One of Project HEAL’s signature initiatives is One Poem At A Time — originally designed by IDEAS xLab team member/artist Hannah Drake with photos by team member/artist Josh Miller and public health research support from team member/artist, Theo Edmonds and University of Louisville School of Public Health researcher, Carmen Mitchell.

Working with community members, the Smoketown Neighborhood Association and other community stakeholders, One Poem At A Time replaces negative/predatory advertising and billboards within the community with positive images and messages depicting Smoketown residents and lifting up their voices.


This initiative which combined the arts, health research and advocacy for culturally-responsive economic ultimately led to Smoketown Residents defeating 2 new liquor stores attempting to locate in the neighborhood. Additionally, Metro Louisville Government changing its notification policy city-wide for applications filed to open new liquor stores. Our community is grateful for the support and collaboration of Metro Government in this initiative. Click here to learn about the liquor store battle in Smoketown.



While we intuitively know that we “feel better” when participating in arts and culture events or projects, our scientific knowledge is largely limited to research on art and music therapy. In other words, we know about the impact on the individual. What about on an entire community or city?

IDEAS xLab's community health development model, Project HEAL (Health. Equity. Art. Learning.), introduces arts and culture as the key drivers for learning, action and evaluation by communities seeking to increase civic engagement toward greater participation in policy making and improved wellbeing. 

Project HEAL stands as a proclamation of connection and social justice, establishing the care and celebration of one another as the highest priority of arts in America.  Now operating in communities across 4 states from Appalachia to New Orleans, Smoketown (Louisville, is the original Project HEAL  prototype site.

Project HEAL has 3 focus impact areas:

1) Catalyze community... create new ways for communities build social and political capital.

2) Move policy... change how decisions are made in organizations and governments.

3) Shift culture... evolve how the health sector thinks of its role in community health development.