Tag Archives: louisville

AWESOME PROJECT: A Louisville mural to take you back in time

If you’ve ever been involved in a public mural project, then you know how deceptively simple this booming genre of community activism can seem, to the uninitiated. Hire an artist, slap it on, make it pretty… right?

Wrong! Community murals are very, very labor-intensive – even if a professional artist is on the team. From fundraising, to power-washing the wall, to the complexities of designing and mapping such a large image, to scaffolding, to selecting climate-appropriate paint, to coating it all with UV protection at the end, to lighting installation, to protecting the work from graffiti, this kind of job is no cakewalk. But it’s worth it. Murals bring people together. Neighbors stop and look, and wind up chatting. Mural helpers and contributors across the country burst with pride at the sight of their work.


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Three Points for history

Just ask Jennifer Chappell, who in her free time works tirelessly on her community council and as a Creator with Three Points Beautification, in Louisville. She’s spearheading an ioby campaign that’s raising money right now to cover a portion of costs for a new mural on a run-down commercial building on Goss Avenue, in Louisville’s Three Points area, where she lives.

“This is a building that most people just look over,” says Chappell, “or if they do notice it, it’s just absolutely ugly. A lot of people think that it’s actually an abandoned building, or don’t know what’s in it. So it’s exciting for us to show what’s in the neighborhood, and to say: this is who your neighbors are.”

The mural’s  concept is absolutely fascinating: it’s going to visually represent the Louisville Cotton Mill and Glassner’s Bakery – tenants of the building generations ago – as well as Ackerman Millworks, who are the current building tenants. It’ll be done by artist Stephen Paulovich, and in such a way that if you stand out front, it’ll look as if the building has been spliced down the center, so that you can peer right in to see women spinning cotton, men working wood lathes, and bakers kneading bread. On another side will be a reproduction of an old photograph of a Glassner’s Bakery truck.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth right now,” says Chappell. “Nine new restaurants in the area, a lot of businesses coming in, home prices skyrocketing. We’re seeing a lot of positive growth. A lot more people are coming to community meetings. But as we make these leaps and bounds into our future, we want to preserve the past.”


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Warning: community action may be highly addictive

This isn’t Chappell’s first rodeo – she and her team already have one other mural up in the area, as well as a community map of three neighborhoods that make up Three Points, a community bulletin board, a bench, a trash can, and some no littering signs. They’ve had sidewalks repaved, done $2,000 worth of landscaping, and planted 4 trees. “It’s a project that continues to grow and grow and grow,” says Chappell, who doesn’t seem to be able to quit. “My heart gets a little warmer if I see someone sitting on the bench. I get really excited over a full trashcan. It’s the little things. I get really excited when someone posts a flier on the bulletin board. It could be about those silly belly wraps that people do – lose 20 pounds with a wrap! That’s ridiculous, but I’m so glad someone took time out of their day to put something on the board!”

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Maybe Chappell’s tirelessness comes from seeing so clearly what a difference her work is making. Passersby often roll down their windows and shout “thank you!,” if workers happen to be on the site. “It’s so heartwarming,” says Chappell, who actually cried the first time she sat down in the newly installed bench, and who’s also noticed that neighbors have been taking it upon themselves to quietly contribute, when no one is looking. Recently, someone went and repainted an old fire hydrant in the area; now it’s a nice, bright red again. Someone else staked a tree that had been bumped by a car. Another person did some quiet weed-management.

These selfless neighbors, like Chappell herself, aren’t getting paid for it. They’re not in it for the glory. They just feel compelled to give a little, make things a little nicer. Neighborhood investment breeding neighborhood investment.

To donate to the mural, visit the campaign page here. More than $3,000 has already been raised, with 26 days left to raise the remaining $2,135. A $20 donation gets your name on the mural, and $200 or more gets your glowing FACE up there!


Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.

Pssst…. In OTHER ioby news: Want to learn from the pros about how to bring healthy cooking into the classroom? Check out last week’s Learn From A Leader blog, and get tips on designing curriculum, getting equipment, and teaching good food habits. Give it a read, and you’ll be ready to start!


