Blog

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”

A Day in Cherokee National Forest

Article Author:
Christine Doka, CAC AmeriCorps Staff; Alum 2015-2018

One of the roles of CAC AmeriCorps staff is to conduct at least 2 yearly site visits for all of our members. While the idea of a “site visit” from program staff might seem intimidating, the true purpose of these is to check on regulatory requirements (is your AmeriCorps Serving Here sign up?), check in with the site supervisor, but most importantly, talk to and get to know the member a bit better to help guide them in their current projects as well as help them identify long term goals to get ready for life after AmeriCorps.

Continue reading “A Day in Cherokee National Forest”

Chasing Conservation through ConServe Knoxville

Article Author:
Christine Doka, CAC AmeriCorps Staff; Alum 2015-2018

A year of service through CAC AmeriCorps can look different from person to person. Depending on your service site, you could be engaging in anything from hiking to remove invasive plant species, performing environmental education, or building capacity through the office or organization you are serving with. As staff, we often tell Continue reading “Chasing Conservation through ConServe Knoxville”

VISTA Member Spotlight: Meredith Abercrombie

Article Author:
Ariel Allen, CAC AmeriCorps Staff; Alum 2013-2014

Meredith has had one busy year. Her site, the University of Tennessee- FUTURE Program, is a postsecondary education program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that empower participants to achieve gainful employment in the community and have their own college experience. Continue reading “VISTA Member Spotlight: Meredith Abercrombie”

The Challenge of Encouraging Environmental Awareness and Design

Article Author:
Mariah Lowry, CAC AmeriCorps Member 2018-2019

Ever heard of the Biophilia Hypothesis?  The theory was initially proposed by biologist Edward Wilson and suggests that human beings possess an innate desire to form connections with nature and other forms of life and this connection, in turn, promotes healthier lifestyles.  A quick internet search inquiring about the links between cognitive and social well-being in relation to environmental surroundings yields numerous studies that support this link between access to a diverse and healthy environment with stronger mental health in populations.  For instance, studies have shown that children Continue reading “The Challenge of Encouraging Environmental Awareness and Design”

Power of Kindness and Persistent Inclusivity

Article Author:
Ariel Allen, CAC AmeriCorps 2014-15, CAC AmeriCorps Staff

VISTA member Hannah Freeman’s numbers might be small, but they are mighty. But sometime the quantitative doesn’t paint the whole service picture. It merely provides an outline. The qualitative is what gives experience it’s richness.   Plus, part of the qualitative includes Hannah rubbing elbows with the mayor and dressing up as a pea at a local community event.

Continue reading “Power of Kindness and Persistent Inclusivity”