Natives of Michoacan, Mexico, Carmen Torres and Valdemar Ibarra have been living their American Dream cooped up inside their small orange-painted restaurant nestled within the busy Amnicola Highway.
“All the people from Chattanooga, from Hixson, Redbank, Dunlap, Dayton who are all customers, many of them friends because we were eager to have family, eager to have friends, so we have many friendships now,” Ibarra said.
He was a businessman from his days in Mexico, but left that behind when he arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant in 1992. Ibarra began working in California but found no steady income, so he moved to the Chattanooga area, where his cousin resided, not long after.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.