Green Umbrella in the News

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  • July 03, 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: UC News
    By Chris Pasion, graduate assistant to The Graduate School.

    This driven UC alum is on a mission to build a more equitable, sustainable Cincinnati.

    Rashida Manuel has a passion for social involvement and community service that is simply unparalleled. “I guess I would say that it comes from my family,” she reflects. Her mother was a social worker that instilled a social-conciousness in her from a young age. “There was a community service class at my high school… I took it twice," she says between laughs. "I just loved anything that had to do with service. When I got to UC I tried to continue that and it is what I’ve have been doing ever since”.

    Rashida completed her undergraduate degree at UC in Journalism with minors in Africana Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She stayed at UC to complete her master's degree in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies before beginning work in community outreach at a Fortune 500 company. “I liked the work, but I wanted to get back to working with students.” This desire led her back to UC’s campus where she found a group of impassioned, mobilized law students working tirelessly on a very special operation: the Ohio Innocence Project.

    “The Ohio Innocence Project is really cool because they work to exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted in Ohio," Rashida explains. To date, the Ohio Innocence Project has freed 28 people who were put away for crimes they did not commit; collectively, they have served over 525 years on false charges. She continues, "The law students are the ones doing the bulk of the work on that. I started there as the executive staff assistant.” After a few months, Rashida was promoted to program and outreach manager. In that role, she oversaw the Ohio Innocence Project University (OIPU) Program, which was designed to get students throughout Ohio educated and engaged about the advocacy efforts at the Ohio Innocence Project. The program's outreach stretched to six different campuses across the state.

    When asked to reflect on how it feels to watch someone walk out of the courtroom after serving, in many cases, decades of false imprisonment, Rashida becomes pensive. "I guess bittersweet would be the best way to describe it. There’s a lot of bitterness there, because you can be so angry that someone went through something like that so unjustly," she answers slowly, taking time to hang onto each word. Her tone changes. "The sweetness is them being released and being able to see the lives that they create for themselves afterward. It's always bittersweet."

    Ricky Jackson, who served 39 years before being exonerated, is an exceptional case of making up for lost time. Rashida's eyes light up when she talks about him. "Ricky had spent over half his life in prison and to see the way he was able to come back from that – you know, obviously you can’t forget 40 years – is incredible. His ability to forgive is amazing." Ricky's story can best be told in his own words; he was a guest speaker at the 2015 TEDxMet event at New York City's Metropolitan Art Museum, the same year he was released from prison. His speech is not one of bitterness or resentment; Ricky seems at peace and happy to move on with his life. The title of his presentation is "Finding Freedom in an Art Museum".

    After Rashida concluded her work at the Ohio Innocence Project in December of 2017, she began to set her eyes on a new kind of advocacy: environmentalism. She accepted a position as the director of public engagement at Green Umbrella, an environmental alliance that is working to transform Cincinnati into one of the most sustainable metropolitan areas in the country by 2020. Their approach is two-fold: 1) bottom-up - to assess the needs of local communities and work to address them through education and advocacy, and 2) top-down - to educate and support large corporations in downtown Cincinnati in pledging to facilitate sustainable business practices.

    Much of Rashida's work at Green Umbrella consists of community outreach and engagement. She is focused on creating a more equitable, socially-just environment for people from underrepresented communities. "We are trying to look at how we can expand the message of what we are doing to communities that are often left out of the conversation," she says. Avondale is one of the communities that they have focused on lately. "What’s important is to learn about the community and partner with organizations who are already there doing work." Rashida learned that Avondale is a food desert; they have no local grocery store. What they do have are several community-led gardens that are working to combat the food shortage." To help give these gardens visibility, Rashida worked to educate Avondale community-members on these opportunities and to show that there are sustainable, healthy options available to them.

    Regarding environmentalism on the local level, Rashida offers that the best ways to live sustainably are to "find innovative ways to solve the needs here in the community that you’re in and to be more local in your perspective". This is the core of the work Rashida and Green Umbrella are doing to bring Cincinnati into a greener future; she has high hopes that their efforts will play a role in helping Cincinnati to become a sustainability hub for the rest of the nation to strive towards.

