Attend the First Placemaking Festivals of Our Thriving Communities!

The festivals:

  • "A Taste of Downtown" Community Cookout on Tuesday, March 13, 5:30 - 7:00 PM | Knight Park, Athens, TN

  • Butterfly Festival on Saturday, March 17, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM | Main Street, Whitwell, TN

  • "Walk Through the Past" Storytelling Festival on Sunday, March 18, 2:00 - 4:00 PM | City Chamber building, Decatur, TN"

  • Interactive Chalk Art Walk on Sunday, March 18, 2:00 - 4:00 PM | Gilbert - Stephenson Park, Fort Oglethorpe, GA

Pop-Up Placemaking Festivals Bring Vibrancy and Funding to Thriving Communities

Thrive Regional Partnership's Thriving Communities participants, Athens, Decatur, and Whitwell, 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, Athens, Decatur, and Whitwell, 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.

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.

On Tuesday, March 13 from 5:30-7:00 pm, Athens will host "A Taste of Downtown:" a communal cookout in Knight Park for residents to discuss cultural enrichment ideas. 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. Through the Thriving Communities program, the participating cities rediscover their uniqueness.

"The program is already having a positive impact on our community," said Lisa Dotson, team leader of the Athens, Tennessee project. "Immersing ourselves into the community with personal interviews, focus groups, surveys, and civic organization presentations has given us an opportunity to listen to the heartbeat of the citizens and it is truly changing the atmosphere of our town. We are looking forward to see the outcome of this project!"