Sustainable Fashion: Flip It & Reverse It

Story by Stephanie Swart

Written by Elise Steele

Video by Stephanie Swart

Aisy Nix, sophomore at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, operates a personal business, reworking thrifted and vintage clothes. Nix creates colorfully patched, embroidered, and acid-washed masterpieces out of the “tired” clothing someone else decided to ditch. 

Aisy Nix browses the clothing racks at America’s Thrift in Chattanooga, TN. Nix, a sophomore at UTC, buys second-hand clothing for her small business, A.Z. Thrift, in an effort to combat fast fashion through creating unique pieces out of pre-owned clothing. Photo by Stephanie Swart

Her mission is to offer a sustainable clothing option for people in her community.

“Fast fashion [in larger clothing corporations], utilizes child labor without taking into consideration the environmental impacts,” says Nix.

Nix started selling acid-wash reworks in the summer of 2019. Thanks to self-taught sewing lessons, her success and creative progress has grown significantly since. 

Throughout her business and creative endeavors, Nix has learned, “the more chances you take, the more likely there’s going to be a positive outcome.”

Check out Nix’s work and business profile on Instagram, @a.z.thrift.

A Rising Rock Production

Stephanie Swart

Stephanie Swart is a Senior Innovations in Honors student pursuing a BFA degree in Photography & Media Art, with a double minor in Art History and Communication at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is the Photo Editor for UTC’s newspaper, University Echo, and the Managing Editor of UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. Swart is a storyteller and truth seeker, and she plans to continue these pursuits beyond her time at college.

More Than Grades, A Student Teacher’s Relationship With Her Students

Story by Meagan Alford

Kalani Cannon’s refrigerator at her home is adorned in several drawings, doodles, and notes from her students at Soddy Daisy middle school. It’s called “Miss Kalani’s Fridge of Fame.” One amongst several students whose artwork is on display drew a rainbow with them and Miss Kalani standing underneath. To its left is a mermaid with blue hair, little hands that have been made into a camel and a dinosaur, and a note that reads, “Miss Kalani is fun, kind, helpful, cool, sweet, loving, outgoing, weird, funny, crazy, awesome, amazing, and kid-friendly.” 

Kalani Cannon shares details about maintaining the balance between being a college student and a student teacher. Video by Nessa Parrish.

Cannon is twenty-one years old. She’s an artist, sitting in front of a colorful backdrop that she created herself in her basement. She’s a skateboarder, kicking her Vans back and forth underneath her seat. And now, she is in the second phase of her residency as a full-time student teacher for sixth-grade science at Soddy Daisy middle school.

Continue reading “More Than Grades, A Student Teacher’s Relationship With Her Students”

Area 61: Hosting Local Art, Exclusively

Written by Ben Greenwell

Keeli Crewe, director of Chattanooga’s art gallery, Area 61, discusses how her business has helped keep downtown locally oriented. Her gallery helps give local artists a platform to share their work. With the recent lack of foot traffic and increase in rent prices, Crewe discusses how Area 61 continues to fight for local culture.

As soon as you set foot through the door, one’s senses are tested with a wild, colorful array of paintings and sculptures. After a few seconds, the soft jazz starts to reach your ears and by this time, Keeli Crewe, gallery director at Area 61 is probably excitedly showing you her new favorite piece.

Continue reading “Area 61: Hosting Local Art, Exclusively”

Rock The House Without Rolling Your Safety

Written by Elise Steele

At first glance, Stratton Tingle may look more like a band member than an Executive Director, with his waist-length dreadlocks and black-denim jackets, but that’s exactly the type of creative personality SoundCorps needs.

