• July 20, 2022 3:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Join Green Umbrella for the first Working Group Feedback Sessions for our Regional Climate Collaborative—a network that will support regional governments, organizations, and their communities to design and implement equitable climate solutions across Greater Cincinnati.

    Working Group sessions are open to the public and will be held virtually via Zoom. Anyone can join any of the following groups listed in bold below. Please use the individual registration links highlighted in green for whichever working group(s) you are interested in joining. You must register for access to the meeting Zoom link.

    **Each session has two dates/times shown. Both will feature the same content for each working group, so you only need to attend one. We're offering multiple to accommodate different schedules.** 

    Building Local Capacity Working Group: how we can increase local government staff capacity to act on climate; implement equitable climate plans, projects programs, and policies; and create workforce opportunities for the next generation of climate professionals -- including a fellowship program for local governments

    Community Listening and Engagement Working Group: how we can center community voice, experience, and expertise in climate plans, projects, programs, and policies -- especially communities of color, low-income community members, youth, and the elderly


    Elected Officials Working Group:
    how we build political will among electeds and those running for office, and support efforts at the local to state level 


    Regional Resources and Outreach Working Group: how we can raise awareness of climate impacts and solutions, and develop resources to accelerate action across the region -- including funding and a Regional Climate Action Playbook

    ___________________________


    About the Regional Climate Collaborative

    Through our Climate Policy program, Green Umbrella is dedicated to working with regional local governments and their communities to kickstart and accelerate climate action in Greater Cincinnati. Regional Climate Collaboratives are a proven model that help communities share best practices, align local initiatives, develop opportunities for regional collaboration, and help secure funding and technical assistance to collectively address climate impacts. With this launch, Greater Cincinnati joins more than 30 other Regional Climate Collaboratives currently working to improve the quality of life in communities, resilience of infrastructure, and predictability of budgets. Green Umbrella’s Climate Policy team will act as the primary facilitator of this ongoing program and will work directly with governments, organizations, and other institutions who join as members.

    Learn more about Green Umbrella's Climate Policy program and contact our Climate Policy Director, Savannah Sullivan, with any questions: savannah@greenumbrella.org.

  • April 15, 2022 10:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This guest blog post from a partner organization or individual reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.

    Guest Blog Author: Kylie Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund

    Quick Summary: In 2022, the OEC Action Fund continues to speak out for clean air, safe water, vibrant public lands, bold climate action, and a strong democracy. The fight to protect our environment has never been easy—but Ohio’s future is worth it. The OEC Action Fund provides a brief update on the latest federal, state, and local policy news for you here.


    Happy Earth Day! 

    When you work for an organization that advocates for good environmental policy, every day is Earth Day. During the first quarter of 2022, I was proud to work alongside my colleagues at Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Action Fund to advance key policy priorities on Capitol Hill, at the Ohio Statehouse, and in city halls across the Buckeye State. We’re proud to provide a brief update on some of those policy wins for you here. 

    For those that aren’t familiar, the OEC Action Fund is the accountability and lobbying arm of the OEC family of organizations. The OEC Action Fund advances critical environmental priorities, holds policy makers accountable, and works to elect environmental champions and pass park levies that expand access to public land.

    ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL

    Infrastructure Investments

    The investments in the federal bipartisan infrastructure law (Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act) passed in November 2021 will benefit Ohio in many ways. In addition to traditional infrastructure funds, the bill focuses on building resilient communities in the face of climate change. While final estimates are yet to be announced, the White House has estimated how much funding Ohio will receive over the next five years.

    Some notable appropriations include:

    • $140 million over five years to support the expansion of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network in the state, part of a larger effort to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs.

    • $1.2 billion to improve public transportation options across the state and accelerate opportunities for communities to provide healthy, sustainable transportation. 

    • $256 million over five years to clean up “orphaned” oil and gas wells which, if not properly capped, can release dangerous methane pollution into the air.

    • $1 billion set aside for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, including funding to accelerate clean up of Ohio’s Black, Cuyahoga, and Maumee rivers on Ohio’s north coast.

    • $1.4 billion for water infrastructure improvements across the state through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs. This funding will help finance critical water infrastructure projects throughout the state, including eliminating lead service lines, supporting stormwater management practices, and upgrading water and wastewater treatment systems.

    Additional funding will accelerate reforestation projects on national forestland, improve energy efficiency in buildings and the industrial sector through weatherization programs, and strengthen recycling systems in Ohio. 

    Lead Pipe And Paint Action Plan

    In December, the Biden-Harris Administration announced an ambitious Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan to accelerate the replacement of lead water pipes in the next decade while focusing on disadvantaged communities. The plan will disburse $2.9 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for lead pipe replacement to states, tribes and territories in 2022. Of these funds, Ohio will receive $71 million specifically earmarked for lead service line replacement. Other key highlights of this historic plan include developing additional rulemaking to strengthen key provisions of the Lead and Copper Rule to be completed by 2024, publishing guidance for local water systems that will outline critical steps to achieve 100% lead service line replacement, and creating a new cabinet-level partnership for lead remediation in schools and child care centers. 

    New Regulations to #CutMethane

    Methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is fueling the climate crisis, and threatening the health and safety of communities across Ohio and the country. In November, the U.S. EPA proposed new regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The proposed rules would require operators to regularly find and fix their emissions. Our Energy Team testified before the U.S. EPA in early December to let them know we need the strongest safeguards possible—for the health of our communities and our climate.

    CLIMATE POLICY AT THE STATE LEVEL

    State of the Environment

    In March, Gov. DeWine delivered his 2022 State of the State address. Our team at the OEC Action Fund closely watched the speech and here’s what we heard: 

    Here’s what we heard:

    • Governor DeWine is committed to continue growing Ohio’s great State Parks system, and he emphasized how important parks and greenspace are to our communities and our health. 

