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



“Hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”    - Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

HOW MIGHT we re-imagine the "community center" as a digitally connected cultural space, with sustainable designs and business models, where working poor, underserved and struggling middle class communities can fight poverty and improve health? 

That's what we are working toward with HOPEBOX! 

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Green Convene Logistics:

 Building construction and operations can have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment, on society, and the economy. Empirical studies have demonstrated that HOPE is one of the top predictors of wellbeing for both children and adults.This GREEN CONVENE will feature a design charette which will use the concept of HOPE as the inspiration for co-creating a state of the art community center in Smoketown by converting a former liquor store into an environmental justice hub and so much more!  Full description of HOPEBOX is below.

WE NEED YOUR HELP to develop a vision for a sustainable design that reduces, or completely avoids, depletion of critical resources like energy, water, land, and raw materials; prevents environmental degradation caused by facilities and infrastructure throughout their life cycle; and supports community development that is comfortable, safe and productive.

Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Time: 6p-8p

Location:  Bates Memorial Baptist Church (Fellowship Hall) | 620 Lampton Street (Smoketown)

Convening Organization: Louisville Sustainability Council

Convening Event Sponsor: K. Norman Berry & Associates Architects

Bike Racks for Event Provided By: Bicycling 4 Louisville

Coffee for Event Provided By: Heine Brothers


  • IDEAS xLab

  • Bates Memorial Community Development Corporation 

  • YouthBuild Louisville

  • Smoketown Neighborhood Association 

  • Metro Louisville Government 

  • University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences 

Green Convene Key Participants: Residents. Green Builders. Sustainability Experts. Health Professionals. Scientists. Government Leaders. Community Developers. Artists. Philanthropists.


  1. Where do you see opportunities and challenges for HOPEBOX? 
  2. How could HOPEBOX assist Louisville in becoming a showplace for green design, building and technology?
  3. What is the opportunity outline for developing co-creators who can support and build HOPEBOX
  4. Create the GREEN HOPE SQUAD - professionals interested in being involved in the development and launch of HOPEBOX.


In 2011 a new 100+ million dollar HOPE VI Housing HUD re-development temporarily displaced over 400 families in Kentucky’s oldest African American neighborhood, Smoketown, in Louisville. In the process, the community center that had served the people for over 100 years, Presbyterian Community Center  (a/k/a Grace Hope Community Center), closed due to financial reasons. 

In preparation for the return of residents, various community organizations began trying to fill in the gaps by using their spaces as make shift solutions for the neighborhood. Despite the best efforts of many, the lack of a focal place for communication caused the efforts to be disjointed and, as a result, social cohesion suffered.  

With a large, traditional community center model out of reach during a time of financial austerity, community anchor organizations and residents began pooling their resources and ideas to find a solution.  

The community had well-identified needs: 

  • A laundry for residents. 

  • Opportunities to improve economic wellbeing. 

  • Due to extreme health disparities, residents needed support in navigating the healthcare system and also place-based opportunities to support wellbeing. 

  • Out of school support for learning. 

  • Housing for homeless young adults who attended a neighborhood-based workforce development program at YouthBuild. 

  • Turning vacant and abandoned properties back to productive use in a way that is community-grounded. 

  • A space for community nonprofits and social groups to gather and work together on issues important to the neighborhood, giving residents a stronger advocacy voice. 

  • A safe place for families to come in celebration of Black heritage and culture. 

From these needs, the concept of HOPE BOX was born as part of IDEAS xLab’s Project HEAL. HOPE BOX re-Imagines the traditional concept of community center into cultural innovation hub for community health improvement and culturally-responsive entrepreneurship opportunities in low-income communities. 

The human-centered design for HOPE BOX is being co-created by a number of community anchor organizations, residents, local government and private sector. Using an asset-based approach focusing on culture as the foundation from which residents can envision and build just, creative and healthy futures, HOPE BOX mixes lean startup methodologies, agile development, social justice and population health research to re-center the design and development of community spaces around sustainability.


  • Working laundromat supporting both community need and providing a sustainable revenue stream for HOPEBOX operations. 

  • Community Health Champion/Connector (CHC).  The CHC is a 1-stop shop for residents to easily be connected with the healthcare and social services they may need. The CHC will be a consistent, trusted voice in the community who cultivates relationships through community organizing and outreach activities. 

  • A Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School© which seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today. By providing summer and after-school reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, the CDF Freedom Schools program plays a much needed role in helping to curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps — and is a key part of CDF’s work to ensure a level playing field for all children. 

  • A business incubator wealth building program to increase income and equity as a result of participating in a worker-owned cooperative. The proposed model is to form a non-profit corporation composed of representatives of the lead organizations to provide oversight and shared services (e.g., financing, accounting, legal, marketing) to multiple for-profit worker-owned cooperatives. The working name of the non-profit is the Louisville Market-Driven Cooperative Corporation (LMCC). The type of businesses offered by the for-profit cooperatives has not been determined yet. Ideas mentioned include:  

  • Child Care Center/In-home services 

  • Transportation/Van Pool/Shuttle Services 

  • Restaurant and Hospitality Temporary Services 

  • Lawn Care and Landscape Services 

  • Home Health Agency 

  • A small number of low-income apartments for homeless youth who are attending the workforce development program at YouthBuild, a community anchor in Smoketown. 

  • An ecologically sustainable building with a digitally connected community space for neighborhood groups to gather in safely. 

  • An arts and cultural program which celebrates Black heritage, history year round.