Thursday, December 22, 2011

Who Will Be The Next Louis Coleman?

Who will be the next Louis Coleman, because black Louisville really needs one. Since his passing there has been a tremendous void that has yet to be filled by either a person or an organization. Which is sad because there are serious problems that need to be addressed in not only black Louisville, but the community at large. I know a lot of people did not like Louis, but if anything he could bring attention to a problem. Often times he was the voice of the voiceless. Louisville needs that now, especially black Louisville. I have read about the potential hospital merger, the bridges debate, JCPS audits, JCPS busing and much more, but it seems in the black community that discussion is not going on. At least I haven't heard a lot of black folks talking about these issues. Which is sad because these issue will have a tremendous impact on us. It would also seem that black Louisville doesn't have voice in these issues as well. It's like we are just the silent minority without an opinion or any input.

As for who will be the next Louis Coleman, or what organization/s will be the voice of the voiceless....I don't know. I just hope the void is filled.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why Blacks aren't embracing the Occupy Movements

I read this article on and I had to share it. It is one of the best articles I have ever read on the subject. If you don't believe check out this little nugget...

"And despite their inclusive mission statements, major civil rights organizations and leaders appear to be selling out black America for corporate money. Beginning in the 1980s, for example, the tobacco and alcohol industries meticulously cultivated relationships with leaders of black communities. Institutions such as the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund and the Congressional Black Caucus have counted those industries as major donors — at the expense of the health of the black community."

I couldn't agree more. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Are Black Children Really Turning White?

This is a very interesting article I found on Now, granted, this is an article from our friends from across the pond, but I think the it can also apply to the US. The article is entitles "Are Black Children Really Turning White?", and is about the perceived differences between black and white parenting. The author talks about parenting in terms of blacks being more "strict" or more of the "spare the rod spoil the rod types", and whites being a lot more lenient. The article is also loosely based on this Eddie Murphy skit (if you don't like cursing don't watch the video). After you read the article do you think the threat of CPS and other social service groups hinder parenting, specifically, the ability to spank your child in public?

Now, that I am a parent I think about this a lot more than I did 3 years ago. I have had my share of spankings, and it didn't scar me for life. When I went to Holy Angels in Chicago, I remember the nuns would take students in front of class, bend them over the desk and paddle them for not doing their homework. I only had to see that once to make a lasting impression on me. I never forgot to do my homework. Never.

As a parent I do believe in spanking, Granted, I haven't had to spank my 3 year old little girl, but I have threatened her with spankings and I have given her little taps on her behind.  I also wouldn't be oppose to bringing back corporal punishment in schools, except in high school. As a kid I didn't believe in spare the rod, but as an adult I can see the wisdom in it. I don't believe in beating your kids with extension cords, or right hands to the chest. I know there can be a thin between beating and spanking, but I there is a line.

So, the question for my readers; Are black children really turning white?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Talk with my Dad

37 years later, I finally meet my dad…

Just Doug
It was a cold wet night and this guy walked up on me, ordinarily my senses kick in, my paranoia, causes me to get upset when someone invades my space, my boundary, steps inside my circle, but I didn’t because I knew him, I recognized him, and though, he called himself Andy, I knew him as dad, naw, not my dad, he didn’t do his job, so this chump gets no respect, no honorary title, he doesn’t even get a prefix of Mr.,  he just gets  Doug.
As I listened to him talk I couldn’t help but to get mad, become angry, didn’t really want to hear what he had to say.  As hard as it was I kept listening, forcing myself, to hear what he felt was important to roll up on me with.  I don’t know how we ended up in my room, but my baby girl was behind him, and I told him to watch his mouth. He thought I was being nasty but I told him my daughter was behind him. I said it with a tone and venom that echoed, hold up chump I’m being a daddy to my kids.

Something He Wouldn’t Know About

He wanted to talk and I could see the words were hard for him, but hell this was hard for me. We talked and talked. While
we talked my oldest daughter came in the room saying something about some sausage and gravy I was like yea girl fix you whatever, she’s picky like that, but that’s cool because she’s her own person. Molded and shaped, and I had a lot to do with that, something this chump in front of me didn’t know about.
Doug and I left my place and went for a walk. We ended up at one of the nice hotels, I guess we went there to get some coffee or something. While we were there I seen a black family come through the hallways, and for some reason security was on them because the dad was rough housing with his children and kicking and throwing a ball around with his kids. I seen security tell him to tone it down, geez let this family enjoy their time together… let those kids enjoy their dad, and the mom revel in the fact she’s not doing it alone.

