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Below is the program from our 2020 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit.

Recordings of sessions from previous years are available for purchase!

Wednesday, August 5th


Welcome and Awards Ceremony 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Keynote and Q&A: Community, Equality, and Sustainability: How and Why Change Can Happen 
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Speaker: Majora Carter

Thursday, August 6th

Plenary Panel: Reframing Sustainability: Exploring the Intersection of Race, Health, and Environment 
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Panelists: Majora Carter, Jaime Love, Victoria Parks, Renee Mahaffey-Harris, James P. Buchanan

Breakout Sessions One

Best Practices from Peer Cities 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Sustainability Directors from Cincinnati’s peer cities will describe the most impactful sustainability initiative from their City that they think peer cities should emulate; and discuss which of the best practices would work best as “take home ideas” for their City. Then, we will open it up for questions, comments and discussion.

Panelists: Larry Falkin, Lauren Travis, Kristin Hall, Natalie Vezina

Solutions for a Regenerative Historic Urban Core 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

How can existing urban buildings be upgraded to contribute toward a regenerative, resilient built environment? Drawing on decades of experience working at the intersection of historic preservation, sustainability, and affordable housing, we will show how historic buildings and infill projects can generate clean energy, use water responsibly, and improve affordability.

Panelists: Sanyog Rathod and Carl Sterner

More Than A Donation: How Re-Purposing a Solar PV System Galvanized an Urban Community 
2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

In what seems to be a nation more divided than ever, can clean energy actually provide the platform to unite us?  This panel of Cincinnati leaders will explore an extraordinary story of collective impact and inclusion that will change the way you think about sustainability, for you and your organization.

Panelists: Steve Melink, Pastor Damon Lynch III, Mark Fisher, and Kevin Sasson

A Threat to Our Drinking Water: Appalachia Petrochemical Hub 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

A plan to construct the Nation's second-largest petrochemical hub in the Ohio River Valley with 25 new facilities is already underway. This panel covers perspectives from fenceline community members living next to proposed projects, local actions in Cincinnati and NKy, potential impacts, and strategies to protect our health and drinking water.

Panelists: Bev Reed, Brenda Jo McManama, Sarah Martik, and Mary Aguilera

Breakout Sessions Two

Lick Run Greenway: A Transformative Approach to Regenerative Stormwater Management 3:30 PM - 4: 30 PM

This session will focus on the Lick Run Greenway, MSDGC’s innovative approach to reducing combined sewer overflows while providing visible and tangible community benefits. This sustainable alternative is more cost effective than a traditional sewer infrastructure project and provides a catalyst for environmental restoration, regenerative stormwater management, and community transformation within a highly urbanized corridor.

Panelists: Gary R. Wolnitzek, John Lyons, and MaryLynn Lodor

Power a Clean Future Ohio Overview Panel 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Our climate is changing. In Ohio, heavy spring rains followed by heat waves have impacted agriculture and driven up the price of food. A warming world and a shallow Lake Erie have exacerbated toxic algal blooms, impacted tourism and endangered drinking water. Almost 10% of Ohioans suffer from asthma and air quality projected to worsen over time could possibly exacerbate infant mortality rates, especially in urban communities. Ohio can face these threats head on and prosper in the common sense solutions that will bring new clean businesses to our state, and keep Ohioans working in these industries. Power a Clean Future Ohio will work with local leaders, businesses, and partner organizations to create a plan for Ohio cities to act together to reduce carbon and attract clean energy businesses to the Buckeye State through smart policies in renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation and land usage. Learn more about the campaign, its goals and how to get your community involved.

Panelists: Sarah Spence, Brendan Kelley, Joe Flarida, Nolan Rutschilling

Transforming a Community: addressing energy affordability for underserved communities in Cincinnati 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

This session will highlight how two programs, Light Up Avondale and WarmUp Cincy, are making energy efficiency more affordable and accessible for the most vulnerable and historically underserved communities in Cincinnati. Join the Cincinnati Zoo and the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability as we discuss the importance of race, place, and energy, and the solutions being developed to improve energy affordability outcomes.

Panelists: Savannah Sullivan, Carla Walker, Robert McCracken, Staci O'Leary as well as representatives from Community Action Agency, Donovan Energy, and Groundwork Ohio River Valley

A Climate Action Pathway for the Religious Community / Solarize Ohio PPA: How churches can afford renewable energy 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Case studies - how to inspire climate stewardship through the values, identity, and fellowship of religious faith. Shomrei Olam, Jewish Environmental Advocates of Cincinnati, and Ohio’s Episcopal dioceses report on actions through which religious communities mobilize their power to reduce their carbon footprint as individuals and as congregations.

