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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.