StrattonFor those of you who know Stratton, there is not a descriptor needed to illuminate the man.  He’s one of those gems spread upon the golden sands of this great beach we call Chattanooga.  I met Stratton at Chattz and, upon his recommendation, ordered the French press French roast coffee.  I now recommend that drink to you, it is worth the cost.

But before we go any further, allow me to explain the photo.  Stratton plays with Prophets and Kings, an electro-pop band, based here in Chattanooga, but already on the rise in the region and on the verge nationally.  The P&K members have their logo tattooed onto their respective inner lips.  He also sports a sharp suit and dreadlocks that date back to the run up to the war in Afghanistan (the hair, not the suit.)

Well spoken, well traveled, and erudite, he’s a Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Account Executive by day and a hard rocker by night.  Our talk was so wide ranging that I’ll just give you a link-filled précis of the 90 minutes.

Join the Sports Barn downtown for the best steam room in town.  It’s also a great place to network and take friends.  If you want to help out Partnership’s Building Stable Lives Program go to and vote for him.  He is a 2009 recipient of the MakeWork arts grants program for his music.  JJ’s Bohemia is one of the best places in town to see top bands like Prophets and Kings.  Go to Velo Coffee, enjoy a cup of coffee, chat with Andrew the owner/roaster, then buy a pound of the freshest beans in town.  There is a correct way to pronounce Chattanooga, listen here and pay most attention to the Georgia man.  And oh yes, Chattanooga is opportunity.

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No Bad Idea is officially launched

Tell me your idea for CHA.Chattanooga is too full of ideas not to have a home.  I saw the need so I built the home and call it No Bad Idea.  It’s a modest little bungalow with only one bath but I’ve acquired lots of land on which to build.  If you supply the lumber, I have the skill and experience to add the rooms.  Let’s get started.

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No Bad Idea is officially launched

Tell me your idea for CHA.Chattanooga is too full of ideas not to have a home.  I saw the need so I built the home and call it No Bad Idea.  It’s a modest little bungalow with only one bath but I’ve acquired lots of land on which to build.  If you supply the lumber, I have the skill and experience to add the rooms.  Let’s get started.

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Alternatively Chattz

CoffeeConnect is going viral.  How do I know?  First, I’m into third generation Connects.  Rich recommends me to Teal who recommends me to Liz and Ryan.  That would make Rich a grandConnector.  Second, people are calling me now to set up meet-and-sips.  Finally, the local press is on to the idea.  I’m now in a week of Connects, all of which fall into one or more of these categories.

Katie at ChattzAnd thus we come to Katie at Chattz.  In the best Southern tradition Katie is a hoot.  A UTC junior, she is an intern at The Pulse, Chattanooga’s Weekly Alternative and tasked with finding out about this Coffee thing going on.  For over an hour she drew me out with a broad range of questions and comments that really made the time fly and showed the brilliant reporter that is emerging into the journalistic maelstrom.  Definitely a career worth watching.

Then, of course it was my turn.  Katie is a homegrown Chattanoogan and the outdoors is where she loves to be.  For the first time I heard about Blue Holes.  Local natural swimming holes that are crystal clear, deep, known only to the locals.  To find one, get to know a local.  She also loves the fact that it’s sunny most of the time.  Having just moved from Morgantown, WV, one of the cloudier areas in the country, we really have noticed and commented on that very fact several times a week since we’ve been here.

Two days after our coffee, my family and I were driving down Frazier Avenue in North Chatt and we heard a loud and friendly, “Hey, Chris!”  It was Katie pulling up next to us at the light.  A quick, enthusiastic exchange and she was off.   My boy laughed and my wife said with a wide grin, “I sure love this town”.

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An Impromptu at Rembrandt’s

Jean and AnnetteOne of the great things about the whole CoffeeConnect idea is the adaptability of the concept.  I also like the fact that I can create opportunities for a Connect at the drop of a hat.  This happened today at Rembrandt’s Coffee House.  I often catch myself listening to accents and after hearing an English tone of voice I had to start a conversation.  And so I met Jean (top right) from Manchester, UK and her friend Annette (bottom right) from Germany.  (As promised on my CoffeeConnect page if I don’t have a camera my 6 year old will supply the image.)  Both are here on extended stay as wives of Volkswagen employees.  Here’s an opportunity to get insider views from outsiders, so to speak.

It’s always fun to watch people’s reaction when I ask about what they love in Chattanooga when they haven’t been briefed before hand.  Jean and Annette smiled, then giggled, then looked up while they tried to narrow down from all the possibilities.  Jean loved that Chatt is so family oriented.  It’s easy to raise a family here.  She also talked about how her son loves the wide variety of sports available at school and in the community unlike back home.  Annette loves the beautiful scenery and the lay of the land, especially how quickly you can go from downtown into the mountains.  She also highly recommended the Chattanooga Duck boats, especially if you have kids.