    Rashida stays busy to say the least; her advocacy efforts stretch across many disciplines. Outside of her work on the Ohio Innocence Project and Green Umbrella, Rashida spends her time volunteering for various advocacy groups around Cincinnati, including Planned Parenthood, the Ohio Women's March and others. She also remains involved on UC's campus as an alum by serving as a member of the advisory board for Friends of WGSS (Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). This gives her the opportunity to work as a colleague to some of her former professors. "I can’t get away from UC and I love it," she beams. Her first job at age sixteen was for UC's Continuing Education program and she "felt a connection with the campus even back then... I feel that in some way I will always be connected to UC."

    Despite all of her impassioned, mission-oriented advocacy work, Rashida makes it clear the most important thing to her is family. "Really what is important to me is spending time with family and friends. I try to bring them along with me in whatever work thing I’m doing too." She sees a passionate social-conciousness beginning to surface in her daughter that reflects the values Rashida's mother instilled in her as a child. "It feels good, my daughter is 14. It’s great now that she is at the age where these things have been infused in her and now she’s a little activist too." Cincinnati is in good hands with people like Rashida working tirelessly to make it a better, greener, and more equitable place for future generations to come.


  • July 02, 2019 9:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO
    By Josh Bazan

    An effort to make Northern Kentucky roads safer for walking and biking is looking for community feedback.

    Connect NKY held a slow ride on bicycles through the streets of Newport in Tuesday. The group wants to get more people on two wheels.

    “Every city, people are moving to urban areas. Young people, empty nesters, all ages,” said Rachel Comte, chair of Connect NKY.

    With more people starting to live in the heart of Newport, Comte sees a growing need.

    “I walk, I bike and I use scooters, and I think people living down here want to be able to do that every day,” she said.

    “So we’re trying to make that a safe activity so people feel safe in being able to make that choice,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella.

    Johnston is working with Comte and Connect NKY to try to bring dedicated bike lanes to Newport and encourage more people to take two wheels instead of four.

    “I’m talking about getting people to bike to the grocery store or bike to the Levee to go to a movie or bike downtown to go to a Reds game,” Comte said.

    The slow ride through Newport is helping the group figure out where the city's infrastructure can be improved to make it safer for cyclists. It wants to put up temporary bike lanes to improve trouble spots.

    “We’re also, at the end of each ride, having a discussion of what was scary, what was not, where do you want bike infrastructure, where don’t we need it, all sorts of feedback,” Comte said.

    The group hopes those temporary lanes will become permanent.

    “So that we can show the public without having to invest a lot of money - just a short, quick, cheap installation - that bike infrastructure is something that is accessible and improves our community,” Johnston said.

    After they settle on the locations, organizers will set up those temporary bike lanes Sept. 6-15.



  • July 02, 2019 1:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: River City News

    Advocates for better bicycle infrastructure in Newport will take to the streets on Tuesday for a "slow ride".

    The slow ride starts at 5:30 p.m. at Bernadette Watkins Park at West Sixth and Patterson streets.

    The purpose of the ride is to allow individuals to experience current roadway conditions on a bike. That perspective will inform which route is selected for a bike lane demonstration project scheduled to take place from September 6th through the 15th. 

    Connect NKY is hosting the effort.

    “Our vision for Connect NKY is to show that Newport has tremendous potential to become a bike-centric community,” said Rachel Comte, chair of the Connect NKY steering committee. “We believe everyone should feel safe in making the choice to bike for transportation or for recreation on the streets of Newport.” 

    “Cities around the country have proven that on-road biking facilities can create a safer roadway for bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella. “By piloting a bike lane, we get an opportunity to inexpensively see how it works in the real world before investing precious taxpayer dollars to make it permanent.” 

    Connect NKY is presented by Tri-State Trails and made possible through support by The Devou Good Project. In March of 2019, ReNewport, Southbank Partners, and the City of Newport were awarded this technical assistance grant through a competitive process. 