Continue reading “Rock The House Without Rolling Your Safety”

Brian’s Buzz-worthy Bees

Written by Meagan Alford

Story by Jenna Yates

Multi-media produced, shot, and voiced by Jenna Yates

Jenna Yates brings a heart-warming story of a man who is working to help hives of bees along in their journey, to help them thrive and give them a home. His name is Brian Workman, and he says that bees are very important. He says, “one of every three bites you take is made possible by the bees,” as they pollinate 80% of the world’s crops and plants. Workman prides his work in being a helping hand to these bees to do what they were put on earth to do, which is to protect the hive, feed the hive, and make honey for the hive. He sees them through times when food is scarce, and gives them medicine when they need it. One summer, Workman took care of 30 hives that have roughly 50-60,000 bees per hive. As numbers decrease through the fall and winter, he patiently and steadfastly sees them through next spring, while the bees slowly triple their numbers in size. He says, “If we did not have them, life would be completely different as we see it today.” 

Produced by Rising Rock Media

Ordinary Heroes of Chattanooga

Written by Meagan Alford

Video by Nessa Parrish and Dewayne Bingham

We are Rising Rock Media, a dedicated and curious team of multi media content creators, journalists, audio engineers, and photographers. We have found that when we listen and look towards our community, that there is a seemingly never ending spring of stories, unique experiences, and important people who call Chattanooga home. We have collected and compiled a series of stories throughout the semester that remind us that we need one another. To learn from one another, to feel seen and represented by one another. Heroes. Those that we look to in times of grief and uncertainty to laugh with, be inspired and supported by. The year is coming to a close, and the devastation that 2020 has held causes us to peer inward, and pour outward toward our community — towards artists, dancers, local business owners, and creators of the like. One thing is for certain — people are fascinating, and these stories, we hope, will fascinate you too. Please enjoy these stories as we explore the heroes of our beautiful home, Chattanooga. 

Click the story buttons in the next section of this page to learn about the hometown heroes that you may not know about.

Continue reading “Ordinary Heroes of Chattanooga”

The Voices of Chattanooga

Written by Haili Jackson

WUTC’s Scenic Roots has recently collaborated with Rising Rock Media to create Rising Rock Radio. Rising Rock Media, a UTC course taught by Billy Weeks, unites students with a variety of creative talents under one goal – storytelling. The radio show will  include stories from Rising Rock’s ‘Art as Protest’ and ‘Ordinary Heroes’ segments with features from Photojournalism students. We invite you to share local stories that UTC students have produced, directed, and edited. 

As Ray Bassett, editorial director and host of Scenic Roots, states “They know how to tell stories. Stories with heart; stories about life here in Chattanooga and stories off the beaten path,” he said. “These are examples of storytelling of this generation, by this generation but not only for this generation but for everybody.”

With the help of Scenic Roots, Rising Rock Radio is eager to share stories that are not only waiting to be told, but stories that need to be told.

Rising Rock will share their audio stories of documenting Chattanooga starting December 3, 2020 and running through January 2021.

Tune into Scenic Roots on WUTC 88.1 FM on Thursdays from 3-4pm and again at 8pm.

Gain access to these stories here: https://www.wutc.org/post/rising-rock-showcase-scenic-roots

Music as Protest in Chattanooga

Written by Thea Marshall

(Video By Nessa Parrish)

You’re walking through the streets of downtown Chattanooga, mask on, sweat dripping down your head from the summer’s intense humidity. You have passion in your heart and a sign in your hands, fighting for something much larger than yourself. You are protesting.

Cameron "C-Grimey" Williams smiles after speaking out on police brutality and systemic racism at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Friday, July 26, 2020. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)
Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams smiles after speaking out on police brutality and systemic racism at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Friday, July 26, 2020. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

Local rapper Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams uses his music as another way to protest. His songs Live Together and Glimmer of Hope play at protests around Chattanooga. Williams started making music about 15 years ago and specializes in writing his own lyrics. His inspiration comes from his own life experiences as well as experiences from people in the community, current events and most importantly, real life situations. Grimey says music is an easier way to convey a message rather than speaking on it. 

Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams enters the Hamilton County Courts Building to be tried for charges related to peaceful protests in Chattanooga, including disorderly conduct, blocking a highway, reckless burning, inciting to riot, and others. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

C-Grimey speaks about what it will take for the community to influence change once these messages have been heard. “It’s going to take the community educating themselves on how they have power in this wonderful democracy.”

As far as what is next for C-Grimey, he released a Chattanooga Ted Talk on November 8th where he discusses racism in America before COVID. He also discusses how the movement has come together in Chattanooga. Grimey is working on an album as well. 

Now put your headphones in or turn your radio up to max volume. You are protesting.

An interview between Ben Ducklo and Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams. (Audio by Ben Ducklo)

Thrifting Mom

Liz Holliday, owner of the Thrifting Mom poses with packages she is going to send out to customers. (Photo By Kelly Kindle)

Liz Holliday, the owner of “Thrifting Mom”, is not a mother, but she will wear and sell your mother’s clothes. “It’s your mom’s clothes. I sell clothes that your mom probably used to wear,” says Liz. Liz has had a passion for thrifting ever since high school and since then has developed her passion into a business. “ I ship nationwide, and most of my customers are regulars who always come back”, Liz says. Liz’s account has a current following of 1,542 and her items are sold within minutes of being posted. The process of making posts for her thrifty finds is simple; having her models rep her latest finds stand in front of a linen bed sheet hung by two paperclips.  Liz gathers clothes from local thrift shops as well as from shops all over that are not the average Goodwill.

Thrifting Mom’s Instagram account. (Photo By Kelly Kindle)

“Thrifting is important to me because it helps reuse and recycles clothes that will more than likely just end up in landfills and ultimately damage the environment”, says Liz.  When individuals thrift, it helps boycott against supporting fast fashion.  “Fast fashion is brands such as Forever 21 and H&M, that overproduce really cheap clothing by means of cheap labor,” explains Liz. Many fast fashion brands have factories in foreign countries that do not pay their workers adequately, make them work in unsafe conditions, and place their waste in landfills.  “ I like to wear clothes that I thrift, because it’s sustainable fashion”, says Liz, “clothes that were made in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were just made differently than the clothes that are made today. I like the durability of the clothes I go for and the stories that are behind those individual pieces.” Liz helps raise awareness of fast fashion through her posts on her Instagram “@Thriftingmom”. Liz has an end goal of having an official online store. “ I didn’t think that this would continue for this long, but I definitely want this passion of mine to continue with me through the next chapters of my life”, says Liz. 

You can see her latest posts and thrifts you can buy on Instagram “@Thiftingmom”

Meet the Storyteller

McKenzie Carver

McKenzie Carver is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and pursuing a degree in Communication and Spanish. McKenzie is passionate about traveling and the people she meets along her travels. For inquiries or more information, contact her at dxy429@mocs.utc.edu.

Generational Curses

Brittney Pickett feeds her daughter, Brooklyn, and prepares her for daycare. (Photo By Lorenzo Pickett)

A mouthful of a pancake drenched in sweet maple rests on Brooklyn’s palate as her mother, Brittany Pickett, adjusts her earrings and prepares her for daycare. Brittany is a single African American mother, who has risen to the challenge of raising her child alone, due to the incarceration of her baby’s father, Shaun Theus. Shaun has been incarcerated for almost three years, which means that Brooklyn has suffered the damage of single parenthood for the majority of her life. Shaun was incarcerated after being convicted of drug charges, although there were no drugs found on him at the time of his arrest.

The mass imprisonment of Black males has been a proven statistic for decades. According to the “Sentencing Project,” Black males account for 38% of the imprisoned population, but only 12.7% of the United States population. The mass, and often unjust, imprisonment of Black fathers contributes to generational curses, where children are raised in these single parent households from one generation to the next.