No Respect
Back to this joker standing before me, I don’t know why, but it was hard for me to respect this guy. He was telling me life was hard, and that he was excited when I was born, but he was in the streets. He said he wanted to live with us, but mom wouldn’t let him because of his lifestyle and that’s when it happened the internal ground swell of rage inside of me was beginning to erupt. I was about to blow up with this guy talking all this nonsense, especially about mom, my deceased mom, my mom that couldn’t defend herself. I’m sure it was evident to him, I’ve never been one to hide my emotions, I’m told I wear them on my sleeve, so I’m sure he seen it in my face. My anger, my frustration, Majestyk (my alter ego), saying Nigga please.
Something he said caused me to jump in his face, and I’m sure everyone around was scared but they knew what was going on because I yelled in his face, so close I was essentially head bunting the guy. Dude you ain’t never come around why should I listen to the dad I never had, who are you?
We left the hotel spot, and we were driving around, and as we were passing a school, I think it was Central, it happened. He said something about he got locked up, about how he couldn’t see me because he was doing time. He didn’t stop there, he went on to say my mother stopped him from being there for me. That’s when it happened, so I wouldn’t cry Majestyk (alter ego), hit him, naw, that’s putting it easy. To show the disrespect I had for this guy I gave him a couple of open handed b***** slaps to the face.
It’s on, Round 1 Ding!
He stopped the car and I jumped out thinking it was on, thinking he was going to get out, thinking he wanted a piece of me. He looked like me, you could tell he stayed in the gym like me, and on any other day he might even have a chance with me. Not today though, not with this adrenaline rush and 37 years of anger. He didn’t get out, he stayed in the car clenching the steering wheel. Probably thinking he wanted to get with me, but he knew better. Probably thinking how bad he screwed it up, wishing he had done some things different, but you reap what you sow. What he was getting is what he gave.
When I seen he wasn’t getting out, that’s when I yelled “take yo punk ass on, get ghost real quick.” I was hurt but Majestyk was itching to let him have it, wanted to run around the car to the driver side window and pull him out, but before he could Doug  drove off.
As I walked home I didn’t know how to feel, in one breath I was mad, angry, rageful, but in another I was sad, hurt, confused. The best way to sum it up is in the look of the people I was coming across, folks that looked at me and crossed the street, I’m talking about even the hardest looking brothers, who probably had chips on their shoulders, knew this wasn’t about them, and stepped accordingly. I was breathing hard not realizing the forehead was wrinkled, fist clenched, and I just looked mad as hell, or crazy.
What’s Going On? 
I was thinking about my life, thinking about a comment someone made on the social network site Facebook. On his page he wrote something about musical instruments and asked which one did we play, (his friends). I posted saxophone, but only because my band director said I had no rhythm. The guy’s page I was on, responded with something like “people have been telling you, you can’t do it your whole life.” That’s what I was thinking how could I have love for this guy, Doug, the father I never had (to be continued in Me vs Me, Vol 1: Being the Father I Never Had).
He was never there before my mom died to help celebrate life, but after my mom died he didn’t step in to give me
what I needed to develop. He wasn’t there when I would get into fights right after my mom died and I would go home and cry. He wasn’t there when I had questions a son only felt comfortable asking a dad. He wasn’t there when I tried to play little league sports but didn’t know what I was doing, so all the rage I felt was relayed when I hit people playing football. All the pain I endured poured out when I ran cross country. He wasn’t there when I would win awards for my drawings and creativity. He wasn’t there when I got in trouble at school like I always do, but not the times I was guilty and he should’ve put his foot in my ass, but the times I was innocent but guilty only because of my rep.
Walking is supposed to calm you, but today it was making me more and more upset. I thought I was going to explode, I was a walking time bomb, that’s when it happened…

…I woke up.
 I had to share this because it was so real, and for many of us, this is the closest we get to meeting our dad.

By Shawn Gardner

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Does Anybody Care?

Does anybody (black and who lives outside of west Louisville) care what happens to West Louisville? This is a question that I've been asking myself recently. I know there are several very committed neighborhood activist, but as whole do we care?

If you look around west Louisville, Smoketown, Newburgh, and Berrytown/Griffeytown the answer would be no. Our neighborhoods are in such disrepair that it's not even funny. Even worse is that our people are in worse shape, but nobody seems to be alarmed or upset. What has happened to us as a people?

What types of investments have we made in our communities to strengthen them? Look at Portland. Gill Holland and other young business men/women and buying properties in Portland for redevelopment as we speak. Even better than that is that young professionals are slowly moving back into Portland to help revitalize that historic neighborhood. Do you think that black folks will invest in their historic neighborhoods?

