OTR Foundation Crowdfunding Campaign to Support Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden

The Over-the-Rhine Foundation is looking to raise money to support the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden.

The non-profit group typically advocates for historic preservation, and was instrumental in saving the historic school. As a result, Over-the-Rhine Foundation leadership sees the support of this rooftop garden and the school itself as one of its primary initiatives.

“The Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden is a transformational project that builds community by connecting students in OTR to the values of gardening in their school environment,” W. Kevin Pape, President, Over-the-Rhine Foundation, said in a prepared release. “The Foundation proudly supports Rothenberg’s students and the realization of the rooftop garden project.”

In the case of this project, digital crowdfunding site Indiegogo is being used, but there will also be a happy hour event tonight at Goodfellas Pizzeria on Main Street.

The Indiegogo campaign offers a variety of funding levels, but donors can also pledge their own amount of financial support. Organizers have listed a goal of $5,000, of which nearly half has been raised since the campaign was unofficially launched three weeks ago.

Pape says that the funds will allow for the purchase of 15 cold frames to protect the plants from cold weather, irrigation systems, rain barrels, four new fruit trees, work stations and potting benches, and all the materials needed to stock a Garden Kitchen – electric skillets, mixing bowls, knives, utensils, salad spinner, camp stove and more.

Since reopening in 2013, the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden has served as an active learning experience for Cincinnati Public Schools students, and also provided students at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy with fresh, healthy foods to eat. In fact, the garden allows for daily gardening lessons to be integrated into the students’ curriculum, with each teacher at the school managing a garden bed that has a space for each student within the class.

The happy hour fundraising event tonight at Goodfellas Pizzeria, located at 1211 Main Street, will take place from 5pm to 8pm. Entrance to the event will cost $20, which will support the fundraising effort but also get you pizza and a beer.

Episode #51: Cincy Stories with Allen Woods, Joe Boyd, and Kathryne Gardette

On the 51st episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we are sharing three of the stories from the second Cincy Stories event, which was held on May 5, 2015 at MOTR Pub. Allen Woods, Joe Boyd, and Kathryne Gardette each shared personal stories which we are bringing to you on this podcast. Stay tuned to Cincy Stories’ Facebook page to learn more about future events.

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First Designs Revealed For What Tiny Living Could Look Like in Over-the-Rhine

Brad Cooper unveiled his first designs for two 250-square-foot homes that will be built on the northern edge of Over-the-Rhine later this year.

After showcasing the designs and explaining the process to prospective home-buyers last night, Cooper now says that he hopes to keep moving the project forward so that they can be built by the end of the year, and welcome their tenants by 2016.

The homes are admittedly not for everyone. Instead of focusing on standard sizes and layouts, Cooper has instead focused on a minimalist approach that requires creativity and an open mind to make it work. But if recent trends in tiny living are any indicator, he might be on to something locally.

“You can still live large in a small space, but the homeowner’s lifestyle needs to align with the ethos of tiny living,” says Cooper.

The two initial lots that Cooper is looking to build on are located on Peete Street, where most of the northern side of the street has sat vacant for many years. The lots are small and have a steep slope near the rear, making them nearly impossible to develop according to traditional building practices.

The site layouts, which are still being refined as part of the ongoing design process, leave room for outdoor living space, as well as an adjacent, off-street spot to park a car.

Cooper, who is a professionally trained architect, is being partially driven to develop such a concept due to his belief that affordable housing can be for everyone, but that it begins with a quality upfront investment.

The goal is to sell both of the homes, which are priced at $70,000, by the end of summer or early fall, then to break ground shortly thereafter. For that price, Cooper says that the home-buyer would get most things that are expected in any home, but have options to include a full-size refrigerator, dish washer, washer/dryer, and built-in furniture.

Each of the homes will also come equip with solar panels at the rear of the lot.

At the $70,000 price point, Cooper says that someone making just $10 an hour working 40 hours a week could afford to buy one of the homes. Using standard financing benchmarks, he estimates that someone of that background could finance the home for approximately $500 a month after making a $2,000 down payment.

To help first-time home-buyers through the process, Cooper has partnered with Working in Neighborhoods so that they can get the information they need before moving forward.

Should such an endeavor be successful, it could prove to be a scalable model that the city could use to develop small, difficult lots that have long sat vacant. Most of these locations are located in or very near the center city, so it also gives people an affordable option for buying close to the core.