Without the presence of a father figure, these African American children are brought up not knowing how to be a parent of their own one day or accept genuine love from a stable male figure. This has impacted Brittany and Brooklyn, as well as many other Black mothers and children in their community. Brittany stated, “Out of ten of my friends, seven of their babies’ fathers are imprisoned. Some of these arrests were justified, but others of them were victims of targeting and were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Brooklyn Pickett poses for a portrait . (Photo By Lorenzo Pickett)

A challenge that Brittany faces is that Brooklyn does not genuinely know her father and may later struggle with growing in a relationship with him. Brittany explained that the lack of a father in these children’s lives causes detrimental effects, unless there are others who actively intervene and aid in the growth of these children—such as Brittany’s father.

Brittany rejoices in the fact that Brooklyn has been shown the love of a male figure in her life by her grandfather, Larry Pickett. It is individuals like Larry that help shape the futures and minds of children raised by a single parent, but without positive figures like him, these curses are much more likely to pass from generation to generation.

Meet the Storyteller

Lorenzo Pickett

Lorenzo Pickett is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga who majors in Communication. He has experience in guest services and has been a camp counselor for the past 4 years. Lorenzo’s passion is storytelling, creating art, and showing genuine love and loyalty to those around him. He can be contacted at qfv861@mocs.utc.edu.

Gaining Grounds Grocery

Video by Haili Jackson

There are baskets of apples, squash, garlic, and zucchini waiting to be picked up as natural light pours into a small and charming room tucked away in the historic St. Andrew’s Center.  

Photo by Annisten Mann

Holly Martin, executive food director of the Chattanooga Sustainable Food Center, opens Gaining Ground Grocery, bringing fresh and localized produce to Highland Park’s table. 

The shop aims to celebrate and share the value in local food producers and entrepreneurs, and engage the community with food that you can feel good about.  

Martin says there are three main points that the Chattanooga Sustainable Food Center focuses on food access, food education, and the engagement of local food. Her vision is to pair these ideals with Gaining Ground and provide better food access to the community that is grown as locally as possible. 

The inside of Gaining Grounds Grocery. (Photo By Annisten Mann)

“I felt like my heart has always been in community nutrition,” she says, “and after I worked for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank for a long time, I started managing the Main Street Farmer’s Market and saw that I really wanted something that increased access to fresh food — especially for low-income families.”

Areas in and around East Chattanooga have been considered ‘food deserts,’ which are places where fresh and healthy foods are inaccessible. Martin, though, holds food deserts to be just a small piece to a bigger picture – a “puzzle piece to poverty.” 

“It’s kind of a ‘buzzy’ word. If you look in an area that is truly defined as a food desert, food is not the only limiting resource,” she says, “usually there is a lack of good medical care, good transportation, and affordable housing as well.” 

A local shopper gets groceries at GGG. (Photo By Annisten Mann)

And, while access to fresh and healthy food is deeply important to Martin, she believes that food goes further than nutrition. 

“To me, food means community,” Martin says, “I think food goes way beyond nourishment to our bodies. It’s family. It’s getting together. I find it fascinating the things that you can do with food and what it means to different people. Food is the ultimate way to share things. That’s what food means to me.” 

As the day ends at Gaining Ground Grocery, she offers freshly ground peanut butter and a word of advice depicted on the official T-shirt for the store, “Keep your friends close and your food closer.” 

Holly Martin speaks on her background with food and how her inspiration became a business. (Audio By Sierra Wolfenbarger)
Poster by Haili Jackson

Strength in Differences

Friendship can look very different than you would expect it to. Though similarities draw many people together, differences between us can do the same. People who are different from one another can be just as close as those who are incredibly similar. Today, divisiveness is prevalent since we must physically be apart to protect those we love and ourselves. It is important to remind ourselves of the love and connections we have in these trying times. Strength in Differences is a ten-part project featuring portraits and interviews with friends who are close despite their differences. In it, we at Rising Rock Media, aim to look at togetherness while staying six feet apart.

(Written piece by Charles Bledsoe.)

Sandi Bledsoe and Julie Dennis have an unbreakable friendship that will last the rest of their lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has separated many loved ones, but not Julie and Sandi.

