Rolling Pages

By Cassandra Castillo

A Little Bookish is a portable library truck that’s promoting the benefits of reading to people around the Chattanooga area. Once an elementary school teacher from Michigan, owner Miranda Atkins, is now making a difference in her own unique way—one page at a time.

Often sitting in the driver seat of her white step van, Miranda Atkins flips through the pages of her latest novel, waiting for a customer to walk onto her teal steps in search of a new read. 

Atkins, the owner of A Little Bookish, thrives on selling books simply out of her love for reading.

Continue reading “Rolling Pages”

A Family Thing

By Hannah Blair Hurt

Joe “Dixie” Fuller prepares his peach cobbler for his family restaurant Zarzour’s. Sunday, November 20, 2022. (Photo by Hannah Blair Hurt)

Walking through the door of Zarzour’s Cafe on Chattanooga’s Southside feels a bit like walking into a time capsule containing four generations of Zarzour family history, owners of the small brick building for over 100 years. The shelves and walls are adorned with an array of heirlooms and memorabilia, from family photos, celebrity autographs and newspaper clippings to Charles Zarzour’s naturalization papers from 1946, signed in Arabic.

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Trashy Treasures

By Madelyn McCrary

Alecia Vera Buckles paints a piece of wood for one of the upcoming projects that she has been working on. Tuesday, November 8, 2022. (Photo by Madelyn McCrary).

Adorned with bright colors and spunky personality, local Chattanooga artist Alecia Vera Buckles has found a way to create functional and sustainable art from an uncommon medium: trash. 

“I finally feel like I’m touching the toes of where I want to be in my career and that is truly one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve ever had,” Buckles said in a recent Instagram post. 

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Rising Rock Radio Showcase

Graphic By Kylee Boone.

Rising Rock is excited to parter with Scenic Roots at WUTC again this semester to showcase some of our top audio pieces. To listen to Scenic Roots, visit https://www.wutc.org/scenic-roots.

Here, you will find all of the audio pieces written and recorded by UTC students in Rising Rock during the Fall 2022 semester.


Legacy in the Cedar

Brittany Santiago sat down with Steve McBryar, Dunlap resident and chainsaw sculptor, to talk about his woodcarving passion, chainsaw antics and how carving with power tools is actually relaxing for him.

Reciprocal Blessings

Curtis Cecil and Kelly Flemmings, owners of the Soddy Daisy Community Library who started with just four books, created a community library that is overflowing with love and books. The two of them talk to Haley Bayer about their emotional connection they have formed to the community that the library has given them. 

Gender Equality in Tennessee: The Fight Continues

Workplace harassment is a global problem with an unsure solution. In this piece, Madelyn McCrary speaks with an anonymous source about their experience with workplace harassment. The two discussed the lack of equality in the workplace, her experience with workplace harassment, and the difficulty of getting into crisis centers.

Row As You Grow

This piece will explore the art and dedication of rowing from Chattanooga rower, Lily McDowell. Lily spoke with Madelyn McCrary about the passion that she has found through rowing that has changed her life for the better. 

Heather’s Story

Athena Miller chats with Eli Rushing about the worst night of her life. Catastrophe struck while she and her friend Heather Kounthapanya were crossing the street for some late night City Cafe. Miller talks about the fallout from the incident that hospitalized her friend and gives her perspective of the events that followed.

Miss Nola’s Gumbo

Brittany Santiago sat down with Tacia Taylor, owner of Nola Girls Gumbo, an authentic cajun cuisine food truck in Chattanooga, TN. Taylor reflected on what she gets out of cooking while also relaying that her true passions lie elsewhere.
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The Race to Zero Waste

By Kylee Boone

Sadie McElrath fills her jar of beans while holding her baby Zion as her two daughters Jubilee and Shalom help her collect groceries in the process. Thursday, November 10, 2022. (Photo by Kylee Boone).

The average American throws out approximately 4.9 pounds of trash per day, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. For nearly half a decade, married couple Sadie and Zach McElrath have striven to defy this statistic through a journey toward producing zero waste within their family of five.

The journey began when the two were listening to the radio and heard of someone who was working toward that same goal.

“I heard this college student can fit all her trash for our whole year into a single jar,” Sadie McElrath said. 

