Call Holly at 502.561.3454

Kids and fallout from Ashley Madison hack

This article was originally published on 8/21/15 in the Courier-Journal.

After the crazy storm opening night of Forecastle Festival, I found myself at a booth with a gentleman going through a divorce in a state that is still fault based – i.e. adultery and mental cruelty. I was agog because as long as I have practiced in Kentucky, no fault divorce has been the law.

In Kentucky one party must allege the marriage is broken and there is no chance for reconciliation as requirements for filing a divorce case. Thus while the Ashley Madison leaks are fascinating if you’re a divorce lawyer or one caught in the trap of infidelity, the relevance of discovering your spouse is cheating may not get you more money or damages when the Court assigns and divides property in the action.

If your spouse spent funds from the marital estate, which can include earnings, and your spouse was contemplating divorce when he or she spent funds to 1) cheat 2) while cheating or 3) trying to cheat, you may have a claim for dissipation of assets, a form of relief that is arguably a vestige of fault based divorce. I have been on both sides of dissipation cases. My message is the same to clients, cheater or cheatee, that inasmuch as infidelity itself isn’t a basis for relief, the Court could very easily rule money spent by the cheating spouse is marital property and order the cheating spouse to restore the other spouse to a portion of the funds spent, purchase by purchase, if the Court finds the criteria exist for dissipation.

Leaks like the Ashley Madison hack are certainly one way to discover a cheating spouse, but in my experience a cheater will reveal himself or herself much more organically. In a classic case, a spouse found a receipt for a lovely piece of expensive jewelry her husband didn’t give to her. Another spouse paid rent and utilities for the lover, uncovered during a review of online bank statements. Spouses often share passwords and get so caught up in the affair (or want to get caught so much because they don’t have the courage to file for divorce) the cheating spouse forgets to change a password to a social media account or even an account in “the cloud” and BoomChickaWowWow – busted.

Because fault isn’t necessary to file for a divorce in Kentucky, it doesn’t mean infidelity doesn’t cause collateral damage to the most precious parts of many divorce cases – the parties’ children. In a tongue in cheek article written about the Ashley Madison leaks, a popular magazine advised kids not to input their dad’s email account to check if he’s cheating. Funny if you’re older, heartbreaking for the younger children, who may be incredibly embarrassed by the affair their friends know you’re having but you’re too scared or cowardly to admit or address.

Your kids should not be penalized because you chose to stay married and cheat simultaneously. Cheating and divorce may  inevitably affect the children and may even uproot them, but should not be a topic of discussion between either spouse and the children (without therapist intervention and oversight). There is no statute that prohibits a parent from disparaging another parent or from spewing every character defect of the other parent at the children, including evidence of cheating. Yet, common sense, seemingly invisible in these situations, dictates restraint to avoid harm to kids that may reverberate throughout their lives and their primary relationships, or lack thereof.

No matter how much money you throw at it or how far you run from it, broken trust is slow to heal. Whether web site hacks or busybodies reveal a cheater, call someone to pick up the kids, talk it out with a therapist, schedule a consult with a lawyer and do what you can to stay sane. If you’re lucky there are both marital assets to divide and a paper trail to prove a dissipation case.

Receipts from Ashley Madison? Petitioner’s Exhibit One, your Honor.

A. Holland Houston has practiced family law in Kentucky since 1997. She is a graduate of UofL Law School and UK Journalism School in 1990, she won the KBA’s Nathaniel Harper award in 2014 for her work to promote diversity in the practice of law, is co-founder and co-chair of the Human Rights section at the LBA.

Holly Houston: Faces of Louisville

You might not recognize this woman without her trademark glasses. But you will recognize her name: A. Holland “Holly” Houston, attorney and general woman about town. Holly is on the forefront of girl power here in Louisville, with her leadership on many issues in the news right now, such as equal pay, women’s rights, human rights and any other form of “uneven treatment.” She wears her emotions on her sleeve and owns them all. And for all of her Louisville love, why does she dream of the White House?

You are an attorney by trade. What sort of law do you practice?

Family law and a wee bit of criminal and business. I do custody, divorce, adoptions, paternity, support, grandparents’ rights, and DNA cases (dependency neglect abuse) and domestic violence cases.

Though you are an attorney by day, you seem to be everywhere. What other organizations are you involved in and what other jobs do you have?

