2017 is the 10th year of an annual award highlighting people and businesses who exemplify the best of all the positive aspects of life in East Nashville. There is one winner in each of two categories. The first is for a business or business owner that in 2017 portrayed the best of what East Nashville has to offer. The second award is for a private citizen who best symbolizes what being a good East Nashville neighbor means.
Winners will receive a $200 prize and community recognition.
Only one person from each category can be named East Nashvillian of the Year, but all of these people and businesses deserve our respect and thanks for their commitment to our neighborhood. Please be sure to offer congratulations to any of these individuals you may see in the near future, they deserve it!
Citizen of the Year Nominees
Melia and Ryan Arnold
"I'd like to nominate Melia and Ryan Arnold for the citizen of the year award. They are a family of 4 that lives on the corner of Scott and Benjamin and they sponsored a neighborhood painting activity this summer that brought a lot of people together to do something positive as a community. They have a fence that runs along one side of their property that was ready for some paint. On a Saturday morning neighbors and friends gathered to paint symbols of community and love. I was truly touched and feel that they are doing what they can to be a positive light in the midst of everything going on in the world."
"I am writing to nominate philanthropist George Boedecker for East Nashvillian of the Year in the Citizen category.
Unlike so many people who have seen opportunities in East Nashville, the opportunities George saw here were not designed to line his own pockets, but rather to enrich our community, and particularly to help those among us who are less fortunate.
George is best-known as the founder, inventor, and creative visionary behind Crocs. While he is still actively involved with Crocs, George spends the majority of his time on philanthropic work through The Boedecker Foundation, which is self-endowed.
George moved to East Nashville in 2012. In the five years since his arrival, he has provided funding of nearly $6 million through his foundation to local charities, including The Nashville Rescue Mission, Special Olympics of Middle Tennessee, Cumberland Heights, Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, YMCA of Middle Tennessee, and East Nashville's Fannie Battle Day Home for Children, to whom he has made a significant commitment.
This past year, The Boedecker Foundation purchased the properties at 1600 Porter Road, 1600 Riverside Drive, and 1606 Riverside Drive, including the church property at the corner of Porter and Riverside. George is in the process of developing an East Nashville community co-op on those properties, which will include a performance space, meeting and office space for area nonprofits, and a nonprofit culinary school with a weekly farmer's market.
In addition to his foundation work, George's record label, Melvin Records, has released recordings by East Nashville artists such as Hard Working Americans (Todd Snider's new band), Elizabeth Cook, and Turbo Fruits.
All in all, it's hard to imagine anyone who has made greater contributions to the East Nashville community or who has made a greater commitment to our community over the past couple of years than George Boedecker. With that in mind, I strongly urge the selection committee to recognize George's contributions and commitment to East Nashville by naming him East Nashvillian of the Year in the Citizen category."
Erin & Willy Daunic
"Erin & Willy consistently host friends and family in their own home but most importantly at Thanksgiving...when they stretch a table that runs through almost every room and doorway...and everyone without a place to go is invited. It is magical!!!!
Additionally, Willy, a former Vanderbilt basketball and baseball player, who knew nothing about hockey, has brought us all into the game with his play by play. We all love the Preds!
Together they have been a force in East Nashville for 20 years...Erin's brother Colin and Willy's parents live here now too!"
"Anthony Davis has fought for our neighborhoods on the council, volunteered at Statford, headed up cooper creek clean ups and planting cherry trees on Riverside Drive."
"For citizen I nominate Susannah Felts of The Porch, Nashville's literary nonprofit. That organization does SO much good in East Nash and beyond, from free writing classes for refugees to Versify podcast, which got an award from NPR."
Charlie Friedman, head of school at Nashville Classical Charter School
"I'd like to nominate Charlie Friedman, head of school at Nashville Classical Charter School for ENOTY.
Charlie is also an E. Nashville resident. He orchestrated a 1.5 million dollar renovation to 1310 Ordway Pl. including a public playground for the neighborhood at no cost to the city's capital budget. His school won the Mayor's Summer Reading Challenge and the school itself is serving mostly poor students of color (70% are minorities and 65% qualify for free or reduced lunch) who also live in the E. Nashville vicinity.
