A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky by Heart: Celebrate your love of Kentucky with some little actions that make a big difference


By Steve Flairty
NKyTribune columnist

If you have a deep love for the Commonwealth of Kentucky — and I suspect that many who regularly read this column do — here’s a list of ways, I humbly suggest, to help demonstrate that passion and make the state even more special. First, let’s agree that over time, little actions can make a big difference, for you and other Kentuckians. Let’s be proactive. Here goes:

A Kentucky day trip might include an evening seeing a play at Bardstown. (Photo courtesy of Steve Flairty)

• How about taking a vacation in the Bluegrass state? Theoretically, all places from any point you start in the state can be reached inside a day. That said, taking your time and enjoying the Kentucky experience, I believe, will be a good personal investment. You might get ideas by perusing kentuckytourism.com, among other good sites. Or simply ask your Kentucky-loving acquaintances for their insights. Remember, spending our money here brings economic value to OUR fellow citizens.

• Vote whenever possible, even in primary elections, which traditionally bring lower turnout than general ones. It’s our right and our chance to be part of a team—a Kentucky team. Let’s take advantage of our opportunities to have a say in how our government works.

• I believe our finest hour is when each of us look past our own personal interests to elevate others. How about supporting a Kentucky-based non-profit? I’m biased, but the Northern Kentucky Tribune is a strong voice for bringing out the best in our state, and it is directed by good people who are well-motivated to make the state better.

Additionally, I recently ran across a splendid web site showcasing state-based non-profits greatnonprofits.org. The site lists many organizations and offers details about their missions. Please, however, do further and careful research before supporting one. These are not necessarily endorsements by me or the Tribune, but they provide a starting point.

• Read a book about Kentucky or by a state author. There are many to choose from, whether they be historical non-fiction, travel-related, children’s books, novels, or other types. Many bookstores offer a special section dedicated to such, usually noted as “local” or “Kentucky.” A special treat for me is attending the annual Kentucky Book Fair, which is presented in Lexington.

• Let’s all make the effort to bend over and pick up a piece of trash on the ground, deposing it in the nearest garbage can. Let’s keep our state beautiful, for ourselves and the thousands of tourists who visit Kentucky every year. Here’s a mind game I like to play. If a town of 5000 population each picked up two pieces of the unsightly stuff, that would eliminate 10,000 uglies real fast. (Let’s not forget to wash our hands after the pickup; we need to stay healthy, too!)

Steve standing before one of the two tulip poplar trees he planted in his yard. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Isaacs)

• Plant a native tree, or if a tree needs to be cut down, plant two in its place! This small action can become huge in scope if enough people in Kentucky do it. A tree cleans the air, and it can add shade to our yards, cutting down environmental costs. It can diminish erosion, add beauty to our landscape, and can even diminish noise pollution. For a fast-growing tree, one might plant a tulip poplar, our state tree. I have two of them in my front yard. In short, trees can improve the quality of life, and that’s what most of us in the Commonwealth desire, even expect.

• Here’s maybe a surprise to include. Stop at red lights, pure and simple. It’s a practice in which Kentuckians need to improve. Doing so can keep more people all around the Bluegrass on the earth and above ground. It’s about each of our lives and the lives of others; it’s about patience and respect, and it demonstrates love for Kentucky. Personally, I’ve had a close call or two. Take it seriously, my friends.

• If you are like me, you have a favorite college sports team and it’s likely one from our state. I bleed maroon as a fan of EKU, especially for men’s hoops. However, I think it’s important to be at least somewhat supportive of all our colleges sports’ programs, especially when they are not playing my Colonels. Good ol’ fashioned state rivalries bring increased passion, but after the game is over, shouldn’t we go back to being united as Kentuckians?

• Visit your local farmer’s market and enjoy the fruits (or veggies or crafts) of their labors. It’s a good way to grow relationships, too, and is a time-honored part of state culture.

And as far as the things we don’t love about the state, let’s spend a little time complaining… then spend a whole lot of time embracing the good and working hard to change the bad.

Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of seven books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and six in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #5,” was released in 2019. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly NKyTribune columnist and a former member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at sflairty2001@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald)

Related Posts

Leave a Comment