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!