  • June 27, 2019 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Green Umbrella Press Release:

    Cincinnati, OH – On June 26, the Cincinnati City Council voted unanimously to adopt a new zoning chapter that addresses urban agriculture in the city. The new chapter is the result of a two-year collaborative process among multiple city departments and the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, an initiative of Green Umbrella, to develop rules that expand opportunities for individuals and communities to grow their own food and start businesses.

    “We have long supported urban agriculture and community gardens because they provide a host of benefits,” stated Michaela Oldfield, Director of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council. “Gardening is a form of recreation, provides access to healthy foods in neighborhoods where there may be limited fresh produce, is an opportunity to earn income and can activate empty lots and reduce crime.” 

    A steering committee comprised of staff from departments of planning, zoning, public health, law, environment and sustainability and stakeholders of the Food Policy Council, conducted extensive research to catalogue all the potential activities associated with urban agriculture and community gardens, inventory the components of Cincinnati and Ohio code that would apply, and examine how other cities across the country address the growing, processing and sale of food. They found that while the code allowed for some growing of food and raising of animals, it was scattered and unclear, sometimes redundant and didn’t cover many emerging components of urban food growing such as indoor hydroponics.

    Both national and local advocates actively encourage urban agriculture as a climate adaptation and community food security strategy. The City’s Green Cincinnati Plan, adopted in 2018, calls for regulatory changes to encourage growing and consuming more food locally and reducing food waste in landfills. “We were proud to participate in this process. This revision helps the city move forward on implementing the Green Cincinnati Plan, which is one of many steps we’re taking to make Cincinnati the most sustainable city in the country,” commented Larry Falkin, Director of the City’s Office of Environment and Sustainability.

    The code revisions will go into effect in ninety days. Anyone who is concerned about their current compliance or possible impacts from the changes can reach out to the Buildings and Inspection Department. The Food Policy Council and Office of Environment and Sustainability will host listening sessions in late July to educate interested people on the new rules and other resources that are available in the region to operate successful community gardens and farms.

    For more information or to get involved, please contact Michaela Oldfield at michaela@greenumbrella.org.

    ###

    Celebrating 20 years as Greater Cincinnati’s hub for environmental sustainability. Act locally with Green Umbrella and make a difference. Learn more or become a member at www.greenumbrella.org.


  • June 18, 2019 3:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Cincinnati
    By: Jessica Esemplare

    Tremaine Phillips stands before a packed room at the 2019 Midwest Sustainability Summit, held on June 14 at Xavier University’s Schiff Conference Center. He’s moderating a breakout session about Cincinnati’s recently appointed 2030 District, and discussing the efforts the city will make to reduce energy use, water consumption, and transportation issues related to commercial buildings by 50 percent over the next 10 years.

    “I tried to figure out a way to tell the story on why sustainability and why the issue of climate change is so important to me that wasn’t as cliché as talking about my daughter, but for all of us who have children — or close family friends who have children — and understand that love and connection with them, it’s kind of hard to separate yourself from that reality,” says Phillips, the director of Cincinnati’s 2030 District.

    “The reality is that in the 20 months time that I’ve been able to spend and bond with my daughter, we’ve had hurricane Harvey, we’ve had hurricane Florence, which went through my family’s hometown,” he continues. “We’ve had the worst wildfire season in California’s history, we’ve had hurricane Michael that came through the Florida region.”

    “It’s not national anymore, it’s local. The landslide issues … in this community, and the increased rainfall events that we’re having. I think it’s a 40 percent increase in heavy rainfall or heavy precipitation events here in the Cincinnati community over the last 50 years.”

    Phillips, who initially wanted to be a meteorologist before getting into climate change, is passionate about the project and proud of the collaboration that went into making Cincinnati one of 22 2030 Districts in the country.

    And he should be. It wasn’t an easy process.

    According to Phillips, the efforts started with the formation of the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan, which sought solutions to combat severe flooding, extreme heat, increased storm events, flash flooding, landslides, sewer-backups, and changes in precipitation, as well as creating efficient and more sustainable practices for the city.

    Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability held more than 30 meetings and received around 13,000 recommendations for how the city can move forward with urban sustainability issues, enhance environmental quality of life, and create an 80 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2050.

    During this time, Phillips chaired the Built Environment Group, which focused on the environmental and carbon impacts of commercial and residential buildings and roads. The key proposal — the idea that a 2030 District should be formed — came from this group.

