Coffee Connect has done its Job

Chris joins Introduction to the Internet

Chris joins
Introduction to the Internet

Greetings All.  After six months of getting to know Chattanoogans one cup at a time, I am moving on. The goal of Coffee Connect was to get to know the people of this great city and find my place in it. Well mission accomplished on both scores.  But even after the last post I will and have continued inviting future friends out to coffee.  I just no longer post about it.

And the question about finding my place?  I now direct Introduction to the Internet.  We help Chattanooga businesses and businesspeople approach the internet as a business tool.  For those who want personalized help in making the web work for their business.  We also help develop your personal online business presence.  Check us out sometime and when we meet the coffee’s on me.

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Energy and Involvement at the Camp House

Tiffany and Tim at the Camp HouseIf you open yourself up to meeting people in Chattanooga, you will get rewarded by meeting fascinating, dedicated people.  It happened again for me when I got together with Tiffany and Tim at the Camp House.  Some of you will know her work as the force behind Stuff Parents Need, a web site “parents can look to for detailed information about how products and services integrate with their busy lives.”  It is thoroughly researched and well worth a bookmark and regular read.  She also teaches world religion online through Phoenix University.  This allows her to work from home and arrange her schedule to be the mom she wants to be for their two young children.

Others of you will know of Tim’s work as a city planner.  Impressively, he is also one of the driving forces behind Open Chattanooga, an “advocacy group working together to make local public data open, available, and useful.”  I had heard and worked with the data this site provides through a shared interest in data visualization.  Finally he is a beta tester in Chattanooga’s bleeding edge rollout of the BikeShare program.

They live near his work so he can bike to work and come home for lunch.  They highly recommend the local Montessori school as well.

I’ll tell you one thing I really appreciate with this couple.  They’ve made specific choices in their lifestyles to foster their family and the environment.  From where they live to how they live and work, they are not accidental tourists in their lives.  They left Memphis two years ago to make this dream in Chattanooga.  Bravo!

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Dava at Joe Friday’s

Dava at Joe Friday'sWhen you’ve had as many coffees as I’ve had it’s a real treat to find a good, new bistro.  And that’s what I found when I sat down with Dava at Joe Friday’s over on Houston Street. We picked Joe Friday’s because neither of us had been there and we were pleasantly surprised by the deep roasted clean taste of the brew.  I had a mocha made with Ghirardelli’s chocolate and it was a must-have-again cup.

Dava is a freelance writer with wide interests and blogs at Smiling Tree Writing.  She pointed out something about Chattanooga that I feel attracts many to our shores.  You can go from city attractions to outdoor thrills back to the city in no time at all.  You can kayak, canoe, dirt bike, or hike during the day then make it to Miller Plaza to enjoy the open air music at Nightfall in the evening.

What I really enjoyed was learning more about the local food scene.  Be sure to check out Gaining Ground to get a good hold on locally grown food in our area.  The website is also a great place to find your local farmers market like the Main Street Farmers Market open Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  What I found fascinating and new was the concept of HerdShare.  Dava owns a small share in a herd at CreekRidge Farms and therefore can get fresh milk at regular intervals when she visits their booth at the Main Street Farmers Market.  Now that is a smart locavore.

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Professional Organizing and the Top Chattanooga Restaurants

Julie the Certified Professional OrganizerYes, we’re in a heat wave.  So for some of you even the concept of coffee is just too hot.  That’s why I met with Julie at Sweet Frog, the frozen yogurt palace on Gunbarrel Road.  Julie is a CPO (Certified Professional Organizer) with her own blog at  Yes that’s a job and her passion and she’s good at it, just ask her.

A transplant originally from Buffalo, NY who has been here long enough to know the city like the back of her hand and especially the restaurants so whether you buckle up or loosen the belts, here we go.  For Greek Food, Julie recommends the saganaki at the the Acropolis Grill.  For downton Indian, it’s the Sitar on Market Street.  If you’re on the Lee Highway stop by El Taco Roc and order a number 12.  For a nice night out downtown go to the 212 Market Restaurant.  They serve local foods and care about the environment.  For a chain restaurant that doesn’t feel like a chain restaurant go to the BoneFish Grill.  For all things sushi try Seki Sui, Sushi Nabe or for home dining try the sushi at the Fresh Market.  And finally, for the adventurous, pedal on over to Sluggo’s North Vegetarian Cafe on the North Shore.  Now that should keep you foodies busy for a while.

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Relaxing at Rembrandt’s with Emily

Emily at Rembrandt'sIf you want a unique view of a city, talk to someone who grew up here, left for a good period of time, and heeded the call to come home.  I sat down with Emily today at Rembrandt’s and found her to be just such a person.  Emily helps run the family business and is an eclectic blogger at _emily_rose.

After a decade long absence in South Carolina she returned to a city deep into transformation.  What she loves is that Chattanoogans have developed a civic conscience that allows them to seek grassroots answers to public issues.  The people of this town do not rely on the government to solve all ills but see  it as their duty and more importantly within their ability to effect change.  Along that line she likes the fact that we support local businesses and organizations better than most towns our size.