One job, many projects. I founded and co-chair the Louisville Bar Association Human Rights section. I am the co-founder and co-director of GLOW, which is the Greater Louisville Outstanding Women association. I mentor Louisville Girls Leadership. I am on the board of Louisville Visual Art association. Lastly, I am an attorney member of Louisville Coalition for CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women). I’m a sucker for a strong woman or girl and a cause.

You are a fervent advocate for women’s rights. What are some ways you are making a difference on the grass-roots level?

Building awareness and exposing inequitable treatment, bias, discrimination, sexism and ageism and uneven opportunity through Louisville CEDAW and our human rights section at the LBA, and continuing our women’s financial literacy program we created in GLOW. And being a big mouth generally to identify solutions.

Tell us more about GLOW. Who is in it? How can people get involved?

GLOW is a unique and enthusiastic women’s business networking group that meets once a month to share strategies for success. Each woman has her own niche and no women have duplicate vocations to keep referrals clean. We have core membership, and we ebb and flow with new members. We have a section on the application that asks, “What Makes You Outstanding?” which is my favorite to read. Membership is by approval of our executive committee via application.

Many of us know you as Holly On the Go Go, which is the feature you write fornFocus. How did that gig come about and what is it exactly?

I do write my column still! Over five years now at least. I am online each month, if not in print, too. My friend, Barry Wooley, whom I adore, was the editor at the beginning and called me Holly On the Go Go,because I am hyperactive, and it stuck. It has morphed from purely social to a thought piece over the years.

What is the hardest part of your job? And what is the easiest?

Hardest: Losing when I’m right.

Easiest: Presenting an argument. I was made for it.

Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?

Impossible. Court and motions take priority. Now, add in all the other law and writing and project deadlines, running a business and everything else.

Who are your mentors and what advice do you treasure?

Fall in love with yourself first, this is not a dress rehearsal, stay open. And then from my mother: You gotta take the bitter with the sweet; if you don’t want anybody to know, don’t write it down.

If you did not have this career, what would you secretly like to do?

Be the White House social correspondent! Plan parties for international leaders?  Yes, please.

Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ___________.


Where can we find you hanging out around town?

Check social media. Believe me, somebody tagged me somewhere.

What’s your bucket list travel destination?

Bali, Fiji

Favorite thing to do in Louisville?

Discover something new

Night owl or early bird? What do you do during that quiet time?

Total night owl. My dad said I’m happiest around 10 p.m., and he’s right. My quiet time is spent watching an 18- to 24-year-old male audience’s favorite TV programming (Comedy Central, Cartoon Network) and reading my fave magazines. This is how I recharge.

Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.

I love Jack Fry’s. Always great memories there.

What’s on your personal reading list right now?

It’s spread out on my floor. New issue of W magazine, the latest New York Times, An Amorous Discourse in The Suburbs of Hell, Tibetan Peach Pie and The Hillary Doctrine.

Lightning round! Give us your:

  • Candy or junk food splurge: Anytime I eat carbs
  • Guilty pleasure song: “Broadway Baby.”
  • Tearjerker movie pick: Aah movies, I remember those.
  • Standby nail polish color: Blackish navy glitter
  • Favorite cocktail: Felon Melon at Weekly Juicery
  • Cartoon alter-ego: Not a cartoon, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine and others.

What are your three favorite things right now?

Driving Dad’s Mercedes, slowly breaking out into running again from walk-running and Nujabes’ Modal Soul.

Thank you to our talented FACES photographer Adele Reding. See more of her portfolio here

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Holly on the Go: Power Single

I recently tried to match-make friends. They had similar standards of living and a panoply of common interests. Their couple-dom seemed imminent. They had a getting-to-know- you-meet, and when I checked in with him, he said something similar to she’s great and clearly at the top of her game, but I don’t want to be part of a power couple and have set my sights on women with more traditionally female traits and careers. And by traditional he meant the 1950’s and 1960’s. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

A man, within his break up soliloquy, said unto me once upon a time, “I don’t want to be a power couple. I thought I did and I don’t.” Another more recently told me that I am married to my job. What’s an ambitious, take-no-prisoners gal supposed to do? On the ladder to shattering glass ceilings and leaving hope for legacies of meaningful contributions, is one of the rungs, in fact, booby trapped for love?

