From ethically produced clothing to cutting back on shipping materials, sustainable fashion brands prioritize the health of the environment. It’s about healthy working conditions, cutting back on waste, and remaining socially conscious. We caught up with two local sustainable fashion business owners about what they offer and why sustainability is so important.
Since she was 5 years old, getting dressed has always been the highlight of Niyah Jackson’s day. During high school she started Inexpensive Chic, a fashion blog that lived for nearly seven years, and last year she graduated with a degree in fashion design from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. There, she ran a fashion styling business for four years.
The West Chester resident now owns BINO clothing brand, which she calls an “extension of the community.” Launched in August, Jackson’s company focuses on sustainable streetwear and handcrafted one-of-a-kind Christian-themed apparel. Her company’s name stems from Jackson’s faith and stands for Be In Not Of. “As a young adult believer, there is tension between living in this world while not being of it,” she says. “BINO exists to help aid this tension.”
The sustainability aspect, meanwhile, shows itself in three ways. Jackson thrifts her shirts or orders from sustainable wholesalers like BELLA+CANVAS, an eco-friendly, U.S.-made clothing brand. She also upcycles materials, using “remnant fabrics for the patches that give the shirts their signature collage look,” she says. Lastly, she tries to keep packaging minimal and plastic-free by emailing order slips and using upcycled, post-consumer materials she saves or purchases from art supply thrift stores like Indigo Hippo. Plus, the fact that BINO is a one-woman shop means she doesn’t produce in excess, resulting in less water and energy use and less waste production.
The company carries T-shirts, bracelets, and mugs, but Jackson’s best-selling product is her split-panel Against the Current shirts. “I take two different shirts, cut them down the center vertically, and resew the opposite halves together, forming a split-panel effect,” she says. Each one-of-a-kind shirt features an image, with a layered, hand-sewn patch that reads Against The Current, Towards the Source. Customers tell Jackson the style is unique and artsy, with a striking color combo. “It ends up being more of a conversation starter compared to our other styles,” she says.
Sosha Bianca Studios
Sosha Collins’s reason for owning a sustainable fashion brand is to eradicate the myth that sustainability is only for the wealthy or affluent. “I’ve often seen sustainable and ethical garments that are hundreds of dollars and not accessible to all,” says the Newport resident. “That isn’t sustainable. [Sustainability is] using what you have and being socially responsible with fashion. It’s addressing the whole world of fashion within the context of climate positivity and social justice.”
Collins founded Sosha Bianca Studios in late 2019, and she kicked it off with 100-percent cotton intimates, which remain her most popular item. They’re naturally dyed and will last at least 100 washes. The brand has since expanded to include dresses, bike shorts, and pajamas.
Collins designs all items locally, and they’re produced sustainably and ethically at fair trade operations in Mongolia. Those ethical work conditions are an important aspect of a sustainable line, she says.
Collins’s fashion roots trace back to her childhood. Her father has designed menswear for 30 years, and her mother was her first fashion icon. She’s always dressed from head to toe, Collins says, and she completes her outfits with a purse and one of her 100 pairs of heels. “[My mother] carries herself with elegance,” Collins says. “You’d think the pieces she owns are expensive, but they weren’t. It was learned behavior to always dress how you feel, while staying true to yourself and your style.” And that’s what exactly what Collins is trying to do with her clothing brand.
In 1846, George S. Stearns and Seth Foster founded Stearns & Foster here in Cincinnati. They were the first to produce cotton wadding—the layer of material in between fabrics, also known as “batting”—and later expanded their business into mattresses and other cotton products. The original Lockland factory is now demolished, but the historic mansion of the three-generation family exists in preserved condition. A relative of George Stearns, Edwin built the home on nearly four acres in Wyoming and later took over the company Stearns & Foster. He occupied the home up until his death in 1914. His son Evan Stearns moved in, followed by Evan Stearns Jr., who lived there all his life until 1984.
The foursquare mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as exemplary turn-of-the-century architecture by renowned Cincinnati architects Alfred Oscar (A.O.) Elzner and George M. Anderson. Several time-period elements speak to the historic nature of the home. “The west wing of the home is where the horse and carriages would pull in for meat and milk deliveries,” says listing agent Kristine Green. Green adds that the home has two-foot walls made of limestone and rebar with a terra-cotta roof, Tiffany glass shades, silver sconces, crystal and alabaster chandeliers, and three Rookwood fireplaces. There’s also a three-story pipe organ that is currently inoperable, but in original condition, complete with porcelain knobs that are labeled with instruments and an oak cabinet that holds sheet music in the parlor.
Aside from a plethora of history, the home boasts 10 bedrooms, four full and three half-baths. The entry to the home is a covered porch that also hangs over the driveway. Inside, the sprawling floor plan features crafted woodwork in oak and mahogany including wood floors, 11-foot coffered ceilings, and a grand staircase. The dining room and kitchen are connected by a butler’s pantry with glass cabinets that display fine dishes and glassware. A seemingly no-frills kitchen includes more custom woodwork and stainless appliances with a massive fridge disguised by wood panels. The first floor also features an outdoor space that overlooks the surrounding woods. “The veranda has three doors opening into the house,” says current owner Kay Landers. “It’s great for having a large or a small number of guests due to the openness of the floor plan.”
Other spaces and elements to note include the lower-level Rathskeller with loads of entertaining space, seven pocket doors throughout, and a total of 10 fireplaces. The town surrounding the Oliver Road home includes a bakery, several restaurants, a florist shop, dentist, architect, and meat market. “The Wyoming neighborhood truly is a neighborhood,” Landers says. “People have yards, children play outside, and the arts and culture thrive with the small town feel that many movies promote. Not to mention that Cincinnati with sports, theater, shopping, and a buzzing nightlife is only a few minutes away.”
