The Next Louisville The Next Louisville project is a collaboration between WFPL News and the Community Foundation of Louisville, exploring issues of race, ethnicity, and culture in our city.
The Next Louisville

The Next Louisville

From 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

The Next Louisville project is a collaboration between WFPL News and the Community Foundation of Louisville, exploring issues of race, ethnicity, and culture in our city.More from The Next Louisville »

Most Recent Episodes

The Next Louisville: A Conversation With Louisville Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds

For the latest installment of The Next Louisville — a partnership with the Community Foundation of Louisville — Louisville Public Media Interim President Stephen George interviewed Louisville Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds. The event was held in early May before a live audience in our studios. Reynolds spoke about a recent report released by the Urban League called "The State of Black Louisville."

The Next Louisville: A Conversation With Louisville Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds

The Next Louisville: Why West Louisville's Poverty Doesn't Define It

Several of Louisville's poorest neighborhoods are marked by concentrated poverty, created by factors like low income, few jobs, poor education and bad health. This means many residents are stuck in places like Russell and Portland. But others choose to stay.

The Next Louisville: When Bus Routes Determine Job Prospects

Public transit can be a desirable, and affordable, commute option for city dwellers without cars. But in Louisville, taking a bus often means making a significant time investment. And experts and observers say a lack of extensive transit options can keep people from job opportunities.

The Next Louisville: The Role Of Churches In Struggling Communities

For generations, houses of worship across all denominations have played a prominent role in helping those in need in struggling neighborhoods and beyond. Sean Cannon | wfpl.org The Next Louisville: Poverty & Progress That not only includes providing food, clothing and shelter, but offering programs that address the underlying issues that contribute to social problems such as violence and drug abuse. Government leaders, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, have been calling on religious groups to take a more prominent role in battling these problems. In this installment of the Next Louisville: Poverty and Progress, I visited some neighborhood church groups to talk about the challenges they face, and some of their success stories.

The Next Louisville: Redlining's Complicated Legacy

Like most American cities, Louisville's neighborhoods have been shaped by the past century of housing policies. And those policies have helped accentuate economic divides, creating today's map of economic inequality. That's examined nationally in "The Color of Law" by Richard Rothstein — a comprehensive look at government-guided segregation across America. In the book, Rothstein lists example after example of the ways federal, state and local government enacted policies that dictated where African-American people lived, and the ways their families were allowed to accrue wealth. Sean Cannon | wfpl.org The Next Louisville: Poverty & Progress Last year, Louisvillereleased an interactive map showing the redlining created by the Home Owner's Loan Corporation that guided home loans in the 1930s. The maps also show how those policies have resulted in today's segregated neighborhoods, and the clusters of concentrated poverty in some parts of West Louisville. Related Story [ Here's How You Can Help Address Louisville's Legacy Of Racist Housing Policies ](https://wfpl.org/city-takes-steps-to-examine-effects-of-redlining/) On Monday, Rothstein will speak about redlining and his book at 7:00 p.m. at Crescent Hill Baptist Church. It's part of Empower West's city-wide book read. The group is a coalition of Louisville pastors and churches, focused on empowering the city's West End. I sat down separately with three of the pastors involved in Empower West — Joe Phelps of Highland Baptist Church, Erica Whitaker of Buechel Park Baptist Church and F. Bruce Williams of Bates Memorial Baptist Church — to talk about the book and the legacy of redlining in Louisville. Listen in the player above, or read below. Erica Whitaker: Redlining is a government action of segregating and drawing literal and figurative lines to separate black and white people in different neighborhoods. Joe Phelps: Rothstein builds case upon case to illustrate how local, state and federal governments worked to really keep black people out of certain areas and force them into certain areas. F. Bruce Williams: I think what African-American people will say is "We've been telling you this all along." EW: As I read page to page, I just feel kind of this deep anger, towards what has taken place relatively not so long ago. FBW: I think every person of color who's reasonably awake knows intuitively that's the case because of experiences they may have. For example, trying to get a loan for a house and not being able to get the loan. JP: Back in the 30s and 40s when the redline maps were drawn, west Louisville was carved out as a less desirable place. They were having trouble with flooding, this was after the flood, and that was also where the industry was, so let's put the black people there. EW: Something that I read in the book was understanding kind of the GI bill and the New Deal and how that was only for the white Americans. The American Dream was only offered to whites. FBW: You can't fix what you don't face. EW: And the GI bill benefited my white great-grandfather, coming back from war. He was given an opportunity to buy a home. But those black men who fought alongside him were not given the opportunity to buy a home, because the GI Bill was not offered to them. FBW: And it's so nefarious, it's so diabolical how systemic it is and how tightly it has been woven throughout the fabric of our country and community. If you're not careful, it can be overwhelming. JP: We've blamed black people for poverty. When the reality is if we're going to do any blaming it needs to be against the agencies and the white institutions that took money from them essentially and have kept them in the position that they're in now of being impoverished. EW: We put a lot of pressure on the black community, on African-Americans to help teach us and to come out of our own kind of embedded racism. But we have to put forth more effort, as white Americans, to learn this on our own. FBW: That mentality is, "You need to do something because I'm not a part of the problem." And the typical, often white response is, "Well, whether it was my ancestors or not, I wasn't here, I wasn't responsible for setting up the system." That's true. But you benefit from the system. JP: Maybe my government had some beneficial or kind reasons or logical reasons for doing what they did. Nonetheless, what they did has adversely affected black America. And I, as a white person realize that I am a person who got privilege as a result of what was taken from black people. FBW: So you have a responsibility now, if you disagree with the unholy arrangement, then you can't just call on people who are victimized by the system to be the solution. A large part of the solution is the people who have influence and power and who benefit. What that requires then, is that people give up privilege, which is difficult. EW: We often say, "Oh that's in the past." But it really is a fresh history that we can find solutions for today. JP: I'm hopeful that our mayor will take some bold action and will come out with an executive order that tries in some way to repair the damage done. FBW: It has nothing to do with resources or the skill set to be able to pull it off. It has to do with the will of the city. The city does not have the will to do it. And the city won't admit that that's it. They want to say "We tried this, we tried that." But it's not a priority to the city. If it were, it would be done. JP: Is there a piece of property in West Louisville that's owned by the city that could be returned to people in West Louisville in such a way that it would empower the people in West Louisville to gain wealth and gain their own sense of power. FBW: Case in point. I've been here long enough in Louisville to remember what the riverfront and what downtown used to look like. It was terrible. The city decided, that's got to change. There was nothing easy about that. They did not stop until what they wanted to do was done. It had nothing to do with resources. Where there were no resources, they found them. JP: So I think there is a call for people, especially people of faith, to repair the damage that's been done. EW: For too long, white people have been apathetic. JP: I think it's gotta start one person at a time, one community at a time, one faith group at a time. And I think, one city at a time FBW: It's the equivalent of thinking, because I don't live in that community, it doesn't affect me. That would be like being in first class in a plane, and a fire catches on in coach. And you think 'That's in coach'...if coach goes down, the whole plane goes down. Well, that's true about the West End. We're all connected. Empower West's City-Wide Book Read, featuring author Richard Rothstein, will be Monday, February 12 at Crescent Hill Baptist Church. The Next Louisville project is a collaboration between WFPL News and the Community Foundation of Louisville. For more work from the project, click here. Listen to Redlining's Complicated Legacy