    “Really, one of the primary reasons for that,” he says, “is because nationally, buildings account for 39 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, but here in Cincinnati, our built environment accounts for 60 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions.”

    “As we begin to think about how we are going to reach these ambitious goals by 2030 and beyond, we have to begin to target our built environment, and, in particular, our large commercial buildings in this region,” he continues.

    The 2030 District naturally aligned with the needs of the community.

    The Process

    The National 2030 District Network is based in Washington, D.C., and it certifies any network that a city wants to form after going through a vigorous process. It took places like Cleveland and Detroit a few years to get the necessary regional buy in, building owner support, and analysis, which all happens with the help of volunteers.

    “We were able to get through that entire process from pending to established district in about 12–14 months,” Phillips says, thanks to a group of, at times, up to 60 individuals.

    “I’ve worked on a lot of projects like this in different communities, but this was the most invested, committed, broad-reaching volunteer group I’ve ever been a part of,” he says.

    Support came from all corners of the community: people from both the city and county; three area universities (Xavier, UC, and NKU); small and large engineering and architecture firms; representatives from Fortune 500 companies like Kroger, Fifth Third Bank, and Procter & Gamble; as well as nonprofits like Green Umbrella and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.

    Phillips was working for a startup energy efficiency and data analytics company in Columbus at the time, driving back and forth several days a week, volunteering pretty heavily in the creation of the district.

    Green Umbrella committed to add the district as one of its staffed initiatives, and applied for — and won — funding through the Duke Class Benefit Fund. That funding allowed the organization to hire Phillips as the director for the program. On December 20, 2018, Cincinnati officially became a 2030 District. 

    “We’re just past the six-month mark, and we’ve now emerged as one of the largest and most active 2030 Districts in the country,” he says.

    Members include property owners, developers, commercial tenants, and property managers in the city’s urban core — 23 total that are a part of the district — who have committed more than 200 properties to the effort. They represent more than 20 million square feet of real estate and commercial space.

    “To put that in perspective,” Phillips explains, “that’s equivalent to around seven-and-a-half Empire State Buildings or around 11 Paul Brown Stadiums.”

    Members follow the national 2030 District’s three goals, or pillars: A 50 percent reduction of energy usage, water consumption, and transportation-related emissions by 2030.

    In order to help companies accomplish these ambitious goals, the Cincinnati district is creating a “Field Guide to 50 percent,” which identifies solutions to these problems.

    “We’re [also] piloting a fourth pillar around occupant and building health, looking at not only the technical aspects of a healthy environment within a building. So, how can members increase indoor air quality and water quality,” he says, “[along with] mental health programs, opiate addiction and awareness programs, different efforts to increase cognitive ability productivity, and lessen sick days for employees and occupants of these buildings.”

    “It’s unique to any other district in the country,” Phillips explains.

    Accomplishing the Goals

    Anyone can switch out light bulbs and carpool, but in order to create a massive reduction of usage, companies will need to look beyond the basics.

    Bold examples include energy storage, “microgrid” development — having buildings with their own energy generation sources that are local — and net zero and net positive construction, or buildings that can produce more energy than they use.

    In the transportation realm, there’s the idea that companies will offer incentives to carpool, take public transit, or ride a bike or scooter to work.

    With water, commercial buildings not only need to reduce the amount they use (like installing low-flow toilets) but also work with Cincinnati’s water surplus that often ends up as sewage overflow in lower-income neighborhoods or in the Ohio River. Businesses will need to capture and contain water onsite and figure out creative ways to reuse it.

    Back at the summit, Phillips unveils the Cincinnati 2030 District plan to a rapt audience. He encourages everyone to participate in working groups that will help design programs to incorporate all four pillars, which will also help with reporting progress to the national organization.

    “What really separates 2030 efforts from other urban sustainability initiatives out there — and there are a lot of cooperating and competing initiatives in this area — is that the 2030 model really harps in on tracking those reductions to 2030,” he says.

