Green Umbrella in the News

  • September 07, 2022 11:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Highland County Press

    Get outside and enjoy over 100 free activities during Great Outdoor Weekend

    Green Umbrella encourages everyone to get outside and choose from over 100 free, family-friendly events during Great Outdoor Weekend on Sept. 24 and 25.

    Now in its 19th year, the two-day event will take place at locations across Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. Featuring activities hosted by partnering organizations across the Greater Cincinnati region, Great Outdoor Weekend is the region's largest outdoor events sampler.

    “Every year we try to expand the event to reach more communities and increase participation across all 10 counties in our region with a wide variety of activities for people of all ages and backgrounds,” says Green Umbrella Event Manager Charlie Gonzalez. “The goal is to get tens of thousands of residents outside to celebrate nature and learn about all the great organizations that host outdoor programs throughout the year.”

    Throughout the weekend, kids and adults of all ages can sample a wide range of the best outdoor recreation and nature awareness programs available across the region. Canoe the Little Miami River, install an orchard, stargaze, or venture out on a nature scavenger hunt. From hiking and paddling to butterfly tagging, birding, and fishing, there’s something for everyone at this year’s Great Outdoor Weekend.

    Want to enjoy beautiful natural settings at your own pace? Bike, hike, or explore the region’s 570-plus miles of trails with the help of Tri-State Trails’ trail finder, or visit one of Green Umbrella's Greenspace Gems, a collection of 40 natural areas picked by a team of conservation experts that help tell the story of the region's biodiversity, including a special focus on geology, plant life and history.

    Researchers continue to find that spending more time outdoors provides countless benefits to our mental and physical health. From reducing stress and anxiety to increasing vitamin D, outdoor activities help improve self-esteem, ability to focus and quality of sleep.

    “Great Outdoor Weekend is a wonderful reason to explore our region’s 353 miles of hiking trails, 410 miles of multi-use trails and 44 miles of mountain biking trails," says Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails.

    This free event is made possible thanks to the generous support of Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society, Cincinnati Metro, University of Cincinnati Office of Research, Cincinnati Magazine, Great Parks of Hamilton County, MetroParks of Butler County, Southwest Ohio Parent Magazine and others.

    Learn more and find your adventure at

  • September 06, 2022 2:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: The Enquirer 

    Will Wasson Way Trail Speed Gentrification in Avondale? Residents Wonder

    Cincinnati Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney has been getting a lot of calls from Avondale residents. A few months ago, an influx of residents called her office to air out their nerves about development projects raising rent prices. More recent callers have amplified those fears.

    “They’re saying they have to move,” said Kearney.

    Various development projects are beginning to affect Avondale’s affordability. The next development project sweeping through is a bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly one – the Wasson Way trail, which is due to reach Avondale later this year.

    However, neighborhood enhancements like the Wasson Way come with a price. “One woman had a letter that said, ‘We love you as a tenant; hope you’ll stay, but by the way, now you’re gonna have to pay $100 more a month,’” said Kearney.

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    “We want to make sure that as these neighborhoods get all these amenities – new bike trail, new businesses – that these neighborhoods are still affordable,” said Kearney, noting that like all development, the Wasson Way poses the threat of displacement.

    Historically, developers have tended to fall short on promises of revitalizing Avondale, instead of pricing people out. Trail advocates are aiming lower; they only hope to provide Avondale with safer access to vital resources, connecting the neighborhood to the rest of the city.

    Paving the way for Wasson Way's extension

    Wasson Way co-founder Jay Andress stands along a path overlooking Victory Parkway, in Avondale, where Wasson Way, a bicycle and pedestrian corridor, will be expanded.

    The Wasson Way’s co-founder Jay Andress has been to meetings in people’s homes in Avondale to talk up the bike and pedestrian trail. But his recent grassroots advocacy in Avondale looked different from that of the Wasson Way’s start.

    “The original dream was basically to hook up the Little Miami Bike Trail, to have an off-road route for not only myself but for (almost) 100,000 Cincinnati residents,” said Andress. Inspired by an abandoned rail corridor near his home in Hyde Park, he imagined an off-road trail sheltered from what he calls “treacherous” car traffic.

    “We see the Wasson Way as a linear park, a way to get away from cars,” Andress said. The 3.75-mile trail currently stretches east to west from Ault Park to Xavier University, centered in the neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Oakley.

    Tri-State Trails, Cincinnati’s leading trail advocacy group, aims to create a network of trails across the region. The Wasson Way is a major part of its campaign for the Cincinnati Riding Or Walking Network, which envisions a 34-mile citywide loop called the Crown.

    Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails, said that the Wasson Way’s initial plans from 2015 didn’t include Avondale. Originally, the trail ended at Montgomery Road in Evanston next to Xavier University, but Tri-State Trails decided to connect the dots. It found that an abandoned rail corridor in Avondale could connect the Wasson Way farther west.

