‘Good Food’ Invites Community to Bring a Dish, Talk Sustainability

Can a potluck spark a sustainability movement in Cincinnati? Three entrepreneurs are out to prove it can this weekend.

Good Food is a one-day, meatless potluck that is part pop-up dinner and part community gathering event. Hosted by Ohio Against the World founder Floyd Johnson, Free People International founder Joi Sears, and A Few Hungry Girls founder Ray Ball, the event will take place this Saturday, June 11 in the West End.

Organizers are encouraging participants to come hungry in order to enjoy all the food, but the larger purpose, they say, is to generate awareness and conversations around food justice, food insecurity and food waste.

Johnson and Sears first came up with the idea for the event through a shared interest in community engagement around social issues. Sears, through her work with Free People International, focused on environmental sustainability; while Floyd, international travel for his business Ohio Against the World grew into a passion for food.

“The partnership just kind of clicked,” Sears told UrbanCincy. “We’ve been conceptualizing some larger scale projects like a vegan restaurant, food truck or perhaps a cooking show, but wanted to test the waters and see how the community responded to our big ideas.”

“We both wanted to find something that we could do to make a lasting impact on our city, and to transform all of our creative energy into something productive. Good Food is the first iteration of this idea.”

Once Johnson and Sears decided on a food event, they brought on blogger Ray Ball, whose blog A Few Hungry Girls focuses on cooking accessible, healthy foods.

At Good Food, visitors will be able pick their own herbs at the water detox station or check out the living wall installation sponsored by Urban Blooms. The evening’s guest speakers will include Oliver Kroner, Cincinnati’s new Sustainability Coordinator, who will share his plan to make Cincinnati one of the greenest cities in the nation by 2036, Lily Turner from Urban Blooms, and Foundation 513’s Zach Franke.

The facilitated dialogue is part of a series of creative community engagements funded by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, which is also serving as a sponsor for the event.

In addition to installations and discussions with the guest speakers, organizers say that attendees will have an opportunity to share their own ideas for what Cincinnati should look like in 20 years through a variety of interactive activities and art-making.

Still, with all of that programming, the agenda will be fairly informal.

“The floor will be open for anyone, not just the list of speakers,” Sears said. “At the end of the day, Good Food is just like any other dinner – good food and good conversation.”

Good Food will take place on Saturday, June 11 at Foundation 513, located at 1984 Central Avenue in the West End, from 6pm to 10pm. The event is free and open to the public, though donations are accepted. Attendees are asked to bring a vegan or vegetarian dish, and the event is B.Y.O.P. (Bring Your Own Plate). For those who are less culinarily inclined, event organizers suggest bringing a bottle of wine or beer instead.

DownTowne Listening Room Finding Its Niche inside the historic Shillito Building’s Club Room

The concept was new to Cincinnati: experience music in a quiet, intimate environment free of chatter, phones, and booze. DownTowne Listening Room, located in the historic Shillito’s Building at Seventh and Race Streets, hosted its first show back in June 2014. Presented in the building’s underutilized Club Room, the inaugural show attracted 50 people to the 60-person capacity room.

Founder Scott Skeabeck is an avid music lover who moved to Cincinnati from Philadelphia about five years ago. As a frequent concert-goer and listening room patron on the East Coast, he was determined to bring the experience to Cincinnati. With zero experience producing concerts, he booked his first act.

“I think this is an unmet need in Cincy. Perhaps some people don’t even know they’re missing,” Skeabeck told UrbanCincy back in May. His hypothesis proved true over the next six months. The music series hosted seven shows and wrapped up the year with a sold-out show in November.

While the Listening Room has exceeded its founder’s expectations, the endeavor has not been without its challenges. The Listening Room is slowly building a small community of followers, but the main hurdle, Skeabeck says, is finding its audience.

The concept is unique to Cincinnati and it has been a challenge for people to wrap their heads around a venue that falls somewhere between a coffee shop and a house concert. Similar venues exist, such as Schwartz Point Jazz Club and 213 Listening Room in Over-The-Rhine, though they cater to different genres or only occasionally host events. Skeabeck also says that it has been difficult finding people who are willing to pay $10 to $15 to hear relatively unknown artists when they can hear it a bar for free.

Another challenge is the time and money to produce each show, which occurs in Skeabeck’s spare time outside of his marketing job at Western & Southern.

Once a month he and his wife set up the signage, seating, tables, and sound equipment for the show, and then break it all down that same night so the room can operate as an apartment complex club room. Skeabeck pays for the marketing, promotion, food and security out of pocket since ticket sales go back toward the artists’ guarantee. He has even gone so far to offer up his loft when an artist needs room and board.