    This summer, there will be a training on the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, where the EPA and other organizations will teach both members and building owners how to baseline and track their energy and water use. There will also be a building retro commissioning program, which will help maintain and finely tune heating and cooling systems, particularly for older buildings. The district will help subsidize that work for a number of properties within the districts.

    “So it’s identifying those solutions, connecting our membership with vetted partners and service providers, finding ways, either [through] existing incentives or developing rebating and incentive programs through the 2030 District to help bring down the cost of implementing those solutions,” says Phillips.

    A “Lunch and Learn” series — also known as the 50 percent solution series — will start on July 11. They’re designed to bring in national experts and service providers to speak with the district and educate people on how to implement those solutions.

    “I can truly say that the impacts of abrupt climate change are being felt across this planet today,” says Phillips. “It’s something that can be frightening, but it also can be empowering because it clears a lot of other options of what I want to do with my life off the table.”

    "We have incredible assets here in our community,” he continues. “We have people who are really moving forward here aggressively. We should use that momentum while we have it in order to advance these goals quickly because, frankly, we don’t have much time left.”

  • June 10, 2019 3:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By: Pete Blackshaw, CEO of Centrifuse

    Sustainability is at the forefront of consumer purchase decisions and nearly every large corporation’s future growth plans. It’s driving spending among millennials, sweeping the new tech landscape, and increasing job satisfaction. Sustainability, Responsibility and Impact (SRI) Investment reached $30.7 trillion globally in early 2018, up 34% from 2016. And 90% of CEOs now say sustainability is key to success.

    While dramatic, none of this is particularly surprising. What is surprising, however, is where sustainability innovation and leadership are coming from.

    Would you believe Cincinnati? Having spent the last six months evaluating regional "right to win" strengths in my capacity as CEO of Cintrifuse, the city’s startup catalyst focused on making Greater Cincinnati the number one tech startup hub in the Midwest, I’m convinced we have the potential to become a national leader in sustainability.

    Just consider, Cincinnati was named the nation’s Most Sustainable City by Site Magazine, ahead of cities like Seattle, San Diego and Los Angeles. We earned largely because of the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan that’s built around 80 strategies to nearly eliminate the city’s carbon emissions over three decades.

    Just last month we learned that Cincinnati will serve as the next location for a national initiative, Beyond34, that’s looking to dramatically boost recycling rates. 

    Cincinnati is also among the top 20 American cities with LEED-certified buildings – and sixth in the number of industry sectors aligned with CleanTech. Our central business district is becoming a hub of innovation as one of North America’s 2030 Districts, a network of healthy, high-performing sustainable buildings.        

    The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden was named the Greenest Zoo in America almost a decade ago and continues to lead on this front. Our universities – including the University of Cincinnati, Xavier, Miami, and NKU – are powerful engines of innovation and are also growing new generations of sustainability leaders.

    Highly innovative start-ups are drawing investment, talent and attention. 80 Acres Farms, the first fully-automated indoor farm in the U.S., just received a major infusion of private equity investment. Privately held companies such as Michelman are well ahead of the curve in areas like sustainable, post-plastics packaging. Startup-friendly CVG is also pushing barriers, and as the soon-to-be top ecommerce artery in the nation, has every incentive to stay ahead.

    And, of course, our global companies such as Kroger and P&G are setting industry standards worldwide. Kroger has set a moonshot goal to eliminate hunger and food waste in every Kroger community worldwide – by 2025! P&G met or exceeded its demanding 2020 sustainability goals ahead of schedule – and then raised the bar with even more-stretching 2030 goals.

    Few areas will draw as much venture capital, private equity and other forms of investment as sustainability will in the years ahead. Given the momentum we’ve already established, we should be going after our fair share of the pie.

    Three priorities can accelerate our success. One, we need a more-coordinated strategy.  Two, we need to clarify and prioritize innovation spaces where we have the greatest right to lead and win. Three, we must tell the world what we are doing – and invite the best thinkers, entrepreneurs, investors, and activists to come join us. 

    This is an area where Cintrifuse is committed to play a catalytic role. We’re working with City Hall on several fronts, including supporting Cincy Insights, the city’s visual open data portal that makes city data easy to access and use, and which could positively influence green entrepreneurship. On June 26, we’ll also be hosting at Union Hall a community hackathon to drive big, bold thinking about sustainability.