    To Johnston, the cross-neighborhood trail connection carries weight.

    “Most of the trails in Cincinnati are on the east side in affluent, predominantly white communities,” Johnston said. “Historically, trails have not touched these communities that are predominantly Black, predominantly lower-income, have high rates of zero car households.”

    The trail’s extension along Interstate 71 will stretch right through southeast Avondale. Ending at the east end of Blair Court, it will reach into an expressway-side residential neighborhood.

    Avondale residents say they've been burned before

    “When I moved to Avondale in ‘74, I could still smell the smoke” from riots years earlier, said Sandra Jones Mitchell. She served as president of the Avondale Community Council from 2019 through 2021 and spent over four decades as a member.

    What Jones Mitchell witnessed was the aftermath of the Avondale protests, which turned violent over the unkept promises of the civil rights movement in both 1967 and 1968. Kearney, who also grew up in Avondale, remembers that protesters largely burned down their once-thriving business corridors on Burnet Avenue and Reading Road.

    “I was just a kid, but what I kept hearing was that we didn’t own those businesses anyway; we didn’t own that property,” said Kearney, noting that most of the businesses were not Black-owned. “A lot of people felt that they were disrespected by the business owners. So, people were furious; that was just a boiling point.”

    Less than a decade later, the construction of I-71 physically divided majority-Black Avondale from more affluent neighbors in Hyde Park and Oakley.

    “Of course, the highways purposefully came through Black neighborhoods,” Kearney said. “It wasn’t accidental … to divide up black neighborhoods and put highways through,” Kearney said. With Avondale still reeling from the riots, discrimination and disinvestment sent the neighborhood on a downward spiral for decades.

    The development of the Uptown Innovation Corridor, now part of the second-largest employment hub in the city, promised opportunities for Avondale residents. Over the years, Jones Mitchell believes the businesses have more often displaced than employed residents.

    “I was there with the elders fighting to keep their homes,” said Jones Mitchell. “And a lot of them lost that battle because of what you see today: the zoo, Children’s, UC Health.”

    In 2017, the construction of the I-71 interchange at Martin Luther King Drive aimed to bring more jobs and people to the Uptown corridor. At the time, urban planners and corporate partners behind the project said its construction would create opportunities for Avondale residents.

    “They didn’t give the community enough time to position itself for employment, and by the time we did, it was too late,” Jones Mitchell said.

    “What we missed was engaging the residents,” she said, noting that the community’s direct involvement in each development project determines whether it helps or hurts Avondale. This lesson applies to the Wasson Way trail.

    Preventing the worst side-effects of development

    With the effects of I-71 and Uptown development still fresh, the Avondale community wants a say going forward. That’s where the Avondale Development Corp. comes in.

    “They have a very inclusive approach,” said Johnston. He added that the corporation brought a grocery store back to Avondale.

    Tri-State Trails’ and Wasson Way’s partnership with the development corporation poses the opportunity for trailside affordable housing. But both groups agree that it’s a challenge to pull off, especially in tandem with developer interest along the trail.

    “It’s going to have unintended consequences,” said Johnston, noting that Tri-State Trails works to give communities a heads up about what trail infrastructure might bring with it.

    Rachel Culley, who works with Johnston at Tri-State Trails, also recognizes the risks of developing in neighborhoods like Avondale.

    “The trail will raise property values, and it does have the possibility to displace people if they aren’t able to secure their homes or secure property nearby,” said Culley, noting that Tri-State Trails tries to approach trails with a holistic view.

    “We’re thinking a lot about different affordable housing policies, economic development policies, zoning that we could potentially get put in place before the trail is acquired or constructed,” she said. However, according to Culley, no residential zoning laws or affordable housing policies have been set in Avondale to protect community members from displacement thus far.

    “I think that time will still tell how successful we are with that, but it’s something we’re trying to be really transparent about on the front end,” said Johnston.

    Avondale Resident Molly Stephens moved to Avondale in 2019 due to rising rent prices in Northside. For her, the neighborhood’s affordability is important.

    “A lot of the people here are here because they already got gentrified or displaced,” said Stephens, worried that landlords will see the trail as a reason to raise rents.

    “I think people love to say that they’re going to look into affordable housing, but at the end of the day, the developers are going to buy them out,” she said. “And that’s going to heighten the cost of living in one of the last affordable neighborhoods in the city.”

    Avondale’s history of disinvestment led to cheaper rent prices, but it also made the neighborhood an easy target for outside developers. Now, the community wants to maintain that affordability while improving the quality of life in Avondale. According to Kearney, it’s a tough balance to strike.

    The Avondale Development Corp. aims to revive the community while keeping residents’ needs at the forefront. In its quality of life plan, the nonprofit developer paired plans for affordable housing with health and safety-first developments such as the Wasson Way.