AWESOME PROJECT: Crowd-Resourcing for an Eco Louisville Bus Shelter

Fun fact: in 1906, residents of Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood each chipped in $2 to purchase land for a neighborhood library. That building still stands today – residents know it as their Shelby Park Community Center.

It was a perfect execution of crowd-resourcing, way ahead of its time, and Mark Noll, project coordinator at Louisville Metro Government, thinks it’s time to try it again. “We won’t be able to purchase any land with $2 donations today,” admits Noll, “but we could get a pretty cool bus stop!” And that happens to be just what the neighborhood needs right now.

Today’s Louisville, Kentucky, is not known for it’s public transportation system. In fact, most Louisville bus stops are nothing more than a pole and a dinky sign. Not exactly inviting – especially with temperatures up in the 90s during summer – and ridership numbers reflect the fact that the system is run down. But change may be on the horizon: by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, Louisville residents will have two brand spanking new bus shelters to be very thankful for.

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That’s thanks to Noll, whose background is in urban planning, and who, when he learned about ioby’s Trick Out My Trip campaign, was all over it. “I see the potential of so many neighborhoods that just need a little investment, love, energy, a little sweat equity,” says Noll. “I really think we can turn around a lot of our urban neighborhoods.”

Noll and his teammates are the right guys for the job; two of them work in the Mayor’s office, on the innovation deliveries team, and the third is in the Louisville office of sustainability. Naturally, then, the designs for two new shelters they’re envisioning will be both cutting-edge and green, and inspiration is coming from an unlikely place: the city’s rubbish bin. At least half of the raw materials for the new shelters will be sourced from a bike parts graveyard of sorts, over at Bicycling for Louisville, and from the warehouse scrap pile over at First Build, a community of makers who design and prototype everything from benches to tables to robots. “We’re trying to use salvaged materials wherever possible,” says Noll. That cuts costs as well as the city’s carbon footprint.

I see the potential of so many neighborhoods that just need a little investment, love, energy, a little sweat equity,” says Noll. “I really think we can turn around a lot of our urban neighborhoods.”

On board with Noll and his team are local non-profit and advocacy group Bicycling for Louisville, Shelby Park Neighborhood Association, and sustainability-focused architecture firm Luckett and Farley. The three are in talks now to decide on their designs, so it’s going to be a quick and energetic turnover, and it sounds as though Louisville residents have a real treat in store.

Here’s what the team has decided already: “We want to turn them into places, destinations, gateways for the neighborhoods and gathering places,” says Noll, “almost urban living rooms, so it’s not just a bus stop. It’s a place where people socialize.” To that end, the team will install comfortable benches and big maps to help people situate themselves. Doesn’t being oriented make the trip feel shorter, after all? The team is planning to use LOTS of vibrant color throughout, to brighten up the drab concrete corners. They’ll also keep an eye out for the needs of bicyclists who have previously had no place to rest or park their bikes while they wait. On the team’s wishlist – for down the road – is a bike repair station.

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The hope, as the team culls through various design possibilities right now, is that each of the two shelters will in some way reflect the culture of the neighborhood they serve – Shelby Park and SOBRO residents, get out your neighborhood pride!

“I think a lot of the time people may not be able to orient themselves and realize, ‘hey, there’s this really cool park three minutes’ walk down the street.’ So we want to draw attention to those neighborhood assets,” says Noll. Man, have we all been stuck in cars for a really long time, or something? Seems no one knows anymore how close and accessible our cities’ treasures really are to us.

To celebrate the completion of the two new bus shelters, and to make sure everyone’s got them well on their brainmaps, Noll and his team are planning a party on wheels. After biking (festively!) from one new bus shelter to the other, residents will land at a local bar and drink to the urban revival taking place right in their own backyards.

