Taste of OTR Returns This Weekend As Expanded, Two-Day Event

The Taste of OTR returns this weekend as an expanded two-day event for craft beer, local eats, and live music in Washington Park.

The announced lineup includes more than 25 of the neighborhood’s best restaurants, food trucks, and retailers selected as vendors for this year’s event. Returning favorites from past years include Taste of Belgium, Alabama Fish Bar, and Dojo Gelato; as well as newcomers Eli’s Barbeque, Ché, and Nation Kitchen & Bar.

Conceived four years ago as a creative way to raise awareness for local nonprofit Tender Mercies and celebrate Over-the-Rhine’s renaissance, Taste of OTR has quickly grown into a signature community event. Attendance has grown exponentially from 2,500 in the first year to 15,000 in 2015. This year, organizers anticipate 20,000 people will attend.

The larger, two-day event will also include several new features, including a Craft Beer Village showcasing locally brewed beer from Samuel Adams and Rhinegeist. A new kid’s zone is intended to make sure the event has plenty to offer for families interested in attending.

All of the proceeds from Taste of OTR go to Tender Mercies – the Over-the-Rhine nonprofit that plans and produces the event, and provides permanent supportive housing for homeless adults with mental illness. It assists nearly 200 residents each year with affordable housing and a suite of support programs such as employment and life skills training and benefits assistance.

Since the event’s inception, Taste of OTR has raised $100,000 for the organization. This year, Tender Mercies hopes to net another $60,000 for their cause.

Taste of OTR will take place Friday, August 26 from 5pm to 10pm, and Saturday, August 27th from 11am to 10pm. General admission is free. For more information about Taste of OTR or to purchase VIP tickets, go to www.tasteofotr.com.

‘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.

Cincy Stories Returns to MOTR, Launches New ‘Story Gallery’ In Walnut Hills

Cincy Stories began as a bimonthly event series with members of the community coming together to share stories from their lives. Now, the organizers are expanding into new territory with more neighborhood-specific storytelling events and a “story gallery” in Walnut Hills.

The new Cincy Stories Story Gallery is located in the Trevarren Flats development in Walnut Hills, in a retail space provided by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. In the space, visitors will be able to watch videos of previous storytellers and even step into the “story booth” and record one of their own. Although the space opened last week, an official opening party is being held this Friday from 6-10 p.m. Food and refreshments from Fireside Pizza and Woodburn Brewery will be provided.

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Cincy Stories’ main event also will return to MOTR Pub this evening. Starting at 7 p.m., visitors will hear stories from Nina Wells, Brandon Black, Megan Trischler, Joi M. Sears, Kathy Holwadel, and Reginald Harris, as well as music from Asylum.

You can also hear several of the speakers from past Cincy Stories events on The UrbanCincy Podcast and on Cincy Stories’ own podcast.

With Opening of St. Lawrence Square, East Price Hill Welcomes New Gathering Space

Yesterday the City of Cincinnati, Price Hill Will and members of the East Price Hill community gathered to celebrate the grand opening of St. Lawrence Square.

Located at the corner of St. Lawrence Avenue and Warsaw Avenue, the opening of the new public park marks the culmination of a years-long effort to develop a community gathering place in the historic west side neighborhood.

“While the space is small, we know it will become a center of events for the community ranging from concerts to theatre performances, and even Christmas tree lightings,” Price Hill Will Executive Director, Ken Smith, explained to UrbanCincy. “The project is a great example of what can happen when you involve residents to help improve their neighborhood.”

Assisted by Jeff Raser at Glaserworks, who has otherwise been well-known throughout the city for his work on developing form-based codes, members of the East Price Hill community came up with the idea for establishing a public gathering place, and subsequently developing the final product which includes a small lawn, performance stage, paver-covered walkways, and a water feature honoring the five branches of the military.

“Projects that turn underutilized spaces into public gathering places through a process that engages the community is true placemaking,” Oscar Bedolla, Director of the Cincinnati’s Department of Community & Economic Development, said at the grand opening. “Price Hill Will and everyone involved in revitalizing East Price Hill’s business district have a lot of momentum right now.”

The project was made possible through an unfortunate situation of a fire bringing down a historic structure. Following that, Price Hill Will acquired the property and received $261,595 in CDBG grant funds, along some grant money from PNC Bank and $20,000 of its own money to make it all happen.

Following the grand opening ceremony, community leaders are not wasting any time programming and activating the space. A kickoff party will take place this Sunday at St. Lawrence Square from 4pm to 6:30pm. Event organizers say there will be live music, food and other activities to welcome the community to their new gathering space.

St. Lawrence Square is located in the heart of East Price Hill. It is easily accessible from numerous bus routes; and free bike parking is also readily available in the immediate surrounding.

Popular Walking Tours Showcasing Cincinnati’s Evolution Since 1940s To Return This June

Max Grinnell is an author, historian, and professor who enjoys sharing unique perspectives of American cities. Last summer, he visited Cincinnati to host a series of walking tours that offered a historical look at the city’s urban core. This June, Grinnell is bringing back the tour, which compares the Cincinnati of 1943 to the city today.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.57.51 AMThe walking tour is inspired by Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, a book published in 1943 for the Federal Writers’ Project. This book was a part of the American Guide Series, also known as the WPA guides, which was a program funded by the New Deal to employ writers during the Great Depression. Today, the book serves as a snapshot of 1943 Cincinnati, when the city’s population was 455,610 and now-iconic structures like Carew Tower and Union Terminal were just a decade old.

“I consider it one of the better city guides produced by the Federal Writers’ Project, and that’s significant, considering other volumes considered New Orleans, Philadelphia, and others,” Grinnell told UrbanCincy.

The 60-minute tour will be similar to the ones Grinnell hosted last year, but also include some new elements, such a focus on the Netherland Plaza Hotel and its intricate details.

The tours will take place on June 2, 3, and 6, and will cost $15 per person. Tickets can be purchased at Grinnell’s website.