What makes Lookout Mountain home

Only five miles from Chattanooga, spread across the top of a beautiful and richly storied mountain – two communities that cross the state lines of Tennessee and Georgia come together to make up Lookout Mountain.

A wonderful place for young and old, for families and professionals, to carve out a space between the life of the city and the quiet of the blue sky. This is the heart of the mountain. It’s what makes us a community, and makes Lookout Mountain home.

Own a Little Piece of Lookout

image description

Community. It’s the word people use most when asked why they love living on Lookout. But a picture’s worth a thousand words.

That’s why LMS students have dedicated almost six weeks’ worth of art classes creating community-themed murals on canvas, to be auctioned off during the LMS Carnival on September 23.

Each class has painted their own collaborative masterpiece, representing things like Point Park, Sunset Rock, a Lookout neighborhood, even the Carnival itself. Kindergarteners personalized their painting with fingerprint flowers, while third graders are learning complex concepts like figure drawing and proportion to capture the action of a Commons baseball game.

“We’ve had to combine about three lessons into one each week,” says LMS art teacher Toni Gwaltney. “These kids didn’t even know how to use acrylic paint. We’ve really had to stretch ourselves.”

Of course, stretching is nothing new for Gwaltney, who has expanded the artistic vocabulary of LMS students for more than two decades. Utilizing watercolor, clay, tempera, tissue paper and even “kitchen drawer junk” she has linked Picasso to math, Impressionism to science. She’s even integrated fractions into her lesson plans.

“I regularly ask the other teachers what they’re covering so we can integrate it into art class,” she explains. “Art inspires passion and get kids interested in other subjects – it can help make connections to the real world. I think you have to get emotionally involved in what you’re learning. Otherwise, who cares?”

Art inspires passion and get kids interested in other subjects – it can help make connections to the real world. I think you have to get emotionally involved in what you’re learning. Otherwise, who cares?

The idea for the banners came from Boosterthon Chairman Heather Biebel, who approached Gwaltney last year. The main tag line for Boosterthon this year is “community,” and all teachers try to incorporate it into their lesson plans throughout the year.

The four-foot wide works of art will be displayed at Carnival next week, but you can submit an early bid by emailing lookoutmountainschoolpta@gmail.com (include the amount and name of mural). Early bids will be accepted via email until Monday, September 22 at 9 p.m., or you can bid the day of Carnival. The auction will close at 7:00 p.m. on September 23.

If you can’t manage to get your hands on the real thing, be sure to order commemorative note cards, mugs and magnets featuring images from the different murals. LMS parent Kristi Murray will be taking orders at the Marketplace booth during Carnival, or you can pre-order (click here for an order form).

The money raised from the community banners will directly benefit each LMS student, going toward programs not funded by the state such as science lab, daily PE classes, the Writing to Read program, and of course – art classes.

If that’s not a real-world integration of “community,” I don’t know what is.

To preview the murals or access the order form for note cards, mugs and magnets click here.

Lookout Mountain Mother Shatters the Silence

image description

It's a disease very few want to talk about. So treatment, let alone prevention, can be tricky. That’s why for the past nine years the MCR Foundation has been working to break the silence of Eating Disorders, or ED. This weekend, you can do your part by participating in their annual event, A Walk for Cammy’s Cause.

“There’s a stigma to eating disorders,” says Jan Robinson, chairman of MCR Foundation. “It’s still not talked about; people view it as shameful. I feel like the average Joe doesn’t say ‘I’ll walk for eating disorders.’ But supporting it doesn’t mean you have it, and there’s nothing wrong if you do.”

Instead, walking for MCR supports the promotion of positive body image and shoring up self-esteem in a world bent on breaking it down. MCR provides hope in seemingly hopeless situations, meaning women (and men) don’t struggle in silence.

The longer it goes on the harder it is to treat,” says Robinson. “Getting help as quickly as you can is paramount, and preventing it is even better.

MCR began in 2006, shortly after Jan and her husband, Wejun lost their daughter, Mary Cameron Robinson (Cammy) to complications stemming from a 14 year battle with all three disorders. After many years of therapy and time spent in a treatment center in Arizona, the vibrant 26-year-old seemed to be on the road to recovery. She had met the love of her life and they were planning to marry. Then one morning, Jan and Wejun got the phone call that Cammy’s heart had stopped and she was on her way to Erlanger.

