"What we know is that narratives sometimes are more powerful than facts. This is an opportunity to challenge those false narratives to see the promise instead of peril. ‘The words equity, safety and thriving sound like things that would be attainable in our communities. However, when we really began to deal with those three words we have to talk about racism, white privilege, and white supremacy, as those are the social constructs that keep our systematic divisiveness in place.'" from “Creating safe, equitable and thriving neighborhoods” by Linda Topinka, The Gazette, July 24, 2016


The Ujima Experience is an immersion into the history and assets of the nine West End neighborhoods. This unique, comprehensive program will provide positive asset framing of the West End via community immersion.

Ujima…What is it? It is the third principle of Kwanzaa.

Ujima is a reminder of our Collective Work and Responsibility. Ujima reminds us of our obligations to the past, the present, and future, and that WE ALL HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY in the community, society, and world. Ujima is the story of us all.


Think about that for a moment, COLLECTIVELY across the entire community of Louisville, we ALL have a role in the history, the existing state, and the outcomes of the West End.



In November of last year, we held a successful Ujima Experience pilot. As part of the Pilot Program, the attendees, many of which are familiar with and positively predisposed to the West End, completed pre- and post-surveys. The results of the survey depicted a 25% positive shift in the perception of the West End. This is concrete proof that our Ujima Experience concept can change the narrative, shift the mindset, and break down mental barriers.

What does this mean from a Safe and Thriving Community perspective? Research has proven violence is a direct result of poverty. The Ujima Experience is an opportunity to build on the comment – “the West End is open for business”. The program is an opportunity to expose the broad Louisville Community to dignified relationships with the people and neighborhoods in the West End, to surface opportunities for investment, and drive compassion leading to policy changes that influence generational prosperity.  


COLLECTIVELY, the Ujima Experience is a catalyst for the positive Present economic changes – changes that turn the corner of poverty to prosperity, sustainability, and safety.

The Solution

The Ujima Experience. An immersion into the history and assets of the nine West End neighborhoods. This unique and comprehensive program will provide positive asset framing of the West End via community immersion consisting of:

The PAST – exposure to Redlining History –


Josh Poe, an urban planner and community organizer presents his powerful research on Redlining. If you are not familiar…Redlining was a set of maps resulting from a federal program created in the 1930’s to guide bank investments in real estate. The end result of the redlining program was decay of black, immigrant, and low-income neighborhoods through reduced access to mortgage credit – effectively wiping out decades of economic growth and prosperity for individuals in redlined areas.


The Ujima Experience also includes:

The PRESENT – A scripted WEST END tour with narrative on the present, exposure to businesses, and engagement with community residents, activists, and leaders. Shelton McElroy, a Louisville native and educator emcees a bus tour that includes a visit to Love City where we learned about the tremendous impact of community engagement – simply loving your neighbors – in a five block region in South Portland, near Russell and Shawnee, Love City is transforming the neighborhood. Reducing crime by over 30%.


The program concludes with lunch and exposure to...

The FUTURE – A Conversation on Compassion and Action with information on opportunities to engage socially, economically, voluntarily, and politically. As an example of future opportunity the program includes a stop at Simmons College – Louisville’s Historic Black College. A revitalized and growing educational facility with tremendous history here in our fair city.

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