    On the city level, Kearney says that city council committees are studying affordable housing solutions to create through Cincinnati's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Still, the trail’s long-term effect on the neighborhood’s affordability has yet to be determined.

    The path of the existing Wasson Way trail and how it will be extended into Cincinnati's Avondale neighborhood.

    Putting safety first while boosting pedestrian connections

    Regardless of what happens to property values, the Wasson Way will provide Avondale with a pedestrian-friendly connection to resources. The trail fits the blueprint for one of the Avondale Development Corp.’s core tenants – safety.

    “There’s a higher amount of traffic crashes, specifically serious injuries and fatalities, of pedestrians and cyclists in African American majority communities and low-income communities,” Culley said. She researched for Tri-State Trails’ Crash Dashboard, adding that it’s difficult to navigate Cincinnati without a car, let alone navigate it safely.

    “People drive really fast on the main thoroughfares (in Avondale), and it feels unsafe,” said Johnston. The off-road trail will provide a safe space for families to play and ride bikes, he said.

    Although protected from car traffic, the trail will run through a wooded corridor next to the highway. When Tri-State Trails and Wasson Way first reached out to residents, their first concern was with other kinds of safety on the off-road trail.

    “They were wondering, is this going to create places for crime or illicit activity to happen?” said Johnston. Avondale residents asked for lighting along their portion of the trail, and Tri-State Trails and Wasson Way are currently trying to find the money for it. Along the rest of the Wasson Way, Andress added that other measures have been taken to ensure safety.

    “We’ve tried to clear out all of the underbrush,” said Andress. “We plant trees along the trail, but we try to get rid of any places where people can hide.”

    According to Johnston, Tri-State Trails has also organized several pop-up bike shops in Avondale, giving out safety-first equipment such as lights, locks, and helmets to community members.

    “We’re hoping that this becomes a safe way to potentially walk to jobs or walk to a shop or walk to get groceries,” Culley said. “It’ll just reopen a lot of opportunities for them that they have been cut off from in the last half of the 20th century.”

    With the community’s safety put first, Johnston and Culley hope the trail will provide more than just recreation. They believe it will be especially helpful for residents without cars.

    Building connections across Cincinnati

    Wasson Way co-founder Jay Andress stands in a field near Blair Court in Cincinnati's Avondale neighborhood, where Wasson Way, a bicycle and pedestrian corridor, will be expanded.

    In its first phase, the trail mainly touched Hyde Park and Oakley. But in 2019, Phase 2 extended Wasson Way over I-71 with a bridge that reconnected neighborhoods across the expressway. That segment linked Evanston and Norwood to Hyde Park with the trail parallel to Dana Avenue.

    Avondale's the next stop.

    “It’s brought those neighborhoods closer together. All these communities that never really engaged with each other,” said Andress. “And there’s some evidence that they tried to disengage from each other because of racial prejudices.”

    Once complete, the Wasson Way will touch at least eight eastside communities: Avondale, Evanston, Norwood, Hyde Park, Oakley, Mount Lookout, Fairfax, and Mariemont.

    “I could see where we could do a farmers market in Avondale, and people from Norwood and Evanston and Hyde Park and Oakley could use the trail to go,” said Andress.

    And yet, the Wasson Way is only one part of Tri-State Trails’ larger vision for connectivity.

    Right now, the Tri-State Trails team is in talks with community partners along another big section of the Crown loop – the Mill Creek Valley. The plan is to eventually link the Wasson Way with historically marginalized areas west of Interstate 75 such as South Fairmount and Winton Place. According to Johnston, trail advocacy there is similar to the efforts in Avondale back in 2017.

    “Going door to door and saying to families, ‘Hey, how you doing? You know, there’s this great project that’s going to be built in your backyard, and we want you to be a part of it because you matter,’” said Jones Mitchell. She wants the Avondale community to feel passionately involved, to feel like it’s theirs.

    Both she and trail advocates are optimistic, but Jones Mitchell has noticed some inconsistencies with rhetoric and action. Tree removal began along the trail corridor this spring, which residents hadn’t been alerted of.

    “I don’t care if you paint the sidewalk blue. Tell the person who lives in front of the dang sidewalk,” she said. Trail advocates have stayed on top of emails and been to a few community council meetings, but Jones Mitchell says the council has to keep inviting them.

    “The average person in Avondale don’t know nothing about Wasson Way,” Jones Mitchell said. “

    When the Wasson Way comes through Avondale this fall, Jones Mitchell wants residents invited to a block party. In her view, an involved community will assure history doesn’t repeat itself.

    “This project is huge, and it’s going to happen with or without you,” she said.

