31 January 2008

UC Worried About Crime from OTR

The News Record has the following quotes yesterday:

Robin Engel, director of the UC Policing Institute, said she is concerned crime will spread from Over-the-Rhine to UC.

"As the city cleans up Over the Rhine crime is spreading and UC is a big target," Engel said.

Engel said violent offenders in Cincinnati differ from gang members in other cities.

"In Cincinnati, there are groups of guys that hang out, it's more loose knit than L.A. and Chicago gangs," Engel said. "We know of 1,000 individuals who are chronic, high-risk violent offenders; 650 of those individuals we know by name."

These individuals have been victims or suspects in 72 percent of homicides that have occurred in the past few years
, Engel said.

Twenty percent of these individuals are on probation.

UC is a large target for robberies, and Cincinnati police are working with campus law enforcement officers to teach students how to avoid becoming victims of crime, Engel said.
When homicides occur, the police focus on the perpetrators within the group, regardless of whether or not they are part of the homicide. Using 24-hour surveillance, police wait for the individuals to participate in criminal activity and then arrest seeking a maximum sentence, Engel said.

The Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence program, or CIRV, is also designed to help people involved in criminal activity to change their lifestyle, and program members want to send a message that counters the peer pressure of violence, Engel said.

Superheros on Carew Tower

Found these guys on top of Carew tower last year. Not sure what was going on:

Mardis Gras at Findlay Market

Saturday, February 2nd The Findlay Market Mardi Gras challenges the winter weather. This event is Family-Friendly, FREE and open to the public! Market merchants will compete for best Mardi Gras decorations, costumes, food and spirit. The contest will be judged from 10:00am to 11:00am. First and second place Winners will be announced after the crowning of the Mardi Gras King and Queen. Shoppers will enjoy:

· Decorations in the Market House

· Free Mardi Gras Beads given away by the Friends of Findlay Market

· 11:00 am crowning of Mardi Gras King and Queen/Merchant Contest

· Jazz Parade through the Market Square

Market Merchants will feature Cajun specialties.

Come hungry because you will be able to enjoy free samples of a traditional low country crawfish boil beginning at noon through 4:00pm. Cynthia Brown leads the cooking of this special treat; seasoned and boiled crawfish with sides of potatoes and corn on the cob.10 am – 4:30pm

30 January 2008

Cities Compete for Families

An article in a New Jersey newspaper touches on some familiar issues:

Public parks can substitute for a lack of backyards and cultural offerings can enrich children's educations, says the report by the Institute of Design in Chicago. It recommends happy hours for families in local restaurants, family rest stops that include stroller lockers, car-free zones and child-only areas on public transportation.

"Cities face a challenge keeping families with financial options," says Carol Coletta, president and chief executive of CEOs for Cities. "There's this broad belief that if you raise children in the city you're, in fact, a bad and selfish parent. It's actually an enriching experience."
Akron, Ohio -- The city promotes New Year's Eve family celebrations and downtown activities for adults and children, including a skating rink and artisan fair. It also now jointly owns community learning centers with the school district and has extended after-school programs in 42 schools being built or rehabilitated.
"We've got the young people. We've got the empty nesters. Let's keep the people in the middle."

To that end, Philadelphia is improving parks and street lighting. Levy's group surveyed parents of preschoolers and found that most wouldn't send their kids to public schools unless they moved out of the city. He says it's because they were not aware of choices nearby.

To reverse that, the group created a Web site with complete school information. It distributed postcards to civic groups, pediatrician offices and playgrounds trumpeting, "The region's best classroom is right in your backyard. In fact, it is your backyard." Diversity a draw.

Diversity is a draw for many who choose to raise children in the city.

Joel Kotkin as usual, is a wet blanket:
Joel Kotkin, author of "The City: A Global History," is skeptical that cities can compete with suburbs for middle-class families. "What people will tolerate as single people is different from what they'll tolerate when they have children," he says.

