To this point, our team has been through 19 stakeholder interviews. These stakeholders include multiple community agencies (public and private) that support those in low income housing and/or homeless prevention, of which utility bills often play a major factor. We have also talked with utility board officials, as well as many city and other government officials. The interview process has been very eye opening, and we still have several more to complete through Tuesday in order to get the full picture. The point that has become very clear is that the community is incredibly passionate about this issue and is already doing some great work, they just need a little help to take it to the next level.
Wednesday night, we were so exhausted, we had pizza and a glass of wine in, and even a little exercise walk around the park (imagine that!) Thursday night, we were lucky enough to get a fantastic two-hour tour of the city, including the Tennessee Theater in downtown Knoxville. It was renovated five years ago but without losing its historical charm. Although it was a bit dark inside, you can get a glimpse of the team in front of the classical organ and in the main lobby with amazing chandeliers. During our tour, we learned, among many things, the history of this region during the Civil War and the fact that the Knoxville area was one of the few southern cities that had a large pro-Union population. Eastern Tennessee was also one of the first Southern regions to support integration in later years.
We’ve finally reached Friday night, and we are off to the Market Square in downtown Knoxville (which we saw briefly last night at dinner) — a very hip area with many shops, restaurants and live music, and a popular hangout for the younger university crowd — we’ll do our best to fit in 🙂 Weather permitting, tomorrow we will support the community by planting local Dogwood trees as some have been dying due to acid rain. For those that don’t know what a Dogwood is (Anika saw her first here this week), I will be sure to post a pic tomorrow evening after our outing, so stay tuned.