As we as a people continue our backward slide, we will only have ourselves to blame, because only we can pull ourselves up.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Environmental Justice by Advocate Scott

Environmental Justice: We are all Inextricably Linked
By: Advocate Scott
This past Saturday, the 13th, there was a People not Poisons fair at Chickasaw park. It was for educating folks about, and bringing awareness to chemical pollution in our communities. Rubbertown Emergency Action (REACT) has constantly set out to improve the living conditions of our neighborhoods. The fair was a gathering of people, organizations and a powerful speaker, Michele Roberts. This is what I learned from Ms. Roberts and REACT about the effects of chemical pollution.
STUDENTS: Schools around the Rubbertown area are located near factories and chemical plants creating hazards and impacting learning development. For example one school has a garden on one hand and on the other hand is exposed to factory emissions. So what happens when the plants absorb those emissions; or when an explosion interrupts the class day… if the school is even informed? Test scores and health are lowered. SOLUTION: keep the factories away from our schools!
HEALTH: Many people in our neighborhoods develop cancer and respiratory diseases that are linked to the air pollution caused by factories and chemical plants. People are sent to the hospital and even die because of these pollutions. My own great-uncle died from four forms of cancer and he lived within walking distance of a factory. So what happens when are hard-working community members are always sick? They are fired from their jobs, upkeep of property becomes secondary, and “family-time” slowly fades away. SOLUTION: keep factories out of our residential areas!
It was a very educational experience for me and I am glad at the success of the event. Most people are aware of the toxicity of Rubbertown, but not what they can do to make a change. The fair was about solid solutions and solid actions. We must remember that in justice work we are all inextricably linked! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rubbertown has done it again!

Well Good Morning folks, 

Rubbertown has done it AGAIN.  Just when we thought we had seen the last of the MULTIPLE incidents that have occurred over there, they are at it once more.  I have pasted the links to the various news stories below along with the health affects of the chemical released.

It is very misleading to say 2 R-calls were sent to residents. It leads people to believe people were called when in all actuality R-Call is a bulletin board system that residents must call to receive information. It's safe to say that somewhere in the 90 percentile of people living in neighborhoods surrounding Rubbertown, do not know the number.

They tried to make it sound like 90 seconds (of releasing the chemical) was not long but who knows at what rate that chemical was being released and at what concentration.

Additionally, they have downplayed toluene, which is the chemical that was released. 

TOLUENE - According to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Database, ASR reported emitting 408,400 pounds of this nasty chemical in 2009. This chemical is associated with learning and behavioral disorders. It is also considered a teratogen. Teratogens can cause birth defects.

When exactly are people going to flood the offices of the Air Pollution Control District demanding that they enter the premises of all of these raggedy chemical facilities. When? 

No one is coming to save any of us. No one. You better get up and do something and stop turning your head because you don't live in Park DuValle, Chickasaw, Shawnee, Algonquin Parkway, etc.

Children from all over this city attend schools in the affected areas. What are YOU going to do?

ATTEND the People Not Poisons Environmental Justice Fair (August 13th from 1:00-5:30PM Chickasaw Park) so you can help in coming up with solutions to this problem.  Let's not let the hard work of Rev. Louis Coleman, Roosevelt Roberts and others have been in vain.  We must continue this fight.  

REACT - Rubbertown Emergency ACTion
P.O. Box 3662
Louisville, KY 40201

Friday, July 22, 2011

When It Comes to the Economy He Said it Best

“The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes…. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong it’s reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

– Abraham Lincoln 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Can Louisville Grow Up?

I've been reading about vertical farming for a while and I think this is something that Louisville should push. If you're not familiar with the idea of vertical farming it's a rather simple concept. Vertical farming is basically growing food in a multi-level building. Here is a video explaining the concept of vertical farming..

Most ideas for vertical farms are futuristic skyscrapers that look like they are right out of Star Wars.  Most of the renderings show these big beautiful buildings surrounded by lush gardens and grand urban landscapes. The idea is pretty cool and doesn't seem to far fetched and I'm surprised that there hasn't been more movement on this front. In fact, I don't think there has been a vertical farm built. 

There are many reasons to consider vertical farming. One of those is that by some estimates crop yields will be down 20% because of global warming. By the year 2050 the world will have at least another 3 billion people to feed. We just don't have enough land to do it. 

Those are fine stats, but is this something Louisville should even consider? We aren't exactly a huge city with millions of people to feed. Most vertical farming buildings I've seen are large skyscrapers with all sorts of super cool tech built in. Solar panels, rain water catch basins, wind turbines, and the best of hydroponics. I'm not sure Louisville is ready for that. But what Louisville may be ready for is more of a proof of concept smaller prototype vertical farm. Which may be much more valuable than building the 30 story mega tech skyscraper.  

