12 of Cincinnati’s Most Passionate Citizens

Imagine if Ben Crawford never stepped foot in a casino… or if Cat Amaro never got sunburned in Phoenix… or if Vonceil Brown never took a chance… Maybe these are new names to you, but you can learn their full story over the next two days at Starfire’s un-conference, and get to know what they’re so passionate about. Join us at Starfire, 5030 Oaklawn Drive in Cincinnati, OH to be part of this “un”-conference! 


1. Ben Crawford, Financial Apprenticeship

“Money is a tool, not a goal.” That’s what former blackjack team co-founder, responsible for “legally and mathematically taking millions of dollars from casinos,” wants you to know. His real estate investments and run-ins with casinos over the years have given Ben the sort of background that lends itself to this discussion. This Thursday 8/28 at 3pm (in the Oakley room at Starfire), come hear some of Ben’s financial sagacity and why he thinks money doesn’t need to be a source of fear or anxiety. But be fair warned: he knows what it’s like to bring home millions, but his lessons learned aren’t about getting rich quick; they’re about getting over wanting more.


Okay, so Ben is from Bellevue, but you can check out his CINCINNATI based digital communication company start-up, “Epipheo.” And learn more about his philosophies on the dollar bill here: http://financialapprenticeship.com

2. Cat Amaro, The Bird Haus

Cat thinks college degrees are for the birds. And she knows a thing or two about success sans degree, having launched the successful start-up “Bird Haus” in 2012. Bird Haus is a non-traditional learning platform that offers up classes taught by local people in a classroom that “migrates,” or pops up in spaces around the city. Join her discussion about ways to be successful as a non-degree holder, and reducing the stigma that gets attached when you don’t have all the BS, BA, MA, MFAs, PhDs behind your name – This Thursday at 3pm (in the Art Room at Starfire).

SONY DSC After a short stint in Phoenix that put the business on hold, Cat came back to the Queen City and will be rehatching Bird Haus in the coming year. Stay tuned. #LEARNLIKEYOUMEANIT

3. Aaron Kent of DIY Printing, Screen Printing

Aaron is back again this year to offer up his studio and screen printing skillz. Join him Wednesday 8/27 at 7pm (at Essex Studios in Walnut Hills) – you will draw out a design and print your own t-shirt by the end of the session! So come learn the art of screen printing and lovin’ on artists in the community. You might recognize his posters around town at Coffee Emporium and events, or perhaps you’ve seen his collaborative art piece in Starfire that he did with Krista Brinkmeyer and Public Allies 2 years ago, the Cincy Story Mural!


Be sure to check out DIY for all your printing needs! 

4. Mike Moroski, From Tolerance to Celebration 

A rabbi once told Mike his life goal was to rid the English language of the word “tolerance” and replace it with celebration. Mike would like to share the significance of this message and discuss his take on the mental models of poverty, middle class, and wealth.  Join him Wednesday at 3pm (in the Ridge Room at Starfire).


You may remember Mike from last election, when he ran for city council on the platform of social justice and equality. Find more inspiration from Mike at his website.

5. Vonceil Brown, Voices of Freedom Spoken Word

Vonceil opened this un-conference with her poem, “Take a Chance,” a perfect start to 3days of meeting new people and swapping ideas with one another. Last year, Vonceil and a group of volunteers put together a spoken word showcase at Elementz (the hip hop center in downtown Cincinnati). Wednesday at 6pm (at Elementz on Central and Race) she invites you to join her and Jori Cotton at Elementz for their weekly Voices of Freedom session, where you can try out the art of poetry and spoken word to express yourself, or just listen in!


Learn more about Elementz here.

6. Jake Hodesh (and Naomi!), People’s Liberty

Jake is a founding team member of Cincinnati’s new philanthropic “lab” — People’s Liberty. This project invests in your ideas to make Cincinnati’s neighborhoods better. He invites you Wednesday at 3pm (at Starfire) to learn how to get your idea funded by framing your idea so that it grabs funders’ attention. This funding opportunity is open to anyone within the 275 beltway.

SONY DSCCheck out the article Soapbox did on this awesome philanthropy project, here’s an excerpt: “…A joint collaboration between the Haile Foundation and The Johnson Foundation, the lab is fueled by three main tenets: Innovation must be disruptive. The future of a city is determined by who gets involved. Philanthropy is more than cutting checks.”a

 7. Dove Crawford, Taking Care of Brothers and Sisters

Dove (another Bellevue-ian) may look pint-size, but she has years of experience being the older sister of 5. She’d like to share her insights and tips on how to be a caring and responsible older sibling. Her session is Thursday at 4pm  (at Starfire in the Oakley Room), right after her father finishes his seminar on Financial Apprenticeship!


8. Jerry Friemoth and family, Living Sustainably at Home

If you’re looking to turn your city lot into an urban garden oasis, look no further than the Friemoth’s home in Pleasant Ridge. Wednesday at 4pm (meet at Starfire to get a ride!), the family invites you over to their home to explore their lot equipped with vegetable garden, solar greenhouse, chicken coop, and solar panels! And he’s offering up all the tomatoes and green beans and eggs you can grab, can you beat that?


9. Annie Callan, Relationships 

Annie would like to start a discussion on relationships, one of the most important aspects of our lives. Her experience on this topic goes a few years back, as she has been giving talks around the city to share her insights on this. Come join her Thursday at 6pm (at Starfire in the Madison Room) and be part of this conversation!

SONY DSC10. Nern Ostendorf, Queen City Bikes

Nern is a familiar face in the biking community, being the founder of Queen City Bikes and one of the strongest leaders of the street cycling movement in the city. Come get dirty with her Wednesday at 6pm (at Starfire in the Art Room) by making art out of recycled bike materials. It’s certain to make you look at your bike in a whole new way.

SONY DSC11. Therese Wantuch, How to Make an App

Therese is no coder, and she’s not a computer whiz, but she has built 7 apps that are all currently selling in the App Store. Join her Wednesday at 6pm (at Starfire in the Ridge Room) and she’ll teach you tips and tricks that will get you well on your way to creating your own fancy mobile app!


12. Angela Pancella, Caregiving

Some of us rely on caregiving, or are caregivers ourselves. Be part of this session Thursday at 6pm (in the Oakley Room at Starfire), that will focus on the stories of caregivers and those being cared for. Angela is also part of the Woven Oaks Initiative in Norwood, learn more about it here.


Alright, sound good? Well that’s only a snippet of what the 3day is offering up. There’s a Flash Mob directed by Kim Popa, yoga, essential oils class, Zumba, card making, compost making, seed swapping… the list continues!! Check out the rest of Wednesday and Thursday’s schedule below, and be sure to follow us on Facebook. See you all TODAY!






About katiebachmeyer

I like to collect stuff. But non-material stuff-- like friendships, stories, and wisdom from older people with smile wrinkles. This kind of stuff isn't always well organized or labeled in boxes, but it makes up who I am.
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