    • Governor DeWine highlighted some plans to partner with Ohio’s Appalachian communities to define an investment strategy that makes sense for the region, including growing eco-tourism opportunities in the region.

    • Governor DeWine mentioned continued investments through the H2Ohio program that will go a long way to restore Ohio’s waterways and wetlands, minimize algal blooms, and fix aging drinking water systems. 

    Here’s what we didn’t hear:

    • Governor DeWine mentioned the need to attract employers to Ohio, citing a “good regulatory environment,” but he did not mention the fastest-growing job sector in the country—wind and solar energy. Unfortunately, in Ohio, the environment for renewable energy businesses has been slowed down by regulatory uncertainty and unnecessary red-tape during Governor DeWine’s tenure.

    • During his address, Gov. DeWine failed to mention the redistricting crisis happening under his watch. By voting in favor of partisan-gerrymandered district maps and signing the legislation establishing unconstitutional congressional district maps, he has failed to follow the clear directive of Ohio voters—we need and deserve fair districts for all people.

    But that’s not the full picture when it comes to Ohio’s environment. We recently interviewed OEC Action Fund staff to learn more about the policies and actions Gov. DeWine and Ohio lawmakers have taken to support clean air, land, and water—or to damage our environment and democracy. 

    Hear from our policy experts on the State of Ohio’s Environment by watching the following 3-minute videos: 

    • ENERGY VIDEO
    • WATER VIDEO
    • LAND VIDEO
    • DEMOCRACY VIDEO

    Continuing the Fight Against House Bill 6

    The OEC Action Fund continues the fight against House Bill 6—known widely as the worst energy bill of the 21st century. Since news broke that this bad legislation passed as part of “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” we demanded its full and immediate repeal. We have seen some success, but there is still more work to do. We continue to work with partners across the state to draw attention to the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) coal bailout passed as part of HB 6. We also continue to put pressure on legislators to remove these subsidies, which damage Ohioans’ health, pocketbooks, and our environment. In December, the OEC Action Fund released a video with Reps. Casey Weinstein and Jeff Crossman as we traveled to Madison, Indiana to see one of two OVEC-owned coal plants.

    Promoting the Energy Jobs & Justice Act

    It is clear that after decades of energy policy that largely favors utilities and fossil fuels, Ohio needs forward-looking, equitable solutions that are good for our economy, our communities, and our health. The OEC Action Fund ​​continues its advocacy work on the Energy Jobs & Justice Act (Ohio House Bill 429)—an intentionally-designed, comprehensive clean energy policy rooted in equity, economic development, and accountability. The legislation aims to move Ohio toward a more equitable clean energy future by encouraging clean energy growth, energy waste reduction, and curbing utility influence over policymaking and regulatory actions. Importantly, the legislation centers on equitable policy design to make sure those most historically and disproportionately harmed by Ohio’s regressive energy policies benefit most from a clean energy transition. All with the goal to ensure 100% carbon-free electricity generation and use by 2050! To learn more about the Energy Jobs and Justice Act and to get updates on advocacy actions, sign up here.

    Advancing Community Solar

    The OEC Action Fund continues to support House Bill 450, legislation which would enable community solar across Ohio. The bill permits the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to certify up to 1,000 megawatts (MWs) of community solar projects and an additional 5,00 MWs at distressed sites, with at least a quarter of the total community solar projects required to be located in Appalachia. More on this exciting bill here.

    Supporting Solar for Condos and Homeowners Associations

    With the passage of Senate Bill 61 through the Senate, solar advocates who live in condominiums are one step closer to having their right to install solar on their roof protected from restrictive homeowner association rules. The bipartisan bill, supported by the OEC Action Fund and many of our partners, would let owners subject to condo or other homeowner association rules install solar if their unit includes the roof. The bill would let associations “establish reasonable restrictions” on solar panels’ size, place, and manner of placement, but it will potentially expand access to solar to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. More on this exciting bill here

    Redistricting Battles

    All environmental policy is passed by legislators, whether at city councils, at the statehouse, or in Congress. When Ohioans don’t have fair districts–when our vote is intentionally weakened to serve the power of partisan politicians–it makes it harder to fight climate change and invest in renewable energy, two things the majority of Ohioans want. 

    It can be hard to keep track of ALL the news surrounding Ohio’s redistricting process. We encourage you to learn more about the many updates in the fight for fair maps from our sibling organization, the OEC, here.

    CLIMATE POLICY AT THE LOCAL LEVEL

    Cincinnati Makes History: First Committee Focused on Climate Change

    At the local level, the OEC Action Fund has been focused on supporting the Cincinnati Administration’s environmental policy priorities. In January, Cincinnati City Council held the first meeting of the new Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee—the first of its kind not only in Cincinnati but, we believe, in the country. The committee meets every other Tuesday throughout the year at 11 AM. Visit the City Council website for the schedule of committee meetings. You can attend meetings in-person, via live stream, or watch recordings of previous meetings. 

    City of Cincinnati Announces Green Cincinnati Plan Renewal

    On March 17, Mayor Aftab Pureval and Councilmember Meeka Owens announced the renewal of the Green Cincinnati Plan. The Plan was adopted in 2008 and later revised and readopted in 2013 and 2018. The updated Plan will prioritize climate equity and environmental justice. “We are creating the foundation to protect our environment, combat the disproportionate effects of climate change on our Black and Brown residents, and set Cincinnati up as a pioneer in the green economy,” Pureval said. New environmental policy initiatives for the City of Cincinnati were also announced during the press conference, including the commitment to fully transition the city fleet to electric by 2035. You can watch the press conference announcing the Green Cincinnati Plan and share your input for the 2023 Plan update by completing the Community Climate Change Survey

    Each and every day we’re proud to continue fighting for a healthier environment for all Ohioans, especially alongside partners like Green Umbrella. If you’re interested in getting updates and action alerts from the OEC Action Fund, please sign up here. We encourage you to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for regular updates. You can also visit the OEC Action Fund website for the 2021 legislative scorecard update. 

