Leveraging the power of arts, culture, and the creative industries to frame, seed, and scale innovation in health and wellbeing.


The WORK of Art

Genomics, Motorbikes and Kentucky's Civil Rights.

Left: Artist and motorcycle mechanic Sarah Lyon. Right: Workshop participant Cheyenne Orobia.  Photos by Josh Miller.    

Left: Artist and motorcycle mechanic Sarah Lyon. Right: Workshop participant Cheyenne Orobia.  Photos by Josh Miller.   

LOUISVILLE IS A PLACE WHERE ARTISTS ARE BEGINNING TO TOUCH EVERYTHING... from genomics research to motorbike mechanics.  And, then, there is also Kentucky's current national spotlight as an emerging battleground in the new civil rights movement. Our artists are there too. IDEAS xLab is working to create a Louisville where every human being is valued and experiences the arts and humanities as an important, vital part of their every day life.  Here's your weekly rundown from IDEAS xLab.  

STEM to STEAM and Back Again!

EDUCATION WEEK recently reported on a tug of war currently looming between proponents of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and advocates for STEAM lessons, which add art to the mix. 

Whichever side you come down on, we can all agree that Louisville needs young adults who are motivated and competent in bringing forth solutions to tomorrow's problems.  It's not STEM vs. STEAM.  It's about helping every young person become a healthy, creative 21st-century citizen.

Over the past 8 weeks, professional artist and motorcycle mechanic, Sarah Lyon, taught theSmoketown Motorcycle Mechanics Workshop for Women - an empowering series of classes outlining basic motorcycle mechanics and maintenance. This hands-on experience covered everything from combustion engine design to operation and related vehicle systems. 

The project is part of IDEAS/YouthBuild's Creative Innovation Zone (CIZ) in Smoketown which was seed funded by ArtPlace America in 2014.

The artist, Sarah Lyon said, 

"Filling the role of artist as civic innovator was a new experience for me, but once the concept was explained I realized how much sense it made for my skill sets, interests, and abilities. Teaching the Smoketown Motorcycle Mechanics Workshop for Women was so fulfilling and fun. The students were engaged and eager to learn. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to work with YouthBuild and CIZ." 

Earlier this week when we stopped into the class, one of the workshop participants, Cheyenne - a YouthBuild graduate currently working in construction in Sheppard Square (pictured) - described how to "gap" a spark plug while working on one of the six motor vehicles setup throughout the shop.  

Empowered?  You bet!

Upon successfully completing the course, participants not only acquire a new skill set but a fully stocked professional tool kit (their reward for completion).

IDEAS xLab is working to create a Louisville where every human being learns about the arts and humanities, just as each person should be cognizant of the sciences.  And, sometimes, both come in the form of an artist... who is also a civic innovator.  Congratulations to Sarah and her class on a job very well done.

Lifelong Wellness and Aging.

A genomics pioneer/rare disease social entrepreneur, a media scholar/health researcher and an artist innovator/healthcare executive walk into a room. This is how one of the Louisville Innovation Summit sessions will begin which includes:

The session will explore how boundaries between disciplines are being challenged and innovative thinking is emerging in medicine as a result of the stories we tell and how we tell them.

The Louisville Innovation Summit is a convening of an unparalleled assembly of CEOs and industry leaders. 500 healthcare executives and technology entrepreneurs provide insight, share expertise and explore new avenues to create the future of aging care.  Learn more.

Louisville to Brooklyn. Art. Technology. Healthcare.

Learn about this upcoming event at IDEAS xLab's sister organization in Brooklyn.   Click Here.   

Learn about this upcoming event at IDEAS xLab's sister organization in Brooklyn.  Click Here.  

Did you see IDEAS xLab's previous post


Click here

The Power of Storytelling.

Colman Domingo, Seven Guitars Director, with Roots & Wings members Vay Davis, Kiara Watts and Brandon "Shatter" Harrison.

Colman Domingo, Seven Guitars Director, with Roots & Wings members Vay Davis, Kiara Watts and Brandon "Shatter" Harrison.

Huge thanks to Jennifer Bielstein and the staff at Actors Theatre of Louisville for hosting part of our Roots & Wings group at this week's performance of Seven Guitars.  This lyrical play is part of August Wilson's Century Cycle, which charts the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century. Director, Colman Domingo (pictured with Roots & Wings members after the show) and his entire cast deserve a full house for every performance of this production.  Get your tickets now.

The Role of Education in Wealth Accumulation.

A new economic reality is emerging in the United States between "thrivers" and "strugglers," with race, education and age increasingly becoming determining factors between the two groups. The Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has published a three-part series of essays, "The Demographics of Wealth: How Age, Education and Race Separate Thrivers from Strugglers in Today's Economy." The essays are the result of an analysis of data collected between 1989 and 2013 through the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, including interviews with more than 40,000 heads of households during that time period. They examine how a family's race or ethnicity, educational attainment and age are related to its ability to thrive financially.  Read Essays

Sword or Shield?

