2021 is the 14th 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 2021 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.
The 2021 Nominees
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!
"Jessica Doyle - community activist and elite East Nashville neighbor has consistently been a driving force being community and empowerment of the justice and righteousness that our world needs!"
Lockeland Springs Park Expansion Volunteer Committee
"I am part of a volunteer committee made up of Lockeland Springs neighbors who have been working for the last year to expand Lockeland Springs Park. The Park was heavily damaged in the March 2020 Tornado and Lockeland Springs neighbors have been working hard to re-tree and restore it. During COVID many residents re-discovered the Park and the history of the springs that give it its name, not realizing that the land that connects it to Shelby Golf Course was privately owned. We have been trying to secure the private property that was long for sale at the end of Forrest Avenue with the hope of adding it to Lockeland Springs Park - tripling the size of the park, connecting it to Shelby, and protecting the land from development forever. We have been working with the Trust for Public Land to raise $1.6m to purchase 4 acres from the new owners and believe that as of next Tuesday we will have reached that goal through private and public fundraising. TennGreen will hold the conservation easement and Metro Parks has agreed to accept the property. We are all volunteers and have been hitting the pavement raising money neighbor by neighbor. Stage One is securing the land. Stage Two is working on the park development and management, which will happen with neighborhood input. I'd like to submit our Volunteer Committee (members include Bo Parr, Jim Polk, Noam Pikelny, Caitlin Canty, Jim Gregory, Zach Layne, RebeccaJean Smith, Elizabeth Smith, Erin Kice, and myself, Keri Adams) for Volunteer(s) of the Year. This was a crazy audacious goal and we're thrilled to have made it happen. Our committee has worked incredibly hard over the last year to protect one of the last pockets of undeveloped land in Lockeland Springs. Thank you for your consideration."
"Carrie has spent a year and a half educating the East Nashville and surrounding areas about COVID protocols and the importance of getting the vaccine. She has brought her Vanderbilt co-workers to several YMCAs and other businesses to set up shop in the parking lot to give out free shots. She has done this tirelessly with passion. I have seen her in action and she works around the clock to educate and serve others with regard to safety in the community."
Nicole Brandt Minyard
"Nicole Brandt Minyard started Daybreak Arts (formerly Poverty and the Arts) as a college student in 2014. While in college, Nicole moved to East Nashville where she remained a resident after graduation. Daybreak Arts Studio & Gallery has been located along Dickerson Pike in East Nashville since May 2018. Over those years, the organization has organized community murals and block parties, hosted Nashville Design Week panels about poverty and accessibility, and built relationships with local businesses all over East Nashville. From 2019-2021, Nicole Minyard served as Board Secretary for the Dickerson Road Merchants Association (DRMA) and used her nonprofit background to help reignite the merchant's association after years of inactivity.
Daybreak Arts is a social enterprise nonprofit that creates artistic and economic opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity by providing them access to an art studio, quality supplies, artistic and business workshops, and gallery representation so they can have the opportunity to create and sell their work. The Daybreak Arts model is a unique model nationally because it functions as both a collective and marketplace where artists hold creative autonomy to create, explore, and sell their work in a supportive space. The proceeds from investing in the art go both to the artist as well as the organization which reinvests to provide supplies, space, and training to the artists at no-cost to them.
Since 2014, Nicole has helped Daybreak Arts serve more than 100 people and pay out more than $55,000 to artists experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity in Nashville, TN. She has helped provide marginalized artists a platform to reclaim their voice and share their experiences (both good and bad) with our Nashville community. From recruiting the local news to expose the artists' experiences with inaccessible bus transportation and affordable housing to finding premiere opportunities to highlight the artists' creative talent and artwork, Nicole is always finding ways to amplify the artists' and their historically excluded stories. Through these opportunities, the Daybreak artists have new ways to interact with the community, instead of feeling like they are dependent or alienated from everyone. They begin to recognize the creative skills they already possess and can share with others.
In 2020 and 2021, the nonprofit went through a complete overhaul and changed the organization's name and brand to Daybreak Arts (formerly "Poverty and the Arts"). Prioritizing inclusion, all of the nonprofit's participating artists were invited to provide feedback throughout the process including submitting name ideas, icon ideas, and tagline ideas, in addition to providing feedback on various messaging and design options. The icon/logo that was created was inspired by the organization's first artist, Kateri."
Business or Business Owner Nominees
Chark Kinsolving, Eastside Bowl
"I'm nominating Mr Kinsolving for bringing a multi use entertainment venue to our diverse area which was devoid of activities for the entire family. Also, this two plus year project kept many of our out of work, touring musicians employed during Covid as many have more talents than just the music that they produce. So, out of the horrors of the tornado and all of the devastation, both economic and human, he has given the community a vibrant place to come together, once more, while elevating the spirit."