The idea for a foundation came from Cammy’s best friend, Ashley Yates. She approached Jan about six months after Cammy’s passing and the two women dove right in, coordinating the first walk in September of that year.

Today the Foundation has become the foremost authority in the tri-state area for E.D. In addition to teaching positive body image curriculum in middle and high schools, Jan works one-on-one with anyone who calls.

“I’m leaving here to meet with a woman who contacted us after seeing an interview I did on TV,” she says. “One of the most rewarding things is when I can tell someone there’s hope for their child or their wife. It’s not necessarily going to be easy, but people do get through this.”

MCR also hosts “Talk Abouts,” small group gatherings aimed at educating parents, grandparents, counselors and even doctors and dentists about the warning signs of E.D. Usually held in someone’s home, the sessions encourage questions and educate in a non-threatening setting. “We’ve had doctors say, ‘I didn’t know that,’” says Robinson.

This November, Jan and her family will also be the subject of an international book by Spanish photographer, Laia Abril. The photobook, titled The Epilogue, is a somber look at the collateral victims of eating disorders. Her statement in the book perfectly sums up her passion for the work she does through MCR.

“I finally allowed myself to understand that everything I did, I did it with love, and I would never have hurt her in any way, knowingly. People said: ‘You would not have done any different.’ But yes, I would have.”

A Walk for Cammy's Cause. Saturday, September 6 at Coolidge Park. 9:30 a.m. registration; 10:00 a.m. walk.To register visit MCR's website

Brow Wood Redefines Living in the Later Years

image description

You can call Brow Wood many things; just don’t call it a retirement community.

The word ‘retirement’ kind of bothered us,” says founder Frank Brock. “It seems to say that you’re giving up. We use the term ‘active adult living community.’ The big difference is people get to make all their own choices.

In a retirement community, people don’t own their homes and it’s the operator’s call of when they move up to the next level of care. At Brow Wood, residents make their own living choices – and they have plenty to choose from including architecturally designed homes with stunning brow views, open concept one-story townhomes, and monthly rentals for those who don’t want the burden of home ownership. Home health is available to anyone on the property, and the HOA fees include lawn service.

But the most exciting aspect of Brow Wood will begin this month, when its state-of-the-art assisted living facility is slated to break ground. With 49 rooms, including 15 dedicated to memory loss/mental impairment, the $10 million complex represents one of the largest investments on Lookout Mountain in 30 years outside of Covenant College, says Brock, who served as college president for 15 years.

The Village at Brow Wood is one of the largest investments on Lookout Mountain in 30 years, outside of Covenant College.

Dubbed The Village at Brow Wood, the facility will be a resort-style luxury community providing daily care for residents including nutrition, safety, and health monitoring. Every aspect is thoughtfully designed with unequaled attention to detail. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Village’s commitment to cutting-edge technologies.

“The technology used will allow doctors to ‘see’ inside the daily lives of their patients,” says Kevin Kuykendall of Thrive Senior Living, an Atlanta firm hired to operate The Village. “With the data and information we will provide, they will be empowered to better manage their patients’ lives, having a direct impact on the resident’s quality of life.”

State-of-the-art personal call systems allow residents in distress to simply press their personal alert pendant for rapid assistance. Those with memory impairment will benefit from discreet 24/7 monitoring systems, which feature advanced motion sensor technology that is capable of “learning” the daily activity patterns of residents, sending an alert to caregivers in potentially urgent situations.

The Villages is also on the cutting edge of non-pharmacological intervention, such as a specialized computer program that presents new ways of helping residents sustain treatment from third party healthcare providers for longer periods of time. Senior friendly exercise equipment will help foster purposeful living, with machines designed to enhance strength, range of motion and cardiovascular conditioning. Finally, every resident will undergo a comprehensive assessment at the time of move in, after the first month and every quarter following that.

