To Preserve and Protect

By David Whalen

Caleb Timmerman stands at St. Elmo Boulders. Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Photo by David Whalen)

The Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) is a grassroots non-profit coalition with only three employees. Although, throughout the past 29 years they have had hundreds of helping hands working to conserve and preserve publicly accessible climbing areas in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

Caleb Timmerman recently became that third employee in the form of marketing director for the SCC. Here he helps tell the story of climbers and conservationists who have fought to keep public land accessible to all. 

“Access to outdoor rock climbing in the southeast is never guaranteed,” Timmerman says. “It takes a community of people who care deeply about this outdoor resource to come together and form a coalition to protect that access.”

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Overcoming: Lauren’s Eating Disorder Recovery

Written by Niah Davis

Lauren Baker indulges in eggs, a bagel and coffee she made for breakfast. Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Photo by Niah Davis)

Practice, weights, conditioning, traveling and on top of it all attending classes and maintaining a good grade point average. Unfortunately, college athletes also have to contend with a higher likelihood of developing an eating disorder.

Lauren Baker is a determined, music-loving dance-like-no-one’s-watching freshman on the women’s volleyball team at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. However, it was much earlier on during her freshman year of high school in South Bend, Indiana when she began to struggle with her eating disorder.   

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Caving Cautiously

By Maggie Weaver

Captain Brandon Powers of Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Services pulls out a radio used in the field to communicate with the rescue team. Monday, April 11, 2022. (Photo By Maggie Weaver)

It’s estimated that over 2 million people visit caves annually in the United States. Brandon Powers is one of them, having been an avid caver for over two decades. He has been working with Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Services since 2016 and now holds the rank of captain.

“Caving, in general, is a sport that I feel like a lot of people don’t have a tremendous amount of information about, and you can find yourself way over your head real quick,” says Captain Powers.

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Brooke; A Survivor Story

By McKenna Pegrim

Brooke Harbula spends time with her dog Bonnie. Bonnie played a major role in Harbula’s recovery process. Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Photo by McKenna Pegrim)

It was January 8, 2021, when Brooke Harbula became a victim of gun violence, but that was not the day she gave up her power. After being shot during an armed robbery, Harbula’s physical and mental health have suffered, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming the person she is today. 

“I remember asking the paramedics if I was paralyzed because I couldn’t feel my left leg,” Harbula says. “Then it became a sudden realization of death…and how close I was to it.”

After spending 10 days in critical care, she was sent home to begin her journey toward recovery.

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Road to Recovery

By Madison Van Horn

Kelli Webber leads The Launch Pad’s weekly Sunday meeting as Denise Dailey listens. Sunday, March 27, 2022 (Photo by Madison Van Horn)

From gardening in prison with Martha Stewart to inspiring women in recovery, Kelli Webber has lived many lives throughout her battle with addiction and substance abuse. Webber has taken her painful past as a former alcoholic and drug user and channeled it into a powerful tool to help others. 

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Reentry

Editor’s Note: Tim Busch is a convicted felon who served 28 years in state prison for his crimes. Busch maintains his innocence to this day.


By Seth Carpenter

Tim Busch looks over photos from his life before prison. He had recently gotten them out of storage. Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Photo by Seth Carpenter)

In March of 1989, 26-year-old Tim Busch was sentenced to prison for what would ultimately become the next 28 years, seven months and 15 days of his life. Most of that time for him was spent without the certainty of how long it would actually be.

“It was kind of in increments when I was first convicted,” Busch explains. “I had a sentence of 15 years to life, and the day I was sentenced, my lawyer told me, ‘Well, you’ll be out in seven and a half years. You do half of your sentence.’”

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Sparrow Song

Written By Rachel Jordan

Sydney and Brayden Guerrette practice in their home. For these siblings, the music was more than just a hobby; it was about mental health. Thursday, February 17, 2022. (Photo by Seth Carpenter)

Like many others, Brayden Guerrette and his older sister Sydney have had their fair share of their mental health struggles since they were young. Back in their hometown of Portland, Maine, during a very intimate exchange on their kitchen floor, Brayden Guerrette finally opened up to his parents and older sister about his dealings with depression. 

