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Short Talks

The Adaptive Place Toolkit with Joshua Pine from Yard & Co.

We have created a toolkit that helps places respond not only to today’s needs but build adaptability into urban design, development planning and operation strategies. The toolkit includes an adaptive capacity audit, immediate response measures, adaptive design and planning approaches and organizational needs such as public engagement, events, marketing, safe + clean and commercial tenant support. We will walk through it using Cincinnati as the primary case study and then work in real time with participants to assess their place's opportunities. See the Toolkit and case study here:

Sustainability: Why Is It Invisible to Some Communities? with Dr. Tyra Oldham from LANDSDS

Real sustainability is power to harness the tools and processes of its people, places and things yet some communities are invisible to this technology. Sustainability has a connection to all communities, yet communities can be inviable to its benefits, value, outcomes and needs. The inability to attract and produce sustainability in some communities is a disadvantage to the sustainability of a city therefore; this presentation addresses invisible communities in cultivating sustainability today to accelerate action. The role of bridging sustainability to invisible communities as sustainable professionals work to deliver climate rich change, connected solutions and greener spaces.

Living Into Transformative Change with Daniel Hart from University of Cincinnati

How does social change happen? At the root of our environmental and social problems, are the ways that we work with each other, and fundamentally the way that we live our own lives. This session will explore a few models and frameworks for diving deeper into thinking about how social and organizational change happens, starting with the self as a foundation for change-making. Although large scale, structural forces significantly impact Healthy People, Policy, the Built Environment, and Physical Landscapes, Daniel Hart outlines the importance of intentionality for the way that we design our own lives and for the way that we work with others based on principles from ecology, fractal theory, and natural systems.

Combining Corporate and Community Benefit: Using Local Carbon Offsets to Meet Corporate Sustainability Goals with Madeline Fleisher from Dickinson Wright PLLC

One key to accelerating climate action over the next decade will be maximizing collaboration across multiple sectors, particularly in order to ensure climate efforts have equitable impacts (positive or negative) across communities. This presentation is aimed at highlighting one pathway to foster cooperation between corporate citizens and local communities in pursuing global climate action while also incorporating local priorities and concerns.

Humanizing Climate Change with Michael Roman from University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati is known as a future climate haven, but did you also know it was one of the most welcoming cities to immigrant populations? In 2018, it ranked 18th out of 100 cities in the New American Economy index. This made it the highest ranked city in the Midwest, and the top in Ohio. Collectively, these 102,000 immigrants had a spending power of $2.8B and contributed $1.1B in taxes. Immigrants have a positive impact on our city. So, what does this have to do with a climate change conference? Half of my family lives in one of the first nations predicted to vanish because of climate change. For 20 years, I have sought ways for them and the more than 750,000 other endangered lives to live. Recently congressional legislation, S.2565 and H.R. 4732 were created to address climatically displaced populations, which could bring more migrants to Cincinnati, one of the friendliest cities around. While the IPCC targets 2030 as a point of no return for the rest of the world, it predicts forced migration scenarios for low-lying, least-developed island nation states. As sustainability is for the privileged, survival is for the masses. For those on the frontlines, we need to look beyond Paris. Beyond international negotiations, technological development, carbon sequestration and NDCs. Climate change is the greatest moral challenge of the 21st century, and global actions need to address it as such.

Recognizing the Legal Rights of the Ohio River Watershed with Jessica Schultz from Citizens for Rights of the Ohio River Watershed (CROW)

Communities from Ecuador to Toledo are using “Rights of Nature” laws to defend waterways, safeguard endangered species, and protect vulnerable populations. Recognizing the legal standing of ecosystems is grounded in indigenous wisdom and is being encoded into law worldwide. Currently, state and federal governments are pressured into granting permits to polluters, thus depriving local communities from making decisions about their own health and safety. Come learn about the Rights of Nature movement and how a proposed action for the Ohio River Watershed empowers and affirms our responsibility to protect the inherent right of the watershed to thrive, regenerate, and flourish.

