Mural Helps Celebrate Amberley Village 75th Anniversary


To celebrate Amberley Village’s 75th anniversary, a committee of Amberley residents collaborated with the nonprofit Kennedy Heights Arts Center to create a very To celebrate its 75th anniversary, Amberley Village in Cincinnati worked with artist Cedric Michael Cox and residents to create this permanent mural.special piece of art that would serve as a permanent welcome to visitors and residents.

The very talented artist, Cedric Michael Cox (one of our CINspirational People), was selected to work with a committee to design the outdoor mural that will be displayed on a wall adjacent to Amberley’s Municipal Building.

“When I met with the committee members and toured the historic parks and pastures of the neighborhood, it was clear to me that the people of Amberley enjoyed its natural untouched beauty.  The homes and public buildings in Amberley don’t live on top of nature they live within nature.  The natural rural environment is the core to its everlasting charm,” Cedric wrote in his blog.

In July, he and Amberley residents brought the concepts to life. Many hours were spent collaborating, painting and getting to know others in their community. To see more photos of them working on it, please click here to visit Cedric’s blog.

“I wanted this mural to celebrate the community’s respect for wildlife and nature. Whoever looks upon this wall should feel invited to be a part of this To celebrate its 75th anniversary, Amberley Village in Cincinnati worked with artist Cedric Michael Cox and residents to create this permanent mural.place where man and wildlife live in harmonious respect,” wrote Cedric.

You are invited!

The dedication for the mural will be
Sunday, August 16, from 6 to 6:30 p.m.
at 7149 Ridge Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45237

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My Thoughts On The 25th Anniversary Of The ADA


Twenty five years ago, July 26, the historic Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law. It was the first federal legislation that broke down the barriers, at least from a physical standpoint, that had served to exclude people because they did things differently from the norm. The law brought to the forefront a consciousness of creating spaces where everyone can access. Wider doorways and wheelchair ramps are some of the mandated changes seen in buildings and curb cuts throughout the country.

The law was a magnificent first step toward change. According to the ADA, no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal participation of goods, services, facilities, privileges, and accommodations.

The thing that I want to remind everyone is that, while laws and these physical changes are important, true inclusion begins and ends with each one of us. Disabilities affect people of all race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and age. Disabilities may be visible or they may be invisible. And disabilities may impact any one of us in any given moment of our lives.

But disabilities do not define people.

a quote about inclusion and differences by Lisa DesatnikStill, people who experience disability are among the most socially and physically isolated. They are more vulnerable as targets of bullying. They are often misunderstood, and their intelligence and feelings very much underestimated.

I have always been someone fully aware of the importance of including and valuing others; however, my work with disability related organizations has heightened my awareness of this impact on individuals and on communities.

I have heard about stories and know people personally who have felt the pain of being excluded, and of not being given the opportunity to realize their full potential. Students who have been admonished by their peers. Parents who have feared adopting from the United States because of policies that could take their child away, for no other reason than their mother and father do things differently. People of working age who want to contribute and are very capable of contributing (not to mention have valuable skills) but are working in a job not up to their abilities because of limitations put on them by others.

But I have also seen the beauty in watching how kids…and adults grow…when they lose sight of each other’s differences and see each other as human beings. All of us, no matter our religion, culture, ethnicity, color or mode of doing, communicating and experiencing things grow when we include each other. We learn to see situations from new perspectives, we appreciate the gifts of our diversity, and together we are capable of accomplishing great things.

In a wonderfully spoken guest editorial to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Kat Lyons, advocacy coordinator for The Center for Independent Living Options Inc., shared, “We (people with disabilities) see ourselves as fully human, with strengths and weaknesses like any human. We know that any human may, in an instant, join our ranks.

We are not unable, just because we are disabled. We are just people, and we’d like to get to know you. We’d like for you to know and include us.”

