Friday, March 16, 2012

Garbage IN

One of the first things I did upon being elected to Amberley Village Council is establish a new email address for council-related business. It's a good thing I did too, since my inbox is already up to 548 emails, with very little spam. In fact, I just checked and there are only 2 spam emails in the spam filter. Don't let that give you any ideas, however! I get enough interesting email already...

So, where do these emails come from and what are they about? Most are actually Village business or from residents. But, as a council member, I have the opportunity to attend seminars and network. As well, I think as a council member, my name just gets added to lists of organizations that Amberley participants in as a member, as well as other interesting things. Today, in fact, I received an email from the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services. It was the Spring 2012 newsletter "WasteLine" and I found every single article of interest to me and I think the information will be of interest to you as an Amberley Village resident.

For example, the higher a community's recycling rate, the more dollars per ton they receive as an incentive. Out of the 48 Hamilton County communities that recycle, Amberley's recycling rate is the eighth highest. At 22.41%, our recycling rate is well above the county's average rate of 13.04%. Because of all of our efforts, Amberley received $11,230.00 just for recycling! There are ways of boosting our rate even higher. Last year, you may have taken advantage of Amberley's community wide shredding event. Tonnage recycled at community shredding events counts toward a community's recycling rate. Because this is also a very valuable service to our residents, look for another community-wide shred event this Spring.

Also of interest, both to gardeners and others interested in reducing the amount of garbage they bring to the curb (or perhaps extending the life of the garbage disposal), the Hamilton County Waste and Recycling District is sponsoring composting seminars. The closest to Amberley is the seminar to be held in Deer Park on April 26th at 6:00 PM. With the Amberley Green Garden opening in April, anyone interested in gardening on the Green is encouraged to attend. Space is limited, so call Susan Schumacher at 946-7734 to register.

Look for these yard signs indicating a We THRIVE! project coming soon.
Speaking of Amberley's Community Garden, we are about a month away from rolling out the carpet on this fully-funded initiative made possible by Hamilton County Public Health's We THRIVE! grant. The flyer is available HERE and we hope to see you growing some fresh veggies this summer. Plots are 9'x15' and will rent for $50. Families who do not think they can handle an entire plot are encouraged to find another family to share with. The entire garden will be fenced with 7.5' high deer fencing that is practically invisible to the eye until you are upon it. The bottom will be reinforced with chicken wire in order to keep out burrowing animals. We will provide the water, hoses, and garden carts. This is a great opportunity to get to know each other in a fun and productive setting and I hope you will join the Wolf family in this gardening adventure. We will be using organic practices, in keeping with current trends in healthy food practices. Check out the Amberley Village We THRIVE! page on the Watch Us Thrive website.

There is always something going on in the Village, but I try to keep these posts as brief as possible and I also try to keep my imposition on YOUR email inbox as minimal as possible. Don't forget to subscribe to the Village e-news at

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Gathering Place

I saw this article in today's Cincinnati Enquirer. It's about Wyoming and the spirit of volunteerism that pervades the community. Not only volunteerism, but neighborliness that stems from a sense of place and pride in that place. I believe we have that in Amberley, but what really struck me as a significant difference between the two communities (and I'm not talking about our lack of a business district or neighborhood school), was the photo of  residents having a cup of coffee and a chat at the Wyoming Pastry Shop. 

Where do we go in Amberley when we want to relax and chat with our neighbors -- about our community, our families, our lives...? A gathering place is a central part of a community. To see our neighbors and elected officials in a relaxed setting in the community can ease suspicion and strengthen our ties to the community. We don't even have a restaurant in our own community to call our own. Or do we?

In the last few months I've realized that we actually do have a restaurant in Amberley Village. This realization came about through the process of filling out required forms for the We THRIVE! grant. At a meeting of the grant working group, JCC Executive Director Jeff Baden was in attendance.Discussion turned to the nutritional components of Amberley's food outlets -- of which there is only one: the JCC.  The cafe offers healthy food options to all who go -- not just members of the J. Since then, I've been going to the J-Cafe whenever my thoughts or discussions will be concerning Amberley. I met Council member, Bill Doering, at the J-Cafe for lunch. Resident Ilene Ross met me there to discuss how to persuade Amberley residents to embrace the J-Cafe as their local restaurant. State Representative Denise Driehaus met me at the J-Cafe when she wanted to chat about Amberley and our community's needs. 

