Burwell Gardens

 

On the west corner of Burwell Avenue and McMillan Street in Knoxville, Tennessee, sat a vacant lot. To the north, Sharp’s Ridge rose in a sudden spine of hardwoods and undergrowth, brokering the notions of neighborhood loyalty between Oakwood-Lincoln Park and Inskip. A block away, running southeast, Central Avenue hummed with a calico array of colorful shops and businesses where North Knoxville’s varied yet distinct cadre of denizens spent it days. Yet for all this, the one lot stayed vacant. It once appeared to have been bushwhacked with some regularity, either by the city or by neighbors who had tired of the mosquitoes, but nobody bought it until the city acquired it and put it up for auction.

It was then that Colton and Tiffany Kirby, Benjamin and Molly Conaway, and John Human bought it and started Burwell Gardens. The idea was to kill two birds with one stone—pardoning the expression—and address both the issue of vacant lots (historically a potential attraction for crime, drug use, or a massive kudzu incursion) and the problem of fresh food shortages in the area. As of now, Burwell Gardens is officially part of the non-profit Cultivate Wholeness and is in the midst of raising funds for things like water lines and gardening materials.

Colton was kind enough to sit down and tell us a bit about the nature of what the Burwell folks are doing, the larger implications of community-oriented urban gardening, and the needs of the neighborhood.

FH: What’s the process your team underwent to get the land and work with the City of Knoxville?

Colton Kirby: We bought the property on auction, it was surplus real estate owned by the city. Acquiring it was pretty straightforward. We got a later start with it than what we wanted since we were at the mercy of the city regarding the closing date. However, once we closed, it was fairly smooth sailing. Since it is privately owned property, we can basically do whatever we want on there and since there are several laws in place that encourage gardening and small-scale urban farming, we’ve not hit any major snags yet.

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Thank You, Thank You!

We’re excited to give you another episode in our film series. This time, we’ve partnered with Robert Allen at The War Room to bring you a song by Glen Phillips, front man of Toad the Wet Sprocket and an excellent writer. We hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

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Halloween and Tradition

For Halloween, we’re excited to present something a little new. We’ve made our first foray into audio publishing! We’re only partly calling it a podcast for now. We thought we’d dip our toe in the water and see how you felt about it. Editors Janna Barber and Adam Whipple sat down with musician, producer, and ceramic artist David Clifton, who has lived both in England and in Knoxville, Tennessee, for a discussion about Halloween and the value of tradition.

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Kids’ Music, for Grown-Ups

Many of us here are Foundling House are both parents and appreciators of fine music. This means we try to pass a love of good music on to our children, though this can be a difficult task at times. There exists a vast and nigh-impregnable jungle of subpar kids’ music out there—all of which will go unnamed here. Suffice it to say, it’s often designed to appeal quickly to children with the bare offering a danceable beat. Or it’s overly sentimental—the sonic and lyrical equivalent of trying to stand on a waterbed.

We remember being kids in the seventies and eighties, and some of us raised kids or had young siblings during the nineties. The Muppets and Sesame Street reigned supreme, with their apparent rock influences pushing into the music. Then there were shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which had that stellar piano combo and compositions put together by jazz great Johnny Costa, and later Blue’s Clues, which featured percussion-based jazz with cool world elements. The creators of these shows took obvious care in selecting music which was as good as the entertainment value of the productions. Plus, they seemed to think that kids could actually handle listening to excellent music.

The notion that kids need decent music as much as adults is home territory for us. Therefore, we’re taking the time to point you in the direction of a pair of wonderful offerings from a couple different artists.

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The WordPlayers Present: Little Women

For the fourth year in a row, The WordPlayers are bringing a musical production to the historic Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville. Louisa May Alcott’s beloved story about the adventures of the four March sisters will be brought to life this weekend in Little Women: The Broadway Musical.

It’s fitting that this particular production, being based on a novel that’s all about family, is in many ways a family affair. The show is being directed by veteran WordPlayer Terri Lloyd, and her husband Matthew is the Stage Manager. Lloyd also has four children and a niece involved in the musical, which premieres this Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re not a regular family,” says Lloyd. “Regular families go to soccer practice. We take broadsword lessons.” Lessons that came in handy when choreographing a fight scene written by the headstrong Jo March, the second of the four siblings.

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