Letters From the Director

Mellone was just thinking…

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It is time to think about
Give for Good Day

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Friday, September 17th is Give for Good Day in Louisville.  This day is an important fundraising day for the nonprofits here in Louisville.  There are so many great nonprofits that need help.  


The purpose of the day is to focus on giving to worthy nonprofits who need your support.  It is an exciting day.  A day where you can learn a lot about organizations that you may not know much about.  All the nonprofits try to put their stories out so that you can understand what we do.  


I always have a difficult time saying all we do here at CFN.  I say so often that we are a small staff of 9 that does the work of 90.  We work hard to fulfill our mission of “engaging with neighbors to build great neighborhoods”.  The multitude and varied things we do is hard to explain.  We take this time to highlight a few things; sometimes we like to highlight the things that we rarely talk about, nonetheless contribute to community.


We talk about Neighborhood Institute (NI) a lot because it is one of our signature functions.  The graduates are strong neighborhood advocates. Most people who know CFN know about NI.


We also talk about Neighborhood Summit often because this is a great chance for a diverse group to get together, network, and learn how to make their neighborhoods even better.  Mark your calendars; the next Summit is November 6th.


We always discuss Better Block and Paint and our Mapping and …


But what I want to highlight today is our engagement.  Engagement is vital, particularly with underserved neighborhoods.  We work to have authentic engagement with our neighbors.  It is not telling folks what is going on in their community.  It is listening to the people and finding out what they know, what they want to know, and how we can help.  This process is not easy, but it is invaluable.  We work long and hard to build relationships.  We have relationships that go back years and decades.  We are often the go to organization when someone has a simple question or a complex problem.  Our goal is to be as transparent as we can be.  We also do not go away when the issue is resolved; we stick around.  That is how we build relationship, and that is why we are so good at engagement.
So, if you would like to donate to us during Give for Good go to:
https://www.giveforgoodlouisville.org/organizations/center-for-neighborhoods

"Neighborhood Institute Kick-Off"

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I don’t know if you know Mikal Forbush; he is CFN’s Director of Education & engagement – he is a funny guy, but his humor is VERY dry, so sometimes I don’t get it right away. 

An example of me missing the joke is when this week we have been working hard on getting ready for the beginning of Neighborhood Institute.  The Neighborhood Institute is one of our flagship programs.  The Neighborhood Institute is a free, 12-week neighborhood leadership training program held twice per year that equips neighborhood leaders to affect positive change in their communities. Neighborhood Institute has graduated resident leaders from all over Metro for over 30 years.

In the preparation, Mikal offhandedly told me to be prepared to speak to the incoming class for about 10 minutes or so.  I, of course, always want to make a good impression, so I wrote down some notes and went over them a couple of times in my head.  When I asked Mikal where I was on the agenda, he laughed a little and said he was just joking, which made me both happy and sad.

Instead of wasting my notes, I thought I would share a little of it here:

Welcome – I am so glad each of you are here.

Have any of you ever thought of running for: your Neighborhood Association President, Metro Council, State Senate or Representative, US Senator or Congressperson, or even President?

This institute will inspire you to do big things, even if it isn’t running for office, you will learn how to build consensus and therefore the power to get things done.  It is usually exciting to realize and figure out you are the ones with the power.

We are trying to build citizen warriors.  I would love to have an army of neighbors building their own communities the way they want them to be.

So I challenge each of you to learn all you can & come up with a good project and do it, start building your community one step at a time to be just the community you want it to be.

So for all of you who have participated in the Institute, I salute you for striving to make the change you want.  And for those of you who have not participated, there is always next time.  We offer it twice a year, and I look forward to meeting you!

"National Book  Week"

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I used to read a book a week, then I went to graduate school, where I read a few books a week, but it was not for pleasure.  That broke my habit of reading for fun, I am always reading for work, that is never for pleasure.  I have bought several books this year, but they are sitting on my bookshelf, unread, taunting me.

One of my New Years' resolutions was to read a book a month for pleasure, it is August and I have only read one, it was a self-improvement book, I really enjoyed it but, alas I did not follow it with another book.