    Ours is a story I want to shout from every LEED-certified rooftop I can find because our historic Queen City is a pioneering Green City and our region is leading the way to a safer, cleaner, more-sustainable world. 

    Pete Blackshaw is CEO of Cintrifuse, a Cincinnati startup catalyst fueled by a network of 700 venture capitalists, some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies, and thousands of startups.


  • May 23, 2019 2:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier
    By: Nikki Kingery

    Cincinnati will serve as the next location for a national initiative to increase recycling in local communities.

    Beyond 34, a project by the U.S. Chamber Foundation, aims to increase the current 34% recycling rate in the U.S. by providing a collaborative, scalable model through private-public partnerships. Locally, it will involve the city of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.

    “Cincinnati rose to the top after our analysis of several U.S. cities using criteria important to successful recycling programs such as local policies, recycling education, and data collection," Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said in a news release about the program.

    The U.S. recycling rate has stalled at around 34% for the past decade. The U.S. Chamber Foundation notes that some of the challenges to increasing that rate include the education and motivation of consumers to recycle correctly; the cost and time required to modernize and build new recycling and sorting infrastructure; and the lack of consistently strong markets for certain materials.

    Cincinnati has already committed to a goal of achieving zero waste by 2035 as part of its Green Cincinnati Plan.

    “For more than 25 years, Cincinnati residents have diverted more than 350,000 tons of material from the waste stream,” Mayor John Cranley said in a statement “This diversion is due to our significant recycling efforts, including every other week collection of recyclables, data initiatives via the RFID technology in city-issued bins and engaging residents on recycling nontraditional materials such as textiles, e-waste, and housewares. Beyond 34 will help our city identify the highest impact projects to build on our existing recycling efforts and get closer to our zero waste goal.”

    The U.S. Chamber Foundation launched the Beyond 34 pilot project in Orlando, Fla., in September 2017. The Beyond 34 expansion effort is made possible with support from the Plastics Industry Association, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and the Walmart Foundation.

  • May 17, 2019 10:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier
    By Chris Wetterich

    The Cincinnati Planning Commission voted unanimously Friday to make it easier for residents and businesses to keep animals for farming purposes, establish community gardens and compost, among other urban agricultural issues.

    For two years, the city and a steering committee looked at how to streamline its policies on urban agriculture in the zoning code because of expanded interest by residents and a complex web of regulations.

    The amendments to the zoning code will allow farming as a right of property owners and also will only restrict animal keeping based on the density of property. They will require City Council approval.

    The amendments to the zoning code are designed to allow small- and large-scale farms and community gardens to provide more food to the city, according to the planning staff report.

    “There is insufficient coverage in the code and what exists is too restrictive and scattered throughout it, making it hard to find and read,” according to the planning commission’s report. The city’s building department “has experienced a huge increase in demand by urban agriculture professionals and the everyday property owners alike for better direction and regulations.”

    Does that mean your next door neighbor will be allowed to have a goat in the back yard? If their lot size is less than 10,000 square feet, they would be allowed to have two goats that must be contained five feet from the property line and have a shelter of at least 20 square feet per goat. A property owner with more than 20,000 square feet could have a maximum of eight goats.

    More common are people who want to keep chickens or other small birds that lay eggs. For a property of less than 10,000 square feet, owners can have six chickens that must be contained and have a shelter of four square feet per chicken.

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    Garrett Gerard, vice president of the Sayler Park Council, said the new regulations would help, but that the city also will need to grandfather in non-nuisance properties whose chicken coops may not be far enough from the property line (the new regulations specify 10 feet). Urban farming is more common in Sayler Park because of larger lots, he said.

    “They’re much loved people,” Gerard said of urban farmers. “They’re throwing (giving people) eggs all over the neighborhood.”

    Other advocates praised the changes. The city has tens of thousands of hobby gardens, said Larry Falkin, the city’s director of environment and sustainability, with dozens deriving some income from them. There are 40 city-owned parcels currently used for urban agriculture, he said.

