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    The Louisville we love doesn’t fit into boxes. It can’t be ranked first, second, third. It’s the moment the stage lights come up on your favorite local band. Or the way the bridges mirror themselves in the Ohio. Or the mail carrier who has watched your kids grow up. That’s what makes this city great. And that’s what’s in this year’s Best of Louisville issue, with staff, contributors and folks we’ve written about all weighing in.

    No categories.

    No limits.

    Simply the best.

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    THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL   ~   OUTDOORS   ~   PEOPLE   ~   FOOD   ~    ART

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    A FEAR-FREE, FRIENDLY FORECAST

    “Scaring people is not part of the job; informing people is.”
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    50 YEARS OF SAVING THE WORLD

    In 2007, Sarah Lynn Cunningham founded the Louisville Climate Action Network.
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    LISA GUNTERMAN WAS PROUD BEFORE LOUISVILLE HAD PRIDE

    Lisa Gunterman co-founded the Fairness Campaign in 1991 and is the director of U of L’s LGBT Center. Former U of L student Spencer Zembrodt calls Gunterman “a complete badass. Lisa has been a huge figure in LGBT protests, and helped create the Bayard Rustin LGBT living community on campus. Lisa attends events and supports students — beyond the role of director. Anecdotally, Lisa gives the best hugs.”

    Illustration by Shae Goodlett

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    MY MAIL CARRIER

    “If the mail's coming to me, it's getting to you.”
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    “Gordon Brown, who used to be the CEO of the Home of the Innocents, is my favorite community leader. He is a man who is gentle, well-connected and helpful to the underserved, and he runs the Portland Anchor newspaper.”

    — Katy Delahanty, Portland Museum board member and Louisville Visual Art outreach program director

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    “Nikki Jackson, senior vice president and regional executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in Louisville, hosts economic-empowerment meetings through the bank. She’s putting lots of us in the room together — from little guys to the VP of Wells Fargo. She’s on the board of (community-development nonprofit) OneWest and is very hand-on. She’ll have conversations about the community and the wealth gap.”

    — Tia Coatley, ARTxFM radio personality (as Tia Marie)

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    BEING THERE FOR MOM

    “It's my mom. I'm not going to leave her hanging.”
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    MAKING ST. STEPHEN SING

    Kevin James oversees all the choir directors, the senior and youth choirs, the orchestra and the praise teams, all while directing the St. Stephen Tabernacle Choir.
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    THE POWER OF WEST OF NINTH

    “Best neighborhood pride: West of Ninth bloggers Walt and Shae Smith.”

    Rachel Platt, director of community engagement at the Frazier History Museum

     

    We asked Shae Smith — who, with her husband Walt, has posted photos and interviews about life west of Ninth Street since 2017 — to reflect on what the project has meant for her and the community.

    “KeiRon, a kid in his early teens, his mother has cancer, and he’s living with her and his three siblings. He felt the pressure to take to the streets to take care of his family. At 13, he was shot in the chest. Underneath, he wanted to be a football player at Ballard. When we put his story up, he got so much support — it was crazy! He’s got a football coach now and all these resources. We still keep in touch with him. Brianna, her mother was murdered. She talked about wanting a mother figure. I’ll see her and ask, ‘How’s school going? Do you need anything?’ If we can’t help them, we try to link them to the right resources. We never just want to leave it at the interview. We want to see you all the time and see that you make it.”

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    IT'S NOT A BALLGAME WITHOUT THE ORGANIST

    “I like to think of it all as the way baseball sounds.”
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    SHE WAS IN PRISON. NOW SHE WORKS FOR THE ACLU.

    “Some days I feel like I’m making a huge difference; some days I feel like I’m barely treading water.”
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    Jackie Floyd, a liaison with the Center for Neighborhoods and a self-described proud Russell resident, “really represents the soul of Russell. She is the definition of ‘citizen leader,’ with an unflagging commitment to her neighborhood and her neighbors. She has this soft-spoken way of bringing others along, inspiring us all to see what Russell is, what it can be and what it will be as we work together on its revitalization.”

    — Mayor Greg Fischer

     

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    SOLOU LOVE

    “There is something to be prideful about in south Louisville.”
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    THE LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA'S LONGEST-TENURED PLAYER

    Jim Rago certainly gets in his share of rolling thunder and booming cannon fire.
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    THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL   ~   OUTDOORS   ~   PEOPLE   ~   FOOD   ~   ART

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    This originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine as part of our annual Best of Louisville issue. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Cover typography by Brian Patrick Todd

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