“You’re not just buying a tiny home, you’re purchasing a stake in one of the most remarkable historic districts in the country,” Cooper noted.

Interested home-buyers are required to attend one of the planned outreach sessions, like the one held last night. While the dates and locations for those have yet to be released, those who are interested can receive updates by signing up at StartSmallHomes.com.

The effort is being funded, in part, through a $100,000 Haile Fellowship at People’s Liberty.

Start Small, Live Large Event to Engage Homebuyers Interested in Tiny Living

In December we announced that one of our writers had won one of prestigious Haile fellowships at People’s Liberty. As part of that, Brad Cooper would receive $100,000 to quit his job and spend the next year developing a concept for affordable, tiny living in Over-the-Rhine.

Over the past five months Cooper has been developing his design, based on community and professional feedback; and he is now ready to present his initial designs at an event he’s hosting Wednesday evening at the Over-the-Rhine Recreation Center.

The event, called Start Small, Live Large, will showcase Cooper’s design concepts thus far, while also presenting additional information for those interested in purchasing one of the two 250-square-foot homes he plans to initially develop. In fact, this is actually the first of a series of events that interested homebuyers will be required to attend in order to eventually purchase one of the homes.

Cooper says that only those interested in eventually buying one of the homes should attend the event. He also notes that those potential homebuyers will need to attend only one of the events as part of this series.

To help these prospective investors better understand the process, Start Small, Live Large will feature a “Homebuyer 101” presentation from Working in Neighborhoods, with a question and answer period to follow.

The event will take place from 6pm to 7:30pm at the Over-the-Rhine Recreation Center at 1715 Republic Street. Light refreshments will be provided.

All Aboard Ohio Celebrates Recent Successes, Future Plans at Recent Meeting

Last Tuesday, All Aboard Ohio held their Spring meeting at the newly-opened Taft Ale House in Over-the-Rhine.

President of the Southwest chapter, Derek Bauman, ran the meeting, which not only included discussion of advocacy for interstate passenger rail in Cincinnati, but also of the ongoing construction of the Cincinnati Streetcar.

Several community leaders and representatives were present, including Streetcar Project Manager John Deatrick, Metro’s Rail Operations Manager Paul Grether from Metro, the chief of staff for Councilman Kevin Flynn, a representative from the Cincinnati Preservation Society, the president of Queen City Bike, and even Cincinnati Union Terminal’s Amtrak station manager.

To begin the meeting, Deatrick and Grether talked about the construction of the streetcar system, which can be seen directly outside of Taft’s Ale House, and the future operation of it. Deatrick informed the crowd that almost 70% of the construction is complete, which is ahead of schedule, and the city expects the first streetcar delivery by September.

When asked to address the ongoing discussion about the next phase to Uptown, Deatrick declined to comment.

Grether then explained how his organization acts as the conduit for federal funds to the streetcar and will be the future operator of the system. He also discussed Metro’s plans to schedule the streetcar in a manner that complements and fully integrates with Metro’s bus operations, and those of TANK.

Another key point that Grether mentioned is that the technology is in place to be able to give streetcars signal priority, should leaders at City Hall decide that is desirable. Such a move would quite significantly improve travel times and performance.

As the conversation moved on, Bauman spoke about the group’s efforts to establish daily passenger rail service between Cincinnati and Chicago. Not having daily rail service to Chicago damages business competitiveness for the city, Baumann said, considering that Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit and Indianapolis already currently boast such service.

The effort has received renewed interest as of late due to the debate surrounding the future of the Hoosier State line, which connects Chicago to Indianapolis. Project proponents scored a big win recently when funding was picked up by the State of Indiana to continue its service. Those efforts even attracted the attention of Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in a letter he penned to the Federal Railroad Administration about the possibility of future extensions of the line.

Since assuming the presidency of the local chapter, Bauman has made a variety of changes to allow for greater participation and engagement. Meetings are no longer confined to members, for example, and they have begun reaching out to the business community and area universities.

Bauman said that he hopes this approach will help make daily passenger rail service a reality for the Cincinnati region at some point in the near future.

Those that are interested in supporting the efforts of All Aboard Ohio can do so by making a tax-deductible donation to the organization on Tuesday, May 12. On this day the Columbus Foundation will make matching donations to a collection of non-profits throughout the state, including All Aboard Ohio. You can make secure donations to the group on their website.