Homemaking to Placemaking

by Connie Flachs

Connie Farmers Market

I woke up in my new Knoxville home, rolling off the tattered mattress pad serving as my temporary bed onto the laminate wood floor, covered in a layer of dust. What was this barren room? I had left my comfortable, cozy, love-filled Michigan home to move South and start a new adventure, but in the early morning light the emptiness of this new habitat was overwhelming.

Restructuring your entire life has a way of bringing your values (and instabilities) into sharp relief. I was frantic those first couple of days, insisting on unpacking each box, hanging each painting, arranging each book on a shelf. I couldn’t handle living in a half-lived-in place. My cat couldn’t handle it either. She dove into an uncovered AC vent and remained there for an entire day, my certainty about her tragic demise not helping my already stress tangled brain.

A few weeks in, I found myself nestled into a cozy nook of my room, cat on my lap (she decided against permanent residence in the AC vent when she realized there was no food in there), reflecting on what had made me feel so frenetic and anxious those first few days. Continue reading “Homemaking to Placemaking”

The Acclaimed Reclaimers

Article Authors: 
Marlee Jennings, Annalisa Tarizzo, Sarah Clark, Megan Finan, & Leah McCord

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Most CAC AmeriCorps Members spend their service year in focused association with their sponsoring organization, perhaps developing their strongest relationships with the supervisor, staff, and clients. But several partnering entities have more than enough work to go around, the means of supporting that work, and, from this, the opportunity to develop well-functioning, tightly bounded crews.  These include the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Beardsley Farm, Knox County Storm Water, and University of Tennessee Recycling. It was in 2010 that Jay Price, the UT Recycling Manager, welcomed in the first AmeriCorps State/National Members, and the number has grown since, expanding to include a VISTA Member in the 2017-2018 service year, capping the current total at 5. Such is the comradery that forms in this group that requests for serving a second year with the same Members has become commonplace.

Continue reading “The Acclaimed Reclaimers”

Empowering Community through Education

Before this year, the partner organizations and their respective AmeriCorps Members in our VISTA program have been building organizational capacity to provide economic opportunity, training, and resources to populations who experience significant barriers to employment. Other sites have been concentrating on creating healthier futures to our most food insecure and isolated members in the community, including seniors, children, and the homeless.  These efforts proudly continue and are being added to by two new sites, Girls, Inc. and Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, dedicated to combating poverty through one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal: EDUCATION.

Continue reading “Empowering Community through Education”