Instead of simply applauding the ADA on its merits, let us see the ADA as a stepping stone toward a world of togetherness for all of us, a world that is better because we are a part of it.

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CINspirational People: Santa Ono


CINspirational People is a feature of Good Things Going Around profiling diverse people of Greater Cincinnati, what inspires them, and what is inspiring about them. You can read more profiles by clicking on the link at the top of the blog. Do you know someone to suggest? Please reach out. Thanks!

GTGA Intern Liza Hartke, a student at our city’s great University of Cincinnati, was so excited when she reached out to President Santa Ono for a CINspirational People interview – and he wrote back with such thoughtful answers…one more reason to have huge respect for him. He always makes time for U.C. students. His answers as to why he came to U.C. and what he values about it are truly heartfelt. Cincinnati is lucky to have him here!


GTGA Intern Liza Hartke: What was your biggest motivator for wanting to be president of the University of Cincinnati?
CINspirational People profile: University of Cincinnati President Santa OnoSanta: My selection as president of University of Cincinnati was unexpected. I had served as provost of the University for a little over two years when my predecessor Gregory Williams resigned suddenly. The Board of Trustees asked me to serve as interim president, and I of course accepted due to my love of the institution and especially for the faculty, staff and students of the University.

The search committee for the permanent president of UC asked me why I would want to serve as the 28th president. The answer was simple: that I love the ethos of the institution, it’s connectivity with the city of Cincinnati, and its mission of transforming the lives of the next generation.

I don’t think many people fully appreciate how remarkable UC is on the landscape of higher education. It is considered one of a handful of institutions that have truly innovated how college students are educated.  That innovative spirit pervades the institution.

I think a good case could be made that no other institution integrates better classroom teaching with the real world experience.

The biggest motivator for me is to build upon that tradition and to ensure that we continue to create new knowledge and transform the lives of students that matriculate at the University.

GTGA Intern Liza: What is your favorite thing about being the president?
Santa: My favorite aspect of being UC’s president is interacting with faculty, students and staff. The work that occurs on our campus on a daily basis is simply stunning. Through this work, people are living their dreams. I view my primary mission as facilitating that work and helping our faculty, staff and students realize their dreams.

GTGA Intern Liza:What makes the Cincinnati students unique?
Santa: I have had the honor and privilege of working at several fine institutions including: Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of London, and Emory University. There are outstanding students at each of these institutions as well as at hundreds of other colleges and universities around the world.

University of Cincinnati students are amazing in that they approach their studies and work with diligence and enthusiasm but with humility and no sense of entitlement. The quality of their work is second to none. Everywhere I go, CEOs and industry leaders sing the praises of our graduates. Indeed, a just proportionate number of industry leaders are alumni of our great university.

I honestly believe that part of the “secret sauce” of a University of Cincinnati education stems from the diversity of individuals within the institution. That prepares our students to work with very different kinds of individuals to move forward with a complicated project. That ability to communicate across disciplines and between theory and practice prepares our students well to innovate and to lead.

GTGA Intern Liza: What has been the most challenging struggle and how have you overcome it?
Santa: As is probably the response of most university presidents, the biggest challenge involves balancing a large and complex annual budget. Significant portions of that budget are not guaranteed on an annual basis. For example state and federal subsidies and enrollment can change abruptly from year-to-year.

Dealing with this challenge involves careful strategic planning and strong peripheral vision. The CEO of such an institution needs to have multiple plans to deal with various scenarios and needs to think quickly on his or her feet. You also need to surround yourself with a talented team that can help you navigate through unchartered waters.

GTGA Intern Liza: What is a motto you live by and how has it impacted you?
Santa: To whom much is given, much is expected. Luke 12:48

Universities are privileged institutions that exist for the betterment of society. University presidents must set the tone where there is an automatic expectation throughout the institution that we mobilize our resources for the betterment of the community in which we live.

