The Benwood Blog

Chattanooga has a history of being the comeback kid with a big imagination for the future. In this moment in time, we are uniquely positioned for the next big wave of change. There is a strong sense of optimism about our future, as well as a sense of urgency to move forward in meaningful ways.

The Benwood Blog will highlight the work of people in Chattanooga who are acting on that sense of urgency in innovative, timely, and sometimes surprising ways. We will also bring to light the stories, processes, and questions that our community cares about.

We hope you will enjoy these posts and that you will contact us if you have similar stories to share.

From time to time we will also write about what is On Our Minds at the Foundation, and present the work of guest bloggers whose work intersects with our primary areas of interest, place, culture, talent, and competitive advantage.

Looking Toward Tomorrow (with a nod to Yesterday)

Looking Toward Tomorrow (with a nod to Yesterday)

Giving an old building a new sense of purpose in our Center City.

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Ready....Set....2.0

Why we're all in, when it comes to supporting Chattanooga 2.0, an initiative to improve educational and workforce opportunities for all residents in our community.

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A Work in Progress....

A Work in Progress....

A look back at some of our favorite blog posts and a look forward to a new direction for the Benwood Blog.

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Echoes of Chattanooga’s Early Artistic Heritage

Echoes of Chattanooga’s Early Artistic Heritage

When we think about Chattanooga’s artistic heritage we think back to early performers like blues empress Bessie Smith or you may even know about jazz musician Valaida Snow or more recently actress Dixie Carter, actor Jim Nebors and of course Samuel L Jackson, Dennis Haskins and Usher. And we’ve in previous blogs learned about Chattanooga’s current street scene. We often think of these as recent productions and forget that these build on a long legacy begun here by the Native Americans who once lived on this land.

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Giving Voice to Others: A wider play for Chattanooga

Giving Voice to Others: A wider play for Chattanooga

Many of the artists I’ve met have talked about a childhood formative experience that first inspired them and this was the case too for actor Christy Gallo. However for Christy, this was not the first step in a progression but a taster that led to self-doubt and leaving the theater behind for lucrative opportunities in business. But when disillusioned by her work world and life in her 20s, she wanted to go beyond the material possessions and find something more fulfilling. In her soul searching she realized that the path to healing could be found in acting and a life in theater.

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2014 Chattanooga Boys Leadership Summit

2014 Chattanooga Boys Leadership Summit

What began in 2010 as a discussion of the needs of boys living within Chattanooga's urban core, the Boys Leadership Summit (BLS) celebrated its fifth year of inspirational training for middle and high school males on November 15, 2014. The Summit brings together a host of agencies, faith-based institutions, and parents interested in improving leadership qualities of male students. The Saturday morning event was held on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. During the annual Summit, adults share strategies on keeping young men productive, safe and focused on achievement; while youth share their life experiences as 6th – 12th grade males navigating their complex environments.

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Designing Health

Designing Health

A little over a year ago, I was asked by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to be part of a panel discussion at the AIGA Head, Heart, Hand: Design Conference. I shared the stage with Doug Powell from IBM, Matthew Trowbridge, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and George Aye, from Greater Good Studio. Our topic was Designing a Healthier Future for Children, and we were tasked with demonstrating how we used design thinking in our work to improve health on the population level. In the interest of full disclosure, my education is in clinical exercise physiology and not design, so I was a little confused when I got the email asking me if I would like to take part in the conference.

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An Open Letter to Black Leaders

I'm from East Lake Courts, and my organization has taken a stand against violence.


I don't care what kind of violence it is. Sexual violence, gun violence, domestic violence. We should not be losing our young kids because of stupidity.

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Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Christian Collier

Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Christian Collier

"Being an artist means being comfortable with doing everything you can do, as much as you can, and being ok with not being enough." - Christian Collier


Many artists are known for their mastery of a particular form – an artist is a painter, or she is a singer, or they are musicians, or writers or designers or….Some artists though cannot be easily classified as their art is responsive, emotional, all encompassing and takes the form it needs to in order to make a point. Christian Collier is such an artist. He is known as a spoken word artist, a hybrid term in its own right as it encompasses poetry, memoir, storytelling, performing, music, and movement. Add to that a bit of drawing, a good dose of DJing and an enormous amount of skill, thought and feeling and you have the art of Christian Collier.

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What Ferguson Taught Us: A Brief Study in Questions

How many white parents have to teach their children to fear the police? How many white communities call in police experts, including the police chief, to teach their children what to do if approached by the police? How many organizations are allowed to police themselves?

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