“What attracted us to them is they specialize in smaller, boutique facilities,” explains Brock. “We share the same vision. They create home-like environments in their facilities and believe in the importance of hiring people who view taking care of older people as a calling. When you walk in, you just feel it’s different.”

When you walk in, you just feel it's different.

Everything within the Brow Wood property is geared toward community and convenience. Separated by Scenic Highway, the woodland side will house The Village at Brow Wood, up to 40 townhomes and a commercial area that might someday feature a doctor’s office, sundry shop, beauty parlor and eatery. On the brow side, up to 50 homeowners have access to a bocce ball court, outdoor pavilion with fireplace, fishing pond and impressive community garden.

“I learned from Covenant that outdoor spaces foster community,” explains Brock. He moved into his three-bedroom home last July, one of three homes already built. So far 21 lots are sold or under contract, with several planning to start building this fall. With all the types of housing available, Brock hopes to attract people from all walks of life.

“We want to cover everyone from pastors and professors to doctors and lawyers,” he says. “We feel that diversity represents how the Lookout Mountain community already is, and we want to stay true to that.”

For more information, visit www.browwood.com

Good Shepherd's Mass in the Grass

image description

This Sunday, The Church of the Good Shepherd will knock down the walls of their typical worship service…and blow off the roof. That’s because they’re moving the liturgy onto their front lawn with Mass in the Grass, an open-air service featuring the music of the Dismembered Tennesseans. Everyone is invited.

“Often there’s a real barrier for people approaching a new worship community because they don’t know what’s inside the walls,” says Rector Robert Childers. “When you do something without walls it says ‘come on.’ I think it’s important to open the year with this type of celebration. It sets the tone.”

Often there’s a real barrier for people approaching a new worship community because they don’t know what’s inside the walls. When you do something without walls it says ‘come on.’

The service is BYOB (bring your own blanket…or chair), but kids often scale the trees for a better view. In the sloping green amphitheater in front of the church, people will recite the Nicene Creed in shorts, sunglasses and flip flops.

“There’s a wonderful feeling of openness and community that sometimes you can’t get within church walls,” says Childers. “It’s inspirational on my end to look out and see that happening, and then try to hold onto that and bring it inside.”

The idea for Mass in the Grass came three years ago, when Director of Music and Organist John Wigal suggested utilizing the talents of choir member Fletcher Bright and his bluegrass band. This year, another parishioner will offer his gift of the grill. Ryan Coulter, chief smoker for Rolling Smoke Food Truck, will prepare a barbecue lunch after the service. (No reservations required.)

While relatively new, it’s quickly become one of the favorite services of the year – an informal celebration of the end of summer and the start of a new church and school year. In addition to welcoming new worshippers, Childers hopes it will also spark something new among lifelong church members.

I’ve realized that even a physical move of a few yards allows you to see the worship service, yourself and each other in a different light,” he says. “It pushes you in a different direction and offers a new perspective. I can’t predict where it will go, but I know it will open up new and holy possibilities of how we live together, and how we live our life in Christ.

Music on the Mountain This Weekend to Benefit Fairyland Elementary School

image description

This afternoon, kids at the Fairyland Elementary afterschool program will take a robotics class, twirl in ballet, strum a guitar or get help with their homework from a certified teacher. Earlier today, they may have learned algebra on a Promethean board – a state-of-the-art interactive whiteboard – or researched Christopher Columbus on an iPad.

Regardless, you can bet they’ll be ready for end-of-year testing. This past year, every single fifth grader passed the CRCT writing test, including special education and economically disadvantaged students.

Fairyland is the perfect example of what a public school is supposed to be,” says Louisa Hurst, FES parent and chair of Music on the Mountain. “They do a great job of getting to know the student and helping them where they need it.

But this quality of education comes at a hefty price. The school receives no money from the city and is not economically disadvantaged enough to qualify for Title 1 federal funding, so everything in their budget comes from Walker County and whatever the Parent/Teacher Organization can raise.

In the past, the PTO has relied on magazine sales for a fall fundraiser. This year they have something far more interesting planned– the first annual Music on the Mountain. “We wanted something that will engage the entire Lookout Mountain community, not just people who have children at Fairyland,” says Caroline Williams, PTO president and mother of three at FES.

