Award-Winning Filmmaker’s Latest Project Highlights Lower Price Hill’s Oyler School

Lower Price Hill is a neighborhood that has seen better days, but recent and ongoing efforts to turn things around in the largely Appalachian and Hispanic community have begun to prove successful.

Some of those efforts include the more recent co-op approach being employed by the Lower Price Hill Community School to help deliver services and offerings that are not currently available to residents of the historic neighborhood. But it is the $21 million renovation of Oyler School that is seen as the spark for the recent improvements.

“Roughly half of the children in U.S. public schools today come from low-income families, and a debate is raging over how to help more of them succeed,” write filmmakers for the new documentary entitled Oyler. “Oyler School’s approach—combining academic, health, and social services under one roof—is catching on around the country.”

Amy Scott, an independent documentary filmmaker and correspondent for public radio’s Marketplace show, says that she has spent a year reporting from Oyler, and believes the documentary tells a story that has become commonplace throughout America.

Oyler tells a gripping story of individuals fighting for change in a unique American community, but it also takes on one of our country’s most pressing challenges – the persistent achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers,” wrote Scott on the project’s Kickstarter page.

The major underlying theme is about how Lower Price Hill is using its public school to transform itself and the lives of those who call it home. In a more direct message, the film also speaks to the nationally acclaimed community learning centers being employed by Cincinnati Public Schools.

While Scott’s team has already been successful at raising just over their initial goal of $25,000 for the film through Kickstarter, the campaign will remain open for one more week. The team says that the funds will be used to cover the costs associated with producing an original music score, sound mix and color correction, rights for commercial music and archival footage, and a professional website.

After the campaign closes next week, the team will get to work on finishing up the documentary and doing the requisite post-production work for a film of this nature. They say that there will be film screenings in Cincinnati and Baltimore next fall, at a minimum, and at other locations depending on those who provided more than $5,000 to the campaign.

What can UC’s School of Planning do to improve its graduates’ AICP exam pass rates?

The American Planning Association recently published their annual summary of AICP Exam pass rates of graduates from accredited planning programs, and both the University of Cincinnati’s masters and bachelors programs have once come in near the bottom of their respective quartile.

While some industry professionals believe the AICP credential no longer means what is used to, it is still, by and large, the distinguishing professional certification for professional planners.

The University of Cincinnati (UC) is one of just a select group of universities in North America with accredited masters and bachelors planning programs. Between 2004 and 2013, 65 out of 100 Master of Community Planning graduates passed the exam while 34 out of 68 Bachelor of Urban Planning graduates achieved a passing score. The total number of graduates taking the exam for both programs ranks them in the first and second quartiles respectively.

AICP Exam Pass Rates - Bachelor Programs
AICP Exam Pass Rates - Masters Programs

But while the overall number of planning students graduating from the University of Cincinnati’s planning programs is one of the highest in North America, their AICP Exam pass rates of 65% and 50% rank them near the bottom of their respective peers. These average scores also place both programs below the mean pass rate of 71% for accredited planning programs.

“The pass rates for both the MCP and BUP programs are very disappointing,” stated Dr. Danilo Palazzo, Director of UC’s School of Planning. “We have already met with the leadership from the Cincinnati section of APA Ohio and are devising a plan to make our students better aware of the topics covered by the AICP exam.”

One of the ways in which UC officials are hoping to improve this standing is by instituting a new course that would provide an AICP overview for those approaching graduation. The new course, however, does not yet have funding to support it twice per year as envisioned.

“I would like to believe that the pass rates are not a good reflection of the caliber of the professional planning education offered by our programs, though I will not make excuses. These low pass rates are unacceptable,” Dr. Palazzo emphasized. “We are very much open to the comments and suggestions from members of the AICP community, and would appreciate any actionable suggestions from your readers.”

Ohio State University’s Master of City and Regional Planning program, meanwhile, was the only other program in Ohio to be ranked. Its graduates passed the AICP Exam 75% of the time.

EDITORIAL NOTE: UrbanCincy’s owner and managing editor, Randy Simes, is a 2009 graduate of the UC’s Bachelor of Urban Planning program, and UrbanCincy’s local area manager, John Yung, is a 2013 graduate of UC’s Master of Community Planning program. Neither John nor Randy has applied to take the AICP exam.

Covington to Become Home to Region’s 19th Tiny Streetside Library

Bellevue Little Free Library

The Little Free Library at Fairfield and Ward Avenues in Bellevue. Photograph by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.

The City of Covington will join the City of Bellevue soon when Jeff Pelini installs a “Little Free Library” at the intersection of Sixth Street and Craig Street.

The matter was approved by the Covington Commission at their January 7 hearing, and will allow for the miniature bookshelf to be installed along the street.

These fixtures have become increasingly popular across the United States and throughout the world as the sharing economy continues to take hold. They are initially stocked with some books and anyone is welcome to take a book and return it or place another book inside for others to read.