Click through our gallery to view more photos of this home:
Davis Cookie Collection is bringing sweet treats and more to Bond Hill. The bakery’s grand opening on October 10 was met with customer praise and happy tears from the owners, husband and wife team Miles and Christina Davis, marking the end of an almost two-year plan to launch their first storefront. “It’s been a long journey,” Christina says. “We’re so excited that we’re finally able to open our doors.”
Besides a wide range of deliciously soft-yet-crispy cookies, the shop also offers coffee, ice cream, and other desserts. One menu item is an entirely new concept. “Cincinnati’s First Create A Dozen” will allow customers to walk in, pick out their favorite cookie toppings, and leave with a dozen completely customized fresh-baked cookies in just under 12 minutes. The mouth-watering assortment of toppings includes Oreo pieces, chocolate chips, M&Ms, cereal, oats, raisins, and more.
“I’m just grateful to be able to provide something new to Bond Hill,” says Christina, who grew up in Avondale. “We won’t be the typical cookie shop; we definitely wanted to add a twist.”
For Christina, the bakery also builds on the successful business legacy of her family, who ran The Club Safari in Cincinnati throughout the early 1970s. After forging her own path at the MORTAR Entrepreneurship Academy and Findlay Market, stories about her relatives’ jazz venue and restaurant inspired her to open her own storefront.
“The biggest thing we wanted to do was pay tribute to our family members who have passed away, but inspired us,” Christina explains. “We both grew up in musical families, so we have a band of cookies painted on our wall and each cookie character represents a specific family member that has passed away. There’s a write-up where customers can read who that family member is, what instrument they played, and what they enjoyed doing.”
Family also played a big role at the Davis Cookie Collection grand opening, where the couple was joined by their two children, ages 5 and 3, both wearing “Future CEO” T-shirts. “This is an empire for our kids,” Christina says.
“I’m in awe; I never knew that I would end up here,” Christina says. “I wouldn’t be here without all of our customer support. So, we want them to feel good when they walk into our store—and enjoy a cookie!” Stop by—with a mask—to try their newest cookies, Brown Butter Bourbon Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Lemonade.
As Halloween approaches, let’s take a long walk through Cincinnati’s best-known cemetery—and the third largest cemetery in the United States. Don’t worry, though, Spring Grove isn’t as spooky as you think…
Superman is not buried in Spring Grove
The earthly remains of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman on television during the 1950s, were held in a vault at Spring Grove Cemetery for a couple of months in 1959 while his mother sorted out what to do. Although she wanted a mausoleum in Cincinnati, it proved impracticable. Reeves’ body was cremated here and the ashes shipped to California.
Civil War Generals: 40 to 1
Spring Grove Cemetery provides a list of 40 Civil War generals buried within the grounds. Among them are distinguished names such as Cox, Hooker, Lytle, and McCook. The cemetery’s official list does not include the single Confederate general buried there, Philip Noland Luckett of Texas, who was appointed as acting Brigadier General in June 1863.
Fraternities forced pledges to break into the cemetery
Isaac M. Jordan met his gruesome death in 1890 by falling down an open elevator shaft at the Lincoln Inn Court on Main Street. He was a hugely successful businessman and politician, but was famous because he helped create Sigma Chi fraternity. Well into the 1970s, Sigma Chi pledges were ordered to sneak in to Spring Grove Cemetery, record the inscription on Jordan’s tomb, and report back by dawn.
Spring Grove once had a jail
The Norman Chapel was built in 1880 and originally housed a jail in the basement. A jail cell still survives, but is used today for storage. When it was functional, vagrants and reckless drivers—originally of horse-drawn carriages, later of automobiles—speeding in the cemetery were arrested and kept overnight. Cemetery watchmen were deputized by the county sheriff to enforce the law.
C.C. Breuer was not an optometrist
Almost every article, book, or blog post about weird Cincinnati sites directs readers to Charles C. Breuer’s grave in Spring Grove Cemetery. Breuer’s gravestone features a bronze bust of himself, with glass eyes that some folks swear follow them as they move. Most sources claim Breuer emphasized the eyes because of his career as an optometrist. Not true. Breuer was a salesman, commission agent, and real estate investor. He married three times, disowned his own daughters, tried to blow up one of his own buildings, was declared insane, and died in a mental hospital—but he was not an optometrist.
At least one man visited by telescope
George K. Shoenberger built the magnificent Scarlet Oaks mansion in Clifton for his wife, Sarah Hamilton Shoenberger, in 1867. When she died in 1881, he had a magnificent vault constructed for their eternal rest. Shoenberger remarried, in 1883, to a young Canadian woman named Ella Beatty. Still, he sighed for Sarah and often climbed into one of the Scarlet Oaks turrets to gaze upon her (their) tomb with a telescope. Legend has it that Ella had enough one day and locked George in his turret. When he died in 1892, he and Sarah were reunited at Spring Grove, while Ella married a Canadian composer.
Spring Grove has its own water supply
It’s called Spring Grove because the cemetery grounds are watered by several natural springs. Spring water is stored in a reservoir tower located near the north gate. The tower is not only picturesque but functional, providing a consistent supply of water.
It almost wasn’t called Spring Grove
A meeting in November 1844 to choose a name for the new cemetery adjourned when none of the suggested names attracted a majority of votes. Losing candidates were Cincinnati Rural, Makketewah, Machpelah, Rose Hill, Shade Land, Oakland, Mount Hope, Rose Dale, Fair Lawn, Miami, Walnut Dale, Silent Hill, Cincinnati Cemetery, The Elms, and Rosamont. A second meeting produced Green Vale, Mount Repose, Hope Land, Glen Wood, Willow Glen, Oakland Valley, Elmwood, Hazelwood, and Spring Grove.
Spring Grove is home to several “Ladies of the Evening”
There are at least 16 prostitutes or madams buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. While none are identified as such on the cemetery’s burial records, cross-indexing with Cincinnati death records and newspaper accounts confirm that prostitutes, “harlots,” and “sports” are buried there. Some rest in common, unmarked areas, some in family plots. In other words, the women listed here are not all buried together. There is no concentrated “red light” district in the cemetery.