Continue reading “The Race to Zero Waste”

Birds of Prey

By Haley Bayer

Alix Parks engages with Telly, a non-releasable Black vulture, in their usual handshake. Saturday, November 25, 2022. (Photo by Haley Bayer) 

Past the bustling noise and city lights of Chattanooga lies a home on Signal Mountain for all types of birds of prey on their way to recovery.

That home belongs to Alix Parks, the owner of Happinest Wildlife Rehabilitation and Raptor Rescue, 501c3 non-profit That used to accept everything from squirrels to rabbits, raptors and even songbirds. But after training a few other rehabilitators on other species, Happinest has become strictly a raptor rehabilitation center. 

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Sight & Hope Restored

By Anna Truss

Kathleen Stephens stands on a hill in front of the dock in the Chickamauga Dam Day Use Area. Wednesday, November 23, 2022. (Photo by Anna Truss).

While many people plan to retire fully by 65, that dream is not always a reality for everyone. Kathleen Stephens, a resident of Hamilton County, TN, is still a full time certified nursing assistant at the age of 79.

“I still work full time and I thank God for that because I can see what I’m doing, because before I wouldn’t have been able to see,” Stephens said.

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Dedicated to Dance

By Madison Van Horn

Pierceton Mazell stretches in the studio at Chattanooga Ballet. Thursday, December 3, 2022. (Photo By Madison Van Horn).

The world of ballet is more than just sugar plum fairies and pirouettes. With years of training and a deep passion for artistry, professional dancers like Pierceton Mazell revolve their lives around dance.

“A lot of people haven’t been exposed to this type of lifestyle,” Mazell said. “Dancers are professional athletes without the benefits of professional athletes. You know, it’s a passion project and it’s a lifestyle job.”

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Miss Nola’s Gumbo

Written By Hannah Blair Hurt

Video By Cassandra Castillo.

If you happen to be rolling down Brainerd Road on a Saturday afternoon, you may find multiple generations of the Taylor family packed into their food truck, stirring up some authentic cajun cuisine. 

Tacia Taylor, affectionately called ‘Miss Nola’ by some in the community, runs Nola Girls Gumbo while also working a nine-to-five and running a nonprofit organization. Taylor is no stranger to the food industry; her parents opened their restaurant in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans when she was just thirteen years old. 

Continue reading “Miss Nola’s Gumbo”

Movements Of The Mill

By Jules Jackson

Video By Jules Jackson. Cover Photo By Alexis McMurtry.

The skeletal remains of the Standard-Coosa-Thatcher mill complex glow as if they were on fire. Inside, the Pop-up Project is going through the final rehearsal for If These Walls Could Talk, an immersive dance performance that seeks to tell the history of the mill before it is lost to the collective memory of Chattanooga.

“It’s just such a beautiful space,” says Jules Downum, director and co-founder of the Pop-up Project. “It didn’t take a lot of work on our part to make the space impactful. And the stories were already here.”

Continue reading “Movements Of The Mill”

Heather’s Story

Written By Sarah Chesek

Video By Jules Jackson.

“When people tell you to live life to your fullest, you never know what’s going to happen or it can be taken from you in an instant, oh did I really experience that,” Heather Kounthapanya, a senior at UTC said. 

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Row As You Grow

Written by Anna Truss

Filmed by Jake Redfern and Madison Van Horn. Edited by Jake Redfern.

“Shoulders, ready, up,” calls the coxswain as the team of rowers lifts the boat onto their shoulders.

Kay Hughes and her team were moving their boat to a different dock to prepare for the Head of the Hooch regatta in early November. Even after 10 years of rowing, the thrill has not died for Hughes.

“We had so much fun and people started posting pictures and the camaraderie and the group coming together, it really is truly a team sport,” Hughes mused.

Continue reading “Row As You Grow”

Life on the Ramp

Written By Niah Davis

Dani Harris catches some air while rollerskating on her backyard ramp. Wednesday, April 13, 2022. (Photo by McKenna Pegrim).

Dani Harris, a Colorado native, has been roller skating practically since birth. Nowadays, the 27-year-old loves nothing more than to grab her skates and pull off some of her favorite tricks on her home ramp. 

“I grew up skating, not at the park, but just with my parents outside of the house or to the grocery store and at the rink,” she says. 

Continue reading “Life on the Ramp”

Gender Equality in Tennessee: The Fight Continues

Written By Madison Van Horn

Elizabeth Sparks looks on at her newborn son, Conan, as her husband holds his hand. Sunday, October 2, 2022. (Photo by Allie English).