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Promises To Address City's Trash Problem

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Wednesday that he will unveil a new city-wide cleanliness initiative this spring that he hopes will address disparities in litter problems. In an interview Wednesday, Fischer said an assessment is already underway using city data, social media and community input to determine areas that need "concentrated help" to be more "clean and green." "Cleanliness sets the tone for a city," he said. "It's an emphasis for every part of the city to be clean." The announcement follows a WFPL story that found areas plagued most by trash often lack public trash bins. A review of city data showed that 73 percent of all trash-related complaints reported to the city's MetroCall 311 service last year were not within one block of a trash can. And 41 percent of those locations had no trash bin within two blocks. Many of these areas are home to the city's poorest residents. Some said they feel neglected by city leaders who'd rather invest resources in tourist hotspots than neighborhoods. "They don't care about poor people," said Mandy Cissell. Jacob Ryan Sharon Cissell (right) stands on her porch with Mandy Cissell (center) and William Cissell (left). She lives in the Taylor Berry neighborhood, where 91 percent of 340 trash-related problems reported last year were not within one block of a city trash bin, data show. Fischer said reviewing the location of public trash bins as it relates to trash complaints "is an important data point," but he wasn't sure if that's part of the process underway now. "If it's not being done, it will be done," he said. "These are all good questions." Fischer said his administration is "looking at all the data that has to do with being clean and being green and developing ways to be cleaner and greener." 'Cleanliness Index' measure underway The city's public works department has been assessing cleanliness issues since early 2016, said Pete Flood, the department's compliance and enforcement manager. City crews have been partnering with residents in the Shelby Park and Smoketown neighborhoods to scour the streets and alleys and come up with a "cleanliness index," he said. The index is based, largely, on observation — not existing data, he said. The efforts in Shelby Park and Smoketown will serve as a pilot for Fischer's citywide initiative, Flood said. Sean Cannon | wfpl.org The Next Louisville: Poverty & Progress Crews soon will begin to implement specific initiatives in these neighborhoods in hopes of reducing trash and bettering the index, he said. Options include more trash bins in residential areas, providing residents with larger waste containers for curbside pick-up and reworking collection schedules, Flood said. "We feel like we are onto something," Flood said. Currently, the city is responsible for 980 public trash bins across the city, according to data provided by city officials. A majority of the bins are clustered in downtown, near Slugger Field, around Churchill Downs and along other pedestrian thoroughfares. But some areas have none — like a stretch of 26th Street in Russell where residents complained more than 30 times last year about trash. In all, city officials received nearly 6,000 reports of trash last year in the Urban Services District, data shows. More than 400 were repeat reports. Skepticism Remains About Fixes While city officials are considering more trash cans to quell the issue, some neighborhood leaders are skeptical it's the needed fix. Louisville Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton has mixed feelings about adding more trash cans in neighborhoods — they're needed, she said, but are not a panacea. She represents District 5, which includes Shawnee, Portland and parts of Russell, home to hundreds of residents' trash complaints. Hamilton in the past has used her limited discretionary funding to purchase trash cans for her district. She said she'd do it again, if the constituents want more trash bins — but she thinks the Public Works department should foot the bill, not council members. "It's their responsibility," she said. Trash bins alone, won't stop the litter, she said, so putting a trash bin on every corner isn't necessary. "A lot of that is a personal responsibility of people," she said. "There's not the mindset to throw it away." Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org Trash litters an alley near Berry Blvd. Councilwoman Marianne Butler, who represents District 15, which includes the Taylor Berry neighborhood, said trash cans don't stop trash from spreading across city streets. Butler has used her discretionary funding to purchase trash bins, she said, but they were stolen shortly after. The cans she purchased were temporary; permanent metal cans are also an option for council members. Butler said she's conducted regular litter pick-ups, too, only to see the trash return days later. "I can't tell you why, human nature is like that," she said. Kelly Kinahan, assistant professor of urban and public affairs at the University of Louisville, said the responsibility to keep neighborhoods clean falls on residents and local government. Government should provide the infrastructure, like trash bins, and people should help minimize the build-up of trash in their neighborhood, she said. For instance, she said residents can organize community-wide litter pick-ups in problem areas. "The appearance of litter and trash within their neighborhood is detrimental to the quality of life of the residents that live there," she said. "Thus, there is a collective responsibility." The Next Louisville project is a collaboration between WFPL News and the Community Foundation of Louisville. For more work from the project, click here. Download the audio for this story.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Promises To Address City's Trash Problem

