Local News

UK, U of L Get Ready for Superdome Final Four Showdown

The UK and U of L basketball teams have been practicing today at the Superdome in New Orleans, where they will square off tomorrow evening in the NCAA Final Four.

Thousands of Cards and Cats fans are also in New Orleans for the game, and many more will be watching at sports bars and house parties across Kentucky.

U of L’s Jared Swopshire says he and his teammates are not really caught up in the hype.

“I guess for the fans I can understand that it’s more than just a game, but for us, we’ve been playing this game for so many years that it’s just another basketball game, just a bigger stage,” he said.

This is the second straight Final Four for the Kentucky program, but the first for the team’s highly touted freshmen.
Senior guard Darius Miller says the Wildcats are playing well as a team.

“Nobody’s been really caring about who’s scoring the most or anything like that, we just all want to win the national championship. Once we all focus in on what we need to do to win the national championship, nothing else really matters,” he said.

This is Louisville’s first Final Four since 2005.

Kentucky and Louisville will tip off shortly after 6pm. The winner advances to Monday’s championship game against either Ohio State or Kansas.

In-Depth News Local News Next Louisville Politics

Effort Underway To Preserve Louisville’s Iconic Shotgun Houses

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Early next month, a panel of preservationists will select a house in Louisville to be rehabilitated under a new project called Preservation S.O.S.—Save Our Shotguns.

It’s a style of house that symbolizes many of Louisville’s older neighborhoods.

There are many variations, but shotgun houses typically have a long, rectangular floor plan: one room wide, three to five rooms in a row with doorways often on the same side of the house.

One common belief is that the name shotgun house refers to the ability to fire a shotgun cleanly from the front through the back door.

The shotgun style likely made its way into the U.S. from the West Indies and became popular in the South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, offering affordable housing in working class areas.

In Louisville, they’re a part of the fabric of neighborhoods like Germantown, Butchertown, Smoketown and Portland, but some are showing their age, and Portland in particular has a significant number of houses in distress (top two photos).

“In this area, you’re seeing a lot of blight when it comes to vacant properties, many of which are the shotgun houses, and I think that’s what inspired me to try to come forward and do something and start a program that would really make an impact,” said Marianne Zickhur, executive director of Preservation Louisville, which is spearheading the S.O.S. program. Zickhur grew up in the Portland neighborhood.

Zickhur and says shotguns are popular as starter homes for many young buyers. Others like how their simple design lends itself to fix-up and addition projects.


State of the Re:Union: New Orleans

Saturday, July 3, 2010 9pm

Producer: Al Letson, PRX/NPR
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The city of New Orleans is as proud of its traditions as it is steeped in them. But since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the city and its residents have been thrust into new relationships with those very traditions they hold so dear. State of the Re:Union host Al Letson visits the Big Easy and explores how the city is negotiating that tension between the old and the new — from race relations to po boys to combating crime — five years after the storm.

Arts and Humanities Environment In-Depth News Local News

Fake Cash as Art and Source for Helping New Orleans

A national artist is heading a project to legitimize counterfeit one hundred dollar bills made by schoolchildren. It’s an effort to get money to clean up lead-contaminated soil in New Orleans. This week, the artist was in Louisville to collect bills made by Kentucky students. This is a story from WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer.

“Please take your seats,” art teacher Kristine Larson tells one of her fifth grade classes.

Last August, she had all the fourth and fifth graders she teaches at Whitney Young Elementary School in Louisville’s West End make currency. Each decorated a template of a one hundred dollar bill, including Dakota Roberts.

“I got to show my artistic ability on a $100 bill,” he says. “And I tried to draw what a real $100 bill would look like. But I don’t really see $100 bills everyday, so I just tried my best.”

Dakota drew his self portrait and his dog for the Fundred Dollar Bill Project. It includes students nationwide who are making these fundreds for a $300 million exchange with Congress to fund a related-effort called Operation Paydirt. That’s the amount scientists say is needed to clean up vast amounts of lead-tainted soil in New Orleans. Larson reminds the students about the project.

“You remembered one of the problems — lead damage?” Larson asks them.  “Not only is that bad for their soil to grow things, but remember it said that there were some behavior problems and then there could be birth defects.”

Studies find lead, when ingested by children, can cause serious physical and neurological damage, manifesting itself in learning disabilities and violent behavior. High levels are often found in cities where lead was in paint on older houses or leaded gas seeped into soil.

Larson learned of this project from a teachers’ magazine and found lesson plans online covering math, civics, geography and more. But she says the project offers a larger lesson.

“I think our kids really got the idea that this was something on their level that they could actually be a part of collectively across the whole country,” she says. “And I just applaud Mel Chin for this idea. It’s just absolutely ingenious.”

Mel Chin is the conceptual artist who dreamed up this way to help New Orleans after his visit there following Hurricane Katrina. He says New Orleans stunned him.

“As a creative, you come in and perhaps you think you can do something, and I pride myself in that,” he says.  “But I felt the magnitude was so intense that something big had to happen.”

Then he thought about his talks with residents and scientists about lead contamination. The solution?

“You need money. Don’t have money?” he says. “Let’s make money. OK. You need science. OK. Let’s bring the science in. Let’s do this. Alright?”

The project includes leading scientists. And besides calling upon his own creativity, it’s a new chapter in the field of conceptual art, which isn’t about creating objects but communicating ideas. Notable conceptual art has focused on money. Marcel Duchamp made fake checks and other financial documents, and Andy Warhol’s work featured bills and dollar signs. But University of Chicago economist David Galenson, who studies the nature of creativity, says Chin’s idea breaks new ground.

“The distinctive thing here is that Mel Chin is putting this to social uses,” he says,  “rather than simply just trying to enhance his own reputation.”