Kentucky has been in the national headlines a lot this year. In some ways, we have become one of the testing grounds for the new civil rights movement.

IDEAS xLab devotes significant efforts to issues in the new civil rights movement and we are working to help level the playing field. Diversity and inclusiveness encourage innovation and are good for Louisville's economy.

In order to grow our network of allies, on September 25-26, 2015, IDEAS xLab has partnered with People for the American Way Foundation and Young People For to offer a 2-day program designed to expand the ongoing community discussion around religious liberty, social justice, politics, money and power in Louisville, KY.

IDEAS xLab welcomes all viewpoints in the hopes of fostering a healthy dialogue around religious liberty, civil rights and issues of inequality in Louisville.

EVENT 1: September 25: Religious Liberty: Sword or Shield?  RSVP & Details Here
EVENT 2: September 26: YP4 Social Justice Training for Creative Young Adults RSVP & Details Here

Both events will be held at 1302 Texas Avenue. Louisville, KY 40217 (Corner of Texas and Goss). SEATING IS LIMITED.  PLEASE RSVP.

International Connections.

 You Guys Are Huge In Prague
When Rich Brown, Executive Editor at CNET Appliance Reviews, was passing through DOX -  Prague's leading art centre for contemporary art, design, architecture and discussion on current affairs - there we were as part of Jakub Szczesny's solo exhibition.  Photos of Szczesny's process while working to create THE LOUISVILLE TABLE - A Social Appliance were included as part of the exhibition.  

IDEAS stands for "International Dialogue & Engagement Art Strategies" - from the Tweets coming in, it appears to be working. Just doing our part to make Louisville an international city!

Learn more about DOX and Jakub's exhibit here.

GetDown in Smoketown.

Smoketown GetDown is a FREE block party powered by the people and open to the public with live entertainment,local food, and beer from West Sixth Brewing. The GetDown is an official Louisville Craft Beer Week event.  Featuring voter registration, Smoketown organizations, family-friendly activities, a live art wall, and free photos by Magnolia Photo Booth Co. Smoketown GetDown is hosted by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kertis Creative, and West Sixth Brewing.

The GetDown coincides with the opening of the Smoketown Rising Exhibit, community powered effort to preserve and recognize the rich history of Kentucky's oldest historically Black neighborhood, Smoketown. For more information on The Smoketown Rising Exhibit


A celebration of unity, culture, art and history across the African Diaspora - the African Heritage Festival is a joyous two-day event for the whole family with great food, music, dance, sports, fashion, cultural demonstrations, children's activities, resources for healthy living and so much more.

The Opening Ceremony on Friday, September 11 from 7-9pm features performances by:

  • Iya Sango Ronke International Design Emporium/ G.I.V.E.
  • Nana Yaa Asantewaa
  • Roots & Wings, 2015 ArtPlace America Grantee
  • Pati Kele Drum Ensemble

Saturday, September 12 includes:

Sports - 8am - 5pm, 5:30pm Trophy Ceremony at the Festival

Old Walnut Street Park

904 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd

Festival Activities - 11am-7pm

KY Center for African Heritage Festival 

1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd

You can also bring items to donate to First Friends Louisville, a young people-to-young people project to support newly arrived refugees, aged 14-25, as they adjust to a new home. Within the first month of their arrival in the city,  members of the First Friends Louisville team will visit young refugees at their homes and present a welcome gift bag full of useful and fun items.  Find a full list of items here.

Learn more about the Festival

Art & Public Safety

The fifth of a ten-part series being conducted by ArtPlace America with experts in the creative placemaking field is now available online.  

This week ArtPlace focuses on PUBLIC SAFETY.

"A healthy community is a safe community," says Ronald Davis, the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) of the US Department of Justice. "The greatest deterrent to crime and violence is not a community saturated with cops, it is a neighborhood alive with residents..."  Read the full article on the ArtPlace America blog. 

ALSO LAST WEEK, ArtPlace America announced an $18 million investment in six place-based organizations around the country to incorporate arts & culture into their community development work. In her post, Deputy Director and Community Development Investments Program Manager Lyz Crane reflected on the moment.

"These six community planning and development organizations are about to embark on a journey over the next three years to learn new models, forge new relationships, and test new ideas that explore the added value that arts and culture can provide to broad community development agendas."

Read the full post here to learn more about the grantees who we congratulate! Folks all across America are rooting for your success!

Civic Innovation

IDEAS xLab was honored last year with the Center for NonProfit Excellence (CNPE) "Vision Award".  This year we are glad to be sharing what we have learned by participating on a panel at this year's conference.

On our fellow panelist on the Civic Innovation: Improvising Ideas and Resources  breakout session.  Click here to find out more about the conference and register.

HEADS UP:  There is an AWESOME announcement coming in early October from IDEAS xLab and CNPE!  

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