Monday, December 28, 2009

Dawn of a new era

2010 will mark a new era for me, which technically began just a few months ago. Since September, I realized that I became so restless with my desire for a more sustainable community. Although the City adopted its Green Cincinnati Plan and Climate Protection Plan in 2009, I still do not feel that we have a strong, comprehensive, city-wide effort. Our neighborhoods can be greener. Our transportation priorities can be much greener. Our concept of localism can be much greener.

In November 2009, I decided to start the conversation of creating community green opportunities for our neighborhood, particularly in Clifton. At Clifton Town Meeting, I presented a slideshow on various possibilities of how our neighborhood can partner with other entities to achieve greater recycling volumes, community composting, better connection between residents and community gardens, and overall waste reduction. My bit was so well-received, in fact, that the trustees of Clifton Town Meeting requested that I setup a green subcommittee under their umbrella. Over the past two months, I have been working to assemble a working team that will address these issues in our community.

Little did I know the attention that my presentation would receive. Soon after, after many carbon copy e-mails, I was requested to do a similar presentation for the CUF Neighborhood Association meeting. The reception of that engagement overwhelmed me. I could not even get through my slides, as hands flew into the air. One man said he could not even remember the last time then had a presentation effect everyone in attendance to such magnitude. The e-mails also reached representatives of other community councils in Uptown, who have a vision of a larger, regional green strategy.

Now I and many others envision a collection of green assets for our region. It will be used to help recognize our existing strong points and areas of greater desire, such that money may be leveraged for more sustainable neighborhoods. It matters where a neighborhood gets its food, where it is sourced, and who benefits or suffers from the current system. It matters where our waste goes, how much energy is required to get it there, and what alternatives we can find to redraw our waste stream. Food, post-consumer waste, personal energy exerted, and our physical limitations--measuring and gauging how these types of energy are wasted, reused or diverted is vital to the enhancement of our natural environments and communities.

The above is primarily a proclamation, but it is also the beginning for a new focus of this blog. Up until now, I felt that my aforementioned efforts were not mature enough to spout about it here. I anticipate that I will have a lot to say my own personal goals to live more sustainably as well. Plastic will play less of a role in my life. The local grocery and farmer's market will have greater priority in my daily grind. The new, local, food delivery co-op also has caused me to reassess how I get my food. The way that information is dispensed to others can also exhibit a more sustainable path. The oft-encountered crossroad of "less sustainable and more sustainable road" can depend on which results in a greater net benefit. The mind swirls with these thoughts, but I feel that I am close to attaining that green confidence I have been wanting. Even so, always more can be done.

Until next time...soonsoon.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Project anxiety and neighborhood pickup therapy.

So, I have an independent study during this summer quarter, for which I chose to examine the economic opportunities of an urban agriculture property run by the university. Thus far, however, I have made little progress. My mind has been muddled with so many thoughts: my current classwork demands, my girlfriend's impending move to Cincinnati, and the fear-based anxiety of doing something I have never done before--not even close.

At this moment, my grumbling stomach is in alliance with the work that is being done at the farm. Both long for a greater availablility of healthy, organic food in area. I ate so well yesterday, until I was tempted by my girlfriend's run to Skyline Chili. I should have gone out to the farm earlier this morning, but waking up early has become more difficult over the past few weeks. Meanwhile, I sit here at my desk, watching the fickle storm clouds volley between sunshine and torrential downpour. Of course I do not want to be caught in middle of the west side in a downpour on my bike.

The weather is interfering with an alternative to my trip out to the farm site: something I have not done in a while is a neighborhood pickup. I remember riding my bike between my former residence and a chain-linked, vacant site at Calhoun and Vine, picking up several bags worth of glass and plastic bottles. Bus riders waiting for the 46 or 78 buses--or late night bar hoppers on the way to or from their cars--would throw their garbage over the fenced property. Setting aside a couple hours in Over-the-Rhine or in what I call The Northern Liberties would be very theraputic. Since I have never done a pickup down there before, I wonder if the neighbors will perceive me as being helpful or looking down on them for letting their neighborhood become so littered.

Emilie is leaving for Rochester tomorrow, but she will be back on the 29th. As much as I hate to say it, I tend to get more work done when she is not around. Even though she has been in Cincinnati for the past month, I attribute my corresponding work ethic to the newness of our experience. Nonetheless, I intend to capitalize on the time between her departure tomorrow and her return at the end of the month.

I will have more to say after my trudge through...and maybe even a bike ride anyway!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Live Green Cincinnati is throwing in the towel

Local Cincinnati green advocates-and-more Live Green Cincinnati are deciding to exit stage right from the virtual world, deciding to move on to other aspirations. It is not clear what those aspirations will be, but LGC was certainly one of our greatest virtual neighbors. Though postings dropped off significantly over the past six months, Live Green Cincinnati acted as a messenger for everyone from local waste and recycling public entities to grassroots efforts. The site also offered a great collection of green resources and events throughout the region. They will be missed.