The State of the Ohio River with Mary Aguilera from Ohio River Guardians/OHPPC/Sierra Club/Buckeye Environmental Network/Indigenous Environmental Network

The Ohio River has consistently been named the dirtiest river in the United States. We discuss a bit of history of the pollution of the river, the current state of the river, and imminent threats to our communities along the river. There will be time for discussion around the root causes of the harm to the river that are linked to poverty, environmental racism and militarism. We will also discuss all the latest efforts to work towards a cleaner and healthier river by changing false narratives and building power and how others can join these efforts.

Keynote Speaker Wednesday 7:00-9:00 pm


Author, professor, and climate policy expert, Joan Fitzgerald's work centers around urban climate action and strategies for linking it to equity, economic development, and innovation. Her talk will focus on how cities can recover from COVID equitably while making environmental advances. 

Field Trip Thursday 9:00-10:30 am

Touring the Lick Run Greenway with Sara DiLandro from Human Nature, Inc


Gary Wolnitzek 

Human Nature


Chris Manning

Human Nature

Human Nature and a multi-disciplinary project team identified comprehensive wet weather strategies for reducing one of MSDGC’s largest-volumetric combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the Lick Run Watershed. The recommended wet weather strategies focus on MSDGC’s Communities of the Future program, which pairs the goals of CSO reduction with economic development, urban renewal, and long-term community sustainability. Central to this comprehensive wet weather strategy are restoring the historical Lick Run stream within a vibrant landscape, constructing green infrastructure controls, and providing a catalyst for community redevelopment. As part of the efforts to revitalize the community and promote redevelopment, new parking areas, a multi-use access path, additional lighting, transportation improvements, and educational signage will be used to create and promote access to the new space adjacent to the open channel. This site tour will highlight each of these components and allow attendees to see how this plan has come to life.


Nicole DiNovo

Human Nature

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John Lyons 

Strand Associates

Lunchtime Plenary 1 Thursday 12-1:30 pm

Visioning a Transformation of the Midwest


Sonia Aggarwal

Senior Advisor for Climate Policy & Innovation at the White House

What could a transformation of the Midwest look like with climate actions that invest in communities and infrastructure? Join us in visioning the potential growth in quality jobs, improved infrastructure, environmental quality and resilience if we are ready to embrace climate-forward policies and practices.​​


Sanya Carley

O’Neill Professor, School of Public & Environmental Affairs, Indiana University


Tom Croft

Executive Director, Steel Valley Authority


Cate Mingoya

Capacity Building Director, Groundwork USA 


Joan Fitzgerald

Northeastern University

Breakout Period 1 Thursday 1:45-2:45pm

Planting the Seeds of Tomorrow:
Utilizing Public/Private Partnerships to Revitalize Vacant Lots


Brandon Saurber

City of Hamilton, OH


Jeff Gambrell

Butler County Connect


Alfred Hall

City of Hamilton, OH


Felix Russo

New Life Mission

As overhead expenses continue to rise in relation to the management of city-owned residential lots, learn how public/private partnerships may be the solution to not only a departmental financial stressor, but also a global environmental crisis. Join the City of Hamilton’s Department of Neighborhoods’ Director as well as local leaders in conservation as they discuss the plight of declining pollinator populations and how restoring lost habitat may be the key to a more sustainable, diversified future.

Tomorrow Transformed: How to Build an Authentic Sustainability Brand


Susan Heinking

Pepper Construction

The future of the built world must support a healthier and sustainable environment to thrive. But pointing organizations toward this goal can be daunting. How do you gain leadership buy-in? How do you make change authentic and empower reticent employees? What commitments do you make? How do you bring alignment through partnerships? From our own experience, we will show you how Pepper is transforming ourselves and influencing our industry. We will take you through the steps from investing in people, technology and new ideas, to developing a mission statement and marketing strategy, to unveiling them to the public.

Building the Green Collar Economy through Education & Inclusion


Geoff Greenfield

Third Sun Solar

More than 3 million US workers are employed in well-paying clean energy jobs. In fact, Solar Installer has been at the top of the labor statistics fastest growing jobs for several years. It will be vital for cities to take advantage of this job potential by training a workforce to meet the growing demand. How can we utilize this momentum to create jobs where jobs are needed most? By building out free vocational resources. Participants will learn about peer organizers doing this work now in different states.

