Co-founder Nathan Tucker shares his thoughts on how Scenic Trend fared through 2020.
In December of 2019, while working at a coffee shop in East Ridge, my best friend Dillan Whisenant and I had an idea. We had just ended our involvement with a local online publication, and we were itching to start a new project. I wanted to promote Chattanooga’s local arts community and all of its local creatives, regardless of where they came from or how they chose to express themselves. After a few hours of debating names, we found one that we felt was perfect. Scenic Trend (and Chattabunga) were born.
Scenic Trend took off into the local art world, and I was honestly shocked by how quickly it was gaining traction. We were making connections with local artists constantly, attending every local arts or music event that we could, meeting city officials and business owners, and spreading word of our amazing art community. I was especially shocked by how quickly we were able to get other contributors on board. Soon we had a whole team of local writers, photographers, and influencers. Most of them were college-aged like Dillan and me. Scenic Trend was quickly becoming a place where young creatives could hone their skills.
It was right when we started filming videos with Area 61 Gallery and meeting with Mayor Andy Berke that COVID-19 began to be a concern. It hadn’t officially reached Chattanooga at the time, but I was still keeping track of the disease. In just a few weeks, the city was on lockdown and all the arts events that we depended on for content were canceled.
COVID-19 robbed Scenic Trend of many opportunities. Not being able to go to events and film the videos we planned was quite disheartening and forced us to rely on articles as our sole content. We also quickly learned that life doesn’t stop during a pandemic. Many of our volunteer team members were now struggling financially as they were suddenly laid off from their jobs, myself included. The fact that we were all trying to get through the most hectic college year imaginable with the sudden switch to online learning did not help. There were many moments where it was tough to keep working on projects, especially as I often found myself to be the only person able to create content.
What motivated us to keep going was the arts community itself. Despite everything that was happening, artists kept on creating! Musicians went online. Studios became e-commerce centers. Writing workshops were now on Zoom. When George Floyd was murdered, members of the arts community stood up for justice and created a Black Lives Matter movement in Chattanooga. So much kept on happening, and we kept on documenting it. Despite all that occurred in 2020, Scenic Trend continued growing, and almost every day, I found a new reason to peruse the amazing works that local creatives were showing to us and the community.
In spite of the challenges 2020 threw our way, Scenic Trend pushed on, and I couldn’t be more proud of the outcome. We made significant strides in getting involved with community organizations, and our collaborations with Area 61 Gallery, UTC, ArtsBuild, Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, and so many other local businesses and organizations were awesome. Our team members pulled through this year, and I am incredibly thankful to Dewayne Bingham for his Street Journals series and constant support, Catie Pickett and Madi Perry for their fantastic articles, Reginald Clack for his excellent advice, Gordon Inman for his continued support and networking assistance, and so many others. One of the biggest advancements for Scenic Trend is the start of our internship program with local colleges, and I am incredibly thankful to Sarah Shuler for being our first writing intern!
Scenic Trend is already starting 2021 strong. The hopes that I have for this year are for us to get our internship program off the ground, branch out in our content, and become more involved with other community organizations. I want to cement Scenic Trend’s reputation as a publication that continues to offer opportunities to local creatives.
Last but not least, thank you to our readers for continuing to support Scenic Trend! Chattabunga!
You can follow me on Instagram, @ketchupnate.