UofL's first Sustainability grad named Neighbor of the Month

"Someone Who Sees Solutions"

Betsy Ruhe 2016 (UofL's 1st Masters in Sustainability student)Betsy Ruhe was one of the first students to graduate from UofL's Master’s of Sustainability program. See: Sustainability graduate student hopes to instill curriculum at elementary school level (UofL Magazine, Winter/Spring 2017). We are so proud of what she has gone on to accomplish.

Center for Neighborhoods September 2021 Neighbor of the Month:

Beechmont resident Besty Ruhe sees herself as "someone who sees solutions where other folks only see problems." Continue reading to learn more about the work she's doing in Louisville's Beechmont Neighborhood, and to feel inspired by this remarkable Neighbor of the Month!

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I have lived in the Beechmont neighborhood for 12 years. I like to tell people I met more people in one year walking the Parkway than I met in 15 years in my old neighborhood. I grew up in the East End, graduating from Ballard High School, but I have found my home in Beechmont. I recently retired after 22 years as a teacher.

What have you been working on in your neighborhood, and how did you get involved in this work?

I attended both the Neighborhood Institute and the Green Institute. I am very grateful to see the sidewalks and trees finally installed on Phillips Lane. I rode my bike on Philips Lane for years and felt the neglect of the area in my heart. For many visitors to Louisville, Philips Lane and the fairgrounds are the only thing they see of Louisville, and it wasn’t pretty. It was depressing. Some landscaping and a decent sidewalk would go a long way toward making the area more inviting. I was grateful when Doris Sims of the Convention and Visitors Bureau got hold of the walkability study we had prepared.

Read More: Phillips Lane Sidewalk Project: A Case Study in Planning and Partnerships

For the Green Institute, my project was to plant an Orchard on a vacant lot at the intersection of Third St. and the Watterson. It has taken at least seven years, but we are finally planning to plant this fall. We will have 5-6 varieties of fruit trees and annual garden plants available for the public to harvest. I always looked at that vacant lot as I waited for the light to change and imagined what it would look like full of blooming fruit trees. Next spring, I will finally see that vision become reality.

I seem to be someone who sees solutions where other folks only see problems. I wish I had the time to make all my visions a reality.

What do you love about your neighborhood?

I love my neighborhood. I feel like I belong. It’s diverse. It’s friendly. It’s walkable. It’s a neighborhood built on a human scale.

What are your hopes for your neighborhood in the future?

I hope to see our neighborhood redevelop our business district. We are fortunate to still have an intact business district on Woodlawn Ave. and I look forward to seeing new businesses open there. Our neighborhood is a neighborhood in transition. When I moved here, there were very few families with young children. When I went to the Farmers Market, I was lucky to see one young child. Now I see a steady stream of young families. It is dynamic. It’s caring. It’s the best place to live in all of Louisville, a hidden gem.

Source: September 2021 Neighbor of the Month: "Someone Who Sees Solutions" (Center for Neighborhoods, Sept. 23, 2021)