“We were just sitting there and he was just in tears, and as someone who is watching a family member and someone that they love go through something like that, it’s always very difficult because you don’t know what to do most of the time,” Sydney says. “All you can really do is be there for them continually.”

After this exchange, the Guerrette family took a leap of faith for the sake of their family’s mental health and sold their house, bought an RV and started their journey across the country in hopes of a healthy, fresh start. 

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Printing & Parenting

By Logan Stapleton

Joshua Teichroew spreads the ink across the screen-design, continually printing shirts for a local gym. Teichroew completed a whole order in a quick and efficient manner. Monday November 15th, 2021. Photo by Logan Stapleton

To run a business single-handedly is a challenge in itself, but to wear all those hats and still have room for a family is a feat worth admiration. 

Joshua Teichroew, owner of Lookout Prints, has achieved his dream of self employment, while running his business from the comfort of his own home and becoming a social media influencer. Teichroew creates hand printed shirts, and he started showcasing his work on Instagram shortly after his company launched. It allowed him to share his business and be an inspiration to a large audience. He strives to become not only a role model to other entrepreneurs, but also his four-year-old son David

“I was never close to my family growing up, but for me…I want to be closer to them [and] be there for them” Teichroew expressed. “I want to teach them how to live life. It’s ok to be different, it’s ok to not want to do what the world tells you to do.”

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The Unseen Battle for Lincoln Park

By Virginia Campbell

Tiffany Rankin walks past the old bathhouse on the edge of Lincoln Park’s baseball field. The bathhouse used to be the only facilities that African American baseball players could use, even when they were allowed to play at Engel Stadium. (Taken on February 19, 2022. Photo by Maggie Weaver.)

Lincoln Park used to be a safe space for the African American community to enjoy themselves. In fact, before integration in the 60s, it was the only park in Chattanooga they were allowed in. The property is currently owned by Erlanger, who have built parking lots over most of the park, reducing it down to just five acres. Compared to the original twenty acre plot, it’s now a mere skeleton.

Tiffany Rankin grew up in the area and remains a resident in the neighborhood adjacent to the park. She has always been a community leader, but she started to get heavily involved and raise awareness for the park when she heard the City of Chattanooga was planning to extend Central Avenue. The road would cut into a boundary of the park, sizing it down further. The plan was to “urbanize” the area, which, to Tiffany and many others in the community, meant displacement and gentrification.

Continue reading “The Unseen Battle for Lincoln Park”

Battle Buddies

By Madison Van Horn

Eric standing tall next to Phantom. Eric explained the trials that Warrior Freedom had to go through in order to be here today. Saturday, February 12, 2022. (Photo by McKenna Pegrim)

The heroes that serve in the United States Military face unimaginable challenges every day in service, but for many veterans that is only the beginning of a lifelong mental warfare. 

Eric Dudash is a veteran who served in the special operations command for over 30 years and suffers from PTSD. However, he has discovered an unconventional form of medicine: his service dog, Phantom.

Audio by Eli Rushing
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Best Foot Forward

By David Whalen

Ronnie Dickson changes his prosthetic before a climb in Alabama. Friday, March 5, 2021 (Photo by Dave Whalen)

Ronnie Dickson was diagnosed with Trevor’s Disease at age five. This rare congenital bone disease stunted the growth in his left leg and caused intense discomfort that led him , at the age of 17, to opt for total limb removal. 

Two years after his above-the-knee amputation, Dickson found comfort and interest in the sport of climbing and took to the vertical world where legs weren’t always necessary.

