Nashville is growing faster than any of city in the US. By 2035, we are estimated to have a population of 2.6 million in our 10 county region. Among the many accolades our city has been given, one of the highlights includes being ranked #10 for best places for tech jobs and starting a business.
At a Glance (source Forbes )
With all of the great accolades and growth occurring in Nashville, the question among government officials, community leaders, citizens, business owners, and developers pretty much lies the same. Where are all of these 2.6 million going to live by the year 2035? The Metro Nashville Planning commission has created the Nashville Next initiative to gather 1,000s of ideas from community members on how we would envision our city within the next 25 years. I have been so fortunate to be apart of this by participating in small groups as well as open forums discussing how we should plan for such growth in our city, and more specifically Nashville North By North East (Talbot's Corner, Katie Hill, Dickerson Road Historic District, Brick Church Pike Business Park, and Lock One Park/ Heaton's Station)
Since I began this journey as a community organizer almost 2 years ago, I have become more enlightened, educated, and grateful for each and every individual I have met along the way. Each individual has played a role in the now extensive network I have in Nashville community, and I only look forward to meeting new faces everyday. They range from my neighbors, other community leaders, city council members, government officials, small business owners, church leaders, philanthropists, corporations, Realtors, professors, commercial developers and residential developers/builders. As I have made relationships with each and every person, I have become more defined and passionate regarding my personal beliefs on inclusion and revitalization vs. gentrification. And if you can't tell already, I'm a little bit passionate about it. Better yet, I am passionate about people. About community.
Look, this is not an easy subject to touch on, and it is quite sensitive to many individuals, including me. I get a angry look on my face when someone says, " Oh that's great, Lindsey, what you are doing with the children in the community. So many other communities in Nashville are already gentrified, and you are on your way." Nothing could make me more sick to my stomach. The term 'gentrification' and helping children have absolutely nothing to do with each other in my opinion. In many ways, there aren't many individuals in my position right now. To be quite honest, it is so hard to be "stuck in the middle", yet I see this as an opportunity to bridge the gap between equitable development and community inclusion/preservation. Let me explain why:
1. I am not a Realtor , but if I were , I've been known to sell ice to Eskimos, but only when I am passionate about my product and have created an emotional connection with that product, place, or ability to help the other individual or group of individuals. If I don't feel that way, then I won't be involved in the transaction.
2. I am not a developer, but I help develop. I have helped on the back end of many transactions, and I connect property with good people based on the needs of the community. I will not consider my own, or anyone's financial interest over the needs of the community and it's people.
3. I am in love with diversity and inclusion. I am in love with not just the children on Katie Hill, but the single mom who struggles to feed and cloth her babies, or the mom who has the 20 year old son in prison and struggling to ensure he is taken care of in a prison system that has minimal compassion regarding how they treat individuals as human beings.
4. I'm the odd WOman out. I'm white, yep you didn't know? I'm single. I live here. I love here. I create art here. This is not my community, but it is Katie Hill's Community.
So with all this being said, I am stuck right in the middle, and to get to the point, Nashville, we have GOT to change the way we are developing OUR communities and the ways in which approach the growth occurring in our own back yards. There has to be a balance among equitable development and the over-all well being of a community and its people; old and new. For developers and Realtors who do not know me or heard my story, I think I will start saying #sorryimnotsorry in advance before I educate you all real quick on how we do things a bit differently here on Katie Hill. My conversations with Realtors or builders ignite with excitement when speaking on all the great investment opportunities on The Hill. In most conversations, I can pick up in about 5 minutes if the developer or builder would be a good fit for Katie Hill. If he/she speak negatively about the eye sores and the amount of money to be made vs. focusing on the positives attributes, inclusion, and diversification, I usually shut them down real fast. Look, I get it. I have to make a living and take care of my business. And don't get me wrong, I love the idea of having new neighbors and the value of my home increasing, duh. I'm a business woman. But at what point in the business life cycle do people realize that there are ways to build communities with a conscious, or are we so far gone that we can't consider the human beings who have occupied a property or a neighborhood for sometimes 30 to 50 years?
I am so blessed to be working with the best of the best on Katie Hill. We know each other so well, and are at a pivotal moment in our growth cycle in which we can protect those around us, and grow at the same time. Why? BECAUSE WE LIVE HERE. When you actually live in a community, you will do anything you can to lower crime statistics and create a safe environment by building relationships and trust with local law enforcement/ govt. agencies. In our minds, if we don't do it, it might not be done consciously, and again WE LIVE HERE. We want to experience fellowship with our neighbors, and create opportunities for those who may have never had the same ones we've had. You see a child, and you know they deserve the same education and opportunities of those children living in nicer communities, because we know that education is vital to a child's success as he/she goes out into the real world.
