Scenic Dade: Meet the Local Visionaries Behind the Nonprofit
By LYDIA BERGLAR
With more progress to come on the Town Creek Trail, the members of Scenic Dade are as energetic and hard working as ever. In addition to the scenic beauty of our area, the nonprofit group intentionally thinks through ways to help Dade County residents, businesses, and enhance the tourist experience.
As stated on their website, “Scenic Dade Development Company is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing quality of life in the Dade County region through conservation and the built environment.” With an appreciation for what makes this area unique but also a vision for improvements, the nonprofit seeks to “protect the past and build for the future.”
Meet the current Scenic Dade team members, all of whom are volunteers:
- Jamison Griffin (president, founder) networks with local leaders, contractors, and local businesses.
- Peter Cervelli (vice president, founder) generates support from local leaders and offers advice and counsel to Scenic Dade.
- Brittany Crisp (treasurer, secretary) handles meetings, minutes, agendas, and accounts payable.
- Jennifer Blair led the Jenkins Park mural project and focuses on conservation and reintroduction of indigenous plants.
- Ryan Faircloth works behind the scenes with city and county leaders.
- Jerry Henegar has coordinated creek clean-up efforts along Town Creek Trail.
- Ronnie Hunt works with the Alliance with Dade and other local businesses.
- Ashleigh Garmany, Randy Compton, and Kate Fuller have also been a part of Scenic Dade.
In Griffin’s words, “We are a nonprofit organization that wants to help protect and conserve the natural beauty of our community. To this end, we want to highlight and promote our natural treasures. Many regional institutions and tourists recognize these treasures. We want to help generate new financial energy sources for Trenton and Dade County.”
Faircloth added, “The tourists are already coming here. We just need to encourage them to spend more money here.”
According to Cervelli, Town Creek Trail was an integral key to starting the nonprofit. “When Scenic Dade Development Company was started by Jamison Griffith and myself, one project I put on the table to resurrect was the creek trail. Because of Jennifer’s vision for the county, she adopted this idea wholeheartedly. Scenic Dade then officially made this one of the key starting projects for the new nonprofit.”
In addition to the Town Creek Trail, other notable projects from the group include the City of Trenton and Dade County welcome signs (with help from the city, county, and Southeast Lineman Training Center) and the mural in Jenkin’s Park.
Blair views the mural as a feature of the broader trail project, saying, “Town Creek Trail is much more than a ribbon of concrete on which to walk. I believe that communal resources – like shared green spaces and public art – are fundamental to the development of thriving urban areas and to the quality of life for those who live, learn, work, and recreate there. The shade of trees, the sound of free flowing water, the freshness of clean air, the bustling activity of pollinators, and the cheerful color of wildflowers – these are things to which everyone should have access.”
Griffin added, “We feel that projects like this help give our community members a vision for the potential of our community.”
The early days of the nonprofit involved much research about best practices, revitalization, funding, and similar projects in communities comparable to ours. The team members sought counsel from numerous sources.
Several Chattanooga organizations that were part of the Tennessee Riverwalk and Chattanooga’s revitalization have invested in Scenic Dade. Chattanooga Community Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Riverview, and River City Development Company have all shown support whether financially or through counsel.
Griffin recalled, “I remember sitting in Jenkins Park with the Lyndhurst Foundation and talking about breaking the trail into smaller projects. They encouraged us not to be afraid to do something small.”
Over time, Scenic Dade has found that the team members’ skills complement each other. Griffin reflected, “The Lord has brought together a consort of skill sets – hard skills and soft skills. We have unity in our vision.”
The team has also learned the importance of preparation and taking the time needed to execute a project well. Simultaneously, they see the value in taking action, even just one step at a time.
Scenic Dade encourages anyone who shares their vision to visit www.scenicdade.com. In Griffin’s words, “If you are somebody who wants to be a part of enhancing/preserving what we have, we would love for you to help us.” Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, or interest in getting involved.