The Notebook - Connecting the Arts, Spirituality, and the Natural World

The Week of October 1, 2023

After having been forgotten for hundreds of years, the works of Hildegard Von Bingen slowly began resurfacing in the mid-20th century allowing scholars to discover a woman who could be considered a far-beyond-her-era artist, composer, writer, and mystic from the Middle Ages.

Known for her visionary nature, Hildegard dedicated her life to spiritual and communal enrichment. While  perhaps best known for her prodigious and poetic musical works, The New Yorker as recently as January reported that Hildegard’s philosophy and fame "has also crossed over into zones of New Age spirituality, environmental discourse, and feminist thought."  It's easy to see why!

Hildegard was obsessed with the beauty of humankind, revered the relationship between man and God, and was fascinated with the idea that humans had a responsibility to care for the Earth. This was not typical for the Medieval era, and it has only been in more recent decades that Judeo-Christian theology has reckoned with the prospect of stewardship. She wrote of these striking connections prolifically. 

Glance at the sun.
See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s green.
Now, think. What delight
God gives to humankind -
All nature is at the disposal of humankind.
We are to work with it. For
without, we cannot survive.

We were inspired by the resounding connections between Hildegard Von Bingen's outlook and the New Vision of Health. We, too, hope to inspire an inclusive community rich with spiritual, mental, and physical wellness living in healthy communion with our air, soil, and water.

As you wrap up September and look towards October, we hope you carry the profound beauty of these connections with you. Our noted visionary once wrote: "Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness." Hildegard used art, music, and poetry to draw together her small community in spiritual stewardship. Consider: In what ways can I be mindful of this connectedness in each day? How am I honoring these relationships? How might the delights of the arts help make this possible? 

Tell us about your creative, communal ruminations, meditations, and actions by submitting your comments to [email protected]. We would love to hear more about how you're actualizing the New Vision of Health in your community!

Henrietta Helm Scholarship - First Recipient Announced!

We are thrilled to share that JCPS educator Gerald Pitts was recently announced as the first recipient of the Henrietta Helm Scholarship. Created to honor the work of the namesake, Helm was a pioneering Black educator in Louisville whose legacy was recently memorialized with a mural overlooking W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. 

Mr. Pitts is currently completing pre-service at Semple Elementary. In the upcoming months, he will begin student teaching for JCPS as he works toward his Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). In his award-winning essay, Pitts noted the balance between teaching's "frustrations, challenges, and responsibilities" and its delights as "a job that is also very rewarding, full of pleasure, admiration, and excitement." He reflected his desire to understand each child's unique learning style and his hope to cultivate their independence so each pupil has "room to develop and expand on their own." Mr. Pitts' pedagogy is gentle and powerful: "I just want to teach students in a loving and Godly way."

We also appreciated the closing quotation of his essay, which resonates deeply with our vision for a healthy city: "In closing, I am reminded of a quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: 'The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.'"

Join us in congratulating Mr. Pitts and wish him well as he seeks to inspire young minds! To learn more about the fund or to donate to the Henrietta Helm Scholarship, we invite you to visit this dedicated webpage

Last week, the University of Louisville & Louisville Business First partnered to consider ways in which to create a healthier gun culture for Louisville with special guest, Ryan Busse - a former arms executive and proud gun owner who's now joined the fight against a gun-radicalized America. 

The timely panel promotes how critical it is to engage in community conversation across party lines, ultimately encouraging people to join in difficult conversations with patience and open-mindedness. Perhaps even more importantly, Busse reflects on the need for citizens to get engaged. Busse suggests the need for us to reach out to legislators while considering the wide swath of policy issues within the ecosystem of gun violence - such as ensuring access to mental health, funding suicide prevention resources, and cultivating a culture of quality community options related to health and childhood education. 

We encourage you to stay curious, engage in conversations, and work to support solutions that prioritize health in your local community groups and schools. As you think of implementation, please let us know how you want to get engaged. 

For additional insights, check out Busse’s lecture entitled after his debut memoir “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America.” The lecture was presented by the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute in collaboration with the Filson Historical Society. 

Biden Administration to Create Gun Violence Prevention Office: Last Friday President Biden announced the intended launch of a new office to underscore efforts for curbing gun violence. While Congress remains gridlocked, this historic move reflects significant executive action aimed at reducing mass shootings and improving community safety. The office will be tasked with enforcement, coordination, and public outreach efforts. For more from White House correspondent Laura Barrón-López, review this 5 minute interview from PBS NewsHour

The Theodore Sedgwick Distinguished Lecture Series Presents:

Reintegrating the Formerly Incarcerated: Real Talk with Respect
With Author and Activist, Charles Grady
November 1, 2023 
Registration Required
The Filson Historical Society
1310 S. 3rd St., Louisville

Additional Event Details Provided by The Filson 

Presented by the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute in collaboration with the Filson Historical Society.

Charlie Grady, a retired, highly decorated law enforcement agent and current founder/CEO of the non-profit organization Hang Time, will discuss how his unique brand of community service has changed the lives of thousands of formerly incarcerated Connecticut residents and their families impacted by the criminal justice system.

The presentation will focus on giving voice to the formerly incarcerated, who are often voiceless in our society. It will also stress the importance of creating unique ways to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and all community members through community integration meetings. It will also explain how additional programs were spawned by recognizing the gaps in needed services of troubled members of our communities. Lastly, it will focus on the long-term ripple effect of the grassroots non-profit organization Hang Time. The program is scalable and is needed in every community across the country.

Charlie Grady has spent over forty years working in and around the criminal justice system in Connecticut and around the country. During his career he was officially assigned to work with task forces at the FBI, DEA, CT State Police and US Marshall Service all simultaneously. Today he uses his experience in state, local and federal service to help change the lives of justice-system impacted people of Connecticut through his multiple non-profit programs through the Hang Time Organization he founded in 2014. His unique brand and approach to helping formerly incarcerated persons integrate back into society will soon be replicated in other states.

EPA Announces Millions for Brownfield Restoration 

The Environmental Protection agency announced millions of dollars for Kentucky and the Louisville area to ensure restoration of formerly hazardous waste sites. Metro Louisville will receive $5 million dollars to restore areas including the Louisville Gardens, the Community Care Campus, and an adjacent lot near the Norton Sports and Learning Complex. Other area brownfields have included the L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium (UofL), the Louisville Botanical Gardens, and the Lynn Family Stadium. For more, WLKY and The Paducah Sun report.

Festival of Faiths - Sacred Hearts, Sacred Minds: Embodying Love - November 15-18


See below for further detail. 

The Ohio River Way to Apply for National Water Trail Designation
The Ohio River Way, the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, the National Wildlife Federation, and many others team up to spur investment into the Ohio River and the Ohio River Basin. The national water trail designation effort is one step of many to help pave the way for a Healthier Ohio River. If designated, the national water trail would run from Portsmouth, Ohio, to West Point, Kentucky — for a total of 270 miles of the river. The Courier Journal reports why the federal designation could be a game changer for many local communities.
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