Green Umbrella in the News

  • September 15, 2021 12:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By Wade Johnston, Tri-State Trails Director

    At Tri-State Trails, we believe that expanding the transportation options for people in our region benefits everyone, not just the people who choose to use them. Nowhere is this more true than the Clifton Avenue two-way protected bike lane near the University of Cincinnati. City of Cincinnati officials have recommended removing the lane by November, which was installed in March as a pilot project, and installing a permanent lane at a future date once $3 million in funding is secured.

    We agree with city officials that the pilot has been a success, especially recently with the return of University of Cincinnati students to campus. The average daily usage of the lane has doubled in the past few weeks, giving college students a safe alternative for getting around in a neighborhood where traffic and parking can be a challenge. Perhaps more importantly, the volume of motorists driving faster than 40 miles per hour on Clifton Avenue fell by 43% after the protected bike lane was installed.

    This drop in speed along Clifton Avenue, where at least 22 pedestrians have been hit since 2011, makes the street safer for pedestrians and other motorists; indeed, a pedestrian struck by a car moving 40 miles per hour is roughly twice as likely to die as the same pedestrian struck by a car moving 30 miles per hour.

    There are other benefits to the community from a protected bike lane. Many people want to ride their bikes more, especially as a way of getting around rather than just for recreation, but they are nervous about the prospect of riding on a busy street. A study by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities looked at protected bike lanes in five cities and found that:

    • Ridership increased from 21% to 171% within one year of building the protected bike lanes;
    • 10% of those riders shifted from other modes of transportation, while a quarter shifted from other bike routes;
    • More than a quarter of riders said they were riding more;
    • Self-reported comfort levels were higher than a striped bike lane; and
    • No collisions or near-collisions in more than 144 hours of video involving 12,900 cyclists.

    The study also found strong support for the protected lanes, with 75% of residents saying they support building more protected bike lanes, and 91% saying they support separating bikes from cars.

    University and neighborhood representatives have expressed concern about traffic congestion and safety around the protected bike lane. These issues are not an outcome created by the new protected bike lane – rather, a visit to nearly any street around campus during rush hour will reveal that congestion and speeding are a normal occurrence around the university. A permanent protected bike lane and other roadway enhancements on Clifton Avenue can help solve those issues by giving residents and visitors a comfortable car-free way to get around. They also boost health by promoting active transportation and reducing pollution. There’s even evidence that local businesses benefit from bike traffic as people on bikes are more likely to stop and visit merchants than people in cars.

    The pilot period has uncovered ways we can improve the Clifton Avenue protected bike lane and make this thoroughfare safer for all roadway users. We encourage all interested parties to come together to detail what the obstacles are – from better securing the buffer curbs to enabling winter snow removal to accommodating construction projects on the UC campus. Once we’ve inventoried the obstacles, we can come up with ways to address them to ensure the bike lane works as intended for everyone.

    The most important lesson from this project is the vision of mobility it represents: one that prioritizes cyclists and pedestrians as much as it prizes cars, and in doing so makes Cincinnati a safer place for us all.

  • September 15, 2021 12:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    By Madeline Ottilie

    On Wednesday, a new phase of the Wasson Way trail was opened following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

    The new phase begins at Marburg Avenue and heads down through Ault Park. Business owners along the newly opened stretch said the impact has already been felt.

    "I've encountered a lot of people that have never even heard of our business, but because they walk or run on the trail, they drive by us all the time," said Young Harwell, supervisor at Hyde Perk.

    He said the uptick in business began when the trail, which lies just outside the store's parking lot, opened last year.

    "We really felt the surge back in August of last year," said Harwell.

    The surge in business months into the COVID-19 pandemic helped to shield them from the negative impact the virus had on other businesses like theirs.

    Across the street at Busken Bakery, they've had a similar experience.

    "Even people out of town, people who are staying over in Rookwood at some of the newer hotels are then getting out, doing a walk, enjoying the area," said Kathy Birkofer, director of experience at Busken Bakery.

