Care of space, care of place.

Our work is intentionally local, community-oriented, and small-ish in scale. The examples below have unfolded over the past decade and each involved a number of thoughtful collaborators and partners.


A civic hub for launching citizen-led ideas in Cincinnati.

Project: People’s Liberty
Year: 2014–2019
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
Website:
peoplesliberty.org

People’s Liberty invests in people with bold ideas for Cincinnati.

In 2013, leaders at the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation were asking three big questions:

  • How might we become more experimental with our grantmaking?

  • What could it look like to open a ground floor outpost in one of Cincinnati’s developing neighborhoods?

  • How do we invest in the next generation of leadership in Cincinnati?

To explore answers to these questions, we built People’s Liberty—an 8,000 sq.ft. civic hub—as a tool to discover if giving grants and project support directly to people could have the power to positively impact our city. Designed to be a 5-year experiment, People’s Liberty awarded grants to more than 100 individuals, employed more than 30 early-career creatives, and catalyzed an active network of civic doers. This bold philanthropic lab set a new precedent for people-focused philanthropy and has been lauded as an impactful model by foundations across the United States.

Partners: The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation
Team: Eric Avner, Jacob Hodesh, Aurore Fournier, and Hannah Gregory

 
 

a design challenge to increase vibrancy and expand opportunity in growing neighborhood business districts.

Project: CoSign
Year: 2012
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
Website:
CoSign Cincy

CoSign is a creative placemaking toolkit for neighborhood regeneration.

In 2012, the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation was searching for a platform to enhance economic activity and vibrancy in Greater Cincinnati neighborhood business districts, while leveraging the creative talent and resources of individuals from within the community. The foundation was also looking for a way to work with the American Sign Museum to expand their outreach into neighborhoods, and to create an infrastructure to train the next generation of local signmakers.

CoSign paired local business owners with local artists/designers and local sign fabricators to design and install a critical mass of unique, hand-crafted storefront signage in Cincinnati's Northside neighborhood, an area seeing significant reinvestment and growth. Over the course of five months, CoSign engaged 52 local artists/designers in the development of 144 unique sign proposals for 19 Northside businesses. CoSign awarded 11 artists with a monetary stipend, educated them on the process of sign design, permitting, fabrication, and installation and provided the opportunity for their work to be displayed in a prominent public space.

The CoSign program was successfully piloted three times in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky business districts. In the fall of 2016, CoSign launched it's national pilot program. Two communities successfully completed the program in the fall of 2017: Iowa City, IA and Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines, IA.

Partners: The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation; The American Sign Museum; Alias Imaging; ArtWorks Cincinnati; City of Cincinnati

Team (Inaugural): Eric Avner, Josh McManus, Adrienne Cowden, Jim Guthrie, Tod Swormstedt, Leslie Alexander, James Heller-Jackson, Jeni Jenkins, Michael Stout

 
 

Civic design workshops to encourage emerging leaders to care for their cities.

Project: People’s Liberty
Year: 2014–2019
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
Website:
peoplesliberty.org

People’s Liberty invests in people with bold ideas for Cincinnati.

In 2013, leaders at the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation were asking three big questions:

  • How might we become more experimental with our grantmaking?

  • What could it look like to open a ground floor outpost in one of Cincinnati’s developing neighborhoods?

  • How do we invest in the next generation of leadership in Cincinnati?

To explore answers to these questions, we built People’s Liberty—an 8,000 sq.ft. civic hub—as a tool to discover if giving grants and project support directly to people could have the power to positively impact our city. Designed to be a 5-year experiment, People’s Liberty awarded grants to more than 100 individuals, employed more than 30 early-career creatives, and catalyzed an active network of civic doers. This bold philanthropic lab set a new precedent for people-focused philanthropy and has been lauded as an impactful model by foundations across the United States.

Partners: The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation
Team: Eric Avner, Jacob Hodesh, Aurore Fournier, and Hannah Gregory

 
 

participatory experiences to encourage the local church to see their city (and mission) in new ways.

Project: People’s Liberty
Year: 2014–2019
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
Website:
peoplesliberty.org

People’s Liberty invests in people with bold ideas for Cincinnati.

In 2013, leaders at the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation were asking three big questions:

  • How might we become more experimental with our grantmaking?

  • What could it look like to open a ground floor outpost in one of Cincinnati’s developing neighborhoods?

  • How do we invest in the next generation of leadership in Cincinnati?

To explore answers to these questions, we built People’s Liberty—an 8,000 sq.ft. civic hub—as a tool to discover if giving grants and project support directly to people could have the power to positively impact our city. Designed to be a 5-year experiment, People’s Liberty awarded grants to more than 100 individuals, employed more than 30 early-career creatives, and catalyzed an active network of civic doers. This bold philanthropic lab set a new precedent for people-focused philanthropy and has been lauded as an impactful model by foundations across the United States.

Partners: The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation
Team: Eric Avner, Jacob Hodesh, Aurore Fournier, and Hannah Gregory

 
 

A storefront welcome center to connect new residents to Detroit’s urban core.

Project: People’s Liberty
Year: 2014–2019
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
Website:
peoplesliberty.org

People’s Liberty invests in people with bold ideas for Cincinnati.

In 2013, leaders at the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation were asking three big questions:

  • How might we become more experimental with our grantmaking?

  • What could it look like to open a ground floor outpost in one of Cincinnati’s developing neighborhoods?

  • How do we invest in the next generation of leadership in Cincinnati?

To explore answers to these questions, we built People’s Liberty—an 8,000 sq.ft. civic hub—as a tool to discover if giving grants and project support directly to people could have the power to positively impact our city. Designed to be a 5-year experiment, People’s Liberty awarded grants to more than 100 individuals, employed more than 30 early-career creatives, and catalyzed an active network of civic doers. This bold philanthropic lab set a new precedent for people-focused philanthropy and has been lauded as an impactful model by foundations across the United States.

Partners: The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation
Team: Eric Avner, Jacob Hodesh, Aurore Fournier, and Hannah Gregory

 
 

A pie shop to bridge divide in rural Alabama.

Project: People’s Liberty
Year: 2014–2019
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
Website:
peoplesliberty.org

People’s Liberty invests in people with bold ideas for Cincinnati.

In 2013, leaders at the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation were asking three big questions:

  • How might we become more experimental with our grantmaking?

  • What could it look like to open a ground floor outpost in one of Cincinnati’s developing neighborhoods?

  • How do we invest in the next generation of leadership in Cincinnati?

To explore answers to these questions, we built People’s Liberty—an 8,000 sq.ft. civic hub—as a tool to discover if giving grants and project support directly to people could have the power to positively impact our city. Designed to be a 5-year experiment, People’s Liberty awarded grants to more than 100 individuals, employed more than 30 early-career creatives, and catalyzed an active network of civic doers. This bold philanthropic lab set a new precedent for people-focused philanthropy and has been lauded as an impactful model by foundations across the United States.

Partners: The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation
Team: Eric Avner, Jacob Hodesh, Aurore Fournier, and Hannah Gregory