The Notebook - Issue 28: Building a Beloved Community

The Week of June 12, 2023

Kentucky writer and visionary philosopher bell hooks wrote on many of life’s most pressing ills: violence, oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia. In so doing, she’s developed both a vocabulary and a framework of healing for multiple generations. Her legacy has and will continue to have a tremendous impact on scholarship and activism.

Many of her ideas coalesce around the ideas of the necessity of centering community and love. In Belonging: A Culture of Place, she writes:

"If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice."

Community, she reasons, is most enriching when it’s held together by the power of love. We can only create these loving environments if we are willing to inexhaustibly pursue justice for each other and for our land.  

In considering ways to deepen our journeys with our own “beloved community,” this month we found ourselves moved by the resonant and related guidance of NBC Anchor and Journalist Lester Holt in his graduation speech to Villanova. Our best bet for building the community we so desire is to start simply by listening. 
“I worry that listening gets short tripped. I mean more than just hearing words, I mean hearing the meaning and the perspective and experiences of others… It may require you to hear what you may be afraid to hear. [It can] threaten to disrupt your carefully arranged world view – but resist that feeling. Find the courage.
Learn to listen with your mouth closed.” 

Holt continues reflecting on the need for us to pause, to be curious, to refute the immediate desire for perfect answers in life. His thoughts reminded us of this necessary practice in community-building: the courage to listen can seed blossoms of a more just and equitable world.  

While not any one person or group will ever have all the perfect answers, we grow closer to what is beloved – a community reflective of our shared needs – when we have the courage to listen first. Change doesn’t happen when we close our ears to one another. Community blooms in the fertile grounds of nurtured relationships and it is only then that can justice take root. 

    Warbler Ridge at Pine Mountain

The Kentucky Natural Lands Trust was granted an additional 29 acres to the Warbler Ridge Preserve on Pine Mountain in Eastern KY. The donated land brings the preserve to 3,195 acres and protects additional wildlands at the headwaters of the Cumberland River. Warbler Ridge connects several state lands to form nearly 8,000 acres of contiguous conservation lands. It’s also planned to be within route of the unfolding Great Eastern Trail. Read the full story here. 🌲

Safe Surrender Event Allows Guns to be Forged into Garden Tools, Jewelry, and Art. The Guns to Gardens initiative offers a creative and collaborative way to repurpose firearms by allowing owners to safely surrender guns which will then be reprocessed into garden tools. The image to the left, provided by local blacksmith and artist Craig Kaviar, shows an example of a rifle reforged and reimagined to have flowers blooming from its base. For more on this growing project spearheaded by Soni Castleberry, Louisville Public Media reports
A growing trend in alternative relaxation techniques has taken individuals on many new and unexpected paths. While spending time in the natural world is often a key component of methodologies meant to offer practitioners physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits, a growing literature of studies shows that "animal mindfulness" - that is conscious time spent with animals - is also effective at reducing our mental and emotional anxieties. We were thrilled to learn of a fresh take on mindfulness practices from our very own Chiara Brown: Meditative walks with alpacas! Recently published in The Times, check out her piece, "How I Found Inner Peace With an Alpaca Called Hugo," for a quick and delightful read on her journey through the hillsides of England.
Bird Tweeting with Chest Puffing to Indicate Movement of Vocal Chords

Birdsong Linked to Boosting Moods: A surprising series of studies has confirmed that listening to birdsong – both in nature or even over headphones – has iteratively shown results associated with positive mental health outcomes, including decreased anxiety, depression, and paranoia. As you check out this article from the Washington Post, listen to six-minutes of crooning fowls and learn more about the mind’s hunger for connection to the natural world as an instinctive stress reliever.


Greenberg announces $4.6 million investment in early learning (The Courier Journal): Mayor Greenberg shares that the multi-million dollar investment comes from American Rescue Plan funds. Funds are intended to address COVID-related developmental delays, promote outreach and access to high-quality early learning programming, and the development of natural outdoor learning and play spaces. Many area non-profits will receive grants for related programs and projects.