Accelerating the Transition to EVs for All: Groundbreaking Programs in Oberlin, Columbus, and Cleveland


Michael Peter

Sway Mobility

Dr. Shelley Francis

EV Hybrid Noire Mobility
Intelligence Consulting

Dominic Matthew

Fund for Our
Economic Future

This panel will share their experiences and findings from innovative programs including community-based EV carshare in Oberlin, the “Transforming Transportation in Communities of Opportunity” EV adoption study in Cleveland, two shared EV programs through the Paradox Prize (Elyria and Cleveland), and creating distributed EV charging hubs in Columbus.


Linda Arbogast

City of Oberlin


Andrew Conley

Clean Fuels Ohio

Community Solar, District Heating and Cooling Systems


Chuck Lohre

Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

Community Solar; District Heating and Cooling Systems are central plants that distribute
electricity, steam, hot or chilled water to nearby buildings for power, heating and cooling. They are typically used for municipalities, universities, airports and industrial facilities. Central solutions are also economically viable as a standalone business to service customers in areas with dense concentration of large commercial buildings. This session will introduce these to companies, institutions and municipalities that would like to consider these systems to increase their energy use efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint.


Small-Scale Ideas for Incorporating Trees into Planning

Rachel Comte

Urban Canopy Works, LLC

Tree canopy is critical in a sustainable community for air quality, temperate reduction and public health and more. However, for many communities, this is not a priority currently and planners only contribute via the development plan review process. But how to do that? While some communities are fortunate enough to have trained staff whose job it is to manage the urban “forest,” many are not. Strategies for smaller communities to engage will include ways to build awareness about trees, setting community goals, getting best practices in place (tree well size, species diversity, etc.), explore tree protection regulations, creating partnerships, and contributing to design decisions for roads, parks, and facilities.

Breakout Period 2 Thursday 3:00-4:00 pm

Partnering to Create Climate Safe Neighborhoods


Climate change is a global issue with local solutions. Climate Safe Neighborhoods is a partnership with Groundwork Ohio River Valley, the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability, and Green Umbrella with neighborhoods seeking to mitigate the effects of climate change through intentional and focused community engagement. Session will be a panel discussion with partners to discuss creating a climate resilience plan on the neighborhood level, how the needs of the community can be addressed through city mechanisms, and how to change city processes to better serve neighborhoods.

Savannah Sullivan

Green Umbrella

Sophie RevisGroundworks ORV


Ollie Kroner

City of Cincinnati


Marisha Davis

LPH Community Council

Good Food Belongs to the People of Greater Cincinnati


Julie Shifman

Last Mile Food Rescue


Moxie John

Last Mile Food Rescue


Kai Stoudemire-Williams

Naturally Homegrown

A panel on two innovative solutions that lead to healthier people and communities while lowering our climate footprint. It is estimated that 40% of prepared food gets dumped, causing both landfill to fill up and producing large amounts of greenhouse gasses. In fact, The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 30.6 million tons of food enters landfills and represents 22% of overall municipal solid waste. Also, much food is not locally grown having to travel long distances to get to those who need it and for some communities, in food deserts, they don’t even have access to fresh food on a regular basis. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people in Greater Cincinnati are food insecure, (effecting the minority community disproportionately). This leads to reduced mental and physical health and quality of life. We believe that food is a basic human right so why aren’t we doing a better job getting food to people.


Thomas Federl

Castellini Company

Sustainability Leadership in Midwestern Schools


Chad Edwards

Emersion DESIGN

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Stephanie Crockett

Elevar Design Group


Christie Boron

Emersion DESIGN

A local school becomes a leader in resiliency while another Midwestern school aims to introduce youth to an innovative local food production and sustainability STEM curriculum.


Through the lens of the Bethany School community and its architecture, learn how a Midwestern school is preparing for a more resilient future. The 1st Net Zero Energy school in the Midwest serves as a great local case study on resiliency relating to Social, Health, Energy/ Carbon, Stormwater, Sustainable, and Biophilic design practices. 


