Editor’s Note: This article uses the pseudonym ‘Bill Johnson’ in place of the CUS founder’s actual name in order to maintain anonymity.
Written By Sarah Chesek
Anonymous. Urgent. Civic Action. Under no authority but their own citizenship, the Chattanooga Urbanist Society dropped off “illegal” benches and repaired bridge guardrails. Tired of watching the city’s infrastructure go unaddressed, the founder of CUS realized the cost of inaction—someone possibly falling–—was far worse than possibly being caught.
“Chattanooga Urbanist Society is a group that exists to take direct action to protect and uphold the rights of pedestrians, cyclists, and make the public realm a better place to experience in Chattanooga,” stated Bill Johnson, founder of Chattanooga Urbanist Society.
Lisa Baker’s guitar is an extension of her own body. From the decorative swirls running along its length to the initial “L” sewn on the strap, it’s a tangible display of her love of jazz. And she’s rarely found without it.
“It kind of goes everywhere with me, period,” she laughed. “Going to the beach, take my guitar.”
Baker, a jazz performer and adjunct professor of music at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has had a heart for jazz music ever since she can remember.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.