Almost a year and a half ago, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) invited Cincinnati’s Hamilton County and Houston, Texas’ Harris County to participate in a pilot initiative to end LGBTQ youth homelessness. Lighthouse Youth Services and Strategies to End Homelessness accepted the invitation here in Cincy and created Safe and Supported, a program that has partnered with local and national organizations like GLSEN and the Human Rights Campaign to facilitate greater local collaboration, to improve the quality of inventions and to provide new resources to homeless youth. Currently spearheading the initiative is Lighthouse Youth Services Director Meredith Hicks. CityBeat caught up with Hicks to learn more about the organization, queer homelessness in Cincinnati and how far they have come since 2014.
CityBeat: What has Safe and Supported accomplished so far?
Meredith Hicks: A couple things I am really proud of. So, first, this is a pilot initiative. We didn’t know how the community was going to respond. One of the events we held with Cincinnati Public Schools had over 100 people attend to learn more, to contribute, to sign up for our subcommittees to participate. We had young people there, we had providers, we had educators. It really was this incredible group of community members coming together. That, to me — seeing the standing room only, seeing the parents, seeing the young people — really showed me we could do this as a community and there was the interest, there was the passion, there was the drive, and people recognized the incredible need of our LGBT youth — to be able to support them an have them not experience homelessness.
CB: I bet that was a great feeling. What other accomplishments are you proud of?
MH: After the planning phase, there’s really two that stick out to me. The first one is that one of our strategies was supporting foster youth. We were able to bring in the All Children - All Families training
to our communities. Lighthouse Foster Care and Adoption completed these 10 benchmarks of improving our practices with LGBT foster youth and LGBT foster families. We also went through three days of intensive staff training and invited community partners to attend. We even had allies across the river in Kentucky that came over because they were interested in improving their work with LGBT youth as well. And actually, Lighthouse just earned the seal of recognition from the Human Rights Campaign for completing the All Children - All Families program within our foster care.
This invitation from HUD was completely unfunded, so it didn’t come with any money to do this work or actually to implement our strategies, so we really are relying on the generosity of our community, individual donors and foundations to help us with the capacity and funds to do our strategies. We held a funders briefing and we are excited that we have committed funds to support and hire a full-time director to really take this collaboration to the next level. That is what it’s going to take because we are working across multiple systems. We’re looking at education, child welfare, homelessness, juvenile justice. All of these systems have things that they can do to support LGBT youth. The director is going to be really invested in all these areas.
CB: You mentioned staff training. What kind of curriculum is involved to properly train staff members?
MH: We have six different subcommittees that also involve different community members that are also participating with their organizations or volunteering. One of those subcommittees is the cultural competency committee. They are identifying different curriculum, different resources, a structure for how organizations can improve their cultural competency. We’re looking to be able to offer that to the community in the fall, but coming up with a standardized way of doing that and then being able to offer support to organizations, or systems, or churches or whatever that want to develop a higher level of competency service LGBT youth and families.
CB: How would you describe cultural competency and why is it important in this process?
MH: Cultural competency is developing the knowledge and the skills to be able to understand somebody’s lived experience and identities and be able to respond in a supportive way. Cultural competency is a learning process you never reach or say, “OK, I’m completely competent.” It’s about developing a way of listening, understanding, learning and then an appropriate way of responding, and that’s a skill.
CB: A homelessness initiative that caught a lot of national attention was Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation, which is for homeless youth with an emphasis on queer youth. Can you weigh in on the foundation and celebrity-driven organizations?
MH: Yeah! So I think that any national attention, positive celebrity attention is a good thing. With Miley Cyrus, I think part of her mission is purchasing food and supplies for homeless shelters in California. I think that her actions demonstrate the need we have on a local level. Every year, Lighthouse serves over 500 youth in our street outreach team and in our homeless shelter, [ages] 18-24, that are facing homelessness. We know that up to 40 percent of them self-identify as LGBT. We have the same needs from folks that contribute food, that contribute hygiene products or socks and underwear, clothing. I hope that people look at [Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation] and say, “What can I contribute in my community?” I want people to know that it’s just not just happening in New York or L.A. This is a problem in our community. It’s happening in Cincinnati, and we have committed community members that are dedicated to solving them.
CB: What are your plans for the future? What do you hope to accomplish or where do you hope to be in maybe five, 10 years with Safe and Supported?
MH: Our goal is to end youth homelessness in Cincinnati by the year 2020. I hope in five years we’ve been successful in ending youth homelessness. My vision is that this is a community collaboration between all these agencies. I hope it flourishes, we gain new partners and the structure develops and communication develops across sectors. We also have some great things coming down the pipe related to developing resource guides to help LGBT youth and providers. We’re still looking at what that format will look like — it could be a mobile application, a paper guide, a website — but one of our short-term goals is having the resources available for young people in a guide format.