Downtown Parks Support Revitalization

Interesting article in the Eugene Weekly advocating using parks to help drive development:

Given that Eugene has been trying without success to reinvigorate its downtown, it would be wise to learn from other cities. Eugene's focus has been on buildings. not parks. That is the first mistake. Buildings and their tenants come and go. In Eugene's case, after spending countless staff hours and thousands of taxpayer dollars on elaborate plans and complicated financial projections, the buildings did not even come...

Eugene's approach to economic development has been to prime the pump of the private sector with parking garages, tax abatements and other forms of public subsidy. This is Eugene's second mistake.

The redevelopment focus in Eugene should change from buildings to parks. Public funds should go to public infrastructure — and the highest return on investment is with downtown parks..

29 January 2008

Rural Gentrification

In a sense this is old news, since another word for it is sprawl and is descendant of our interstate highway system. But, I have never heard it termed rural gentrification as the Wall Street Journal does:

With the Internet allowing people to work from almost anywhere, the distinction between first and second homes has become blurred. Many people are buying retirement property while they're still employed. Millions of soon-to-retire baby boomers, say demographers, will propel this trend for years to come.

"What we're seeing is a class colonization," says Peter Nelson, an associate professor of geography at Middlebury College and an expert on rural migration. "It really represents a shift in the nature of the economy from a resource-extraction economy to an aesthetic-based economy."

On a similar note, see this article from the Columbus Dispatch about small towns in the middle of sprawl trying to either spruce up or create new "downtowns".

Mt. Aurburn Historic Conservation Plan

This plan, published by the City in 1981 was found on a shelf in my office. I think it was my partner's. He worked on several projects in Mt Auburn in the 70s and 80s. I just scanned a few of the more interesting pages:

Cover of report with historic photo of Milton Street.

Credits page. Many of the people listed are people you will still meet around city government or in OTR meetings: Steve Schuckman, Ron Kull, Bob Richardson, Don Lenz, Genevieve Ray. In the small print it also says that this report relies heavily on the Findlay Market Guidelines of 1972 and the Mt Auburn Design Plan of 1975:

Map of District with noted buildings. I like how flat the area looks in map form:

I like this drawing demonstrating acceptable roof configurations. Hand drawn with ziptone dots added for shading. There are similar drawings showing acceptable doors, windows fencing etc:

Isometric drawing of Liberty Hill intersection:

Proposed Improvements at Sycamore and Liberty:

Photo of Liberty Hill and Liberty intersection:

You won't see junk car lots like this anymore in this area:

28 January 2008

Tourists in Cincy


Many times when I am walking around downtown I will see people who are obviously tourists. This photo is of a young Japanese couple, snapping photos of the buildings. Sunday it seemed like there were a lot of people walking around taking pictures. It was sunny, but still pretty cold, so I was wondering what brings someone half-way around the world to Cincinnati on a cold January day?

Sometimes it is obviously a businessman, touring the city where he is on business, but not most of the time. This couple looked more like newlyweds than business partners. Were they here as part of a cross-US trip, stopping at various cities? I wonder what they think of this place.

Skating on Fountain Square

A not very pretty, short video panning Fountain Square Sunday, showing people skating:

27 January 2008

No Sledding this Year

Not enough snow for sledding this year, at least so far. So in an attempt to show more kids having fun in the city, here are few photos from the past two winters:

Washington Park:

Looking at snowman we made at Mt. Storm:

Two girls on sleds in Fairview Park:

My son climbing hill with sled:

Kids at bottom of Mt. Storm hill last winter. University of Cincinnati is in the distance:

Bonus pic of ice on trees last year:

Yes We Can

Amazing victory speech:

The Repubs are worried:

Barack Obama's speech tonight was simply exceptional — and a reminder of why he is one of the most remarkable political talents in our lifetime. He was able to speak in ways that seem to rise above conventional politics, even as he was able to masterfully push back against the Clinton attacks of the last several weeks. His capacity to touch and stir authentic emotions is remarkable. And unlike Clinton and especially Edwards, the Obama message is about unity, not divisions; and hopes rather than grievances. If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, Republicans have a great deal to fear. He has tremendous break-out potential.