Panelists: Joanne Gerson, Ken Wright, Rev. Craig Foster

Friday, August 7th

Breakout Sessions One

It Takes a Village: Sustaining Restoration Projects with Service Learners and Community Organizations 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Current climate and political extremes drive recognition that land use practices provide both problematic and potential solutions.  The Village of Yellow Springs actively and collaboratively develops policies/programs facilitating renewable energy, active transportation, affordable housing and conservation, which community leaders illustrate via case studies highlighting success factors to improve resilience and quality of life.

Panelists: Susan Jennings, Marianne MacQueen, Krista Magaw, Kineta Sanford, Brian Housh

Connecting People with Sustainable Transportation Options 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

This panel will look at ongoing efforts to expand public transit and active transportation networks, and the use of zero-emission vehicles, and will explore additional strategies to connect people with sustainable transportation options, including mobility hubs, complete streets and more.

Panelists: Nathan Alley, Michael Peters, Jason Barron, and Cam Hardy

Designing Future Foodsheds for Regenerative Regions 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Regenerative Cities provide food, water, and energy, while enhancing biodiversity, ecosystem services, and capturing greenhouse gasses. Explore how Permaculture and Regenerative Farming Practices are transforming our cities, suburbs, and rural landscapes.  This session plugs participants into our network and features facilitated design charrettes about different permaculture projects and methods.

Panelists: Chris Smyth, Amy Stross, Doug Crouch, Braden Trauth, and Alan Wight

The Young and The Restless: How Younger Generations are Stepping up to Fight Climate Change / Youth Resiliency in Cincy 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

What role do younger generations see themselves playing when it comes to issues like climate change, equity, racism, and transportation in the years to come? This panel focuses on diverse perspectives and people represented by youth activists. Following the panel, a young professional in the environmental field and a youth activist will lead further small group discussions on their perspectives in relation to their careers and experiences. 

Panelists: Sarah Fischer, Madison Butcher, Savannah Sullivan, Stephanie Crockett, and High School Employees of Groundwork Ohio River Valley

Breakout Sessions Two

Managing Natural Resources in a Developing County 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

This panel explores methods for implementing landscape-scale resource management in a rapidly developing community. We will describe the development of two comprehensive watershed plans, which use data-driven methods for asset management, project implementation, and stormwater policy changes. Through collaborative partnerships, these plans have led to successful BMPs throughout the community.

Panelists: Katie MacMannis, Liz Fet, Mark Jacobs, and Matt Wooten

The Next Frontier: Urban Carbon Capture and Storage 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Cities around the world have developed strategies to reduce carbon emissions.  However, the 2018 National Climate Assessment reported that in addition to reducing CO2 50% by 2030, the world will also need to rapidly implement carbon capture and storage strategies to minimize global warming.  This session explores carbon capture strategies, including regenerative green infrastructure, carbon negative architecture, and policy tools that can be deployed in urban settings like Cincinnati.

Panelists: Ollie Kroner, Crystal Courtney, Matt DiBoba, and Carl Sterner

Net Zero Everything: Interactive Sustainability Planning Workshop 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Attendees are invited to participate in an interactive workshop where they will join a subject-matter team of their choice to brainstorm how to take Camp Joy - a rural outdoor camp that delivers programming to ~13,000 people annually - to “Net-Zero Everything” across the categories of energy, water, waste, and land-management.

Panelists: Jennifer Eismeier, Jeffrey Millard, Chris Willis, Andy Holzhauser

Indigenizing Colonized Spaces: Building Health and Wealth with Food Sovereignty 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Native chefs, farmers and educators are cultivating solutions to food access and diet-based health problems by reclaiming ancestral traditions. Can movements to decolonize diet and food systems apply to diverse cities? Can Native culinary and agricultural education help reaffirm relationship to land and place, health and humanity? 

Panelists: Jheri Neri, J. Dawn Knickerbocker, and Shane Creepingbear

Breakout Sessions Three

Sustainable Business Models 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Time to take an in-depth look at two sustainable business models. First we look at the sustainable elements Sup Kentucky integrated into their small adventure tourism company next we scale up and examine Inside Out Design and how a large company takes big measures to ensure sustainable business practices.

Panelists: Andrea Wilson Mueller and Heather Warman

Manufacturing Sustainability: Why Local Efforts Should Include Industry 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Industrial energy efficiency has significant emissions reduction and economic benefits!  We will learn and discuss ways that local governments and stakeholders can support industrial energy efficiency as part of sustainability and climate action efforts, including through practices already used by ENERGY STAR, trade associations, and other organizations.

Panelists: John Seryak and Melissa Hulting

Green Umbrella Closing Remarks 4:45 PM - 5:00 PM

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