    Busken Bakery opened a pop-up window right on the trail to catch people as they're walking by.

    "We're starting to see trail-oriented developments pop up around this corridor," said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails. "What we're going to see happen in the next five to 10 years is more and more businesses making their back door the front door, where they're oriented towards the trail."

    Tri-State Trails partnered with the city to secure a $6 million federal grant that helped make the Wasson Way trail possible. Currently the trail stretches from Hyde Park to the edge of the Xavier University campus.

    "What I think is so powerful about the trail is how we're connecting communities that have historically been disconnected," said Johnston.

    When complete, the trail will be just over 6 miles. It will join a 34-mile trail loop that will connect it to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the Ohio River Trail and others.

    I think there's potential for every single community," said Harwell. "What's been so great about the trail is that it will have impact on every community that it touches."

    Ultimately, the trail will continue into Avondale. The project is expected to be completed by spring 2024.

  • September 14, 2021 12:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    Many local cyclists make use of Cincinnati's growing collection of bike paths and lanes. Some of the more adventurous hit the regional and statewide trails available to residents of the Buckeye State.

    But did you know that some of those well-loved local routes connect into a national network of bike paths called the U.S. Bike Route System that advocates hope will someday link the entire country?

    Joining Cincinnati Edition to talk about how local, statewide and national bike trail efforts compliment each other are Adventure Cycling Association U.S. Bike Route System Coordinator Jennifer Hamelman; Ohio Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School and Active Transportation Manager Caitlin Harley; and Tristate Trails Director Wade Johnston.

    Listen at

  • September 13, 2021 12:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Magazine

    From yoga at Rhinegeist’s rooftop to breakfast in the woods, there’s something for everyone at this year’s 18th annual Great Outdoor Weekend.

    Cincinnati is home to an abundance of protected greenspaces, nature preserves, trails, and parks. Most residents live within a 10-minute walk of our city’s parks, and Green Umbrella is here to celebrate with over 100 free events for the whole family. On September 25–26, the 18th annual Great Outdoor Weekend is about making sure that everyone has access to the great outdoors and the best outdoor recreation and nature education programming. The two-day event features activities hosted by dozens of organizations at locations across the Greater Cincinnati area, including Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. Great Parks of Hamilton County alone has planned concerts, astronomy, paddling, animal experiences, and golfing to do over the weekend. There’s something for everyone—people of all age groups and abilities can join in on the fun, and many activities are transit accessible. Here are some of the highlights.

    Rooftop Yoga at Rhinegeist

    Sunday, September 26

    10–11:30 am

    1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine

    Who says downward dog has to be without a beer in hand? Head up to the rooftop bar for a free 50-person yoga sweat session taught by an instructor from Embra Studios. It’s first-come, first-served, so get there as early as possible. Afterwards, take a growler to go! Rhinegeist is offering half off growler fills, and a portion of the brewery’s proceeds from throughout the day will be donated to Green Umbrella.

    Breakfast in the Woods

    Sunday, September 26

    8–9:30 am

    5330 S. Milford Rd., Milford

    Wake up early for an 8 a.m. hike at Valley View Nature Preserve behind Pattison Elementary School. This family and pet-friendly event is stroller accessible and takes you through the 190-acre forest. Explore the biological diversity that nature has to offer right here in our city’s great parks, and finish out the morning with breakfast at the fire ring.

    Aiken New Tech High School Agricultural Campus

    Saturday, September 25

    9 am–1 pm

    5641 Belmont Ave., College Hill

    Visit this unconventional high school to see how students are contributing to nature and learning about the business side of agriculture, too. From chickens to an orchard, the students are preserving the outdoors and creating a lucrative agribusiness—student-roasted coffee that will be available for purchase by the cup or by the bag.

