Green Cincinnati Plan update focuses on climate equity, sustainability, innovation, and engagement

Green Cincinnati Plan

If you live in Cincinnati, chances are you’ve got a favorite green space. Maybe you love walking with dogs and friends on the trails in Mt. Airy Forest.

By Green Umbrella,

Published April 11, 2023

Green Cincinnati Plan
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Source: Soapbox Cincinnati

Green Cincinnati Plan update focuses on climate equity, sustainability, innovation, and engagement

If you live in Cincinnati, chances are you’ve got a favorite green space. Maybe you love walking with dogs and friends on the trails in Mt. Airy Forest. Or you grew up having picnics in historic Eden Park after visits to the conservatory. Perhaps you prefer the wildflower garden at Farbach Werner Nature Preserve.

With 115,000+ acres of protected green space, whatever you prefer to do in nature,
Cincinnati has an area for you. However, being a sustainable city involves more than the amount of green spaces. Sustainability can impact everything from the amount households pay for utilities and the supply of recycled materials businesses can use to build and package products to the average life expectancy in different neighborhoods and the food families have available for their tables.

With the 2023 unveiling of the Green Cincinnati Plan on April 3, the city is working to continue and defend its “most sustainable city” title. But sustainability is never a goal accomplished solo. This plan is a sustained effort from multiple organizations, businesses, and community members.

Community Engagement
The Green Cincinnati Plan is updated every five years. In 2018, 18 community members responded to the call for feedback. City residents have become increasingly involved in the environment in recent years. Over the past year, members of the GCP steering committee engaged with 50 out of 52 neighborhoods, with over 600 people responding. Thousands of ideas were submitted during 2022.

Council Member Meeka Owens led the plan’s steering committee.

“By the people, for the people” is how Oliver Kroner, director of the Office for Environment and Sustainability described the 2023 plan. One major factor in getting city residents involved was the commitment of community partners throughout the city.

Council Member Meeka Owens led the steering committee. Owens said the plan revolves around “resilience, sustainability, and equity.” The Steering Committee included organizations focused on health, housing, economic development, food, community development, and education.

Sustainability and Entrepreneurship
Cincinnati’s annual Rethink Recycling Hackathon brings innovative ideas around sustainability to the city. The 2023 hackathon is focused on the areas of tech and policy. Cintrifuse in Over-the-Rhine partners with the city to bring together community members, corporate partners, and civic leaders.

At the 2022 Hackathon, one startup, The Cleanup Collective, came out of this challenge with the idea of a turnkey cart that makes litter pickup easy. This team received a grant from Main Street Ventures and entered the accelerator, SustainableCincy. SustainableCincy is the only accelerator in Cincinnati exclusively for early- and mid-stage green/clean tech and innovation.

Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub runs this accelerator program and noted that innovation and entrepreneurship can play roles in advancing the goals of the green plan, and the plan was amended to include support for advancing innovation.

Industries from business development, sanitation, real estate, nonprofit, and more are reflected in and connected to the 100+ actions and 40 strategies in the plan.

Climate Equity
In 2021, the City of Cincinnati’s Office for Environment and Sustainability partnered with Green Umbrella, Groundwork Ohio River Valley, and University of Cincinnati to develop the Cincinnati Climate Equity Indicators Report. Climate change doesn’t affect everyone in a community the same. Where vulnerabilities and issues already exist, the climate crisis amplifies them.

Transportation to mold in the home to being evicted are all issues Cincinnati residents face. Neighborhood residents—the experts on how the climate crisis magnifies problems in their neighborhood—gave their input on the impact of climate.

The Equity Indicators report, with 55 different metrics, helped both city and community partners develop many of the strategies outlined in the Green Cincinnati plan. These strategies include addressing the energy burden in low-income households and launching a countywide emergency communication system. Feedback gathered from public sessions formed the framework of an action plan, and community members sent in hundreds of suggestions and comments.

The Future of Sustainability
With the federal government making funding available, strong community support, and robust leadership from the city, Cincinnati seems set to seize the moment of opportunity. As one resident told me, “The secret sauce in Cincinnati is the people. When you put great people who have entrepreneurial spirits and pride in their city together, you get practical solutions that actually work for the community.”

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