Grants Available from Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio is inviting proposals from organizations throughout Ohio’s 32-county Appalachian region for projects supporting creative environmental education and stewardship projects. Funding is available from the Foundation’s American Electric Power Access to Environmental Education Fund.

The Foundation is looking for projects that build on the unique assets of the region’s individual communities, provide opportunities for youth to participate in experiences tied to local natural resources, and which encourage participants to share lessons learned with the broader community. Requests may range from $250 to $1250. Applications may be submitted electronically by Friday, October 14, 2011.

For more information about this special grant opportunity, go to

Ohio Humanities Council Wins Transportation Enhancement Grant

Ohio Humanities Council Wins Transportation Enhancement Grant ODOT/TE funds will be used for The New Ohio Guide Heritage Tours

COLUMBUS, OHIO – February 2010 – The Ohio Humanities Council has been awarded a $115,000 Transportation Enhancement grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to produce The New Ohio Guide Heritage Tours.

The funds will support production of audio guides and a multi-media website of driving tours based on The Ohio Guide, written by the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s and 1940s.

Published in 1940, The Ohio Guide sought to capture local history, boost local economies through tourism, and introduce travelers to scenic and historic treasures along the state’s roads.  Written long before the introduction of the interstate highway system, the original publication outlined 23 tours along what became Ohio’s secondary highways.  The New Ohio Guide will echo the original purpose – to introduce motorists to the rich travel opportunities available in Ohio and to assist local tourism economies.

“Ohio’s rich heritage marks critical places in the rise of civilization, growth of democracy, and spirit of invention,” said Dr. Julie Goldsmith, executive director of the Ohio Humanities Council. “The Ohio Humanities Council will serve as a catalyst for economic development by advancing tourism related to the state’s history and culture.”

The Transportation Enhancement grant will help underwrite recreation of ten of the original tours.  Partnering with public broadcasting stations, independent media producers and scholars, the Ohio Humanities Council will select routes that make a compelling case for travel in Ohio. From the mound structures built by ancient civilizations, to the pathways to freedom bravely forged by slaves along the Underground Railroad, to the aviation pioneers who saw mankind’s dreams in the skies, Ohio’s story is an inspiring one that we will celebrate through tourism.”

Production on The New Ohio Guide Heritage Tours will begin in 2011 and continue throughout 2012.

CONTACT: Fran Tiburzio
Pat Williamsen

Poor Man’s Bananas

The weather in Central Ohio is beginning to hint of Autumn – cool, crisp mornings, a slight change in the light that will become more golden as the season progresses, the aroma of falling leaves.  It’s a good time to take a drive, to gather up late fruits and vegetables to stock up for winter.

So gas up the car, load in the kids and head down to Albany for the 12th Ohio Paw Paw Festival!  The Festival begins Friday evening on September 17 and runs through Sunday, September 19.

And just what is a Paw Paw?  Native to Ohio’s Hill Country, paw paw trees dot the hillsides, producing clusters of oblong fruits. Called the “poor man’s banana,” the fruit offers the flavors of banana, mango, and melon.  In 2008, it was designated Ohio’s official native fruit.

The Ohio Paw Paw Association partners with the Ohio Hill County Heritage Area to hold the annual festival at Lake Snowden, on the Appalachian Highway, just west of Athens.  As with the many food festivals in the state, this one features everything paw paw – art work, ice cream, chutneys, jelly — even microbrews!

Don’t expect a midway carnival – the Paw Paw Festival has an emphasis on sustainable agriculture and cuisine.  So do take advantage of several workshop offerings about growing paw paws or outlining the health benefits of the fruit.  Several cooking demonstrations are scheduled throughout the weekend.  A kids’ activity tent will help the youngsters enjoy the trip, too.

For more on the Festival, including a schedule of events and directions, go to


Long Day Full of Good Ideas

Day 2 for the Civic Tourism conference introduced us to many folks from around the country, all sharing great ideas! Words we heard throughout the day — “local,” “sustainable,” “holistic.” The day started with Dan Shilling sharing his thoughts on civic tourism and how environmental disaster impacts tourism, using the Gulf oil spill and Arizona’s immigration legislation as examples. From there, we went into break-out sessions to hear how others are using the principles of civic tourism to engage constituents and revitalize communities.

A few highlights from today’s sessions:

Cris Collier, CEO of the Great Bend CVB, has been working on a scenic byway tour that highlights three wetlands in central Kansas. The project involves one major flyway, five communities, three different conservation agencies, and numerous local businesses. The byway tour is enhanced by signage along the route, an audio guide, and print materials — with content highlights determined and composed by community partners.

The local food movement is vibrant in Fort Collins, thanks in large part to Be Local Northern Colorado, an initiative to promote a living economy for the region. Gailmarie Kimmel, co-director for Be Local, used a coupon book to help local merchants tell their stories as well as to sell their wares. The booklet was complimented by a 20/20 challenge to residents to spend $20 on locally produced food and goods each week for 20 weeks. The results were magnificant!