    The New Whitewater Canal Trail

    Sunday, September 26

    10 am–4 pm

    15040 U.S. 52, Metamora, Indiana

    Celebrate the soft opening of the new Whitewater Canal Trail in Metamora, Indiana. There’s hiking, biking, habitat restoration, plants, history, and a brand new 11-mile section of the trail. The location is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers and open to the whole family.

    Third Annual Run the Riffles

    Saturday, September 25

    9 am–2 pm

    4330 Spring Grove Ave., Spring Grove Village

    Join Mill Creek Alliance for an Urban Stream Adventure on the Mill Creek with the expert guides of the Mill Creek Yacht Club. The day includes a kayak race, an urban hike along the Mill Creek Greenway trail to learn about creek restoration projects, and a BioBlitz walk to identify and count local species.

    Ready to make a plan for the weekend?

    Visit the Great Outdoor Weekend website for more information and the entire schedule of events that is filling up with more things to do weekly.

  • September 12, 2021 12:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Reuters

    By Sarah LaBrecque

    With President Biden’s American Jobs Plan failing to deliver as promised, Sarah LaBrecque reports on how cities like Cincinnati are taking the lead on mitigating and adapting to climate change

    In July this year, Ohio’s Governor, Mike DeWine passed a law preventing cities in the midwestern state from taking steps to ban property owners from installing natural gas or propane in new buildings. It was a reaction to a trend popping up in cities across the country: local action being taken to decarbonise the buildings that people live, work and gather in.

    The trend started in 2019 when Berkeley, California, banned gas hook-ups in all newly constructed residential buildings and most non-residential buildings, on the basis that it gives the fossil fuel an advantage not offered to electricity, and amid health concerns about the combustion of gas in buildings.

    Today, 48 cities in the sunny state have enacted similar bans or limitations, and municipalities across the country from Seattle to New York City have followed suit, or plan to. In Massachusetts, an ongoing battle rages between cities and state legislators, over plans to turn the state electric.

    But Ohio isn’t having it. And neither are 19 other state legislatures. In a land where individual freedoms take priority over almost all else (in this case, the right to heat or cook with gas), it’s a prime example of how political and divisive energy is. And it shows how those working to decarbonise the country’s buildings are caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Over 30% of the U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to fossil-fuel combustion to heat, cool and power buildings

    The good news is that efficiency gains from measures such as updated standards for appliances and climate-smart building codes in the U.S. have meant that energy intensity decreased by 19% in residential buildings and 15% in commercial buildings between 2007-2017. Less positive, however, is the fact that over 30% of the U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to fossil-fuel combustion to heat, cool and power buildings. And efficiency gains won’t be enough to avoid total emissions rising, at least in commercial buildings, through to 2050.

    So what’s being done to tackle this, despite the challenging political environment?

    For a start, determined action at city level. In 2020, 157 U.S. cities disclosed their climate and emissions data to CDP, the global non-profit that helps companies, regions and investors manage their environmental impact. These municipalities, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Providence, Rhode Island, represent a significant chunk of all global participating cities: about 20%.

    What’s more, the U.S. contingent is strongly represented in CDP’s A-list, a group of global cities leading on their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, with 25 of the 88 on 2020’s A-list in the U.S. And among the top mitigation efforts reported by these cities, energy efficiency and retrofit measures, plus updated building codes and standards, featured strongly.

    But money for such measures is certainly not flowing. CDP recently identified a $10.6bn funding gap, across 97 participating cities, to implement sustainable infrastructure projects such as building retrofit and energy efficiency upgrades. With nearly 20,000 cities, towns and villages across the U.S., the figure will be far higher. “Budgetary capacity is one of the major challenges for cities,” says Katie Walsh, head of cities, states, and regions for CDP North America.

    Some federal funding would be nice. And things did look promising earlier this year: as part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, $370bn had been earmarked to help decarbonise the country’s building stock. Through weatherisation programmes, grants for schools and public buildings or tax breaks on efficiency upgrades, such funding would go a long way to help lower energy bills for Americans, create jobs and provide more comfortable living and working spaces. Fast forward to June, however, and that $370bn had shrunk to, astonishingly, zero.

