City Hacks

. January 28, 2015.


Everyone wants to know how to do something faster, better, more efficiently. And sometimes there are little good-to-know tricks—“hacks”—that make essential day-to-day living that much better (or even cheaper!). Whether you want to travel, get a new ‘do, or get rid of all the old stuff in your garage, here are a few tips to make 2015 your year to get things done.

by Kelly Thompson and Athena Cocoves
Illustrations by Athena Cocoves and Imani Lateef


Get a passport or renew your old one

Apply for a new passport with form DS-11, online at You may also apply in person at the County Clerk’s offices in downtown Toledo (1600 Madison Ave., next to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles), Maumee (4456 Heatherdowns Blvd.), Sylvania (4900 McCord Rd.) and Oregon (3034 Navarre Ave.). These offices provide photo services as well.

A passport application takes approximately 4-6 weeks to process, but plan ahead! If you’ve already booked tickets for a honeymoon and haven’t allowed at least 8 weeks for processing, you may want to request expedited processing when you apply, which can speed the process up to 3 weeks (requested by mail) or even 8 days (requested in-person). New standard passports cost $135; standard renewals are $110, with a $60 fee for expedited services.

A passport photo has to be 2×2 in size and full-color. No uniforms, hats, wigs or nonprescription glasses are allowed. If you wear glasses all the time, you should wear them in the photo. Have the photo taken at one of the offices listed above, as they’re aware of the specs. Selfies are a no-go.

Travel for less

By bus: The TARTA bus system and CALL-A-RIDE (also by TARTA) both offer one-way fares for $1 or 1 token for adults. Children under 6 years ride for free, and seniors 55+ are eligible for additional discounts. Monthly passes are $40, and available at select locations in the city, such as Monroe Pharmacy (4122 Monroe St.) and the Madison branch of PNC Bank (405 Madison Ave.). CALL-A-RIDE services Maumee, Sylvania and Sylvania Township, Ottawa Hills, Rossford and Waterville. See for comprehensive schedules and pass details.

By megabus: Perhaps the cheapest of all out-of-state travel options, Toledo is lucky to be one of only four cities in Ohio to have Megabus service (Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland are the others). Even if you’re planning to travel on the weekend, round-trip prices are extremely reasonable, especially if you’re okay with a red-eye departure. Free wi-fi is included.

(As ofJanuary 2015):

  • Chicago – $50
  • Cleveland – $20
  • New York City – $60
  • State College, PA (home of Penn State) – $40

Note: Most trips depart from the University of Toledo Scott Park Campus, and times vary. See for schedules and more info.

By train: Toledo’s AMTRAK station is a launch for passengers, whether for work or play. The station is serviced by many routes, and if you plan in advance, you can find round-trip fares for $80 to Chicago and $70 to Pittsburgh. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, 415 Emerald Ave.



Get involved or use a community garden

(Take the concrete out of the jungle)

With nearly 200 community gardens in the area, it is very likely you have driven by a patch of cultivated land and wondered how to get involved. Even surrounded by concrete, Toledo has options to let your produce dream bloom while feeding the hungry, beautifying neighborhoods and bringing the community together.

For those looking to get their hands dirty, roll up your sleeves and contact Toledo GROWS (, a community gardening outreach program through the Toledo Botanical Gardens, for info on local gardens to your home.

Some gardens, like The University Church (TUC) Garden (, offer single plots for $20 a season, providing the chance for solo gardening—a patch of paradise, yours to tend to through the season.

Many gardens have volunteer-staff plots that are tended by many. This is a great way to learn and help out without overcommitting.

If you want to support the community without the dirty work, volunteer with TUC Garden’s hunger-outreach programming in partnership with Food for Thought ( Drivers for mobile pantries deliver fresh and healthy produce.

Those without time to volunteer can still actively support community gardens. Buying local produce helps raise funds, encourages youth involved in the programs and sends you home with a better tasting product. Check out the Toledo Farmer’s Market ( or the Toledo GROWs Market Stand (900 Oneida St.), 11am-3pm Thursdays.

Download books/media from the library

Toledo-Lucas County Public Library can help you enjoy library services from the comfort of home with the eMedia collection. eBooks, audiobooks, music, videos and eMagazines are available for free download for members. Go to to search 12 different databases. A helpful chart shows you services available for your computer, tablet or smartphone. Free eMedia classes at branch locations can streamline the process by answering questions and offering tips.