If Louisville were to take on a project of this nature I would suggest we start with a small 5-6 story building in Louisville's West end. Western Louisville has several advantages, one, there are several old warehouses that could either be converted or demolished for such a project, and two, West Louisville has access to rail, the highway, and the river. Once the farm is built you have to a way to ship the produce. The produce that the vertical farm would not only provide much needed jobs for the West Louisville, but the organic produce that it produces would also in be cheaper. Thereby making it much more affordable to the residents of not only West Louisville, but the region as whole. 

There should also be a processing plant either built on site or very close. This would allow the produce that is being produced to be frozen and or canned and shipped to retail outlets all over. One of the advantages of hydroponic/vertical farming is that plants grow quickly and they grow year round. The processing plant should be very busy. 

I would also like to see the first vertical farm be a public/private partnership with the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and Kentucky State University included. KSU has an aquaculture program, UK has a great agriculture program, and UL has an urban mission. A one of kind project like this would be greatly enhanced by research capabilities of these great universities. 

I'm not talking about just building a vertical farm, but for Louisville to be the vertical farm capital of the world. Just like UL and the city are building Nucleus, so we can compete in the biotech arena. We can build vertical farms and lead the next wave of the green revolution.  This is Louisville's chance to get a head of the curve and be first mover in the next big thing. We could become the silicon valley of sustainable food revolution. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Family Fun Math Night and our Newest Blogger

What’s Up! Salutations! Greetings!... and all that good stuff

I’m Advocate Scott, a soon-to-be-16 year old kid. I am an upcoming junior at duPont Manual High School. I love politics, education, and having fun. Family is a huge component of my life, as is school. Some of my hobbies are reading, writing, and cooking.
I am writing because the blogosphere in Louisville needs a younger voice. I will be blogging about everything from literacy to the city’s budget; from pop culture to Casey Anthony. I am bringing a serious political analysis to my blog, while adding a youthful light-heartedness. Check back often for my latest post!

Family Fun Math Night

Last week an event took place at St. Augustine church in West Louisville called Family Fun Math Night. FFMN was put on by a group of people that genuinely care about the youth of the community. The purpose of the event was to make learning (math) fun and show that learning can be fun. I had the opportunity of volunteering at this wonderful event and seeing how much of a success that it was. The amount of people that showed up and had fun, the clear outpouring of support, and the effort that was put into the event all are a part of what made this event a success.

Walking into the event it I was surprised at the number of volunteers there were. There were so many people, including a lot of kids, helping to set up. It was wonderful to see everyone having fun before the program had even started. I think that it was the excitement of the event that had everyone “all smiles”. Then it was awesome to see people who had come to the event just to support, sit down for hours and volunteer. The crew was awesome! A few days before FFMN, I had the privilege of volunteering with the organizer at a community forum. So many people at that forum were telling the lady that they would support and help anyway possible; it is just awesome to see that people do care about the betterment of our community. 
So many families showed up to be a part of this event. The kids were happy to have fun, serious when it came to absorbing the material, and glad to have help. The parents were very helpful (as parents are) with helping teach the kids. I think the kids really appreciated the peer-to-peer learning, because you could see their excitement rise as they sat down at the table with me or other youth.  The district school board member showed up and worked with the kids. The kids were all attentive to the activities; even when it took a longer time for them to complete the activity they put a huge effort into it. A local parent/school teacher was impressed by the event; she is happy at the initiative and that it helps bring youth into a positive atmosphere.

The effort put into this event was extraordinary. The organizers went to community events to spread the word, got on the news, and did online social networking. FFMN was a complete success! Look at for the next one!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Family Fun Math Night: More than Just Fun and Games

This Saturday, July 9th, a ground breaking event will take place in West Louisville.  The West Louisville Math and Science Project, Inc. will host a Family Fun Math Night!  You might ask, “How is this groundbreaking?  There are plenty of schools that host math nights.”.  We believe it is ground breaking because this event is the beginning in a series of other events that will turn the tide on the achievement of low performing students.  It will also change the mind set of the community from being reactive and feeling helpless to being proactive about the education of children.  This event, hosted by a community organization, will be a statement that we will no longer sit by and read reports about how African-American children are low performers in math (or any subject for that matter).  We will no longer sit by while schools blame parents and parents blame schools.  It is time for the community to step in and that’s what we’re doing.
Family Fun Math Night is designed to create a comfortable (non-intimidating) setting for children to participate in math activities and games.  While it will benefit children in a great way, we believe it will also have a great impact on families.  It is designed to allow families to interact with their children so they begin to understand how their children process information.  It is also designed for families to identify the confidence level of their children, various techniques they can use for encouragement and to provide information to their children.  One of the important aspects of the event is that it will show families how to set the foundation for their children so they no longer have to struggle in school. 
Some children will master many of the activities and some will not.  That does not matter.  What does matter is that families are together, children see their families excited about their learning and that families leave with a renewed sense of being able to fully participate in their child’s learning.  It is also important for the entire community to participate as if each one of the children in the community were our own.  It is THAT critical.  We must take action like we have never taken before.
So with that said...  Join us!
DATE:  July 9, 2011
TIME:  5:00PM - 7:00PM
LOCATION:  St. Augustine Catholic Church
                     1310 West Broadway 40203
Dinner is on us!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why I support 8664 and No Tolls

As a resident of west Louisville, the real question should be how could I not support 8664 and No Tolls? The ORBP (Ohio River Bridges Project), is one of the biggest decisions that this community faces and one that will have a tremendous impact on the residents of west Louisville.

