Rolling Surprise Rolls With The Changes 

Lessons in Resilience Come In Many Colors

A few days after we posted this teaser about a Rolling Surprise coming through the streets of Glass Farm at the end of July, we received the news that our partners with the City of Chattanooga’s transportation department (CDOT) decided out of an abundance of caution that they could not participate after all and that the committee’s impressive and instructive physical distancing guidelines and plans to proceed should be put on hold.

After months of planning, the news came the night before ‘game day’ and the creatives who concocted this fun idea of a safe and physically distant uplifting event for our community were busy putting all the final touches on their surprises.

The idea was a collaboration between City Artist, Jules Downum with Pop Up Project, ART120, Sound Corps, CDOT, Glass House Collective, Good Neighbor Network, Reach 1 Teach 1, Purpose Point Community Health and Hardy Elementary Community PTA. Early on in our discussions, it was agreed that whatever shape the rolling surprise took it should also include a fun way to distribute a few needed resources along with all the joy the artists would be providing.

BIG thanks to Sophie’s Shop and Creative Discovery Museum who donated a few essentials to put in a goodie bag that would be dropped on our neighbors’ lawns as the surprise rolled by. The colorful reusable bags included masks, art supply kits, journals, informative resources, school supplies, and bubbles.

While a few of the partners also had to pull out alongside CDOT, Gail McKeel, and Audrey McClure and other residents with Good Neighbor Network decided the Rolling Surprise could be rescued! It might look and feel a little different than originally imagined but the intention to keep the community first was at the heart of the idea in the first place and worth keeping in mind as they reworked the plan.

“True collaboration means no one owns it. The community members who invested their time and took this over really understand that. They saved the event and still found a way to have a great outcome in spite of such a last-minute change,” Downum said.

image courtesy of Good Neighbor Network. Click the image to go to their photo gallery of the hijacked Rolling Surprise!

What was not scaled back was the passion and intention of everyone who showed up Saturday morning to make this happen. Youth from Reach1 Teach1 (R1T1) strapped on balloon jetpacks and pulled kiddie wagons filled with goodie bags and bottled water. We put on our inflatable multicolored crowns and started walking the neighborhood together. We were met with smiles and sweet waves of hello block after block after block.

“These are the things we must do collectively as a city to see a change in our communities!,” Reginald with R1T1 posted on social media. He said the youth in their program are always looking for ways to stay engaged but COVID has cut off many of those opportunities. “Thanks for inviting us to assist with this. This was an awesome and safe event and our youth had a great time!” he said. 

Surprise! Resilience lives in Glass Farm.

Thank you to all of our neighbors who showed up to roll with us or meet us in your yard with a smile. Thank you to ReachOne TeachOne Uca Jules Downum , Gail McKeel, our parade marshall-Audrey McClure,  All-Good Coffee shop and Used Book store for providing dinner, Ms. Audrey Williams and Hardy Elementary Community PTA, Creative Discovery Museum, and Sophie’s Shoppe.  Thank you, Kate Warren, for the idea of the event and all the planning you put into it. We appreciate Purpose Point and The Village 2800 for all of their time helping plan the event too. Lastly, thank you to Good Neighbor Network for making it happen! 

PHOTOS by Kelly Lacy:
Good Neighbor Network on Facebook