Its ghost stories are lame
For a cemetery this big, this old, and this scenic, Spring Grove has inspired few spooky stories. One involves the Dexter Mausoleum, inspired by a Gothic church overlooking one of the cemetery’s picturesque lakes. Supposedly, if you sit on the landing of this tomb, two white dogs will run by. Or two white wolves. Maybe their eyes glow red. Sources differ. They will stare at you, glowing bright white, or maybe not. In any event, not very spooky.
For some “residents,” Spring Grove is their third resting place
Perhaps 1,000 or more Spring Grove “residents” died years, even decades, before the cemetery was opened in 1845. How is this possible? Cincinnati’s first burial grounds were located at the original outskirts of town, around Fourth Street. As the city expanded, the dead were relocated to more remote graveyards, such as the area where Washington Park is now located. The “new” confines quickly filled during the cholera epidemics of the 1830s and 1840s, and many of the burials were relocated again, to Spring Grove.
Spring Grove banned automobiles
Cincinnati funeral homes maintained horse-drawn hearses for a long time after motorized vehicles became available because no Cincinnati cemetery permitted automobiles to disturb the silence. Spring Grove finally relented in April 1911 and allowed motor cars, except on Sunday afternoons, but only if motorist followed strict regulations. Spring Grove finally replaced its own horse-drawn carriage with an automobile in 1915.
Headstones have always been controversial
In 1850, when David B. Lawler, among the founders of Spring Grove, attempted to place a sphinx in his family plot, some directors objected to the “heathen” symbolism, but it was eventually allowed. Ten years later, Alexander Latta, inventor of the fire engine, unveiled a headstone design with his invention sculpted on top. Spring Grove rejected the design as too commercial. As recently as 2014, Spring Grove found itself in a dispute over a couple of Spongebob Squarepants headstones.
At least one burial is not human
According to The Cincinnati Enquirer [December 8, 1905], a dog named Old Man is interred next to his late master, George E. Turner. He was quite attached to his canine companion, a dog allegedly skilled at mathematics and particularly adept at sorting correct change on command. Although cemetery rules prohibit animal burials, Superintendent William Salway was a good friend of Turner’s. As Turner lay on his deathbed, Salway agreed that, when the dog’s time came, he could rejoin his earthly master.
Spring Grove holds a patent on a tree
The white flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida) is susceptible to a nasty fungus. The horticulture team at Spring Grove Cemetery bred a cultivar, or variant, of this species that appears to withstand fungal infection while producing abundant flowers and tolerance for hot and cold temperatures. Patent PP8500 was awarded in 1993.
The Jersey cattle grazing in the background watch curiously as Chris Anderson launches into his one-man video shoot. A gust of wind ruffles his curly hair and whooshes across his microphone. “Hey everybody, I’m Chris Anderson,” he says while gesturing energetically. “Today we’re going to talk about herd immunity.” He flashes a huge grin and shoots a quick glance at his bovine audience to make sure YouTube viewers will get the joke.
During this video shoot in early May, public debate rages over the potential of herd immunity to stop the spread of COVID-19, while conspiracy theories emerge from dark corners of the internet to sow confusion and exacerbate cynicism toward science. But on this windy day in a field at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Anderson avoids stepping on those political landmines—and cow patties.
Kids will still need to understand herd immunity long after the coronavirus crisis has passed, he reasons. So he limits his explanation to simple but scientific concepts. “Herd immunity is when a large enough portion of a population becomes immune to a disease so it keeps that disease from spreading,” he says as the cattle lean in close to the fence as if to hear him better. He emphasizes the importance of getting a flu shot. “You not only keep yourself from getting sick, but you also keep the disease from spreading to others,” he says.
Finally, Anderson begins to wrap up the 80-second clip with some cheesy cow puns intended to grab the attention of the fifth- through eighth-grade students who make up the target audience for his educational video series, Science Around Cincy. “I hope you found this video udderly a-mooozing,” he says. He draws out the sound and flashes another huge grin.
His humor is lost on the crowd at Young’s Dairy. The cow closest to the fence turns and meanders away. Anderson doesn’t notice at first. “Yeah, I’m gonna milk these puns for all they’re worth,” he continues as the volume of peppy music increases in the video. Then he notes the disappearing audience and shrugs. “OK, I’ll stop,” he says to the camera.
Stopping is an unnatural state for Anderson, 34. He relentlessly tries to wipe out stereotypes and misconceptions about science by inoculating a new generation of kids with wide-eyed enthusiasm for things like isotopes and trilobites and new ways to see the world. Sort of like herd immunity in practice, I suggest. Anderson is intrigued by the analogy. “If you get to a point where you have a critical mass and almost everyone has a thorough understanding of the challenges that can be met with the process of science,” he muses, “society is going to be in a much better place.”
Out in a cow pasture in the early months of a pandemic, though, Anderson isn’t contemplating lofty goals about science literacy. He just hopes he’s found a fun way to show kids that their actions as individuals can impact the health of others. “Let’s just get this out there to as many kids as we can,” he tells himself.
The Science Around Cincy series debuted on YouTube and its own website last fall, showing Anderson tagging along with some of the region’s most interesting scientists on adventures in the laboratory and beyond. A production crew of Northern Kentucky University students provides the technological expertise. Anderson brings his never-ending supply of questions and unique sense of humor and style.
The eight-episode first season began with Anderson marveling at frogs that have the ability to freeze during the winter but come back to life when temperatures rise in the spring. Other episodes captured him gaping at snow leopard poop used by Cincinnati Zoo conservationists to test the animals’ hormone levels, hunting for fossils with a Cincinnati Museum Center paleontologist, and learning about therapy horses from a psychologist who works with trauma patients.