🏚️ ➡️ 🏠 New fund provides low interest loans to help rehabilitate neglected historic homes in Louisville (Louisville Public Media): Louisville Metro Government and the Owsley Brown II Family Foundation have launched a fund to help area low and middle-income homeowners rehabilitate their homes. With an emphasis on preserving historic homes in the West Louisville, the local program, in conjunction with the state’s historic rehabilitation tax credit program, is expected to put a sizeable dent in historic home renovations. Not only is the program expected to preserve the character and charm of many neighborhoods, but the city anticipates that it can help keep homeowners in their homes enduringly. 
Image of Stalagtites and Stalagmites in a cavern within Mammoth Cave National Park; Photo via National Park Service

Federal bills introduced to expand boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park 

Rep. Guthrie and Sen. McConnell have introduced companion bills in the House and Senate to expand Mammoth Cave National Park by an additional 980 acres.

If authorized, new boundaries would include the addition of several area cave passages, the conservation of critical habitat land, inclusion of many known areas where prehistoric artifacts have been found, as well as  protection of the Green River watershed - a profoundly polluted commercial,  recreational, and drinking water source in western Kentucky. 

Already the largest known cave system in the world, park expansion is anticipated to offer greater natural resources to the scientific community while also bringing in more tourism dollars to the Commonwealth’s 2nd District.
Photo Provided by the Louisville Orchestra for the College Heights Herald.
Louisville maintains "lofty status in the world of contemporary classical composition" - a history and feature of our creative city which is, speculatively, little known by most residents. With high-profile attention on Music Director and Composer Teddy Abrams' "most ambitious undertaking to date," The New Yorker confirms this status was surely "reaffirmed [...] when Yo-Yo Ma and the Louisville Orchestra presented a première inside Mammoth Cave, Kentucky’s chief natural wonder."

For cellist Yo Yo Ma, the musical experience was part of a larger body of work intended to honor national parks across the country. For the Louisville Orchestra, the occasion is being referred to as "a renewal of purpose at one of America’s most resilient orchestras." To read more about the celebrated evening and historical legacy of our city's orchestra, click through for more from music critic Alex Ross.

"Stop Bans on An Honest Education": Image Overlaid on Outline of United StatesSchool librarians face a new penalty in the banned-book wars: Prison (The Washington Post)

In the past two years, 5 states have enacted laws explicitly penalizing school librarians who maintain “obscene” or “harmful” reading material in classrooms. A study by the American Library Association found that most of these challenged books were written by or featured characters who are LGBTQIA+ or African-American. Penalties for distributing banned books include massive fines for schools and multi-year prison sentences for libraries. School administrators are noting that such censorship is creating an environment of fear among educators. 

Celebrating ProudlyJune is nationally recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots – a tipping point in the Gay Liberation movement in the United States. While the Louisville Gay Liberation Front formed in 1970, the first area liberation march was not held until 1987. Fast forward to 2001 and it was only then that the first Kentuckiana Pride Festival was held.

Unique to Louisville’s history, area events often take place both in June and September. This year, the Kentuckiana Pride Parade and Festival will take place on Saturday, June 17th in NuLu and the Big Four Lawn. For more information visit the Kentuckiana Pride Foundation website. 

Other family-friendly events include the Second Annual Night of Drag and LGBTQ+ Praise and Worship on Thursday, June 15th at Highland Community Ministries and a Dragtivity Pride Day on the 25th. Learn about other local events - including a 5K and a Book Tasting - by checking out this article from the Courier Journal. 

The number of homeless individuals and families living without shelter in Louisville is growing at an alarming rate due to the rising costs of rent and inaccessibility of homeownership. The Coalition for the Homeless recently noted the experience of having to turn away 21 of 24 families seeking emergency shelter due to inability to provide space. The result means more adults and children are sleeping in the streets. 

Though Mayor Greenberg announced a multi-million dollar plan to address permanent affordable housing solutions and day shelter needs, at present, the Coalition notes that little funding is being allocated to address the crisis of insufficient emergency overnight shelters. For more on the efforts to raise visibility on the issue ahead of Metro Council’s budget vote, learn more here: Louisville organization seeks more funding for emergency overnight shelters

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