Conference hosts, Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu of the National Association for Interpretation, shared tips on community experience planning, and explained the logic model formula in the most concise terms I’ve heard used for that planning model. NAI has produced several books on community planning, design,and interpretation — browse the titles on the NAI website at

Tomorrow, we head out for the mobile labs that will take us out to learn firsthand how various communities engage tourism practices. The Ohio group are all scheduled to visit Central City/Blackhawk where we’ll see mining towns, historic streetscapes and gambling casinos.

Civic Tourism III Opens in Fort Collins

The Civic Tourism III conference opened in Fort Collins, Colorado tonight, with a keynote presentation, “What is it Worth? The True Value of Open Space.” As a division director for the Mecklinberg County Parks and Recreation Department in Charlotte, North Carolina, Michael Kirschman has set about the task of quantifying what most of us would call “priceless” — parks, preserves, natural areas that make our communities more liveable. But, he reminded us, in an era of shrinking public budgets and increased accountibility, can a monetary value be placed on such things as public parks?
He asserts that it can. Based on research conducted over the past several years, Michael presented some convincing statistics on the value of public land — using the kind of language and numbers that city planners, politicians and voters understand. For example, Mecklinburg County’s air quality ranks 12th in the nation for particulates and ozone, thus improving air quality is prioirty for policy makers. After calculating the number of trees in the county park system, the park staff consulted various studies that analyze how much air pollution is removed by a single tree, multiplied that figure by the number of trees under the park’s stewardship and thus calculated that those trees removed 458,326 pounds of air pollutants each year. Using conservative estimates, the value for the air-cleaning “service” provided to county residents by the park system amounts to over $2.2 million.

In all, he said, for an annual operating investment of $2.9 million, the parks returns $13.5 million in enviromental, economic, and health benefits to county residents. The social capitol created by parks — such as increased community interaction among residents — is a stronger predictor of quality of life in a community than income levels or property values.

Tomorrow we begin with Dan Shilling, author of “Civic Tourism: The Poety and Politics of Place,” talking about tourism in challenging times. How do debates about immigration and the Gulf oil spill influence the work of civic tourism? Although the Rockies beckon from every window, offering a spectacular distraction, it looks like Civic Tourism III will offer plenty of provocative alternatives to mountain climbing!

One Tank Trips

With a trip to the Civic Tourism III conference coming up this week, my thoughts have been focused on helping conferees from other states think about Ohio as more than a fly-over state. But it seems to me that Ohioans don’t always remember that our home state is chock-full of perfect places to visit and linger during the hot days of August.

A trip to the bookstore, virtual or real, offers bunches of trip ideas; there are guides for ghost chasers, antique collectors, butterfly buffs. One of my favorite Ohio travel writers is Neil Zurcher. A Cleveland personality, Neil has compiled the best of his TV series, “One Tank Trips,” in a three-volume collection of driving tours. The last one of the series should appeal to everyone – One Tank Trips: Road Food. Organized by food stuffs – diners, ice cream, the best hamburger – thirty-five close-to-home tours cover the range of Ohio’s culinary delights. Hungry for a perch sandwich? Go to Tour 98. Hankering for potato chips? Tour 109 highlights Ohio’s best, with factory tours and warm samples. Along the way, Neil tells us a bit about the history of potato chips, fishing in Lake Erie, and cheese-making throughout our dairy regions.

A great booster of Ohio places, Neil has written several guides to help you explore the state. Neil’s tours will take you away from the interstates to experience the charms found only on our byways. Whether you favor aviation, fine art, or artisan food, Neil’s guides are sure to suggest some memorable trips just a short trip away.

You can follow Neil’s rambles at http://onetanktrips/

Civic Tourism III Conference Announced

Plan to attend Civic Tourism III, in Fort Collins, Colorado, this summer. 

With an overarching theme of “Helping Diverse Interests Work Toward a Common Community Goal,” this year’s conference will be especially valuable to Ohio communities struggling with a tough economy.  The Ohio Humanities Council will be attending, along with program partners from the Little Cities of Black Diamonds in Shawnee.

Sponsored by the National Association for Interpretation, Civic Tourism, and the Fort Collins Convention and Visitor Bureau, the 2010 conference will feature keynote presentations by Dan Shilling, author of Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Place, and Michael Kirschman of the Mecklin County (NC) Parks and Recreation Department.  Mobile learning labs designed to give participants an up-close view of tourism models will enrich the conference, with lab locations that might include Estes Park, Greeley, Cheyenne, Black Hawk, or Golden.   

Registration fees have been dropped to encourage participation – so to register, go to

If you need a refresher on the mission and goals of Civic Tourism, visit Dan Shilling’s website at