With all of this being said, I want to challenge everyone in Nashville to think a little differently, specifically those in the real estate and development industries. This is not a difficult concept, and Lord knows we won't do everything perfectly and will make mistakes along the way. As a neighbor and a community organizer, I will ask you to do a few thing going forward that you may not have thought of in the past. Consider the community in which you intend on revitalizing before you consider the money going into your pocket. Consider the families, the children, and the homes in which people occupy, regardless of their race or income level. There is plenty of money to be made in this growing economy, but I also feel as if we can do a better job paying mind to the neighborhoods that have been around for years and years, generation after generation. Do some homes need vast improvements? Sure. But what ways can we help residents improve their quality of life or effectively incorporate affordable housing ( which raises the question of... what is affordable these days ?) with the booming real estate market? In my opinion, the ones who really step into the community to play a bigger role than just ' developer', 'realtor' or even 'new homeowner' , will preserve while improving the future landscape of our city. This is why Nashville Next is so vital to our city. The people must stand up for what they would like to see in their neighborhoods. We live here, we have a to speak up for those who may not have voice or impact.
Everyone has the opportunity to be a giver and community activist in their everyday lives by considering the basic needs and necessities of all individuals. I would also ask you to speak differently when referring to the diverse dynamics of certain neighborhoods. Stop dwelling on the negatives. Stop dwelling on the fact there is crime, and do something about it. I promise you, when I had my old condo for sale in Hillsboro Village, no one asked me about the gun that was pulled on me right outside my front door, because based on perception, that is something that would never happen in such an affluent community.... right? I also would ask you to take ownership in the neighborhoods your work in. Pick up trash if you see it on the side of the road, get to know the people who live on the streets, and treat them like you would want to be treated. As Realtors, you are not just selling a home, you are selling a lifestyle. If you are showing/selling property in a diverse community, encourage your buyers to get involved and get to know their new neighbors.
And Last, integrate social responsibility into your business plans and work with other Realtors, developers, neighborhood associations, and local business owners in the communities your serve. Developers/Builders, , consider hiring work with in the neighborhoods you are building in. If you see young men walking the streets without work, offer to teach them. Incent your contractors to hire these young men (and women). This is grassroots folks. This is not donating money or plopping your logo next to a charity ( which is all good if that's your thing) , this is getting your feet dirty and putting true effort into improving the quality of life for everyone, old and new. In life, many individuals will disappoint us, but I promise, if you can develop relationships with those around you in need, you may change 10 lives or maybe just 1, but you have at least provided an opportunity to the communities in which you serve, and that's what it takes. One individual can make an incredible impact. You may call yourself just a Realtor, builder, or developer. But in my opinion, you are so much more; the next 20 years in Nashville sits on your shoulders, and I'm a bit nervous about it. You can either continue building and encouraging gentrification,or you can take a socially responsive approach to this growth and differentiate yourself from the rest by putting people and the needs of the community first. I promise, you will be financially rewarded. It's just the way this universe works.
Myself, along with many others are passionate about our inner city communities, especially our children. We want to see Nashville unlike any other US city regarding diversity and economic growth.
If you have not considered what your company or organization is doing to become more socially responsible, I would recommend an action plan, otherwise, the ones who care about this issue will speak even louder.
I have done several interviews with different media outlets and this topic seems to be covered more and more everyday. This is not a threatening message by any means, it's simply a message of encouragement in hopes you might think a little differently when you walk the streets of Nashville showing property , or knock on the door of an 85 year-old widowed African-American woman to inquire on purchasing her home as an investment. The government may control many aspects of growth through regulations and zoning, but they will never be able to regulate our conscious or character. Nashville's future relies on each and every one of us.
Be sensitive. Be bold. Be passionate. Be Different .Make A Difference.
Kind Regard and LOVE for NASHVILLE -
Lindsey C Langley
I wish I could explain the feeling I had spending the afternoon with this man. He's so real and speaks the same language as I do ( Read my last blog if you don't know who Charlie Lucas is) . Everything is passion. Everything has a purpose. Each weird unique item in our lives has a meaning, and most would not understand that meaning or purpose unless explained. I drove 2 hours out of the way to see Mr. Lucus in Selma, Al on a slightly rainy, muggy Saturday afternoon. The drive to Selma from I65 is quite the peaceful one. I rolled down the windows, smelt the rain and drove the lonely roads to the small quaint town. I pulled up to Charlie's warehouse, he was walking up as he had gone to get a drink at the store next door. He was very welcoming and introduced me to his sweet dog. Of course, a pit bull that follows him around, just like my sweet Katie Does. He told me stories of his favorite pieces, and how everyone called him crazy, even his own family, for the way he thought, and even for collecting "Junk" . I could spend a day writing about my time with Mr. Charles Black, but I will just reflect on that within and leave you with the most important advice he gave me. He said, " Lindsey, just create something everyday, and you will be fine. Because you are a creator no matter what anyone thinks about the outcome."