26 January 2008

Caroline Kennedy for Obama

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

-Caroline Kennedy on Obama

Extended Families

Why are so many Americans so unhappy..? All manner of plausible causes present themselves, but the master cause may be the most elemental: Homo sapiens, a familial animal like the wolf or hyena rather than asolitary like the bear, is genetically unequipped to live without the emotional suppport of uncles, aunts, first cousins, and second cousins, in addition to siblings, parents, and children....Periodic gatherings for the ceremonies of birth, marriage, and death; the much more frequent celebration of birthdays, name days, anniversaires and seasonal feasts; as well as webs of less-formal socializing, all serve to keep the machinery of human families in working order. That is how people live all over the world in village, town, or city - but not in comtemporary America.

-Edward N. Luttwak, as found in The Sun.

24 January 2008

Freestore Hearing Monday

The Freestore Foodbank is going to the the Board of Historic Conservation 3pm Monday, on the 7th floor of Two Centennial Plaza, 805 Plum Street, to ask for permission to demolish two 125 year old Italianate homes. I wrote a letter to the Board this morning that included some of the following points:

In August when the plan to demolish 1606 and 1608 Walnut Street first became public I took the time to meet with the Director of the Freestore at the site, and also took the time to visit the architect in his office to review the plans.

From those meetings and from investigating the condition of the buildings, I have come to the conclusion that the proposed demolition is not necessary and indeed will be detrimental to the Freestore and the neighborhood.

The current loading dock is located in the rear, as it should be. The elevator that is now used to take goods from the dock area to the basement is serviceable, but nevertheless is planned to be replaced with a larger freight elevator. The proposed loading dock on Walnut is planned to be depressed to allow direct offloading from trucks into the sales area. Admittedly this will save use of the elevator, but at what cost? The cost of valuable streetscape. The cost of our neighborhood's infrastructure. The cost of labor reduction (at a place that is full of people looking for work).

The existing rear loading dock could easily be reconfigured such that loading would be directly onto the elevator platform. When visiting the site, this solution seems obvious, but has not been considered.

The Freestore's future plans include further demolition and control of most of this block for use as parking. Buildings such as 112 Corwine, and 1614 Walnut are viewed as nuisances to be rid of by the leadership of this institution, when buildings like this are exactly the opposite. Italianate rowhouses like these are really this neighborhood's only hope.

If the Freestore has its way, the block bordered by Liberty, Walnut and McMicken will resemble the block immediately to the west, where the Shell gas station and three lonely buildings remain. Fifteen years ago much of this adjacent block was demolished because Husmans could not survive without additional parking. Now Husmans is gone, and the neighborhood has a big hole in its center.

Institutions like the Freestore have the ability to be a healthy contributor to the neighborhood by restoring housing, or they can be a hungry monster gobbling up the neighborhood around them in disregard for those of us who live here. Unfortunately it seems we must force them to be a good neighbor.

Finally, I want to point out one obvious point. If the two rowhouses are demolished, the remaining German Baptist church will be an island and will look out of place, with a huge blank wall facing south along the sunken loading docks. It will not look right and it will increase its chances of future demolition.

I choose to live in OTR, like many others because of the superb tight urban fabric. Removing yet another piece of this fabric to create a parking space for semi-trailers will make it very unlikely that any kind of neighborhood will develop on north Walnut Street.

Please, keep the loading dock on Corwine Street where it belongs!

You may also want to read my previous post on this issue.

Send emails to:
Historic Conservation Office
Department of Community Development and Planning
805 Central Ave., Suite 700
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 352-4890
William L. Forwood, Urban Conservator

City Kin Retrospective

I started this blog one year ago with this post.