In spite of its hurdles, the time, energy and investment is worth it to Skeabeck, who has already booked shows into July 2015.

“Of course, it’s not for everyone; but so many more have thanked us for creating a refuge of solitude where they can really hear the artist and not the audience around them,” Skeabeck concluded.

DownTowne Listening Room will return January 17 with a free local singer-songwriter showcase featuring in-the-round sets by three Cincinnati artists. While the show is free, and already sold out, donations are appreciated and still accepted if you want to support the concept. A listing of upcoming artists at DownTowne Listening Room can be found on the venue’s website.

An Indie Guide to Cincinnati During the Holidays

With Thanksgiving behind us, the holidays are officially in full swing in Cincinnati. If you’re looking to get in the holiday spirit, there are dozens of options in the city center. While Downtown Cincinnati keeps the traditional holiday festivities on lock down with the Fountain Square ice rink and Holiday Junction at the Cincinnati Museum Center, Over-the-Rhine has embraced a more eclectic mix of urban craft markets, revisited German traditions, historic tours, and local shopping. If you’re looking for more than wassailing and Breakfast with Santa this season, check out UrbanCincy’s round up of things to see and do in Cincinnati’s city center.

Beginning this weekend, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce kicks off the holiday shopping season on Black Friday with its sixth annual “Holidays in the Bag” special. Purchase a bag and receive discounts from over 25 participating businesses in OTR. Bags cost $5 and this year’s proceeds from bag sales benefit Future Leaders OTR. Score deals from new OTR businesses like Homage, Brezel, Macaron Bar, and Cincy Shirts, and more. Check out the full list of discounts here.

In addition to Black Friday specials, OTR will also continue its regular Final Friday gallery hop with a variety of events and shop specials. November’s Final Friday art walk will include Walk This Way, a pop-up art gallery inside OTR’s alleys. Located between Clay Street and 13th Street, the event transforms Drum Alley and Coral Alley into an artist market featuring over 13 local artists, a majority of whom are students from Art Academy of Cincinnati. Walk This Way is a collaboration between Spring in Our Steps, the Art Academy and Urban Sites. Afterward head back to 13th street for another pop-up shop at Exposure/13, the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s student-run gallery.

Other Thanksgiving weekend highlights in OTR include the kickoff of the OTR-a-Glow window display competition, Small Business Saturday, and Main Street Stroll and Shop and Caroling.

Several indie pop-up markets in the city center will highlight fine art and handmade goods by regional artists. Visit the fifth annual Crafty Supermarket at Music Hall November 29 to browse 90 crafters, artists, and makers from the eastern U.S. On Sunday, November 30, City Flea Small Mall brings together local brick and mortar businesses like Parlour, Leftcoast Modern, indigenous, Fern Studio, Casablanca Vintage, Rock Paper Scissors, and more. This year the second annual event will expand into Contemporary Arts Center in addition to its original location at 21c Museum Hotel.

Looking for more opportunities to shop local? Findlay Market will host “Christmas at the Market” December 6, 7, 13 and 14 where visitors can find gifts, holiday entertainment, warm drinks and the Caracole Christmas tree sale. Other craft markets include Art Academy of Cincinnati’s Snowflake Sale on December 6, featuring fine art, crafts, “poetry while you wait,” on-site screen printing and a clothing swap, Art on Vine’s holiday market at Rhingeist on December 14 and City Flea’s special nighttime Unwrapped Market at Washington Park on December 15.

Washington Park will host several holiday events this season. In addition to regular weekend programming like caroling at the bandstand and visits to Santa’s Workshop on Saturday afternoons, Washington Park hosts its fourth annual Light Up OTR party. On December 12 the community is invited to assemble and distribute over 1,000 luminaries. Afterward Washington Park will light its Christmas Tree.

The holidays are also an excellent opportunity to catch special holiday arts events and concerts. For those looking to tap into their German roots, American Legacy Tour hosts Christmas Saengerfest December 5 and 6. More than a dozen regional choirs will perform at venues including Memorial Hall, Christian Moerlein Brewery, and St. Francis Seraph.

Meanwhile, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops have a full concert schedule through December 21 and theater nerds can delight in Know Theatre’s Bureau of Missing Persons and Ensemble Theater’s Sleeping Beauty.

If urban exploration is more your thing, consider the Main Street OTR Walking Tours. These new guided walking tours will explore the architecture and history of Over-the-Rhine’s Main Street. Tours will be available December 6 and December 11. For a more traditional trip downtown, free horse drawn carriage rides are available on weekends through December 14. More downtown holiday activities can be found at downtowncincinnati.com.

