2019 is the 12th 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 2019 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.
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!
Business or Business Owner Nominees
Manuel Delgado, owner of Delgado Guitars
Manuel Delgado has been a community activist for many years going back as least to 2010 when he was a key driver in neighborhood watch activities in the Eastwood neighborhood and served on the board of the Eastwood Neighborhood Association. He has dedicated his time and energy to many community causes. He serves on the Metro Arts Commission and is a strong supporter of music education programs in local school with a particular focus on mariachi music. He recently opened a live-music venue called the Music Makers Stage to showcase local singer-songwriters and musical talent.
Delgado’s character, history, abilities, artistry, dedicated engagement to his community, his unquestionable devotedness to his wife and daughters, and most importantly, his limitless kindness is the perfect representation of East Nashville culture and what makes this part of town unique. There are certainly scores of folks on this side of the river who exemplify one or two of those traits – but rare is an individual who shines with all of them.
Christian Paro, commercial developer
Christian Paro is responsible for the redevelopment of 1701 Fatherland Street, home of The Post (soon to be Frothy Monkey) as well as Center 615 and Studio 615. This year he took over Art & Invention Gallery and is in redevelopment of that property. In each of these cases, he has taken existing spaces and transformed them into vibrant work, co-work, and retail spaces that enhance the character of the community.
Alex Hulsey of Encircle Acupuncture, formerly known as East Nashville Community Acupuncture.
Alexa Hulsey began the business in January 2010 in a small location at the corner of Gallatin Avenue and West Eastland and then expanded into the building at 805 Woodland Street. In early October 2019 they expanded again, taking their concept to Bellevue to serve more Nashvillians on the West side of town.
Encircle Acupuncture provides their service on a sliding scale with the patient chosing for themselves what they can afford to pay on a visit-by-visit basis. Since opening in January 2010 they have provided over 200,000 affordable acupuncture treatments and treated over 21,000 individual patients. Roughly a third of their patients come from zip codes 37206 and 37216, so that’s nearly 7,000 East Nashvillians that they have helped.
Melanie Cochran, owner of The Wild Cow & Graze
Melanie Cochran uses her businesses as opportunities to raise consciousness and build support for causes and local charities. A few years ago Melanie used an encounter with a Metro Codes inspector to raise the need to change Metro Code requirements pertaining to single-staff bathrooms to permit them to be unisex. Melanie continues to advocate for progressive causes and to support the East Nashville neighborhood by offering unique food menu items and hiring neighbors to work in a diverse and accepting environment.
Nicole Minyard and Poverty and the Arts Gallery
Poverty and the Arts Gallery have developed relationships with area galleries and businesses to display artists’ work. They developed an online store to ensure maximum exposure and income earning potential for their artists. Nicole has been the driving force behind the success of the business, as she works tirelessly to be everything from CEO to marketing to personally hanging art at shows. Through the Center for Non-Profit Leadership, she continues to build a unique set of skills to achieve success. For those that utilize POVA and for those that support it, it is truly a haven and a represents the true East Nashville: where creativity and community are united.
Not just a cool vintage clothing store, but an artists’ event venue (poetry readings) and community space (affordable sewing classes, Depressed Cake Shop, other fundraisers). Real community-minded entrepreneurship.
Ryan Bailey, owner of Cumberland Kayak
Ryan just wrapped up his 5th season with this mobile downtown kayaking business, and it has seen tremendous growth each year since its inception. Not only do locals and tourists from all walks of life get to enjoy downtown Nashville from the beautiful Cumberland River with this urban adventure experience, but Cumberland Kayak has also played an instrumental role in giving back to our community in many ways. This is exemplified in CK’s 2 Percent For a Better World program: giving back 2 percent of all sales to local environmental non-profits, sponsoring monthly non-profit paddling events, participating in Nashville’s adopt-a-stream program, and facilitating monthly Cumberland River cleanups in which over 1,000 pounds of litter have been removed from our local river just this year alone.
Marilyn Greer has served as the vice president of the Cayce Residents Association for several years. In that role, Marilyn has been the spokesperson for Cayce residents on matters pertaining to the Envision Cayce Master Plan implementation zone changes and construction and relocation scheduling, as well as policing. Marilyn has also worked closely with area schools and ran the annual community Easter egg hunts and coat drives. She formed the group Positive Attitudes which provides mentoring relationships for teens and young women along with developing positive self-esteem and life skills. Marilyn was recently invited to join the board of the Martha O’Bryan Center.
Eric Hoke works at Nashville Civic Design Center downtown and was partly responsible for the planning and building of the “pop-up park” just north of the the East Nashville library on Gallatin.
District 7’s beautification coordinator for years, Anthony is responsible for all of the efforts on Riverside Drive and has been instrumental in several neighborhood clean-up iniatives.