My goal originally was to form some kind of group of downtown parents who would get together for events and share names of babysitters etc. I still have a long email list of such people, and plan on organizing some events this spring.

However the blog is not the best way to meet up and organize such events, so I soon took the blog in a direction that suits my personal interests, which are urban issues, politics and historic preservation. Overlaying all of my interests though is a belief that a city, and in particular downtown Cincinnati, is a great place to raise a family. I just re-read some past posts, and realized that I have not been saying that very clearly. So that is one thing I will try to change.

One of the decisions I made early was to not get to personal. This blog is not a place for me to post family photos or to discuss how well my son did on his spelling test. But maybe I have held back too much. I considered for example, writing about how some family members are reluctant to visit us because of either a perceived danger or lack of private parking space. And, photos of the kids playing in the city would probably help liven the site. So maybe I will introduce some stuff like that.

I do want to thank you, the reader, especially those who post comments. Thank you.

23 January 2008

CPS Levy Issue 10

CPS has stretched last operating levy 8 years - most Ohio school districts return to voters every 3-5 years for operating levies — it is past time for Cincinnati..


A new website devoted to supporting the levy here.

22 January 2008

Bubble Gum Back Tattoos

This was one of the options at a bubble gum machine. The tattoo options when we were kids were more of the Daffy Duck variety.

My son got a bouncy ball instead.

Raising Children in Downtown LA

I didn't even know there was a downtown Los Angeles. Here is an opinion article in which a soon to be mom worries about living "downtown" with kid. They are going way overboard, spening $1,200 to soundproof one window and $150 for a minimalist mobile.

We also went overboard with supplies and worry in anticipation of our first child. Now I'm trying to get rid of all that junk.

21 January 2008

Obama Speech for MLK Day

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

... We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

19 January 2008

Visual Lingual

A neighbor of mine gets a mention in the Enquirer for the cool stuff she has designed for sale.

18 January 2008

Tooth Gnasher Super Flash

I'm away from computers for a few days, but had this post ready to go. No new posts until at least Tuesday.

Daniel Pinkwater has some books that are strange. The drawings are always simple, but the story line is always good and catches the kids:


Strange drawing of Mr. Popsnorkle floating above the car:

Floating Popsnorkles:

17 January 2008

16 January 2008

Council In Dark About Aquatics Plan

My wife and I had a meeting yesterday with a councilmember to discuss the Cincinnati Recreation Commission's Aquatics Plan. We brought a copy of the plan that we had purchased from the CRC for $12 (10 cents a page). This councilmember had never seen or heard of the plan.

Lets get this straight. CRC has been developing this plan for about a year. They hired a company that specializes in spraygrounds, and the CRC Board voted in October 2007 to adopt this plan. It is now 2008, and the Community Councils do not know about the plan, citizens do not know about the plan, and now I find out Council does not know about the plan. Where is the chance for public participation in development of such a far-reaching plan?

Didn't CRC Board Director, Denise Driehaus tell us at their December Board meeting that the plan was a result of direction from City Council? And now I see that she just announced that she is running for the State House seat that her brother is leaving?

By the way: In the article it also says she owns a swim club. Is she trying to get rid of public pool competition?

15 January 2008

Obama Sophrosyne

as far as I can tell from listening to his speeches and "reading" The Audacity of Hope as an audiobook, Obama is almost devoid of the megalomaniac and sociopathic tendencies so common among top-level politicians.

The Greek word sophrosyne is usually translated as "temperance" or "moderation." But its core meaning seems to be closer to "self-command" or "sanity." That's the characteristic that shines through the speeches and actions of Abraham Lincoln. It's on Obama's sophrosyne, even more than on his intelligence, that I'm prepared to bet.
- http://www.samefacts.com/

Jack and Jill on the Clinton race strategy:

Christopher Hitchens, the case against Hillary:

Incident tracker:

Unmuseum Kid's Art

I've blogged a few times about the kids programs at the Contemporary Arts Center.