I will look it up after I write this, but I might have coined the success penalty: Attracted to your confidence and competence, enticed by your fun friends and full life, they pursue, only to realize at the end of their day, they want someone who is a little more available, a little less invested in her next coup, and maybe not the power in a couple or anywhere else. This becomes problematic when generations of girls grow up running like a girl, fighting like a girl, coding like a girl and dominating like a girl, and society fails to produce men who choose them as partners.

A recent New York Times Magazine article posited girlfriend bonds have supplanted girlfriend/boyfriend relationships in the world that is social media as depicted by copious photos of girl on girl intimacy. Not sexual intimacy, mind you, but sleepover, brunch, party animal, loafing around shots of women friends capturing moments that illustrate their bond. The author wrote about her concern that featuring such bonding was the modern equivalent of mean girl exclusion for the less popular set and, like all social media, doesn’t portray the struggles of real and often messy friendship.

Cue the story of Lisa McCrohan, a blogger at Barefoot Barn, terrorized by mean girls growing up and now on a quest to make girls more confident and more inclusive to build better self esteem and success. Do you see where I’m headed here? If she builds it, the girls will certainly come, but what about the boys? Will the generation after the Millennials be able to transcend societal gender roles and expectations and it won’t matter who brings home the locally sourced bacon from the pig they can see a photo of and track from a buy-local app and which one fries it up in the pan? Will they have figured out how to have relationships with two supremely successful and driven partners and share equally child care and chores or SkyMiles or social media passwords? Or will the biological imperative that makes men hunt and spread their seed and women gather and care for the tribe continue in our genetic blueprint despite the fact that in many relationships the reverse is true.

Surely social science has our answer. In some lab somewhere a postmodern Bringing Up Baby scenario is playing out with a Cary Grant scientist splicing the mitochondria of a species for clues how we choose our romantic partners and a wacky and gorgeous, steeped in #STEM, graduated from MIT with her own tech company on the side, Kate Hepburn is distracting him. Her confidence attracts him. She is clearly at the top of her game…but does he want to be a power couple?

This post was originally published in NFOCUS in September 2015.


How to Holiday 101

The old adage is write what you know, so herewith are my top party season tips. In no particular order and for no other reason than this is on my brain after seeing a story on decoding what to wear for different kinds of parties.