It was 1999, I was 17 years old. I attended a leadership workshop at Birmingham Southern College the summer before my senior year of high school for 2-3 weeks. I learned so much more than just leadership, especially when they took us to Mr. Charlie Lucas' home to see his garden of . When you are 16 years old, it's amazing how much you don't know, or how much your life will be influenced going forward. Growing up in a family full of athletes, including myself, I was never really taught any appreciation for the arts, unless it was a Larry Bird or Bo Jackson Painting, which I can also appreciate. But thinking back on the one person who has inspired me creatively, I can only give that credit to Mr. Charles Lucas. Everyone loves to talk about fine art and I love Picasso too. But I never took art history, I just know something cool and unique when I see it. And as I realized through my life that I am actually creative, left handed, right brained and a scorpio, I began letting myself experience the creativity that wants to scream out. In some way form or fashion, I am constantly designing. I remember wanting to be a fashion designer, but I never thought I could do it, or had the resources. But I can always repurpose and up cycle.
Let me also say, I do recycle. But I would much rather re-purpose and up cycle. "Upcycled Art"- all it consist of is creation something better than what it was purposed for. Everyone talks about recycling to make something else. So for instance, you recycle a paper bag, so it could made into another paper bag or a drink cup from Starbucks Why not repurpose that paper bag or plastic bag into art? I think its good for the environment when people recycle computers. BUT My gosh, If i could get my hands on a few old Macintosh computers, I would go to town with the parts on those babies. So before you recycle, use your noodle and consider upcycling some of your unique items. I collect anything from nails, metal pieces, or whatever I can find to use. And if you don't want to keep it, just give me a call, I might could use it :-) This leads me to think back on think back on the man who showed me that no matter what my short-comings were, I can always re- purpose or up cycle the most obscure items. It just takes imagination. Thank you for teaching me this, Mr. Lucas and i look forward to seeing you again. 16 years later.
Here is an article written about Charlie Lucas in the Encyclopedia of Alabama . He certainly is an amazing and inspirational artist and person. I am going to stop and see him when I drive through this weekend to go to Orange Beach. I think I am more excited about that than the beach itself!
Charlie Lucas The work of self-taught artist Charlie Lucas (1951- ) draws from both the people and the land of Alabama's Black Belt region and from the iron and steel industry of the Birmingham District. From his earliest experiments with scraps of iron and steel, Lucas searched for meaning and images in cast-off material and began to envision completed works in piles of junk objects or remnants of raw materials. He assembles such fragments mentally before he physically welds, twists, and bolts them together to become portraits of people and animals—brought to life by the narratives he weaves around them.
Born in Birmingham on October 12, 1951, and raised in rural Elmore County north of Montgomery, Lucas was one of 14 children in a sharecropping family. His father often worked in Birmingham as a chauffeur and car mechanic. Because the family frequently needed his help on their small farm, Lucas often missed school. Yet he was surrounded by an extended family of skilled craftspeople–blacksmiths, auto mechanics, quilters, and basket makers who provided the education that would serve him later in his creative life. His great-grandfather, Cain Jackson, exposed Lucas to metalworking at a very young age, allowing Lucas to use his tools and materials to make his own trinkets. Although it would be several years before he took up metalwork as art, Lucas's feel for the medium was forged in that workshop.
Lucas's struggles with formal education and his severe dyslexia led him to drop out of school at the age of 14 and leave his family. He traveled around the Southeast for the next five years, doing odd jobs such as picking oranges in Florida. During a visit home, Lucas proposed to Annie Lykes, whom he had known since childhood, and the two moved back to Florida, where they married. The couple returned to Alabama in 1971 and settled on the family's 40-acre farm in the community of Pink Lily in Autauga County, where they would raise six children.
During this time, he worked on the farm and at odd jobs in the area, until he took a maintenance job at a local hospital in the late 1970s. He began to dabble in art during this period but did not turn to it full time until he suffered an accident in 1984. Lucas seriously injured his back while loading timber on a truck and had to undergo surgery and a long convalescence. Confined to a bed and unable to work, Lucas appealed to God to be given an ability or talent that no else had. He believes that he was then given a revelation from which was born his devotion to art. In particular, he returned to the metals with which he had become so familiar in his great-grandfather's blacksmith shop.