The evening will benefit the PTO’s Fairyland Education Fund, charged with raising $140,000 this year. Each year, the PTO spends roughly $575 per student. Besides Promethean boards and iPads, they have funded extra teachers, a fine arts program, extra supplies for teachers, upgraded physical education equipment, mulch on the playground and more.

“We try to hit every facet of the school,” says Williams. “We can’t expect every parent to give, and not all can give what we may need them to. So we really look to the community and local businesses to supplement that.”

Budget cuts have put even more pressure on the parents. Georgia public schools have been experiencing budget cuts since 2001, including more than a billion dollars last year. Walker County’s budget was cut close to $7 million. “We’re turning the corner,” says Williams. “Governor Deal has given one-third of that money back for this year. But, it is an election year. We still have work to do.”

Enter, Music on the Mountain. The laidback evening celebrates everything great about living on Lookout including Chef Margaret Johnson’s barbeque and bluegrass from the Dismembered Tennesseans. Auction items include a Santa Rosa beach house, club level seats to the Iron Bowl, a 9-week-old Labrador Retriever, Disney Park Hopper Passes and Gurhan Earrings from Amanda Pinson. There’s even a chance to score a golf cart. For $100, you can enter a raffle for a one in 135 chance to win a shiny, apple red cart.

“No matter which state you live in, we are all one community,” says Williams. “We feel like this event will encompass that spirit.”

A special thanks to… Music on the Mountain Planning Committee: Louisa Hurst, Chair Sarah Lehn, Vice Chair Jennifer Deal, Auction Chair Caroline Williams, PTO President and Auction Co-Chair Justin Workman, Auction Co-Chair Kristy Pressley, PTO Vice President Melanie Reynolds Brennan Griffin Melanie Reynolds Michelle Workman Corporate Sponsors: Mountain View Auto Group Southern Surgical Arts The Mountain Girls Chattanooga Allergy Clinic Shadowbox Paperie

The Key to a High Flyin' Summer

image description

When was the last time you stared down a red-tail hawk, or had your hair rearranged by a swooping vulture? Every weekend until Labor Day you can get up close and personal with these fascinating birds (and others) with the Rock City Raptor show.

Held in the Critter Classroom four times a day, the interactive shows are hosted by Dale Kernahan and John Stokes, founders of the nonprofit Wings to Soar. The husband and wife team care for non-releasable birds of prey in hopes of connecting people with these impressive hunters.

During the show, they walk the aisles with each bird, allowing you to look into the large yellow eyes of a Barred Owl, or admire the blue and brown wings of an American Kestrel. You even get to meet Asta Yasha, a Bald Eagle with an interesting back story.

While you’re there, be sure to visit Lover’s Leap for live music compliments of Old Time Travelers. Chattanooga natives Clark Williams and Matt Downer pick their guitar and fiddle strings for passersby, filling the summer air with early Southern string band music (a predecessor to bluegrass).

Both the concert and bird show are free with the cost of admission as part of Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends, giving you yet another reason to see the garden’s more than 400 native species at their peak.

So the only question is…what are you doing this weekend?

On July 21, two peregrine falcons will be released into the wild thanks to Wings to Soar’s peregrine release program. Read more.

Remember you can purchase an annual pass to Rock City, with prices ranging from $19 for children to $119 for a family of 6.

Buy a Painting, Change a Life

image description

The right piece of artwork can transform a room; Diane Reed’s paintings can help change lives. Next Wednesday, July 23 you have an opportunity to impact children on the other side of the globe simply by showing up to dinner.

From 3:30 to 7 p.m., Lookout resident and artist Diane Reed will host a showing at Talus Restaurant. The reception will feature vintage pieces from her collection – many never displayed before – and proceeds from each sale will benefit Reed’s projects with education and nutrition in Kenya. During the reception, Chef Erick Wood will offer complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar with Happy Hour pricing.

“We want folks to make a night of it – stay for dinner and eat local,” says Reed.

For the past seven summers, Reed has worked at St. Lazarus School in Nairobi, Kenya, which accepts children who otherwise would have no hope of education. These at-risk kids rarely have three meals a day, and Reed is raising money to support the school’s breakfast program.