Despite these challenges, the school outscored Williamson County in reading this year. They also ranked 5th out of 81 Davidson County elementary schools in combined reading and math proficiency. NCCS ranked #1 in combined reading and math proficiency among charter elementary school.
In summary, Charlie is doing wonderful things for disadvantaged kids from the neighborhood and is doing so by improving buildings, adding playgrounds and overall being a great E. Nashville neighbor."
"I'd like to nominate Derek Hoke who runs $2 Tuesday at the 5 spot."
"I would like to nominate Stacie Huckeba for the East Nashville Citizen of the Year.
Stacie has been an east-sider for as long as I can remember...dating back to at least 2006. She loved this neighborhood...even when it was just a neighborHOOD.
She is a voice for tolerance, acceptance, and transparency through her writing contributions to
The Huff Post as well as within her social media communities.
Three ways that she exemplifies outstanding neighborliness are:
1. A refuge for local and traveling musicians. Any given night you will find her on her back deck with neighborhood artists or those passing through town hosting casually cozy pickin' parties.
2. The Shoe Doesn't Fit campaign. After being gifted a pair of Ivanka Trump high heels, she turned an accessory into a work of art. She didn't have go more than 11 miles from her house to find more than 50 people from literally ALL walks of life (transgender, refugees, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc) who "didn't fit" into the Trump administration's agenda. She took photos of people in the heels and collected statements on how these participants' lives didn't mirror that of what our national politics currently represents. She turned those photos and statements into a visual docu-series that was displayed at Art & Invention. Proceeds from the event were donated to the ACLU.
3. The Face of Homelessness. For many years, Stacie has been dedicated to entrenching herself within the (East) Nashville homeless community. In a very hands-on way, she has worked to befriend these forgotten neighbors by collecting supplies to help keep them warm and fed during the winter."
"I'm writing to nominate Josh Unruh for the East Nashvillian of the Year in the Citizen category.
Josh does own an East Nashville based business (
http://www.inglewoodarmory.com) and work in East Nashville as a barista at Ugly Mugs. You're sure to find that everyone who comes into contact with him in either situation finds that he's one of the kindest and most empathetic people they'll ever meet. And while could go on about his personality, it's his volunteer work in the East Nashville community that I'd like to feature.
Last year, Josh began a community program for local school-aged children called the Heroes Guild (
http://www.theheroesguild.com , https://www.facebook.com/theheroesguildTN/ ). The Heroes Guild is an after-school program that meets on Wednesdays for the purpose of leading the attending students through role playing games. That's right, it's an after-school program about Dungeons & Dragons. Technically, it's a different game that's more appropriate for kids, but basically the same thing. Josh recruited about half a dozen other game masters to help run the Wednesday afternoon sessions. His first involved around 17 students split between four or five groups. These kids learned to collaborate, practice decision-making and increased their creative skills while getting to meet other students they may never have the chance to otherwise. The first semester lasted several weeks and ended with each of the "tables" having their gaming campaign unite to conclude the mission as one large group. And, if that wasn't enough, there was an important lesson in the mission too. The quest revolved around a Godzilla like Kaiju beast terrorizing the seaside. But, rather than kill it, the students came to understand that this giant beast was actually an important part of the ecosystem. So, in the end, they collectively decided to protect the beast, let it lay an egg, and return to the ocean (instead of killing it). And, while the fantasy context could seem silly to you, it allowed them to come to a decision that showed there were other successful options than merely collective violence.
Josh is currently in the second semester of an expanded program that offers opportunities for play to even more students. Just check out the Facebook link above to see some great photos. As of yet, I don't believe Josh has taken any money for himself to do this. He just does it because he thinks it's important for these kids to have the chance for this type of activity.
I hope you'll consider Josh Unruh for your award as he's a dedicated East Nashvillian who actively tries to better this community."
Business of the Year Nominees
Jessie Bower - Owner of Steluta and Fort Louise
"For business owner I nominate Jessie Bower of Steluta and Fort Louise; she is a doll, basically the mayor of Riverside Village, and amazingly involved, creative, go-getter neighbor. And THANK GOODNESS for Ft. Louise's amazing food.