The unbreakable friendship between Julie and Sandi has lasted for over 15 years. Through the years Julie has faced adversity in her fight with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), but through it she has maintained a mindset that makes her invincible. Julie’s strength comes from her faith in God and striving for better health through her diet intake.

A little over a year ago Sandi gave up her quick and easy commute to work to move in with Julie. Julie’s husband, a truck driver, is often gone for weeks at a time. Sandi holds Julie accountable in her positivity and drive to increase the movement in her legs. They spend their weekends in their pool doing intense leg and core strength training in hopes that Julie will walk with a walker soon. Their love for each other and their ability to keep each other uplifted is truly inspiring and heartwarming.

It just goes to show, when you give someone kindness and constant positive support, they feel like they are special and strong. Julie never lets her disability change the way she loves and shows kindness to everyone she comes in contact with. Sandi is the ultimate giver of love and time. Together their friendship can bring tears to anyone’s eyes.

Next time you think about helping someone you see struggling, don’t think about it. Be more like Julie and Sandi, and do everything out of love—especially caring for others.

(Written piece by Tierra Web.)

There are approximately 7.5 billion people that exist in the world. Of those 7.5 billion people there are no two people on this planet that are exactly the same. 

There is something distinctively unique about every individual that walks this earth that sets them apart from their peers. For Alexis Hodge and Moriyah Wimbley this distinct characteristic happens to be the shade of their skin.

Walking through life together for almost  a whole decade, Alexis and Moriyah have lived through some of the same life experiences. Although the experience was the same, the impact it had on each of their lives was completely different.

For Alexis growing up as a biracial female in the heart of the south, discrimination based on her gender and the color of her skin has had a huge impact on the person she is today.

At the age of five Alexis had her first encounter with the cruel act of racism. She was told by an uneducated little girl that because her skin was dark there was no way her mother could be white. As a five-year-old little girl this encounter left Alexis feeling confused and she was constantly second-guessing why the color of her skin set her apart.

Hodge said, “If I could go back and give my younger self any piece of advice, I would encourage her to love the skin that she is in and that the discrimination would only get worse as she got older.” 

Moriyah Wimbley had a similar experience in the first grade, but she was discriminated against by her elementary school teacher. At six years old Moriyah, along with several of her African-American peers, was told that she would never make it anywhere in life. The same teacher would constantly make fun of Moriyah because of how big her lips were.

Wimbley said, “Hearing such derogatory things about yourself at six years old really has an impact on the way you view yourself in life.”

Unfortunately for both Moriyah and Alexis this would not be their first encounter with racism and discrimination. 

Wembley sail,“Being discriminated against made me feel like I had something to prove. I wanted to prove to my first grade teacher that regardless of the color of my skin I will be something great in life.” 

Although discrimination is something that these friends have experience most of their lives, The impact discrimination has had in both of their lives has resonated in a different way. 

(Written piece by Luke Dammann.)

Two life-long friends prove that no matter what you share in common, the uniqueness of one another is what truly strengthens friendships.

Hannah Dammann and Summer Ghaffari, a sophomore and junior in college respectively, have been friends for as long as they can remember, and both share a bond that truly exemplifies the word “friendship”.

Hannah and Summer first met when they were in elementary school, as they both attended the same church. 

By simply observing these two “peas in a pod,” you might conclude that they have everything in common, but that is far from the truth.“Our friendship makes no sense,” Hannah proclaims, “But differences make our friendship what it is. But it just feels like we really needed to be together and connected and we’ve stayed connected through everything. I couldn’t see it any other way”.

The difference in the backgrounds of these two young women alone is striking, with Hannah being raised in Tennessee her whole life, and Summer being from a different country entirely.

Summer is originally from Russia and was adopted when she was five years old, living in Memphis for a while, until finally ending up in Chattanooga.

“Everyone’s always wondering how that was for me, because I lived in Russia until I was five”, Summer says, explaining her experiences and the adoption process, “It’s still part of me you know, I still have memories of Russia. I remember a lot of snow and the orphanage I stayed at and friends I made there”.

