Posts in category Newsletter

Katie Ong-Landini: Profile of another Neighbor Who Is Making a Difference

Katie Ong-LandiniWhen Katie and her husband, Michael Landini relocated from Washington, D.C. to the Cleveland area, they found a lovely house on a hill in Lomond. They moved to Shaker because of its reputation as a great community and its access to rapid transit, which Katie used to commute to her job in downtown Cleveland. After growing up in Hudson, Ohio and graduating from Amherst College with a degree in history, Katie spent six years in Washington, D.C. where she worked for the National Alliance of Business and The US Conference of Mayors. In 1994, Katie accepted a job in government affairs for the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, where she worked until her son was born the following year.

While working on infrastructure projects in Cleveland, Katie became interested in and involved with issues related to the sustainability of the environment and serving others. These interests translated into her activities as a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Shaker. As a church member, Katie runs youth ministry, worked with the City to start a church community garden, works with other volunteers to host homeless families for “Family Promise” three times each year, and volunteers for many church activities. Recently, Katie was one of the organizers for the Beating of the Bounds ceremony at Christ Episcopal Church, in which the members of the church, joined by our vice mayor, Rob Zimmerman, blessed the Van Aken-Warrensville redevelopment area, offering prayers for the construction workers, the businesses, the neighborhood residents, the City and the developers as they reconfigure this district.

In 2010 while attending a convention for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, Katie heard the Bishop propose that a camp and retreat center be established where families and young people could learn about growing and preparing food, as well as about protecting the environment for future generations. Katie offered to help. She is now employed as the project director of the Camp and Retreat Ministry for the Diocese which includes 48 northern counties and 86 Episcopal parishes in Ohio. Katie is currently traveling to every parish in the Diocese to raise money for the camp. The Diocese expects to break ground for the camp in Wakeman Township, Huron County in late 2015 or early 2016. The camp will offer experiential learning opportunities on the farm and in the kitchen. In addition to nature study, it will have recreational activities such as swimming in the five acre lake on the property. The Diocese will open the camp to members of the community at large since part of the church’s mission is to serve people outside the church community.

For more information about the camp, please contact Katie at

Good Neighbors and World Citizens: the Simpson-Vlach Family

Simpson-Vlach-Family-v2Even with a family of four (parents, Rita and Alan; children, Andrew (6) and Marguerite (3)) with six pet hens, the Simpson-Vlachs’ “carbon-footprint” is small. Alan bicycles to Laurel School where he teaches mathematics. Rita, an “English as a Second Language” (ESL) teacher at CSU and Tri-C, when feasible, also commutes by bicycle. They even cut their grass with an old-fashioned reel push mower. While being interviewed for this article, Rita was painting a rain barrel to catch water for their garden. The family also composts and grows organic vegetables. In keeping with their wish to be self-sustaining and “green,” they were inspired by an Ann Arbor friend who raises chickens. They commissioned Cleveland Heights artist and carpenter, Tim Riffle, the owner of “Hive and Coop,” to design and construct a state-of-the-art chicken coop for their backyard. Meyer Hatchery supplied them with two Barred Rock hens, two Black Australorps, and two Buff Orpingtons, all winter hardy and good layers. Rita mentioned that when the family was driving home from the hatchery with their newly acquired chicks, Andrew, a preschooler at that time, expressed concern that because chicks have beaks, they would not be able to blow out their birthday candles. Of course Rita picked up on this idea and invited neighbors to the chickens’ first birthday party. The children blew out the candles while the hens happily wandered about the yard pecking at the grass.

Rita Simpson-Vlach with rain barrelAlthough born in Painesville, Rita, the daughter of a military intelligence officer, has lived in
many places in the United States and abroad. After graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in German, Rita spent two years in Thailand with the Peace Corps. Her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan is in linguistics. Alan, who also has lived in a number of different places, received a mathematics Ph.D. from Notre Dame University. When researching where to settle their family, they drew on their broad knowledge. Happily for this community Alan and Rita selected Lomond for its neighborliness and racial diversity. Since moving here Alan and Rita have started the “Weaving Cultures Family Camp” for multiracial families with adopted children such as they have. The proceeds from Rita’s recent neighborhood garage sale will help to support the camp. Lomond is indeed fortunate to have this talented, engaged, and interesting family.

(While being interviewed, Rita mentioned that she has a friend who is willing to conduct a rain barrel workshop for a small fee on top of the cost of a prepped rain barrel. Those interested can contact Rita via email: