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Grow Smart 101

Grow Smart 101 is a free, four-week program created by Fayette Alliance, designed to educate UK students on land-use planning and its relationship to our community’s economic development, environment, and quality-of-life and empower them to be active citizens. Local community leaders and experts speak on issues ranging from our infrastructure, like transportation and sewer systems, to green space and housing affordability. This is part of Fayette Alliance’s Grow Smart suite of education programming.

Grow Smart 101: Planning 101

Lexington’s planning and land use policies and processes, set out in our Comprehensive Plan, outline the vision for how we live, work, and play. This session connects land-use policy and our quality of life, highlighting Lexington’s challenges to preserve our rural areas while growing in a smart, equitable, and sustainable way. It will walk through the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, Imagine Lexington, outline the processes which go into building a Comprehensive Plan, and identify how the community can continue to engage with our city as they put the Plan into action.

Planning 101 Recording


  • Sam Castro, AICP, LEED ND, Senior Planner, LFUCG Long Range Planning
    • Samantha is a Certified Planner and a LEED Accredited Professional for Neighborhood Design and has a Masters of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Her comprehensive background includes large-scale master planning and transportation planning in the private sector, as well as experience in all phases of urban design, city planning, landscape architecture, and public engagement. Samantha is currently a Senior Long Range Planner with the City of Lexington’s Division of Planning, as well as guest professor/lecturer at the University of Kentucky’s College of Design, and Department of Landscape Architecture. She is a member of the Kentucky Chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Planning Association, and currently serves as the Lexington Programming Chair for the Kentucky Chapter of the Urban Land Institute.
  • Valerie Friedmann, Senior Planner and Greenspace Planner, LFUCG Long Range Planning
    • Valerie Friedmann is a Long Range Senior Planner and the Greenspace Planner for the City of Lexington Kentucky’s Division of Planning. Valerie coordinates with developers and various government divisions to further the city’s open space plans during the development process. Her work helps ensure that all communities are served by thoughtful urban design and that everyone has equitable access to vibrant, community-focused open spaces. Prior to working for the City of Lexington, Valerie was an Assistant Professor in the Auburn University Landscape Architecture Program. At Auburn her research focused on the ecological and aesthetic benefits of novel plant communities. Valerie holds a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Tennessee.

Grow Smart 101: Promoting Our Farms– Friday, February 26, 2021 from Noon to 1 PM EST

Promoting our unique and productive Bluegrass farmland is a key part of Fayette Alliance’s mission. Our unique rural areas contribute to our identity, economic development, and quality of life. Fayette Alliance advocates for sustainable, responsible, and innovative growth because we know that maintaining a balance between our irreplaceable Bluegrass farmland and a growing, vibrant city is what makes Lexington-Fayette County extraordinary.

This session will educate our attendees on the significant ways our farmland impacts our community and why smart, equitable growth and farmland preservation are two sides of the same coin. Our rural land acts as the factory floor of our community, providing a wide range of diverse employment opportunities, a $2B annual county economic impact and supporting a growing local food movement, connecting more people to the land every day.

Promoting Our Farms Recording


  • Ashley Smith, Co-founder and COO of Black Soil: Our Better Nature
    • A native of Lexington, KY, Ashley C. Smith graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She is the Co-founder and COO of Black Soil: Our Better Nature, a statewide agritourism company with a mission of reconnecting Black Kentuckians to their legacy and heritage in agriculture. Smith has worked for such brands as KentuckyOne Health, Bluegrass Hospitality Group, Community Ventures, NetGain Technologies, Smiley Pete Publishing, The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center and Fayette Alliance.Smith’s other professional involvement, leadership, and accolades include: Ethical Redevelopment Salon member under the leadership of Theaster Gates, Secretary for Kentucky State University’s Extension and Research Advisory Council, and 2016 Scholarship Chair for the Bluegrass Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In addition, her leadership also includes serving on the Management Team for the crave food + music festival and Steering Committee member for the Kentucky Rural Urban Exchange. Her professional portfolio also includes voice over and Mistress of Ceremonies duties for City of Lexington 2017, 2018, and 2020 Martin Luther King Holiday Celebration, Stage Emcee for 2017 and 2018 crave lexington food + music festival. She earned an Emmy nomination for KET’s Kentucky Life episode, A Kentucky Christmas, voicing the work of Kentucky native, writer and poet, Effie Waller Smith. Smith gave a top rated CreativeMornings Lexington talk, ‘Insecure’ in June 2020. Smith and Trevor Claiborn are the proud parents of Caroline and Trevor, Jr.
  • Dr. Alison Davis, PhD, H.B. Price Professor of Agricultural Economics; Director, Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK); Editor, Choices Magazine

    • Dr. Alison Davis is the H.B. Price Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky and the Executive Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK). CEDIK is an integrated engagement/research center housed within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky. CEDIK’s mission is to build engaged communities and vibrant economies. Dr. Davis leads a team of fourteen engagement and research staff to support for CEDIK’s four priority areas: economic development, leadership development, community health, and community design. Her rural economic development program utilizes workshops, trainings, and educational materials to highlight the importance of community engagement, infrastructure development, regionalism, and the impact of changing public policy on rural communities.

Grow Smart 101: Responsible Infrastructure– Friday, March 5, 2021 from Noon to 1 PM EST

Infrastructure is the foundation of our city and a key element in considering how our city can and should grow. Our Urban Services Boundary was put into place in 1958 as an infrastructure boundary and a way to focus resources for infrastructure like sewer, roads, etc. in and around our city core. Limiting the sprawl of expensive city infrastructure is critical to sustainable and equitable growth and a high quality of life for all Lexingtonians, especially for underserved, low-income communities within our city.  Attendees will learn how growth policies like infill and redevelopment go hand in hand with infrastructure plans and investments, and how initiatives like the EPA Consent Decree, the Nicholasville Road Corridor Study, the Complete Streets initiative and others are working to improve and enhance our ability as citizens to live, work, and play in Lexington.


  • Kenzie Gleason – Administrative Officer, Planning, LFUCG, MPO
    • Kenzie Gleason is an Administrative Officer with the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the transportation planning agency for Fayette and Jessamine County.  She coordinates with a team of planners and local officials to guide how federal transportation dollars are invested in our region.  Kenzie began her work with the city developing bicycle, pedestrian and trail plans – a passion that still informs her work today, helping Lexington achieve its goals for a more human-scaled, walkable and transit-friendly transportation system.  She is currently overseeing the Imagine Nicholasville Road study, a plan to develop Lexington’s first bus-rapid transit line.
  • Brandi Peacher- Director of Project Management, Office of the Mayor, LFUCG
    • Brandi Peacher is the Director of Project Management in the Office of the Mayor with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.  Peacher attended the University of Kentucky where she obtained a Masters in Architecture. Her architecture and urban design career has allowed her to work on a variety of commercial, residential, and public projects in Chicago, Dubai, and Lexington. Today, Peacher oversees the group of projects under the Town Branch Commons umbrella.  Her primary focus is on the implementation of Town Branch Commons Trail, a publicly funded 2 mile walking, jogging, and cycling trail linking downtown parks into a cohesive system.

Grow Smart 101: Growing Our City– Friday, March 12, 2021 from Noon to 1 PM EST

The question is not if we grow, it’s how. Fayette Alliance advocates for smart growth policies that grow our city in a responsible, sustainable and equitable way. This means policies which strike a balance between preserving our irreplaceable Bluegrass farmland and those fostering community driven investment that discourages displacement and houses all of our neighbors. This balance is essential to our city’s success and to the quality of life of all of our citizens.

We will discuss what smart growth means and why policies that promote community-driven development within our Urban Services Boundary enhance our quality of life and promote economic development. Attendees will learn why and how a strategy of infill and redevelopment can be successful and how our city is addressing needs like housing diversity and affordable housing to house all of our neighbors.

Growing Our City Recording

  • Councilmember James Brown, District 1, LFUCG, Chair of the Task Force on Neighborhoods in Transition and Member of the Housing and Gentrification Subcommittee, Mayor’s Commission for Racial Justice and Equality-
    • A native of Lexington, KY, James is a graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. James’ previous employment include stints at Lexmark and GTE, before beginning a career in the automotive industry, working for 13 years at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Georgetown, KY. After that, James made a career change becoming a full-time Real Estate Professional, selling both residential and commercial property for United Real Estate. James is extremely passionate about service to neighborhoods and the local school system. He has served as the President of the Radcliffe–Marlboro Neighborhood Association and helped initiate several neighborhood programs. In the past he served as the President of the 16 th District PTA and chaired the Douglass Park Centennial. Currently, he serves as the Chair of the Task Force on Neighborhoods in Transition and the Lyric Theatre Board of Directors. He is also the Vice Chair of the Planning & Public Safety Committee and is on the city’s Affordable Housing Governing Board.
  • Brittany Roethemeier, Fayette Alliance Executive Director-
    • Prior to joining Fayette Alliance, Brittany was an associate attorney in Real Estate law at McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Roethemeier has been working in private practice since 2011 and was named a “Super Lawyer- Rising Star in Real Estate” in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She serves on the Board of Directors of Step by Step, Inc., and is a member of the Transylvania University Young Alumni Council, Friends of the Bluegrass Land Conservancy, and the Leadership Lexington Alumni Association Steering Committee. She is a past member of the Leadership Lexington Youth Steering Committee and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Board of Directors. She is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association as well as the American Bar Association.A graduate of Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky School of Law, Brittany resides in Fayette County with her husband Dean. Brittany is committed to promoting Fayette Alliance’s vital mission.