    Please also be sure to follow our sibling organization, the Ohio Environmental Council, for additional educational opportunities. Sign up here or follow OEC’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for regular updates. 

  • April 04, 2022 10:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This guest blog post from a partner organization or individual reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.

    Guest Blog Author: T.J. White, Executive Director, Center for Local Government

    Quick Summary:
    Local governments from around Southwest Ohio are studying a joint bid to install roof mounted or ground mounted solar panels at their facilities (e.g. City Buildings, Fire Stations, etc.). This potential bid is in the study phase currently, but could be published this summer.


    Small local governments in the Southwest Ohio region are considering a bid to provide on-site solar power to their facilities through a partnership with the Center for Local Government. The Center for Local Government (CLG) is a 501c3 organization that was formed in 1990 to provide opportunities for shared services, training, and information sharing between Southwest Ohio local governments. CLG currently has 59 member communities in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.

    This imitative began after the Village of Silverton successfully supplemented their Town Hall with roof mounted solar panels. Interest formed from other governments, and CLG began to facilitate a multi-government on-site solar installation bid. This bid is modeled after Silverton’s, but with benchmarking coming from the City of Cincinnati’s recent solar bid, Charlotte, NC’s solar bid, and from a bid template developed by the Rocky Mountain Institute. The governments are specifically bidding the design and installation of roof mounted or ground mounted solar arrays, which will be paid for out of capital or other funding sources. A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is not being used for this project.

    As for the project’s status, a template for this bid is being finalized by the potential participants, who are working on putting together detailed specifications for each site. The goal is to publish a bid by this summer, with projects commencing late in 2022 or in 2023. We look forward to updating you again once we have a bid published and our participating governments finalized.


  • March 16, 2022 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This guest blog post from a partner organization or individual reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.

    Guest Blog Author: Dave Moravec, Colerain Chamber of Commerce

    As a community, Colerain Township is oftentimes associated with its longstanding high school football program and the Rumpke waste facility on the north side of Interstate 275. While local residents refer to it as Mt. Rumpke, there is no skiing or sightseeing to be done on this "mountain". However, it is essential for not just Colerain, but the entire Cincinnati region.

    Colerain awareness building of a "green-kind" is taking place, and at the center of it is collaboration across its entire community. "The groundswell of support for our Team Up to Green Up Colerain initiative has been phenomenal in just the first year of its existence," Dave Moravec, Colerain Chamber of Commerce President remarked recently. "There are so many opportunities to help with the movement, it is hard to see how any resident, business, or community leader could look the other way."

    Dave Moravec recycles Kroger bags in Colerain.

    Moravec moved from Illinois to Cincinnati to accept the leadership position with the Colerain Chamber of Commerce in March of 2020 just as COVID arrived on the scene. Helping energize the community, he was able to bring together 30 business owners and stakeholders across an area even greater than just Colerain in an initial Zoom call just over a year ago. The Team Up To Green Up Colerain website and its programs support the Colerain Township's Clean, Green, Prosperous and Safe directive led  Colerain Township administrator Geoff Milz who shared the early results with the American Planning Association at its statewide conference in late 2021 through the following: APA Conference Video Link on YouTube. Moravec added, "Our support from the likes of Green Umbrella and Hamilton County R3source bring invaluable expertise in the area of regional sustainability.“

    The initial group was also able to garner the interest of Chambers Alliance for Innovation and Clean Energy involving Jessica Bergman, their Programs and Engagement Director who along with Moravec, Milz, Savannah Sullivan (Green Umbrella) and Dean Ferrier, Municipal/Public Sector Account Manager with Rumpke Waste & Recycling formed a leadership team willing to tackle the challenge of reining in the messaging. “We needed to have a focus,” said Ferrier, the group’s coordinating leader. “We worked through a brainstorming session that created an enormous list of topics which could have been disastrous. In the end we decided to initially focus on three essential things: 1) community litter challenges, 2) commercial recycling initiatives and 3) to support the existing street tree program already in place with Colerain Township.”

    Armed with a website, and additional tools like light pole banners, decals for businesses to display, a QR code, and a one-page brochure telling the story, the group continues to grow due to stories that add to the incredible surge. Some examples include:

    Colerain Community Association – Formed out of a need to pickup unwanted trash at Colerain’s most visible interchanges, this community group beautifies the community, not just through waste removal, but with landscaping and flower bed maintenance. For more information, visit the community website Colerain Community Association


    Colerain Township Clean Up – This residential and grassroots effort allows for local residents to make a difference in their respective neighborhoods. Community groups like A Greater Northbrook and Groesbeck support semi-annual large scale recycling days that energize residents to do their part. If you would like to help, visit CleanUP ColerainThe Township has also committed to environmental goals through its 2022 Strategic Plan, check it out!

    Large Retailers – Chamber of Commerce leaders like Meijer and Kroger encourage the recycling of single use grocery bags and even better promote bringing your own reusable bags which can be left in your vehicle for each time you go to the store. Big box hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes have a variety of recycling options available for walk-in customers (batteries, light bulbs & bags depending on the store location). These large retailers along with larger users like Vinoklet and Pebble Creek Golf & Event Center have commercial programs in place as well.

