Gallery honors local sustainabily leaders

By: Regina Wright ~Staff Writer~

Xavier recently hosted “The Sustainability Heroes Gallery” to celebrate influential sustainability leaders in the Cincinnati area.

On Feb. 2, Kathleen Smythe, the Senior Administrative Fellow for Sustainability, sponsored The Heroes Gallery in Fenwick Place.
The gallery was funded by a small sustainability grant in support of the Xavier University President’s Climate Commitment. It took place from 4 to 5 p.m. and promoted sustainability values and vocation.

“The Heroes Gallery tells the stories of Cincinnati’s sustainability heroes through the eyes of Xavier students and faculty,” Smythe said. “I created this exhibit out of twin personal truths. The first is that I have looked up to real-life heroes, not media-driven ones, ever since I was old enough to understand how my grandfather spent his retirement years. I think we all need heroes we can touch and with whom we can relate. I also think that the stories of people’s struggles and triumphs while following value-led lives are all too rare. We often get the Reader’s Digest condensed version of positive action. But values-driven action happens in a context of relationships, challenges and interesting choices. It is this combination of local heroes and their real stories that makes the gallery compelling.”

The gallery highlights the life and values of local Cincinnati residents. It focuses on Jim and Eileen Schenk, founders of Image Earth Center and Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage in Price Hill, who have worked for over three decades to build a vital and enriching community in urban Cincinnati.

Jim and Eileen worked as social workers and became very active through the community, which allowed them to meet others who had concerns for the environment.

“Meeting other people we emerged, through our contacts, in a concern for the environment. We meet many others that shepherded us down the road that became our life’s work,” Eileen Schenk said.

“Jim and Eileen Schenk have been leaders in living sustainably for decades and it is a pleasure to celebrate their contributions to our community,” Smythe said.

The gallery was written and designed by students. Art major Robert Cole took the images that were displayed in the Gallery. They capture some of the personality and values of Jim and Eileen Schenk, along with their work.
Their story is told through the text of the exhibit written by Haley Herchek, a Xavier graduate. The design of the exhibit is by senior Katie Hautman, a graphic design major under the direction of professor Jonathan Gibson, with Sarah Dulle and Abbie Kinnett.

“One of the best parts about the exhibit is the fact that it is student-written, student-photographed and student-designed. It Writeris students telling stories about remarkable for the benefit of other students,” Smythe said.

There are nine panels in the exhibit, which can be seen in Fenwick Place until Fall 2015.

“The Schenks are so inspirational to me and to other Xavier students for the work they’ve done in the Cincinnati community and their commitment to sustainability,” first-year Meghan Schick student said. “Going to the gallery, I got to personally talk to them and I felt connected to Mr. Schenk when he talked about loving the Earth. It’s obvious that he loves the Earth and his family as well.”