What are your new favorite holiday traditions in Cincinnati? Share your favorite off-the-beaten path traditions with us in the comment section.

Free and Cheap Things To Do in Cincinnati This Holiday Season

It may be getting cold outside but there are still plenty of great things going on for the Holidays and through Winter in the urban core and around the region. Bridgett Raffenberg at 365 Cincinnati has a comprehensive breakdown of things to do that are fun and won’t break the holiday budget. More at 365 Cincinnati:

It may be cold and it may just snow…. perhaps a few of these fun free and cheap winter things to do in Cincinnati will help you get out and enjoy our fine city!

 

‘Pints for Paint’ Event to Offer First Look Inside OTR’s Restored Woodward Theater

Get a first look at The Woodward Theater this Friday at Pints for Paint, a launch party and fundraiser for Cincinnati’s newest live music venue and event space.

The idea is simple: Invite the community to drink beer and use the funds to buy paint. Proceeds from beer sales, sponsored by Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., will help the owners pay for cans of paint and other finishing touches in the 101-year-old theater.

The newly renovated Woodward Theater, located at 1404 Main Street, will officially open for its first rock show on November 10 with a performance from Grand Rapids indie band The Soil & The Sun.

In an interview with UrbanCincy, co-owner Dan McCabe explained that Pints for Paint is “how Main Street does things. It’s a bootstraps, grassroots effort.” McCabe, along with co-owners Chris Schadler and Chris Varias, also own MOTR Pub across the street at 1345 Main Street.

The restored theater will serve as a multi-use event space that can accommodate up to 600 people. MOTR is also developing a new catering menu for The Woodward with plans to make MOTR the exclusive caterer for events held there.

Though it will be primarily used as a rock venue, McCabe emphasized that the space will be available to the community for private events, parties and speaking engagements. The Woodward also plans to offer a “steady diet of film programming” — a nod to the theater’s 1913 film house origins.

Complementing MOTR’s 150-person capacity venue, The Woodward’s music lineup will showcase local and nationally touring independent bands that are better suited for a larger stage. The hope is to help bands that have used MOTR as their entry point into Cincinnati eventually graduate to larger crowds at The Woodward. Visitors will eventually be able to purchase tickets for Woodward shows at MOTR, or get them online at CincyTicket.com.

Ticketed shows at the Woodward will cost anywhere from $5 to $15 and will typically end around 11pm.

The venue’s biggest asset, McCabe says, isn’t its size, the number of taps, or even the unique beaux arts-style space — it’s Over-the-Rhine. Being uniquely integrated into the neighborhood, he believes that this makes the venue perfectly poised to become the region’s entry point into the historic neighborhood. As the Woodward books larger acts that attract visitors from outside the region, McCabe points out that those visitors are going to arrive in town ready to explore, shop, and eat in OTR.

McCabe also sees The Woodward as a catalyst for new businesses on Main Street. “Main Street really is an accessible corridor in Over-the-Rhine. Anybody with new ideas, new concepts, there are probably like-minded folks who want to join in and make things happen.”

Main Street’s openness to possibility and infusion of new visitors is what will, in theory, help drive the opening of new storefronts.

The process to get to this point has not come easily. Owners first began researching the purchase of the building in 2011, just one year after opening MOTR Pub across the street. The group then began pursuing financing in 2012, but it wasn’t until the Cincinnati Development Fund stepped in that the theater was able to secure their SBA loan and purchase the building in 2013. They finally began renovation work in May 2014.

While Pints for Paint will help fund the final finishing touches before the opening, McCabe makes it clear that renovations won’t stop at a few coats of paint.

“It’s not ‘Boom! We’re done.’ We’re going to continue to invest in that building. We’re going to continue to build once we get this thing up and running,” McCabe says. In addition to continuing improvements to the acoustics, an upstairs bar is in the works. They are also interested in bringing back the theater’s marquee, although a new one will need to be fabricated.

Still, when asked what Dan McCabe is most excited about, he responds, “People spilling beer.” He and co-owner Chris Schadler have been working side by side to painstakingly replace the hardwood floorboards. “As I’m on my hands and knees working on that stuff, my vision of beer getting dripped on it…that’s success.”

Pints for Paint will take place at 6pm this Friday, November 7. Early attendees will receive an exclusive Pints for Paint commemorative pint glass, and MOTR Pub will cater appetizers until 7pm.

Serving as event partners, The Enquirer will also have archived photos detailing The Woodward’s history. MOTR will host the after-party for a free show by The Yugos and Lux Deluxe.