Also, learn how Harvard Graduate School of Education professionals are developing a comprehensive informal learning program in which teenagers residing in low income neighborhoods located within food deserts will participate in youth-centered local food production instruction using data collected from high school students in the Chicago Englewood community. Its purpose is similar to that of an environmental justice non-profit called Groundwork Ohio River Valley which will be highlighted as well.

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Ayesha Crockett

Elevar Design Group

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Tionna Jordan

Groundwork Ohio River Valley

A Look at How Companies and Universities are Charting a Path to Net Zero


Katherine Neebe

Duke Energy Foundation

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Chris Roe


Dean Jeff Bauer - Headshot January 2019

Jeff Bauer

University of

Cincinnati Clermont


Jack McAneny

Procter & Gamble

This panel will examine how large energy producers and users are embracing the climate challenge and developing policies and initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Panelists will discuss topics around: Climate action planning, sustainability, and clean energy policies. The panelists will present on current and future plans related to how each entity is working to reduce its carbon footprint while embracing environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals; new technologies; sustainable practices; and clean energy policies. Panelists will also explore the role that diverse stakeholders can and do play in developing these plans. 

The Case for the Green Innovation Ecosystem in the Midwest


Pete Blackshaw



Antony Seppi

HCDC Business Center

Pitchbook recently suggested that Climate Tech is a $2.5 trillion dollar opportunity. The Midwest barely has a seat at this table, but that’s about to change! Midwest regions are fast becoming dynamic hubs for startups, industry, and research institutions that are providing the foundation for sustainability innovation. We'll explore the many advantages of the the Midwest: the presence of large corporations embracing sustainability as a growth strategy, the flood of tech, talent, and institutional investment that’s surging back from the Coasts, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and economic benefits that make it dramatically less expensive to launch and build a business than virtually any other region in the country.


Irina Filippova



Oleg Kaganovich

Cintrifuse Syndicate Fund


Emily Williams


Using Existing Data to Make Smart Investments


Gregory Raffio

Go Sustainable Energy


Chris Wagner

Go Sustainable Energy


Peter Kleinhenz

Go Sustainable Energy

Accelerated climate action requires a massive focus on existing buildings. Often overlooked, existing energy data is a powerful resource for owners, contractors, and design teams when making investment decisions. We will focus on case studies where common design or installation practices resulted in inaccurately sized systems, which reduces efficiency and increases equipment costs. In each, energy data was analyzed to validate the equipment sizing proposed by design teams. Not only did data analysis improve the proposed designs and equipment selections, but it was sometimes faster, less expensive, more accurate, and even preferred by the design team than their traditional approach.

Breakout Period 3 Thursday 4:15-5:15 pm

Growing Local Knowledge and Social Ties through Sustainable Stormwater Management: Partnerships in Design and Planning

Three urban design case studies address aging, out-of-compliance stormwater infrastructure and provide unique lessons in technical and partnership strategies. In Hoboken, NJ, teaming with the local sewer authority demonstrated the efficacy of green infrastructure through smart sewer technology. In Atlanta, GA, working with local not-for-profits informed problem statements and design solutions for a living laboratory stormwater park. In East Harlem, NY, developing a curriculum with a local school taught the next generation of advocates alongside professionals planning a resilient future for the neighborhood. These case studies provide relevant lessons for many Midwest communities working to adapt existing storm conveyance infrastructure.

Accelerating Regional Climate Action through Public/Private Partnership

Organized by Smart Columbus

Zach McGuire

Clean Technology Solutions, Columbus Partnership

Jenna Tipaldi

Climate Advisor, City of Columbus

Regional climate action improves quality of life, business stability and economic growth, and cross-sector collaboration can accelerate change and impact. Join public, private and non-profit sector leaders from the Columbus Region to hear how they have collaborated to develop the City of Columbus’ Climate Action Plan, accelerate electric vehicle adoption, institute building energy use benchmarking, improve residential energy efficiency in opportunity neighborhoods and initiate residential renewable energy aggregation and a renewable energy procurement program for corporate and industrial customers. Discover how their aggressive collaborative approach – the “Columbus Way” -- can be applied in your community to drive for climate neutrality by 2050.

