Downtown, COVID-19 Pandemic, Knoxville, April 2020
It’s Friday. That may not mean quite what it meant when many of us were going to a workplace Monday through Friday. TGIF has pretty much shifted into “what day is it?” around most of our households. Friday and Saturday night on the town, weekend family dinners, worship services and most other markers of the weekend have disappeared. So, let’s make Friday as fun as possible.
First, I hope you enjoy the photographs. Some are more serious, but life is happening downtown. The Jackson Avenue Ramps construction, once seen as a deterrent to business in the Old City is proceeding at a time many Old City Businesses are closed or limited, so there’s a silver lining. Sidewalks are being poured and will be ready when the city reopens.
Mostly, it’s simply beautiful around downtown. Nature doesn’t really care what’s going on with the humans and, if anything, is enjoying the break from our often damaging activities. It’s a great time to discover little spots like the Vietnam Memorial which I’d noticed but never really looked at closely. It’s a nice monument, especially with the Dogwoods blooming behind it.
Inspirational messages continue to be displayed on marquees and that is encouraging as I walk around. People are generally remaining six feet apart. The shops that are open are taking precautions. I picked up some food and items in the Old City this week and was able to pay over the phone for wine from Corks and simply grab the bottles. The person behind the counter at Good Golly Tamale (the tamales were great, as always) told a woman to back up and give me my six feet, which I appreciated. The steaks from the Lonesome Dove Market were great.
There are also some great efforts going on around downtown and I’d like to highlight a few of those. This is not an exhaustive list. There is too much to keep up with. People are doing good things. It’s important to remember that people really care about others and are helping in ways that brings them nothing but the satisfaction of doing a good deed. Here are a few good turns being done and other efforts you might want to support or join:
Brewer Relief: Knoxville Warm-up Beer Fest joins with Knoxville Area Brewers Association, Grayson Suburu and Knox Brew Tours to offer an auction to benefit area brewers during this difficult time. The second weekly auction runs this weekend.
Delivery Assist 865: A network of volunteers delivering groceries and other necessary items to people in need.
Good Sport Box: The creative folks at Central Collective give you a way to have fun and support local artists and businesses at the same time. The boxes cost $50 and contain a surprise mix of local art and products. Send one to a friend or to yourself.
The Local Love Box: A weekly event (Friday nights) with advance purchase provides all the ingredients to cook along, online, with chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro of Oli Bea, a local beer to pair with your meal and an online concert to enjoy with your food and drink. Support lots of local with your purchase and have fun with friends, while not with friends. Options are available to buy other local products as well.
Project Be Kind: Connecting restaurants to first responders who get a free meal an donors to bring the two together. Support local restaurants and our critical helpers at the same time.
There are also numerous places to which you may simply donate money. A food bank like The Love Kitchen is a great option, particularly when so many are currently in need. There are also Go Fund Me options for groups or cultural institutions like Raven Records and Rarieties. Almost $5,000 has been raised to help them survive the downturn. It’s a local mirror of a campaign I noticed online to save another cultural landmark in San Francisco. A GoFundMe campaign for City Lights Bookstore has raised nearly half-a-million dollars. These are the kinds of places that make us who we are.
Of course, giving money to a person of your choice who you know could use a little extra help is also a good option. As our $1200 payments from the government begin hitting our accounts, it’s a good time to consider who we might help most. Some of us need the money, right now, and others of us can afford to pass that money along.
Gift Cards and Gift Card Giveaways:
One great option to support local businesses is to purchase gift cards to use when the restaurants re-open. Some local restaurants are using that money to support their employees who are currently out of work. In many cases, you can go directly to the website of the business you choose. If you’d like one stop with multiple options, try the shop local page on Knoxville Page, with thirteen local businesses represented. During the business shutdown, all money goes to the business. If you’d like to have your business represented here, contact me at Knoxvilleurbanguy@gmail.com.
Here’s what I’m going to do with a large piece of my money: I’m going to purchase local gift cards and give them away here. But there’s a catch. I want you to do two things to be eligible to win a free $25 gift card. I want you to “like” Knoxville Page on Facebook to build an effort to support local businesses. It doesn’t cost you more than a click. I would also like you to give $10 (or more!) to an effort of your choice to help those currently impacted or to a person of your choice who is currently in need.
Today I’m giving away two gift cards: $25 to Sapphire and $25 to Knoxville Soap and Candle. Entries will be cut off at midnight Saturday night. To enter send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line should read “Sapphire Gift Card Giveaway” or “Knoxville Soap and Candle Giveaway.” In the body of your email let me know that you have liked Knoxville Page and tell me where and how much you have donated ($10 minimum). I’m asking for a separate donation for each entry. If you currently cannot donate $10, just say so and you are good.
I’ll announce the winners here and I’ll try to keep a tally of how much we generated for others and which organizations or people (not by name) who were helped. So, businesses are helped when I purchase their gift cards and good causes and people are helped by your donations and some of you will win gift cards. It’s a win for everyone.