  • September 02, 2022 2:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Northern Kentucky Tribune

    Kenton Co. Parks and Recreation to Sponsor Two Events for Great Outdoors Weekend Sept. 24-25

    Sep 2nd, 2022 

    In celebration of Great Outdoor Weekend September 24-25, Kenton County Parks and Recreation is partnering with several agencies to host two free events to encourage you to come outside and play. Great Outdoor Weekend is presented by Green Umbrella.

    September 24: Maintain the Terrain at Doe Run Lake, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

    Doe Run Lake, 1501 Bullock Pen Road in Covington

    Residents are invited to paddle the lake or hike the trails. Bring your kayak or hiking shoes and enjoy the park all while preserving nature. Garbage bags, gloves and waste removal tools will be provided. Need community service hours? County officials will be available sign any paperwork. Volunteers should meet in the parking area near the boat launch. The event is co-sponsored by Banklick Watershed Council, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) and FORE.

    Registration to participate is not required. Volunteers may register online by September 23.

    September 24: Create and Connect 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

    Lincoln Ridge Park, Shelter House #3, 420 Independence Station Road in Independence.

    Create crafts and connect with nature and each other during a guided hike with scavenger hunts. Bring a water bottle; snacks are provided. Co-sponsored by Kenton County Public Library.

    Register by September 23 at

    Events are for all ages. There is no cost, but Kenton County Parks & Recreation collects donations of non-perishable food and personal care items for Be Concerned.

    For more information, please contact Rhonda Ritzi at or by phone at 859-525-PLAY (7529).

    Great Outdoor Weekend is Greater Cincinnati’s annual outdoor events sampler, presented by Green Umbrella. Explore our region’s man parks and trails, and choose from over 100 outdoor activities hosted by dozens or organizations — all free and open to the public. Find your adventure here.

  • August 29, 2022 11:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A message from our Executive Director

    I am excited to share today that one of our key programs, Tri-State Trails, is ready to take a major next step in advancing its vision to connect and expand our region’s trail network. The program has evolved to the level of sophistication, leadership and impact to become its own independent nonprofit organization. Wade Johnston, Director of Tri-State Trails since 2015, and I made the announcement Friday night at the program's 10th Anniversary gala.

    This move will enable Tri-State Trails to expand its reach and impact, under the leadership of a focused board and staff, while also expanding capacity at Green Umbrella for our many environmental and equity priorities. Green Umbrella and Tri-State Trails will continue to collaborate and partner on the complex regional effort of decreasing the car-dependency, and therefore climate footprint, of our region.

    Since its inception in 2012, Tri-State Trails has grown into the leading organization advocating for trail and bikeway projects in Greater Cincinnati. Its staff of four provides technical assistance and expertise to many local governments looking to build or expand their pathways for people-powered movement. Our region is seeing a significant increase in demand from communities to connect and expand our trail and bikeway infrastructure, and Tri-State Trails has risen to the occasion.

    Green Umbrella is so proud to have stewarded Tri-State Trails and recognizes that the team is ready for the next leg in their journey. This decision was weighed heavily by our Board of Trustees, which analyzed the opportunity from every angle and ultimately came to the unanimous decision to spin-off the program from an initiative of Green Umbrella to an independent organization. Over the last two years, we have been building out the infrastructure and leadership to ensure the success of this transition for both organizations. We are so excited to finally share the news with you!

    Green Umbrella has been an incubator for many projects over the years, and Tri-State Trails is yet another success story. It follows in the footsteps of organizations like Red Bike, Taking Root, Adventure Crew, and Produce Perks Midwest, all of which got their start under the umbrella and are now independent nonprofit organizations. Wade and I will continue to work closely together over the coming year as all of the pieces of this spin-off fall into place. And we’ll keep you updated as we go.

    Thank you for being a supporter on this journey with us!

    Ryan Mooney-Bullock

    Executive Director

  • August 10, 2022 9:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WLWT

    Traffic Grant Should Help Improve Walking, Bike Access in 3 Cincinnati Neighborhoods

    Todd Dykes

    August 10, 2022


    Living along Linn Street in Cincinnati's historic West End can be a dangerous proposition for residents like Angela Thompson.

    "You know, the traffic is so – sometimes so fast," Thompson said.

    "A lot of the streets that we have in Cincinnati have been designed around the automobile," said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails. "They were designed to move as many people, as many cars as possible, as quickly as possible during rush hour."

    That doesn't help people who spend a lot of time walking or bicycling from place to place.

    "It’s a lot of things that the traffic needs to be safe down here," Thompson said.

    Johnston, whose organization supports expanded bike lanes and trails, said $20 million worth of help is on the way.

    "$20 million is a huge deal," he said.

    The massive influx of cash will come from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant program that got a funding boost from last year's Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

    Cincinnati officials plan to use the money to create protected bike lanes and improved pedestrian walkways connecting the West End, Queensgate and Lower Price Hill.

    "From day one, we have been aggressively competing for the infrastructure dollars available – not just for the Brent Spence Bridge but for other projects throughout our city," Mayor Aftab Pureval said.

