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© 2019 Alex Felson

Louisville's History and Future

Influenced by both Southern and Midwestern culture, the City of Louisville is recognized for its rich history. Located on the banks of the Ohio River, Louisville has long been caught in a complicated relationship with the river. In the early 1800’s as river technology began to develop more rapidly, Louisville’s existence as a main river port and center of commerce was established. Traffic along the river intensified as shipping industries and various businesses noticed the possibility of success that Louisville offered. Many of the characteristics that defined Louisville in its early history can be seen today. It is a city tied to its roots bursting with opportunity and promise. 

Louisville understands that to ensure a prolific future, it must take seriously the health of its community socially, economically and environmentally. The future of local economics, wildlife and ecosystems, culture, social connectivity, and urban growth are all dependent upon a continuation of improving the overall health of Louisville. Although each of these factors bring a diverse set of difficulties, the City of Louisville is working hard to develop progressive solutions that involve the community and stimulate growth. Louisville is transforming into a place that meets challenges with the belief that they can be made better. Once recognized as a shipping port hub along the Ohio River, Louisville is now on track to become nationally recognized in its entirety.

ESI Demonstration Project in Louisville

Collaborating with the City of Louisville, ESI Fellows participate in real-world problem-solving scenarios that challenge them to consider how to integrate ecological information and the process of gathering relevant social and political knowledge to inform shaping cities. To support this translation, ESI Fellows assess what is needed at appropriate scales for decision making. They then use these methods to explore ways of translating science into planning and design. We use the design process (particularly the shift from site analysis to conceptual design) as a pedagogical tool to demonstrate how we move from studying to shaping and develop ecology for the city. This requires that Fellows understand diverse stakeholder interests and balance local interests with specialized and organizational knowledge and systems-thinking. To facilitate this learning experience, ESI encourages interdisciplinary collaboration through mixed teams of Fellows from design, ecology, and other disciplines. Working through city knowledge and documentation, theoretical frameworks of urban ecology, and the growing literature and data on urban ecosystems dynamics, Fellows identify relevant scientific information, projects and case studies, and explore ways of translating this data into design proposals for making Louisville more adaptable.

This year, ESI is collaborating with the City of Louisville in an effort to improve the connection between the local community and its surrounding ecosystems. Through ecological experiments, ESI will become involved in problems faced by Louisville that address the overall framework of the Climate Action and Resilience Plan. These experiments will aim to improve Louisville’s livability and This year's projects will target Louisville's land use patterns, watershed and park connectivity, urban heat island effects, public health and access, climate change, and water quality. The 2019 ESA conference in Louisville offers ESI Fellows unique opportunities to evaluate, learn more about the City of Louisville and develop four designed experiments with a team of professional ecologists, city officials, and ESA attendants.