Chin brushes off suggestions that this is his project. He says the artists here are the nation’s children helping kids in New Orleans.

Now, his main endeavor is collecting their fundreds. And that brings him to the 21C Museum Hotel where art teachers and students meet him and the project’s armored truck to hand over nearly 2,000 fundreds. Chin addresses the crowd.

“And we do not think it is audacious to believe that human expression is valuable,” he tells them. “We don’t think it’s extravagant that the creativity of others need to be protects and preserved.”

Chin says the project has about 10 percent of the 3 million fundreds needed, so, he’s working to reach more teachers to find more children to participate while trying convince members of Congress to support the project. From Louisville, the truck rolls on to Bowling Green, Nashville, Asheville and then Baltimore where Chin will speak at the National Art Educators Association’s national convention (pdf).

Arts and Humanities Environment Local News

Students Make Counterfeit Notes to Help New Orleans

A truck will pull into to Louisville tomorrow to collect hundreds of fake currency notes for a project to restore lead-contaminated soil in New Orleans. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer details.

It’s called Operation Paydirt and includes a effort called The Fundred Dollar Bill Project, which is collecting imitation one hundred dollar bills illustrated by students nationwide. The idea have at least three million children make one note — the project calls them a fundred — to exchange to present these to Congress in exchange for the $300 million scientists estimate is needed to clean up lead-tainted soil in New Orleans. Hundreds of Jefferson County students have made these bills.

Artist Mel Chin is behind the effort that is now collecting bills from cities across the country.

“As far as the physical dynamics of the actual fundreds when we have these together,” he says, “they’ll probably be about seven to eight thousand pounds of drawings stacked in a single block that will be about five-feet high and five-feet wide and ten-feet long.”

Chin launched the project after Hurricane Katrina as a way to use the creativity of children to make a difference. He says he thinks Congress will respond.

“It might even be spring of next year before we can have the exchange agreed upon,” he says. “It’s not about surprising people who are representing the people of America. It’s about working with the representatives of the constituents who have drawn these bills.”

Chin mounted the project with scientists a post-hurricane visit when he learned of the vast amount of lead there. he and team members, including scientist, wanted to significantly address lead-contamination there in a new way that can be replicated in other cities.

“We want to make the health of individuals all across America that might be compromised by lead in soil also to be part of that,” he says. “And that takes patience, much more than the immediate gratification effect of sometimes, just ‘there’s the artwork; give us the money.’”

Chin will be in Louisville Tuesday to speak at 21C Museum Hotel, after which a large truck will collect the bills to take to Washington.

Art teachers from Ballard High and Whitney Young Elementary schools worked with their students to make fundreds last year. This semeseter, the Louisville Visual Art Association has been working with teachers and students at about a dozen schools to make the conterfiet bills.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Group Lists City's Most Endangered Historic Places

endangered-01-shoutgun1A Louisville group identified the city’s 10 most endangered historic places along with some positive news. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Preservation Louisville released the list today along with the city’s top 10 preservation successes. The group praises the renovation of the US Marine Hospital in the Portland neighborhood and Corbett’s, an eastern Louisville restaurant housed in a mansion that was part of a dairy farm.

Both lists reference Louisville’s shotgun houses. The successes include Habitat for Humanity’s rehabilitation of such a house in the city’s west end and the endangered list includes all the city’s shotgun houses, says Preservation Louisville’s executive director Marianne Zickuhr.

“They’re a very big part of our heritage and our history,” Zickuhr says. “And the fact of the matter is that they’re being torn down all over the city at a rapid pace.”

Zickuhr says Louisville has the most shotgun houses just after New Orleans and that this is the first time a local preservation group has released a list of successes.

“The successes are really a way for us to help the community understand that you can be a good steward to these buildings,” she says, “and you can be a part of to helping to keep that historic fabric of our community intact.”

Also among Louisville’ 10 most endangered historic places are structures in Iron Quarter of West Main Street and historic buildings in the Water Company block, which is to be developed by the Cordish Company as Center City District. The company also built Fourth Street Live.

Zickuhr says that preserving historical properties does not inhibit obstruct property development.

“It’s a protection,” she says. “It’s something that will help the developers in the future to keep the property values going up because of the how important the historical significance of their property is.”

Zickuhr says developments like downtown’s Henry Clay building are good examples. It houses apartments, a restaurant, a theater and offices.


Louisvilles Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places List
Shotgun Houses
Water Co. Block Historic Buildings
Victorian House on Frankfort Avenue
Historic Firehouses
Old Dental School at Brook and Broadway
Park Hill district
Corner Store Fronts
Historic Properties within the Proposed New Bridge Route
Iron Quarter
Ouerbacker House

Louisvilles Top 10 Preservation Success
US Marine Hospital
Wayside Buildings
Vogt Building
Henry Clay
Reynolds Building
American Standard
1254 S. Brook St.
Howard Hardy House
Corbetts Restaurant
1702 Prentice St. (Habitat for Humanity House)

Criteria used to determine if a property is added to these lists:
1. On the National Register of Historic Places or be eligible
2. Within the metro Louisville region (Jefferson County; Floyd and Clark counties of southern Indiana)
3. For most endangered list – in imminent threat of demolition or in severely deteriorated condition

Local News

Louisville To Host Evacuees

At least one airplane full of Gulf Coast evacuees will stay in Louisville Saturday night.

They’re fleeing Hurricane Gustav, which has the potential to become a Category 5 storm. It’s expected that at least 200 people will arrive Saturday evening, but officials are planning for more.

“It’s changing literally on an hour by hour basis as the hurricane moves and people evacuate out of New Orleans,” says Mayor’s Office spokesperson Chris Poynter.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter in the Kentucky Exposition Center. The city is prepared to accept 5,000 evacuees, but 2,000 of them would be moved to Lexington and other cities.