    For both Johnston and Thompson, the key is the amount of federal money headed to the Queen City.

    "$20 million is not chump change. It’s a lot of cash," WLWT investigator Todd Dykes said while speaking to Thompson.

    "Right," Thompson said.

    "Is it time to invest like that down here?" Dykes asked.

    "Yes, it is," Thompson said.

    "The type of projects that we're talking about, you know, $1 million, $2 million, it doesn't do a whole lot because these are big roadway projects," Johnston said. "They require a comprehensive solution."

    Construction on what's being called the 'State to Central: Building Better Neighborhoods' project is expected to begin in 2025. Between now and then, neighbors will have a chance to let traffic engineers know what they'd like to see happen. The construction phase should take anywhere from 18 to 24 months.

  • July 30, 2022 9:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer 

    Communities Coordinate Efforts to Avoid Worst Effects of Climate Change

    Savannah Sullivan

    July 30, 2022

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to watch images of melting infrastructure across Europe, fatal flooding in Sudan, sinkholes from storms in New York, wildfires in California and excessive heat across the Midwest with anything but a sense of growing dread. Dread, anxiety and grief are all valid emotional responses to climate disruption. There are many strategies for building resiliency around these emotions, and often one effective antidote is engaging in coordinated frontline efforts to avoid climate change’s worst effects.

    That’s why Green Umbrella is bringing together local governments and community-based organizations from across Greater Cincinnati to form the Regional Climate Collaborative, a 10-county initiative to collectively design and implement equitable climate solutions at the local level. Our cities, villages, townships and counties are often the first responders – they repair the damage from flooded streets, protect their most vulnerable citizens from dangerous heat, and endure the budgetary impacts of an uptick in climate-related disasters.

    These challenges make them especially well-equipped to find solutions. Greater Cincinnati is joining regions across the country – more than 30 so far – that have come together to form Regional Climate Collaboratives. Local governments are uniquely motivated to find solutions in partnership with each other. They don’t have the luxury of arguing over the finer points of policy when floods and heat are upending their residents’ lives and harming the businesses that contribute to their tax base. And those floods, landslides, and heat don’t respect the borders between neighboring communities – a superstorm in Northern Kentucky is likely to damage cities in Hamilton, Clermont, Warren and Butler counties, too.

    Regional Climate Collaboratives build on these networks to share best practices, align efforts, and pool resources in a way that amplifies results. Elected officials can learn from local/national technical experts and then explain policy decisions to constituents, while advocates can build grass-roots support and enlist supporters from neighboring communities. We all benefit when our local governments and associated organizations combine efforts on an issue as critical and existential as climate change.

    Our July 21 launch event is bringing together over 150 participants and speakers from across the region who are working in different capacities to mitigate the effects of climate change. But our launch is just the beginning of an effort we hope will build resilience and environmental capacity across our region. For it to succeed, we need the help of residents, community-based organizations, business representatives and especially local governments across the region to participate in a wide range of opportunities:

    A survey we’re launching will help the Collaborative understand how climate change is affecting communities, their residents and businesses. Please consider taking the survey and sharing it with others.

    The Regional Climate Collaborative is forming working groups to address the most urgent challenges and opportunities that emerge from our survey and other initial efforts – including building local capacity, centering equity, community listening and engagement, and more. We’re also planning to develop a Regional Climate Action Playbook to document best practices and help cities, villages, townships and counties kickstart or advance their work.

    We plan to launch a resilience fellowship program inspired by Indiana’s Resilience Cohort that will embed trained personnel in local governments where they can most effectively lend assistance, conduct community engagement and bring climate efforts to fruition.

    Finally, we need individuals and organizations who value this work and understand the immense benefits it brings to support this Climate Policy work financially.

    The Regional Climate Collaborative will equip those on the front lines of addressing climate change to learn from each other and form collective responses. It will direct help where it’s needed most and where it can have the greatest impact: in the cities, villages, townships and counties where we live and work. Join us to ensure this initiative has the greatest possible impact, both today and for future generations.

    Savannah Sullivan is climate policy director for Green Umbrella.

  • July 26, 2022 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    Residents in Cincinnati’s Beekman Corridor Make Plans for Resiliency in the Face of Climate Change

    July 26, 2022

    Due to a history of socio-economic segregation, lower-income communities — including those that are predominantly occupied by people of color — have found themselves bearing the brunt of environmental issues. Those issues include the effects of climate change.

    But an initiative by Groundwork Ohio River Valley, Green Umbrella and the City of Cincinnati is looking to tap into the knowledge residents of some of those communities along the so-called Beekman Corridor just west of the Mill Creek have about their neighborhoods. How can places like Millvale, North Fairmount and South Cumminsville become more resilient in the face of climate change? Long-time residents who took part in a climate advisory group have some suggestions for the city.