And she has a recommendation as well.  For a relaxed weekend include brunch at FoodWorks on the North Shore, then down to the city center and the Tennessee Aquarium.  End the day and weekend off with a stroll through the Farmer’s Market on the South Side.  That should mentally soothe you for the week ahead.

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Kurt lays out Episode 49’s philosophy at Starbucks

Kurt of Episode 49As noted before in this blog, Chattanooga is verging on saturation in the online media market.  That’s a tough place to be in when you run just such a company.  The question becomes then, how do you distinguish yourselves above the others.  There is probably a number of answers to that but in my mind, the best and most long lasting one is to provide a quality service openly with and in the best interest of the client.  That came through loud and clear as I sat down with Kurt, owner of Episode 49.

To discuss at length the qualities of the man and company is beyond the purview of this post.  Suffice it to say that if you want long term growth as the result of a developed strategy of your online properties, you’ll need someone who will listen and that you can trust.  That takes time and personal connection.  From what I learned from our marathon shop talk CoffeeConnect, that’s exactly how Episode 49 is separating itself from the pack in Chattanooga.

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Communify at the Stone Cup

Philip and Communify Learn – Create – Share, and help communities to share information more efficiently and effectively, using multiple modes of communication.

That’s the mantra of Communify, the brain child and passion of Philip.  We got together at the Stone Cup over a smoothie and latte and he laid out the grand vision of his creative idea.  From music to television, from mediation to storytelling, Communify wants to strengthen communities by developing strong communication between all members across all modes.  This will be a pivotal summer for his efforts so now’s the time to join the conversation.  Check out Communify online to keep track of it’s development and upcoming public events.

Another one of Philip’s interests is his knowledge and understanding of Chattanooga and it’s historical and economic role in the South as well as the evolution of the city to what it is today.  For that you’ll need to speak with him directly, I could not do it justice.

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Occasionally We Lose One, A Cautionary Tale

Sarah sayss goodbye at the Stone CupFor all the movement and opportunity in today’s Chattanooga, there are still economic casualties.

I caught up with Sarah at the Stone Cup the day before she moved to Knoxville in search of work.  Laid off in the content creation and marketing field she found herself afloat in a city becoming more and more saturated with tech start ups, social media firms, and tourism services while largely ignoring the basics of local city life like grocery and department stores.  While the former industries are important, the pie is just not increasing fast enough to support all the slices and promising start ups lead to disappointing cutbacks.  And thus Sarah leaves a town she loves.

But it’s not with a bitter heart she leaves and hopes to come back to her adopted home town.  She will miss people watching downtown and especially walking the Riverwalk and the bridges over the Tennessee.  There’s the first Friday each month Gallery viewings in the Bluff View Art District.  She’ll also miss her volunteer work at the Chattanooga Public Library with the English as a Second Language students from Iraq, Sudan, Mexico, etc.  And yes she’ll even miss the guys over at GhostHunter Chattanooga.

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Chante talks creativity and social media at the Camp House

Chante talks creativity at the Camp HouseCreative Misfit (CM).  That’s what I am.  And apparently I’m not alone because people like me are drawn to places like Chattanooga.  The question is, what do we do once we get here.  That, in part, was the illuminating discussion I had today with Chanté, a fellow CM at the Camp House.  As brilliant as CHA is, it can be a difficult place for the most creative of people because, as Chanté points out, ideas are not necessarily valued to the level as tangible products.  And therein lies the rub, as the Bard has pointed out through his Danish avatar.  The aforementioned Chanté is a web alchemist at Moss Media Labs and a digital marketing guru in her own right at Chanté.  Full disclosure though, the Creative Misfit concept was developed by her collaborator Jon at Moss Media Labs and for you in-the-know types, that’s the Jon himself.

As far as Moss Media goes, they don’t just create websites, they stress the equipping of companies to take control of their web properties.  They focus on strategic development and provide DIY workshops to help develop savvy internet property management.  Chanté provides the marketing muscle and is adept at such things as Facebook marketing campaigns.

And the Creative Misfit dilemma?  I explore that in greater detail in the No Bad Idea section.  Let me know if you’d like to contribute to that discussion.

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Cycling in Chattanooga and Free Donuts

I had heard rumors of their existence but today was my first sighting.  Now I pass the secret on to you.Cycling in Chattanooga  A rogue group of civic-minded Chattanoogans are working to enhance the cycling culture of this town.  If you are out biking between 7:00 and 8:30 a.m. on Friday mornings, be sure to ride over the Walnut Street Bridge.  At the half way mark you will surely hear these words shouted out, “free coffee and donuts!”  I did then applied my brakes and did a 180.  This group who shall remain nameless, mainly because I don’t think they have a name, meet every Friday to hand out not only donuts and Velo coffee but muffins, hard boiled eggs, and orange juice in an effort to promote cycling in Chattanooga and strengthen the sense of community of local cyclists.

Actually that’s every Friday except the first one of each month.  On the first Friday of every month, you can join other Chattanooga cyclists at Miller Plaza for free breakfast starting at 7:00 a.m. as part of the Bike2Work program.  But be advised, the aforementioned rogues will be there as well, blending in with the normals.

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