Every quarter the PL team takes a field trip to a different city in an effort to learn from other innovative thinkers and share our work at People’s Liberty. This trip, we invited a few of our grantees along for the ride, so that they too could build relationships and see something new.
Our first stop was with Dave Durand and Patrick Piuma, two of the partners behind City Collaborative. One of their biggest projects is called ReSurfaced: an initiative that explores creative strategies to activate underutilized urban spaces. We had a chance to talk about successes and challenges that come with creating new ideas, all while enjoying the Forest Giant office space.
Next, it was off to meet with FirstBuild, a MakerSpace for new ideas in home appliances. We learned how people go about creating new concepts for appliances, while also being able to safely take risks with their idea. First Build strives to be a community space where people can come in with ideas to prototype and evaluate the need for the product. (i.e. a nugget ice machine; a big hit with our group!).
Next, we met Gill Holland, NuLu/Portland expert and Green Building founder, for lunch at The Table Cafe, a unique pay-it-forward restaurant. Guests have the option to give volunteer hours to the cafe as a form of payment, or perhaps pay for another person’s meal along with your own. While we were there, we got a chance to learn more about Gill’s background and his impact in the disinvested areas of West Louisville and the NuLu area.
Happily fed, our group then moved towards the Green Building for a tour with Stephanie Kertis. She took time to explain how the Green Building is the first commercial building in Louisville to get a LEED platinum certification. The building went through decades of misuse, before Gill and his wife, Augusta, had the ambition to do something amazing with it. The project features a 40 foot high lobby, natural lighting, eco-friendly materials, and renewable energy systems, as well as solar power, geothermal wells, a green rooftop, and recycled denim insulation.
For our mid-day coffee break, we stopped at Please & Thank You to grab a cup of coffee and some highly recommended chocolate chip cookies. While we were there, we split up into groups to talk to Ceci Conway and John Guthrie. Ceci plays a role in putting on the Idea Festival: a three day event in Louisville to bring together speakers from different backgrounds to create positive change. John works with a local publication called Louisville Distilled, a online magazine and website focused on what's next for Louisville.
From there, we moved downtown to meet with Stephen Reily and Caroline Heine and hear their work on the West Louisville FoodPort. This impressive initiative is taking place in West Louisville on a 24-acre plot of land. The FoodPort will locate food-related businesses in one place where they can buy food from local farmers and hire neighbors for jobs. Designed by world-renowned architecture firm OMA, the FoodPort will bring Louisville together with a state-of-the-art landmark that spurs economic growth in a historic, but under-invested section of the city.
Finally, we were delighted to join Alice Gray Stites at the first 21C hotel location to learn more about how the 21C was founded and how it operates today. The hotel was based on the idea that it would be a public museum to include many different types of people in the surrounding location. This community space is meant to create economic drive for the community and be a place where art challenges, starts conversation and provokes new ideas.
The day went by quickly, but it was packed full of fun, insight, and interesting people. We look forward to returning the favor and hosting our great guides in Cincinnati. Until next time Louisville!