    LaRosa’s Pizzeria In an effort to reduce waste, a campaign is underway asking customers to recycle their boxes properly. LaRosa’s uses wax paper to line the inside of the pizza box making it cleaner and easier to recycle at home. Stone Creek location owner Rob Jones has supported the group from the beginning and with the resources of corporate LaRosa’s, have made a difference one pizza at a time.

    Rumpke Recycling Center

    The Rumpke Recycling facility in St. Bernard has reopened tours of its facility for small groups. This type of education and other tools available from resources like Rumpke and Hamilton County R3sources continue to bring awareness to this ever-increasing challenge. Recycling brochures and small internal bins can be used to help make recycling in your business easier on a daily basis. Contact Anne Gray for more information about tours and resources available.

    One Shining Moment

    Every year in November, Dedicated Senior Medical Center (Colerain Chamber member and care facility for seniors, 6121 Colerain Ave.) closes for the afternoon so that their staff can spread some love across the community for what they call Serving & Giving Day. During this day of service, their centers across the country volunteer over 12,000 hours to local communities. Their Mt. Airy staff participated in a team effort to clean up both sides of Colerain Avenue from Byrneside Drive to Banning Road. Six bags of trash and a wooden paneled door were removed from the parkway and sidewalks! Their teambuilding picture was taken at the base of their large billboard sign on Colerain Avenue.

    Where do we grow from here?

    As the effort across Colerain continues to grow both through volunteer efforts and corporate initiatives, the community will slowly appear different visually. When that happens, our community becomes an even better place to live, work and play. Potential businesses and business owners will look at our community with an appealing eye, and themselves making an investment in Colerain. That will not only benefit other businesses in the community, but also offer more diversified products and services to our residents. This in turn makes our community respected among our peers across the greater Cincinnati area.

    How Can You Help

    1. Don’t litter in the first place. Make sure to have small garbage bags available in your car for easy use rather than tossing trash out your window.
    2. Build awareness – When you see a challenge, report it to Colerain Township with details
    3. Support recycling days in your community and know what can and can’t be recycled.
    4. Consider composting – A wonderful way to help the environment and your garden.
    5. Help by taking care of a section of the roads through Team Up Adopt-A-Block Program
    6. Add your Business Name to the ever growing list of Supporters
  • January 26, 2022 2:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This guest blog post from a partner organization reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.

    Guest Blog Author: Krystal-Rose Agu, Institute for Sustainable Communities

    Quick Summary:
    Green Umbrella recently led regional participation in a pilot program--Regional Collaboration for Equitable Climate Solutions--led by the Institute for Sustainable Communities, exploring how to center equity in the next generation of climate collaboratives. ISC provides insights on this work and upcoming collaboration with Greater Cincinnati to launch a regional climate collaborative.


    A community near downtown Cincinnati, Ohio in June 2020. Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash.

    In a region where climbing summer temperatures and floods are on the rise, Green Umbrella steps in as Greater Cincinnati’s core sustainability alliance.

    With partnership from the Institute for Sustainable Communities and other equity-based climate groups, the organization gears up to launch its Regional Climate Collaborative in June to center equity and climate-preparedness  in government planning processes.

    Green Umbrella pulls in like-minded groups and individuals from 10 counties across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Its Regional Climate Collaborative will function as a subset of the organization to coordinate climate solutions across jurisdictions, educate elected officials on equitable best practices, and build local government capacity to take action.

    “The collaborative will provide resources and engagement opportunities for communities to advance equitable climate action strategies across Greater Cincinnati,” said Savannah Sullivan, climate policy lead at Green Umbrella. “We are excited to work with local government and community partners to get the program up and running.”

    The Institute for Sustainable Communities is no stranger to working with the organization.

    “Sustainability and equity go hand in hand,” said Sonia Joshi, associate director of U.S. programs at the Institute for Sustainable Communities. “Green Umbrella shares this focus as it creates solutions for and within its communities.” 

    In 2021, Green Umbrella partnered with the Institute for Sustainable Communities’ Regional Collaborations for Equitable Climate Solutions pilot program to learn community-focused best practices through three days of workshops. Green Umbrella was able to invite five additional leaders to join the workshops, including Groundwork Ohio River Valley, Hamilton County Public Health, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and Village of Silverton OH.

    The takeaway from those workshops: Elevate local voices.

    “You can do a lot of climate work and still perpetuate issues that make communities most vulnerable,” said Daniel Dickerman, program officer at the Institute for Sustainable Communities who led some of those workshops.

    For example, solar power is a renewable energy source that can mitigate the use of fossil fuels. However, those with the most wealth are often the ones who can afford to upgrade to solar energy. This leaves the task of covering the remaining electric grid to those with lower incomes, increasing their energy costs, Dickerman said.

    Alliances like Green Umbrella’s Regional Climate Collaborative ensures those who bear the brunt of climate change are at the front of the decision-making and solution-generating table, he said.

    The Institute for Sustainable Communities and Green Umbrella will continue to work together as part of the Institute’s newest initiative, the Urban Equity Compact, set to launch later this year. The compact will provide coaching, training and technical assistance to teams working on community-centered climate issues.

    Want to learn more about regional climate collaboratives and the importance of centering equity? 

    • Join the Institute for Sustainable Communities and Green Umbrella on February 16th at 12PM for the event “Regional Strategies for Equitable Climate Action in Greater Cincinnati.” Register here for free.

    • Listen to WVXU - Cincinnati Edition’s coverage on the Regional Collaborations for Equitable Climate Solutions pilot program.

    Learn more about Greater Cincinnati’s forthcoming Regional Climate Collaborative or the Urban Equity Compact by visiting greenumbrella.org or sustain.org.
  • January 25, 2022 4:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This guest blog post from a partner organization reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.