But that’s only the beginning. “We want this to be replicable,” says Noll. “We’re trying to do this on the cheap, and something that other neighborhoods can see and say ‘hey, we’d like to have something like that.’”

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The ioby Trick Out My Trip opportunity is funded by Transit Center.


ioby’s Trick Out My Trip Campaign

Last year, something big happened for public transit in America. In 2013, a whopping 10.7 billion rides were taken on US transit. An impressive record high, the number reveals that the trend we’ve all seen in action – Americans, especially millennials, setting their sights on walkable, bikeable, train- and bus-able towns and cities – is a very real one, and could completely change the face of American transportation.

The news couldn’t be better. With climate change breathing down our necks, and study after study reporting that access to good public transit makes people both happier and healthier, America needs to get with the program. Sure, New Yorkers might have a million great – if loud, slow, crowded and smelly – transit options, but they enjoy nearly 50% of all US public transit rides, while much of the rest of the country gets the short straw. We all need the option to ditch our cars, and to become a country that walks, bikes, hops on the train.

“Overall for the transit industry,” says Transit Center research and development director Shin-Pei Tsay, “for all the transit agencies, all the operators, all the people who provide services and infrastructure and construction, I think overall they’re just really excited, because on the wholesale level, there’s finally public demand for transit services.”

But despite all the buzz about the increasing demand for public transit, says Tsay, “little has changed in the industry.” That’s because most of the big changes we need to see are bound to come very, very slowly. Projects like laying down new track, redesigning streets and intersections, and adding trains and busses to existing lines will be hugely expensive, and they’ll be forever in the making. Plus, some will also be disruptive for locals. Case in point: New York’s always-and-forever pending 2nd Ave subway line, with all the incredible noise and mess it’s brought to NYC’s east side.

Here’s the game-changer, though. We don’t have to wait. There are so many other ways – vastly cheaper, quicker, easier, and more creative ways – for us all to start making American public transit as safe and comfortable as it should be. Turning a single decrepit Memphis bus shelter into a celebration of Soulsville musical heritage, for example, can help to enliven an entire neighborhood. Introducing a public art installation at a neglected intersection can help people envision the space as full of possibility. Simply putting up a colorful, hand-painted sign at a metro stop, to let riders know it’s only a fifteen-minute walk to the park, can reinvigorate daily routines. These are projects that transit authorities would see as being outside of their wheelhouse, and would never tackle. And they’re exactly the types of projects we the riders, we the walkers and cyclists, can get started on right now.

This fall, ioby has sponsored ten such projects as part of its Trick Out My Trip transit campaign. The ten ioby team Leaders are community organizers, cycling advocates, transit authority staffers and volunteers, software programmers, artists and involved citizens, and they come from all over the country – Los Angeles, Seattle, Memphis, Louisville, Atlanta, Denver, Lithonia, and Brooklyn. Each of them has an innovative idea about how to quickly improve transit in his or her city, and – with funds raised through ioby, then matched by Transit Center – they’ll each complete a test run between now and Thanksgiving.

As researchers pay closer and closer attention to the psychology of public transit, studies have shown that the sorts of projects these ten ioby Leaders will be completing can have a very concrete impact on riders’ satisfaction. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have found, for example, that basic amenities at bus stops – shelters, benches, clear and accurate schedules – make people’s wait times feel significantly shorter. And that may be far more important than we’ve previously assumed. As Transit Center’s 2014 Who’s On Board study reported, “Transit is personal. Unlike the sewer systems, the power grid, and telecommunications infrastructure, transit can evoke pride, frustration, and even fear. It can shape our most personal decisions about where we live and work.”

“It’s super exciting,” says Tsay of partnering with ioby on Trick Out My Trip. “I love seeing ideas from people who are everyday transit riders. Change can’t happen without them. Seeing that there’s interest in the communities means that there’s a growing contingency who might really think about transit in a different way and put pressure on their transit agencies and on their elected officially to think about transit differently, and I think all of that really makes a big difference in the long run.”

 Stay Tuned! This blog is the first in a series this week!