HISTORY

HISTORY posts provide historical facts and links related to the history of Knoxville, South Knoxville, Tennessee River, and SWFT.

HISTORY OF SWFT

The association was created because a small group of us recognized the value of working together to promote the lifestyle we enjoy and share as neighbors. Upon learning we were not part of any existing neighborhood group, we briefly considered joining a nearby association, but after examining the unique characteristics of our residents, we decided to form a new organization.

In contrast to traditional single-family neighborhoods, our group shares an appreciation for community living (condos, apartments, etc.). We embrace diversity of all kinds (race, gender, sexual orientation, age, income level, occupation, property owners, renters, students, etc.). Most importantly, we are proud to live, work, play, and promote an active urban lifestyle at the waterfront on the south side of the Tennessee River.

Currently, our group includes residents of just one community living development, but we plan to encourage residents of other unaffiliated multi-family residences and businesses in our immediate vicinity to become engaged with us, either as members or collaborators. We also look forward to cooperation with 12 other adjacent neighborhoods.

The only significant obstacle we faced in creating our organization was inertia. Bodies at rest tend to remain at rest. Our challenge was to encourage residents to explore the potential benefits of creating a neighborhood organization. We overcame that obstacle using a 4-stage approach – Ice Breaker, Planning, Organization, and Communications.

1. Ice Breaker – Since the summer of 2016, neighbors have been encouraged to participate in regular 1-hour bimonthly “CityView Second Monday” social events to break the ice and help neighbors get to know one another. Each event includes: participation sign-in sheets, name tags, hot appetizers and sweets, lively background music, donated door prizes, and great conversation. Each event starts promptly at 6:30 pm and ends promptly at 7:30 pm. Prompt endings have encouraged attendance because neighbors are willing to budget 1-hour events every 2 months when they are certain they will end on time. Neighbors quickly fill the room with lively conversation and laughter at the start of each event. Some stay and mingle afterwards, but most leave on time very satisfied and refreshed. Each event consistently draws 20 – 30 attendees. Creation of the “CityView Residents Knoxville” Facebook group has also really helped neighbors get to know one another.

2. Planning – During the summer of 2017, a pair of individuals began having informal lunch meetings with Kaye Bultemeier, President of the recently formed RiverHill Gateway Neighborhood Association to find out how she started her organization. Further discussions with David Massey, Neighborhood Coordinator with the Knoxville Office of Neighborhoods, provided additional information about the specific steps involved. That led to eventual meetings with a wider audience of community residents.

3. Organization – In the fall of 2017, organizational meetings were held with residents. Potential benefits of forming a new association were presented along with discussions pertaining to possible future neighborhood projects. David Massey provided an overview of available resources through the Office of Neighborhoods and Kaye Bultemeier shared some of her organization’s growth experiences. Since then, the group has had 2 quarterly meetings, clearly defined its mission, registered with the city, adopted bylaws, elected officers, become designated a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, welcomed guest speakers, and begun working on strategies to promote inclusion. Four members are currently participating in the “Engaging Neighbors to Create Strong Neighborhoods” workshop series.

4. Communications – The most basic form of participation is willingness to receive information about what is going on in our neighborhood and opportunities to participate. For that reason, we have implemented several different communications strategies, including: informational posters placed on bulletin boards at elevators; “Southside Waterfront Neighborhood” Facebook group; customized online member application/survey form; comprehensive member interest/skills inventory form, printed welcome flyer, providing information about the neighborhood organization and its mission; widely distributed SWFT meeting minutes; and timely updates as they happen between meetings via the “SWFT Grapevine”, an email chain with more than 70 subscribers; and an informative website at SouthsideWaterfront.org.

Benefits – It is too early to quantify measurable benefits from the strategies and activities we have implemented, anecdotal evidence suggests that we have certainly begun to overcome inertia. Neighbors are participating in meetings and events in large numbers (average 20 residents per meeting, 20 – 30 residents per event). They are also talking among themselves, asking thought-provoking questions, and volunteering to attend meetings outside our organization to bring back helpful information.

HISTORY OF SOUTH KNOXVILLE

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