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CINspirational People: Zak Morgan Makes People Smile


CINspirational People is a feature of Good Things Going Around profiling diverse people of Greater Cincinnati, what inspires them, and what is inspiring about them. You can read more profiles by clicking on the link at the top of the blog. Do you know someone to suggest? Please reach out. Thanks!

GTGA Intern Katie Reinstatler enjoyed learning about Cincinnati’s popular children’s entertainer sought after nationwide, Zak Morgan, as she wrote this about him.


Wordsmith, musician, storyteller, innovator; these are just a few of the words that come to mind for Zak Morgan, a 2004 Grammy nominee and children’s grammy nominated children's entertainer Zak Morganperformer.  In listening to his music and watching his performances, it quickly became clear to me that he is driven and passionate in his work performing for children. Not only this, but Zak has this presence on stage, in his performances, and in his interactions with others, that is absolutely enthralling. His ability to engage with and connect with his audience, not only through his sheer skill and talent in music and storytelling, but in his sense of humor, his empathy for and understanding of others, and the ease with which he carries himself, has shaped his success, and the passion that is evident in his work.

Growing up, storytelling and wordplay were an integral part of Zak’s life. Zak describes his grandpa George as one of his greatest inspirations, and talks about how the characters from his grandpa’s stories, and the way his grandpa weaved words into marvelous adventures and tales, served as a great inspiration to him. Zak also describes his grandma as an inspiration, citing her as one of the sources of his musical aspirations. She attended the Cincinnati Conservatory and is an accomplished classical singer and pianist. In the answers to our questions (please scroll down to read the Q&A), Zak makes it clear that his grandparents played an integral role in shaping who he has become as a performer and storyteller.

Zak’s love of storytelling, music, and children, make him successful in his role as children’s performer. More than this, though, he is innovative in his creations, and draws much of his inspiration from both Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein. He finds humor in the simplistic, knows how to make the audience laugh, enjoy themselves, and find fun in the absurd. Zak’s love for his work radiates outward to those around him. The joy he finds in what he does and his enthusiasm for life and working with children is an absolute joy to see. In his music, in his performances, in his writing, and in his interactions with others, Zak is truly an inspiration.

“The beauty of Morgan’s style is that adults are entertained as well, chuckling along to Morgan’s inventive vocabulary,”
Rick Bird, Cincinnati Enquirer contributor

Our questions for Zak:

GTGA: How has your family been an inspiration to you?
Zak: My grandpa George was a great storyteller.  He made up wonderful stories and characters and on summer nights after swimming in my grandparents pool, my siblings, cousins and I would gather around him and he never disappointed.   Our favorites were Suzy and Joe stories about a big sister and a little brother and the adventures they would have.  I later realized that the characters were based on my grandpa and his big sister Florence.  My third children’s record is a concept album about Suzy and Joe.  My grandma attended the Cincinnati Conservatory and is an accomplished classical singer and pianist.

GTGA: Tell us more about your grandparents and how they influenced what you do and who you are.
Zak: I’ll share with you what I have shared on my website. Grandpa Rooney kissed the Blarney Stone and was the best storyteller I ever met. On summer nights in the 1970’s, he would let my cousins and me stay up past bed time drinking 7-Up and eating Lorna Doones and sherbet while he told us stories about Suzy and Joe, a brother and sister who were always having adventures and getting into trouble. Along with being a marvelous storyteller, Grandpa had many other special gifts. Most memorable were his magnetic feet, which enabled him to walk up the sides of buildings and upside down along the ceiling. He was also very brave and once caught a lion by the ears with his bare hands in his backyard after all of the animals escaped from the zoo.

The most amazing story my grandpa ever told me was about how he met and married Grandma Lucille. In the early 1930s there was a race to see which lucky woman would get to marry Grandpa. If no one caught him, Grandpa would be allowed to stay a bachelor his whole life. Grandpa was a very fast runner and wasn’t worried, but he practiced just in case.