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The Untold Story of Native American Activism in Chattanooga

By Virginia Campbell

Tom Kunesh stands on the Chickamauga Mound. Saturday, November 13, 2021 (Photo by Virginia Campbell)

What was once a thriving advocacy group for Native American preservation work in Chattanooga has slowly fizzled over time, but it’s cause still stands. The Chattanooga Intertribal Association (CITA) has existed for twenty years, and Tom Kunesh, the former Public Relations Chairman, tries to maintain the spirit of their work to this day.

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Faithful Aid

By Seth Carpenter

The Union Gospel Mission through its GRACE Discipleship Program works to help men dealing with life-controlling issues. Program graduate and current volunteer, Dan Johnson, goes into the importance of the program itself, the people who come to Union Gospel Mission for help, how faith intersects with the work done, and why he stays there.


Seth Carpenter is a photojournalist as well as the current Photo Editor of UT Chattanooga’s student-run newspaper, the University Echo. Recently, he told the story of how a nurse and her family have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He hopes the stories he tells will make a difference in the lives of people around him. You can contact him at Sethcarpenter101@gmail.com

Pandemic Pains

By Seth Carpenter

Marianna Cooper gets her youngest daughter, Katie James, an afterschool snack. Friday, November 19, 2021 (Photo by Seth Carpenter)

For nearly two years, Marianna Cooper has worried about bringing her work home with her. 

As a nurse in the float pool, Cooper has been working around patients with COVID-19 since the pandemic originally began in the U.S. Already, that would be more than enough to gnaw at anyone, but like countless others in her position, she has had more than just herself to worry about. 

From the beginning, Cooper’s three children turned her 12-hour night shifts at Parkridge into 24-hour ones as she was faced with the possibility of bringing home the deadly disease every time she walked through her door.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” she said. “You worry about doing simple things like giving your child a kiss on the cheek because… what if you’d had an exposure and you didn’t realize it, and now I’ve exposed my child.”

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Green Racers

Written By Maggie Weaver

Hamilton County schools race their electric cars in the Chattanooga Green Prix. The race put on by Green Spaces Chattanooga was a part of a STEM learning project for over 40 schools in the Chattanooga area. Saturday, November 20, 2021. Photo by Maggie Weaver.

In 2017 green|spaces Chattanooga started a hands-on program to encourage STEM learning in Hamilton County students through designing and building race cars. The Chattanooga Green Prix, this year held at the Bend in downtown Chattanooga, allowed hundreds of students from 40+ schools to put their full-sized, functioning electric power race cars to the test.

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First Friday

Written by Mark Drinkard

Once a month, art galleries across Chattanooga collectively open their doors to the public for special gallery showings. The event, coined “First Friday” allows local Chattanoogans and tourists to see new art pieces, mingle with artists, and support their local community.

One gallery spearheading the event in Chattanooga is Area 61. Keeli Crewe has been the curator of Area 61 since its inception in 2009. Crewe is the first face one will see when visiting Area 61, and it is clear from her vibrant smile that she is living her dream. 

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Journey to Freedom

By Serretta Malaikham

Manichanh Sonexayarath feeds her husband Khampoon Sonexayarath. Manichanh became her husband’s sole caretaker after he suffered a stroke years prior. (Photo by Serretta Malaikham)

During the Cold War, my parents Manichanh and Khampoon Sonexayarath had chosen to flee their home in Laos, a country that was being treated as collateral damage. The country was neutral until it became a battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union. Today, Laos remains the most heavily bombed nation in history, with more bombs dropped there during the Cold War than all of World War II combined. 

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Finding the Fire

Written by Olivia Ross

Founding members of the Ember Benders pose alongside fellow performers. Monday, November 15, 2021. (Photo by Olivia Ross)

People will spend a lifetime searching for that one thing that fuels their passion and lights a fire inside of them. For David Ayers and Farah Miller, founding members of the Ember Benders, fire was just that thing. 

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Chattanooga Creatives Strike Again

Written by: Madison Van Horn

Strike Chattanooga’s founders, Maggie Schut, Marli Geidt, and Carianna Hunter (left to right) celebrate the launch of Issue 02 of Strike Chattanooga. November 20,2021 (Photo By Madison Van Horn)
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The Field Below

Written by Jerrod Niles

Across the greater Chattanooga area lies fertile soil which farmers nurture to cultivate life. Their soil is the vehicle to meet many beyond their own sphere — even the art world.