    “There’s a little bit of money and a lot of sweat toward making a good growing lot out of a vacant lot,” Falkin said.


  • May 15, 2019 1:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    UPDATE, 5/17/19

    The Mayor's version of the 2020 budget, released yesterday, restores funding to Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, along with many poverty-reduction and economic development programs. It does not address funding for the Director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability or the Urban Agriculture Program.

    ---

    ORIGINAL POST

    The City of Cincinnati is in the process of developing its budget for 2020. The City Manager has released his version of the budget. It includes cuts to several programs that are an integral part of the Green Umbrella network.

    • It eliminates all funding for Keep Cincinnati Beautiful (representing 55% of its budget), which provides a wide range of education and services to the community to reduce waste and litter, prevent illegal dumping, clean up neighborhoods and stabilize vacant properties. These types of services are performed by city government in many other cities but have become part of the scope of this impactful non-profit over its decades of partnership with the City.

    • It eliminates the position of Director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability. Cincinnati has been a leader in the Midwest in driving progress towards carbon reductions, resiliency planning, urban agriculture and landfill diversion. The Green Cincinnati Plan and progress towards our carbon reduction goals is evidence of that. OES has brought in several national funding partners over the last few years which are increasing its capacity for impact without adding cost to the city budget. Without a Director, this department it will be less effective in implementing its programs, interacting with the rest of city government and attracting national and regional support for its innovative work.

    • It eliminates the Urban Agriculture grant program, which provides mini-grants to farmers and community gardeners for land acquisition and infrastructure. The city is very close to adopting revised zoning ordinances for urban agriculture, which will make it easier for gardeners to produce food and compost on their properties. Losing funding for grants to these individuals and communities will make it harder for them to get their efforts off the ground just as they are finally able to invest in infrastructure that has previously been restricted. The $21,890 in the budget for this program is a drop in the city budget but could be transformative for 5 or more entrepreneurs or community groups in 2020.

    • It eliminates funding for the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance’s work to increase renewable energy installations and increase energy efficiency in the built environment.

    • It eliminates all funding in 2020 for the Bicycle Transportation Program, which funds on-road bike lanes, bike parking facilities, signage and bike friendly storm drains. These funds are used by communities to enact their vision for an active transportation network that helps people get where they need to go without relying on a vehicle. 

    Green Umbrella would like to see the City’s budget reflect the strong commitment it has made to sustainability through the Green Cincinnati Plan. Let’s show our residents and businesses we are all-in on pursuing our shared sustainability goals.

    The full city budget proposal and details about the public input process is available on the City Manager’s website. The Mayor can make changes up until May 24. City Council will review and make adjustments with the deadline of final approval by June 30. There will be public hearings May 29, June 3 and June 4.


  • May 15, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Currently under consideration, Ohio HB6 would:

    • Remove the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy portfolio standards

    • Remove a rider on Ohio electric bills that funds successful energy efficiency and renewable energy programs

    • Replace it with a new surcharge on Ohio electric bills, the majority of which would go to bail out two nuclear plants in Northern Ohio

    The bill would create a "Clean Air Program Fund" which is designed to send the majority of the funding ($169 Million) to FirstEnergy Solutions. While there are provisions that make energy efficiency and renewables sector eligible for some of the funds, there are arbitrary restrictions in recent versions of the bill making it so that none of Ohio's solar and wind farms would qualify.

    The two nuclear plants do currently employ many people in Northern Ohio and generate 88% of Ohio's carbon-free energy (15% of our total electricity). If they close down it is likely that much of that generation would shift to natural gas.

    While it may be beneficial to keep the plants operational as the renewable energy sector continues to grow, members of Green Umbrella’s Energy Action Team do not support de-funding existing programs that benefit Southwestern Ohio residents and businesses in order to shift that funding out of the region to bail out FirstEnergy Solutions.

    Democrats have responded by introducing the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs plan, which would take the current 12.5% renewable portfolio standard up to 50%, fix setback requirements to encourage large-scale wind investment and require a 50% in-state preference for new renewable energy projects. It would also create job training programs in growing clean energy fields.

    Republicans control the Ohio legislature by a wide margin and their bill has advanced to the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

    More information:

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