Thrive Announces 4 Cities Receive Funding To Spark Catalytic Community Projects

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Thrive Regional Partnership announces that four cities in the greater Chattanooga region have received $20,000 of seed funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation to implement catalytic community projects, as a result of completing the 2018 Thriving Communities program. The creative placemaking program is designed to create asset-based community vibrancy and growth by leveraging arts and cultural assets.

“Each of these communities has worked diligently over the past year to identify ways to build on their unique arts and culture assets,” said Kathleen Nolte, program officer of the Lyndhurst Foundation. “Most importantly, the teams have engaged community members and tested their ideas to make sure they are headed in the right direction. We are so excited by the creativity of each community. We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to seeing their progress for years to come.”

Lyndhurst’s funding will catalyze the following projects that advance each city’s strategy:

The city of Athens has animated a vacant lot downtown to become a creative nucleus called “Pocket Park,” a place for public gatherings, art projects, and civic engagement. With seed funding, Athens will engage artists, landscapers, and design architects to create a vibrant experience with art installations, interactive features, and pop-up events to connect, engage, and energize residents and visitors. 

“The Thriving Communities adventure has been the catalyst to spark other projects that are taking place within the heart of our city,” said Lisa Dotson of Athens. “In addition to Pocket Park, we have brought the community together for Civic Saturdays, and creating a historic walking tour of downtown Athens, as well as several other projects that animate previously vacant space. The beauty of this vision is watching the community come together to help us develop it!” 

Attendees of Decatur's Downtown Summer Nights can escape the heat during the outdoor concert series. The city plans to enhance the experience by adding shade structures, lighting, and public art. 

“Decatur is very excited for the opportunity to enhance our Downtown Summer Nights experience,” said Laura Smith, Thriving Communities team lead for Decatur. “The shade and lighting project will be functional in the summertime and new murals and utility art will enrich our quaint downtown atmosphere, adding elements of whimsy and fun year-round.” 

History will come to life in full color in Fort Oglethorpe’s Interactive Art Walk, a greenway that spans the city featuring public art installations. Notable pieces will include a mural that depicts the military history of Fort Oglethorpe, a “History Hop” interactive sidewalk game, and a “Fort O” letter sculpture. 

Whitwell is celebrating its storied past by building a historic replica of the old train depot and transforming it into a community center with open green space. The structure will be rebuilt from its original timber that was found in a community member’s barn. The space will anchor the community and serve as a gathering hub for performing and visual art. Since the culmination of the Thriving Communities program, the city commission of Whitwell has appointed a committee to advance the project.

“Thrive congratulates these four communities for their diligence and commitment to bettering the quality of life for the people of this region,” said Bridgett Massengill, president and CEO of Thrive Regional Partnership.  ”We equally extend our deepest appreciation to the generosity of the Lyndhurst Foundation for providing the funding that brings each community’s richly crafted vision to life.”

Since 2016, the Thriving Communities program has inspired innovation and  transformation in towns and cities, generating over $2 million of local investments and engaging 1,600 volunteers across the greater Chattanooga region, said officials. Thrive Regional Partnership is now accepting applications for the 2019 Thriving Communities program. Applications are due Friday. 

The Lyndhurst Foundation identifies and invests in initiatives, institutions, people and programs that contribute to the long-term livability and resilience of the greater Chattanooga region.

Thrive Regional Partnership is an independent nonprofit with a mission to ignite responsible and inspired growth across the tri-state region for the next four decades. Through communication, collaboration, analytics and innovation, Thrive optimizes community development opportunities while protecting the natural treasures and landscapes that define this special place, said officials. For more information about Thrive Regional Partnership, visit

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