    Guest Blog Authors: Sophie Revis, Climate Resilience Director at Groundwork Ohio River Valley; Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson, Community Outreach Coordinator at Groundwork Ohio River Valley

    Quick Summary: 

    Groundwork Ohio River Valley, Green Umbrella, the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability, and the University of Cincinnati collaborated to develop and evaluate an equitable community engagement model for local government climate planning processes. The team worked with Lower Price Hill, Bond Hill, and Roselawn in 2021 and is gearing up for expanding in 2022!

    The Climate Advisory Group (CAG) model is an intensive climate focus group for historically underserved communities in Cincinnati, such as communities of color and low-income populations. Created in partnership by Groundwork Ohio River Valley, Green Umbrella, and the City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability (OES), the CAG model is a part of the national Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership (CSN) led locally by Groundwork. CSN has multiple goals that are rooted in environmental justice: explore and communicate the relationship between the climate crisis and institutionalized racism, build the capacity of residents to self-advocate for more equitable distribution of resources, and develop and implement short-term mitigation measures for climate impacts. 

    CSN has found a pattern in cities across the country–due to decades of injustices that have led to disproportionate social, financial, and environmental burdens, communities of color and low income neighborhoods are more sensitive to climate impacts. This is true for Cincinnati, particularly for increased heat, flooding, and air pollution. The catalyst for the CAG model stemmed from OES receiving a one-year grant from the National League of Cities 2020 Leadership in Community Resilience Program, focused on strengthening the equity and inclusion component of the Green Cincinnati Plan. This led to the co-design and development of an advisory group model with Groundwork and Green Umbrella that serves to educate residents in impacted neighborhoods, foster community advocates, inform city officials on the realities of climate impacts, develop neighborhood-level plans for neighborhoods to adapt to climate impacts, and ultimately change the way governments in the region engage communities on climate issues; including the upcoming Green Cincinnati Plan.

    Lower Price Hill Becomes a Pilot

    The pilot CAG, originally called Equity Advisory Group, was dedicated to Lower Price Hill (LPH), a neighborhood with a long history of environmental injustices, yet characterizes community strength and resilience. LPH was selected for those reasons, plus the low tree canopy, high poverty rates, proximity to air pollution sources, mean land surface temperatures, and the presence of underserved communities, such as African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, and urban Appalachians. Additionally, LPH has a strong network of residents, community organizations, and a recently completed community plan, though it did not include environmental or climate planning. 

    After selecting the initial neighborhood, Groundwork, Green Umbrella, and OES started the process of designing the CAG flow, content, assignments, and products. Simultaneously, Groundwork started recruiting twelve LPH residents to take part in the intensive CAG, who were paid for their time from the NLC grant. The CAG had six bi-weekly meetings that resulted in a climate resiliency plan for the neighborhood that includes a map of adaptations and recommendations for policies. In the first meeting, CAG members co-created definitions for the words resilience, vulnerability, and equity as a starting point for the group’s resiliency statement. This statement is a guiding mission for the group’s later work. The second meeting covered the history of the neighborhood and current priorities to center the climate work in the context of the community.

    In the third and fourth meeting, residents identified concerns and mapped climate adaptation recommendations for their neighborhood. Representatives from the NAACP Cincinnati Chapter and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful attended the fifth meeting to present on their organizational goals and the resources they have to assist CAG member interests for climate mitigation. The CAG organizers also shared resources. Groundwork has a bank of adaptation techniques that are shared with the CAG that they can choose from to ensure that their community is climate resilient, their plan community-led, and solutions tailored to the unique challenges facing their community. Similarly, Green Umbrella shared about several programs to support community resilience such as Climate Policy, Tri-State Trails, Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, Common Orchard Project, 2030 District, and more. 

    The Journey Continues

    After the success of 6 meetings, the LPH CAG wrapped up in spring 2021. Since then, Groundwork, which is based in LPH and is a key neighborhood-level partner, assisted the Community Council in receiving a Community Budget Request for forty street trees in the neighborhood. The locations of these trees were prioritized by residents and are scheduled to be planted in spring 2022. Additionally, Groundwork worked with Community Matters, an organization dedicated to LPH, in receiving 18 trees from the Cincinnati Parks’ ReLeaf Program and planted them in fall 2021. Groundwork worked with Albert Lang of River Imaging to convert a vacant, overgrown lot into a community greenspace with fruit trees, shade trees, pollinator plants, benches, and art. Groundwork is also in the process of establishing a low-cost air quality monitor network in the neighborhood to better understand air pollution throughout the neighborhood and prioritize mitigation measures. The LPH residents who were a part of the CAG are updated every few months on community project progress. Finally, a resident post-survey was conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s Collaborative Sustainability Lab to understand what worked well and what didn’t in the pilot CAG.

    New Partner, New Neighborhood

    After their involvement with the resident post-survey, the University of Cincinnati was added as a partner to evaluate progress and resident awareness on climate change before and after the end of the 6 week initiative for the next neighborhood. While working on implementation in LPH, the CSN partnership team identified the next neighborhood for the Fall 2021 CAG. After looking at various sources of data, including the Climate Safe Dashboard and Cincinnati Climate Equity Indicators report, the team selected two neighborhoods: Bond Hill and Roselawn. The decision to take on both neighborhoods was due to sources of data mentioned but also the 2016 Bond Hill & Roselawn Plan, a joint community plan created by residents and leaders consisting of shared visions and goals.


    The Bond Hill + Roselawn Climate Advisory Group Resident Leaders

    While designing new materials, content and assignments for the new neighborhood, the Groundwork team sought to recruit residents beyond the twelve member goal to 20. This resulted in a diverse group of residents including youth and various neighborhood leaders interested in taking part in the intensive and being paid for their time.

