selflessly and tirelessly devote their talents to Best Point’s continuing mission of serving the community’s most vulnerable populations in life-changing ways.

    When COVID-19 became part of the daily vernacular for the community, March was instrumental in ensuring the nonprofit agency remained fiscally strong. His business acumen, coupled with an unbridled passion for underserved children and families, helped Best Point continually operate in unprecedented and uncertain times.

    Through March’s leadership, Best Point pivoted in record time to offer critically needed telehealth services to children whose medical diagnoses are, in many cases, so severe that without treatment, they can often relapse to life-threatening status. Seeing this need, he offered advice on how Best Point could adapt in a fluid operating environment, which resulted in the agency increasing from 4,000 telehealth services in early March to over 40,000 by the fall. ●

    Andy Holzhauser

    Board President, Green Umbrella

    Andy Holzhauser was board president of Green Umbrella, where his term ended in December. Previously, he worked as its treasurer, putting his first career in accounting and second career in nonprofit management to excellent use. He has continued to serve on the Finance Committee while board president and has helped the organization evolve systems as it has grown.

    Holzhauser has shown unbridled leadership during a phase of extensive growth at Green Umbrella. During his tenure, it has expanded from six full-time employees to 18. Together, they built out their internal marketing and development departments, increased the number of in-house programs from three to six and more than doubled its organizational operating budget.

    Holzhauser has helped it better serve its 2 million community members across Greater Cincinnati in local food security, carbon emission reduction, equitable access to greenspace and active transportation infrastructure. Most recently, Holzhauser led the Green Umbrella Board through the decision to spin off its highly successful Tri-State Trails program into its own nonprofit organization.

    As Green Umbrella aims to be a leader in collaboration and facilitation across government, nonprofit, and for-profit worlds, these connections have been critical to programming, as we aim to advance sustainability best practices across the region. Holzhauser’s dedication to sustainability is far-reaching. Outside of Green Umbrella, he works as a partner at Donovan Energy, a clean energy project development and finance firm. ●

    William Butler

    Board member, Lindner Center of HOPE

    William Butler has been chairman of Corporex Cos., for 57 years and serves as a board member of Lindner Center of HOPE.

    Since 2008, Lindner Center of HOPE has served as a lifeline to tens of thousands who’ve faced the struggle of mental illness or addiction. Offering a wide range of mental health services and treatments in an atmosphere that promotes long-term healing, we are staffed by some of the nation’s best psychiatric experts. Lindner Center of HOPE is a place entirely dedicated to hope — and finding a unique path forward.

    Mental illness and addiction can set those who struggle on a common journey, in search of one thing. Hope. Hope for answers and action. Empathy and excellence. Lasting change and confidence. These journeys often lead to Lindner Center of HOPE, which consistently delivers exceptional care on a personal level. It has gained consistent recognition on a national level. It is a psychiatric center of excellence for its breadth of expertise and depth of understanding, and its physicians are leaders in psychiatric research and provide the highest degree of empathetic, individualized patient care.

    In his work, Butler is experienced in building commercial buildings and residential buildings. He is dedicated to community service and when planning began for new construction at Lindner Center of HOPE, he offered to take charge.

    Throughout his career at Corporex, he learned how challenging mental health disorders can be — and how it can affect families, friends and co-workers. Coupled with the limitations of the illness itself, the hurdle of stigma adds another challenge. ●

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