Good morning all. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s going on today.
City Council’s budget and finance committee yesterday approved pushing more than $6 million in TIF funds into building a parking garage in Oakley. The 383-space garage would serve Oakley Station, which just landed its first big office tenant. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be bringing 400 office jobs to the development. Developers Al Neyer and USS Realty will put up the land for the garage. The city will pay the developer for the construction of the garage and lease the facility to them for 35 years. Neyer and USS will have the option to buy the building during that time, or purchase it from the city for $1 after the lease expires. TIF money takes property taxes from nearby new developments and reinvests those funds in other projects there instead of flowing them into the city’s general funds. The city must own a property to use TIF funds on it; thus the lease structure. A final council vote on the deal is expected today.
• Speaking of city money for development, the city will give more than $7 million in financial assistance to a downtown project at Eighth and Sycamore streets. That deal involves the development of a $35 million, 130-unit apartment building by North American Properties. The city will kick in a $3.5 million grant for the developer as well as $1.8 million in tax abatements for the project. In addition, the city will loan the Cincinnati Central City Development Corporation $2 million to build a parking garage and retail space as part of the deal. 3CDC will pay back that loan over the course of its 35-year lease. So how much money is all that, you ask? To give some perspective, the $7 million involved in the deal is about twice the amount of money the city has committed to human services funding for next fiscal year. But the development will create four full time and 24 part-time jobs worth about $2.2 million in income taxes, so there’s that.
• Mayor John Cranley has said he'll OK $2 million from the city's general fund for streetcar operations in an effort to ensure that SORTA approves a streetcar operations bid that uses union employees. But some city council members worry that the money won't be enough for the long-term operation of the streetcar, and are calling for more funds. Officials believe the project will cost about $4 million in its first year.
• The city’s dramatic struggle with gun violence continues. Last night during a march through Over-the-Rhine led by Bishop Bobby Hilton to protest gun violence, two men were shot in the neighborhood. One collapsed just half a block away from where the march took place. One, 18-year-old Justin Crutchfield, later died. Among those tending to Crutchfield was State Sen. Cecil Thomas, who was attending the rally. Thomas, a former police officer, has been active in OTR for years. Thomas said the majority of OTR residents don’t want any part in the violence and that it’s a small minority responsible for the crime. Many of the shootings have taken place during a pronounced spike in violence in the city, including last week’s shooting death of officer Sonny Kim, the first Cincinnati Police officer killed in the line of duty since 2000. CPD Chief Jeffrey Blackwell has drawn up a 90-day violence reduction plan at the request of City Manager Harry Black, but has delayed implementing that plan in the wake of Kim’s death.
• Very quick hit here: Cincinnati Red Bike is launching its first stations across the river in Northern Kentucky today, opening six new stations in Covington. Red Bike opened last fall and has since gained nearly 1,000 members, who have taken more than 46,000 rides.
• Are Pete Rose’s chances at reinstatement into Major League Baseball shot? Some say so. New evidence emerged Monday that Rose bet on baseball not just as a manager — the revelation that led to his suspension from the game in the first place — but also as a player. A notebook held by the federal government as it was investigating Rose has finally been released, and it details Rose’s wagers on the game as a player. Rose bet on the Reds, according to the evidence, though he never bet against his own team. The new revelations have many, including top sports commentators, predicting that Rose has lost any chance to gain reinstatement into the MLB, and thus a shot at the Hall of Fame.
• Finally, efforts are afoot at the state capital to abolish the so-called “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products. State Rep. Greta Johnson, D-Akron, is pushing the bill. She says women in Ohio spend $6-$10 a month on state taxes for hygiene products and that it’s time for Ohio to end the practice of putting state sales taxes on the items. Five other states have nixed their taxes on feminine hygiene products, including Maryland, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The Cleveland Press Club
recognized nine pieces of work, including two first-place winners, while three CityBeat staffers
are finalists in the AAN contest (including Art Director Rebecca Sylvester, for her cover art for "Pileup at the Morgue," "Stranger than Fiction" and "The Love List"). AAN winners will be announced July 18.
This year’s most recognized piece of writing and reporting was “Stranger Than Fiction,” by Arts & Culture Editor Jac Kern and Staff Writer Nick Swartsell. The story won two first place awards in the Cincinnati SPJ contest — Arts/Entertainment Reporting and Investigative/Enterprise/Database Reporting — placed second in the Cleveland Press Club contest and is a finalist for the AAN’s national Arts Writing award. The Cincinnati SPJ describes it as such: “Extraordinarily thorough examination of the real impact of a staged reality TV show on an impoverished Cincinnati neighborhood. Homes were trashed to make for better TV. Story also presents a global look at how neighborhood revitalization really works.”