The cow puns illustrate his brand of humor. But viewers will also notice his unique sense of fashion, which he establishes in the show’s debut episode. He’s visiting the lab of cryobiologist Clara do Amaral of Mount St. Joseph University to talk about her research on freeze-tolerant frogs, while wearing an aqua blue shirt splashed with orange and red hibiscus blooms and coconut trees. Anderson has worn brightly colored shirts since high school, and even fought with his mom to wear one in his senior class photo. His wardrobe now includes more than a dozen such shirts, including several a friend in Honolulu found for him at a thrift shop there. “We’re always reducing or recycling, even our Hawaiian shirts,” he notes.
Anderson says he chooses the tropical gear for Science Around Cincy shoots with intention. The vibrant patterns and colors appeal to the easily bored kids in his audience, and the open-collared, untucked style sends an important message about the often-misunderstood nature of science. “A scientist is not just some old guy in a lab coat poring over his notes,” he says. “They’re people. They have an outsized sense of curiosity. They have a sense of observation and ask good questions. A lot of these people go into the field in their hiking boots and jeans. They’re not sequestered in a lab. They’re not in this ivory tower.”
Anderson’s admiration for the work of scientists began early. By age 4, he’d declared not one, but four, scientific career aspirations: He’d be a chemist, astronomer, environmentalist, and paleontologist all at the same time. Anderson recalls he chose the environmental role because he liked being outside, and he assumes the paleontology ambition involved wanting to do something with dinosaurs because, you know, all kids like dinosaurs. But while he clearly possessed a scientist’s obligatory outsized sense of curiosity, he lacked their propensity for exactness. He labels himself a “poor scientist,” using an analogy from the kitchen as explanation. “I don’t like to bake things,” he says. “You have to be precise in your measurements. You can’t just throw in a little of this and see where it goes.”
Anderson prefers a more freeform journey, which led him first to high school theater and eventually to pursue a science education degree at Miami University. That’s where he met Ann Haley MacKenzie, an associate professor of science education who taught him both skills and philosophy. MacKenzie, who’s been teaching students how to teach for more than 25 years, describes Anderson as extremely memorable. “He would ask question after question after question,” she recalls. “He was so curious about the best way to prepare students and get the science message across to young people.”
“Science isn’t about a teacher standing in front of the classroom disseminating information,” Ann Haley MacKenzie says. “It’s about doing hands-on activities, investigations.”
MacKenzie had the answers Anderson craved. “Science isn’t about a teacher standing in front of the classroom disseminating information,” she says. “It’s about doing hands-on activities, investigations. I tell my methods students, When you teach science, it shouldn’t smell, look, or taste like school work. If it does, you’re going to lose your students.”
After graduation in 2008, Anderson applied the MacKenzie Method during five years as a science teacher at Princeton High School. “You really are teaching kids how to think,” he says. “It’s not about lecturing. It’s getting kids to really unpack and get their hands on a concept.”
He continues to remember that perspective as he crafts the lessons behind Science Around Cincy. There’s more to Anderson than silly puns and a crazy wardrobe. He spends hours reviewing science research and preparing questions that will highlight the lessons most relevant to students. “I got the sense when I met him that he’s exactly the kind of science teacher I really would have liked in high school,” says Peter Lindeman, who edits a teaching column Anderson writes for the National Science Teaching Association. “He’s kind of a goofball, but he knows his stuff.”
While Anderson enjoyed the classroom, he didn’t see it as a long-term career. He left Princeton for an administrative role in the work-study program at DePaul Cristo Rey, the small Catholic high school in Clifton, and briefly considered a future as a school principal. But he soon realized that he wanted to stay involved with science education.
He launched Science Over Everything, a blog for educators, in late 2015. It developed a small following among science teachers and improved his skills as a writer, though it wasn’t a natural fit. “I could write just fine, but it would take me way too long to get something out,” says Anderson.
By 2016, when he moved to his current day job as an instructional coach for Hamilton County Urban Educational Services, he’d begun contemplating ways he could carry on his science education mission in front of the camera, where his flair for the theatrical and curiosity about science might blend together. I met Anderson in 2018 when I started teaching a new class, Science in the Media, at Northern Kentucky University. He came as a guest speaker and wowed my students by showing up with two sharpened pencils and a water balloon, which he held over the head of one brave volunteer to demonstrate a science concept. Amazingly, nobody got wet. Not surprisingly, everyone paid attention.
During the class, Anderson mentioned his passion for Star Wars, so afterward I walked him down the hall to meet NKU’s No. 1 Stars Wars fan, John Gibson. An electronic media and broadcasting teacher, he showed Anderson his collection of stormtrooper action figures and spacecraft models. That led to the two sharing beers at a bar in Bellevue, where the idea of Science Around Cincy percolated. Less than six months later, Anderson and a production crew of NKU students headed to Mount St. Joseph to document his interview about frozen frogs.
In the early days of their partnership, Gibson says he—like most people who hear about Anderson’s science TV ambitions—thought of Bill Nye, the Science Guy. The comparisons between Anderson and Nye, who inspired a generation of young scientists through his 1990s TV shows on PBS and in syndication, are obvious. They’re both tall and thin, with over-the-top enthusiasm for science. But Gibson rarely uses that description today, saying instead, “He’s the next Chris Anderson. He’s doing his own thing.”
Anderson calls Nye an inspiration, but says he doesn’t aspire to be his generation’s version. “I think it’s too easy for me to say I wanted to be the next Bill Nye,” he says. “There’s already been a Bill Nye. There won’t be another one. He’s an inspiration. But how Bill Nye did things in the ’90s I can’t really do. It would be rehashing. I’ve got to find my own path.”
The 2020 path to science education television runs through YouTube. Typically about 300 people discover an episode of Science Around Cincy the first week after it goes live, a number that must grow dramatically for Anderson to build a sustainable career. But the first season drew praise for his high-energy approach and for highlighting the often-unheralded work of Cincinnati scientists. The potential for expansion looked strong in February, when Anderson secured funding for another season through a second grant from Fuel Cincinnati and new funds from NKU’s College of Informatics to hire student crews. He was lining up video shoots with scientists from well-known institutions like the Newport Aquarium and was talking with Kentucky Educational Television about airing episodes on the statewide public broadcasting channel.