Many of us who live in West Louisville have to shop in southern Indiana. I could drive all the way to St. Matthews to go to Target, but the one in Southern Indiana is closer. I could drive all the way down Dixie Highway to go to Walmart, but the one in Southern Indiana is closer. I don't want to nor should I have to pay a toll to get basic goods and services. I also shouldn't have to pay a toll on I-64 to get from one side of town to other.  Most of the citizens of west Louisville are barely hanging on as it is. Another toll/tax for basic goods and services would be too much. Yes we could shop in Eastern Jefferson Co, but then we would spend more in gas to go back and forth. It doesn't make sense.

I could possibly support tolls if we needed the entire ORBP(even the new trimmed down plan), but we don't. According to the state's own studies the East End bridge by itself would handle over 99% of the traffic congestion, and Louisvillians are driving less. Why do we need two bridges when one bridge will handle the traffic just fine? Why do we need tolls for the two bridges and a rebuilt Spaghetti Junction when all we need is one bridge AND the ORBP ALREADY HAS ENOUGH MONEY TO BUILD THE EAST END BRIDGE? Let me repeat that last little known fact. They already have enough money to start and finish construction of the East End bridge. Why wait?

The reason we are waiting for all of the money and/or funding sources for the project is because a small group of wealthy, well connected East End residents don't want a bridge in their back yard. The ORBP was originally 2 projects. East End bridge first, then downtown and Spaghetti Junction re-design next. The monied elite knew that if we built one bridge at a time the downtown part would have likely never been built because it would be obvious we didn't need it. They also wanted to kill the east end bridge. The best way to do that would be to make the project to big to succeed. So through their friends in high places the projects were fused to together. Hence the ORBP as we know it today. It is the 2nd most expensive project in the country. There was no way they would get enough money to pay for a $4.1 Billion project. Even the scaled down version is to big.

This leads me to the reason why I support 8664 (If you're not familiar with what 8664 is read about it on their website). 8664 wants to build the East End bridge remove 1-64 as it crosses downtown. This would not only connect Louisville to it's river front, but more importantly open up Western Louisville for more development. We could expand Waterfront Park west, and without the the 9th street flyover Western Louisville can finally be physically and visually re-connected to the rest of Louisville. It would also be a lot cheaper than the ORBP and makes a 1000% more sense. Just look at the pictures and videos.   This is the type of project that moves Louisville forward. Not just the East End, but all of Louisville.

Pics of 8664. This Waterfront Park West looking                This the new Waterfront Parkway

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. I just hope we can change their minds before Louisville makes another BIG mistake.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

You're Not a Mother and a Father, You're One or the Other....

When Mother's Day rolls around I don't say to a father "Happy Mother's Day," why because he's not a mother. I don't care if he's had custody of his child since the child was born, no financial, or emotional support from the mother, doesn't make him a mother. Same with Father's Day, no I wont say Happy Father's Day to a single mother, why, because she's not a father. For some reason this has folks in an uproar, but it shouldn't you have Mother's Day/Father's Day for a reason to celebrate each in their respective rights. 

Had a discussion with someone recently, and like every May/ June, I’m sure I’ll have some more about this issue, and this person made some good points. In the back and forth I asked the question how does it benefit the child saying Happy Mother’s Day to a father and vice-versa, the response, what day does either provide.  I realized I asked the wrong question, I should’ve asked is there any harm done through this gesture.

The reality is I understand why someone chooses to say I’m the father and the mother, but the truth is this is not reality.  Some say, Shawn it’s just semantics a play on words, but it’s more than that.  Absent fatherhood is an issue I deal with in my efforts to promote responsible fatherhood, and while fatherhood is an issue everywhere, in the US the biggest impact is felt in the low-income black community.  With over 70’s of children growing up in single family homes something needs to change.

I think the change begins with the parents, so back to the benefits/ harm question.  No it serves no benefit to the child rather or not they wish their father a Happy Mother’s Day or wish their mother a Happy Father’s Day, but here’s the reality. We know in the low income community fatherhood seems, at time, non-existent.  Like so many other disparities in the low income black community such as heart disease, poverty, high dropout rates, and so on it’s a problem that needs to be addressed and resolved. I say addressed because we don’t do it, we talk about it as a problem but we don’t address the issue itself (I’ll cover that next time).