  1. Uber. Lyft. Put numbers in phones now. Nothing like a vomiting or incoherent friend to ruin a fun night. Have cash for a cab, too.
  2. A “yes” reply to a Facebook event does not a ticket entry into event make. If it reads register here or go to this link, do it.
  3. Print addresses and directions or send to phone ahead of time. Hosts don’t have time to look at your “where is it again” texts or pick up the phone.
  4. If you are vege, vegan, lactose intolerant, gluten free (please Google the Southpark gluten free and Randy episode) eat before you go and don’t expect host to change menu or make exceptions for you. If good friends are hosting, they already know what you don’t eat. If acquaintances, they likely don’t care. Push a fork around the plate and make lively conversation. No one will notice.
  5. Always, always have a hostess gift on hand. Wine. Booze. Chocolate. Flowers, A Baguette, A Candle, Dishtowels, Nuts, Coffee, Fudge, a Pie, Banana Bread, Preserves. A cheese array. You will be invited back unless you fail to follow #1 above.
  6. Ask if you can bring a plus one to the party or dinner, don’t assume. And while we’re at it, you CAN go to events solo. Great to have a date you like but if you don’t and want to see everybody, for God sakes GO to the party or function. We would rather see you than your date anyway.
  7. Do your best to find your host prior to leaving gathering even if you are only there for 15 minutes and thank him or her for invite. I am a professional popper – inner. I have a great FOMO combined with a lot of friends who throw parties, so I say howdy do, kiss kiss, hug hug, thanks and go. See #5, also.
  8. If invite says black tie it means dark suit acceptable. Please don’t wear brown, though. Pretty much ever. If it says tuxedo it means wear a tuxedo. If it says tails I’m not sure what party you’re attending in Louisville as I don’t think we have those.
  1. Ladies, this is the time to pull out your “I love this dress so much, but am saving it for a really special occasion” and OWN IT.
  2. Glitter really does change lives.
  3. Think about sponsoring a family for the holidays. The Volunteers of America family shelter needs gifts and gift cards for the homeless children who live there.
  4. Donate to Kentucky Harvest. The organization feeds a lot of families through donations around Metro Louisville.
  5. If your friend isn’t materialistic or you don’t know what to get as a gift, donate to his or her favorite charity.
  6. Regift. There is enough detritus in the world. Save the earth.
  7. Think about the landscape when buying gifts and wrapping. Skip the cute shopping bag and ask to wrap in tissue or just hang or ask for smallest bag the store has. Use materials on hand to wrap, use leaves and pinecones and branches and berries to garnish and cloth ribbons are good all year round. A great gift for the green people in your world is a membership here: Yew Dell Gardens
  8. Think twice about sending cards and photos. I love all my people. I do not need a card. Or a photo. Email if you must, but really a text will do.
  9. Secret Santa? Just Say No.
  10. Dirty Santa? Oh Hark the Herald Angels Sing Yes!
  11. Smile at everybody you meet and give them a silent blessing. Tough time for a lot of folks who are reminded of who they love and lost.
  12. Tip well! Minimum 15 percent. Twenty is the right thing to do.
  13. I have it on good authority that if you child writes to Santa Claus and includes a return address and mails the letter via US mail, Santa will write back.
  14. Go caroling! It is super fun.
  15. Caroling means a lot of selfies, and an exhausted battery in your smartphone. Keep a charger handy.
  16. Don’t post unflattering photos of your friends even if it is the BEST picture of you ever.
  17. Frame the photo and article of your friend who made a cover story, launched a business, achieved a milestone and give it for a holiday gift. Always good for office walls (along with local art that doesn’t have to match the furniture!).
  18. No need to hide the cocktail or put it down prior to photos. It’s a party.
  19. Revelry has adorable stockings and ornaments right now. Regalo has the best t shirts. Crafts gallery has moderately priced, handmade, lovely gifts from local artists. Cellar Door Chocolates are a can’t go wrong gift absent diabetes. Elva Fields jewelry will make your lady swoon. Green Lady flowers does one of a kind organic bouquets (please skip the dyed daisies people. Egad) Cake Flour has a ready made bakery case out on Lime Kiln. Skyn Lounge gift certificates make great stocking stuffers and Rainbow Blossom will help you put a gift basket together for your healthy friends. I get all my baby gifts from and for the 0 – toddlers one can’t go wrong at The Diaper Fairy cottage on Bardstown Road. Find all of these businesses and more at
  20. BUY LOCAL. Join LIBA. Keep Louisville Weird.
  21. Hand written Thank You notes..
  22. Get a jump on your New Year’s Resolution(s). Why wait for an artificial date to press the start button on what you want to happen in your life? Join that gym, go for that run, take a class, book that trip, invest money each month from your pay or income, eat nutritious food, hire an organizer, work on your business plan. If not now when, right?

Photos provided by Paul Sizemore

Connections with Renee Shaw Interview on KET

“Community Activist Tanya Torp, program director for Step by Step, a mentoring ministry for at risk single mothers, and Holly Houston, a family court lawyer and co-founder of GLOW – Greater Louisville Outstanding Women, discuss social justice, youth empowerment, leadership development, and girl power.” Watch the video of the interview on KET.

Tanya Torp and Holly Houston   Connections with Renee Shaw   KET Video

A Family Lawyer’s Guide to a Kids-First Divorce | Published on

Read my guest post titled A Family Lawyer’s Guide to a Kids-First Divorce  on

“I was in Judge’s chambers a week or so ago talking to one of our ten Jefferson Family Court Judges about peaceful parenting for divorced parents and parents who are no longer together. On its surface, the concept seems so organic and so mindful of children’s best interests. In what is arguably an age of the most indulgent parenting in our history, parents inevitably put the kids’ needs first, right? Unfortunately in my experience it is the exception rather then the rule that once-intact couples are able to detach from blaming the partner for the breakup, and buck up, shut up and put the kids first…” Read the full article here:

Start Us Up

As February comes to a quick and painfully cold close, I am thankful for my ability to remain nimble to accommodate all the vortexes, weather-wise and business-wise, and for the array of offerings from tech to odd to highbrow beginning tomorrow through mid March. While the veteran socialites know to block April with a black Sharpie for pre Derby events and Derby, March is the month in which to plan all the parties and fundraisers and new ideas that universe willing, don’t require hats, fascinators, florals, seersucker or pastel anything.

 Tomorrow, February 28th my eyeballs will be on a television set at that Mexi-Cali heaven in theHighlands, El Camino, to watch my friend Lori Cheek sink or swim on Shark Tank. The business mogul “sharks” on the ABC show will offer her the chance to walk away with a killer deal for her online dating business, Cheek’d, or eat her. Far from an overnight success story, I have watched Lori make a few sacrifices to build her brand and her business over the last four or five years and will be over the moon if she wins.