    For those keeping a careful eye on the climate-centred aspects of Biden’s flagship proposal – the American Jobs Plan is part two of the President’s “Build Back Better” agenda – seeing that money disappear from the books was incredibly disappointing. “This is what keeps folks like me up at night,” says Jillian Neuberger, a U.S. legislative engagement expert at the World Resources Institute. “Buildings are everything. They’re where you grow up, where you live, where you go to school, where you work, where you go when you’re sick. It’s important to make sure that we get the full scale of funding that buildings really require.”

    At the time of writing, some proposed funding had been reinstated, for example $500m over fiscal years 2022-26 in grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (a new proposal that has evolved out of the American Jobs Plan).

    But negotiations continue and the final package may not land on the president’s desk for several months, if it does at all. In any case, what has snuck back onto the balance sheet so far is still “a far cry from the scale and ambition of the $370bn in the American Jobs Plan, for energy efficiency and buildings”, says Neuberger.

    Without federal funding, cities may struggle to play their part in a goal Biden himself has set: to halve emissions across the country by 2030. But places like Cincinnati are ploughing ahead, despite the odds. Ohio’s third most populated municipality, with around 300,000 inhabitants in the city proper, has set its own local goal that mirrors Biden’s: a commitment to reduce buildings’ energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 50% by 2030.

    The goal was set as part of the City of Cincinnati’s involvement with the 2030 Districts Network, an organisation founded by the non-profit Architecture 2030. Across North America, 23 “urban building districts” have formed their own chapters, “in order to drastically improve buildings’ environmental impact by 2030”. The Cincinnati chapter, which collectively includes over 300 buildings, is run by non-profit Green Umbrella. Alongside the city, participating members include the Port of Greater Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati.

    In a state that is the sixth highest in the U.S. for CO2 emissions, a 50% emissions reduction target in less than nine years is perhaps ambitious. In terms of electricity, 24% of Ohio is powered by natural gas, 58% by coal and 14% by nuclear. Oil, wind and other sources make up the remainder (2017 figures). So what to do when you’re a green city in, as Walsh delicately puts it, “a state that doesn't have the same targets and ambitions”?

    Get creative. From increasing tree canopy cover to counter the urban heat island effect, to contracting out the largest municipally run solar farm in the country, Cincinnati is not letting state or federal support (or lack thereof) stand in its way. And neither, it seems, are Ohio’s other leading cities. Interestingly, three of the state’s cities or counties appeared on CDP’s A-list: Cleveland, Columbus and Cuyahoga County.

    Michael Forrester, director of the office of environment and sustainability for the City of Cincinnati, rattles off an extensive list of ways the city is decarbonising its buildings. Programmes include tax breaks on the incremental costs of building improvements in order to achieve LEED status, discounted rates on green energy achieved through “aggregating” all their customers, and grants for rental property owners to install energy efficiency upgrades.

    After the record-breaking heatwaves that blasted through the north-west this summer, measures that not only relieve pressure on building’s cooling systems but also build climate resilience into a city’s structural fabric are needed more than ever. According to nonprofit Climate Central, Ohio averages about five “dangerous” heat days a year. By 2050, the state could see 30. In Cincinnati, increasing tree canopy coverage to at least 40% in every neighbourhood – a figure that impresses CDP’s Walsh – should bring myriad benefits.

    Currently some neighbourhoods have 70% cover, while others have only 10%.

    Forrester says the city has done temperature-mapping studies and found that areas with the least tree cover were, unsurprisingly, the hottest. “Cities can often be 10-20[F] degrees hotter than the surrounding areas,” he says, explaining that night-time temperatures are rising, particularly in areas with lots of pavement and buildings, but few trees. “Preventing heat-retention is very important for buildings’ overall performance and overall [energy] consumption,” he asserts.