Ok, here’s my scenario based on my personal experience as a father, my professional experience working with father’s and responsible fatherhood practitioners, my role as a confidant to many single mothers raising sons, and my civic involvement in schools working with youth.  Let’s say we have a single mother raising a son, this son grows up with no positive male involvement.

This child hears all the time from the mother “I’m your mother and your father,” or “I’m the only father you know,” while I can understand that perspective based on the parents frustration and struggle what about the psychological development of the child.  It’s bad enough the father isn’t around, it’s equally devastating no positive males around, but now on top of that, he’s hearing a woman say essentially “I’m not only a woman, but a man.”

When this young black male grows up dealing with all the peer pressures, struggles, and obstacles life has to throw at him, he’s going to wrestle with his identity, when he has a child if it doesn’t work with the mother (bad relationships), struggles with the family court (difficult time navigating child welfare system), and isn’t involved in the life of his child like he wants or should be, what’s he going to fall back on, are the voices in his head.  The voices in his head that recall a woman saying “I’m the mother and the father,” at this point if that male says, they don’t need me, meaning his family, which is the sad reality a lot of times (now we deal with mental wellness), that’s how this terminology, this play on words, can have a negative effect on the child.  Also, you can flip the roles, let’s say it’s a female in this situation, it could make her have a difficult time working with the father, when they struggle, because if her mom is both why can’t she be, and thus, her kids don’t NEED a father, because she is mama, and daddy.

                                                                                                Shawn Gardner

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sheppard Square Redevelopment

This was taken from local blog Brokensidewalk. We will have more on this later, but this is a good introduction.

Officials from Metro Louisville, the Metro Housing Authority (LMHA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gathered in May to announce funding for Louisville’s third HOPE VI development on the site of the current Sheppard Square housing project in the Smoketown-Jackson neighborhood. After a failed attempt last year, LMHA was awarded a $22 million federal grant that will jump start the estimated $167 million redevelopment, with additional funding expected to come from public and private sources.
Long in planning, the future of Sheppard Square will resemble the Park DuValle neighborhood or the nearby Liberty Green, with traditional-styled, market-rate and subsidized residential buildings built under the guidelines of New Urbanism.
Officials from Metro Louisville, the Metro Housing Authority (LMHA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gathered in May to announce funding for Louisville’s third HOPE VI development on the site of the current Sheppard Square housing project in the Smoketown-Jackson neighborhood. After a failed attempt last year, LMHA was awarded a $22 million federal grant that will jump start the estimated $167 million redevelopment, with additional funding expected to come from public and private sources.
Long in planning, the future of Sheppard Square will resemble the Park DuValle neighborhood or the nearby Liberty Green, with traditional-styled, market-rate and subsidized residential buildings built under the guidelines of New Urbanism.

In an agreement with the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), a recreational area adjacent to Meyzeek Middle School will be located at the southwest corner of the site with one block on Lampton Street closed to auto-traffic. Barry declined to say what the new pedestrian walkway would look like as it’s still underdevelopment with JCPS. The recreational fields would be available for public use.
At Hancock and Roseland streets, the old Presbyterian Community Center (PCC), a grand historic building, will be restored and converted into offices and apartments for the elderly and disabled veterans. “We’re going to do a bang-up job on the old community center,” said Barry. “It’s of great importance to the community.” An addition will be built to the south of the existing structure, which is unfortunately set back from the corner (a result of maintaining sight-lines for motorists Pincus explained).
Between 25 and 30 market-rate, single-family houses will surround the old PCC and Hancock Green, each with its own private garage. Higher density units will be located nearest to East Broadway.
Barry said LMHA is exploring out-parcels as well including the two-story former Duvall Liquor store at the southwest corner of Hancock and Breckinridge streets. The historic building could be converted into apartments, possibly with a retail space on the first floor. Another option is a vacant block to the northwest of Sheppard Square that was once home to the original Hillerich & Bradsby “Louisville Slugger” factory and is still owned by the Hillerich family. Barry said LMHA “would certainly pay homage to the site as the original bat factory.” For now, the main focus remains on the original Sheppard Square footprint.
Among the unique features of the redevelopment are the sustainable components, including green rainwater management systems to help reduce combined sewer overflow, a major problem in Louisville. Sheppard Square represents an increase from measures taken at Liberty Green, said Barry. Pervious pavers will definitely be part of the mix, but he assured us that’s just a start. (We’re hoping for curb-side rain gardens.) Like Liberty Green, every building will be Energy Star rated, but the new development will also be an Enterprise Green Community which takes sustainability to the neighborhood level.
The new Sheppard Square will be a residential development with no planned commercial space, but Barry said the project is intended to spur additional private redevelopment in the surrounding Smoketown-Jackson neighborhood, which has ample potential to bring in a mix of additional uses.
Courtesy of Brokensidewalk 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why aren't more African-Americans engaged in local civic debates?