 Speaking of winning, Startup Weekend kicks off also on February 28th and continues through March 2 in Jeffersonville, Indiana, at Velocity, a mixed use accelerator and co working space created by Tony Schy, its managing director and super engaged in the start up community, according to Charles Buddeke. “He is one of the biggest mentors around,” Buddeke said, himself the chief organizer for Forge, the premiere networking group to bring big speakers or panels here from the venture capital, angel investor, entrepreneur and thinker community.

 Typically groups of four or five compete at Startup Weekend for “cloud” credit at Amazon and gift certificates for projects and a coveted meeting with a Chrysalis Ventures member. Winners also get a pass to start up weekend NEXT, which as its name implies is the next step to getting ideas funded. Buddeke said during initial Startup Weekends “You have a great weekend and it kind of ends. If you continue, Startup Weekend NEXT puts you in touch with great mentors and what you get is amazing.”

 Who isn’t a fan of amazing?

 See you there.

Will It Go Round in Circles

Holly Houston- Photo by Pinnacle Ten

Holly Houston- Photo by Pinnacle Ten

The weather is cramping my style. As one who loves nothing more than to meet new people out in the thick of it, there are less people out in the Arctic Vortextual temps thus less mixing to be had. No more though! As February is packed with chances to meet and greet and celebrate including on February 1, the 200th anniversary of the Culbertson Mansion, a mere hop and skip across the mighty (frozen) Ohio, great plays and the always fun Lobster Feast for Actors Theatre on February 8, The 2nd annual Gravy Cup for Boys and Girls Haven on February 16, the screening of “Raising Ms. President” by our own Kiley Lane on February 25, Moth Story Slam at Headliner’s with “Vices” for its theme on February 25 and for the lovers and dreamers, “Romeo and Juliet” presented by Kentucky Opera on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Notable for me is Greater Louisville Outstanding Women’s 5th birthday this month, founded by my friend Colleen Mahon and me during the ice storm in 2009. Seven women attended that first meeting, all of whom are thriving in business, I am pleased to report. Museum Plaza, the spot we met for our first meeting, did not fare as well, but 21c Museum + Hotel has more than made up for it by quintupling its profits over the last two years as reported by “Business First.” Which brings me to this month’s topic: urban density and how random meetings on city streets and in and out of hot spots may increase opportunity and innovation for the city dwellers among us.

The basis of the concept known as “superlinear scaling” is as cities grow, residents have greater chances of interacting face to face. With increased interaction there is a likelihood of a proportionate increase in innovation and economic growth, but only if the population increase carries with it a chance for people to actually mix together. Street level interaction that increases rather than lessens chances “for informal contact between people in a given public space at any given time” or “Jacob’s Density” is what matters most for creativity and innovation, according to “Urban Growth: Population Density vs. Creative and Economic Output,” in August 2012 “Urban Times.”

Case in point: a dear friend hosted a going away dinner for a lovely couple. The crowd was a random accumulation of friends the couple met during their several-year stay here. Inevitably, the “how do you know x?” made the rounds and our story is we met at 21c at the bar on New Year’s Eve when they first moved here. The meeting spurred a friendship, support by them of Blessings in a Backpack, the board of which I was a member at the time, numerous civic contributions by the couple, and an annual donation to KIVA by our women’s group, the donations having been established by my friend.

Had we not been out, had we not been actively involved in our communities, had we not been social, we would have missed countless opportunities to contribute and all the ripples created by the other spokes in the wheel comprised of the people we know. That I give 21c credit for so many connections is important on a few levels: 1) it really was the first real downtown meeting spot for the social set when it opened and 2) the guests and visitors at Proof who aren’t from here offer a level of connection for Louisvillians who, like me, are landlocked, yet yearn for new people and experiences and chances to build on foundations established here but need a little shot to soar beyond the 502.