When Grandpa saw the long line of ladies on the day of the race, he knew he would have to run very fast indeed. The starter fired the pistol and as the race progressed, it looked as though Grandpa would win for sure. There were no women in sight as he rounded the last turn. Little did he know that Grandma Lucille had taken a shortcut and was hiding in the bushes near the finish line. At the last second she jumped out of the bushes and onto his back and the rest is history.

Grandpa soon realized how lucky he was that Grandma Lucille had taken the shortcut. She is a glorious grandma who sings like an angel. Each night after Grandpa told us a great story, we would lie in bed and listen to Grandma play the piano and sing downstairs as we fell asleep.

My grandparents are two of my biggest influences and The Candy Machine is in large part a tribute to them.

GTGA: Do you remember when the first time was that you knew you wanted to sing and perform?
grammy nominated children's entertainer Zak Morgan
Zak: I have always had a good ear for music and I think I was three or four and when picked out the melody of Scott Joplin’s Entertainer on my grandparent’s piano, probably in a wet bathing suit.  I went to elementary at Lotspeich.  We had drama class daily in a barn on campus and I LOVED it from the beginning.

GTGA: Who is someone that your career has allowed you the opportunity to meet, who has been a big impact on you and why?
Zak: My career has allowed me to meet many very talented people, some of them very famous.  This has been exciting and lots of fun.  But the biggest impact by far has been the children I’ve met and worked with over the last 16 years.  They remind me what’s important and their wide eyed curiosity, innate goodness, and free imagination without fear of being wrong or being judged has kept me a kid at heart and made me a better person.

GTGA: How do you come up with your music?
Zak: It varies.  I like to write story songs and I’m influenced by Roald Dahl and She Silverstein, my favorite authors when I was growing up.  Some songs are based on my own childhood experiences, others are inspired by books I have read and still others grew out of a simple play on words or double entendre that popped into my head like “when bullfrogs croak,” “the white shark’s chum,” or “fluttered by a flower bed.”

GTGA: What is it that you enjoy most about your work?grammy nominated children's musician Zak Morgan
Zak: Playing with kids.

GTGA: Can you share a story of how you impacted a young person – or how a young person impacted you? (or both)
Zak: Now and then I’ll hear about a child I encouraged or helped in some way and it always moves me.  One child first came to one of my shows when she was four and she was non-verbal.  A song I wrote called The Butterfly helped her turn the corner and start to sing and speak.  I recently bumped into that family and she is a healthy, happy 16 year old.

GTGA: Tell us how you came up with TIODNACI, why it is a message so important to you, and some of the impact you have seen by sharing it.
Zak: I was working on my DVD ZakLand with director Jay Silverman and advisor Tony Thomopoulos.  We were trying to come up with a catch phrase that could be repeated throughout.  I think it was Jay who said, “What about “I can do it” spelled backwards?  I went home and wrote the song that night.

GTGA: What is one of your simple pleasures?
Eating an entire row of Oreos or hitting a pure shot on the golf course.

GTGA: What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Encouraging children.


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Celebrate The New Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus!


There is exciting news ahead for the racially and economically diverse Kennedy Heights neighborhood. After nearly six years of planning and construction, it is about time for the official ribbon cutting and grand opening of the all new Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus. Not only is it going to be an incredible asset to its surrounding community, but also to our region. The Campus will be a place where people of all ages can come for arts performances, classes, studios, and even an art gallery. And children will have an opportunity for education in the award winning Kennedy Heights Montessori.

I’m helping them to promote the festivities – August 28 and 29 – and can hardly wait. These organizers sure do know how to throw an incredible time!

On Friday morning, August 28, at 10:00 am, friends and supporters will help celebrate with an official ribbon cutting followed by refreshments and a tour of first look at inside the building. Then, on Saturday, beginning at 11:00 am will be the Raise the Heights Art Parade followed by a family festival.

#RaisetheHeights parade and festival in Kennedy Heights

Have A Creative Side? Be Part Of The Parade!