Last December, Elizabeth Watts found out that she was pregnant at the age of 19 and was immediately burdened with a heavy decision; to have her child or to have an abortion.

“I’ve always been pro-choice, but I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way I could go through with an abortion,’” Elizabeth said. “I don’t think I could handle that emotionally, but having got pregnant, it made me consider, ‘Does this kid have a future? Will I be able to take care of it? Will I be able to work?’”

This narrative is all too familiar for women across the country, but specifically here in the 45th state for women, Tennessee.

Continue reading “Gender Equality in Tennessee: The Fight Continues”

Reciprocal Blessings

Written By Eli Rushing

Video By Jules Jackson.

Walking into the Soddy Daisy Community Library feels like stepping into an unexpectedly warm hug. String lights hang from the ceiling, local art rests atop the shelves, and two pudgy cats amble around the 2,880 square feet of space that Curtis Cecil and Kelly Flemings are proud to call their library. 

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Backslide

Story By Seth Carpenter

Kyle Carmon takes a photo of him and his husband Joe off their apartment wall in preparation for moving day. Thursday, September 1, 2022. (Photo By Seth Carpenter).

On September 2, Kyle and Joe Carmon finished boxing up their Chattanooga apartment of one year and left for Minnesota. The Carmon’s did all of this in order to protect something many other couples might take for granted: their marriage.

“We were really considering living here for the rest of our lives,” Kyle said. “It’s strange how much can change in such a short amount of time.”

Continue reading “Backslide”

Legacy in the Cedar

Written By Hannah Blair Hurt

Video By Cassandra Castillo.

If you happen to find yourself deep in the woods of Dunlap, Tennessee, you may come across the smell of burning timber, the peaceful chirping of birds and Steve McBryar wielding his chainsaw, ready to carve his next piece of work. 

Continue reading “Legacy in the Cedar”

Beyond the Screen: Chattanooga’s Board Game Community

Story By Haley Bayer

Derrick Sheets, owner of Game On Chattanooga, works behind the counter of his store.  Wednesday, April 13, 2022 (Photo by Haley Bayer)
Derrick Sheets describes the love he has for his shop and the community he brings in at Game on Chattanooga.

Game on Chattanooga has been a staple in the gaming community for 9 years but there’s a catch: there isn’t a computer or digital console in sight. 

Owner, Derrick Sheets, a man with a love for board games, opened his own shop in 2013.  “I’ve always liked gaming and I didn’t like working for other people and I wanted to do something where people are happy to see me,” Sheets says. 

Continue reading “Beyond the Screen: Chattanooga’s Board Game Community”

Essential For Now

Story by Eli Rushing

Elijah Dax takes the stage at Hi-Fi Clyde’s in Chattanooga, September 2nd 2022. (Photo by Eli Rushing).
Eli Rushing spoke to Elijah Dax about the song that changed his life.

When asked how long music has been a part of his life, Dustin Elijah Maynard hesitates. After a long pause, he concedes that, “I’ve basically been doing music since birth”. 

Continue reading “Essential For Now”

Corporate to Crossfit

Story By Kylee Boone

Emily Griffith performs bar muscle-ups in her gym at CrossFit Brigade. April 9, 2022. (Photo by Kylee Boone.)

Chasing a check instead of chasing a dream is a dilemma that many people in corporate America face each and every day. Married couple and owners of CrossFit Brigade in Chattanooga, Eric and Emily Griffith, made a decision many would never dare to do. They quit their corporate jobs to follow their shared passion for fitness.

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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.”

Continue reading “To Preserve and Protect”

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.   

Continue reading “Overcoming: Lauren’s Eating Disorder Recovery”

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.

Continue reading “Caving Cautiously”

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.

Continue reading “Brooke; A Survivor Story”

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. 

Continue reading “Road to Recovery”

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.’”

Continue reading “Reentry”

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. 

Continue reading “Sparrow Song”

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 Dudash 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
Continue reading “Battle Buddies”

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.

Continue reading “The Untold Story of Native American Activism in Chattanooga”

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. 

Continue reading “Journey to Freedom”

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. 

Continue reading “Finding the Fire”

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)
Continue reading “Chattanooga Creatives Strike Again”

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.

Continue reading “Behind the Masks”

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. 

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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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