Some photos from the 5th Floor of the Contemporary Arts Center of drawings kids made during these events:

Breakdancing Sumo:


Scribbly Man:

Lady with earrings:

Charcoal lady:

14 January 2008

Clinton Team Sliming Obama

I think the Clintons have looked at Obama's growing black support and made a simple calculation. If they can ratchet up their white votes by a constant drum-beat of Obama drug references, and they can ratchet up their female votes by portraying Clinton as a victim of male bullying in the media, then they can eke out a victory. A close victory - you know, the kind of margin Karl Rove prefers. Small, tilted to your base, and with your opponent slimed for good. -Andrew Sullivan
I would only add that not only are they racheting up the drug dealing stuff, but also the rumors that he is a Muslim that won't say the Pledge of Allegiance. Then seeing Hillary on Meet the Press Sunday claiming that Obama really did support the war, when it was her that voted for it. Damn, this is dirty business.

Health Store Things to Buy

Found Item: Strange shopping list of drugs:

The back:

13 January 2008

The Drop Inn Center

This week, council is expected to approve the Drop Inn Center's Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) money. Articles in the paper and bloggers seem to be chiming in about whether or not the DIC should move.

Memo to all these pundits: The DIC is not moving. They are a private non-profit that receives minimal city money. Their Board of Directors does not want to move. They have built and expanded their facilities at the current location over thirty years. Their location fits their mission.

Some of the animosity about the DIC centers around crowds loitering, smoking and drinking in public. However, I believe that a lot of the animosity towards the DIC is a result of bad blood from battles that occurred years ago.

At it's birth and teenage years, The Drop Inn Center was like a radical and rebellious child. buddy gray, led the organization as if under constant siege. And like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it often was under siege. But today, that rebellious adolescent is in middle age, and trying to come to terms with their legacy while also trying to figure out how to be a good citizen. And at the same time, with limited money, they are trying to continue on their mission to serve the most destitute in the City.

The most common complaint of neighbors is the crowds of people hanging-out around the shelter on the sidewalks and in the park. I think it would be helpful to examine successful shelters in other cities to see how they handle this problem. I have not done this, maybe someone has. Part of the solution may be the creation of a more private gathering space, like a private courtyard where people can get outside and smoke in a more pleasant environment than the sidewalk.

Other changes may be programmatic, such as developing more "transitional" housing in which the homeless are housed in a supervised environment. Maybe the site at 12th and Elm becomes a shelter for people in the recovery program only and a second site becomes the "no-barrier" shelter, thus in effect expanding the DIC and giving them a positive choice, not just punishment. I definitely am not an expert on this issue, but I think the current leadership at the DIC has the expertise, and they are willing to try different approaches. Whatever path they choose, they must do what is best for their clients; and this should have the added result of helping the DIC become a better neighbor.

[Where: 217 West Twelfth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

11 January 2008

7 Hills School

It is about time to sign up for school for fall. I am getting ready to stand in line to get our youngest in our preferred CPS school later this month. I received an email that may interest you:


I would like to invite Downtown Parents to attend:

The Seven Hills School Early Childhood Informational Coffees to learn more about the exciting programs we have to offer children from Preschool - 5th grades

-Tuesday, January 15 at 9:00 am at Lotspeich at 9:00 am
5400 Red Bank Rd. Cincinnati, Ohio 45227

-Wednesday, January 16 at 9:00 am at Doherty School
2726 Johnstone Pl Cincinnati, Ohio 45206

If you have any questions or would like to tour The Seven Hills School at another time, please call

Patti Clock-Hanlon
The Seven Hills School

Fortunately Unfortunately

This slim kids book, published in 1964, by Remy Chartlip is short on substance but big on fun for little kids.

It is a simple story of a kid in which on alternating pages good and bad things happen to him.