    The first meeting covered neighborhood and city history, especially policies that are the roots of the injustices faced by the neighborhoods and how they relate to current environmental issues. Like the pilot, the group created a resilient statement to reflect both neighborhood interest and identity.

    Community Engagement as the Essence 

    Throughout the second and third meeting, residents gathered survey data to their neighbors on community issues, assets and concerns. Highlighting community priorities through resident-led survey and mapping exercises is what drives the creation of resident climate planning and is the core of this equitable engagement process. Placing community voices at the forefront is the bread and butter of this work! 

    COVID-19 may have led the group to meet virtually but that did not stop four members from the group meeting in-person with us, the CAG organizers, and with community planners, student and professional for World Town Planning Day (masked of course). In collaboration with the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Planning Association, this day marked an example of an ideal planner and resident engagement process where planners listened to resident priorities and explored the issues that residents cared about liike stormwater management and sustainable development through a guided walk and presentation.

    Looking Ahead 

    Groundwork, Green Umbrella, OES, and UC couldn't have asked for a more engaging and passionate group of resident leaders. The Roselawn and Bond Hill CAG wrapped on a high note with a showcase in front of neighbors, family, city officials and community leaders. The group shared their climate resilience plan addressing issues like flooding, heat, and air pollution; delved into how the neighborhood’s history resulted in increased climate vulnerability; and created a starting point for further action in the neighborhoods. While the 6 bi-weeky paid meetings have ended, CAG residents will continue to be a part of the implementation of climate mitigation projects scheduled to take place this year. The team looks forward to the residents who have taken part in the CAG to lead the way for their neighborhoods. As the team continues to expand and meet communities where they are at, we are in the process of continuing the relationship with previous CAG residents. In particular, we are exploring employment opportunities for residents involved to bring their climate resilience plan to life with Groundwork’s assistance. In addition, through Green Umbrella’s forthcoming Regional Climate Collaborative the team plans to continue the conversation of equitable engagement, environmental justice, and build the foundation for resident voices in governmental plans across the Greater Cincinnati region.


  • January 25, 2022 3:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This guest blog post from a partner organization reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.

    Guest Blog Author: Andy Meyer, AICP, Program Chair of the Cincinnati Section of APA, Senior Planner at OKI Regional Council of Governments

    Quick Summary: The American Planning Association Cincinnati Chapter’s annual World Town Planning Day Workshop helped generate ideas and solutions for the Bond Hill + Roselawn Climate Advisory Group with Green Umbrella and Groundwork Ohio River Valley. Professional and student planners from across the Tri-state participated in making the event a success.

    As a planner, I find the utmost satisfaction when people of different perspectives come together to solve urban problems. One such recurring endeavor, which I have been fortunate to be a part of for several years, is the annual World Town Planning Day event sponsored by The Hamilton County Planning Partnership and the Cincinnati Section of the American Planning Association. World Town Planning Day is observed every November 8th, and on (or near) that date, the aforementioned entities host a day-long workshop focused on generating rapid plans centered around a specific community and an issue. The work is carried out by professional planners, planning students from University of Cincinnati and Miami University, and stakeholders from the community.

    The great thing about 2021’s World Town Planning Day, aside from being able to again hold it in-person after 2020’s virtual event, is that the event dovetailed into a broader planning process – the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Climate Advisory Group (CAG) for Bond Hill and Roselawn led by Groundwork Ohio River Valley and Green Umbrella. A CAG is a community engagement process focused on elevating the experiences and local expertise of historically underserved residents into local government climate planning processes. Coming on the heels of the UN Report on Climate Change and recognizing the inequities of how the pandemic has been affecting communities, these were the two topics we wanted to address for World Town Planning Day 2021 – Climate Change and Equity. I was fortunate to be invited to a meeting of the Green Umbrella Greenspace Action Team to learn more about a model one of my colleagues created.  Savannah Sullivan, Green Umbrella’s Climate Policy Lead, happened to also be there to give an update on her involvement with Climate Safe Neighborhoods – Lower Price Hill had just finished their CAG and Bond Hill/Roselawn was just beginning. Here was a project that encapsulated both major themes we were looking to address in the 2021 World Town Planning Day. It was immediately apparent how the CAG and World Town Planning Day event would mutually benefit from collaborating. 

    Following some coordination with Savannah and Sophie Revis, Groundwork Ohio River Valley’s Climate Resilience Director, it was decided that the World Town Planning Day event on November 5, 2021 would serve as a brainstorming/project idea generating workshop for the Bond Hill/Roselawn CAG. The resulting ideas would be refined and vetted through the larger Climate Safe Neighborhood planning process and incorporated into the final resilience plan. Resident advisors from the CAG guided the planning process, and it was great that several of them were able to participate in the World Town Planning Day workshop.

    Bond Hill + Roselawn resident advisors share history and resilience ideas with local planners during World Town Planning Day workshop at the Cincinnati ToolBank.


    So, bright and early in the morning, a group of approximately thirty professional planners, student planners and faculty from UC and Miami University gathered at the Cincinnati ToolBank to kick-off the World Town Planning Day event. I opened the day with a quick introduction to the agenda and purpose. Following that, Savannah and Sophie gave a look at the purpose and goals of Climate Safe Neighborhoods and the CAG. Finally, the group heard from three resident advisors – Margeaux (pictured above), Nancy, and Phil. They spoke about their experiences living in Bond Hill and Roselawn, how they see climate impacts, and how solutions could help to bolster the community.