Recently at Proof I met a gentleman who lives in Sandy Hook, New Jersey and maintains a place here. He is the “Mint Julep King,” both self-proclaimed and he says proclaimed by the “New York Times.” Talk between us quickly went from Governor Christie to Sandy Hook rebuilding to the Robin Hood Foundation to disaster relief. Heavy? Yes, but right in line with the human rights section Nima Kulkarni and I just created for the Louisville Bar Association and a goldmine of information for me when and if we get funding to expand to educating lawyers and ultimately the city about disaster preparedness.
My vision for Louisville is that we are able to maximize spaces to manifest “Jacob’s Density” for random meetings to grow our businesses and social networks and nonprofit organizations and fund our ideas and our dreams. My part is a regional women’s effort called “Women Mean Business in Kentucky,” a group we created for business women and leaders in Covington, Lexington, Louisville and places in between to meet and learn what each other do in the world and expand the circle for us individually and for our communities and cities and state.

We learned at the lunch in Lexington in January that Kentucky is one of twelve states that boasts an online portal for business startups at, that women-owned businesses increased by 30 percent and that an increase in the minimum wage would lead to 2200 new jobs according to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes. She encouraged the women she spoke to at lunch “to refuse to walk forward and carry the torch only a few stops.” Instead she said, “Think—I’m here today to light the way for others.” So go out there and mix it up, Louisville! Change your stops, break out of your comfort zone, get out of your cars, park farther away to make yourself walk, go to a different end of town to eat or for a concert or a function, fund a new cause, join a new group. Then we can all really go round in circles and fly high like a (cardinal) bird up in the sky.

You can read this article in its original format on the N:Focus website here:


Holly Houston- Photo by Pinnacle Ten

Holly Houston- Photo by Pinnacle Ten

NuLu I love you. In the last three years, development and commerce within a few blocks between 600 and 800 East Market revolutionized the city. I frequent you almost daily. But, it seems like it’s time to broaden our horizons and extend our vision to other parts of the city we call Possibility so that the love we’ve shown you we can now extend to others.

The corridor between Baxter and Jefferson. The entry from Barret to Broadway. The intersection of Payne and Lexington. Vacant stores on Bardstown Road with landlords who want to command the same rent they did when it was “the” place to go, but whose shoppers diverted to St. Matthews and Nulu several years ago and left us holding the hookah pipe.

Zach Fry, a real estate agent and broker at Keller Williams, thinks the Phoenix Hill neighborhood at Broadway and Baxter is ripe for new life, for example. Fry, whose eyes are ever pealed for great deals said “I always think it’s good to buy in the path of what’s happening and being at the intersection of Irish Hill, Butchertown, Nulu and the Highlands will be beneficial to those with vision!”

Similarly, Red Hot Roasters owner Sondra Powell said it doesn’t make sense that investors haven’t looked to her incredibly high volume drive through spot at the intersection of Lexington and Payne. Adjacent to a convenience store, close to Headliners, a brisk walk from Bardstown Road on one end and a fun bike ride to Frankfort Avenue on the other, the area seems prime for restaurants and retail. Business is lucrative enough at the little orange building of caffeine heaven, Powell’s bought a new roaster that will double her coffee capacity.

Broadway, a street I drove down almost daily for twelve years is overdue for a renaissance. With the addition of Wiltshire Pantry’s Bakery on Barrett where Joe Davola’s was, development further down Barrett toward East Broadway seems like it could happen any moment. Andrea Glass is symbol of starting over with Boston’s Floral Couture housed now on East Broadway. She may be small but she is not shy about her belief that it could be the next big thing. Again.

Our greatest asset is the people who choose to live and work here. Payal Parekh, a photographer and textile designer in Louisville by way of New York and Mumbai, said of Louisville, “Everybody has something to offer. Everybody is so genuine. It’s a very different feeling here, one feels instantly at home.” Parekh, the owner of K & N prints, a textile design company with her father, is designing patterns for scarves the first time this spring. She and her husband, Geoff Bugbee, are symbolic of the “new” Louisville and the even greater need for parks and trees and open spaces and places to meet other young people in the creative class who, despite their world travels, appreciate simplicity and history. Parekh said she believes in “simple gestures to add local brands and young activity groups that mix social and business everything together,” as she had a tough time meeting her Gen Y age group here and figuring out where to go.

Like the new scarf designs she’ll make this spring that evoke her father’s design since the 60s, many small business owners hope the city and private investors can follow suit to revitalize old streets and corridors, all the while being mindful of the people and businesses that have thrived there for a multitude of years.

Happy New Year!