Chiquita Gardner

Director of Energy Efficiency & Housing, IMPACT Community Action

Rebecca Karason

Senior Vice President, Director of Energy & Sustainability, Huntington

Carbon Neutral Indiana: Poised for Growth

Daniel Poynter

Carbon Neutral Indiana

Volunteers founded Carbon Neutral Indiana in April 2020. The non-profit helps households and businesses measure, offset, and reduce carbon emissions. With no grants, in the middle of a pandemic and economic recessions, in a conservative state, this 100% volunteer network grew 76% monthly for six months. They've helped 120+ households and businesses clean up their "carbon trash," averting $766,000 in social costs of carbon. When just 1/5th of 1% of the Midwest (23 people out of 10,000) are carbon neutral through organizations like Carbon Neutral Ohio, revenues will be $88M employing 700 people full-time. 

Creating a Climate Friendly Place with Citizen Science Informed Design


Dana Boll

Keep Norwood Cool


Melinda Butsch Kovacic

University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences


Pravin Bhiwapurkar, Ph.D

University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences


Patrick Ryan

UC College of Medicine / Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Can a small city find advocacy, understanding and resources to solve climate change at the block level? Enterprising research methods, citizen science experts and designers who think in possibilities, compassion and ideation, “Participatory Mapping to Keep Norwood Cool” brings technology and stakeholders together to change outcomes in Norwood.


Volunteers include retirees, fitness residents, families, Xavier students and faculty, all riding a robust wave of support parks and pedestrians in Norwood. Norwood Public Schools' enrichment programs engage student citizen scientists, offer content about climate action for young people and create exceptional experiences to become change agents. October plans a public visualization of air quality maps, heat islands from UC faculty and remediations from student charrettes with design professionals. 


This project found a fiscal home within the Norwood Health Department. Special thanks to NPS' Teen Empowerment, Avenues for Success and Drake Planetarium.


Victor Ronis-Tobin

Xavier University

Rethinking Density for Sustainable Housing


Mark Samaan

Legalize Housing

Zoning codes have a tremendous impact on so many facets of land use.  They are the primary drivers of, or barricades to, sustainable built environments.  In this presentation, Jonathan Rosenbloom will discuss the Sustainable Development Code, a database of zoning recommendations that achieves more sustainable outcomes in the built and natural environment.  ZoneCo will introduce its Zoning Sustainability Diagnostic tool, which scores zoning codes based on whether they are promoting or hindering sustainability goals.  We will describe real-world examples of sustainable zoning provisions.  Attendees will be encouraged to share the session’s lessons with local legislators and urge the adoption of more sustainable local ordinances.


Nick Keeling

Legalize Housing


Jonathan Rosenbloom

Vermont Law School

How 2030 Districts and Local Utilities are Leveraging Software to Reduce Energy Use and Emissions

Ben Levine


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Oliver Davis


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Connie Lillee

Detroit 2030 District

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Kenneth Randazzo

DTE Energy

This panel will discuss the different ways that Midwest 2030 Districts (Public/Private Partnerships) and DTE Energy are using software to drive energy & emissions reducing projects. 2030 Districts are leveraging software as a data hub, benchmarking tool, dashboard for building owners to gain insights into their building operations, and a data collection and analysis tool to identify viable Energy Conservation Measures. Software has enabled DTE employees to rapidly make incentive and retrofit recommendations and engage with an increased number of building owners, ultimately doubling the output of program reporting and applications and driving an increased number of energy reducing projects.

Field Trip Friday 9:00-10:30 am

Growing In and Outside the Box with Peter Huttinger from Turner Farms

Towards a sustainable future home vegetable and community gardens are a means for people to grow healthy food in addition to sequestering storm water on a modest scale. As with the compounding effect of catching stormwater in rain barrels to moderate stormwater, vegetable gardens absorb rainwater and slow run off. Recalling the saying “Many Hands Make Light Work” the culmination of multiple vegetable gardens can be part of the larger mosaic of small acts to help grow food and moderate stormwater. The workshop will review and offer practical “How To” construction techniques for building vegetable garden beds for use at home and in community gardens.