    Following these presentations, the gathering was divided into teams to focus on various topics: transportation, housing, food systems, greenspace, entertainment (community togetherness), and stormwater management. These topics were prioritized by the CAG resident advisors. The groups were then given one hour to walk and explore the neighborhood. It was a sunny day, and the groups were left to chart their own routes through Bond Hill and Roselawn. The community members also suggested places for the groups to visit. When the groups returned they settled into a working lunch, and began to develop their ideas into a slide presentation.  

    For the final hour of the program, each group presented their resilience strategy ideas. It was amazing to me the variety and scope of ideas presented by each group, and the polish of each presentation. Also, I noted that it often was the students in each group who took the lead in presenting. There were greenspace strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect and control stormwater runoff; ideas to increase the energy efficiency of the housing stock, increase walkability and enhance the comfort of walking in the neighborhood; and brainstorms on how to promote social cohesion in the community.  

    This last point was a revelation to me – something I hadn’t considered as part of a resilience strategy. Building social cohesion is vitally important to addressing acute community challenges. The community’s capacity to band together to meet a threat, take initiative to look out for one another, and share limited resources in an emergency is supremely important to building and maintaining resiliency to all manner of challenges. We have seen how much of a difference this makes in how we have collectively experienced this pandemic. Differences in how we view community and self gives rise to friction and inconsistency in community response. The impacts of the pandemic have also been felt unequally across the community. Some are more susceptible to getting seriously sick, while others have been impacted by job loss or disruptions in learning. I believe this is an extreme example because none of us had really experienced anything like this before, but I think parallels can be drawn to some of the climate challenges our communities face now and will continue to face: the effects of climate change, and the acute weather-related threats that come with it are also unequally felt. Improved social cohesion will help the community respond quickly, effectively, and with more sympathy. Simply, if you have a social connection with your neighbor, you are more likely to help them, or they to help you, in an hour of need.

    Overall, it was a great experience meeting and working with the professionals, community members, and students that came out for World Town Planning Day. It’s crucial that our efforts as professionals support community driven efforts like Climate Safe Neighborhoods. The final plan recommendations were presented virtually on December 8th, and it was great to see how the plan leveraged World Town Planning Day. I have to thank Savannah for making the connections and seeing the possibility in employing our planning event in the Climate Safe Neighborhood process; and thank you to Groundwork and Green Umbrella teams for taking a chance on turning over a portion of the CAG process to a group of outsiders; to the members of the Bond Hill + Roselawn CAG, especially Phil, Nancy, and Margeaux, for sharing their experiences, struggles, and triumphs with us; and finally, to all the professionals and students who gave up their Friday to make World Town Planning Day 2021 a success!


  • January 24, 2022 11:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Savannah Sullivan, Climate Policy Lead @ Green Umbrella

    Quick Summary:
    A brief rundown of some Green Umbrella Climate Policy events (including recordings), media features and fun announcements from 2021.

    CASE STUDIES

    Green Umbrella intern, Oria Daugherty, worked with the Village of Silverton to author a case study on their energy plan implementation - published on the Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit.

    MEDIA

    "Including Communities of Color in Efforts to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change" - Green Umbrella was joined by the Institute for Sustainable Communities, Urban League of Greater Southwest Ohio and Hamilton County Public Health on WVXU's Cincinnati Edition.

    Tune into the most recent episode of HOME Cincinnati's Fair Housing Podcast, where Alona Ballard (HOME's Education Outreach Manager) and Savannah Sullivan discuss the intersection of climate issues and housing discrimination.

    "Forum Gives Cincinnati Candidates, Voters Chance to Discuss Local Environmental Issues" - Green Umbrella and partners host both Cincinnati mayoral candidates and 18 city council candidates to present their climate platforms.

    "4 Ways to Achieve Equitable Sustainability Resilience" - the National League of Ciies featured the collaboration between Green Umbrella, Groundwork Ohio River Valley, and the City of Cincinnati to create an equitable community engagement model for climate planning.

    Congratulations to Tom Carroll of the Village of Silverton on his appointment to the US EPA Small Community Advisory Subcommittee! Green Umbrella was honored to recommend Tom for this exciting leadership opportunity.

    EVENTS

    Check out this 4 minute Climate Policy update from the 2021 Green Umbrella Annual Meeting!

    Green Umbrella, Groundwork Ohio River Valley and the City of Cincinnati hosted the Bond Hill & Roselawn Climate Advisory Group Community Showcase, featuring resident leaders and their neighborhood vision.

    Green Umbrella joined the NAACP, State of Maine Governor's Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and the Indiana University for the "Justice, Equity and Energy" session at the National Academy of Public Administration's 2021 Fall Meeting.

    Green Umbrella joined Colerain Township, A Greater Northbrook, and Rumpke at the Ohio Chapter of the American Planning Association's 2021 Statewide Planning Conference in October 2021. Check out the session about cross-sector sustainability planning.

    Green Umbrella joined Groundwork Ohio River Valley and NASA Develop at their "Changing Climate: Flood and Landslide Susceptibility Along the Ohio-Kentucky Border" event.

    Savannah Sullivan moderated the "Sustainable Development: City Policy" forum at GBBN's 2021 Environmental Justice Symposium.

  • December 30, 2021 9:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This guest blog post from a partner organization reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.

    Guest Blog Author: Kylie Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund

    Quick Summary: Securing a healthier environment for all Ohioans is complex and challenging work. This work takes all of us, using every tool in our toolbox and making the most of opportunities at every level of government. This year, OEC worked to secure environmental policy wins on Capitol Hill, at the Ohio Statehouse, and in city halls across the Buckeye State. OEC provides a brief update on some of those policy wins for you here. 


    Securing a healthier environment for all Ohioans is complex and challenging work. This work takes all of us, using every tool in our toolbox and making the most of opportunities at every level of government. 

