City Strobe

Speaking of Sex
The Speaking of Sex Video Road Trip made a stop in Louisville last week to soak up some local culture and talk with the community about sexual health. The visit was a scheduled stop on the nationwide journey, part of the eponymous podcast series, a project sponsored by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Two Planned Parenthood community educators from Washington, Malaika Edden and Nathan Engebretson, came up with the idea four months ago. Planning to attend the Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Health Conference in Chicago (which concluded June 3), the pair thought it would be interesting to turn that trip into a cross-country trot to talk with different communities about the services Planned Parenthood offers, as well as to learn different viewpoints on sexuality from sex educators, volunteers and the public.

Dr. Shirley Jones, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Louisville, supports the project.
“Access to both comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education and healthcare is fundamental to the preservation of reproductive health and the establishment of healthy relationships,” she wrote in an e-mail interview last week. “The Speaking of Sex podcasts provide another venue for sharing this important information.”

Edden and Engebretson decided the target demographic for the project is adults age 18 to 30; from the pair’s experience, these folks need sexual education and advice more than anybody.

Louisville was one of 16 cities selected — out of 116 PP locations — for a tour stop. “Louisville had a really nice mix of both things they were proud of here at Planned Parenthood, but also other kinds of fun, quirky things … it was a nice mixture,” Edden said. “As we’ve been told, this is the most northern-southern city, and so we decided to come here.”

The duo also spoke with Drs. Alfred Bennett Jenson and Shin-je Ghim of the University of Louisville about the work they did in developing the first FDA-approved vaccine for the human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer or genital warts. They said it was important to speak to the doctors in order to get more information out to the public about the HPV vaccine, which continues to be a controversial issue — from questions about the drug’s long-term effects to apprehension from the abstinence-only crowd about the acknowledgment of an STD as a legitimate health issue.

Edden hopes the vaccine will help families begin a conversation about sexuality.
“One of our strong beliefs is that sexuality education starts in the family, and so if families aren’t talking about their values around sexuality, then their are getting it from somebody else, and that’s not the place that they want for it to come from,” she said.

Engebretson considers the vaccine a sort of insurance policy for young women.
“I think if it was a different type of cancer, would be really different,” he said.

The road trip concludes June 13 in New York City, where the two will visit PPFA headquarters. The video podcasts are expected to be completed by late summer or early fall, at which time two episodes per month will be released. To check updates from the road and other podcasts from this series, visit —Mary Q. Burton

New tenants at old Water Company site?
One of the more interesting initiatives in Mayor Jerry Abramson’s budget proposal — delivered to the Metro Council May 31 — is IDEAL, an acronym for Investing in Downtown for the Economic Advancement of Louisville. While you couldn’t be blamed for thinking just such a thing has been in place for, let’s say, 10 years, it has a name and line-item power now.

The initiative empowers Metro government to buy land to then sell to developers it thinks will make the best use of it. It ensures the city’s vision-makers the chance to further dictate the fate of burgeoning downtown Louisville.

$1.7 million will go to improving roads, lighting and signage downtown, pending Council approval of the budget.
Another $3 million and change will purchase three parcels of land at the old Water Company site, between Second and Third streets and Liberty and Muhammad Ali, aka the other downtown arena site.

Who will have the pleasure of devouring such a prime cut of real estate? The likely answer appears to be Cordish, the Baltimore company behind Fourth Street Live. The Mayor’s office has declined to comment on a developer, and an open records request by LEO for information pertaining to the possible deal several weeks ago went unmet, with Metro citing an exemption in the law for proprietary business information. The Downtown Development Corp. is exempt from Open Records laws (a nonprofit corporation with a Metro government contract), so LEO could not obtain pertinent documents.

However, LEO has spoken to several sources with both business and professional interests who say what we’re saying now: Don’t be surprised by Third Street Live! —Stephen George

A new, improved Internet?

The National Science Foundation’s recent $10 million grant to fund the design of a new, improved Internet may not seem like much, especially for four years’ work, but its significance is huge.

The money, awarded on May 21 to long-time Internet design source BBN Technologies, Inc. (which not only had a principle role in the original Internet’s design, but also came up with the format for e-mail addresses commonly used today), will fund the exploration of useful design concepts for the Global Environment for Network Innovations. The actual design and construction of GENI is expected to begin around 2010, and will cost an estimated $350 million.

The need cited for a new, improved Internet is driven by security weaknesses and mobility issues deriving from its uncontrolled growth, according to experts in the field. A “clean slate” approach will permit these issues to be addressed in the network’s core architecture, but will necessarily require the existing Internet and GENI to operate in parallel for an indeterminate amount of time, perhaps many years.

The need for Internet re-design work was anticipated as far back as 1996, when President Clinton made reference to the need for the funding of “Internet2.” Beyond the technical problems lie deeper issues, mostly to do with the social and economic whirlwind of change the Internet has wrought over the past decade and a half. A more secure Internet is a more controllable Internet, which raises the obvious question: controllable by whom?

The Internet originally went online in 1969 as ARPAnet, connecting the research resources of four universities into a single network. The Internet we know and love dates to the early 1990s, when the system was privatized and opened to commercial traffic. —Scott Robinson

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