The Raise the Heights Art Parade promises to be filled with vibrant colors and sounds and will travel from Ridge Road, up Montgomery Rd to the Campus site (at the corner of Kennedy Ave and Montgomery Rd). Ten of the region’s very talented artists received small grants to create incredible entrees depicting their own very personal interpretation of the Campus’ meaning to our community.

Just some of what you will see…Pam Kravetz is designing and building five incredible replicas of hot air balloons that will include in their baskets, children dressed to resemble various performing arts; and each one to be pulled by dancers and actors masked with body paint. Jesse Mooney-Bulluck is creating a visually striking 16 ft tall totem pole puppet with engaging moving parts to celebrate diversity.

from a past Kennedy Heights art parade

You can be in the parade too!


We are inviting visual artists, dancers, musicians, street performers, civic groups, schools, organizations and neighbors to participate. With the theme of art, we are asking that groups and individuals either create a portable sculpture, moveable artwork, decorate a car, wear costumes or puppets, hold creative flags/banners/signs, or perform their way down the road.

There is NO fee to participate.

DATE:     Saturday, August 29, 2015
ROUTE:   Montgomery Rd. from Ridge Ave. to Kennedy Ave.
August 14

Please click here to download an Entry Form.

Raise the Heights Festival

Following the parade, there will be a free festival on the grounds of the Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus, 6620 Montgomery Rd., from 12-5pm with live music, performances, interactive art installations, food trucks, activities for kids, and more.  Grammy nominated children’s entertainer Zak Morgan will perform at about 3:30 pm.

Funding is provided in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Nellie Leaman Taft Foundation.

About the Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus

The Raise the Heights event will mark one of Greater Cincinnati’s most dramatic revitalizations as the once derelict building (on the corner of Kennedy Ave and Montgomery Rd) which once housed a Kroger will open its doors as a destination for exploring and experiencing creative expression. Among its occupants will be the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s Carl, Robert, Richard, and Dorothy Lindner Annex and the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center. The building was purchased with a $675,000 grant from the City of Cincinnati.

The Kennedy Heights Arts Center new second location will quadruple its size and double the number of people served.  The Annex will include a 3,000 sq ft KHAC parade 2012multi-purpose event center for theatre, dance and music classes and performances; a state-of-the-art Scripps Howard Media Center that will offer arts education programs for all ages in video, photography, animation, website design and graphic design; and ten individual artist studios. The Ohio Valley Woodturners Guild will be among the groups offering workshops for people of all ages. A gallery in the lobby will be a venue for resident artist exhibits.

A $250,000 leadership gift from Robert D. and Betty Lindner paved the way for Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s Satellite Expansion $700,000 project. Other major contributors include: Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Scripps Howard Foundation, George and Margaret McLane Foundation, The Kroger Co., John A. Schroth Charitable Trust/PNC Bank Trustee, Louise Taft Semple Foundation, Thomas Emery Memorial, Ruth and Robert Conway Foundation and gift from many individual donors. Website:  www.kennedyarts.org

The Kennedy Heights Montessori Center is an award-winning, not-for-profit parent cooperative school that has been educating neighborhood children, ages 2 to 6, for fifty years. Its presence strengthens the community by providing high quality superior educational opportunities to a racially and economically Kennedy Heights Montessoridiverse student body of toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarten children. Its sliding scale tuition means families who otherwise would not be able to afford it are assured their children are well prepared. KHMC is a United Way Agency providing half-day and full day programs.

The Center opened its first school in Kennedy Heights in 1965 and with the completion of the new Campus, will be returning to this neighborhood. Its new 12,000 sq ft location will include 4 large classrooms, an extended day care area, a muscle room with indoor play equipment and two outdoor playgrounds. It will be introducing a toddler program for 2 year olds which will be taught by a highly qualified Montessori teacher. Openings are available for both programs. Website: kennedyheightsmontessori.org


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