Lazy Eight Stock Farm in Paint Lick, KY

As a newcomer to Kentucky, I’ve tried to head dive into the Louisville world as quickly, and with as much splash, as possible. Being the friendly place it is, Louisville dealt me a good hand right off the bat: two days before I moved here, a family invited me to live with them and, two days after, I ran into a college classmate that had been in my specific concentration. I immediately had an awesome friend and surrogate family. I thought I received some incredible beginner’s luck.
 
Louisville had its 50th Loan Celebration a little over 5 weeks ago. At this celebration, someone from every facet of my small, but growing, Louisville life was represented.  To me, this city is small and mighty, which allows them to have a keen and impactful focus. It’s common to see networks here converge at different philanthropic events because the energy surrounding “making change” is a definitive characteristic of this city. Despite my understanding of Louisville’s interconnectivity, the turn out at the 50th Loan Celebration gave me goose bumps. Looking around at the gathered group of individuals, I realized this wasn’t luck. Luck doesn’t persist, connect, and define an environment or place.  Louisville has this recipe that mixes an openness to ideas and growth with a sense of self pride and heartwarming attitude. Rather than luck, the environment that night felt purposeful and magical.  It was there that I defined the term “Louisville magic,” a community empowerment that’s infectious, energizing and permeates beyond. 
 
After more thought, I realized my term was a little myopic. Kentucky has this all over and Kiva has become an outlet for this connectivity throughout the state. (Since the term has a ring to it, and I’ve already jumped the gun and got it trademarked, I’m still calling it Louisville Magic.) 
 
I saw it with a borrower I worked with this past October. Bryce Baumann lives in Paint Lick, Kentucky, about a two hours drive from Louisville.  He was The Berry Center’s first endorsement and I was psyched when his application officially came in. I drove out for a site visit and to learn about the prospective project. Bryce was expanding production by building a larger greenhouse while increasing heating efficiency by building a renewable energy system - all with natural materials.  He designed a technology with a local mechanical engineer from Berea College that used concrete mixed with crushed limestone.  Water is heated by a renewable fuel fired boiler within the greenhouse and then piped through the concrete which heats the limestone. The limestone holds heat three times longer than concrete alone and thus keeps the greenhouse heated for three times longer.
Bryce Baumann in his original greenhouse
Beyond The Berry Center and myself, nearly every Kiva Trustee and farm-related contact I have conversed with knows, or has heard about, Bryce and are eager to see his success. Bryce and his family hold that warmth in their heart and his professional mission is energizing.
 
I think luck's been hanging around me too. I feel so lucky to have witnessed Louisville’s magic.
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Katherine's major interest, both academically and professionally, is sustainability. She studied Environmental Science and Economics to learn how sustainability is best achieved through both natural resource and financial perspectives. After graduating, she joined Dropbox and spent the last two years learning what sales and marketing departments require during a hyper growth period. Her direct exposure to microfinance began with Hope International in 2010. She traveled to the Dominican Republic for client-visits and was convinced of its impact by seeing results first hand. A few years later she chose microfinance as the subject matter of her senior thesis: Microfinance's viability in sustaining agricultural livelihoods. She's honored to contribute to Kiva's effort in providing sustainable freedom to those that otherwise would not have the opportunity and further connect value-based businesses.