Local Chattanooga artist Amanda Brazier has been painting solely with pigments pulled from soil for the past 14 years. Holly Martin, owner of Gaining Grounds Grocery saw the potential to connect Brazier’s unique art medium with her mission to create a sustainable grocery alternative for Chattanooga’s food desert. 

As soon as it was proposed to Brazier, she had an immediate and organic idea. “When [Martin] approached me about the idea of a mural connecting all these ideas, I mean it just came to me immediately.” 

Brazier knew she could take the soil from Chattanooga farmers and create a beautiful mural for the grocery store.

The idea was to create a mural that is made of pigments from local sources as well as farms that provide inventory to Gaining Grounds Grocery. Then began the rush to gather soil from Chattanooga farmers, community gardens and other local means.  Brazier and Martin gathered a list of over 10 farms that supply the store with their produce and took to the fields to gather soil.

Jars of Amanda Brazier’s homemade paint sit and settle at her studio. Saturday, September 11, 2021(Photo by Jerrod Niles)

Brazier interviewed the farmers about the history of the lands they work and what connects them to the soil under their fingernails.

“It’s a life blood. Without the soil and beautiful greenery and forage it provides, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” explains Mack Haynes of the Ocoee Creamery, one of the many farms Brazier visited.

Creating the paint for the mural was one of the toughest parts of the process. Brazier usually creates her paint to be water based, but needed to change her medium to fit the project. To create a durable and long-lasting mural, she chose to use acrylic paint.

“I’ve learned from this experience and most of what I’ve learned is that making acrylic paint from these soil pigments is tricky. Every dirt is different and requires lots of time to understand how much of each [ingredient] is required.”

To engage the community in this process, the first day of painting began with a community paint day at Gaining Grounds Grocery store. Many members of the local area joined and got the base layers on the mural laid down, but it left Brazierwith plenty of work to finish up in her studio. Luckily, she has two assistants and two bright-eyed sons to lend a hand.

Amanda Brazier creates paint from dirt for her next mural. Saturday, September 11, 2021 (Photo by Jerrod Niles)

With the mural finished, the final piece was revealed at Gaining Grounds Grocery. A reveal party was held at the Saint Andrews church where the grocery is located. Garnished with vegan foods and local dirt experts, the event was lively with new faces and like minded individuals. 

The two-piece mural project hangs currently in the entrance hall of Gaining Grounds Grocery and inside the store itself. Alongside the mural is a key that associates each paint color with the location of the dirt that created that pigment. 

The goal of The Field Below project was to connect the community with the local farmers that supply the grocery with produce. At the unveiling, community members, Brazier and the people who bring Gaining Grounds Grocery’s mission to life mingled and gathered to share a meal. 

This artistic rendition of the connection between community, agriculture, and food reignites the appreciation of the substance we all walk upon.


Jerod Niles is a multimedia producer who specializes in camera operation and post-production. Niles has over 5 years of experience in media production and is always looking towards the future. He is currently working on multiple freelance jobs as well as a media internship for Wanderlinger Brewery. You can find more of his work as well as contact information on his portfolio here: https://www.jerrodniles.com/

Behind the Masks

Written by Dave Whalen

Jessica Ann York looks out over the Tennessee River. Jessica was cosplaying as Hawks from the anime and manga series My Hero Academia. Tuesday, November 2, 2021 (Photo by Seth Carpenter)

All was well in Coolidge park as a band of cosplay superheroes patrolled to keep the peace. Should a villian arrive to foil the fun, could these three actually stop a catastrophe of epic proportions? Hopefully we’ll never find out, but they sure looked the part. 

