H.O.P.E. conference addresses west Louisville concerns - WDRB 41 Louisville News

H.O.P.E. conference addresses west Louisville concerns

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer put out a call to action in the days following teen mob violence in downtown Louisville.

Since the the violence occurred, there's been an increased police presence, a reignited push for mentoring programs in high poverty areas, and several community forums.

"There's a lot of talk about west Louisville, but the question is not what's wrong with west Louisville, but what can we do to improve the urban community," said Dr. Kevin Cosby, pastor at the St. Stephen Church, located in the California neighborhood.

Dr. Cosby seeks to answer that question with the Having Only Positive Expectations (HOPE) Conference.

"We want to bring in the best of the best to give solutions and strategies on how the urban community might truly rise," Dr. Cosby said.

The HOPE conference brings Louisville's suburban leaders into the California Neighborhood for three days. The neighborhood is in the heart of west Louisville and home to one of the nation's poorest zips codes.

Dr. Cosby is also president of Simmons College. He brought in seven keynote presenters to addresses the plights of urban America, ranging from the topics of economics to education.

"Part of the problem is that unintentionally part of the community has so many resources that they hoard. There's networking among friends and many people in west Louisville. There are also those who are socially isolated who don't have access," Dr. Cosby said.

The idea behind the conference is to partner those with resources with those who need opportunities.

Leaders plan to establish about 13 HOPE zones throughout west Louisville, a networking hub that will foster investments within the community.

"There are people who have tools and skills and gifts that are just waiting for a platform to exercise those gifts. There are budding entrepreneurs who just don't know where to begin. There are students who have creative educational gifts who may have a phenomenal tutoring idea or might be able to transform ecology and just don't have the right language," said Executive Director Robert Harvey.

"The conference tries to take theory into action, where participants leave with a plan for implementation in their own urban cities. Roughly 1,000 people have attended, from as far away as Baltimore, Charlotte, and St. Louis.

"I'm actually a school nurse in a high school in St. Louis and we have the same urban and economic issues as well. I see the young men in our school with pants sagging and one was shot this year and that's a challenge and so I want to be relevant to them, and I felt like I would get that coming here," said conference attendee Roslyn Harvey.

While HOPE is an acronym describing the conference, more so it is a belief, that no matter how dark things may seem, hope is never lost.

"All of Louisville might rise so that no city in our region from Indianapolis to St. Louis to Nashville will be able to compete with the greatness of our city," Dr. Cosby said.

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