    Joining Cincinnati Edition to talk more about the Beekman Corridor, Climate Advisory Groups and the City of Cincinnati's Green Cincinnati Plan are Darryl Franklin; Groundwork Ohio River Valley Community Outreach Coordinator Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson; and City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability Sustainability Manager Ollie Kroner.

  • July 25, 2022 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    Want to Take a Fun Summer Road Trip? Consider Getting Out on a Bike

    July 25, 2022

    Nothing says summertime like a good road trip. But you don’t have to jump in your car to get away for the day, the weekend or longer.

    There are plenty of great routes you can bike — if you take a little time to prepare for the ride.

    What do you need to do, physically, to work up to a longer ride? What should you do to make sure your bike is up for the trip? What should you bring? Who should you bring? What kind of bike is best for distance riding? And what are some fun destinations you can reach in a day or over the course of a weekend?

    Our bike experts will walk you through what you’ll need for your next two-wheeled escape. Joining Cincinnati Edition to talk about it are Tri-State Trails Communication and Events Manager Caitlin Sparks; long-distance cyclist Daniel Iroh; and Chair of the Village Green Foundation Board Nate Kemphues.

  • July 23, 2022 3:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Midstory

    Cincinnati, Ohio: A Climate Haven?

    Ester Luna

    July 23, 2022

    From severe heat waves and wildfires to violent flooding and tropical storms, it is no secret that climate change has been waging its world war with ever-increasing intensity. In the U.S., some coastal and Southern states are especially vulnerable.

    California, for example, faces threats from both coastal flooding and wildfires, with high wildfire potential days increasing from 120 each year to almost 150 by 2050. Hurricanes are hitting Florida with growing frequency and intensity, and the state is also prone to flooding from heavy rain and rising sea levels. Mississippi and Texas are highly susceptible to extreme heat and coastal flooding.

    These disruptive weather events have led climate experts to predict that decades-long patterns of migration out of the Snow and Rust Belts to the Sun Belt may halt, and even reverse in the coming years. As Sun Belt states go from sunny and warm to dangerously volatile, experts anticipate that people will instead flock to areas with more stable climates.

    Enter climate havens.

    The term — which is almost exclusively used by academics and journalists — refers to a location that is unlikely to be severely affected by climate change in the coming years. These places could be entire states or countries, but they are most often cities whose infrastructure could support a significant population increase in a short amount of time as climate refugees from coastal and Sun Belt states relocate to safer areas en masse.

    Climate experts generally name the upper Midwest, the Northeast and some of New England as the most promising sites for climate haven cities.

    As average temperatures in less insulated U.S. regions soar, the climate in the Upper Midwest is projected to remain relatively temperate, according to Brent Sohngen, professor of environmental and resource economics at the Ohio State University. The region will be less susceptible to heat waves and the insect-borne diseases that may accompany them, like Zika and malaria. With its proximity to the Great Lakes, the Upper Midwest is also unlikely to experience the fresh water shortages that are becoming increasingly common across the world.

    As such, climate experts, real estate developers and journalistic publications alike have taken to uncovering the most promising climate haven locations in the U.S. Many of the cities named — like Duluth, Minnesota or Buffalo, New York — boast of long Great Lakes coastlines and easy freshwater access, but for Cincinnatians, it’s been an intentional push.

    Most parts of the Midwest and the Northeast have a relatively low climate risk index, compared with coastal, Southern and central states.

    According to Savannah Sullivan, climate policy director at the Cincinnati-based environmental sustainability nonprofit Green Umbrella, their status as a potential climate haven boils down to commitment.

    “We have had…both elected public sector staff and partner organizations really acknowledge that [climate change] is…increasingly part of the political world,” she said.

    Some say the city experienced its first (albeit small) wave of climate in-migration when approximately 2000 former New Orleans residents fled to Cincinnati after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Most of these evacuees chose Cincinnati because they had family there, Sullivan said. But the episode catalyzed many city-wide climate and green infrastructure initiatives in the years that followed, like the 2030 District and the Cincinnati Energy Aggregation Program.

    The city’s climate resilience agenda was addressed in the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan, spearheaded by ex-mayor John Cranely in partnership with the Office of Environment and Sustainability and other government, corporate and non-profit organizations. The plan outlines goals and action items for “reducing the risks of climate change, growing green-sector economic opportunity, and improving comfort and quality of life for all citizens.” The next iteration will be published in 2023.

    While cities like Duluth and Buffalo have also put forth climate plans, the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan explores the climate haven concept in greater detail. Section 4 of the plan outlines general recommendations to help the city establish itself as one such refuge, bringing Cincinnati’s one step closer to its overarching goal of climate resiliency.

    The plan’s authors propose to “cultivate [Cincinnati’s] reputation as a safe location for risk averse businesses” in hopes of attracting new residents and enterprises from climate-vulnerable areas.