Jora Burnett, Jessica York, and Mica Morgan are three friends who have been cosplaying together since 2019 here in Chattanooga. When they’re not maintaining their secret identities Morgan and Burnett being art teachers and York a writer who specializes in horror, these three come together after hours forming group cosplays stylizing their favorite characters.

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Friendly Neighborhood Fred

Written by Madison Van Horn

Fred Holland, A Chattanooga local smiles at the camera, showing off his F-shaped gold front tooth. Wednesday, October 20, 2020 (Photo by Maggie Weaver)

In the heart of Chattanooga, one man strives to create a safe and united community through spreading kindness, one yard at a time.

Fred Holland is a Chattanooga native who is known and loved by many in his neighborhood for always lending a helping hand. On any given day, you can expect to find Fred somewhere on Flynn Street or East 8th Street mowing his neighbors’ lawns free of charge, chatting with community members or volunteering at the Salvation Army. No matter what, Fred always boasts a smile on his face and love in his heart.

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Under the Hood of Chattanooga’s Car Community

Written by Rachel Jordan

Frank Zucchi and his co-driver race past the finish line with Charles Test close behind in their matching 1910 Nation race cars. Friday, October 15, 2021. (Photo by Jerrod Niles)

From growing up playing with Hot Wheels to owning your own hot-rod, the Chattanooga car community is a welcoming spot for all different types of car enthusiasts. Being so close to large cities like Atlanta, Knoxville, and Nashville, the car culture in Chattanooga has become a melting pot of these influences. The culture is diverse in many ways with different genres of car scenes, whether that’s the off-road, muscle or classic American. Chattanooga loves to blend different cultures and styles. 

Continue reading “Under the Hood of Chattanooga’s Car Community”

Mama’s Llamas

Written by Madison Van Horn

Maryann Marsh, owner of TMMA Farms located in Trion, Georgia enjoys a moment with her llama, Shaggy. September 14, 2021. (Photo by Maggie Weaver)

What do 75 abandoned chihuahuas and a blind alpaca have in common? They have each been rescued and cared for by Maryann Marsh, owner of TMMA Farms and Sanctuary.

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Family Roots

Written by Seth Carpenter

Floral designer Jay Borton preps a single rose to be added to his large arrangement. Friday, September 3, 2021. (Photo by Olivia Ross)

Venturing inside Humphrey’s Flowers, one is immediately struck by the vibrant Eden of flora and greenery covering nearly every available corner of the humble storefront located near the intersection of McCallie Avenue and Holtzclaw. 

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Who Brings Christmas in September?

Written by Virginia Campbell

Santa Steve Woodward arrives on UT-Chattanooga’s campus. (Photo by Kalie Shaw)

Near the end of an 80 degree day, Santa Steve Woodward cheers down Oak Street by Lockmiller Apartments on UTC campus in his old-timey Santa suit: a red robe, lined with brown fur, down to the ankles of his black boots, complete with a matching Santa hat and a dainty pair of spectacles. Having listened to Christmas music during his drive to campus, he’s already radiating the warm spirit of Christmas and asking students walking down the street whether they’ve been good this year.

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Wheeled Women

Written by Nessa Parrish

Baylee Rauberts and Meredith Fullbright discuss skating and what it takes to get started. Video by Nessa Parrish.

The sounds of chirping birds and skateboard wheels meeting concrete blend together in a symphony adored by millions of people across the globe, including Meredith Fullbright, a student-teacher that has just recently started her journey with the sport, and Baylee Rauberts, a Chattanooga longboarder, with two years of riding under her belt.

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Draining Discs at The Sinks

Written by Ben Greenwell

The wooden sign at The Sinks. Photo by Ben Greenwell.

You may be surprised to know, but there’s nothing quite like sinking a hard rubber frisbee into a chained basket in the woods. Just don’t get upset if you lose your disc in a sinkhole. Disc Golf is one of the fastest growing sports, and the number of courses around Chattanooga make it extremely accessible for beginners and players returning to the game.

