Cincinnati lands prestigious National Conference of Black Mayors Convention

At 10am this morning local political, business and community leaders gathered at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati to celebrate the announcement that the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) Convention will be coming to Cincinnati this May. Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is a member of the NCBM and will be serving as the official host for the convention when it comes to town May 12-16.

“We are looking forward to our time in Cincinnati,” said George L. Grace, National Conference of Black Mayors President and Mayor of St. Gabriel, Louisiana. “Cincinnati has a rich history in the civil rights movement and has made extraordinary strides under Mayor Mark Mallory to establish itself as a vanguard city for diversity and multicultural awareness and leadership. This is the perfect time and place for our organization to bring together its members, and we look forward to the important work that will be done at our Annual Convention next month.”

With the theme, “Able Leaders, Stable Cities: Resolving Our Communities’ Challenges,” the 36th Annual Conference is expected to draw more than 700 attendees from around the country that represent more than 50 million constituents in almost every state. The gathering of civic leaders from around the country is anticipated to log more than 1,200 room nights for local hotels.

The NCBM Convention is planned to coordinate with Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2010 Civil Rights Game that will, for the second consecutive year, be held in Cincinnati. This year’s Civil Rights Game will take place on Saturday, May 15 at Great American Ball Park between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. Last year’s game left MLB Commissioner Bud Selig very impressed with Cincinnati’s ability to host prominent events such as this national showcase game that includes festivities throughout the weekend. At this year’s game MLB will pay tribute to Willie Mays, Billie Jean King and Harry Belafonte.

“This convention will focus on providing tangible solutions, best practice models and innovative strategies to resolve some of the universal challenges that local elected officials face on the ground,” said National Conference of Black Mayors Executive Director Vanessa R. Williams. “We have gathered a diverse spectrum of leaders who have successfully tackled these problems to participate in this year’s convention.”

Visitors enjoy the festivities around Fountain Square during the 2009 Civil Rights Game Youth Summit.

The NCBM Convention will focus its attention on two primary topics this year that are meant to help resolve the challenges facing communities around the nation. Thursday will focus on Human Rights and will cover a range of topics including health care, public safety and housing. Friday’s session will focus on Green Economic Development and cover topics including workforce development, infrastructure and environmental justice.

The convention is one of a recent string of prestigious multicultural conventions to select Cincinnati as their host including the NAACP and National Baptist conventions in 2008, the Gospel Music Workshop of America in 2010, the League of United Latin American Citizens in 2011, and the World Choir Games in 2012.

“As a member, it’s very gratifying to bring the 2010 Annual Convention home to Cincinnati,” said Mayor Mark Mallory. “The convention brings visitors and revenue to our city, but more importantly, it brings an esteemed group of more than 700 men and women who are actively working to make our cities better.”


Cincinnati looking to woo Lions Clubs International leadership

Cincinnati is one of five finalist cities across the world competing to land the Lions Clubs International 2015 convention that will bring with it an estimated 25,000 to 36,000 hotel room nights and an economic impact between $7.4 and $10.5 million.

Cincinnati is currently competing against Boston, Tampa, Honolulu and Manchester, England for the five day event in July 2015. The winner will be announced this April by Lions Clubs International.

“Reaching finalist status to host Lions Clubs International is a tremendous accomplishment in itself. They have narrowed their search to five great cities, and we are right up there with other top-shelf destinations,” said Dan Lincoln, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lions Clubs International’s leadership is in Cincinnati now and will be touring the venues and hotels that would play host to the convention. During their three-day stay, Lions Clubs International leadership will meet with a variety of business and civic leaders in the Cincinnati region, and evaluate potential parade routes for the 2015 event. As part of the visit, Cincinnati leaders will present Lions officials with more than 5,000 pairs of eyeglasses that have been collected from throughout the region.

“This is particularly exciting given the recent selection of Cincinnati USA to host the World Choir Games in 2012,” said Lincoln. “We are succeeding in showing the nation and the world that Cincinnati USA is a welcoming, exciting and memorable destination prepared to host major convention groups.”


Experience Covington tours offer unique view of Nky river city

With recent funding from Preserve America, the City of Covington introduced the Experience Covington Tour series which can also be found at the main branch of the Kenton County Library at the corner of 5th and Scott Street (map). This free tour series is self-guided but there are many resources at your fingertips to make it enjoyable.

While you can do most of your homework on the website, the library also offers a kiosk to help you plan your outing. The kiosk is a bit hard to find in the library, so when you go make sure you check in with someone so that you can easily find it or just do your homework at home as the kiosk is simply the website made available in the library.

Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption [TOP] by City of Covington; UFO House [LEFT] by Joe Orman; and Roebling Suspension Bridge [RIGHT] by Derek Jensen.

In all there are six tours that you can take in and around the Covington area, and while there is some overlap there are a total of 48 different stops that are discussed on the Playaway audio devices that you can pick up at the library. The device is easy to operate and you can either follow the tours as directed or make up your own as you go along. Additionally driving directions are available from the web or the kiosk to make sure you don’t get lost as you Experience Covington.

So what will you see on tours of Covington? Well, it depends on which tour of the six you choose. Not surprisingly, there is a Historic Tour which has stop including the Roebling Suspension Bridge and the accompanying murals as well as the Riverwalk Statues and the Duveneck Arts & Cultural Center among many other stops.

More surprising, and dare I say unexpected, is the Unexpected Covington Tour. Think you know Covington? Well, this tour stops at places such as the Spaceship House, Glier’s Goetta, and the Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center among others. Stops along this tour (and all the tours for that matter) will definitely teach folks about some of the gems around Covington regardless of how familiar they are with one of Cincinnati’s southern neighbors.

Now for the really good news: this whole thing is free and open to everyone, not just members of the Kenton County Library! Check out the audio for a 3 day period and work your way through whatever tours you feel like you’d enjoy. The audio selections are located near the kiosk, so make sure to ask where it is when you go and the good folks that work there will point you in the right direction. The library will provide headphones, or you can plug the Playaway device into the A/V jack in your car which definitely makes the time even more enjoyable.


Cincinnati Zoo goes platinum, grows attendance

It doesn’t take a die-hard Cincinnatian to know that the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens is one of the region’s real assets. The Zoo provides a tremendous learning opportunity for children, terrific family outings, and so much more. And while the Zoo is one of the best in the country, it is also a community leader.

The Cincinnati Zoo was just recently deemed “America’s Greenest Zoo” by the green building community. It is the first zoo in the country to have multiple LEED projects, and is the second zoo in the country to attain the prestigious LEED Platinum certification for one of its buildings. As the zoo continues to grow and improve itself, Zoo leadership has pledged that all future projects will pursue the LEED certification – a first of its kind commitment in the country.

Vine Street Village photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Zoo.

What is even better news is that while the economy continues to slug its way out of hibernation, the Cincinnati Zoo is posting record attendance numbers. Zoo officials will welcome the 1 millionth visitor to the zoo this year sometime this week. The attendance numbers represent a 23 percent increase over the same time in 2008, and also is higher than total attendance numbers posted over the past four years.

The Cincinnati Zoo (map) is open daily from 9am to 5pm for the rest of the year (except Christmas), with tickets starting as low as $13 for adults. Metro provides bus service to the Zoo via the #1 (directly serves the Zoo…this is your best option), 46, 51, and 78 bus routes (plan your trip now); bicycle parking is also available.


Cincinnati’s Krohn Conservatory goes digital

Visitors to Cincinnati’s famous Krohn Conservatory can now enjoy an even more interactive and engaging visit by utilizing the new technology available that includes podcasts, videos, self-guided tours, and a virtual tour.

A new partnership between the Cincinnati Parks, the Primax Group, Cincinnati Public Schools’ Zoo Academy, Sound Images, and Apple has led to the implementation of the new technology that can be used to enhance your experience to Krohn. “Our design partners have put together a phenomenal combination of information, photos and audio files to be used as pre-visit preparation or self guided touring,” according to officials at Krohn Conservatory.

One of the new features is the availability of MPEG-4 audio and video tours that can be downloaded to your mobile device. If you aren’t privileged enough to carry your own mobile device like that, then you can try to borrow one of the few that Krohn has to lend out. With the audio and video tours guests can learn at their own pace about the botanical collections at the Palm House, Tropical Fern House, and the Desert House. There is also a special piece on the history of Krohn Conservatory. A new virtual tour of Krohn that highlights the best of the botanical collections at Krohn including the conservatory’s history.

The current Fall Floral Show, Backyard Birds and Wildlife, is the first show running with the new self-guided iPod tours, and is the first show since the Krohn Conservatory completed its major renovations earlier this year.

Krohn Conservatory (map) is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Free parking is available in nearby Eden Park surface lots. Metro’s #1 bus route also serves the facility (plan your trip now), and nearby bicycle parking is also available.

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