Cincinnati SPJ first-place winners were CityBeat columnist Kathy Y. Wilson for a collection of her columns;
Nick Swartsell for Business Reporting (“Whose Gonna Drive You Home?”); John
Lasker for Government Reporting (“Legal Limit?”); Rebecca Sylvester for
Newspaper/Magazine Design/Graphic (“RAW Numbers”); and the CityBeat staff for Special Section (“Best of Cincinnati 2014”).
CityBeat photographer Jesse Fox won first place in Cleveland Press Club’s “Spot News Photography” category for her image titled, “Hands Up for Justice.” Danny Cross and Maria Seda-Reeder won first place in Arts & Entertainment Reporting for “Your Name Here.”
addition to Kern’s and Swartsell’s “Stranger Than Fiction,” the Association of
Alternative Newsmedia named Rebecca Sylvester a finalist for Cover Design and
Jesse Fox’s “Faces of Pride” project a finalist for Innovation/Format Buster.
A complete list of winners and finalists for all three contests is below:
Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists
WINNER: Jac Kern & Nick Swartsell, "Stranger Than Fiction"
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: Extraordinarily thorough examination of the real impact of a staged reality TV show on an impoverished Cincinnati neighborhood. Homes were trashed to make for better TV. Story also presents a global look at how neighborhood revitalization really works.
WINNER: Kathy Wilson
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: Most of the entries were strong and focused. Wilson's were straight and to the point. She exercised the kind of passion in her opinions that left no doubt about her feelings, regardless of what you thought of them. Some entries in this category were so polite it was hard to remember it was a column for analysis and opinion. Wilson hit both on the head.
WINNER: Nick Swarstell, "Who's Gonna Drive You Home"
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: An engagingly written piece that ably considers the local reverberations from new, disruptive business models.
WINNER: John Lasker, "Legal Limit"
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: This detailed and lengthy expose about the use of flawed breathalyzers in Ohio suggests possible story ideas for other states. Well-reported and well-balanced.
WINNER: Jac Kern & Nick Swartzell, "Stranger than Fiction"
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: This story skillfully combines good reporting about two issues – the questionable integrity of a “reality” TV show and its impact on property in an at-risk neighborhood. A long read, but worth it.
WINNER: Staff, CityBeat, “Best of Cincinnati 2014"
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: Fun, funky look at the best of what the city has to offer, as well as some well-written features of general interest to city and suburban dwellers. Visually exciting and fun, and let's face it, who doesn't like to know all there is about beer?
WINNER: Rebecca Sylvester, "RAW Numbers"
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: I think Rebecca did a great job presenting this idea. The stylized graphic treatment showing the money flow from events around the world to the "wheelbarrow-of-revenue" was a nice touch. There’s a good balance between all the elements on page. I also thought the red money backdrop in the pointer box was a nice graphic touch that emphasized the information being presented. Nice work!
Finalist: Nick Swartsell, "Dreaming Big"
Finalist: Danny Cross & Maria Seda-Reeder, "Your Name Here"
Finalist: Jason Gargano, "The Rebuilder"
Finalist: Josh Katzowitz, "Homegrown Heroes"
Finalist: Nick Swartsell, "Change of Heart”
Finalist: Nick Swartsell, "Last Clinic Standing"
Finalist; Nick Swartsell, "Historic Crossroads"
Finalist: Mike Breen, "Spill It"
Cleveland Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards
Complete list here.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
FIRST PLACE: Danny Cross, Maria Seda-Reeder, “Your Name Here”
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: Investigative journalism in an arts & entertainment piece — an unusual and refreshing combination. This was a longer piece, but it was well-written and compelling to read.
SPOT NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY
FIRST PLACE: Jesse Fox, “Hands Up for Justice”
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
SECOND PLACE: Jac Kern & Nick Swartsell, “Stranger Than Fiction”
THIRD PLACE: Jason Gargano, “The Rebuilder”
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: Really liked how this story started out, what he was saying and what he really felt. The commitment to team, fans and the community. No sportizms. Clearly a man who knows himself. If there’s a sports features category, this should be in it too. Packed paragraphs with great descriptions. Nice!
SECOND PLACE: Nick Swartsell, “Pileup at the Morgue”
SECOND PLACE: Josh Katzowitz, “Homegrown Heroes”
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: Interesting local-interest piece with a national reach.
