Building community: The stuff that matters

Sandra ClarkHalls, Let's Talk, Powell

There are many reasons for printing a newspaper every week for 40 years … or posting data to the digital every evening.

Sandra Clark

It’s fun to watch and opine on local politics. It’s also fun to follow young athletes and scholars through school and into adulthood. We’re thinking about you, Scott Carter and Brent Shaw, and you, Stephanie Humphrey Sayne and Carol Zachary Mitchell, and dozens more.

But the most compelling reason to do this is to build community. And while it’s tempting to look backwards (like the time Hallsdale Powell donated land adjacent to the Brickey School for a small nature park on the creek and the school system’s contractor cut all the trees, leveled the land and fenced out the kids lest they drown).

Let’s look ahead:

Collier Preserve – Situated on 12 or so acres adjacent to the Powell Branch Library on Emory Road, this land was donated to Legacy Parks Foundation by Bob and Louise Collier. It was Bob’s granny’s farm. Carol Evans at Legacy Parks secured a grant to extend a walking trail including boardwalks through the land, along Beaver Creek. It will become an easily accessible retreat, open to all, free and forever. (Just don’t tell that aforementioned contractor.)

Travis Wegener Memorial Car Show – Set for Saturday, Aug. 29, at Powell High School. This is the sixth annual event to remember a young man who died too soon. Already it’s raised over $20,000 for projects such as the Powell Station Park and its disc golf course – easily accessible, open to all, free and forever.

Clayton Park in Halls – The community bought the land and Knox County developed the park. Now it needs leadership to promote events (think farmers market and Saturday night singings) and expansion (think adjacent land along the creek and greenway extension under Maynardville Pike).

We lost something important as farms became subdivisions in Powell and Halls. We misplaced our connection to the land and our sense of community. It’s time for a new generation of leaders to bring that back – through public spaces like Collier and Clayton and Powell Station parks – through a greenway that links Halls to Powell to Karns along Beaver Creek – through simple get-togethers, not to sit in the stands and cheer but to sing and dance and celebrate.

And know this, new leaders:

  • Don’t wait for permission. Just lead.
  • Don’t worry about money. It will come.
  • Don’t concern yourself with followers or how to get out your message.

You see, there’s this older woman, formerly known as the Shopper lady, who publishes daily a website called We’ll tell your story, help raise funds and even grant permission. The scarcity is never followers – it’s leaders.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of

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