    For those that aren’t familiar, the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Action Fund is the accountability and lobbying arm of the Ohio Environmental Council family of organizations. The OEC Action Fund advances critical environmental priorities, holds policy makers accountable, and works to elect environmental champions and pass park levies that expand access to public land.

    This year, our team worked to secure environmental policy wins on Capitol Hill, at the Ohio Statehouse, and in city halls across the Buckeye State. We’re proud to provide a brief update on some of those policy wins for you here. 

    CLIMATE POLICY AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL

    Let’s start at the national level. President Biden and Vice President Harris took office in January 2021 with a decisive mandate to act with great strength on climate change, clean energy, and environmental justice. From day one, we supported federal efforts to reinstate important environmental regulations to protect our air and our water. And we’ve worked with partners to rally around the President’s Build Back Better proposals to advance historic climate legislation. 

    Securing Big Investments in Infrastructure & Climate Action:

    We applaud Congress’s recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and look forward to the passage of the transformational climate and justice bill we need, the Build Back Better Act. Together, these bills included funding to clean up polluted areas, upgrade our drinking water system, and modernize our electric grid and public transit systems. Importantly, they put the U.S. on the path to cutting our climate pollution in half by 2030, invest directly in communities of color too often left behind, and create good-paying union jobs. 

    CLIMATE POLICY AT THE STATE LEVEL

    At the state level this year, our team closely tracked the state’s biannual budgeting process and lobbied for our environment along the way.

    State Budget Wins for the Environment:

    Overall, the bill included some good news for our environment. The H2Ohio program, one of the most comprehensive, science-based plans for clean water in state history, received $170 million in funding. On the public lands side, $28 million was allocated to purchase the remainder of the AEP ReCreation Land in southeastern Ohio, $500 million was allocated for brownfield revitalization, and Doris Duke Woods in Malabar Farms State Park was protected. Unfortunately, there was some bad news too. As the more than 2,000-page bill moved through the process, amendments were added including one that could diminish public input when oil and gas drilling is proposed on state parks or forests. Despite strong opposition, this amendment made it into the final bill.

    Continuing the Fight Against House Bill 6:

    Throughout the year, the OEC Action Fund continued the fight against House Bill 6—known widely as the worst energy bill of the 21st century. Since news broke that this bad legislation was passed as part of “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” we demanded its full and immediate repeal. We have seen some success, but there is still more work to do. In March 2021, Ohio lawmakers repealed the portion of HB 6 that provided subsidies for FirstEnergy nuclear plants, as well as two other components of HB 6 that provided a windfall for FirstEnergy. While this is a positive step in the right direction for Ohio energy consumers, it leaves components of HB 6 on the books that will harm Ohio’s air quality and our environment. That is why we continue to fight for the repeal of the bailout of two dirty coal plants and for the reinstatement of Ohio’s clean energy standards—both a result of HB 6. 

    Promoting the Energy Jobs & Justice Act:

    It is clear that after decades of energy policy that largely favors utilities and fossil fuels, Ohio needs forward-looking, equitable solutions that are good for our economy, our communities, and our health. In September 2021, the OEC Action Fund proudly joined partners on the shores of Lake Erie for the introduction of the Energy Jobs and Justice Act by bill co-sponsors Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson). 

    The Energy Jobs & Justice Act (Ohio House Bill 429) is an intentionally-designed, comprehensive clean energy policy rooted in equity, economic development, and accountability. This bill is the product of over a year of work with many partners working toward a new, equitable clean energy vision for Ohio. The legislation aims to move Ohio toward a more equitable clean energy future by encouraging clean energy growth, energy waste reduction, and curbing utility influence over policymaking and regulatory actions. It will do so by launching the state’s largest economic development initiative in recent history, prioritizing investments in clean energy jobs and environmental justice programs. Importantly, the legislation centers on equitable policy design to make sure those most historically and disproportionately harmed by Ohio’s regressive energy policies benefit most from this clean energy transition. All with the goal to ensure 100% carbon-free electricity generation and use by 2050! Together, we can advance bold climate action like the Energy Jobs and Justice Act to secure a healthier future for all Ohioans.

    CLIMATE POLICY AT THE LOCAL LEVEL

    At the local level, the OEC Action Fund focused heavily on this year’s local elections.

    The OEC Action Fund endorsed a slate of climate candidates including Aftab Pureval for mayor, as well as Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, Greg Landsman, Reggie Harris, Meeka Owens, Victoria Parks, Jeff Cramerding, and Mark Jeffreys who all won their bids for City Council. We are excited to work with each one of these candidates in 2022, especially Mayor-elect Pureval, who was elected on a comprehensive environmental platform with a 66% majority vote, underscoring a clear mandate from his constituency for climate action. The Mayor-elect’s environmental policy proposal includes strong pledges to ​​achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and 100% renewable energy by 2035. Our new city leadership has an unprecedented opportunity to fight climate change and secure a healthier environment for all Cincinnati residents.

    Another positive environmental outcome of the Cincinnati election was passage of the Great Parks of Hamilton County levy. We applaud this investment in the future of the region’s tremendous park system which will support continued access to more than 17,000 acres of vibrant greenspace and important programming for the community.

    We’re excited to get to work in the New Year and continue fighting for a healthier environment for all Ohioans, especially alongside partners like Green Umbrella. If you’re interested in getting updates and action alerts from the OEC Action Fund, please sign up here. We encourage you to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for regular updates. 

    Please also be sure to follow our sibling organization, the Ohio Environmental Council, for additional educational opportunities. Sign up here or follow OEC’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for regular updates.

Savannah Sullivan, Climate Policy Director

savannah@greenumbrella.org

(Twitter: @savsullivan)

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