This is a question that I have often contemplated. I have had the pleasure of being a part of the bridges debate, the failed attempt to save the Brinkley-Hardy buildings on East Main, and several other worthy civic causes. I have been to several hundred meetings and many more gatherings of like minded individuals around these  and other various causes.  The one constant about all of these meetings and organizations is that I am usually just 1 of a handful of black folks in the room. Why is that?

I think part of the problem is the segregated city in which we live. Usually when you start an organization around a cause or topic the first people you invite are the people you know. Once that group has been exhausted you start to expand. The problem with Louisville is that there isn't a lot of mixing  between groups of people. That's why an organization started in the Highlands tends to attract people around the Highlands. Very rarely would you find somebody from either West or South Louisville represented. The same can be said of an organization started in West Louisville. Segregation also makes it hard for these groups to expand outside of their comfort zones and build coalitions. Often times they don't know the mover or shakers in another part of town to connect with or how to connect with them. However, segregation leads to another problem.

The segregation that I am referring to is economic segregation. In order to start or be apart of an organization you have to have your basic needs meet. If you don't have a constant source of food, shelter, and clothing the odds of you staying up late and donating your time to a cause is pretty slim.  Unless of course that cause is about getting those needs met. Even then it's tough.

Most importantly I think middle class black folks (those who have the economic means to donate time and treasure) are in general worried that being active may hurt their already slim job prospects. Let's be honest. If you're young, black and in the middle class in Louisville you don't have a ton of well paying jobs that you can jump to. If your employer doesn't approve of your "activities" and your job may be in peril because of said activities, you are pretty much stuck. The flip side of the coin is that, we as a people, are 100% dependent on the current power structure for our economic well-being. The ones that could/should rock the boat can't. There are just a handful of well paying that jobs that are set aside for us. If we are considered "unsafe" then  we will never be considered for those few positions. This is a city that you have to go along to get along.

Lastly I think a lot of us have just given up hope and no longer see our futures intertwined with those of a different economic class. We feel that we have come about as far as we can and now its time to see how far I can go." I'm not the same as those folks who live in the West End." "I'm just trying to do me." We have lost our sense of community and unity. Therefore when we are engaged or try to build movements it's hard to get any sort of consensus.

There is hope. There are a bunch of young, progressive black folks who are tired and want to see change, but it's going to be an uphill struggle, and like Frederick Douglass said "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rubbertown Lawsuit Terms Insulting

Rubbertown Lawsuit Terms Insulting

A couple of days ago REACT began receiving calls and inquiries about letters residents had received concerning a lawsuit in Rubbertown.  The letters they received were notice of a proposed settlement with Zeon Chemicals, one the chemical facilities in Rubbertown that has been spewing toxic chemicals into our neighborhoods for decades.  My first thought was “Here we go again.”  
In 2009, many in the community came very close to losing their right to sue Zeon while receiving little to literally nothing in return.  Luckily REACT and its allies were able to get the word out about the unfair settlement terms.  Community members packed out the courtroom and when the judge asked by a show of hands, who was in favor of the settlement, no one raised a hand.  Ultimately the judge denied the class settlement and residents were spared.
Fast forward to 2011.  This modified version of the settlement rejected in 2009 is just as bad.  First let’s deal with the money issues.  According to the Short Form Notice:
  • If you live within a mile of the facility, you will receive between $300 and $750
  • If you live within one to two miles you will receive $30 to $100
Okay, let’s stop there.  You mean to tell me that people will receive what amounts to enough money to pay an LG&E electric bill in the first scenario and what amounts to a tank of gas in the second scenario (rolling my eyes)?  Oh and I forgot to tell you.  You might even have to split what you receive with others who lived in your home within a certain time frame.  It just keeps getting better huh?
Let us continue...  The Short Notice Form also informs residents that for all of that money they will receive (insert sarcasm here), they will release all future claims for damages against Zeon.
Would you like to hear more ridiculousness?  People within a certain mile radius of the facility are automatically bound by the terms of the settlement unless that TAKE ACTION by opting out.  So this means people who do nothing will lose their rights.
It may sound to you like I am making light of the situation because of the way I presented it but “hear” me now...  This is SERIOUS.  We must muster up the strength to get the word out about this lawsuit.  People will lose their rights and gain minimal in return.  People in these neighborhoods are ill because of toxic chemicals coming from Rubbertown.  We cannot  allow them to pay us of with chump change and not even reduce our exposure to their toxic chemicals. 
REACT will hold it’s 3rd quarter meeting Saturday, July 16th at 1:00PM.  We will provide analysis of the terms so that you clearly understand and we will have opt out forms available for those who want no part of this ludicrous settlement.
If you would like to keep up with what is going on with the proposed settlement or issues related to Rubbertown, please send an email to