The pandemic brought those plans to a halt, and Anderson was able to continue his day job remotely. A nice surprise came when Cincinnati Public Schools began broadcasting Science Around Cincy episodes on its public access channel to provide online lessons for students.
Anderson tried to figure out ways to restart his on-location shoots, with little luck, so he and his wife, Mary Ellen Finnegan, a biochemistry graduate turned product researcher at Procter & Gamble, began shooting a series of public health announcements from home. They sent the footage to his NKU student colleagues, who edited it. In April, they released How to Wash Your Hands, a step-by-step demonstration of, well, hand-washing, shot in their bathroom.
Anderson plays it straight on his first run through the sudsy process, and then adds a level of humor for younger viewers. “Sometimes I like to sing a song while I’m washing my hands,” he says with one of his monster grins. A 20-second timer appears on the screen as he accompanies his hand-lathering with a slightly off-key romp: “Wash your hands to get rid of the germs. Wash your hands, don’t scrub so hard it burns.” I couldn’t help giggling out loud as I watched the video multiple times, but it attracted just 85 views by mid-August.
The couple’s other improvised public health segments have commanded slightly more attention in the virtual world. Why Soap Works had 183 views in the same period, and Social Distancing, in which Anderson wears a T-shirt featuring pink flamingos, had 356 clicks.
“I think everybody is chomping at the bit to see our friends and see our families and hug them,” he says. “But at the end of the day, what’s important is I have to do my part, as little as that is, to make sure the disease doesn’t spread or spread too quickly or I don’t give it to someone who’s vulnerable…. Do I want to get out of the house and film? Do I feel behind on the second season? Absolutely. But that’s a small price to pay to make sure people aren’t getting sick and dying.”
As summer began and Ohio and Kentucky governors started loosening restrictions on business operations and local travel, Anderson began regrouping the production schedule. He emphasized safety, requiring the crew to wear masks and social distance, and pursued video shoots at outdoor locations as much as possible.
I tag along in mid-June as the team heads to Edge of the Farm, an Oxford conservation area owned by Hays Cummins and Donna McCollum, Anderson’s former professors at Miami. Anderson describes the site as the perfect scene for a lesson in ecological diversity.
Three NKU crew members set up their opening shot with Anderson meeting the scientists around a cold campfire near the Pickerelweed Pond, named after an aquatic plant found in the area. “This place is amazing,” Anderson says to the camera as he takes a seat in the open camp chair more than six feet away from the scientists. “You’ve got forests, you’ve got prairies, you’ve got wetlands.” Just then one of the couple’s dogs playing in the fields and the pond races up to Anderson’s chair and shoves his face in his lap. He doesn’t miss a beat. “You’ve got puppies,” he quips. It’s a perfect Science Around Cincy moment. “The kids will love it,” Anderson says later.
Cummins and McCollum had not seen Anderson’s show on YouTube before the shoot, but they like the way their former student is approaching his passion project. “I’ve spent my whole career trying to get people to live in the gray zone of uncertainty,” Cummins says. He describes Anderson as an entrepreneur. “He bought into the experience and the potential for living a life of discovery and risk-taking that makes life a little richer.” McCollum hopes Science Around Cincy can help the world understand the important functions of science, particularly during a pandemic. “We are in a real science-denying era right now,” she says. “We need science educators at every stage of the game.”
By early August, neither the pandemic nor public mistrust of science is showing signs of waning. But the Science Around Cincy crew, operating at warp speed for weeks, has completed more than 80 percent of the shoots for the 16-episode second season, while the editing team finalized two segments shot pre-pandemic.
The season will open with Anderson crawling through the caverns of Mammoth Cave in south central Kentucky with a University of Cincinnati researcher who studies the process of erosion and its impact on landscapes and caves. Another episode will share lessons on geology while a GoPro camera follows Anderson walking along the quarter-mile geological timeline embedded in a Sawyer Point walkway downtown. Viewers will also see him admiring the robots that harvest plants on an indoor farm in Hamilton and cooking cheese in a kitchen at Findlay Market. The NKU crew also edited 10-minute YouTube segments from the first season into a 30-minute format for broadcast on Kentucky Educational Television this fall.
Anderson seems more content as we talk by phone for our final interview. He makes a distinction between the success of the show and individual satisfaction. “For me personally, I have a science TV show and it doesn’t matter right now if I have 10 followers or 10 million followers,” he says. “If I don’t enjoy what I’m doing now, having 10 million followers isn’t going to be that much better. From a personal standpoint, I’m achieving the dream of having a science TV show. I’m doing what I set out to do.”
His mind races with strategies for sharing the new episodes in ways that will impact more kids. And he has a new, but familiar, theory on breaking through on social media. “Once you get a critical mass of followers, at that point it’s easier for things to go viral because more people see it,” he says. “It’s getting that first 1,000 or so followers on whatever platform. That’s the big thing.”
Anderson might not be outside in a cow pasture as we talk on the phone. But, yes, he’s talking about a herd of followers.
Scott Fitzgerald knew what he was talking about, when he said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” Cincinnati’s best fall color happens around the third or fourth week of October, according to Cincinnati Parks, so get to a park at once, before all those amber, goldenrod, and burnt sienna leaves end up crunched up on the forest floor. The tri-state has plenty of spots to take in the beauty. Here are six of our favorites for leaf peeping.
The changing leaves in Burnet Woods are a must-see. To catch the best view in this Clifton park, Cincinnati Parks suggests stopping by the woods’ fishing lake. A friendly heads up for planning your visit: Cincinnati Parks has closed a portion of Burnet Woods Drive Road to vehicles temporarily, in an effort to improve bike and pedestrian safety.
