Since 1927, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission has provided cultural and leisure activities for the community. Its facilities are spread across the region and include indoor recreation centers and 2,500 acres of outdoor play areas, which together host a broad range of activities for people of all ages, including athletic leagues, arts events, and an aquatic center. Before- and after-school programs and summer camps offer an outlet where kids can learn and play outside of school, and many centers also sponsor therapeutic programs for people with disabilities.
As an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is dedicated to improving the appearance of the community, along with educating and encouraging individuals to take greater responsibility for their environments and neighborhoods. The organization runs a number of community-improvement programs, such as a campaign to prevent cigarette litter, a state-roadway-cleanup group, and Future Blooms, which employs professional architects, artists, and landscape experts to paint, clean, and green vacant lots and abandoned buildings.
Part of a 160-year-old network of community centers, YMCA of Greater Cincinnati offers a space that provides a variety of learning and growing opportunities for the community. The organization’s programming encourages physical and mental activity for neighbors of all types, regardless of age or socioeconomic background. Its youth-development programs help participants learn more about themselves and develop positive behaviors, and healthy-living programs help families improve their overall well-being. The Y is also devoted to social responsibility, connecting those in need with the resources to help them achieve stability through charitable work and collaborations with policymakers.
Formed in 2000 by a group of Holocaust survivors and their families, the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education strives to ensure an enduring future for humanity by educating young and old people alike about the horrors of the past. Inspired by a quotation from the Jewish New American Society in 1965, the group hopes to maintain a memorial “that will make sure our dear ones have not died in vain.” To carry out that mission, the center hosts regular events and educational programs and opens the doors to its permanent exhibit “Mapping Our Tears”, a recreation of an attic in 1930s Europe set in a multimedia theater. Somber and educational, the exhibit conveys the history of the Holocaust through artifacts donated by local families and video of eyewitness testimonials about the tragedy itself.
Groundwork Cincinnati/Mill Creek aims to develop a sustainable Mill Creek watershed by teaching the community about the environment and conducting ecological restoration projects. To this end, the organization has implemented four programs. The Freedom Trees program involves a 10-year urban-reforestation initiative linked with the local history of the Underground Railroad, wherein residents will plant at least 10,000 native trees in the corridor. Environmental-education programs introduce local youth to restoration with field trips for students and training programs for volunteers to monitor water quality and help conserve wildlife habitats. The Greenways project works to restore the natural landscape and develop recreational trails along Mill Creek. Laughing Brook teaches the community about the environment with a public artscape that recreates a functioning wetland filled with biosculptures of human hands, fish, and salamanders, and also helps clean storm-water runoff from a portion of Salway Park.
The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra showcases music not commonly performed by large symphony orchestras, so each show is an uncommon musical experience. During Spring 2, the delicately constructed harmonies of Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin (two works each) float across Corbett Auditorium and into ears to tickle auditory nerves like pixies riding tiny ponies on eardrums. Two of the four pieces were inspired by literature. Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night was inspired by a Richard Dehmel poem about a shocking confession that affects two lovers, while Gershwin's Porgy and Bess Suite is inspired by DuBose Heyward’s racially charged 1925 novel about the inhabitants of the semi-fictional Catfish Row. Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 16, is an unsettling work that balances Gershwin's famous Rhapsody in Blue, which is performed by acclaimed solo pianist Michael Chertock.