2018 All-America City Finalist - Cincinnati, OH

Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:

The City of Cincinnati has taken steps to ensure equality of opportunity for all residents of Cincinnati.

To ensure equity and access for aging residents, the City created a Chief Advocacy Officer of Aging and Accessibility (CAOAA) with the goal of making Cincinnati the best place to live independently and grow older in a community that provides exceptional opportunities and respects persons of all ages and all levels of abilities.

Cincinnati works with various stakeholder groups, including residents, developers, city departments, and city officials, to discuss and engage on issues in the community. The City Manager’s Office created ECAT, the Engage Cincy Action Team, which serves as a liaison between the broader community and the City of Cincinnati and aims to strengthen the culture of resident engagement in Cincinnati by providing opportunities for all to participate in meaningful and proactive ways in the City’s decision-making and problem-solving processes.

The 3-year development of Plan Cincinnati included widespread public participation through the direct engagement of thousands of stakeholders. Oversight was provided by a 40-person steering committee representing community organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and institutions, while much of the work developing the goals and actions steps came from 12 working groups with up to 30 members each.


Three project examples showing how this community leverages civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues:

 

1.) The Green Cincinnati Plan
From its industrial past, the City of Cincinnati’s Green Cincinnati Plan (GCP) has helped to create a more sustainable, resilient, equitable future. The 2018 update of GCP was led by a diverse steering committee of leaders charged with ensuring an inclusive process for the plan, that would emphasize sustainability, resilience, and equity as components of any recommendations.

The kickoff meeting for the 2018 GCP attracted more than 250 residents. Afterwards, three separate meetings were hosted for Spanish-speaking communities to ensure language wouldn’t be a barrier. Overall, hundreds of residents participated in more than 30 meetings and contributed 1,400 recommendations for sustainable action.

Local groups are rallying to the cause:

  • Net Zero Urban Village is uniting equity and sustainability by incorporating energy efficiency strategies in homes; the Village is making energy bills and thus homes more affordable.
  • The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has piloted energy conservation programs and funded energy efficiency initiatives of regional nonprofits.
  • Local universities provided critical support in analyzing the cost-benefit and greenhouse impact of every recommendation in the plan.
  • Procter and Gamble, a major employer, has committed to identifying five goals from the 2018 GCP to champion.
  • Red Bike, a nonprofit born out of partnership with the City, has dramatically increased affordable mobility within the city core by building almost 60 bike stations.

The focus on equity and engagement continues as the draft GCP is being shared with residents in the most vulnerable neighborhoods who are providing feedback and comments before the document goes to the steering committee and city council.

More information: Green Cincinnati Plan

 

2.) Engage Cincy
Cincinnati’s Engage Cincy emerged from a unique resident-led initiative to promote more robust interaction with the people who live, work and play here and to help inform government actions. The effort was formally adopted by the Cincinnati City Council in 2014.

One outgrowth of Engage Cincy is the Engage Cincy Action Team (ECAT). This group of residents and city staff serves as a formal liaison between the broader community and the City. One key ECAT effort has been formalizing a partnership with Invest in Neighborhoods, a local nonprofit that promotes and assists local community councils. Invest and the City have worked to enhance information sharing between community councils and on engagement trainings for residents. Other impacts from ECAT’s first year include:

  • developing a Community Engagement Action Plan;
  • overhauling the City’s budget engagement strategy; and
  • establishing engagement trainings for city employees.

Another critical component of Engage Cincy is the Challenge Grant program, which encourages residents to submit innovative engagement approaches and then receive funding to execute the idea. In three years, hundreds of ideas have been submitted and the 14 projects which received funding and City support collectively brought tens of thousands of Cincinnatians together in fun, positive, rewarding, and impactful new ways. One such project is Cincinnati Neighborhood Games, which is a ‘field day’ that promotes community pride and brings people from diverse backgrounds together in an Olympic-like atmosphere.

More information: Engage Cincy

 

3.) It’s Time to PIVOT
Cincinnati Police Department’s Place-Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories (PIVOT) program uses data to systematically dismantle criminal networks and eliminate safe havens for criminal activity. PIVOT empowers residents to reclaim their streets through confidential informants, visibility, and placemaking. By engaging property owners and residents, PIVOT helped create two new vibrant areas of play and community health, deterring crime with remarkable results.

While focusing on criminal hot spots within East Westwood and the Westwood communities, a unique partnership formed through civic engagement. These two neighborhoods that had historically been splintered were brought together through clean-ups and beautification projects. By mobilizing residents to take back their community, CPD through PIVOT had the support it needed to locate and disrupt crime.

Because of the PIVOT program, residents were already engaged and able to quickly mobilize for the 90-day NEP blitz in Westwood and East Westwood. Side-by-side with police and community agencies, residents:

  • repaired and fixed properties,
  • built multiple playgrounds,
  • established several community gardens, and
  • converted the one-time hub of dangerous activity into a fresh foods and clothing co-op.

Since the program’s completion, these neighborhoods continue to see the lowest levels of violence in five years, a reduction of 75% in violent crime. Specifically, East Westwood has experienced an 83% reduction in crime and Westwood a 49% reduction in crime

This work earned the CPD the 2017 Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing and has been captured in the documentary, “The Pivot Point,” produced by 24-time Emmy winning filmmaker, Zo Wesson.

More information: Place Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories (PIVOT)

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