VISION Smoketown

Change abounds in the city of Louisville. As bike lanes begin to appear on familiar neighborhood streets, arrangements are being made to bring a Wal-Mart Supercenter into the city’s West End. While construction crews work to assemble a new bridge crossing the Ohio River, there are confirmed plans to build a 600-room hotel, an upscale grocery store and a 200-unit apartment complex downtown.

Questions of economic development have brought these projects into the spotlight, compelling Louisvillians to ask the often-overlooked question: How are these changes going to affect the residents who already live here? One of the organizations that have taken up that mantle is the Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC, putting into practice the belief that communities thrive when the voices of ordinary people are heard and respected in our democracy.

Having relocated their office to Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood in 2013, members of the Jefferson County chapter collectively decided to launch a community-wide canvassing project, designed to gather general input from area residents. When the project was first conceived, KFTC members had drafted a survey that was roughly 10 pages long and included questions about housing, transportation, safety and economic growth. With the help of Center for Neighborhoods, the survey was whittled down to a two-page document. However, it still managed to retain all the questions that were in the original draft, but was re-created in a way that would help initiate a meaningful dialogue with Smoketown neighbors while introducing them to the various issues surrounding economic development.

VISION Smoketown volunteersNow, with canvassing efforts in full swing, KFTC has established a more focused objective for when the project comes to a close:

1) To better connect Smoketown residents with their elected officials and local community organizations.
2) To help interested residents reinvigorate the currently inactive Smoketown neighborhood association.
3) To create a comprehensive report of the Smoketown area that identifies both the strengths and opportunities of the neighborhood.

In true KFTC style, project volunteers have also used the door-to-door aspect of canvassing to register people to vote – just in time for the general election in November.

By the end of the Smoketown canvassing project – which has taken on the moniker of VISION Smoketown – KFTC expects to use not only the quantitative data from the survey responses but the qualitative information as well, including interviews, photos and testimonials – all of which have been broadcasted on the VISION Smoketown Twitter account. The chapter is partnering with Kertis Creative to create a VISION Smoketown report that will be shared with Smoketown residents, city officials, and community organizations. 

Approximately 80 surveys have been completed thus far, and the VISION Smoketown team will continue canvassing Smoketown until the end of August. Capping off the project will be a neighborhood-wide block party dubbed the Smoketown Getdown, open to Smoketown residents, KFTC members, and the general community. The Smoketown Getdown will take place on Friday, September 19 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will feature food, music, dancing and a beer garden. 

The next VISION Smoketown canvass dates will be on July 12 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and July 17 and 31 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Anyone interested in canvassing with the VISION Smoketown team can contact Jefferson County chapter organizer Alicia Hurle at alicia@kftc.org,  sign up here or visit our Facebook page


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