But her work doesn’t end there. Her relationship with St. Lazarus inspired her to seek out children she could help in her own hometown. For the next two years she will work as artist in residence for the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, seeking to bring encouragement, empowerment and healing through art.

She will paint for one month in Nairobi, one month in the slums of Argentina, and the rest of her tenure at CGLA. At each school she will share her craft and teach the beauty of self expression through after-school enrichment programs.

Most importantly, she will listen and give a voice to the voiceless. Through painting, video and photography she will intertwine life stories of kids on opposite sides of the world. Through these stories of struggle and resilience, Reed hopes to inspire others to stay strong, creating a unique international support system through art.

“Sometimes realizing that we are not alone in the fight makes it all worth the battle,” says Reed.

Snag a Ticket to the Summer's Hottest Party

image description

You are officially invited to the hottest party of the season. On Thursday, July 17 from 6 to 10 p.m., the Lookout Mountain Conservancy will host its second annual “Hot Fun in the Summertime” benefit. Held on the outdoor patio of The Crash Pad, the casual event embraces everything wonderful about summer, including a low country boil, cold beer, gourmet popsicles and bluegrass by local bands Hot Damn and Three on a Trio. Sandals and shorts are required attire.

"The thing I love about this party is we never know who’s going to show up,” says Chief Executive Officer Robyn Carlton. “Instead of formal invites, ticket sales are driven by social media. It’s always a nice surprise to see who comes and meet new people."

The party was created to expand LMC’s support base. While they will always have a strong presence on the mountain they help protect, they realize the benefit of engaging people who enjoy Lookout’s recreational opportunities as well.

In addition to relaxing under oversized umbrellas, compliments of The Patio Shop, guests are introduced to some of LMC’s innovative programs such as The Howard Program. For the past few years, LMC has partnered with Howard High School to employ interns that help them revitalize the many properties under LMC’s care. The unique program expands beyond conservation, giving at-risk students an opportunity to learn more about themselves and helping them become better citizens and community leaders.

So many land trusts focus on the traditional work of acquiring land,” says Carlton. “To me, that’s boring. It’s fun that you’re conserving land but if you’re not connecting people to the land and giving it life and purpose, I think you’re missing the boat.

For just $40 per ticket ($45 at the door) you not only support LMC’s mission, you can also peel shrimp on tables covered in butcher paper and topped with bright sunflowers from Grafe Studio. The “tables” are actually old doors, reclaimed from past LMC projects and propped on sawhorses.

The all-you-can-eat low country boil will be catered onsite by 1885 Grill, and passed hors d’oeuvres will be provided compliments of board member's wife and caterer Mary McGinness. Big River Grille has donated kegs of their frosty brews, or you can purchase wine at cost from Riverside Wine and Spirits. Dessert is provided by King of Pops gourmet popsicle cart.

For more information, visit LMC’s website. For tickets to the event, click here

The first 75 folks to buy a ticket will have their name entered in a drawing to win an “Extreme Sock Drawer Makeover,” courtesy of Goodhew Socks and Jim Markley. Valued at over $200, there will be a drawing at the party for both a men’s and women’s sock drawer.

Cloudland Connector Trail Grand Opening

image description

This Friday, Lula Lake Land Trust (LLLT) will unveil the final phase of its Cloudland Connector Trail. All told, it includes 60 miles of trails weaving through 10,000 contiguous acres of Georgia’s most biologically diverse land. And while that’s an impressive feat, land isn’t the only thing getting connected with this project.

The partnership between Lula Lake Land Trust and Georgia Department of Natural Resources is truly one of the best partnerships we have ever experienced,” says Joe Yeager, Region 1 Manger for Georgia State Parks. “The dedication of so many folks has made this project successful.

The Connector Trail has brought together the “A-team” of the conservation community, including the Benwood Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, SORBA Chattanooga, Friends of Cloudland Canyon State Park, Walker County Government, Dade County Government, Georgia Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, WILD Trails & Rock/Creek, USDA Forest Service, Rock Creek Fellowship, local contractors Stan Gravitt and Charlie Smith and of course, Lula Lake Land Trust.

“It’s a testament to the strength of private/public partnerships,” says Tricia King-Mims, LLLT development director. “The state helps manage the trailheads and provide rangers, while we utilize our strengths of acquiring land, structuring conservation easements and engaging our volunteer base.”

The project has also connected residents and tourists to the land – a key part of Lula Lake’s mission. The 5-Point Trail, which opened several years ago, is hailed by mountain bikers as some of the finest single track in the country. The world-class trail system also attracts trail runners, horseback riders, hikers and even bird watchers from all over.

“The trails so far have created a tremendous amount of tourism for this rural area,” says King-Mims. “It’s really a great story of land being reclaimed and repurposed, and driving economic development rooted in conservation rather than mining or clear-cut timber harvesting.”

From 2012 to 2013, the state reported a 25 percent increase in revenue from the $5 parking fees at already open trailheads. This final phase, which links the trail system to Cloudland Canyon State Park, promises to drive even more eco-tourism to the area.

A decade in the making, the Cloudland Connector Trail is the capstone of Robert Davenport’s vision to protect and promote the land of the Rock Creek watershed. Since establishing Lula Lake Land Trust through his will in 1994, the organization has worked to acquire and protect as much land as possible. In 2004, the Trust realized their unique opportunity to form a greenway from Nick-a-Jack Road all the way to Cloudland Canyon State Park.

The ribbon cutting on Friday provides locals the unique opportunity to be some of the first on the new trail section, namely the 60-foot bridge spanning Bear Creek. In addition to food, the Folk School of Chattanooga will provide traditional Appalachian music.

Lookout residents are incredibly lucky to have a world-class trail system like this in their backyard,” says King-Mims. “As more people find out about it, we think it has the potential for raising property values as well as attracting new residents and businesses to the area.

(NOTE: The ceremony will take place inside Cloudland Canyon State Park. Follow signs from the front entrance or ask directions at the welcome center.)

See map of the entire trail.

Life On Lookout

Cloudland Connector Trail Grand Opening

Be the first to walk the final section of the Cloudland Connector Trail Friday, June 27, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA

Life On Lookout

Cloudland Connector Trail Grand Opening

Be the first to walk the final section of the Cloudland Connector Trail Friday, June 27, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA

Why I Love Lookout: Melissa Lusk

image description

While Melissa and Ryan Lusk enjoyed their Manhattan lifestyle, they knew it wasn’t the place they wanted to start a family. So when a recruiter contacted Ryan about a job in Cleveland, Tenn., the couple decided to take a chance. Neither had ties to the area – Melissa grew up in California and Ryan in Chicago – but his parents had relocated to Atlanta.

When house hunting, they immediately dismissed Lookout because they didn’t want to drive up and down the mountain every day (let alone the 40-plus minute commute to Cleveland). But their realtor convinced them to just look. They were completely taken aback.

I think Lookout Mountain is the best kept secret in the South,” says Melissa. “It’s funny because prior to moving here, if I had to imagine the perfect place to live, I don’t know if I could have even come up with this. It has surpassed all of our expectations.

Their new hometown wasn’t the only surprise. Just weeks after moving, they found out Melissa was expecting. Months later when they welcomed their daughter Savannah, complete strangers were dropping off casseroles and gifts on their new front porch.

"I’ve been blown away by how supportive this community is,” she says. “The ironic thing is before moving to the South I worried we’d be entering into this impenetrable niche community. It’s so different that what I thought it would be.”

I've been blown away by how supportive this community is.

While Melissa and Ryan aren’t native Southerners, both have spent time below the Mason Dixon. The two met at graduate school at Duke, and Melissa lived briefly in Virginia. Even so, nothing compares to Lookout, says Melissa.

“This is so rare to find,” she says. “When Savannah was born my mom came and stayed with us for a month. She’s lived all over the world, and even she says she’s never seen anything like Lookout Mountain. I don’t know of another place like this.”

I don't know of another place like this.

If there is, she probably won’t find it. After nearly two years on Lookout, she can’t imagine living anywhere else. “I definitely see why people move here and never leave. We don’t see ourselves leaving anytime soon – we just love it here.”

Community calendar