The Next Louisville: What Trash Cans Tell Us About Poverty In Louisville

Sharon Cissell squints her eyes and points out to the street. From her porch, she can see just beyond the curb, where a needle lies next to a discarded paper cup. The needle's bright orange cap is an unmistakable, yet unremarkable, sight in the Taylor Berry neighborhood, just west of Churchill Downs. Jacob Ryan Sharon Cissell (right) stands on her porch with Mandy Cissell (center) and William Cissell (left). Cissell said the needles can be found along sidewalks, in yards and down alleys — a common piece of litter in a neighborhood besieged by trash. "If it looked better, it might make a difference," she said. Cissell worries the neighborhood's physical state welcomes the addicts and small-time crooks that plague the litter-filled streets. She's complained, along with many of her neighbors, but still, the issue persists. City data show residents in Taylor Berry report instances of litter at one of the highest rates in the city. Though city officials have closed nearly all of the complaint cases, the trash remains. A review of city trash bin locations shows that, in 91 percent of the 340 complaints in Taylor Berry, there's no public trash can on the block. This isn't unique to Taylor Berry. Across the city, data show trash piles up in parts of town with the fewest public trash cans. In fact, 73 percent of all trash complaints reported to the city's MetroCall 311 service are not within one block of a trash can, the data show. And 41 percent of those locations had no trash bin within two blocks. Cissell said the absence of trash bins sends a message: her street just isn't a priority like those in the growing downtown Central Business District, with 110 trash bins per mile — 101 more than her neighborhood. Alexandra Kanik | wfpl.org More Trash Cans in Tourist Areas The city has scattered 980 public trash bins across Louisville, according to data provided by city officials. The metal trash cans provided by the city's Public Works department typically cost between $600 and $1,200 to buy and install, city records show. Harold Adams, a spokesman for the city's Public Works department, provided a map of public trash bins, but did not respond to multiple requests for follow-up interviews. Therefore, it's unclear who decides where to put trash bins or how it's done or if city agencies are considering ways to address the issue. Louisville Metro Council records show some council members can designate trash cans for their districts, but they must use limited discretionary funds to do so. Most public trash cans are clustered in downtown, along Central Avenue near Churchill Downs, up and down Bardstown Road, in NuLu and near Slugger Field — all pedestrian hot spots where tourists often congregate. City crews periodically empty the cans and the waste ends up in the landfill, instead of littered along roads and neighborhoods. But in some areas, there are none. On a 12-block stretch along 26th Street in the Russell neighborhood, a person walking from Duncan Street to Muhammad Ali Boulevard wouldn't pass a single trash bin. Residents complained about that stretch 31 times last year, data show. Last year, city officials received nearly 6,000 reports of trash in the Urban Services District, data show. More than 400 of those calls were repeats. More than 35 percent of all trash complaints came from five neighborhoods: Taylor Berry, Portland, Shawnee, Old Louisville and Russell. These neighborhoods are some of the city's most historic. They're also home to many of the city's poorest residents. Ruth Daniels has lived in Russell for more than three decades. She notices the trash, and she notices the lack of trash bins. "It's the same message they've been sending us for the last 20 years," Daniels said. "'We don't care about that part of town.'" Alexandra Kanik | wfpl.org 'If the people here don't care, why should I?' A dirty and dangerous environment can heighten stress levels and shrink individual aspirations, said Daniel DeCaro, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at University of Louisville. When local government neglects the needs of a neighborhood, the effect can be broadly demoralizing, DeCaro said. "That, alone, can have a very bad effect on psychological coping," he said. Trash is just one of the complex issues that face the city's most struggling neighborhoods, but addressing the litter could have a big impact, said DeCaro. He mentions the broken windows theory, first coined by criminologists George Kelling and James Wilson in a 1982 article in The Atlantic. They argued that small signs of disorder — like a broken window — lead to bigger, more serious criminal problems. Policing models based on the broken windows theory have been problematic and led to discriminatory practices, but DeCaro said the base theory about the neighborhood impact seems to hold up otherwise. DeCaro also points out a 1990 study by psychologist Robert Cialdini in which paper handbills were placed on the windshield of vehicles in a parking garage. In one instance, the garage was cleaned of debris and trash. In another, the garage was heavily littered. The results were just as Cialdini and his team anticipated. People were more likely to toss the handbills to the ground in the littered garage, as opposed to the clean garage. DeCaro said people pay subtle attention to their social environment — "and then we infer assumptions about the people living there and our relationship with it." Haven Harrington, who lives in Russell, also points to the "broken window" theory when discussing the scourge of trash in the neighborhood. "People tend to want to disrespect your neighborhood more when they see trash everywhere," said Harrington, a past president of the Russell Neighborhood Association. "They think, well, if the people here don't care, why should I?" But data show the residents have asked for help. Residents in Metro Council District 5, which encompasses Russell, Portland and Shawnee, report trash at one of the highest rates in the city. Harrington said more trash cans are sorely needed, at least on major thoroughfares or every other corner. "The biggest thing is, about aesthetics, to the outside visitor, it makes it seem like you care about everybody," he said. "That says a lot about you as a community and you as a city." The Next Louisville Cissell, the Taylor Berry resident, said she wanted to buy the small home she rents now. It was a good deal and she hoped the residential neighborhood would be a nice place to raise her family. But the crime keeps coming and the trash piles up. Her garage gets busted into weekly, and food wrappers and glass bottles fill her yard. She once lived in Crescent Hill, east of downtown and home to historic Frankfort Avenue, trendy shops and Reservoir Park. It was clean, she said, and everyone seemed to want to keep it that way. Here, in Taylor Berry, city crews also often miss her house on scheduled trash pick-up routes, she said. Cracking down on litter seems unlikely. "You see trees and bushes planted downtown everywhere, but where are they here?" she asked. "You don't see nothing nice here." The Next Louisville project is a collaboration between WFPL News and the Community Foundation of Louisville. For more work from the project, click here. Listen to What Trash Cans Tell Us About Poverty In Louisville.