    Add in the benefits to air quality, mental wellbeing and stormwater retention that trees can provide, and it’s a no brainer. “It's also, frankly, an equity issue. Because a lot of our hotter areas are in our poor and minority neighbourhoods,” says Forrester.

    Just as the natural world relies on a plethora of complex systems and networks to thrive – climate conditions, soil health, plant and animal interactions – achieving carbon neutrality in buildings will require a coordinated and complementary web of actions. With only 4% of a city’s carbon footprint falling under mayoral control, it may seem like the cards are stacked against municipalities. In terms of buildings, indirect emissions from embodied carbon, and fossil-fuel powered electricity grids and heating networks, as well as state-managed building codes, have a lot to answer for.

    Cincinnati has benefited from some grants and technical assistance from the likes of Bloomberg Philanthropy and the National League of Cities to help its green transition. Its mayor, John Cranley, also joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which includes representatives from over 10,000 cities in 138 countries, on the same day that President Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017.

    Forrester says Cincinnati has one of the highest per capita number of LEED buildings in the U.S., which he attributes to municipal tax incentives. And the city is active in discussions with state partners around updating energy codes.

    Together with other U.S. cities, Cincinnati is determined to show that local action by its leaders can create meaningful change to the built environment, regardless of what is happening in Washington D.C.

  • August 19, 2021 12:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By Chris Mayhew

    Part of the first railroad line to enter Cincinnati prior to the Civil War is closer to becoming a biking and walking path tying into a web of urban and rural trails connecting all the way to Lake Erie.

    The framework to construct a final agreement was agreed upon in March by the city, the line's owners, and the railroad that has rights to operate on it.

    The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority owns the unused north track and a south track used by the railroad for freight operations and for a seasonal passenger dinner train operation. The city, cyclists and railroad officials all refer to the trail path and tracks as part of the Oasis Line, a name that dates back to a former brick railroad switching station built in the 1960s near where the trail will begin.

    Cleveland cycling attorney and cyclist Ken Knabe has ridden the entire 336-mile trail network south to dip his tires in the Ohio River after starting on the shore of Lake Erie.

    Cyclists have a tradition of dipping their bike's front tire in the water to ceremoniously mark the start and the end of the trip on traveling all of the Ohio to Erie trail.

    The last leg of the journey, now completed by riding on Riverside Drive in Cincinnati, will be safer when the Oasis trail opens than having cars pass close by at 25 mph or more, Knabe said.

    Knabe said the cycling trip south took three days with stops in hotels in Millersburg, Columbus and Yellow Springs before arriving in Cincinnati.

    "It creates a lifelong connection and friendship of the people that you ride with and then you have the historic towns along the way," he said of the journey.

    In Cleveland, it took three phases to create a seamless trail that isn't on roads. The last portion required building a bridge for the trail over an active rail line to get to Wendy Park. It opened in June.

    About 12% of the 326 miles of trail still require going over a street or road, he said. The rest are paved or crushed gravel trails restricted to pedestrians and cyclists.

    One of the not-to-miss features of the trail system on the northern end is the journey on the former canal towpath through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, he said.

    "My ride of choice is the towpath because every time I go on it I see a heron, I see a huge turtle, It’s just relaxing," Knabe said.

    Genesee and Wyoming Inc., through its property Indiana and Ohio Railway, owns rights to use the tree stump- and weed-filled north track from the transit authority that will become a trail. The section of the northernmost part of the former Little Miami Railroad tracks will join much of the other parts of the former railroad line that are already a bike and walking trail.

    The five-mile multi-use path will start near the Montgomery Inn Boathouse and stretch east to Carrel Street to connect to trails around Lunken Airport.

    Bike-trail advocates credit Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley with brokering the agreement the city has in place now with Genesee and Wyoming Inc. The transit authority owns the north track.