Lunchtime Plenary 2 Friday 12:00-1:15 pm

Preparing for Transformative Opportunity


Joan Fitzgerald

Northeastern University


Michael Forrester

City of Cincinnati


Andy Holzhauser

Donovan Energy


Jesse Kharbanda

Hoosier Environmental Council

After hearing from national leaders in Plenary 1, our second panel will reflect on how metro regions can prepare to take full advantage of federal opportunities to drive long-term investments that benefit all members of the community. We will explore models for collaboration between federal, state and local governments and business and non-profit organizations’ role in innovation and accountability. ​

Breakout Period 1 Friday 1:20-2:45 pm

Cincinnati's Progress on the Path to Carbon Neutral

Oliver Kroner

City of Cincinnati

Michael Forrester

City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati has been measuring our greenhouse gas emissions since 2006. At that time we set forward a goal for reducing our emissions 80% from that baseline by 2050. In the last decade, our tools for measuring carbon, and strategies for reducing carbon have improved significantly. This session will focus on what our modeling tells us and how that informs Cincinnati Climate Action. Where are we making progress? Where are we stuck? What key strategies are available to help us meet our climate targets? Are our targets ambitious enough?

Carla Walker

Think Big Strategies

Art and Artists Accelerating Change


Arynn McCandles

Cincinnati Museum Center

Robert Alan Wight

Christ College of Nursing

Artists and art play key roles in creating vibrant landscapes and healthier people. This panel explores the power of art and intersections with ecological sustainability showcasing programs, projects, and partnerships that are transforming and beautifying our communities. Art-activists re-frame conversations, deconstructing dominant paradigms and providing fresh canvases for future creation. From found art, nature as muse, to garden installations and biodegrading sculpture parks - join us to learn about the artists (and their art projects) working with the Wave Pool Arts Center, Cincinnati Museum Center, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, and Green Umbrella to create a healthier, and more resilient region.


Prince Lang

Walnut Hills Community


Calcagno Cullen

Wave Pool Arts Center

All Hands On Deck: How Local Governments Build Regional Resilience


Savannah Sullivan

Green Umbrella


Tom Carroll

Village of Silverton


Andrea Webster

Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute


Rhonda Ritzi

Kenton County Parks & Recreation

Policies and programs to address climate impacts are often most effective at the local level. Local action can be further strengthened by regional collaboration. This session will feature leaders from four forms of local government and a regional perspective to discuss successes and challenges in climate action and collaboration.


Geoff Milz

Colerain Township


Sheila Fields

City of Covington

Keep Covington Beautiful, Board member & volunteer - April 2010 to Present.

Our Health, Our Buildings - Connected

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We spend approximately 90% of our lives indoors. There is growing evidence that buildings can foster better health and healthier behaviors. Imagine we are supported by the space around us, where our workplace fosters a sense of wellbeing and promotes the very behaviors that lead to better health. We'll explore these concepts and learn how our buildings can collectively become learning labs and instruments to address the greatest health challenges we face as a community.

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Dawn Schwartzman

Enriching Space

Communities of Faith as Seedbeds of Transformation

In a sustainable world humanity and nature would flourish in mutually enhancing ways.  People would care for one another without impairing the health of future generations or other life communities. Because sustainability is a complex problem, it requires deep social change, and we believe that churches and communities can become seedbeds of transformation.


The Earth Care Leadership Team at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church presentation will include how our community of faith became a catalyst for social change and green outreach that has fostered informed and progressive action—in our individual lives as well as our church life. We will share our experience successfully retrofitting our historic building to reduce our carbon footprint, the design and implementation of an eight-month course on “Becoming Carbon Neutral” for our households, and the integration of earth care into the worship, education, justice seeking, administration, and facilities of our faith community.


Attendees should expect to hear specific examples of solutions to problems such as transforming individual and corporate practices, financial investment in green infrastructure, and fostering ongoing commitment to Earth Care and carbon neutrality.