    They also suggest adding beds and increasing food reserves in homeless shelters and temporary shelter homes to prepare for a spike in use by climate migrants, stating that FEMA and private insurance companies would be responsible for these disaster-related expenses. A subsection of the plan titled also mentions increasing affordable housing and creating more jobs for current and newly arrived residents who are economically disadvantaged.

    Authors calculate that Cincinnati could feasibly absorb 100 new families per year. Housing them would cost around $600,000 annually, but these expenses would likely be reimbursed by FEMA or the prospective residents’ insurance, resulting in a 1:1 cost-benefit ratio for the city.

    According to Sohngen, Cincinnati is currently well-positioned to become a climate refuge. Housing stock is relatively cheap and, thanks to the flourishing warehousing and transportation industries in the area, the economy is slowly beginning to grow after decades of post-industrial decline.

    But ensuring that housing remains affordable if climate migrants do pour into Cincinnati may be a challenge.

    “The drawback of being an appealing city that is currently affordable for folks to move to is that this induces rapid growth, and, therefore, potential for yet another layer of gentrification,” Sullivan said.

    Cincinnati may become a popular climate destination precisely because of its cost-effective housing, but a sudden influx of peopleーespecially wealthier onesーcould drive neighborhood values and housing prices up, making parts of the city less accessible for current low-income residents.

    “Cincinnati, like every other city in the Midwest, does have equity issues,” Sohngen said. “They’ve got a lot of poor neighborhoods and some of them are getting gentrified, pushing relatively not so well off people into other neighborhoods…All that gets exacerbated if your population is growing.”

    Cincinnati is also at risk of localized flooding due to inadequately-sized pipes in certain areas, which could “harm housing, infrastructure, and businesses” according to Sohngen. He said that the city should implement more green infrastructure and water infiltration systems like parks or roadways, but that “it’s hard to say they have to do that for the potential influx of peopleーthey really have to do that no matter what.”

    Although these infrastructural challenges have yet to be addressed, Cincinnati has made significant strides in implementing recommendations from the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan pertaining to financial equity.

    “There have been several really successful, equitable programs that lend to the creation of the type of infrastructure that we need to be a climate haven,” Sullivan said. Through the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Project, Green Umbrella and Groundwork Ohio River Valley have encouraged “significantly more robust community engagement that is elevating the voices of historically underserved communities in ways that Cincinnati’s never done before.”

    While working at the City of Cincinnati, Sullivan developed a program that helps “community members who might not have had access to key energy efficiency resources to not only draw their bills down, but keep them safe during extreme temperature events”.

    To ensure that diverse voices are included in future planning, Sullivan confirmed that a newly created Equity Committee was involved in the plan’s 2023 update.

    While some cities are preparing for the possibility of a significant influx of climate migrants, the climate haven scenario is still mostly hypothetical.

    Sullivan stated that while “we can track the publications and case studies on environmental migration…the migration itself is very nascent” when it comes to Cincinnati.

    But should the time come, Cincinnati is positioning itself to meet the needs of both “those who are seeking climate havens voluntarily, and folks who are…disrupted from sudden onset of disasters without preparation,” Sullivan said. “If we’re not doing it in a welcoming, inclusive way, are we doing it?”

  • July 19, 2022 10:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: City Beat

    Cincinnati's 34-Mile CROWN Urban Trail Loop is One Step Closer to Completion

    By Allison Babka

    Aug 2, 2022

    The Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network (CROWN) surpassed a major milestone in June when it secured $6 million of an $8 million goal to complete segments of a 34-mile mixed-use walking/biking path.

    Led by Tri-State Trails (an initiative of regional sustainability alliance Green Umbrella), Wasson Way, Ohio River Way and a public-private partnership, CROWN aims to connect over 100 miles of pre-existing and to-be-constructed trail systems while boosting economic development, improving transportation options, stimulating businesses and promoting healthy activities.

    CROWN launched in August 2020 and has broken a lot of ground since. As it stands, 17 of the 34 miles are complete, five additional miles are completely funded and 12 miles await funding, says Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston. A number of public and private partnerships have come together to support CROWN, most notably United Dairy Farmers and Kroger Health (each contributing $1 million) and a capital campaign cabinet co-chaired by Wym and Jan Portman.

    “We’ve been interested for decades in connecting people to the outdoors,” says Jan Portman. “Not only for physical, but mental health. We have dreamed about this kind of urban loop in this city. It’s such a great idea; it connects with so many priorities for so many groups of people, like transportation. But I think most importantly, the CROWN is going to connect people to places that they care about and places that can improve their lives, like universities and grocery stores and parks and the arts and healthcare centers.”

    Currently mid-construction with various segments complete and open for recreation, Cincinnati’s first urban trail loop will enclose and connect more than 50 communities — that’s more than 356,000 people, according to CROWN’s website.

