Our Arrival to Chattanooga, TN and Day One of the City Share Conference!

Last Wednesday, Justin, Michelle, Josh and I flew from Detroit, MI to Atlanta, GA and drove another two hours to Chattanooga, TN for the City Share conference put on by our friends from Create Here!

Veronique picked us up from the the airport in Atlanta.  We grabbed a bit of food and then headed straight to the NPR station in Chattanooga to do a quick radio interview about our practice, and then we headed to our hotel for a much needed rest.

We took a quick nap before we went out for dinner.  This giant  parking garage was located across the street from our hotel.

We went out for dinner with the Create Here folk and some new friends from Charlottesville, VA at this cute vegan restaurant called Sluggo’s that’s owned by the Tennessee punk band This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb!

Michelle and Justin chatting with some friends near the end of the night.  Afterward, we all went back to the hotel and crashed for the night.  Long day, but we were eager for the conference the next day!

The next morning at the Create Here office.  Check out how busy our two days were!

Grabbing some delicious breakfast.

The main room of the office.  Everyone’s chatting and waiting for the introductory presentations.

After the presentations, we broke off into our cities and had some Create Here folk join us in brainstorming our city’s main problems.

Sheldon was our group leader.  He introduced us to the impact/urgency matrix which we used to figure out what problems we should focus on.

Trey, Michelle, Josh and Bijan brainstorming.

A happy looking group.

Michelle bringing up some great points no doubt!

Sheldon continuing to work on the matrix.

We decided that the relationship between Detroit and Windsor was the most interesting problem to focus on since there was a group from Wichita who mentioned a similar problem between the East and West sides of their city which is also separated by a river.  We hoped that some of their group could join our forces to collaborate on ideas to reconstruct these broken relationships!

Taking some notes down.  Michelle and I were appointed the “Champions” of our group and were asked to present our issue to the group once we reconvened with everyone.

Michelle and I presented and then it was lunch time!  Everyone had to fill out a ballot ranking which issues they found the most interesting, and fill out what assets they’d provide a group.

Josh went around and took some photos of the office space.  We got to ride those bikes around the neighbourhood a few times!  Also those giant yellow STAND letters are part of Create Here’s Pepsi Refresh campaign, “Stand & Deliver: Education.”

The print station!

I loved all of the exposed brick.  Definitely my favorite aspect of the office!

Some folk from Chicago and Charlottesville eating lunch!

Giant desk/work area.  Great for brainstorming sessions! I believe one of the groups took over this section of the office!

Art-o-Mat! Put in some coins and get “arists in cellophane!”

After lunch, we found out that our issue was voted as one of the issues to focus on, so Michelle and I broke into different groups with some Create Here, Charlottesville and Wichita friends.  Justin joined the Wichita group and Josh joined the Charlottesville group.

Michelle and Sheldon brainstorming an asset map.

Here’s our finished asset map of Windsor.  The blue arrows represent connections and the red dotted lines represent broken connections.

Continuing the brainstorming.

Michael, Sheldon, Veronique and Michelle still discussing.

After we broke out of groups for the day, we decided to walk back to our hotel and rest up a bit before dinner time.  It’s hard to make out, but there are paintings of trains all along the front of this building.

Some run down Chattanooga buildings.  Chattanooga is not much different than Windsor.

Cute art.  One thing Michelle noticed about Chattanooga right away was the fact that there is hardly any graffiti anywhere.

Chattanooga Choo Choo.  We kept noticing how dominant the red florescent lights were all around the city.  Much like Windsor’s Caesars sign.

Josh and I.

Chattanooga is filled with doers.

Michelle, Josh and Justin running toward this giant, painted American flag.

More bright red text.

Grand blvd, where our hotel was located.

Also just outside of our hotel.

We went back to the Create Here office to eat some dinner, have some fun and to chat with all of our new friends.  We were eager for day two and to get cracking on some ideas on how to build up a relationship with Detroit!  We didn’t come up with any concrete solutions by day one, but some of the ideas we came up with included creating hyperlocal tours of Windsor and Detroit for their respective citizens, creating a pen pal correspondence, giving the cities small presents such as seed bombs with notes attached and  youth exchange programs.