Mayor Fischer invites all Louisvillians to get involved in Build Back Better, Together effort
Mayor Greg Fischer today kicked off Build Back Better, Together, an initiative aimed at dismantling systemic racism and creating dynamic economic growth from the COVID-19 pandemic impact.
In opening the inaugural meeting of the Build Back Better, Together (BBBT) steering committee and focus area leaders, Mayor Fischer emphasized the importance of all Louisvillians joining the effort.
“Right now, our city is dealing with three major challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and systemic racism. All these challenges expose the fundamental inequities in our society, while also providing an opportunity for us to create a better, more dynamic and equitable city,” he said.
“Build Back Better, Together is about creating a city that truly serves as a platform for human potential to flourish and aligns with our core values of health, lifelong learning and compassion. For this to be successful, we must have voices from across Louisville, from every background, which is why I am asking all Louisvillians to get involved,” he continued.
The work of BBBT is broken into seven focus areas: Arts and Culture; Built and Natural Environment; Economy; Education and Talent Development; Health and Safety; Hospitality, Sports and Bourbonism; and Social Infrastructure and Impact. Louisville residents are invited to join one or more of the focus area teams by signing up at www.louisvilleky.gov/buildbackbetter.
To date, 350 Louisville leaders have been invited to join one of the focus area teams, and 270 people have signed up online to join in. The goal is to have all or most of the focus area teams meet for the first time virtually by the end of this month.
Together, with the steering committee of civic, community, business and non-profit leaders, the focus area teams will recommend actions that can be taken over the next few months, as well as long-term actions focused on last half of 2020 and beyond. These will combine new, innovative ideas and existing government- and community-led projects.
All participants will be trained on Louisville Metro Government’s Racial Equity Toolkit to identify visionary solutions that avoid repeating policies and systems that in the past have produced discriminatory results and inequitable impact.
During a Facebook Live Town Hall today, Mayor Fischer was joined by four members of the BBBT steering committee to talk about their vision for the initiative.
“I think what the world is saying is, we are ready for action. We know what we need to do and that starts with investment in many ways and behavioural changes in others. I am looking forward to your leadership in this. I am looking forward to Louisville moving forward – not just healing but moving forward in real change,” said Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey, District 3.
“I see this as a tremendous opportunity. We have united in the face of the pandemic. We all stopped, and sort of paused and made changes in our lifestyles and in our thinking. I have hope that we can make that same shift in the cases of systemic racism that exist,” said Alisia McClain, director of Workforce Transformation & Community Innovation for Future of Work. “It is a tragic time, but it also is a time of opportunity, and I am excited to be a part of that.”
The steering committee members also offered up goals they’d like to accomplish. Kerry Stemler, CEO of KM Stemler Trucking Co., said he would like to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and a return of economic prosperity, as well as a positive shift in thinking about what “West of Ninth Street” means.
“My vision for the city is to get it to a point where regardless of which ZIP code or neighborhood you’re in, you have the same love for Louisville as a person who is on the completely opposite side of this county. That we all fall in love with the city and its opportunities,” Dorsey said. “That we feel equitable. And that’s something we can touch and something we can taste, something we can savor and not just talk about.”
McClain said she would like to see Central High School become a magnet school for artificial intelligence combined with social justice. “Wouldn’t it be incredible if Louisville became not just a technology epicenter but a model of how to increase access – because we got the digital divide right, equity in education, equity in tech entrepreneurship – for the rest of the country,” she said.
Karen Williams, CEO of Louisville Tourism, announced during the Town Hall that her agency, working with other hospitality leaders, will review its culture, hiring practices and list of vendors to build greater inclusion, as well as convene a Black Tourism Advisory Council that will make sure racial inclusion and equity are part of the city’s tourism efforts.
“It is not business as usual, nor should it be. We can create the definition of inclusion within our industry, and it starts today,” Williams said.