The Next Louisville: What Trash Cans Tell Us About Poverty In Louisville

The Next Louisville: Parity On The Playground

Phyllis Atiba Brown is in the kitchen of the Spradling Urban Development Center in Smoketown; a small, concrete daycare facility decorated with wooden cut-outs of "Rugrats" characters and animal posters. She's making trays of macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders for the dozen or so kids who are staying late into the evening. They're here as part of a new program called "Smoketown Synergy." "We started it last year when the Presbyterian Community Center was sold to the board of education and we kept getting the runaround about who was going to do what and where our kids were going to meet," Brown says. "We decided to open the building in the evenings so that the children would have somewhere to go." Brown says when she was a kid growing up in Smoketown in the 1960s that wasn't really a problem. "You could go out your door, go to the playground, playing," Brown says. "You didn't have to worry about strangers and danger." But a lack of accessible, safe playground and park space is the reality in the neighborhood despite new housing developments. J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org Some of the open green space Brown mentions. The area used to be home to the Sheppard Square public housing complex, which had a lot of problems — but Brown says one thing the old 'projects' did have was several playgrounds. "They almost had a playground every other block where kids could congregate, play on the swings, had open fields for ballgames and those kind of things," she says. Now, there's a brand new mixed-income development on the site. It's an improvement in many ways, but Brown says while there's a lot of open green space, it's not necessarily being used by neighborhood kids. "There are many homeless people," she says. "We have maybe three or four transition houses in this area and they put them out at a certain time and they have to be out until it is time to come back. They literally walk the streets and a lot of times they take up residence in the open space that the children are supposed to have to play in." The city announced that there will be a new "pocket park" developed on a former vacant lot in the neighborhood. Initiatives like this are great for increasing green space, which has many benefits — but it doesn't address Brown's concern about playgrounds. And the closest large park to Smoketown is Shelby Park, which is a nearly 20-minute walk, so it's not really a viable option for younger neighborhood children. J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org The slide at Ballard Park. "They have one other park on Caldwell Street called Ballard Park, but it's not really equipped to hold many," she says. "I think it has maybe three swings and a slide, half of a basketball court — so that's about all we have in the Smoketown neighborhood." Louisville's Parks Problem Louisville is a city that prides itself on its parks, and when you visit many neighborhood parks, you totally understand why. But when you start taking a look at parks all over the city — not just the big ones like Seneca and Cherokee — there are obvious correlations between neighborhood income, and park quality and access. There are a lot of factors at play, but wealthier neighborhoods tend to have more parks (and more park updates), while poorer neighborhoods have fewer parks, many of which need maintenance. Sean Cannon | wfpl.org The Next Louisville: Poverty & Progress This is the case in the city's highest areas of concentrated poverty, in places like Portland, Russell and Smoketown. And for some — like Phyllis Brown and the kids in her Smoketown daycare — it can almost feel like you live in a completely different city from the residents who really love their neighborhood parks. National nonprofit Trust for Public Land has identified some areas in which Louisville falls short. Charlie McCabe works for the organization's Center for City Park Excellence. "The Trust for Public Lands scores city parks systems on several factors, including park acreage, a city's per capita spending on parks, and the percentage of a population that lives within a 10-minute walk of a park," McCabe says. This past year, Louisville was ranked 96 out of the 100 largest cities based on its "ParkScore." The low rating is based on, among other things, playground availability and park access. "And the biggest challenge that you have is really in spending per resident," McCabe says. "What we do is look at all the spending of public agencies and we look at a three-year average. The spending per resident is about $50 per resident which is much lower than say, the highest — Minneapolis — at over $200 per resident." These figures don't factor in spending by the nonprofit parks sector (more on that in a bit) but this tight budget limits what Louisville can spend on park projects and maintenance. 'Beggars can't be choosers' The lack of resources is evident to Danny Seim, especially at Boone Square Park. "This one is the one we come to most often," Seim says, parking alongside the small Portland neighborhood park. "I live about two blocks over there. I mean, not to sound like a hero, but we try to come here with our trash bag once a week as our kid plays..." He trails off, gesturing to a few windblown Grippo's bags in the play area. J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org The playground at Boone Square Park. Seim moved to Louisville's Portland neighborhood about a year ago with his wife and their toddler. He says there are some great parks in the community, like Lannan Park, which recently got a makeover. But Boone Square Park needs some work. "Beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure that my 3-year-old doesn't recognize that there's no 80-foot zip line here or anything," Seim says. "But there are some areas where, you know, instead of repairing the railing they just conveniently tried to hide it with shoe-goo and paint, it looks like." He taps his hand on one of the metal railings. "This was once a corkscrew slide, I'm imagining," he says. "Looks like a kid's crib was slapped in here to keep kids from thinking there's a slide." As he's driving away from the park, Seim says it's not just about the trash or the outdated equipment. He says the facility also borders on filthy at times, and safety is a concern. J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org The picnic area at Boone Square in Portland. "That bathroom in particular is rough," Seim says. "Multiple times people have been sleeping in the overhang. And it's not like we've never seen a homeless person before, but they're pretty obviously coming down from something, some substance. They are kind of being belligerent." Parks Department Feels Tight Budget, Too Like Seim, Louisville Metro Parks Department officials say they also feel the effects of a tight budget, especially spread out over the entire city. "Total, we say we have roughly 138 playgrounds," says deputy parks and recreation director Marty Storch. "But in reality, we have about 180 play areas." These play areas, he says, range in size and amenities. Some are just a swing set and a slide, others are much larger. Storch says there is routine maintenance scheduled for both the parks and playgrounds, and about six years ago, the parks department formed a dedicated "playground crew" to focus solely on basic playground inspections. "And you could tell it made a difference because complaints started to ease down some," Storch says. Now, there are 10 different routes through the