Earlier this week my wife and I stopped by Rembrandt’s for lunch during a bike ride (look for us the next time you’re there, we’ll be the ones with bike helmets either on or beneath the tables outside) and joined a semi-retired couple with Southern accents.  It turned out they were from Asheville, NC.  I told them my story about choosing Chattanooga from every other city in the world then tickled them when I said that Asheville came in second on our list.

So taken as a whole, here’s the lesson.  Don’t be surprised in Chattanooga when the Southern drawl comes from a visitor and the foreign accent comes from your neighbor down the street.  But I bet you insiders already knew that.

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Is This the New Face of Chattanooga?

Chris the new face of ChattanoogaBeing connected has its rewards.  When Choose Chattanooga decided to interview people about why they relocated to Chattanooga, I got the call.  Last week I went before the lights and cameras at Chattanooga State’s Media Technologies Center and recorded my take on Chatt and why I chose this city over every other one in the world.  As I understand it, the interview will be edited, I’ll supply personal photos to flesh it out, then it’ll wind up shown at the Visitors Bureau and online.  I’ll post more down the road as this story develops. (archive file photo)

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Camp House Coffee and Teal’s Vision of a Better Chattanooga

TealChattanooga is like all progressive cities, not everyone is sharing in the dream.  But fortunately we have people like Teal.  She’s one of those visionaries who is geared to see those not yet in that dream and have the drive, conviction, and creativity to do something about it.  She’s in charge of community outreach for the Glass House Collective, a revitalization organization that plans on starting a community and commercial revitalization, first on Glass Street then throughout East Chattanooga.  This is an area which seems to be hidden from most Chattanoogans but has such potential and through grants, education, and community involvement the Collective is working to help all the city grow together.

As we sipped on our Camp House coffees, Teal also told me about Project: PopUp.  Started by the River City Company and Berry + Hunt, it is downtown Chattanooga’s retail incubator to support and attract new retail opportunities in downtown’s City Center district.

Chattanooga is full of creative, innovative people and as a city is still in the upward swing of a large Renaissance.  Teal is part of that and that’s why we moved here.

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Adventure and a Chai Tea Latte

Jennifer skydivingSitting in a Panera in downtown Chattanooga can be an unlikely place to start an adventure.  Or maybe not.  Either way, Jennifer, pictured at left plummeting downwards towards Tennessee, is just the person to talk to when it comes to finding out about adrenaline in the Chattanooga area.  As adventure writer for Get Out Chattanooga, she gets called on regularly to taste the wild life and then live to write about it.  To read about her jump, watch some video, and find nearby places to escape from a perfectly good plane, go to the Dive In article.

This is not her only feat but there is one that she won’t do, noodling.  I’m sure a few of you know of this but if not, it’s quite simple.  Find an underwater catfish hole, stick your hand in and get the rather large catfish to swallow it.  Then you pull your hand, arm, and the catfish out, and presto, you’ve noodled.  Okay, I’m with you on that one.

And yes, we didn’t meet in a local coffeehouse but the chai tea latte was very good and she is the same Jennifer that turned me on to the Cubano at Stone Cup mentioned in one of my first posts.  So let’s just let this one pass.

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Silent Cycles and the Chattanooga Bike Culture

Justin of Silent CyclesI love working with local shops and local artists.  As bike enthusiasts we found our way to Suck Creek Cycle on the North Shore and found both.  Suck Creek, great name by the way, fixed my wife and son up with brilliant bikes.  The local artist of this scenario is Justin, the patient cycle maven that steered us to the right bikes but is also the owner of SilentCycles.   For the cycle enthusiast, his work in steel needs to be seen.

So little wonder when we talked about his favorite part of Chattanooga, he continued a theme I’m seeing more and more my self, the rapidly developing commuter bike culture here in Chattanooga.  With Bike2Work, the BikeShare program launching April 25, and the Tennessee Bike Summit from May 2-4, Chattanooga is no longer on the cusp of a bike culture, we believe we are now starting to flex our cycle muscles.

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Choosing Chattanooga at Toast

Linda at ToastAgain I find myself at Coffee Crafters Toast and this time I’m sharing coffee with Linda of Choose Chattanooga.  Linda is a former Councilwoman and current ambassador for Chattanooga to the rest of the country.  Choose Chattanooga helps to get the word out about the tremendous advantages that a move to this city can bring to anyone looking for a better life.  If you are interested in helping new Chattanoogans become a part of this community, talk to the Choose Chattanooga folks.

One exciting idea she shared was a program called Bike Share.  Chattanooga is joining cities all over the world in establishing a Bike Share program for our city.  Stations will be set up around the city that will allow workers, tourists, families, etc. to check out a bike to use throughout the city then return it to any of the bike share stations.  You just have to like this idea on many levels.  Can’t wait to see this take effect.

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