You can read this article in its original setting on the N:FOCUS website here:

Terra Firma

Chaturanga Dandasana is a basic yoga pose that requires you to hover in a low plank position with your elbows tucked neatly at your sides and then pull your body through the pose until you’re in a low cobra. While a core strength move to be sure, what it really requires is upper arm strength. You have to build your way into the pose.

During a Saturday morning class moons ago, one of my then instructors told me aloud publicly to refrain from doing the pose if I weren’t strong enough to maintain the proper form. Me? Not strong enough? Are you talkin’ to me? Needless to say, I was embarrassed and felt weak.

Years later, as I breathe my way through chaturanga daily, I sometimes remember her words. She was right. I am so much better equipped for it and all the poses I practice today. Which reinforces the maxim timing is everything, despite how ready I may be for a new chapter or project launch or client or change. When the student is ready, so it goes, the teacher appears.

I think most of us (Type A’s raise your hands) are fairly quick to abandon goals if the progress we seek doesn’t appear fast enough. Yet, some seeds take a lot longer to sprout through the ground than others. They need to foment and ferment and be nourished and stew.

In 2007 for example, the Junior League of Louisville planted seeds for the now blooming Mayor’s healthy food access initiatives after we learned about food deserts from Oprah and several other sources. We held a summit at what was then the brand new 21c Museum and Hotel and asked 23 city leaders to answer the question: “How do we provide access to healthy food for all Louisvillians?” The proof 6 years later is in the proverbial pudding as farmer’s markets, community gardens and EBT programs have grown up all over the city. From the surface in 2008 when the Recession hit it seemed as if our efforts were for naught. Now the city’s LIFE zone (Locally Integrated Food Economy) geared to help people eat and grow food closer to home, is full steam ahead, as is Louisville Grows in Shawnee, featured with Kristen Williams in this month’s issue of NFOCUS.

Similarly the Compassionate Cities project was spurred in part from Thomas Merton’s  epiphany that we are all one giant mass of humanity. Merton had the epiphany in 1958. To wit, from Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.” It took us a while to figure out how to apply Merton’s words.  Now one of eight cities globally with a compassionate designation, others have praised us as a place where people strive to take care of each other

And each other means everybody: in whatever end of the city you live, whatever your means, whatever your color or creed. This more than any other message rang clear in October here with The Muhammad Ali Center’s Three Days of Greatness to include an HBO film premiere about Ali and his refusal to be drafted and the first ever humanitarian awards, at which Lonnie Ali told the Mayor that she and Ali “never imagined in their wildest dreams the support we’d get from the city.”

What followed in October was a fashion show collaboration between Urban Outfitters and Anchal, a nonprofit designed to lift Indian women out of sex slavery by teaching them to sew (coincidentally co founded by one of last year’s New Faces winners), the first ever humanitarian law seminar hosted by yours truly to include human trafficking legislation and an international rule of law discourse, another documentary screening this time to highlight Hispanic lawyers and several events hosted by the Greater Louisville International Professionals.

At one of the GLIP events I had the good fortune of sitting with Ambassador Shabazz, the eldest of Malcolm X’s six daughters and the founder inter alia of the Pilgrimage Foundation in 1996 to create fellowships “to fulfill our bounty then share it with another.” Ambassador Shabazz indulged me when I told her about the humanitarian law seminar and trying to build diversity in a few groups I love. “They’re here,” she said. “They’ll come. You’re building awareness and that’s the best thing you can do.”

A sentiment eerily similar to a text I received from one of my favorite people when I told him I wanted the seminar attendance to be huge and asked for help to connect to whoever I might be missing to create buzz. “Your name is already written in Heaven…so relax and let it come to you,” he wrote.

For all the Alphas out there whose seeds of personal or project greatness haven’t sprouted at all, or haven’t rocketed through the soil in a single bound, the land likely isn’t fallow or the seeds defective, they just might not be strong enough to push through yet. Give it time, Grasshopper.

Here’s to reaping harvests, letting go of the death grip you may have on meeting goals in your own time and thinking about the year end contributions you may make to the groups you care about most. A few of my favorites for fall and winter donations are Kentucky Harvest, Americana Community Center and Wayside Christian Mission. Food, blankets and warm clothes mean everything when you’re cold.

Keep being generous and lovely Louisville. And if you need to stand firm remember the words of Len Amato, President of HBO films who made “Greatest Fight” about Ali: “Brass, confident, poetic, and of course, pretty. He is the original man of conscience and purpose. What he stands for outside the ring transcends his power in the ring.” Ka-pow!