    It’s also notable that CROWN will serve as a “hub,” Johnston says, to access the Little Miami Scenic Trail, Ohio River Trail, Mill Creek Greenway, Wasson Way and Murray Path. It also will include downtown’s Smale Riverfront Park, which was named one of USA Today’s top 10 river walks in 2021, and Riverfront Commons in Northern Kentucky.

    The Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network (CROWN) surpassed a major milestone in June when it secured $6 million of an $8 million goal to complete segments of a 34-mile mixed-use walking/biking path. - Photo: Provided by Wade Johnston

    The Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network (CROWN) surpassed a major milestone in June when it secured $6 million of an $8 million goal to complete segments of a 34-mile mixed-use walking/biking path.

    “The CROWN loop will take advantage of some of the great things in Cincinnati that are unique to the Midwest,” says Wym Portman. “We have a beautiful river, we are connecting to one of the best park systems in America, and we have arts and culture connections to the art museum and Cincinnati Ballet and more.”

    As more segments begin to open for recreation, the benefits are revealing themselves. Jan and Wym Portman attribute the opening of a walk-up window at Busken Bakery along Wasson Way to the development of the trail, as well as a recently announced apartment project by PLK Communities LLC.

    “We call that ‘bikenomics,’ where we are seeing the economics of how much people care about trails and want to be close to them and are willing to support businesses along the way,” Jan Portman says.

    At about $1.5 million per mile (excluding bridges or retaining walls) Tri-State Trails’ Johnston says CROWN is a $50 million project that will leverage $42 million in federal funding in addition to the $8 million target in private donations.

    CROWN now needs to secure the remaining $2 million of that $8 million and has launched promotional programs such as July’s Ales for Trails to help.

    In July, a visit to MadTree Brewing Company, Fifty West Brewing Company, Streetside Brewing, Listermann Brewing Trail House, Big Ash Brewing, Dead Low Brewing or North High Brewing Company can benefit CROWN. Each brewery — all located along existing and planned parts of the path — paid CROWN a fee to participate. Ales for Trails offers a Trail Hop Card (like a passport) that can be obtained at one of the breweries or downloaded on CROWN’s website. Buy a beer, get a stamp. Get stamps from all seven breweries by July 31 to get a free Ales for Trails T-shirt and a chance to win a grand prize raffle.

    Johnston sees Ales for Trails as a part of CROWN’s goal coming to life, as it benefits both patrons and trail-adjacent businesses. He also notes countless coffee shops, ice cream parlors, restaurants and retail spots that exist on the path as possible participants in similar programs in the future.

    “This is what I envision will be the first of many types of programs like this that celebrate what is connected by the trail,” he says. “One of the things I’ve thought about is how along the Ohio River Trail there’s like five different local barbecue joints like Montgomery Inn Boathouse or Eli’s BBQ.”

    He says it’s especially important that anyone can participate in these initiatives by walking or biking instead of driving, which positively impacts the environment as well as individual health.

    “One of the coolest things about the trail network in my opinion is just seeing our city from a different perspective that you cannot see from your car,” Johnston says.

    Part of the trail that’s currently walkable is the portion of Wasson Way from Marburg Avenue in Hyde Park to Montgomery Road at the edge of Xavier University’s campus. ArtWorks’ 300-foot mural “Electric Avenue” dances along a portion of the path on the Duke Energy complex beside Montgomery Road. It colorfully celebrates sustainability, energy, movement and nature and was unveiled in summer 2020.

    While parts of the trail will highlight recreation, others — like the connection to the Uptown Innovation Corridor when Wasson Way is fully complete — highlight one of CROWN’s most pivotal benefits: equitable transportation options.

    “The connection to Uptown is going to touch Avondale, Evanston, Walnut Hills, and it’s going to link the trail into the Uptown Innovation Corridor, and that to me is a game changer,” Johnston says. “Because all of a sudden, the trail will connect to our region’s second largest employment hub, and you have all these densely populated residential areas along Wasson Way that are now going to be connected to the hospitals and the university and all the job opportunities in that area.”

    Specifically, according to Wasson Way’s website, 83,000 residents can benefit from this specific segment of CROWN plus gain walkable access to the 70 shops and restaurants in Rookwood. As of press time, three of the six phases of Wasson Way are finished, with phases four and five (1.25 miles, beginning at Marburg Avenue and ending at Old Red Bank Road) scheduled to be completed by winter and phase six (0.8 miles, beginning at Woodburn Avenue and ending at Blair Court) by 2024.

    The goal is to have the trail completed by 2025.

    “There are all kinds of destinations along the trail that are a part of our park system and all these different business districts that will be close by to the trail network,” says Johnston. “It’s such a cool way to celebrate the history and culture of our city.”

    To learn more about CROWN’s progress or to donate, visit

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