For the second year in a row, the East Lake Neighborhood Association is the first prize winner in the "My Neighborhood Rocks" video contest presented by Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise and Association for Visual Arts.
This year's contest theme was "How do you play in your neighborhood?" and the group took home a $5,000 prize for its portrayal of different ways of "playing" in the neighborhood. The Glenwood Neighborhood Association won second place in the contest and the Highland Park Neighborhood Association won third place, said CNE director of development Nick Wilkinson.
"I was surprised and not so surprised this year after I saw all the videos," said East Lake Neighborhood Association president Linda Richards. "Last time I just lost my mind and lost my dignity I was so excited, but this year I thought we might have another chance."
She said the neighborhood association is in the process of setting up a 501(c)(3) to manage the winnings from both last year's and this year's contest. Although the association hosted a large National Night Out celebration this year, Richards said most of the funding for that event came from donations and the association doesn't want to spend the money until the nonprofit organization is officially set up.
"It's a group effort," she said. "I can't make, nor would I want to make, a decision for the whole group about spending the money. It's about us doing it together."
Some of the ideas the association plans to implement once its nonprofit is in place include block-by-block cleanup efforts in the neighborhood, a tool lending shed where people can share community yard work tools, and finding an incentive to attract more businesses to the area.
"East Lake Courts doesn't define East Lake," said Richards. "Hopefully we can get some more businesses in East Lake and beef up the image of the East Lake community. People do care and are concerned about the environment. I want people to take pride in this community and make it a better place. We are trying to build a community within a community."
According to Wilkinson, this year's video entries showed a willingness for neighborhoods to work with local partners and leverage all their assets to create the best video possible.
"CNE is all about investing in neighborhoods and our reason for that focus on assets is because they are what will make or break our city," he said. "We can't just count out the parts of town we don't spend time in. When something like this contest helps a neighborhood clean up a little, it causes property values to go up and maybe causes new investments in the area, which directly benefits all of us living in this city."
For more information about CNE visit www.cneinc.org.