Live Green Cincinnati will close its doors on July 31st.

A little over two years ago, was started to fill a real need in the area: to connect everyday Cincinnatians with the things, news, events, ideas, and other people needed to live an environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Within that time, local green awareness has grown leaps and bounds. The City has a Green Plan, the local news outlets are keyed in to what people need to know, organizations and groups are evolving to protect and improve our lives, and area businesses are participating and offering ingenious products and services.

The tag line we’ve used, “It can happen here” is no longer applicable. We should now be saying “It is happening here”.

Thanks for the opportunity to learn and grow with you. We will be moving on to other pursuits and will say our goodbyes today. is leaving the web on July 31st. We part with you here, and look forward to a ‘greater, greener Cincinnati’ in the future.

As a last order of business, I’ll take the opportunity to pass on the torch to anyone who wants to help Cincinnati move into a greener future. As this site is taken offline, we have a number of green Cincinnati URLs for sale. If interested in purchasing any of these web addresses, please contact us at before July 31st.

Many thanks for the chance to share your interests and passions.
~ The Live Green Cincinnati Team - Brianne & Suzanne

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Struggle.

My emotions and energy levels have been wishy-washy lately, as they relate to personal responsibility and environmental sustainability. Several days in advance, I cajoled several friends into going to the Esquire Theatre for an opening night screening of Food Inc. I knew what to expect from the film. but I could not have predicted my emotional response to several parts of the feature. Several times my eyes welled with tears. I immediately knew why.

Back to that point in a bit. First--I have high standards for others (and even higher standards for myself), which makes it difficult for some people to stomach my advice or criticism. My judgment is not based upon hatred or disdain but simply wanting people to challenge their limits, ideals, and ability to do more as global citizens. When I first became an environmental activist, I would have never admitted to it. I began to see the value of recycling and personal responsibility, as I became more uncomfortable witnessing a lack of both through off-campus living arrangements.

Upstairs neighbors in a house on Bishop Street had parties regularly. They would throw the countless bottles from their drinking games into the recycling bin, from the front porch, over the railing. Caps, labels, and whatever else would remain littered to the side of the house, between the porch and the driveway until I (or the landlord's parents) decided to pick them up. Even though I was brought up on having a recycling bin, at all but the last house in which I lived with my mother, I did not think so much about the volume of resource consumption or waste until my first independent domicile. Then, it was more an issue of personal responsibility and pride for one's abode.

While the aforementioned still holds true, since last summer, I have grown very sensitive about the conservation of post-consumer material resources. Since I moved into this apartment last September, I have diverged an unspeakable volume of recyclable materials from the garbage can. At the same time, more than ever, I notice the great deficiencies in our urban landscape of the simplest form of green street infrastructure: recycling containers.

Now, the reason for my emotional reaction to Food Inc. Despite all my activism--avoiding certain types of packaging, recycling, individual silent neighborhood and campus academic hall divergence campaigns, my current (yet fruitless, so far) research on urban agriculture at the UC Urban Farm--I feel like a hypocrite and I feel weak. I'm currently drinking a Mountain Dew Voltage, first allured by the beautiful color of the beverage, and next by the delicious taste. Before that was a Red Bull Simply Cola. When I think about my perceived hypocrisy, celebrity and political backlashes come to mind. Those people are vulnerable to the most petty insults, coming from those who are hardly perfect themselves. Now, me? It is what I battle inside my own head everyday--the self-criticism. (Not that I talk to myself but:) "Christian, seriously? A single-serving beverage? Wouldn't filling your Sigg bottle be more economical and sustainable?" Ohh, but sometimes that caffienated, sugary (sugar-like) sweet drink just grabs you by the neck and pulls you in. "Christian, did you really need to buy that 20 oz soda...that fountain Pepsi during break from class?" "Christian, why did you need that magazine? Oh, because it has a feature on urban farming?" Gotcha, self...that time.

One of the reasons why I refocused this blog was that I could be more transparent, struggling "greenie". Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from plastic, I'd like to say. Our habits are so ingrained yet despite my occassional break from my own ideals, I get frustrated with my roommates, when I cannot even count on them to check the plastic they are either throwing away, or placing into the recycling container for the right number. Twenty-four hours per day, I am conflicted about doing the right things--doing the things in which I believe. Consumerism is stilll alive and well though, and it is very hard to transform myself overnight into someone who packs his lunch everyday, phases out disposable towels, refuses every straw at a restaurant.

I nearly cried that night in the theatre for two reasons: I am a hypocrite and I have given in to the inherent customs of modern consumption and service. My tears also symbolized the endless struggle I have continued to assume, encouraging people I appreciate to buy into what I see as selfless desires. As those who know well my history of anxiety and academic struggles, I am a glutton for punishment. I do not desire to reach perfection, but I never see my efforts as being enough. I...we can always do more, but we rarely do. Despite the complaints about life's tribulations, most of us live a life of leisure by our own rules. We are inexplicably linked to the lives of others though, and we have a responsibility. It leads me to end with to self-manufactured adage to posted above the sink, about two months ago.