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Bring Back What The Kids Love

Written by Collin Cantrell

The Rivermont Baseball field banner. Photo by Collin Cantrell.

Sports have been and always will be a huge part of children’s lives. Over one year ago, COVID-19 took sports away from children in a way we never thought was possible. Evan Hughes, President of the Rivermont Youth Athletic Association, took action to ensure that children were able to safely live out their love for sports, despite the pandemic. 

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Homebound Hobbies

Written by Madelyn Hill

Anna Miller plays a favorite song. Photo by Madelyn Hill.

Ever since the emergence of COVID-19, times have been hectic for nearly everyone, pushing many people to get creative and find a way to spend their time. Anna Miller and Jerrod Niles discuss their quarantine hobbies and give an inside scoop on how these activities have helped them build their new normal. 

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Record Breaking Year

Written by Chandler Elkins

A look into Yellow Racket Records, a local safe haven for those that have a passion for vinyl. Video by Jerrod Niles and Chandler Elkins.

Many small businesses have either had to close down or make significant changes in order to survive because of the pandemic. Surprisingly, this coincides with the recent influx of vinyl sales in both local shops and larger distributors such as Urban Outfitters. Chattanooga hosts a couple eclectic record stores that have both vintage collectibles and “new” music that has been formatted into vinyl. Recent albums becoming mass-produced has acted as a vehicle of normalcy given that the high demand for vinyl kept those making them employed while 18 million Americans lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Yellow Racket Records is a local gem that provides its patrons with a unique experience that is bound to keep them coming back. With their student discounts on Wednesdays, the ‘Salvation Station’ that features records at widely reduced prices, and an in-house tattoo shop, nearly everyone is bound to find something that catches their eye, or even their ears.

Meet The Storyteller

Chandler Elkins is a senior Communications major writing for Rising Rock at UTC. She aspires to integrate the knowledge she has acquired minoring in Women and Gender Studies into the writing she does for media. Chandler strives to use her ability to engage with large groups of people as a way to create a space for stories that deserve to be told. She is passionate about repurposing used clothing and furniture, and enjoys cuisine, travel, and live music.

COVID Through The Looking Glass

Written by Amanda Brooks

Ana Leonard poses in front of her “Looking Glass” exhibit. Photo by Amanda Brooks

Ana Leonard, small in stature with a shaved head, is a student, artist, and documentary photographer. Creating art centered around togetherness and gathering became difficult among a pandemic causing division and loneliness. Leonard began to experience this difficulty when it came time for her Senior Thesis Exhibition at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

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Slow Drawl Studios

Written by Meagan Alford

Laura Johnson sits outside with her pets. Photo by Meagan Alford.

Laura Johnson answered the door with her goldendoodle, Willow, resting on her hip. She invited me into her home in historic St. Elmo, and took me into her studio. Each wall was filled with plans, pots waiting to be fired, and finished creations of her own design. 

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The History Inside The Chattanooga National Cemetery

Written by Jerrod Niles

Spring wind rustles through freshly bloomed leaves and carries the aroma of fresh cut grass. The silence is like that of no other. Being surrounded by those who gave the ultimate sacrifice can be more than humbling.

The Chattanooga National Cemetery is located in the heart of Chattanooga Tennessee. Founded in 1863 by General George Thomas for the union men he had lost in his campaign, it still stands today pristine and closely watched over. 

A look into the Chattanooga National Cemetery with Jim Ogden. Video by Jerrod Niles
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The Triple Victory of the 6888th

Written by Kalie Shaw

A look into the fascinating history of the 6888th. Video by Kalie Shaw

To find the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, it’s best to make use of a GPS. The museum is tucked away from the main road, sitting inside a plain-looking building on the edge of Chickamauga Battlefield and — as the diorama inside will tell you — directly across from a repurposed officer’s house. The most distinct thing about this building is the large sign on the front displaying the name of the museum. 