SECOND PLACE: Nick Swartsell, "Battling Barriers”
JUDGE'S COMMENTS: In-depth, comprehensive look at issue of sex-trafficking. Good use of description.
GENERAL FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
SECOND PLACE: Jesse Fox, “Zip Dip”
Association of Alternative Newsmedia
Complete list here.
Jac Kern & Nick Swartsell, “Stranger Than Fiction”
Jesse Fox, “Faces of Pride”
Good morning y’all. Here’s what’s going on in Cincy as we all try to wake up and do work.
It’s been a somber few days in Cincinnati since Friday, when Cincinnati police officer Sonny Kim was shot and killed by a gunman in Madisonville. Though I can’t imagine how devastating that loss must be for his family, the community has come together to try and help them in their time of need. A GoFundMe account started by Mason Police Association President Derek Bauman has raised about $95,000 for the Kim family. University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono has announced his three sons will receive free undergraduate tuition at UC should they choose to go there.
Kim was responding to a 911 call about a man with a gun when he encountered 21-year-old Trepierre Hummons. Police say Hummons texted friends about his plan to commit “suicide by cop” and placed the 911 call himself to lure police to him. Hummons shot Kim before Hummons himself was killed by police. Kim was the first officer killed in the line of duty in Cincinnati in 15 years. Hummons was the 29th person killed by police in that time. Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell called Kim “one of our best,” citing the numerous commendations he’s received. In his off time, Kim, a resident of Evendale, ran a karate dojo in Symmes Township. Mayor John Cranley has asked Cincinnatians to wear blue Friday, June 26 in memory of Kim. In the wake of Kim’s shooting, Blackwell has announced a two-week delay in implementation of CPD’s recently announced 90-day violence reduction plan.
• Uptown Rental Properties, a major developer in Corryville and the surrounding areas, now owns an entire city block of properties in the neighborhood. The developer has purchased 11 properties from the New Nazarene Baptist Church as well as another single family home on the block, which it has been interested in for two decades. Uptown has yet to announce plans for the spaces, and the church itself is leasing the building it formerly owned from Uptown until it finds a new location. But the purchase could well be a sign that more major development is afoot in Corryville. Uptown Rental Properties has been very active in the area, currently building more than 250 apartments in two nearby developments collectively worth $55 million. The developer also has big plans for neighboring Mount Auburn, where it has planned another $55 million in apartments and office space.
• Speaking of development, the Cincinnati Planning Commission has given the green light to a Towne Properties development that would feature seven newly constructed 2,800-square-foot townhomes on Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine. However, the city’s Historic Conservation Board wants changes before the project goes forward, saying the buildings are “too short and squat” and should have more individuality overall, among other criticisms. As someone who has been criticized for these same shortcomings, I feel for these prospective buildings just a little. No one has ever told me that I “need more detailing around the corners” or that I need to be three stories tall to emphasize the verticality of my district, though, so that’s where my empathy ends. Towne will have to tweak the designs to meet the board’s suggestions and come back before it for final approval. The townhomes will be the Mount Adams-based developer’s first foray into Over-the-Rhine, and the development effort will led by former 3CDC VP Chad Munitz. Each townhome will have a garage and a private backyard. Expected starting price for each is $650,000.
• Marijuana legalization effort ResponsibleOhio faces a potential legislative roadblock even if its state constitutional amendment gets on the ballot and is approved by voters. State lawmakers are working to pass a ban on monopolies in the state constitution, a law that looks tailor-made to short circuit ResponsibleOhio’s efforts. If passed, that law would make the weed legalization effort’s proposal, which limits marijuana growth to 10 sites owned by the group’s investors, illegal before it even goes into effect. The anti-monopoly law must be passed by the state House and Senate and signed by Gov. Kasich before going into effect. ResponsibleOhio needs to collect more than 300,000 signatures this summer to get its initiative on the ballot. Its plan would legalize weed for anyone over 21, create the 10 grow sites and also allow for small amounts of non-commercial home growth.
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich has said he would support removing the confederate flag from South Carolina state buildings if he lived there. In the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, S.C. last week where a white gunman killed nine black parishoners at a historically black church, a debate has raged about that state’s display of the flag above the state capitol building. Shooter Dylann Roof has expressed white supremacist ideals and sympathies and prominently displayed the flag on his car. The shooting has led to calls for removal of the flag from the capitol, and a number of liberal and conservative politicians have backed the idea.
• Democratic challenger and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland is leading over incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman in the 2016 race for Portman's Senate seat, a new poll shows. Strickland leads Portman by six points, according to a recently released Quinnipiac University poll. Meanwhile, Strickland’s Democratic primary challenger, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, continues to search for state-wide recognition. Eighty-five percent of voters across the state said they didn’t know enough about Sittenfeld to make a decision about him.