Another big difference between the two are their hobbies and interests, with Summer being very athletic and Hannah being a more artistic type.

“I would call myself creative. I’d rather create things than do anything else really”, says Hannah, who is majoring in art education at Tennessee Tech University. 

Summer grew up as an incredibly athletic girl, playing soccer and basketball throughout middle and high school. While she majors in physical education at UTC, Summer still engages in sports with an intramural flag football team. 

Perhaps the biggest difference between these two young women is their unique experiences in school. 

Hannah was homeschooled until arriving at college, growing up with three other siblings who were all taught by their mother.

Summer attended Loftis Middle School and Soddy Daisy High School which is where she played most of her sports.

When asked why she thinks they make such good friends, Summer’s answer was almost identical to Hannah’s, saying, “You get to learn new things. The differences are what make you grow close and connect. We’ve connected through different life experiences and have supported each other through everything.”

Hannah and Summer’s relationship is a story of true friendship despite many differences in their lives. Their hobbies, passions, backgrounds, and schooling could not be more opposite of each other, but their willingness to learn, grow respect, and support one another is always on full display. 

Long(est) Tree Hug

Adrienne Long, a Chattanooga resident, raises $1,105 while hugging a walnut tree for 10 hours.

Story by: DeWayne Bingham, Haili Jackson, Nessa Parrish, and Sierra Wolfenbarger

How to raise over 1,000 dollars by hugging a tree?

Chattanooga resident Adrienne Long broke the Guiness World Record on September 19th for the longest consecutive tree hug and raised $1,105 for the Chattanooga Audubon Society. Adrienne said it was a New Year’s resolution and a way to honor her mother’s strength. The event took place at Heritage Park from 8 a.m to 6 p.m., where Adrienne wrapped her arms around a black walnut tree for 10 hours and 5 minutes, breaking the previous record of 8 hours and 15 minutes.

The Chattanooga Audubon Society is a nonprofit organization that helps preserve and protect various sanctuaries around Chattanooga. Long said the nonprofit had been “hit hard” without donations and volunteers because of COVID-19.  Long said that when she mentioned the world record to Sarah Medley, friend and owner of the all natural Chattanooga salon Studio 59, Medley suggested turning it into a fundraiser to benefit the Chattanooga Audubon Society.

Adrienne Long attempts to break the Guinness World Record for the longest time consecutively hugging a tree. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

Adrienne said tree hugging was a way to honor her mother because they were always outside and  active together. Long’s final message to everyone was to “get outside and enjoy Chattanooga,” because that was something she and her mother loved doing together. Following the event, Adrienne said, “I feel grateful because it was a goal of mine that many people helped me achieve. I feel equally happy because it was something I wanted to do in a small way for my mom, and I think she would be happy.”

Adrienne has plans to break her own record in the future.

Missy Crutchfield (left) leads guided meditation and yoga as Adrienne Long (right) attempts to break the Guinness World Record for longest time consecutively hugging a tree. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)
Adrienne Long wraps her arms around a black walnut tree. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)
A podcast setting the scene of Heritage Park on September 19, 2020. ( Audio by Sierra Wolfenbarger)

Reading Together

Kelsey Butler, Founder of Homebound Books prepares bookshelf for delivery. The bookshelves designed and painted were distributed this summer. June 24, 2020. Photo by Charles Bledsoe.

Kelsey Butler, a UTC graduate and the owner of Homebound Books, specializes in bookshelves and giving back to schools in Chattanooga. Butler first decided to do a book drive for Christmas almost four years ago. After doing her student-teaching at an inner-city elementary school, she saw the need for books since the students were not able to take them home. The book drive was such a success that she decided to start doing it for many inner-city elementary schools in Chattanooga.