Continue reading “The Triple Victory of the 6888th”

Birdwatching in Chattanooga

Written by Elise Steele

Members of the Chattanooga Ornithological Society pause along a trail to spot a bird in the distance. Photo by Elise Steele

A small cluster of binoculars and pointed fingers aim excitedly toward a skyline of trees on the Reflection Riding nature walk as members of Chattanooga’s Ornithological Society search for a cawing American Crow.

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Legacy of Grief

Written by Mark Drinkard

Video by Mark Drinkard

Boxes of medical equipment fill Mandy McAllister’s small, quaintly decorated home in Brainerd. There was no preparation for her mother’s diagnosis of metastatic cancer or for her eventual stay in hospice care. 

As the machines, slings, and medicine become more necessary the answers become all the more grim. Ushering a loved one through their final days is a task no one is truly ready for, but through family and communication, the McAllister’s stayed together.

“In a matter of two or three days, she went from being pretty healthy—going to garden club, going to church, hanging out with family—to having conversations about going into hospice care,” says Mandy McAllister.


McAllister, an administrative specialist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was the primary caretaker for her mother, Susan Reggin, while in hospice care. She was flooded with guilt, grief, and unfamiliar medical responsibilities all at the same time, so she greatly appreciated the support and validation of her family.

Her son, Jacob Paige, speaks on the family’s close connection that only grew stronger through these hardships. 

“We communicated as frequently and as in-depth as normal,” says Jacob. “Knowing that it doesn’t matter what’s going to happen, and it doesn’t matter if the cancer is going to get better or worse, we’re still the same people. If she’s got eight months to live or two weeks to live, we are still on the same level all the way through, and that just creates a smooth transition.”

Mandy McAllister listens to the audio story about her mother and reflects on the wonderful times they shared. Photo by Mark Drinkard.

Although death is never an easy confrontation, the McAllisters have felt eternally grateful for their limited, but cherished time with Susan. Mandy’s mother and family were forced to face mortality in a slowed and intimate state.

“This could be the last time I really hug her. Is this going to be the last time she remembers who we are? Is this the last birthday? Is this the last ‘X’—whatever it is,” Mandy said. 

Susan Reggin served as a clergywoman for over 30 years. Her philosopher’s brain and her dedication to others was passed down to her family. 

“I adored my mom, so everything about me that’s good, I would attribute to my mom,”  says Mandy, “I think she gave me tools and a model for how to work with other people. We all carry her around in our hearts.”

Mandy reminisced on those quiet moments, sitting at her mother’s bedside reading old poems and laughing through fading memories. 

She smiled thinking about her niece and mother playing with stuffed animals, forgetting about the future. It’s those moments that stay with family till the end. It’s the seconds of quiet, vital peace in the midst of the storm, that they look back on and wish to relive.

Mark Drinkard and Mandy McAllister discuss her mother’s life and final months in hospice care.

Meet The Storyteller

Mark Drinkard has 3 years of experience in student media. From those experiences, he has gained skills as a videographer and video editor. He has used his knowledge of creative tools such as Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, and Audition to make and produce videos and audio projects. He is also adept in his knowledge of lighting, audio recording, and audio editing. Mark Drinkard currently lives in Chattanooga TN as he attends college. Photography is a passion of his and the rural landscapes offer a great backdrop to find and make photos. His goal is to provide a voice to everyone and use his skills to tell the stories of the voiceless. For questions, collaboration or to hire Mark Drinakard, contact him at markdrinkard2@gmail or (865)407-3317

One Year of COVID-19

The class of 2020 sit on Chamberlain field for their socially distanced graduation. Photo by Billy Weeks

Campus is beginning to look the way it did before COVID-19 pushed students, faculty, and staff to return home and begin learning and teaching classes online. The students of Rising Rock Media were tasked with a project for UTC’s Student Government Association: A Year of COVID-19. The class was split into three groups and covered the past, the future, and a general overview of life in the pandemic. Our hope is that this series helps our friends, classmates, and teachers to feel stronger about the challenges that we overcame together, and provide a light into an unknown, but brighter future.

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.