• Finally, as you might already know if you’ve been glued to SCOTUSblog like I have, the U.S. Supreme Court today did not release its decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges, the landmark case that could decide the national fate of same-sex marriage. The court has just a few more days on which it will release decisions before its term is up at the end of the month. Meanwhile, OTR resident Jim Obergefell, for whom the case is named, continues to wait.
Story tips? Ideas on where I could get a used touring bike? Tweet at your boy or do the email thing.
On Wednesday, June 10, The War On Drugs performed live at the Madison Theatre in Covington, Ky. They slowly becoming one of my favorite artists in just a few short months, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch these guys while they were in town, just minutes from my city.
This American Indie Rock band from Philly began back in 2003 after Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel met at a party. (Alcohol really does bring people together for more than just a one-night stand). Finally calling themselves The War On Drugs in 2005, the rest became history.
The disparate crowd in the Madison Theatre grew silent as Vile stepped onto the stage of smoke with his back turned away from us. The intro music patiently slipped through the fingers of the players, giving the crowd enough time to psych themselves up before Vile slowly circled, sending his voice through the microphone. I’d like to think goosebumps were contagious in that moment.
The show kicked off with “Burning” from their album Lost in the Dream, an album that needed and deserved an entire concert time. They dove into each song random and out of order, just the way concerts should be. They even chose to throw their most popular track “Red Eyes” into the middle of the show — something we as music-lovers are unfamiliar with, subconsciously expecting the ordinary concept of “saving the best for last” (or in some cases, the most popular). Instead, it kept the crowd on their toes. It kept us wondering … what’s next?
My personal favorite didn’t come on until sixth to last. Waiting for “In Reverse” kept my anticipation high throughout the entire show, leaving me thoughtless and speechless and I swayed and felt more than what can be felt from listening through ear-buds.
The overall energy of the room was exactly what you’d expect it to be. The drifting rhythms and synthesized sounds of the acoustics was enough to send anyone into a parallel universe — a place I found myself throughout the show as I clung tightly to my beer with one hand and my friend’s arm with the other. "Lost in the Dream" truly says it all.
Vire’s communication with the audience was scarce, but with such strong lyrics that symbolize love, isolation and depression, it became more about speaking through the music. Instead of having to explain why a particular song was written or what is was about, it is left up to the listener to decide. It was all about interpretation.
A handful of songs from various other albums were chosen and thrown in the very beginning, as well as the encore before closing out with “Suffering,” also from Lost in the Dream. It was a slow closer (also uncommon) as if it was meant to easily transition people back down from concert to reality.
As a surprise during the encore of the show, we were treated to The National drummer Bryan Devendorf stepping in and taking over. It’s safe to say the crowd went a little nuts in the best way possible.
Every inch of the album Lost in the Dream was just as beautiful live as it is right from your Spotify playlist. Whether you’re taking a drive far out in the distance or spending an hour on your bedroom floor with your feet up on the wall, this is the background sound you’re looking for. You’ll be back for seconds — I promise.
Two cinemas weave — though not seamlessly — together in Chunhyang, South Korean filmmaker Im Kwon-taek’s adaptation of Chunhyangaa, a legendary Korean folktale that follows the journeys of two lovers, one poor and one aristocratic, as they face problems within Korea’s ancient class system. The two cinemas in question are traditional film cinema and pansori, a Korean storytelling custom where a vocalist tells a story accompanied by a percussionist playing a buk, a traditional Korean drum. Its roots come from the Korean for “sound” and “a place where many people gather.” In a way, this makes it a type of cinema that predates film by hundreds of years.
For me, pansori was harsh at first. It felt out of place, the grating transitions back and forth between the live pansori performance in modern day South Korea and the dramatic portrayals in 18th century Korea too cobbled-together to resemble a harmonious story. But then I surrendered to its slow, sometimes arrhythmic tempo, and its strange, lithe magic was an experience I haven’t felt in a movie since. By intertwining traditional storytelling techniques with a (somewhat) contemporary one, we as an audience are able to experience firsthand the tensions that exist in a culture between old and new.
Chunhyang is an ideal gateway film into the cinema of Korea, territory that can often seem daunting to Western moviegoers due to the century-spanning political baggage that stretches from the Joseon Dynasty to the Korean War to current events. But the sweep of the region’s moral tides encompasses a generally universal understanding, and this film is full of simultaneously heart-wrenching and understated pathos as we watch forbidden trysts and suspenseful compromises unfold. It’s a folktale, but the ache of its themes will always be, perhaps unfortunately, timeless.