The Little Free Library to the east in Bellevue sits at the intersection of Fairfield Avenue and Ward Avenue just in front of the St. John United Church of Christ. It has been there for approximately three years. A new one was recently installed on Van Voast Avenue in Bellevue as well. In September the City of Bellevue approved a certification program to encourage community engagement through construction of the little free libraries.

“The goals of the program are to promote literacy in the city, improve neighborhood aesthetic and community. Little Free Libraries also indirectly increase pedestrian activity which promotes safety,” Ryan Salzman of the Bellevue Alliance told UrbanCincy.

In 2009, villagers in Somerset, England transformed one of their iconic red telephone booths into the country’s smallest library.

The idea for this concept first gained publicity in the United States during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 when camps of protestors began creating a temporary community, including what they called The People’s Library. Then, in 2012, John Locke gained notoriety for his DIY libraries in New York City.

According to Little Free Library’s mapping system, there are 18 of these stands throughout the Cincinnati region today. The Covington location will be the second in Northern Kentucky.

William Mallory, Sr.’s Legacy Will Live on Through Family, Record and Monument

We lost a legendary Cincinnatian on Tuesday when William Mallory, Sr. passed away at the age of 82.

Mallory’s political history is profound and sparked a political empire that continues to this day through his five sons who have all continued the family business of politics. You can learn more about the Mallory family, and how William Mallory, Sr. got his start early on in the West End, in this great feature published by The Enquirer.

While the legendary 28-year state representative had been out of that seat since 1994, he continued to make an impact locally. One of his most recent contributions was the Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park.

According to the Cincinnati Park Board, it was the Honorable William Mallory, Sr. who inspired the creation of the monument in order to ensure that the story 718 heroes from the Civil War was preserved.

“Upon reading about the experiences of Cincinnati Black Brigade several years ago, Mr. Mallory recognized the story as a rich tapestry—woven with timeless lessons of courage, the search for justice, the scourge of bigotry, and the value of human life and dignity that still speak to us today in the most profound ways possible,” Park Board officials stated in a prepared release.

The monument now stands within the first completed phase of Smale Riverfront Park near where Main Street (Joe Nuxhall Way) terminates at Mehring Way. It was completed in September 2012 and serves as a primary feature of the city’s landmark park.

The Cincinnati Park Board was kind enough to provide us with a video detailing the history of the Cincinnati Black Brigade that includes detailed explanations from William Mallory Sr. as to why the monument is important.

“Late 19th century Cincinnati educator Peter Clark was commissioned by the Black Brigade to document their story. This historical account made it clear to me that the Brigade wished for future generations to know about their contributions to the Defense of Cincinnati,” Mallory explained at the monument’s dedication just over one year ago.

“Having worked for a decade towards creation of a monument to their memory, I am pleased that its design and placement has been led by the Cincinnati Park Board and Cincinnati Parks Foundation. This monument secures Cincinnati’s Black Brigade its proper place in history.”

It is certainly cold outside, but if you have yet to visit the Black Brigade Monument, this is probably a good time to go and experience it for yourself. Perhaps even thank Mr. William Mallory, Sr. for his inspiration and leadership on the matter while you’re there.

There will also be a public service held at the Museum Center at Union Terminal on Sunday, December 22. Those who are interested in attending the celebration of William Mallory, Sr.’s life may do so by submitting an RSVP online.

It’s Election Day: Get Out There and Vote!

Urbanist Candidates ForumVoting and participating in the democratic process is a fundamental element of our democracy.

This is your chance as a citizen to vote for those people you would like to represent you on Cincinnati City Council and the Cincinnati Board of Education. These are the people that will decide how to spend your tax dollars. These are the people that will chart the course for the city. These are the people that will decide how to represent you to others around the country and world.

This is important.

There are many significant issues on today’s ballot. Issue 1 is asking voters to renew a tax levy for the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library. Issue 2 is requesting a tax levy renewal to provide maintenance funds for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. And Issue 4 is seeking to majorly overhaul how the City of Cincinnati manages its pension system.

These are important issues.

In terms of representatives, voters in Cincinnati will elect a new mayor for the first time in eight years. They will also elect nine council members who, for the first time, will serve four-year terms.

These decisions are important.

As a result of continued state funding cuts for local governments, a wide array of school levies and other tax levies are on the ballot in communities across the region. Will these resources receive the funding they need, or will they experience trickle-down cuts from the state level?

That is an important question to answer.

There are 381 polling locations (find your voting location) serving Hamilton County’s 545 precincts, and each location is open today from 6:30am to 7:30pm.

Many experts believe that the turnout for today’s election will be less than 40% of registered voters. This and all elections are important. Make sure you get out there today and vote for the candidates you feel will best represent you, and support the issues you feel are important and add value to our community. It is your right and privilege as a citizen to do so. Vote.