The fortunately pages are in color, and the unfortunately pages are in black and white.

The pictures are as simple as the storyline.

Our kids enjoy it, and have created their own Fortunately / Unfortunately stories while on car trips.

10 January 2008

Obama is a Left Libertarian

A new word may have been coined in this post:

...Obama's language of personal choice and incentive is a reflection of the ideas of his lead economic advisor, Austin Goolsbee, a behavioural economist at the University of Chicago, who agrees with the liberal consensus on the need to address concerns such as income inequality, disparate educational opportunities and, of course, disparate access to healthcare, but breaks sharply from liberal orthodoxy on both the causes of these social ills and the optimal strategy for ameliorating them.
Goolsbee and Obama's understanding of the free market as a useful means of promoting social justice, rather than an obstacle to it, contrasts most starkly with the rest of the Democratic field on issues of competition, free trade and financial liberalism.
If this approach needs a name, call it left-libertarianism. Advancements in behavioural economics, public and rational choice theory, and game theory provide us with an opportunity to attend to inequality without crippling the economy, enhancing the coercive power of the state, or infringing on personal liberty...

I keep trying to stop posting on Obama, but I can't resist. This article was too good to pass up.

Furniture Stores Downtown

When we were looking for furniture a few years ago, we felt lost. We couldn't find anything we liked. The only place downtown we knew of was Contemporary Galleries and we did end up getting a few things there, but never could find shelving that we liked. We didn't like much of the stuff at the department stores. Now, I realize we missed a few places:


High Street

Mainly Art


With these downtown, and a Crate and Barrel in Norwood and an IKEA in West Chester, it will soon be easier to furnish a home.

And apparently A Lucky Step is a furniture store soon to open on Vine (1218 or 1220?). I googled this store, and found and interesting article about the owner:

For Angelita Jones this time, the tears that flowed were tears of joy.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati awarded her third place in the contemporary favorite decorating category at Homearama 2002, held in South Lebanon a week ago.

“This is wonderful,” Mrs. Jones said. “I don't care if it is third place or whatever or whether it was for decorating toilet paper. I am just glad to be a winner.”

Mrs. Jones, who owns A Lucky Step furniture store in Evendale, was among the 57 winners given awards for traditional, transitional and contemporary interior and exterior decorations; favorite landscaping, family room and great room, kitchen and dining room; favorite home, bedroom suite, bath, lower level, outdoor living and family gathering area.

She has kept the store going after witnessing the shooting death of her husband, Stephen Jones, there last August.

Mr. Jones was a co-owner with her in the business they started two years ago. She called 911 and reported the shooting. Alonzo Campbell, 38, of Walnut Hills, was arrested and charged with aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and illegally possessing a weapon as a convicted felon.

He was convicted and sentenced to 20 to 100 years.

Mrs. Jones has struggled to put the incident behind her while continuing to operate the furniture store and her other business, Eastern Personnel Services in downtown Cincinnati.

“I don't have anything else to do but keep going,” she said.“This award will help lift my spirit.”

The home she decorated was built by Perry Bush Custom Homes in Fairfield. Other winners in that category were: Eagle Custom Homes Inc., Sycamore Township, first place; and Shonave Custom Homes Inc., Mason, second place.

Paglia for Obama

Mostly she is anti-Clinton, but as usual, a fun read.

I will vote for Hillary if she is the nominee of my party, because I want Democrats appointed to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court. But I plan to vote for Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary because he is a rational, centered personality who speaks the language of idealism and national unity. Obama has served longer as an elected official than Hillary. He has had experience as a grass-roots activist, and he is also a highly educated lawyer who will be a quick learner in office. His international parentage and childhood, as well as his knowledge of both Christianity and Islam, would make him the right leader at the right time. And his wife Michelle is a powerhouse.

The Obamas represent the future, not the past.

09 January 2008

Is Crying a Clinton Strategy?

