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Whitwell’s “Pop-Up Butterfly Festival” and art event scheduled for Saturday, March 17th

Thrive Regional Partnership’s Thriving Communities participants, Whitwell, Athens, and Decatur, Tennessee and Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, kick off experimental programs which seek to invigorate community engagement by utilizing the principles of creative placemaking and design thinking. Participants in these communities will kick off experimental programs which seek to invigorate community engagement by utilizing the principles of creative placemaking and design thinking

The teams, selected through a competitive process against communities across the tri-state region for the Thriving Communities project, have been tasked with designing a program to spark community vibrancy and economic growth by leveraging their assets in local arts and culture. Upon completion, each participating community will be eligible to receive a $20,000 grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation to implement an arts and culture initiative conceptualized in the course. This experimental step is essential to the program, encouraging grassroots participation and input of community members of all ages and backgrounds.

“This critical step in the Thriving Communities process is a great way for people of all ages to engage in this program while having fun at the same time,” said Bridgett Massengill, CEO of Thrive Regional Partnership. “By participating they’ll get to know their next-door neighbors and provide feedback on their community’s program while learning more about their region’s culture. We invite everyone to come out and support these four Thriving Community’s test pop-up events.”

Bridge Innovate, a Chattanooga consulting company, facilitates the creative placemaking program by aligning each team with principles of design thinking, a concept which embraces the status of a “work in progress,” encouraging teams to test, learn from, and adjust their various concepts of community engagement.

“Design thinking provides community leaders with a human-centered process for gathering inspiration, defining opportunities, brainstorming, prototyping, and testing bid ideas to fuel community vibrancy,” said Jenny Whitener, Founder, and CEO of Bridge Innovate.

These ideas ultimately reflect what sets each Thriving Community apart from others in the region.

The first of these community events gets underway on Tuesday, March 13th from 5:30-7:00 pm as Athens will host “A Taste of Downtown:” a communal cookout in Knight Park for residents to discuss cultural enrichment ideas. Events following this include:

  • Whitwell is hosting a Pop-Up Butterfly Festival on Main Street to showcase children’s art on Saturday, March 17 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.
  • “Walk Through the Past” in Decatur for a storytelling festival on Sunday, March 18 from 2:00-4:00 pm at the Chamber building.
  • The first Interactive Art Walk featuring a pop-up chalk art demonstration and a community bicycle ride through the battlefields will take place at Gilbert-Stephenson Park in Fort Oglethorpe, also on March 18 from 2:00-4:00 pm.

Locally, Whitwell’s Pop-Up Butterfly Festival will have plenty of opportunities for the community to gather participate in many various ways. The event is planned to take place on Main Street near the Coal Miner’s Museum on Saturday, March 17th from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM CDT. Those in attendance are invited to visit the Coal Miner’s Museum to get a taste of the coal mining past steeped deep into the city’s history that locals have preserved and continue to celebrate as their legacy.

Additionally, artwork from local school children will be on display as part of the Butterfly Art Contest. There will also be photo opportunities with the giant butterfly, sidewalk chalk art, the chance to browse exhibits from local artisans, materials, and crafts from local churches, informational booths from local civic groups and vendors. Also, music from newly-appointed Whitwell Police Chief Kenneth Seagroves can be enjoyed along with food and drinks provided by First Volunteer Bank, face painting and crafts for the kids along with a chance to get up-close to the Whitwell Fire Department’s ladder truck, and much more!

Through the Thriving Communities program, the participating cities rediscover their uniqueness.

“This program has sparked fresh conversation and energy in our community,” said David Smith, team member of the Whitwell, Tennessee project. “Thrive Regional Partnership has given the City of Whitwell the opportunity to explore their past and plan for their future.”

Thrive Regional Partnership implements and sustains a vision of responsible and inspired growth across the greater Chattanooga tri-state area. By convening and collaborating with diverse regional partners, and employing analytics and innovation, Thrive catalyzes community development opportunities while protecting the natural landscapes that define this special place, and preparing the bright young men and women that will carry this region into the future.


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