Eboni Neal Cochran is a resident of the Chickasaw area, one of several neighborhoods adjacent to a cluster of chemical facilities commonly referred to as Rubbertown. She is a member of REACT (Rubbertown Emergency ACTion) an all volunteer grassroots organization of residents living at or near the fenceline of Rubbertown.
REACT is fighting for:
1. Strong laws to stop toxic air pollution from chemical plants
2. The protection of residents in the event of a leak, fire or explosion in a chemical plant or railcar
3. Full disclosure and easy access to information concerning the impact of Rubbertown on residents living nearby

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Love and Marriage: This is Why I'm SIngle

After reading an article about why women might be single I thought it appropriate to put together a list of why men are single.  Then it dawned on me, it’s not the same, it’s not the same because as one friend told me as I was putting together this blog, men are not pressured to be in a relationship, there’s not the same stigma attached with a single man as it is with a single woman.    With that being said, the original article “Love and Marriage: This is why you’re Single,” that prompted my thoughts has become “Love and Marriage: Why I Choose to be Single.”
*Caution, of course this doesn’t represent the thoughts of all men, but if you read this and can relate you know the adage “if the shoe fits wear it.” To all women this may be hard to swallow, but there’s an old saying for you as well, “the truth hurts.”  Here are my 10+ reasons why men choose to be single.  +note 10, 11, and 12 can be lumped together.
  1. Unlimited Booty Calls no need to be in a relationship/ get married; I can get all the sex I want without the hassle of commitment.  Generally it just takes a drink at the bar, a dinner and movie, and in some cases the infamous 3 A.M. call.
  2. I got keys Why be in a relationship/ get married if I can just shack up. You can cook for me, clean for me, wash my clothes, and tell all your little girlfriends “girl I got a man.” Sure you do you gave me a set of keys to the crib.
  3. “Dime” Piece I want the “dime,” I haven’t found a woman who meets every criteria on my list. She has to be shapely, cute, smart, have a job, no kids, hair, and is a freak in the bed.
  4. Stingy with the Benjis I don’t have a lot of money, but if I get married the little money I got a woman will take some when we divorce.  I’m not getting married because I want to keep my money, same thing with relationships.  If I have a girlfriend, if something happens and she needs some money she’ll think I’m obligated to give her some.
  5. Divorced been there done that not doing it again.
  6. I’m too FlyI look to good to get married, I get so much attention from women why would I settle with one when I’ve loved, adored, and wanted by many, not only that I’m too young, I got things to do a woman would just cramp my style.
  7. Heartbroken contrary to popular believe you’ve had your heart broken before, don’t like the feeling and so now, no woman, gets the benefit of doubt. As far as you’re concerned they’re all hoes and sluts, and would just as soon dog you as soon as they could.
  8. Hoes and Sluts I see the way you dress, and the way you look, you a hoe.  You told me“I don’t normally do this,” so I guess I’m special.  I’m supposed to believe all those Trojans in the pickle jar are just in case.  Meeting me on the first time showing me your skills is something you don’t do all the time either, huh?  Why would even think about marrying someone like you.
  9. Zero Pressure Nobody is telling me I need to get married, none of my boys are married, my mama ain’t asking me when I’m going to get married.  Now that I think about it I really don’t see myself getting married… don’t even ask me to go to a wedding, not going to happen.
  10. Baby Daddy Drama always seems to follow a woman with kids, you try to hang with them every once and while and soon as you do here comes, Tyrone causing problems.
  11. Bebe’s kids you don’t want to marry because women who have children seem to have some little demons, and since men and women parent different, you don’t think it would ever work.  She let’s them run around turning up stuff, you’re quick to put a stop to it, which causes problems.  Another problem kids get all attached to you like you’re their dad, so much so the kids start calling you dad.
  12. Replacement Dad you see every woman with kids as a woman looking to get a daddy for their bad ass kids.
  13. I ain’t Changing relationships mean I have to change who I am, have to be in at a decent time, got to hear drama if I want to watch the game.  I go from being able to relax kick my shoes off in the middle of the floor to having to be responsible.
  14. Badge of Honor I like being a bachelor; I wear my title bachelor, like a badge of honor.
Men and women are different and we see life different, one aspect is relationships.  Traditionally women want them and men don’t.  Of course, if women really wanted that to change it could, but women would have to be on a common front… Til Next – The Intellectual1, Shawn Gardner)