Hillary Clinton:

Now, Bill Clinton:


Four ways to mix your sugar water

I broke my new year's resolution against fast food. Blah.

08 January 2008

Contemporary Galleries Closing

I was just thinking last week that I should do a post about Contemporary Galleries, the longtime furniture store on Fourth Street, and now I read that they are closing the business and selling the building to make condos.

Most of their furniture is way too expensive for me, but they did have discounted stuff on the top floor, and they offered great service, including delivery and installation. I suppose this might be a good time to get out of the business with a new Ikea about to open and a new furniture store about to open at 1220 Vine Street. I’m sorry to see them go.

Jimmy Kimmel finds Huckabee Card

Last night Jimmy Kimmel showed the Huckabee Christmas card. He is desperate for easy laughs with no writers and not many guests. His comment was "I guess vertical stripes are not always 'slimming'".

Rain Walk

Saturday morning, it was raining, but unseasonably warm. Our goal was to go to the museum and run a few errands. We almost took the car, but decided to walk.

Of course you must be prepared:

We had a fun time running, walking and splashing our way around town. I am so glad we didn't drive.

I sometimes wonder who spends more time in the outdoors, city dwellers or suburbanites? Our friends in New York are outdoors walking a lot. In Cincinnati, many urbanites still drive everywhere, so the differences could be small.

07 January 2008

Publico Closes

Publico, a local art gallery, has a retrospective show this month, after which they will close their doors. An interview with Paul Coors is here.

Two weeks of music, poetry, video and food will culminate at a January 25th, Final Friday group exhibition.
[Where: 1308 Clay Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

06 January 2008

Clinton says Obama is False Hope

I know I shouldn't be writing about the Presidential debates. I should probably be writing about how to get kids to eat healthy or pets appropriate for apartment living, but I cannot resist.

I was giving the kids a bath yesterday as the New Hampshire debates were on TV, and I saw only segments. Hillary was fierce and powerful. Obama was measured and thoughtful. I thought there was a key moment, when Hillary got really angry and stated that she is the agent of change. "I have been making change for 35 years" and that Obama is giving "false hope" with his elegant talk.

Obama's response was masterful as spelled out by another blogger.

Obama's response:

Look, I think it's easier to be cynical and just say, "You know what, it can't be done because Washington's designed to resist change." But in fact there have been periods of time in our history where a president inspired the American people to do better, and I think we're in one of those moments right now. I think the American people are hungry for something different and can be mobilized around big changes -- not incremental changes, not small changes.

I actually give Bill Clinton enormous credit for having balanced those budgets during those years. It did take political courage for him to do that. But we never built the majority and coalesced the American people around being able to get the other stuff done.

And, you know, so the truth is actually words do inspire. Words do help people get involved. Words do help members of Congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy. Don't discount that power, because when the American people are determined that something is going to happen, then it happens. And if they are disaffected and cynical and fearful and told that it can't be done, then it doesn't. I'm running for president because I want to tell them, yes, we can. And that's why I think they're responding in such large numbers.

Then Barack today following up:

...It was interesting in the debate, Sen. Clinton saying 'don't feed the American people false hopes. Get a reality check, you know?' I mean, you can picture JFK saying, 'we can't go to the moon, it's a false hope. Let's get a reality check.' It's not, ... what our tradition has been.

04 January 2008

Qualls Supports Form-Based Codes


I was taken aback, when in a recent interview with The Beacon, Roxanne Qualls mentioned "form-based codes". The rest of the interview is peppered with similar revelations, but that is the first time I have ever heard a politician.... much less a local politician, even mention form-based codes. Here is the relevant quote:

2. Maintain and strengthen the compact, pedestrian oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods of our city. This goes beyond reforming the zoning code. It means putting in place form-based codes that reinforce the unique character of our neighborhoods, simplify permitting processes, speed development, all the while reflecting the aspirations and goals of the residents. It means combing through all the codes that impact our existing buildings and, without sacrificing safety, finding those codes that add costs and delays to renovation and rehab.