city that the crew monitors; ideally, every playground in the city will be inspected every two to four weeks. That takes care of basic safety and maintenance, but it doesn't solve some of the equipment problems. "If money was no object you would try to replace playgrounds, you know, every 10 to 15 years — but that can be quite expensive, obviously, doing something of that nature," Storch says. "So we kind of do the best we can." Storch says they keep a running list of the play facilities throughout the metro area that are in need of updates and try to budget accordingly. But in some parks, the money that could be spent on new equipment instead goes to something else: vandalism. The Cost of Vandalism Louisville parks have an average of about 100 vandalism reports each year, with repair costs soaring over $100,000 some years. "The vandalism that gives me the greatest heartburn, gives my team the greatest heartburn, is the senseless tearing up a property that doesn't belong to them," Storch says. "These are community assets, whether it is a shelter, a restroom." Another problem is litter, especially in higher-trafficked parks all across the city. In June, recording artist and Louisville native Bryson Tiller partnered with Nike to renovate basketball courts in South Louisville's Wyandotte Park. People lined the new facilities screaming for Tiller and taking photos of the courts. Kyeland Jackson | wfpl.org Wyandotte Park basketball players with Bryson Tiller. "Every time I'm in Louisville, I just drive past — just drive past on Taylor Boulevard and I used to just see that court and say, 'that just looks terrible,' Tiller said at the dedication. "I never thought this day would come and I can't believe it's finally here." But less than a week later, Louisville activist Christopher 2X posted a photo on social media showing torn nets and trash around the courts. Storch says this problem is totally preventable. "Litter is one social issue that we ought to be able to overcome because we have garbage cans and people can put the trash in the container," he says. But there are success stories, too. One is Victory Park in the California neighborhood. Over the summer, the park received a million-dollar investment for a complete redesign that includes a new basketball court, walking course, open fields, trees and new lighting for nighttime security. The funding came from Louisville Metro government, private donations and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy. The conservancy is a nonprofit dedicated to raising money for the 18 Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks in the city, and this partnership is one way Metro Parks stretches its budget. Olmsted Parks Conservancy Plans for the new $1 million Victory Park project. Liz DeHart is the conservancy's marketing director. "We work together on determining projects that are needed in the parks and then the conservancy will raise funds from a private citizen and foundations and then Metro Parks will match those," DeHart says. "Or we work together to go in 50 percent on a project in order to make sure that the project can be taken care of." Victory Park is an example of this; the million dollar investment was pretty much a 50/50 split, though the parks department takes care of all routine maintenance. But DeHart says the nonprofit also feels the effect of limited resources. She points to Elliot Square Park in the Russell neighborhood. "It has some great needs to it," she says. "Right now we don't have the funds, but we will work with the neighbors and the council members to make sure we can beautify the park." Links Between Parks Access and Child Development Disparities exist among Louisville's public parks — big ones — and part of why that matters are the long-term effects that no access to parks can have on kids. The American Association of Pediatrics has released several comprehensive studies about the importance of play in promoting healthy child development. Dr. Chris Renjilian is a Philadelphia-based pediatrician who took those findings seriously. His hospital partnered with the parks department of Philadelphia to create a new program called Nature Rx, which encourages doctors to prescribe unstructured outdoor playtime. "There are probably reams of studies and papers that show these benefits, but I'll summarize them for you," Renjilian says. Renjilian says the first benefit of outdoor play is physical health. Studies have shown that kids who have more access to outdoor play space are more likely to develop active lifestyles, which can lead to them becoming healthier adults. The second is developmental health. "That includes motor skills, problem-solving, things like self-control," he says. "When kids play outside, with each other or with their families, they also develop skills in communication and negotiation with those other people." Renjilian says another major benefit is that children who spend more time outdoors have better mental health outcomes. "It's clear they experience less stress," he says. "They also have improvement in their moods, their attention and their behavior." Renjilian says a child's access to safe outdoor play spaces can help start them on the path to becoming socially-adept healthy adults. The kind of people that will make positive contributions to a community. Current Initiatives So, how can Louisville increase access to and the quality of parks across the board? There are already some initiatives in place. A big one is Waterfront Park West, a planned 22-acre expansion west of 10th Street. That will increase access to park land for many Louisvillians in the city's western neighborhoods. The Waterfront Park master plan was approved by Metro Council in 2015, and the city allocated $950,000 in last year's budget for planning and land acquisition. As of this summer, the city has acquired all the land it needs and is currently fundraising for development. J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org The multi-level playground at Waterfront Park And according to Marty Storch with Metro Parks, there are also some smaller city-led efforts. "The Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular, our pumpkin show at Iroquois Park, is raising funds for playgrounds and playground replacements," Storch says. "When they put them in, they are all-inclusive playgrounds which means children of all abilities can use them." According to Storch, Metro Parks also receives corporate funding for some playground and parks projects — but perhaps one of the biggest helps is volunteering. "Probably, all told, volunteerism adds more than a million dollars to our budget if you equate that to work time," he says. What's Next? Moving forward, Charlie McCabe from the Trust for Public Land says an easy step for Louisville is signing agreements with the school system to allow public access to existing facilities. This would formally allow the public to use school playgrounds after school and on the weekends. Back at the Spradling Urban Development Center in Smoketown, Phyllis Brown says any of these steps would be helpful in making more play space available for neighborhood kids. She's here providing her own solutions for some of the kids in Smoketown. J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org Ballard Park in Smoketown. "Because right now you're just turning them out into open space," Brown says. "When you walk up the development, you see a lot of teen girls walking in groups, teen guys walking in groups. Even young kids walking in — just — groups." Because, she says, they need somewhere to go. Download the audio for this story.

