After Chattanooga had been initially chosen for this award, I was excited and proud of the city I call home. Therefore, one could imagine that I became a little defensive when Mr. Cook alluded to the fact that we would be lying if we accepted this award. He stated that we could make a “grocery list of the problems we face in this city” and that we do not deserve this award. I am sure the other cities in this competition could make a list of those same issues as well. Chattanooga is not perfect, and no town is for that matter. However, can we not rise out of the muck and mire of our problems for a moment and celebrate the positive opportunities that Chattanooga has to offer?
Outside Magazine does not focus on social issues, violence, or politics, unless they are related to the outdoors. What the publication does offer though is an escape, just as the great outdoors do. We are fortunate in Chattanooga to have beautiful mountains and valleys full of biking and hiking trails, along with rivers and lakes to enjoy as well. I do not agree with ignoring our troubles, but is it really so bad to relish some news coverage that is not saturated with problems, politics, and pain? I actually smiled a little bit when I read the article about Chattanooga receiving this award.
I do not think that this award makes Chattanoogans less dependent on one another. As Mr. Cook stated, we are a town of givers and doers as seen in the aftermath of the April tornadoes. However, could we not just hang this award on the wall of fame in addition to everything else that Chattanooga has to offer? Let us step up to the podium, accept the award, and then make a long speech, not only about the landscape and beauty of Chattanooga, but also about its amazing citizens. This is our platform and our time – no need to stop when the music cue comes on – stay in the spotlight, Chattanooga. It is where you belong.