Kelsey began researching how to create a nonprofit and what all it entails. She decided to begin the process. The schools had many regulations regarding what kind of books students were allowed to read so Kelsey had to keep that in mind when preparing to bring the books to the schools. 

The first part of the process starts with gathering gently used books by placing plastic bins in locally-owned restaurants and coffee shops in downtown Chattanooga. The bins come with a Homebound Books sign and pamphlets of information regarding the nonprofit and its goals for the elementary schools. She leaves the bins for a few weeks and then returns to collect the donations.

The steadiness handwork from Kelsey Butler as she paints the bookshelves made for distribution to the local inner city schools. The process of painting the shelf took over hours. June 23, 2020. Photo by Charles Bledsoe.

Eventually, after gathering enough books, Butler decided to build bookshelves. Each bookshelf has three white shelves with a three-dot logo on the side. She fills each shelf full of books and delivers them to the schools. Along with the bookshelves is a teacher’s guide to Homebound Books. This guide states the goal of Homebound Books – to improve each student’s reading level. The students are free to use the bookshelf as a library where they can rent and even keep the books that they enjoy. The schools’ feedback on Homebound Books was so positive that she knew this was something she wanted to continue for the kids. She now has seven bookshelves installed at seven different inner-city elementary schools and will celebrate four years of Homebound Books this September. After receiving her Master’s in teaching in July 2021, Butler will not only run Homebound Books full time, she will also be teaching a third-grade class at Red Bank Elementary. Her work for the inner-city elementary schools in Chattanooga will continue to be appreciated as Homebound Books expands within the community.

Homebound Books Founder, Kelsey Butler reads to local inner city student. All the books on this bookshelf were donated by the local community in Chattanooga. Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (Photo by Charles Bledsoe)
Evi Mauonis enjoys time with conversating while reading a book. This book was provided by Homebound Books. June 23, 2020. Photo by Charles Bledsoe.

A New Normal: A Quarantine Commentary

Two to fourteen days. That is all the virus is supposed to live for, but the inability to stop our fast pace capitalist society from going keeps the COVID-19 going. Small businesses hurting, stock market crashing, unemployment rate increasing, people social-distancing, colleges closing. Not just the nation, but the world is having to learn new ways to live their day to day lives. The digital age has taken a whole new level of meaning. Every person is affected by the coronavirus in different ways. Rising Rock, a group of students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga seek to tell their stories on how this pandemic shapes their experience, and what this extraordinary moment in history looks like from their perspectives. A New Normal: A Quarantine Commentary is a creative and documentative project by the students of Rising Rock. Step foot into the perspective of college students as they share what their world now looks like in this rapidly changing society because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scroll to the bottom of this page to click on individual stories.
By clicking one of the names below, you’ll see a glimpse of how this global pandemic has now shaped each of our lives.

This week’s featured story:  A New Normal by Elian Richter

Waverly Hunter poses for a photo from her back yard in Hendersonville, Tenn. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Photo by Elian Richter)
“As the days blur together and the heavy weight of isolation builds, it’s easy to dwell on the negative emotions brought out by the current situation: boredom, loneliness, depression. These emotions are certainly overwhelming at times but there’s also a brighter side to this too. … I’ve recently realized that the pandemic has also brought at least one positive outcome during this strange time; the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world, my little sister Waverly.” To continue viewing more of this post, visit A New Normal by Elian Richter.
Produced By Rising Rock Media

Mental Health Matters

Story by Charles Bledsoe

In the age of social media, we are often exposed to information about keeping our body in shape, but where is that same energy on the equally important topic of mental health? Charles Bledsoe is a student at UTC that is seeking to shed some light on this important issue through an interview with Molly Gates Bledsoe.

Video by Charles Bledsoe

At High Risk

Story by Farin Cloyd

The world has quickly shifted to this idea of a ” new normal” and is now filled with virtual holidays, masked greetings, and social distancing. What does the “new normal” look like for someone that is considered high-risk? Nolin Cloyd shares her story about how her life has changed, not only due to the arrival of COVID-19, but also her diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis.