3251 Brookline Ave., Clifton
Caldwell Nature Preserve
The variety of trees at the Caldwell Nature Preserve mean an autumn rainbow of color: walnut, elm, maples, ash, and tulip poplar trees span the spectrum of red, yellow, and orange. The American Hiking Society even lists the preserve as one of Ohio’s 10 best hikes.
430 W. North Bend Rd., Carthage
Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve
Great Parks of Hamilton County overseas 17 parks in the region, and one of the best for leaf peeping is Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve, says Kimberly Whitton, the organizaiton’s public engagement coordinator. The preserve offers both paved and nature trails, including the accessible Pin Oak Trail, which boasts a butterfly and wildflower garden. The trail is just over a half mile long, making it appropriate for families and kids of any age.
3455 Poole Rd., Groesbeck
Mt. Airy Forest
Mt. Airy Forest, Cincinnati’s largest park, might be the city’s best spot for drive-around leaf peeping, especially where the sour gum trees are dressed in crimson and purple. The forest also offers miles of trails for hiking trails, horseback, and mountain biking and is home to the state’s only wheelchair-accessible public treehouse.
5083 Colerain Ave., Mt. Airy
Sharon Woods Trails
Sharon Woods offers a trio of possible trails, but Whitton points to the Gorge Trail for some of the best foliage. The trail extends less than three-fourths of a mile and winds through a limestone glacial gorge, which has been a designated State Nature Preserve since 1977, with views of Sharon Creek and its waterfalls. You can’t beat that colorful canopy.
11450 Lebanon Rd., Sharonville
This hilltop park spans more than 2,000 acres. Pick a trail to wander, and take in the Great Miami and Ohio River valley views. “It’s totally worth the uphill trek,” Whitton says. 2008 Lawrenceburg Rd., North Bend
For all you fans who remain scarred by last season’s Monday Night Beatdown in Pittsburgh, when the Steelers had eight sacks and left Andy Dalton imprints all over the Paul Brown Stadium field, this past Sunday’s encounter in Baltimore had a sickening deja vu quality—right down to the same 27-3 final score. The Ravens blitzed Joe Burrow into oblivion, leaving the rookie looking like a rookie for the first time. The rout included seven sacks, a pair of fumbles, an interception, and the first appearance of Haunted Joe, the shell-shocked look of an overwhelmed passer with no hope of getting the ball downfield. The Bengals managed just 3.2 yards per play in an unfortunate 2019 throwback.
Burrow has now been sacked 22 times, a franchise record through five games. That number doesn’t really begin to account for the endless amount of pressure he’s faced each week, not counting the Jacksonville game. Sunday was the first time I thought he showed the happy feet and rushed field scans that are sure symptoms of a young QB under constant duress, and it scared the bejesus out of me.
I know I’ve probably brought this up far too often already, but the sight of Bill Callahan continues to nauseate me. The revered O-line coach was seemingly set to take over that position on the Cincinnati staff when Zac Taylor was hired, but instead he’s turned the Cleveland line into a machine while the Bengals are stuck with Jim “I believe in Bobby Hart, dammit!” Turner. I understand that Taylor wanted to be comfortable with his assistants in his first head coaching gig, and perhaps Old Man Callahan would have felt like a judgmental presence. But it’s clear in retrospect that the decision to go with Turner, clearly a questionable hire from the jump, was a colossal error, one that may cost Taylor his job if things don’t improve quickly or he sacrifices his buddy. You can’t take a franchise-level quarterback with the top overall pick and have him ruined not even halfway into his first season because he can’t reliably drop back to pass.
I mean, this isn’t something new. The Steelers and Ravens have been tag-team squashing Bengals QBs since at least 2016. It was one thing with Dalton in there, but Burrow was drafted to save the franchise. And they have done nothing to protect him. It’s a catastrophe that everyone saw coming a mile away, and yet nothing was done to stop it. And here we are.
Perhaps lost in the Burrow CringeWatch last Sunday was the horrible sight of D.J. Reader, the expensive free agent signing in the middle of the Bengals defensive line, getting carted off the field with a season-ending quad injury. Reader had been critical in holding the fort inside while Geno Atkins was out with his injury—he returned to play a few snaps on Sunday, still easing his way back into football condition—and his loss will be dearly felt. Indeed, the dream of Atkins at last having a playmaker alongside him at defensive tackle lasted for about a dozen plays. The defensive interior as a unit has been brutalized by injury—aside from the big two, the team is now without Mike Daniels, Renell Wren (both on injured reserve), Josh Tupuo (who opted out), and Ryan Glasgow (so injury beset he was released). At the moment the tackles are a limited Atkins and a grabbag of dudes anonymous even by defensive tackle standards.
So if you’re keeping track, the Bengals have gotten four games and change from their two big free agent splashes of the spring, Reader and corner Trae Waynes, who remains sidelined with a pectoral injury. Other free agents, including Xavier Su’a-Filo and Mackenzie Alexander, have also missed considerable time. It was this kind of non-return on investment that turned the team off to signing expensive free agents in the first place.
It’s terrible luck for sure, albeit the kind of misfortune that always seems to strike in Cincinnati. But the experienced observer of Mike Brown and his family in the ownership box won’t be surprised if the plague of injuries becomes a reason the 2020 splurge isn’t repeated any time soon. Right now, the highest paid Bengals are A.J. Green (shadow of his former self), Atkins, Carlos Dunlap (ineffective and now malcontented), Reader, and Waynes. Cincinnati will be lucky to get 10 effective games combined from that quintet. Should the Browns/Blackburns decide to reel in spending next offseason, a likely potentiality given the almost certain salary cap reduction coming, the rebuild will be greatly hindered, since recent drafts continue to disappoint (this year notwithstanding). Oh, and one of the few productive draft choices in recent seasons, Sam Hubbard, also got hurt Sunday and will be out for who knows how long.