Robbie Drimmer - Realtor
"I'd like to nominate my neighbor/realtor/good friend Robbie Drimmer for East Nashvillian of the year. Robbie's success as a realtor is entirely dependent on the relationships he's developed through the years. He cares (a lot) about this community and is it's biggest advocate. I also know he proudly supports this neighborhood's beautification efforts and has received awards from Mayor Barry for his efforts.
Robbie was recently named #2 Realtor of the Year by Village Real Estate and was named East Nashville's "Local Expert" by Nashville Real Producers Magazine.
Robbie's also a devoted father to his 1-year-old son, Grayson, husband to Mara and is a very loyal, genuinely caring friend. Such a good friend, in fact, that after being friends for 4 years, we moved in next door."
Lisa McCauley - Founder & Owner of The East Nashvillian
"I nominate Lisa McCauley for ENOTY!
Obviously, her leadership with the magazine and blog are huge for our community. I love her passion for EN, her continued involvement. I love that she is always trying to bring our neighborhood together, and is a real champion for our small businesses. And really, the EN blog is my main source of information about our community, and that information keeps me involved with our community. So really... she's just a huge community-builder, and I'm super-grateful for that!"
Margot McCormack - Owner of Margot Cafe & Bar
I've been fortunate to work for Margot McCormack at Margot cafe & bar for two & a half years. Here's what I can tell you about why I think she should be this year's East Nashvillian:
16 years ago, Margot trail blazed this neighborhood and brought the area fine dining in an unpretentious but still special environment.
within those 16 years Margot has created a place that is welcoming. Locals know it's a best kept secret, and tourists rave about the high standards of food, service, and atmosphere she provides.
you'll often see Margot outside the premises tending to her planters and flowers, making sure she is representing the neighborhood well.
as an East Nashville resident, Margot works & lives in this vibrant community. She has made this her home for years.
Margot is passionate about using as many local products as possible. On any given night you can see upwards of 90% of the produce she uses coming from local farmers.
Margot rocks. She is a kick-ass woman, business owner, & community member. You'd be foolish not to feature her as East Nashvillian Of The Year!!"
Ms. Paulette - Owner of The Wilburn Street Tavern
"I would like to nominate Ms. Paulette Owens.
Ms. Paulette took over The Wilburn Street Tavern back in February of 2013.
The bar has brought positive change to the Cleveland park neighborhood.
It's a place that brings all kinds of different people together and everyone is welcome at Ms. Paulette bar.
The way she runs the Tavern reflects what East Nashville has always meant to me."
Vero Sanchez - Owner of The Bowery Vault
"I'd like to nominate Vero Sanchez who runs The Bowery Vault."
Todd and Coral (Cory) Sherwood - Owners of the 5 Spot
"I would like to nominate Todd and Coral (Cory) Sherwood from the 5 Spot as the business citizens of the year.
The 5 Spot has been a support system for East Nashville for years but this year was an incredibly hard year for them they lost both an employee, Ben Eyestone and their owner Diane Carrier. In spite of their loss, they managed to turn all of our pain into something good by making donations to organizations like Music Matters in their names to help others.
The 5 Spot also is a great supporter of our LGBTQ community as well as our immigrant community and goes out of its way to employ people from all types of ethnic, cultural backgrounds & sexual orientations regardless of what county they come from. Their embrace of diversity does not stop there. Their entertainment and live music calendar cover a broad range of music styles, influences and brings in one of the most diverse crowds in Nashville. Any night in there you are bound to find something different… Soul Sunday's are a particularly amazing night!
They are just fine and wonderful people! If anyone needs help, they are there, if there is a fundraiser that needs to be held, they will open their doors, if someone needs a job, they will find them one.
And they are active in the overall community of not just East Nashville but all of Nashville and the entire music community. You can find one of them at any number of meetings and events that require community action.
East Nashville would not be East Nashville without the love and support of Todd & Cory and everyone at the 5 Spot and I personally would like to see us give something back to them!"