In the coming months, I intend to meet with representatives of the JCC to discuss how to market the J-Cafe to Amberley residents, but in the meantime, I would like to invite you to make the J-Cafe YOUR local gathering spot. Like those other coffee shops in other communities, the J-Cafe offers a full range of coffee drinks, as well as pastries, soups and sandwiches. And since it is in our neighborhood, the odds are good that you will run into your Amberley neighbors there. You might even run into me, and if you do, feel free to stop and chat about Amberley. 

Isn't it great to have our own place to call home?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring in My Step

Is it really March already? Whatever happened to winter? Pretty soon the grass will be turning green and I haven't done anything about contracting to have it mowed this year. Whoops. But, while I may have neglected my own lawn, lots of cool things are in store for Amberley residents beginning this spring.

First of all, let's start with the new Ordinance allowing egg-laying chickens to be raised by residents in their own backyard. Consistent with the trend toward locally produced food and home gardening, it shouldn't come as a surprise that homeowners are desiring to raise their own chickens for their eggs. I have studied the current zoning in Amberley Village, and although it is my belief that our zoning did not prohibit backyard chickens, our solicitor, Kevin Frank, felt it was better if the Village had a separate ordinance pertaining to keeping chickens. I agree, as this way, there is no question as to whether residents can or cannot have chickens, and there are restrictions as to number of hens, and setbacks. Currently, Amberley -- with its large lots and bucolic atmosphere -- is one of very, very few local communities that don't allow chickens. Several residents have asked over the past few years if chickens were permitted, but were never given a definitive answer. I think that is because the zoning code was not clear on the issue. With the passage of this Ordinance, the answer will be very clear. Additionally, allowing backyard chickens allows our residents who so desire to follow the most current and healthy food trends as well as reducing their own carbon footprint and providing their families and friends with the experience of producing their own food. If you would like to read more about the history of prohibiting chickens in suburban communities, a wonderful resource can be found at Chickens for Montgomery, where the zoning code was revised in 2009 to specifically allow for chickens to be raised by residents. The first reading of Amberley's new chicken ordinance will be Monday, March 12th at the regularly scheduled Council meeting. By-the-way,  residents who live in neighborhoods with restrictive covenants, such as Rollman Estates, will not be permitted to have chickens in their yards, even with the passage of this ordinance, if their HOA specifically prohibits them.

Another sign of spring is that the new community garden at Amberley Green is staked out and ready to plow. The Amberley Green Garden will consist of garden plots that are 9x15' in size. Up to thirty-six plots can be accommodated and will rent at $50 per growing season (April to November). The entire garden will be fenced with 7 1/2 foot high deer fencing and water will be available as well as a garden cart and experienced gardeners willing to share their knowledge.  The garden will be an organic garden and there is already interest from some of our local non-profit neighbors in renting plots for educational and philanthropic purposes. The Amberley Green Garden committee will sponsor social events at the garden as well as educational presentations related to everything garden. Please be on the lookout for a flyer in your email that will be headlined "Amberley Green Garden." You will then be directed to instructions for applying for a plot and a welcome packet for gardeners. The garden is made possible from a grant from We THRIVE! which is an important initiative of the Hamilton County Dept. of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control. The purpose of We THRIVE! is to make the healthy choice the easy choice, thereby decreasing incidences of obesity and related diseases, as well as reducing smoking and increasing physical activity. It all begins at the local level, which is why grant funding was provided to a total of 12 local Cincinnati communities who are at the forefront of this movement.
Garden location "before" plowing and staking

Finally, Amberley will be championing a new, cutting-edge, initiative by Jewish Family Service of Cincinnati which is called "Community for a Lifetime." According to the most recent census, 22% of Amberley's residents are age 65 or older and the population of residents aged 50 and older is 49% higher than the national average. Due to the demographic of our community, care of our elderly population sometimes requires our police and fire department to assist our seniors in their day-to-day tasks. I recently attended the annual meeting of the Hamilton County Health District, and learned of a new and very vital and useful program called AHEAD. From this data, you can see that injuries from falls that require hospitalization among seniors in Amberley aged 65 and older are among the highest in the health district, with our neighbor, Deer Park, being even higher. Community for a Lifetime aims to take some of the pressure off our police and fire department by establishing a concierge service with our seniors so that they can form relationships with JFS social workers and, in addition, receive referrals for services they otherwise might resort to calling the police to assist with.

Don't forget to subscribe to the Village e-news at E-mail is Amberley's primary means of communicating Village news to the residents. You can also sign up for meeting notices at the same time. Look for "subscriptions" on the left-side of the Village website. Also, the easiest way to read this blog is to subscribe by email and have the content delivered directly to your inbox.