The Next Louisville: Why Cubans Are Moving To The City Like Never Before

This production is part of WFPL News' year-long project, The Next Louisville: Race, Ethnicity and Culture. Immigration. It's one of the founding principles of our country. It was a deeply divisive topic in this year's presidential election, and it promises to be a major issue going forward. Mexicans at the southern border and Syrian refugees fleeing war get a lot of media attention, but in Louisville, the fastest-growing group is not from Mexico or Syria. They're from an island in the Caribbean: Cuba. The number of Cubans in our community is surging. In 2015, a full 30 percent of all refugees arriving in Kentucky were from Cuba, and the vast majority of those — nearly a thousand people — came to Louisville, according to statistics from the Kentucky Office for Refugees. As part of The Next Louisville, with support from the Community Foundation of Louisville, my reporting partner Luis de León and I talked with local Cubans who've moved here, with some of the people who help ease the way for them, in an effort to explore why Louisville is becoming a more attractive place for people from the island. Listen to the full documentary in the audio player above. And here from some of those we talked to below. Luis de León | wfpl.org Luis Fuentes, publisher of El Kentubano, a monthly magazine for Latinos in Kentucky. Loading... 0:00 / 0:00 Loading... "In Cuba, 50 years under a Communist system, it really goes to your roots. It really, you know, it stay in your body. In Cuba you don't have the freedom to talk, even in your home. Everybody is living with police inside, everybody's afraid to say the truth. Or to say what they are thinking." Luis de León | wfpl.org Bryan Warren, Director of the Office of Globalization for Metro Louisville. "We're a city that has one of the highest refugee resettlement programs in the country — depending on how you look at it, we're either No. 11 or 12 — and when you're looking at half of that population being Cuban, that's something to really be paying attention to." Luis de León | wfpl.org Mirlene Lopez, who owns Mi Sueno grocery store with her husband, Yolan. They opened the store in 2009. Loading... 0:00 / 0:00 Loading... "I really like a pastry that's called bobo, it's really delicious. It's from my province of Camaguey. It's made with a butter cream, kind of like toast with butter. It's my favorite." Ole Restaurant Group Fernando Martinez, original owner of Havana Rumba, now a partner in the Ole Restaurant Group. He moved to the US from Cuba in 1994. Loading... 0:00 / 0:00 Loading... "[My wife and I] both had the same idea of opening a restaurant so we came to the realization, we're going to have more competition in Miami, it's going to be harder now that we're going to have a family, so let's stay in Louisville and we're glad we did because we love it here." Luis de León | wfpl.org Musician Rafael Lopez, who moved to the US from Holguin, Cuba, in 2003 with his parents and brother. Loading... 0:00 / 0:00 Loading... "It's very interesting, because in the city of Holguin, there is information available with respect to Louisville. Everybody knows about the city of Louisville, Kentucky." Luis de León Cultural orientation class for Cubans at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, where new arrivals learn about how to handle basic tasks in the US. Luis de León | wfpl.org Carmen Arias Perez, a former client at Kentucky Refugee Ministries who now works with Cuban and Haitian immigrants. Loading... 0:00 / 0:00 Loading... "Here, the Cuban community is more work-centered [than in South Florida]. More willing to have a kind of life — stable, safe, and we are, I would say, a hardworking community." Luis de León Pavel Reyes, who came to the US four years ago from Cuba. He was a client of Kentucky Refugee Ministries and he's now a staff member. Loading... 0:00 / 0:00 Loading... "Because you just don't know how to rent an apartment, how to pay the rent. What's credit? What's that? A lot of stuff that you just never knew existed, and makes it harder for you to adjust." Luis de León John Koehlinger, Executive Director of Kentucky Refugee Ministries. Loading... 0:00 / 0:00 Loading... "The Cubans are very hardworking, you know, really appreciate the opportunity to make some money. They haven't had real opportunities in Cuba." Download

The Next Louisville: Why Cubans Are Moving To The City Like Never Before

The Next Louisville: Where Are The Black People In Bourbon?