Breakout Period 2 Friday 3:00-4:00 pm

From Soil to Sustenance and Back Again: Regenerative Food
Service Sustainability


Sandra Gross

Sleepy Bee Cafe


Frances Kroner

Sleepy Bee Cafe

Linking the inevitable need for environmental sustainable solutions for food wastes, explore Sleepy Bee Cafe and Harp Renewables journey’s and overlaps as they provide a flight map to potential paths for food service companies to close the circle of waste production to the benefit of the surrounding communities.


Larry Fradkin

Future Enviroassets, LLC

Students Sparking Sustainability


Zach Newton

Eco Earth Friends


Levi Grimm

JEE Foods

Creating a thriving and sustainable future will take collaboration and innovation. Learn from high school students across the country who have stepped up to work with community leaders and stakeholders to create resilient communities. Panelists come from diverse backgrounds, from food waste warriors in rural communities, to environmental nonprofit founders in California. These students have worked on small scale projects at their schools to have implemented community-wide programs focusing on education and action. Learn how the younger generations are becoming sustainability changemakers and how we all can work together for a brighter future.


Gus LaValle

JEE Foods


Mallika Shah

The Tomorrow Project


Alie McDougal

The Tomorrow Project


Jack Galloway

Youth Climate Action Coalition

Creative Solutions for Community Solar in Ohio


Cathy Cowan Becker

Simply Living

David Dwyer

American Renewable

As cities like Columbus move to Community Choice Aggregation for 100% renewable energy, utility-scale solar projects are starting to take off in Ohio. But what about community solar? Ohio does not have enabling legislation that allows multiple customers (neighbors, for example) to share a single solar array – so how can we do community solar here? Fortunately our state has a wide array of creative thinkers who have figured out how to make community solar happen. This session will explore projects and programs that generate solar energy on the community level, highlighting small towns and communities of color.


Tristan Rader

Solar United Neighbors


Jonathan Welle

Cleveland Owns

Recalibrating Our Cities and Suburbs for Tomorrow


Andy Knight

MKSK Studios


Chris Hermann

MKSK Studios

Our Midwestern urban and suburban communities in 2021 are a palimpsest the decisions and investments of public leaders, private developers, planners and designers throughout the decades and centuries. Many of those efforts have resulted in aged and/or dysfunctional infrastructure and development. The re-use and repurposing of existing spaces like commercial strips and industrial landscapes provide exciting opportunities for the creation of socially and environmentally additive places within our communities. From parks and nature preserves to community centers, our decisions today will impact future generations. Our panel of Landscape Architects and Planners will share their recent experiences in re-using spaces within our existing cities, and opportunities they envision in the future.


Andrew Overbeck

MKSK Studios


Eric Lucas

MKSK Studios

At Fifth Third, Elevated Sustainable Design = Design for People


Daniel Lessing

BHDP Architecture


Jeremy Faust

Fifth Third Bank

Using real project experiences at Fifth Third Bank, Daniel Lessing and Jeremy Faust will demonstrate how organizations can design their future spaces to impact the health, wellbeing, and productivity of their people—and, ultimately, the planet. They will share how to ensure future designs achieve sustainability goals—including consuming less energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting wellness, and more.

Field Trip Friday 3:00-4:30 pm

Engaging Political Leaders to Make Biking Better with Wade Johnston from Green Umbrella

Advocates can raise awareness of the obstacles and challenges to building better active transportation infrastructure, but it often requires policy changes to see real improvement—which means engaging and persuading elected officials and other leaders about what needs to happen. Tri-State Trails has developed two effective ways of appealing to officials. The first is our Active Transportation Policy Platform, a blueprint of effective policies that candidates can adopt. The second is experiential learning on a bike ride, so they gain an on-the-ground understanding of the need for better bike infrastructure. Taken together, these techniques are creating better-informed decision-makers, leading to better active transportation policies and infrastructure. Participants will need to either bring their own bikes or can rent a Red Bike. This field trip will end with a happy hour in person at Newport on the Levee.

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