My mind and nerves are in a constant state of motion and activity.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Headliners to wrap up the month of June

This weekend was an absolute blast:
  • Black Moth Super Rainbow at Southgate House in Newport, KY
  • Enon (and The Damn Thing--not pictured) on Cincinnati's Fountain Square as a part of Midpoint Music Festival's Indie Summer series
  • The Octopus Project performing their "Visual Music" at the third annual Last Call Film Festival at The Rudyard Kipling in Louisville, KY
  • Julie Doiron at the Art Damage Lodge in the heart of the neighborhood of Northside in Cincinnati, OH.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Media Phish: "Blue carts beat blue bags"

The following feature will be a sporadic look a various archived news articles that I have kept around for one reason or another. I tend to keep a newspaper from every trip I take in another city, whether it is a formal paper or an entertainment publication. When I revisit these papers, I gain some interesting, additional perspective on things, which I may care much more about than I had when I bought or picked them up originally. They also give me an opportunity to look back on the times in which I was living--experiences, current events, etc.

I picked this paper up when I ventured up to Chicago to see the incredible Office, along with their good Detroit friends, Freer. It was a free show at Schuba's, run through This was during my only summer quarter off, as I am in a five-year co-op schedule, which requires me to be in class every other quarter and working for a relevant firm during the other quarters. So, of course, I spent all my money trying to get out of town. Oh, and pissing off my douchbag of an employer at the video store. There have been many employer-upsetting trips to Chicago over the years. Ahh, memories.


I most certainly did not have a green perspective at the time, although I did recycle at my old place in Corryville. Usually my neighbors on the upstairs floor would flood the recycling bins with their empties of cheap beer and broken glass, leaving little room for me to recycle what I had anyway. I was beginning to theorize about ways that recycling could be enhanced in Cincinnati. Considering the small size of our green recycling bins through Rumpke, I thought that a good nudge would be to mandate recycling bins be purchased through the city, as many others have done in the past. Recycling carts would also be mandated, but their size would double the size of the provided garbage bins.

Many cities have their own methods to encourage or require recycling. In San Francisco, they require three containers at your residence--recycling (green), compostables (blue), and waste (black)--or you will be fined. It seems to be working though. The city is approaching its goal for 75% of waste diverted by January. Many other cities in the West have similiar programs that would seem to infuriate typical midwesterners. However, when the discussion of green jobs comes up, the construction of additional recycling facilities should be a priority. It is the crux keeping many cities in the region from taking recycling and waste reduction seriously. There are just not enough outlets for our post-consumer materials.

The following article explores the trial-and-error and processes of Chicago's recycling program. Sharing it with you is meant to spark some thoughts (in your own mind) or discussion (outside your own mind) about ways that we can encourage greater recycling rates in our own community.

Blue carts beat blue bags

From The Chicago Tribune; Thursday August 9, 2007, Section 1, page 1 & 18:

Photo taken from flickr user Mark 2400.

New beginning.

Now is the time to relaunch my blog, in the manner which I have discussed with my peers many many times. As the tweet-lengthed description shown above states, focuses will include urban life, my foray into green extremism, and ramblings/rumblings from hell.

First, most of the urban matter will concern the city of Cincinnati, but will also include my experiences in and thoughts of ones I have explored. Second, my life transformed in many ways about a year ago, one of which was a more environmentally conscious mission of living. Many rants will include my own struggles with the change in lifestyle and knocks against those who act as definitive green resources--green monsters, I will call them. Last, there will be elements of a personal blog here, but I ask you to treat it as an inevitable spew of concerns or thoughts to keep my sanity. The latter will graciously include a few features that expound obsessions of mine.

I hope to entertain enough for you to take something in mind to bed with you. There is an endless field of knowledge waiting to be explored, and I seek to keep it sane and (somewhat) mature.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Push push

Once again, it's been a long while since I last posted. The cause, this time? I tend to feel guilty when I have plenty of work to do, yet I consider blogging instead. Perhaps this does not make much sense, considering he times I go out to shows or bars, screw around on the internet, spend time wandering the city, etc. It will just require me to cut out some of time I spend staring at my screen, refreshing my page, satiating my need to see good design, statistics, and my music all in a beautiful real-time format.

Saying, my next few academic weeks will be hell. I have plans to launch a blog, sooner or later, that deals with urban and sustainable living at once. But first, I must complete several papers, reading a couple books, and keep my orb in check--all in the next week or so. My girlfriend is coming in to town this weekend because she landed an interview at a graphic design company in the suburbs. So, I can't imagine getting much work done then. The following weekend is when my mother and I go up to her graduation ceremony in Pennsylvania.

Melatonin, vitamins, allergy medicine, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep. I need all those components to remain constant.