    The city's agreement promises $3 million through the authority to the railroad company to buy its rights to use the north track. A provision in the agreement to erect a chain-link fence or another barrier between the eventual path and remaining active tracks is one of the key reasons city and trail officials say the railroad relented on earlier objections to the trail. The freight railroad continues to serve Cincinnati Barge and Rail Terminal just east of T.M. Berry International Friendship Park, and part of the seasonal Cincinnati Dinner Train uses the south Oasis Line track that will remain after the trail is created.

    "First, as safety is our first priority, it’s always our goal to keep people and rail lines as far apart and physically separated as is feasible," said Michael E. Williams, a spokesman for Genessee & Wyoming Railroad Services. "That’s always our position on the subject of trails."

    All parties in the ongoing discussions with the city and railroad are working well together, Williams said. The discussions remain active, he said.

    "This has been the breakthrough we’ve been waiting to happen for 10 to 15 years," said Wade Johnston, a cyclist and director of Tri-State Trails for Green Umbrella. "The mayor made this a priority."

    This will be a continuation of the experience people have on the existing Little Miami Scenic Trail, Johnston said. People can bicycle on Riverside Drive, but it's not ideal for novice cyclists or families with small children, he said.

    The ongoing Beechmont Bridge Connection Project scheduled to open in summer 2022, will connect the existing Little Miami Scenic Trail to trails around Lunken Airport.

  • August 04, 2021 12:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WYSO
    By Kristin Stratman

    Attendees worked on laptops, drawing maps of their communities with the online program DistrictR. As people drew their maps, they included details about some of the assets and issues they see in their neighborhoods.

    Researchers at The Ohio State University’s Kerwan Institute will aggregate and analyze the information in order to generate sample district maps. Then they’ll submit the maps to the Ohio Redistricting Commission before it votes on new congressional and state legislative district maps later this year.

    Jeniece Brock is the Policy & Advocacy Director for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. At the event, she said community members need to be involved in their state’s mapmaking process for the maps to be fair.

    “A lot of times folks are left out of the process whether they’re missed because they’re not counted in the census or maybe they don’t feel like they’ve been represented when the lines have been drawn in the past," said Brock, "We’re hoping to make sure that people’s voices are heard and that they have a seat at the table.”

    Dan Dusa came to the event with his wife. Together, they drew maps of their community in Greenhills, Ohio. Dusa says gerrymandered legislative maps in the past have left him feeling like he wasn’t being represented fairly in his district.

    “It’s so overly partisan that it’s, it's undemocratic," said Dusa, "I would just like it to be a little more representative of the actual community instead of just a partisan puzzle.”

    Rashida Manuel, the Director of Public Engagement at Green Umbrella, says unfair districts can lead to environmental injustices as certain groups are exposed to higher levels of pollution and the impacts of climate change. She says this can lead to higher rates of health disparities like asthma and diabetes.

    "The thing is that folks know that they’re experiencing all of these things but they’re not necessarily tying it to environmental degradation and climate change," said Manuel, "And if we want to start to address those issues we need to make sure that their voices and their votes count.”

    So far, almost 2,000 Ohioans have created community maps across the state.

  • July 23, 2021 12:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Highland County Press

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $12 million in Farm to School Grants this year, announcing awards to 176 grantees, the most projects funded since the program began in 2013.

    The department is also releasing new data demonstrating the recent growth of farm to school efforts nationwide. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of school districts and/or local entities responsible for school meals participated in farm to school activities during school year 2018-2019, more than half (57 percent) of which began within the past three years.

    “Helping schools expand access to healthy, locally grown produce through these grants is just one of the many ways USDA is transforming America’s food system,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Not only will this give children more nutritious food options in school, it supports local agriculture economies, while connecting them to the farms and farmers that grow the food we all depend on.”

    “The record-breaking Farm to School Grants and new data release today both reflect USDA’s commitment to supporting farm to school efforts as a win-win for all involved,” said Stacy Dean, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “We’re excited about the growth in farm to school activity across the country and look forward to seeing the impact of this latest round of grants on children, schools, farmers and the economy alike.”