Fund your next project

Have a project, startup or idea, but just need a little green? Sure, there are crowdfunding options (i.e. Indiegogo, GoFundMe), but locally, there are a fewl ways to capitalize on your brilliance, too.

For community or nonprofit projects, Toledo SOUP is one way to present your idea to community members and, with a strong proposal and a little planning, you could win the funds to make your ideas a reality. Toledo SOUP is a nonprofit grant organization that holds quarterly events, with proposals accepted between events (see for more details). Presenters are chosen in advance, and the winner of the grant money is determined by audience vote.

Organizations such as Northwest Ohio SCORE ( and the Small Business Development Center ( make the task of starting a new business a little easier.

Become an artist (without starving)

So you have some work you’re really proud of. When your painting style becomes clear, or you have crafted items to peddle, give your future career as a famous artisan a jump start:

Handmade Toledo (1717 Adams St.) feels like a real-life Etsy. The Maker Shoppe is stocked with locally made items from a variety of medias. Check out the online call for vendors at

Beads & Books (4925 Dorr St.) is on the lookout for local jewelers and beaders to sell or show work in the store. Contact the shop at or 419-350-1087.

Lighthouse Landing Art, Antique and Craft Mall (4441 N. Summit St.) is an eclectic space that carries both new and older items. Those interested in booth space can visit for info.

The Arts Commission’s Online Call for Artists keeps a fantastic listing of local opportunities, where you can display your art in galleries, enter juried exhibitions and find studio spaces. This is the perfect place to start to get your work and name out in the community. (See

Sell unwanted items

So you want to take your internet sale game to the next level and avoid the typical Craigslist and eBay route. There are a few dozen groups on Facebook dedicated to helping Toledoans buy, sell and trade items. Not on the ‘book? Replay of Toledo has two locations to help you unload the media items collecting dust on your shelf, and Music Go Round (4119 Talmadge Rd.) also accepts used instruments. Allied Record Exchange can offload your entertainment items at three locations. Plato’s Closet’s two locations can help you unpack your closet.

Find fitness for $10 or less

Can’t afford a gym membership? Not to worry. We found several resources for the fitness guru on a budget:

Metropark programs Get some fresh air before spring with classes and events at area metroparks. The Full Moon Walk ($3) at Swan Creek Preserve Metropark (4659 Airport Hwy.) 6:30pm, Tuesday, February 3, or Second Sunday Skills at Oak Openings (4139 Girdham Rd., Swanton), 1:30pm, Sunday, February 8. See for full schedules and info.

Meditation: Learn the art of inward thinking at Glass City Dharma (137 Michigan Ave.), 7:30-9pm Wednesday evenings. All sessions are pay-what-you-can.

Low-cost yoga:

  • Integration Yoga With Jen (location varies), first class is free. Jen is open to bartering for things like office work, cleaning services, homemade food or professional massage. See for details.
  • Illuma Studio (135 N. Michigan St.), $8/drop-in
  • Bikram Yoga (5107 Monroe St.), $10/Friday evenings


Get pampered for cheap

Frugal fashionistas often opt to stay chic with DIY treatments, but Toledo’s cosmetology schools offer full-service salon menus at prices below traditional salons. Put down the coconut oil and let students take over for you—you’ll save money and students will demonstrate their knowledge while you contribute to the their education as a willing guinea pig.

Stop by Summit Salon Academy of Perrysburg (116 W. S. Boundary St.) before a date and freshen up with a quick shampoo and style or a conditioning treatment for $6 and make-up for $10.

Toni & Guy Academy (3034 Wilford Dr.) caters to gentlemen every Tuesday with a free haircut.

Toledo Academy of Beauty Culture (3341 Navarre Ave.) specializes in basic services $10 and under, including manicures, trims and blow dry and styles. Skin and spa services are extensive; feel royal with a Luxury European Facial for $25.

Regency Beauty Institute (1554 Spring Meadows Dr.) will give you a quick thermal style for $3, hair relaxers starting at $30, and $35 mini spa packages including a facial, shampoo, style and makeup.

Paul Mitchell Beauty Schools (5549 Monroe St.) have student price tiering, giving intro and advanced students opportunities to learn. Perms and chemical relaxers at $30-$35. Put your best hand forward with manicures at $5/$8.