For those of you who read this blog, but do not keep up with the New Urbanism movement or the particulars of Zoning Codes, let me summarize what this means.

Form based zoning codes are about the shape, location and density of buildings. They emphasize the creation of beautiful streetscapes. See the diagram at the top of this post. It is called a Urban to Rural Transect. Differing parts of a region or city are classified T-1 to T-6, and this classification determines all the zoning requirements. It does not determine the uses allowed.

Most zoning laws, including Cincinnati's are "use-based'. This means if you are zoned R, you can build a house. If you are zoned M, you can build a factory. Use-based zoning is a disaster for cities because they emphasize the separation of work and home. If you live in a residentially zoned neighborhood, you generally cannot operate a business there. Frankly, I do not want to live in such a residential ghetto, and a growing number of Americans share my distaste for such places.

A successful urban neighborhood depends on this mixture of uses, and it seems Ms. Qualls has studied the issue and come to the same conclusion.

Read more about the transect and form based codes.

Obama Victor

2008 was looking to be a terrible year, especially if we were going to listen to Clinton and Romney smear each other all summer. After both of them getting defeated last night, I am so relieved. The two candidates that explicitly support bicycling won Iowa. (Huckabee apparently rides his bike to the grocery store, and Obama has bicycles as a part of his platform).

Since Huckabee is unlikely to win the GOP nomination, it is looking more like a McCain vs Obama, and that is our best hope for a civilized campaign based on issues.
(photo found on Chicago Tribune site)

As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account. Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks, and he will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. Building more livable and sustainable communities will not only reduce the amount of time individuals spent commuting, but will also have significant benefits to air quality, public health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

03 January 2008

First Night Columbus

New Years Eve, we attended the First Night celebrations in Columbus. Thousands of families bought $10 buttons so they could attend a variety of events all within a one-mile walking area. Instead of having the event in the short-north area, which is where I suspected it would be, they had it on Broad Street, by City Hall and across the river in COSI and the Armory.

Unfortunately, we didn't get there until 8pm. The event times were listed as 4:30 to midnight, however the indoor events seemed to all end around 9, so we missed a lot. Our hosts, who frequented a similar event in their hometown in Colorado, seemed to be unimpressed with Columbus's version. Apparently in CO, it is more of a street fair, with events in different businesses and storefronts. In Columbus, there were a lot of jugglers, belly dancing, magicians and moonwalk type things in the very large Armory. Then across Broad Street there were events inside COSI. Then you could walk across the river for pancakes, a parade and several music venues.

I think an event like this is a natural for Fountain Square. After all, it is already a family friendly environment with the skating and Graters. I would extend the events in Cincinnati from the Westin Atrium, through the square and north down Ruth Lyon's way, and tie into events at the parking lot by the Public Library and Garfield. Additional indoor activities could happen at the Aronoff and the CAC. Alternatively, events could extend westward towards the Convention Center, but then I think you risk losing the feel of the celebration, by taking everyone into secluded indoor venues, and I think that was the downfall of the event in Columbus. Also, it seems that there is potential for an event like this to give restaurants lots of business that was missed in Columbus.

01 January 2008

Heroin in OTR

Google notifies me of recent online posts about "Over-the-Rhine". Because of this, I know more about Linford Detweiler than I ever cared to know. However, sometimes some downright strange posts come to my inbox. For example the following exchange on a druggie website (link, probably not work safe):

Due to circumstances beyond my control I am out of pods for 4 days or so and I need to be well for work, so I will be traveling up to Cincinnati to cop some heroin. I haven't been there for this purpose in awhile so I was curious if much has changed. Still open air over the rhine? Any other general safety tips?

Nothing specific, of course. Thanks

1. Either there or Vine-ish.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=yCM_wQy4YVg - Ron Paul 2008

2. Just take care man.