Video by Farin Cloyd

Divine Comedy

Written by Sierra Wolfenbarger

Photo by Donnie Marsh

The Ancient Greek comedians Aristophanes and Plautus were known for their focus on satire and farce. In modern times, comedians have developed into a budding community of satirists and artists of the laugh. Of those in the Chattanooga community, Elijah Craan is the comedian’s comedian. 

Craan’s attention to detail and affinity for satire began in early 2014, when he did a stint of three comedy open mic nights at an eccentric laundromat in San Francisco, CA. He says, “I bombed. I knew I always wanted to do something creative, but I never had the discipline to learn an instrument or how to draw. But, as soon as I tried comedy, even though I bombed, I loved it. Since then, my comedy has evolved into what it is now.”

Even though his jokes had a rocky beginning on stage, his style now has developed into a myriad of poetically structured misdirection and sarcastic “it’s funny, but…” material. As his material covers many topics he touches on like politics, racism, and popular culture; his best work comes in talking about the absurdity of everyday life in the modern world.

What makes Craan different from the rest, though, would have to be the response his jokes have on the other comedians within the Chattanooga community. As the audience roars with cackling and screams of affirmation at open mics at locally owned businesses like JJ’s Bohemia, it is easy to understand how much the community admires him. These mics, mind you, are populated almost entirely by fellow comedians — the hardest crowd to impress.

Craan says, “I have a whole bit solely focused on elevator brands that I did for the first time recently. I do a bit of crowd work and ask ‘which is better, Otis or Thyssenkrupp?’ and if they say ‘Otis’ I tell them they’re wrong. This community of comedians has always had a great response to me. Even in more mainstream venues like the Comedy Catch, they often have more southern crowds and I get a good response from them as well.”

So, of all the comedians in Chattanooga who are also hilarious, why is Craan the hero featured in this segment? Because, he is a comedian who hones his craft while also reaching audiences and breaking social boundaries for comedians and those who need to laugh. In a time like this, someone who can do this is a hero. 

To laugh some more, follow @ElijahCraan on Twitter.

An interview between Sierra Wolfenbarger and Elijah Craan. (Audio by Sierra Wolfenbarger)

Heroes of Oddstory

Story by Kelley Kindle

Bryan Boyd, owner of Oddstory Brewing Company, stands in what has become his creation. Boyd and his son, Jay Boyd, created Oddstory as a brewery meant to be a place of comfort. (Photo by Kelley Kindle)

On the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Foster St. is a brewery that feels like a home-away-from-home to many Chattanooga locals. Oddstory Brewing Company opened its door to the city of Chattanooga after a son sparked up an idea to his father while drinking a beer.

Photo by Kelley Kindle.

Jay Boyd, co-owner of Oddstory, graduated from Covenant college and was determined on opening up a brewery.  He then went on to work for four different breweries, and also went to a brewing school up in Vermont.  After three years, his father Bryan Boyd, owner of Oddstory, felt like they were in a good place to open Oddstory Brewing Company.

“We started with six taps when we opened, and we now have 18 taps,” says Bryan. Oddstory is growing more and more with their variety of beers as the years progress. 

Along with having an array of different brews, Bryan mentions that they intentionally made the brewery an environment for people to feel comfortable in. “We wanted to create an atmosphere where people talk,” says Bryan. “We kind of always felt like beer and talking went together, opposed to beer and isolation.”

In a place that encourages the comfort of having conversations with your friends and family, along with enjoying a beer that is unique, Oddstory has become a place that many have grown fond of. 

“What Oddstory means to me is the ability to create this environment where family—my actual family is real important—but also I think we created an environment where at least our employees, and some of our customers, they feel like family,” says Bryan.

Oddstory not only started with family but grew the family with the Chattanooga community.

An interview with Bryan Boyd, owner of Oddstory Brewing Company, and Kelley Kindle. (Audio by Kelley Kindle)
Photo by Kelley Kindle