This production is part of WFPL News' year-long project The Next Louisville: Race, Ethnicity and Culture. At 26th and Broadway there's a small, neighborhood shop called The Liquor Store. Inside, bottles are neatly arranged in steel-barred cabinets decked with glossy posters. Owner Sandra Fant steps away from the drive-through window where, on the other side, a couple has asked for two bottles of Absolut vodka. Fant, who has owned The Liquor Store for eight years, says that's a pretty typical order for her patrons, who are 90 percent African-American. Meanwhile, she says while there has been an increase in customer interest in bourbon over the last few years, it hasn't been — and still isn't — her best-selling spirit. "Vodka, mostly, gin." Fant says. "Those were the two main items [I've sold]." It's an unexpected comment given the state of spirits in Kentucky. If you travel just a few minutes down the street from The Liquor Store into the middle of downtown Louisville, you'll see indicators of the current bourbon boom. There's the Urban Bourbon Trail, the renovation of historic Whiskey Row, and Down One Bourbon Bar with its cases and cases of the spirit — just to name a few. You're probably familiar with the history and the numbers behind this trend too: In 1964 Congress declared bourbon "America's Native Spirit." Today, there are more bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky than there are people, and production has increased by more than 170 percent since 1999. And just so we're all on the same page: All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. By definition, whiskey (or whisky, in Scotland) is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash — grain varieties include wheat, rye, barley, and corn — and then aged in wooden barrels. What makes that spirit bourbon is that it is at least 51 percent corn, aged in new oak barrels and entered into the barrel at 125 proof. But, as illustrated by Fant, the bourbon boom has also been a primarily white boom. History and current marketing trends show that "America's Native Spirit" has by and large ignored or erased the presence of African-American producers and consumers, leaving us to ask "Where are the black people in bourbon?" Numbers Point to Opportunity When you look at current data about African-Americans, buying power and bourbon consumption, there's definitely room to market more directly to multicultural audiences. Danny Brager is the senior vice president of Beverage Alcohol at Nielsen (yep, the same place that tracks television and radio numbers). "They (African-Americans) actually account for a much higher percent of overall spirits volume, but they represent a little more that 9 percent of bourbon consumption," Brager says. "So they're underdeveloped relative to their importance overall to the population." That suggests opportunity — based on the consumer data, at least. Courtney Jones, Nielson's vice president of Multicultural Growth and Strategy, says this is especially true in light of black America's buying power in the U.S. "Currently, for African-Americans for 2015 it was estimated about $1.2 trillion," Jones says. "Projected for 2020 around $1.4 trillion." But before looking to attract future bourbon drinkers, spirits professionals need to address the past — almost a century and a half of Kentucky bourbon history from which African-Americans have been pretty much erased. What We Know About Black Bourbon History In a corner of the Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum in Bardstown — a one-story walkthrough that tracks whiskey and bourbon history from the Colonial days to the 1960's — hangs an old, racist advertisement. It's a tin sign for Paul Jones & Company whiskey. On one side, there's a "mammy" figure in a headscarf holding an absurdly large slice of watermelon; on the other, there's a black man offering up a bottle of Paul Jones whiskey. Right in the middle is a young boy who is torn between the two treats. The whole thing is a play on "The Temptation of St. Anthony," the Medieval saint who was tempted by demons in the desert. While Paul Jones no longer exists, Chet Johnson, the organizer behind the local Bourbon & B Sides event, says marketing like this was not uncommon. "When you look at old bourbon advertisements they have these caricatures of stereotypical African-Americans," Johnson says. "The whole minstrel type of imagery that you would see — someone coal black with their eyes bugging out and lips red. Those [are the] types of damaging stereotypes you saw in bourbon marketing in the past." Ashlie Stevens | wfpl.org But beyond some of the racist imagery, the history presented by the museum was overwhelmingly white. There was the occasional person of color pictured in archival images, but this was presented without identification or context. Patrick Lewis is a historian with the Kentucky Historical Society. He specializes in the topics of slavery and the Civil War. Lewis says while historians know African-Americans were involved with the early bourbon-making process, they can't tell for certain to what extent. "We know that slaves grow the raw products that go into bourbon; the grains that come out of it," Lewis says. "And we know that slaves live and work on farms, mills where bourbon is produced, right?" But Lewis says since slaves obviously weren't paid for their work, slave owners didn't feel the need to record their day-to-day tasks. A lot of information about who these people were was lost through time. "African-Americans obviously play a very large part in that post-Civil War bourbon story and that is much easier to document because we have those corporate records, quite frankly," Lewis says. "But while slavery is ongoing, distilling is happening at a much more local level and that's tougher for historians to get at." The Past Informing the Future That being said, more spirits companies are drawing attention to how people of color impacted what we drink. Take Jack Daniel's, for example. This year was the 150th anniversary of the Tennessee-based whiskey distillery and, as the New York Times reported in June, they are beginning to embrace a "Hidden Ingredient: Help From a Slave." Jack Daniels For years, the story of Jack Daniels was pretty unremarkable. When Daniels was a boy, he worked for a preacher-slash-distiller named Dan Call. Call taught Daniels to man the still — and the rest was history. That story fits what the Times set up as the typical whiskey narrative: A lily-white affair that centered on German and Scots-Irish settlers who distilled their surplus grains into whiskey