    This year’s Farm to School Grants will help expand the access to fresh, local foods and hands-on agricultural learning for children across 45 states and the District of Columbia. The awarded projects will serve more than 1.4 million students at more than 6,800 schools.

    Grantees include schools, state agencies, non-profits, tribal nations, agricultural producers and groups, and – for the first time ever – institutions participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program.

    Ohio grantees include:

    • Spice Field Kitchen, Inc. - $36,400
    Grant Type: Turnkey

    • The PAST Foundation - $98,606
    Grant Type: Implementation

    • Clermont Northeastern Local Schools - $45,910
    Grant Type: Turnkey

    • Graham Local School District - $100,000
    Saint Paris
    Grant Type: Implementation

    • Green Umbrella - $96,524
    Grant Type: Implementation

    • MyWhy - $96,536
    Grant Type: Implementation

    • Reynoldsburg City School District - $91,180
    Grant Type: Implementation

    • Saint Stephen Community Services, Inc. - $96,460
    Grant Type: Implementation.

    The latest data from the 2019 Farm to School Census highlight the impact of farm to school efforts on local communities. In school year 2018-2019, school districts purchased nearly $1.3 billion in local fruits, vegetables and other foods, totaling approximately 20 percent of all school food purchases. The newly updated Farm to School Census website features state and local breakdowns of participation and spending.

    Farm to school efforts introduce more locally grown produce into school cafeterias and expose children to agriculture and nutrition education through hands-on learning. They also provide reliable revenue for American farmers, directly boosting the local economy.

    USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

  • July 19, 2021 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: CityBeat
    By Katie Griffith

    All it needs is $2 million — and you can help by drinking local beer.

    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 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

  • July 12, 2021 1:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier
    By Chris Wetterich

    In 2018, the city and major business leaders unveiled a public-private effort to reduce the environmental impact and energy consumption of buildings centered in downtown and Uptown, known as a 2030 District, with the goal being to reduce their carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

    Currently, officials are ahead of schedule, reducing emissions by 21% in participating buildings so far, a $2.5 million savings.

    “We needed to be at 20% in 2020,” said Elizabeth Rojas, executive director of the Cincinnati 2030 District, which falls under Green Umbrella, a local environmental group and sustainability alliance. The district serves as a resource and connector as building owners and companies strive to meet goals. “We were encouraged by that.”

    Cincinnati has the sixth-largest of such districts in the United States, encompassing more than 300 buildings and 27 million square feet of space. There are 23 2030 Districts across North America, including regional peers like Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

    In addition to reducing energy use, organizers are also trying to reduce water and transportation emissions associated with the people who live or work in a building. The Cincinnati 2030 District is compiling water usage statistics now and is surveying members on transportation, with an eye toward figuring out how to incentivize the use of public transportation, van pooling, electric vehicles and bicycles. Transportation is the region’s second-largest source of emissions.

    Within the city, buildings account for 60% of carbon dioxide emissions, the emission scientists say is responsible for global climate change.

    The Cincinnati district’s goals are aggregated; in other words, individual building data generally is not shared but everyone works together to meet the goal. Some buildings might be able to greatly exceed the goals because of their design or other features, while others will fall short.

    “You work toward net zero in an existing office building, but we do see that there’s a point where you take a building to a point of its maximum efficiency,” Rojas said.

    Key strategies used to reduce emissions include retrofitting buildings with LED lighting, onsite solar panels and building automated systems.

    One building where some data is available is the Cincinnati Art Museum in Mount Adams. The museum used Ohio Energy Program grants and has a five-year plan to find savings in their heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems and a major lighting project, saving 51% of its annual $583,488 costs annually on a $1.7 million project budget. The expenses would be paid back in about five years.

    Other members include 84.51, Kroger, Procter & Gamble, Fifth Third, Cincinnati Bell and City Club Apartments.

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