One Poem At A Time - a new public health policy initiative of IDEAS xLab and Creative Agents of Change Foundation - replaces negative and predatory advertising and billboards in Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood with positive photographs and poetry depicting Smoketown community members and lifting up their voices.
“Walking through Smoketown, I was overwhelmed with the signs that filled the community," said poet Hannah Drake, a Cultural Producer & Strategist with IDEAS xLab. "Signs encouraging people to sell their homes for cash, signs encouraging those with diabetes to sell their test strips, billboards for a multitude of lawyers, drug sniffing dogs, among many others.”
Informed by the community-based participatory nature of Project HEAL (Health. Equity. Art. Learning.), One Poem At A Time was developed by Drake with inspiration, feedback and input from Smoketown residents and community members through arts and culture events, meetings and surveys in 2016 and early 2017.
"Through Project HEAL, arts and cultural production become a 'language' with which communities define, develop, and champion their own sustainable strategies for improved well-being," explained IDEAS xLab CEO and co-founder Theo Edmonds on how artists are becoming catalysts to spark collective action via Project HEAL.
The launch of One Poem At A Time, which is FREE and open to community members on April 1, 2017 includes a guided Smoketown Poetry Walk past many of the new billboards, The Smoketown Monologues, and a conversation focused on bringing together residents, community stakeholders and policy-makers to explore policy and ordinance changes that could restrict negative/predatory advertising in low-income communities like Smoketown.
State Representative Attica Scott, Councilperson Barbara Sexton Smith and Director of Metro Louisville's Office for Health & Safety Neighborhoods Rashaad Abdur-Rahman will facilitate the discussion that will further fuel the communities drive toward policy change.
"If we are to heal our communities across Kentucky -- from rural to urban -- we must focus on health, equity and justice at the grassroots," said State Representative Attica Scott (D-41). "I know that blight exists across our state and Smoketown, just like every other neighborhood, is worthy of policies that respect neighborhood beautification and economic development."
"It is our responsibility to help create a safe, healthy environment for ALL our neighbors. Positive messaging reinforces positive choices,” said Barbara Sexton Smith, Fourth District Metro Councilwoman of One Poem At A Time. “When children are encouraged to love themselves they are more likely to be compassionate toward others."
“The Smoketown Neighborhood Association supports One Poem At A Time’s community-based, participatory approach to the development of a positive neighborhood identity with Smoketown residents,” shared Randall Weber, President of the Smoketown Neighborhood Association.
For more information on the launch of One Poem At A Time visit SmoketownVoice.com
One Poem At A Time Launch Details:
Location: Smoketown Unity Monument
(Boxing Gloves) at Hancock/Lampton St.
10am - 3:30pm
Mammogram screenings provided by the Kentucky Cancer Program, to schedule an appointment call, 852-6318.
12:30pm - 1pm
Historical Poetry Walk highlighting landmarks in the Smoketown community while exploring the new billboards.
Smoketown Monologues featuring stories of challenge and triumph created with and inspired by community members.
2pm – 3pm
Community conversation with policy makers about predatory advertising in our community.
Vivian Lasley-Bibbs, Branch Manager and Epidemiologist for the Kentucky Department for Public Health Office of Health Equity presents proclamation from the Governor of Kentucky declaring April as Minority Health Month in the commonwealth.
Festivities also include screen printing with Steam Exchange, snacks + water station, health resources and screenings.
Supporters of Project HEAL and One Poem At A Time include:
Health Impact Project Implementation Grant from Pew Charitable Trust and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Educational Foundation of America
Owsley Brown III
Jim and Libby Voyles
Fund for the Arts
New Directions Housing Corporation
Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil
Private donations through Creative Agents of Change Foundation, Inc.