Integral Ecology & Sustainability

Sustainability Heroes Gallery

These men and women embody Jesuit ideals. The heroes have dedicated their lives to bettering their environment and communities, two fundamental sustainability values. These local heroes provide the Xavier community with examples of how to make a difference in our region. Students, faculty and staff are fortunate to have an opportunity to learn about their stories and to seek to emulate them. As Merelyn Bates-Mims said, leadership is first about people's stories. We start with stories in this gallery, inspiring ourselves to move to action and commitment.

Spring 2017

Photo of Stan Hedeen

Stan Hedeen, Xavier Professor Emeritus of Ecology 

Creek's Champion

Cincinnati's Degraded Stream

Strides Forward


Interviewer's Reflection

A quote from Stan: " Nothing is sustainable if it is not based on diversity."

Fall 2016

Photo of Ben Urmston

Father Ben Urmston, S.J., Peace and Justice Champion

Founder of Xavier's Peace and Justice Programs, Professor Emeritus

Father Ben Urmston

Humility and Justice

An Economy of Compassion

Promoting Peace and Justice

Interviewer's Reflection

A quote from Father Urmston: "We are either going to learn to live together, or learn to die together."

Spring 2016

Photo of Gerald Checco

Gerald Checco, Director of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati

Sustainability and Solidarity

Listening and Leadership

Citizenship and Beauty

Common Sense Innovation

Interviewer's Reflection

A quote from Gerald: "I don't have the answers; I have the ears."


Spring 2015

Photo of Jim and Eileen Schenk

Jim and Eileen Schenk, Founders of Imago for Earth, Price Hill, Ohio 

Meeting Jim and Eileen

Spirituality and the Earth

Inspiring Change

Founding Imago

Creating the Ecovillage

A Student's Experience

A quote from Jim: "The reality is that the earth is primary."
A quote from Eileen: "We've enjoyed our neighborhood. People haven't moved
here out of necessity - they chose to move here for opportunities, communities, and similar values."

Fall 2015

Photo of Erin and Robert Lockridge

Erin and Robert Lockridge, Owners of Moriah Pie, Norwood, Ohio

What is Moriah Pie?

Community Team Work

Faith and Trust

A Student's Experience

A quote from Robert: "I can be mired by the heaviness of the world, but you have a brightness and a levity and you delight in the midst of the things that are hard, teach me to trust God and let go, and invite me towards sustainability as a person."


Spring 2014

Photo of Dan Korman

Dan Korman, Founder and Owner, Park + Vine General Store, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Shaping of Dan

Sustainable Lifestyle


Dan Korman

Friend and Businessman

A Student's Perspective

A quote from Dan: "My life has been made so much simpler by limiting my choices."

Fall 2014

Photo of Merelyn Bates-Mims

Merelyn Bates-Mims, Social Sustainability Hero, Cincinnati, Ohio

Merelyn's Background

Operating Principle

The Bishop's Task Force on Racial Profiling

Merelyn Bates-Mims

Social Sustainability

A quote from Merelyn: "Put your mind to it to believe all things are possible."


Fall 2013

Photo of Mary Lu Lageman

Mary Lu Lageman, Farm Director at Grailville, Loveland, Ohio

Woman Leader Farmer Teacher

Unconventional Lifestyle

The Grail

Mary Lu Lageman

Balanced Idealism

A quote from Mary Lu: "We live in a world that makes it hard to do the right thing."


Haley Herchek, Biology major, 2014:

"Interviewing Jim and Eileen Schenk has helped solidify my career choice following the completion of my BS in Biology from Xavier University. Previously, I had intended to pursue medical school with this degree, but my experiences with Jim and Eileen have guided me into a more preventative field. I hope to attain a Masters in Public Health, which will allow me to change food policy, so that more humans can reconnect with the planet."

Katie Hautman, Graphic Design major:

"Being able to dive into and learn about just a piece of these heroes' lives has impacted me tremendously. I have learned that, with dedication and a little patience, anyone can become just like these heroes. They are normal everyday people; just like you and me, but instead of doing what's expected they directed their lives towards service and sustainability."

Chelsea Rodstrom, Political Science major, 2013:

"If I gained one thing from this interview, it is this advice: "let your passions lead you" and Mary Lu encouraged me to do the same. Most grateful for these words, I told her how I had been struggling with some of the same things she seemed to have been struggling with years ago. It's sort of weird and funny but this was a unique experience because it was exactly what I needed-this reassurance and encouragement-at this exact moment in my life."

Michael Murray, Economics and Economics, Sustainability and Society major, 2015:

"My greatest takeaway from meeting with Dan is in how many areas he seeks to make himself an expert. He is not only a green advocate; for Dan that's not enough. He's made himself a savvy businessman, has developed a keen eye for marketing, and created a hub of community engagement."

Joseph Caputi, History major, 2015:

"My experience with Erin and Robert changed the way I interact with the earth. They strive to respect and remember the soil, the animals, and all living people around the world. I still cannot fathom the risks they take each day with Moriah Pie, their food crops, and their lives. The enthusiasm and love they put into all their work pushes me to become more involved in what I am doing, pursue each task to find God's love, and give gratitude to the earth and everyone in it each and every day."

Mark Anliker, Economics, Sustainability and Society; Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP); and Economics major, 2016:

"As my own entry into the workforce looms just on the horizon (hopefully), I know I will not be able to forget Gerald's story. Gerald taught me that you cannot measure a career in paychecks and that the worst way to live your life is to be unable to take pride in what you do. Most importantly, he taught me that it is never too late to starting being who you want to be. Interviewer's Reflection."



Kathleen Smythe advises student interviewers

Jonathan Gibson advises student designers and photographs the exhibit

Smythe says: "The Heroes Gallery tells the stories of Cincinnati's sustainability heroes through the eyes of Xavier students and faculty. 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. Welcome to this page and to our next Opening!

Gibson says: "I photograph a lot of people: seniors, babies, couples, and families. When I first meet them what stands out is how immediate their inner strength and motives are. Some people take a while to warm up to the camera. These heroes, on the other hand face you with a kind of confidence that I can only imagine comes from years of doing what they know to be the right thing and often when they were the only ones."

"I have great respect for them and their commitment to changing the world, not overnight, but through a lifetime of small choices and actions. To be perfect is too lofty of a goal, but I can look at Dan or Merelyn and say, "I can try to be like them. That is attainable." They give us a human example that is determined, caring, and quietly monumental."