The Notebook (Issue 16)
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The week of May 16th, 2022

May in Louisville is a season full of life—the city sings with a re-emerged bustling; the streets burst vibrantly with Derby decor; the ballot booths buzz with anticipation. As the so-called “new normal” emerges, this season it seems our community is especially filled with the delight of wrestling free from winter’s confinement.

Of course, it will be easy for us to resume at a pace which mirrors our zeal… and to be fair, we know there’s so much to delight in right now! Nevertheless, we’ve started to consider: How can we hold ourselves accountable to slowing down as life is speeding up? 


Now I see the secret making of the best persons,
it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”


In these lines from “Song of the Open Road,” Walt Whitman offers that the fullest lives are those enriched by a relationship with the natural world. 

We concur. There is so much abundance to encounter in the wonders of the natural world, and so much to encounter within ourselves when we take the time to convene with the air, water, and soil that surrounds us. We believe this intentionality brings us closer to harmony. 

As you breeze into this season of life, we want to hear from you about the places that let you breathe more deeply: What local outdoor spot allows you to slow down?  As you reflect, we also ask you to consider how as a community we can take strides in ensuring every person can enjoy this same peace. As important as our individual connections is our community’s ability to do the same.

A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”

Wendell Berry

Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies Ricky Jones resurfaces the powerful contributions of Kentucky titan, Daniel Rudd. An enslaved man born in Bardstown, Rudd would go on to become a nationally-revered journalist and activist among Black Catholics. After a long battle to preserve the Anatok Plantation where Daniel Rudd was born in 1854, hopes to preserve his history and popularize his legacy were diminished when the Anatok was demolished in February. Jones laments that “the birthplace of native son Daniel Rudd is now gone,” fearing Kentucky’s continued failure to honor this tremendous figure in racial and religious justice. Click here to read his piece.

Across Appalachia venture capitalists are seeking out abandoned coal mining sites for conversion to Bitcoin mining operations. In Belfry, Blockware Solutions has moved in with the intention to “build [their] own Fort Knox,” just one of the many companies capitalizing on the major mining boom sweeping across Kentucky. In March 2021, Governor Beshear signed a suite of tax incentives to woo bitcoin miners into the state — all while environmentalists and locals campaigned to the contrary. Such efforts, they warn, undermine the battle to curb climate change and shift the Commonwealth to renewable power sources. Click through to learn more about the nation's newest "gold rush." 

After a trailblazing 37 years as Executive Director of the Kentucky Resources Council, Tom FitzGerald retires as the formidable front-man of the KRC and his resounding career as an environmental lobbyist. Initially from New York City, FitzGerald moved to the Bluegrass State to attend the University of Kentucky Law School, wherein he became a fixture at the Capitol for his environmental advocacy. For the next four-decades he would go on to make “good trouble,” succeeding in the fight for a Public Service Commission and challenging bills halting renewable energy progress. For more on FitzGerald’s legacy, click through. 

Check out the current microcast of The Sustainable Food Trust on modern issues in food farming. This 6-minute episode explores various types of milk, as well as the ethics of its production.

Louisville’s latest hometown portrait honors pioneering Black educator, Henrietta Helm. The massive mural, commissioned by The Portland Museum,  honors her "perseverance in the face of sexism, racism, and educational inequity," while also serving as a tribute for her efforts as the principal of the Portland Colored Evening School. In addition to the mural, it marks the inauguration of a scholarship in Helm’s honor for the next-generation of Black educators at the University of Louisville’s Louisville Teacher Residency Program. To contribute to this fund, please visit The Community Foundation of Louisville. 

A new tool developed by the Healthy Democracy, Healthy People initiative illustrates the critical relationship between voting policies and health outcomes. The Health & Democracy Index reveals that states with "more inclusive voting policies and greater levels of civic participation tend to have better health overall outcomes, from lower infant mortality rates to lower risk of chronic disease." To explore more of this groundbreaking research, visit this powerful interactive data visualization.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had many unexpected outcomes, but who knew a renaissance in houseplants would be one of them?! Once evidence of "one's proper Victorian womanhood," houseplant hysteria took one writer on a journey to discover the history at the roots of indoor plants. Locally, you can find the Healthy Plants Collection at Nanz and Kraft if you’re looking to both improve your indoor air quality and keep up with the latest trends.

In the 38th episode of Great Podversations, Congressman Raskin (D-8) and Dr. Fiona Hill both discuss their latest books, Raskin’s Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy and Hill’s There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century. Produced by the Kentucky Author Forum, the riveting conversation is as deeply moving as it is important to our understanding of modern America. Watch the KET Recording or find the link to your favorite podcast streaming service here. 

Archbishop-designate Sheldon Fabre,  celebrated as a racial justice visionary in the Catholic Church, has been newly appointed to the Archdiocese of Louisville. The National Catholic Reporter reflects on Fabre’s long-standing commitment to pastoral ministry and the related initiatives that await him in Kentucky to continue this vision. Named among his chief opportunities is working with "one of the most interesting environmental projects in the nation, the University of Louisville's Envirome Institute." 

Join Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, collaborator on A New Vision of Health and Director of the Envirome Institute, for his NEW monthly podcast series "Elements of Nature: How Natural Forces Shape Human Health." Each episode will explore a particular element of nature (think air, soil, light for starters!) influences human health and wellness. Dr. Bhatnagar, alongside world-renowned scientists, professors, and authors, offers critical discussion on the relationship between nature and body with key insights on developing a more harmonious and healthy life.

Beginning July 1, nationally renowned cardiologist Dr. Kim Williams Sr. will become the Chair of the University of Louisville’s Department of Medicine. A health equity expert, Dr. Williams built his 40-year career in Atlanta, Detroit, and his native Chicago, serving as an educator, researcher, and clinician. Dr. Williams will serve as the principle leader for all scientific, clinical and educational programs for the university’s largest medicine department. For more on his tremendous career, read here. 

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