and sent it to far-off markets. But the real story is a little more complicated than that. The company now says Daniels didn't learn distilling from Dan Call, but from a man named Nearis Green, one of Call's slaves. According to representatives from Jack Daniel's, Green's existence wasn't a major secret; but, like the photos from the Getz Whiskey Museum, as a black man, his presence in distilling wasn't ever really addressed. Currently, the distillery — which has been owned for about 60 years by the Louisville-based Brown-Forman — is slowly integrating Green into the brand. His name is starting to come up in tours and on social media. But it's an uncomfortable history to navigate. A business built with slave labor may not work well as a selling point, and the company is still considering whether it will flesh out the story in new displays at its visitors center. However, not all black bourbon history looks so bleak. Take the story of Tom Bullock. He was a Louisville born bartender who in 1917 became the first African-American to write a cocktail book. It was called, fittingly, "The Ideal Bartender." He was so good at what he did that one of the members at the St. Louis Country Club where he eventually bartended wrote a letter of recommendation that read: "I doubt that he has erred in even one of his concoctions." But perhaps most importantly in the context of Kentucky, Bullock is credited with the invention of the original old-fashioned cocktail. Locally, Joe Heron — the owner of Copper & Kings Brandy Distillery — is reminding Louisvillians of Bullock's legacy by serving drinks inspired by "The Ideal Bartender," which was recently reprinted. Copper & Kings He also says that Bullock's history is informing how he wants to move forward as a spirits professional. Ultimately, Heron would like to facilitate opportunities that lead to a more diverse staff behind the bar. "Right now the presence of African-American bartenders is quite low in terms of, you know, talented mixologists — it's quite sporadic," Heron says. Heron recently ran a mixtape competition during which bartenders created cocktails based on certain songs. "We had two African-American bartenders and that was quite unusual, actually," Heron says. Unusually high, that is. For that reason, Heron would like to develop bartending courses for some of Louisville's multicultural and disadvantaged communities. "It is a very transferable skill, which is proved by Tom Bullock who left to get really famous in St. Louis," Heron says. "That's an idea that we're thinking very hard about." 'Artificial Diversity' Heron says that having a more diverse staff is key in reaching more diverse audiences. It's not enough to simply plaster pictures of people of color on product labels, a concept he calls "artificial diversity." "I don't think there is a way to force multiculturalism or diversity onto a company or a society," Heron says. "It's something that happens naturally based on something that is called respect." And the thing about artificial diversity — at least according to Heron — is that customers can tell. "It's expedient," Heron says. "And expediency — it's phony, it will always be found out." Heron says change happens when companies evolve from the inside out. And Brown Forman is one of those companies that has made real changes. Brown Forman is one of the largest American-owned companies in the spirits and wine business. They're based here in Louisville and represent brands like Jack Daniel's, Early Times, Old Forester, and Woodford Reserve. Ashlie Stevens | wfpl.org Tracey Johnson works as one of the company's multicultural marketing managers. She says during her 12 years there, she has watched as Brown Forman executives realize the face of the country is changing, and that they either need to adapt or lose out on new audiences. "Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey is one of the brands that over the past — actually since it launched five years ago, has really dug in and is working," Johnson says. "Doing some really fun programming with black consumers and Hispanic consumers." They've worked with BET Network, which is the number one media property for African-American consumers, and Centric, which is their woman-focused channel. Johnson also says the brand will be increasing its multicultural "influencer collaborations," something vodka has done well for years by partnering up with entertainers like 50 Cent, P. Diddy and Nas. Johnson says one of the reasons this is possible is because of an increase in diverse hires who help see these ideas through. Arelis Correa works with Brown Forman's global acquisitions team. She says the company has started to recruit and train multicultural talent from the ground up by developing a management program for entry-level talent within sales and marketing. "It's to increase a younger pool of diverse talent — not just for our organization, but for the industry," Correa says. But perhaps most importantly, marketing and recruiting have teamed up for a new project. "We've also started a new program in which we work with some historically black colleges and universities in our core markets," Johnson says. "We find graduate students who are available to work for us part-time on initiatives that we have surrounding those colleges." The program is currently in its second semester at two colleges — Howard University and Florida A&M — with plans to eventually expand. Local Changes Going back to Chet Johnson, he organized the first Bourbon & B sides — an evening that fuses break dancing, hip-hop, art and bourbon — earlier this year. With a sponsorship by Larceny Bourbon, it was a major success. Several hundred people attended. It was a majority African-American audience, most of those women between 25 and 40-years old. Bourbon & BSides "There were a lot of people drinking and indulging [in] bourbon, which is what we hoped for," Johnson says. Johnson sees more and more brands reaching out to younger drinkers as a result of the bourbon boom, but says it will take a few things for African-Americans to begin drinking more of the spirit. "One part marketing and one part setting the record straight on the histories and the contributions of blacks to the whiskey industry; I think would go a long way," he says. But in the meantime, Johnson is exploring the world of bourbon independently, which has had some unexpected personal consequences. "Learning more about the roots and origins of Kentucky bourbon, I've come to know a little bit more about myself," Johnson says. Download

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