Lucas began displaying his figural sculptures made from twisted wire and other metal junk around his yard in Pink Lily, and they attracted a stream of curious visitors and began to draw the interest of the professional art world. He soon became known as "Tin Man" in part for his metal sculptures, although Lucas insists the name mostly comes from the fact that he had little money during his early years as an artist, with only 10 ("tin") dollars in his pocket. In the late 1980s, he began selling his assemblages and paintings to collectors, galleries, and museums. In 1988, he had his first exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in its survey of contemporary folk art, "Outside the Mainstream: Folk Art in Our Time." As his work began appearing in museum exhibitions and publications on contemporary American folk artists, he joined other Alabama artists such as Bill Traylor, Mose Tolliver, and Jimmy Lee Sudduth in benefiting from the genre's growing public appreciation and market appeal.
Lucas's sculptures typically are made from cast-off pieces of iron, steel, wood, and other materials. The Valve Man, for example, is made from the wheels and springs that form the parts that release pressure through the valves in an engine, and the figure's relaxed appearance reflects the purpose of the items from which it is made. The figures in Spirits on the Door, created from hubcaps and sheet metal, appear trapped in a state of limbo, floating uneasily across Lucas's wooden door "canvas" but tethered by rope and garden hose to the earth they cannot escape. Husband and Wife is an unbalanced couple: one figure (the husband?) is bound with wire and metal brackets, and the other (the wife?) is free of any such encumbrances. The viewer is encouraged to wonder if the work depicts an imminent breakup or a couple simply coexisting in uneasy tension. Lucas speaks freely about what he had in mind when creating his works—especially portraits that depict family members or people he knows—but he also appreciates that viewers compose their own stories. Lucas's willingness to defer to others' perspectives has made him an especially effective workshop leader for children.
By the late 1980s, Lucas had added painting—mostly using ordinary house paint—to his ever-increasing assortment of daily artistic productions. Some of the paintings, such as The Dancing Shoe, express his love of color and the simple joy of the brush's movement across his "canvas" of cardboard or plywood. Paintings in this vein are strikingly reminiscent of the works of European twentieth-century painters Wassily Kandinsky or Joan Miró. Other works, such as Caveman, are notable for their depictions of animals and human faces—themes that can be found recurring in both his sculptures and his paintings. These works display elements that relate to the European schools of Expressionism and Cubism.
Lucas also combines sculpture and painting in a variety of collages, as inAncestors Keeping the Path Open, Moanin' and Groanin'. The piece is part of a series of large works that focus on the theme of slavery and the Middle Passage. The works are broadly horizontal, thus allowing Lucas to depict the slave ship with its many captives. He makes his own frames from whatever materials he can find (including rubber garden hoses), or from existing art frames that friends have given him.
In 2004, Lucas relocated from Pink Lily to Selma and lived next door to long-time friend and storyteller and journalist Kathryn Tucker Windham until her death in 2011. He continues to live in the same house today but creates his artworks in a large warehouse in downtown Selma, which serves as a gallery, studio, storage space for his raw materials, and garage for his hand-painted Ford Mustang and other vehicles. He opens his studio/gallery to visitors regularly. In 2000, Lucas traveled to France in the company of Alabama artist Nall for an artist's residency and tour that also took him to Italy. He has traveled across America as well exhibiting his art, giving talks and interviews, and conducting workshops for students of all ages. His work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Rosa Parks Museum and Library at Troy University-Montgomery.
Lucas, Charlie, and Ben Windham. Charlie Lucas: Tin Man. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009.
Trechsel, Gail Andrews, ed. Pictured in My Mind: Contemporary American Self-Taught Art. Birmingham, Ala.: Birmingham Museum of Art, 1995.
Yelen, Alice Rae. Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present. New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art, 1993.
Robert C. Stewart
SOME OF THE ART CREATED BY MR. CHARLES LUCAS
I have been meaning to spend some time to tell you all about the beautiful , fun, unique shower that Stacy McCloud and I threw for one of our greatest girlfriends, Stephanie Langston . When Stacy and I found out a new baby Hardin would be arriving, we insisted on throwing this lovely lady the most unique fun circus themed baby shower ! AKA, The Greatest Show On Earth ! With John's ( Steph's hubby and baby daddy) family being a true circus family, it was only right we continue the family tradition :-)
As many of you know, I LOVE making things for people. To me, the best gift is a gift made with love. Hand Made ! I usually spend hours making things when I really don't have time, but it's part of who I am!
With that Being said, Stacy and I worked together to come up with every inch of detail regarding the shower and I wanted to share the photos with you all Hope you all enjoy ... AND most importantly ...
WE CAN'T WAIT FOR BABY HARDIN TO ARRIVE! IT'S SEPTEMBER AND HE WILL BE HERE SOON! WE LOVE THE LANGSTON-HARDIN CREW! AND WE ALSO CAN'T WAIT TO FIND OUT THE NAME! THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US!
I will also be posting a lot of the details to Pinterest , So be sure to follow me if you like arts and crafts, and click on the photos to see captions. :-)