Good times, and I haven’t even gotten to the otherwise invisible Green apparently mouthing “Just trade me” on the sidelines. I’m sure the Bengals would deal Adriel Jeremiah in a second if anyone would offer something for him. But just as no one was trading for him last year while he was on injured reserve, the list of teams eager for an old and infirm wideout is short. It’s hard to put into words how agonizing it is that Green, who we all were counting on to regain at last some of his former form, is likely finito as a weapon. On a franchise with a long list of great receivers, AJG is right there at the top. That he couldn’t even find a way to get open against the Ravens, a team he’s systematically destroyed over the years, is proof enough that his time is sadly past.
But, hey, at the least the defense played passably well! Yes, Lamar Jackson may have been at less than 100 percent, but Cincinnati held him to a mere three yards rushing and kept the Ravens offense out of the end zone in the second half. Seems the gameplan that had Dunlap carping midweek was a good one, mainly as it saw less traditional maneuvering, like using corner Darius Phillips as a highly effective blitzer. Rookie linebackers Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither played well in significant action, and the run gaps were secured far more efficiently than in the previous games. Whether this is a one-off tactical victory over a unique opponent or a true building block remains to be seen, but at least one side of the ball wasn’t a disaster.
The next quarterback up is Jackson’s polar opposite, Philip “The Statue of Limitations” Rivers, and the Indianapolis Colts. More worrying is the top-ranked (by DVOA) Colts defense, though their Adjusted Sack Rate is middle of the pack. The Indy D was undone by Callahan and the Browns last Sunday, so they will no doubt be snarling and looking forward to every pass rush’s “get right” game against the Bengals this weekend.
Let’s hope Burrow won’t have any lingering PRSD (Post Ravens Stress Disorder) effects.
Robert Weintraub heads up Bengals coverage for Cincinnati Magazine and has written for The New York Times, Grantland, Slate, Deadspin, and Football Outsiders and authored four books, including his newest, “The Divine Miss Marble” from Penguin Random House. You can follow him on Twitter at @robwein.
Behind New Thought Unity Center in East Walnut Hills lies an unfamiliar sight. Painted onto a circular patch of grey concrete, a winding path twists and turns from the circle’s edge all the way to its center. It’s the Unity Center’s labyrinth, and it exists to help visitors find peace. Designed by local landscape architect Wayne Dorsey, it was installed as part of a larger remodel of the center’s outdoor space. Larry Watson, the center’s head prayer chaplain, regularly uses the labyrinth for meditative and spiritual practice. “Before we go in, we want to create an intention,” Watson says. “And that intention is usually around releasing something, whether it’s a concern, belief, sadness, emotion, pain, anger, shame—we want to reach the middle and release it into that space.” Watson says the labyrinth’s intricate path prepares the walker for this release. “Working into the center, through the labyrinth, gives us time to be comfortable with letting it go.”
Our family has a John F. Kennedy commemorative plate, showing his picture with a date: October 6, 1960. All I know is that my father got it at a Cincinnati dinner he attended during JFK’s presidential run. For the plate’s 60th anniversary, can you uncover its details and maybe its value? —CLEAR MY PLATE
DEAR CLEAR: You have confused the Doctor with Cincinnati’s own Wes Cowan, an appraiser on the PBS program Antiques Roadshow. Having met Mr. Cowan, the Doctor shall attempt a rough impersonation. Your father paid $100—good luck getting that for the plate now—to attend JFK’s fund-raiser event at the Netherland Hilton Hotel. Of course, he could have watched it for free on WCPO-TV and switched over to Sea Hunt when Mr. Kennedy’s speech about Communist Cuba became tiresome. When JFK first arrived in town, he was surprised to learn that our city was not pronounced Cincinnotty. Oh, those upper-crust Bostonians.
A footnote: Your ceramic plate accurately displays the date of Mr. Kennedy’s 1960 fund-raiser, but a brass plaque on Government Square wrongly displays the date of his outdoor speech there in 1962. That event was on October 5; the plaque says October 8. The Doctor exposed this shocking scandal in his August 2014 column, and yet the offending plaque stubbornly remains. Perhaps its unique value could be estimated by someone on Antiques Roadshow. We know a guy.
I drive past the giant CDK Global office building in Norwood every day. I’m embarrassed to ask, but what does this global company do? I checked their website, but I still can’t understand their business. Something automotive. Does CDK Global rule the globe from Norwood? —A WORLD OF QUESTIONS
DEAR WORLD: Perhaps the website is confusing because you are unfamiliar with 21st-century business terminology. Today’s top corporations synergistically actualize their next-generation deliverables into a scalable touchpoint for incentivizing the retargeted platformization of their core-competency bandwidth. You just haven’t moved the needle.
You correctly observe that CDK Global’s website is a bit inside-baseball for the automotive industry; they haven’t bothered to simplify for little people like us. So, to determine how much of the globe CDK dominates, the Doctor infiltrated its headquarters. Carrying a briefcase so as to appear non-threatening, he bravely entered the lobby at Central Parke—the five-story tombstone atop Norwood’s former GM assembly plant. The security guard was friendly enough, but offered scant detail about the company.
Wikipedia says that CDK Global provides “integrated technology services and solutions to over 27,000 automotive dealerships internationally, as well as vehicle manufacturers.” That may be as clear a picture as we peons will ever grasp. The Doctor did confirm that CDK Global is based in Illinois, has offices everywhere, and only seems to rule the world from Norwood. It does not. That’s UDF.
Barney Kroger is one of the most renowned figures in Cincinnati history. Why, then, is such a humble street named for him? Kroger Avenue in Mt. Lookout is nice, but I’m sure Mr. Kroger lived in a classier part of town. Why didn’t the city put his name on a more prominent street? —OFF BRAND
DEAR OFF: Ah, yes, another mismatch of a Cincinnati street with its namesake (see our June column re: Ruth Lyons Alley). In this case, however, you are the one that has missed the match. Had you ventured up the length of Kroger Avenue, you would have found your hoped-for “classier part of town.” In the early 20th century the summit atop Mt. Lookout was even more spacious, and its status further enhanced by the Delta/Grandin viaduct, a direct connection to oh-so-exclusive Hyde Park.