August 9th is National Book Day, I decided to look for a book by a local author. I ended up ordering “Two Centuries of Black Louisville” by Mervin Aubespin, Kenneth Clay, J. Blaine Hudson – but it is a photo book, so I still won’t do much reading.  I cannot wait until it gets here and I can enjoy the photographs.

While I wait, I am going to go to a local bookstore for an excellent recommendation.  I would request that we all support local bookstores.  It is SO easy to order from Amazon, and I do it all the time, but it is so much better to support local.  Here are a few bookstores to give a try while we celebrate Nation Book Day:

Carmichael’s Bookstore - www.carmichaelsbookstore.com

McQuixote Books & Coffee - mcquixote.com

The Great Escape – www.thegreatescapeonline.com

The Rosewater - www.therosewater.org

"Burger Week"

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This is “Burger Week” here in Louisville.  Most of the Center for Neighborhoods’ staff went out for a burger and some team building.  It was a fun time at 80/20 at Kaelin’s Restaurant, with good food & good company.  We hadn’t been out as a team in over a year.  I am so grateful for the virtual meeting technology that allowed us to do our jobs while on lock-down.  But there is nothing like real human interaction.  We have four new folks join our team over the last year, and it is nice to do some team-building with them.

After lunch, we had some neighborhood canvassing to do.  By the way, I say “we” very loosely, because I did not go, but I like to think what one of us does, we all do, although it was nearly 90 degrees and I was inside sitting in the AC, so the “team” may not believe that.  I mention the canvasing to say; we are out doing our thing again.  When we canvas, we go door to door, with a community member(s), to talk to our neighbors.  Sometimes we survey, but usually, we are just letting folks know what is going on.

A thing that is important to us is building authentic relationships with the communities in which we work.  It was a challenge to do that virtually, so we are all delighted to be back out in the real world.  Canvasing is a vital way to build connections.

We are doing a lot of neighborhood canvassing again, but another chance to talk to us is coming up on August 7th at the Victory Park Day celebration.  Victory Park is one of the 18 Olmsted Parks here in Louisville.  Olmsted Parks are renowned, historic and rare.  To have 18 in one city is an honor.  Some of these parks have had some deteriorations over the years. Luckily, over the last few years, there has been some reinvestment and that is excellent news.  CFN will be at the Park on August 7th to get feedback on this Park and a possible new park.  Please stop by our booth and say hello or let us know what you think can be done in the California parks.

Vacation

I just got back from vacation.  I enjoyed it so much, both the time off and the time away.  I met my family in Orlando.  It reminded me of my childhood family vacations.  We always took car trips to visit family. As I got older, I started to take vacations in other places, not just to see family, I love to go to the islands, but I digress.  This year it was so lovely to see my family after over a year of missing them because of Covid.  It was nice that all of us are vaccinated, except the little ones who could not be vaccinated.  So, I got to hug my family, that was a good feeling.  


Life seems to be getting back to normal, somewhat, or at least the “new normal”.  My personal and professional life is slowly but surely going back to some sort of normality.  I still carry my mask in my pocket every day, for situations where I think I need it.  And frankly, I still stand about six feet away from people as I meet them.  Some things are more normal, I am back going to stores, I just joined the YMCA, I am back going to church in person…
Work – aah work is trying to be more normal.  Our office is open again, Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm.  (Please, come on by and see us at our new location, 1126 Berry Blvd. Ste #300.)


Our The Lucille Leggett Neighborhood Institute (Institute) will be in person again this Fall, woohoo!  Our last two sessions were virtual (virtual was fine, but not the same), and we are so excited to go back in person.  The Center for Neighborhoods (CFN) has offered the Institute since 1987, so you know CFN knows how to do this well.  It is an opportunity for our Neighbors to get an education on being even better neighbors.  The next session starts on August 17th; classes are Tuesdays from 6 pm - 8 pm for twelve event-filled weeks.  For more information, click here, you have to apply by August 2nd.