Courtney and Jarod DeLozier, Ugly Mugs
"These dear, wonderful, loving human beings have been faithfully (and with nurture and care) making coffee for our community for more than a decade and have made the decision to hand it off to new owners. They served just after the tornado when many lost so much and much of the neighborhood was without power and they stayed open during the pandemic with delivery and curbside service to keep the community caffeinated and with at least some human contact. Couldn't love them more and would love for them to be recognized for all they've done, on their way out!"
Nathan Gifford, Gifford's Bacon
"Nathan Gifford's East Nashville bacon and smoked meats business has popped up seemingly out of nowhere, with quality products. He exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit East Nashville struggles to keep alive after decades of gentrification. Nathan always has a new collaborative project from sales at the local Krogers to bacon Goo Goo Clusters to tie-ins with local restaurants. He always has a different and great offering at the East Nashville farmers market, and the other vendors have expressed that they enjoy his presence and positive energy. There's always a new and engaging offering at his shop on the weekends, and some are even educational. Nathan really understands how to engage with his community. I've been impressed and inspired by his perpetual humble positivity."
John Dyke, Turnip Truck
"John Dyke founded Turnip Truck in East Nashville 20 years ago, with the goal of bringing his neighbors and friends the healthiest food available in Middle Tennessee. Two decades and three stores later, John still lives in the same home in 5 Points -- and is still going to work at Turnip Truck in East Nashville every day, with the same goal of serving his neighbors.
John has led Turnip Truck through many of East Nashville's highs and lows. The past two years have challenged the home-grown grocer, but Turnip Truck persevered -- keeping the doors open and the lights on the day after the tornado, keeping the shelves stocked and the store staffed through the pandemic and keeping the focus on supporting local farmers and community health.
This year, John decided to give back to the community in celebration of his 20th anniversary. For an entire month, the store treated customers and guests to free samples and giveaways, while also featuring local farmers and producers. Throughout the pandemic, they have donated food through Second Harvest Food Bank and The Store, including 500 bags of groceries for those in need. Whether they're teaming up with friends at Bongo Java to support Warner School or helping Nashville Tree Conservation Corps replant East Nashville's tree canopy following the tornado, Turnip Truck and John are constantly doing good behind the scenes in the community. Turnip Truck provides second chances in the Nashville community through partnerships with Dismas House, Thistle Farms, Mending Hearts and Project Return. John and Turnip Truck are proud supporters of the East Nashville Farmers Market, LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Organic Growers Association. From supporting local pollinators with rooftop beehives to supporting local producers whose products line their shelves, Turnip Truck is deeply rooted and invested in East Nashville.
These examples illustrate how Turnip Truck has quietly and faithfully supported East Nashville for 20 years and counting. For this reason and many more, I nominate John Dyke of Turnip Truck as East Nashvillian of the Year."
Mimi Gerber, East Nashville Family Medicine
"Miriam Gerber, better know as Mimi, is an absolute favorite amongst the East Nashville community. She has been a tireless helper for all of her neighbors for years, so much that she wanted to make a fulltime job of it. She made plans to open a local office, East Nashville Family Medicine, in 2014. Mimi's brand of medicine is uniquely personal and compassionate for all those she takes care of, constantly working hard to be present for the patient. When she identifies a need, she quickly steps up to fill the gap. Her infectious laugh booms through the East Nashville Family Medicine office and into your heart from the moment you step through the door. She carries a kind smile for anyone in need and always leaves you with a feeling of warmth, caring and understanding. Known for championing her patients, staff and community members, Mimi is a true pillar of this town. The examples of her devotion to her patients are too vast to mention. Her personal phone calls to check on the sick, coming in when the office is supposed be closed to help a patient in need, to walking from her home to the office during undrivable weather conditions to ensure our patients are receiving the care they deserve, Mimi Gerber is an outstanding individual. When the pandemic hit, she quickly adjusted to provide expanded capacity and offer testing to the community. She provides a listening ear and uplifting advice for patients and staff members alike. There is not a day that goes by when we do not hear; Hey! I know Mimi! Always up for a good time, Mimi participates in the local Tomato Festival every year by volunteering East Nashville Family Medicine as the official medical tent to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all festival goers. In that same vein, Mimi is a lover of art and music. She encourages growth and creativity. Mimi supports our local business owners and artists by displaying their artwork in the office and frequenting their establishments. To sum it up, Mimi goes above and beyond to keep East Nashville healthy and we appreciate the opportunity to nominate Miriam Gerber for East Nashvillian of the Year."