So it was no surprise in 1922 when our hero, Bernard H. Kroger, chose this area for his family’s new mansion. Around the same time, your “nice” street leading up from Delta had its name changed from Beechmont Avenue to Kroger Avenue. This was more than a gesture to help a city father find his way home; it was the very honor you assume he was denied.
The Delta/Grandin viaduct was torn down in 1975, so Barney’s namesake now provides even more of a vital access to his old neighborhood. Take a ride up there sometime and look around. No, the Doctor can’t afford a house there either.
The condensed post-MLS Is Back regular season schedule combined with a crumbling roster appears to have finally broken FC Cincinnati. Following a 3-0 defeat in Philadelphia last week, FCC were denied a late penalty and lost 1-0 at home to Toronto Sunday night. With six regular-season contests remaining, the Orange and Blue sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with 13 points (3 wins, 4 draws, 10 losses) from 17 games. Only two points separate FC Cincinnati from basement-dwelling D.C. United, and the possibility of finishing last in the East for the second consecutive season is inching closer to reality.
Injuries have begun to decimate FC Cincinnati’s already misshapen roster. After left back Greg Garza and striker Jurgen Locadia left the Philadelphia match with injuries, center back Kendall Waston picked up a knock in practice prior to Sunday’s match. All three were unavailable against Toronto, MLS’s top squad (37 points). During that match, right back Mathieu Deplagne went off in the first half and goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tytoń departed late in the second half with an apparent knee injury. Oh, and FCC’s top backup center back, Tom Pettersson, was unavailable due to illness.
Fortunately for head coach Jaap Stam, right back Saad Abdul-Salaam was available for the first time since July 22; midfielder Siem de Jong returned following a five-game absence; and left back/winger Andrew Gutman was fit enough to play following a two-match injury absence. Nick Hagglund also started, making a quick recovery after announcing on September 26 that he had contracted COVID-19. All four players took the field vs. Toronto. For Waston, it’s not surprising that his workload finally caught up to him. Prior to missing Sunday’s match, the 32-year-old had started every one of FCC’s 2020 matches and still ranks among the league’s minutes leaders despite his absence vs. Toronto.
That injuries are occurring in rapid succession—in particular, what appears to be a spate of muscle injuries—shouldn’t come as a shock. FC Cincinnati’s first post-MLS Is Back regular-season game took place August 21, and its final regular-season match is scheduled for November 8. Over that span, the club will have played 18 league games in 80 days, roughly one match every 4.5 days. In 2019, FCC played 34 league games over 219 days, or one match about every 6.5 days. Two days’ difference may not sound like a lot on the surface, but the extra days of rest add up quickly over the course of a regular season that typically requires around seven months to finish.
The haphazard nature of the 2020 campaign—a fact out of anyone’s control, obviously—hasn’t helped. FC Cincinnati completed two league matches in early March before COVID-19 shut down the league. When MLS reconvened in Orlando in July for MLS Is Back, FCC had four games in 17 days after not playing a competitive match for four months. Then three and a half weeks passed before FC Cincinnati commenced its regular-season restart.
On Sunday, FC Cincinnati began a stretch of five successive (presumably fan-less) forays at Nippert Stadium. Barring a miracle run of results, these matches represent the final contests for the club at the University of Cincinnati’s football stadium, FC Cincinnati’s home since its inaugural season in 2016. FCC’s last scheduled home match is October 28 vs. Sporting KC. Construction on the West End Stadium has continued through the pandemic, so the club’s new home remains tipped to open the 2021 MLS season.
It’s a damn shame Orange and Blue supporters won’t be able to provide Nippert with a proper send-off; instead, they’ll have to savor their own personal memories from home. I hadn’t paid much mind to FC Cincinnati before a family friend invited me to their first home game in 2016, and I was blown away by the size of the crowd. I was there for the club’s lone playoff victory (via penalty kicks) in 2018. But it’s the home matches vs. Columbus, Chicago (one of the best sporting events I’ve attended, period) and New York Red Bulls during FC Cincinnati’s U.S. Open Cup run in 2017 that will always be burned into my memory, three hellaciously loud and entertaining (midweek!) Nippert environments.
Prior to tonight’s fourth Hell Is Real Derby of the season against Columbus, FC Cincinnati announced another player acquisition, though he won’t be able to join the shorthanded roster immediately. Franko Kovačević, a 21-year-old Croatian striker for Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim, has been brought over on loan by FCC through June 30, 2021. He has yet to make his first-team debut, but he’s scored six goals in 11 appearances for Hoffenheim’s second team.
FC Cincinnati and Hoffenheim announced a partnership in late September, and this is the first player move in that deal. We’ll see if Kovačević can clear the necessary government and health protocols to debut prior to the end of the season, but it’s evident General Manager Gerard Nijkamap had his eye on 2021 with this move. “Franko is a player that will provide competition for our forward position group,” Nijkamp said. “We look forward to getting him integrated within our team so that he is familiar with the organization, club philosophy and city prior to the start of the 2021 season.”
Injuries and another goal-less streak (the current one is at five-plus matches) have ushered FC Cincinnati into a tailspin. Now the East’s third-place team awaits, and Columbus has outscored FC Cincinnati 7-0 in three matches this season. Can the walking wounded summon some magic—Álvaro Barreal’s platinum blonde hair didn’t do the trick last week—as their stay at Nippert comes to a close? The scoring sorcery may not arrive tonight, but who knows what will happen when last-place D.C. United shows up on Sunday. (Let’s be real, probably a 0-0 draw.)
Grant Freking writes FC Cincinnati coverage for Cincinnati Magazine. Off the pitch, he is the associate editor for Signs of the Times magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @GrantFreking.