Carol Evans is the only person I know who can get 1,000 people in and out of a 90-minute lunch under a tent in the middle of a pasture down a 13-mile, one-lane road in East Knox County. The 11th annual Legacy Parks Foundation luncheon held Friday at the Seven Islands State Birding Park along the French Broad River was perfect: crisp weather, great friends, fresh food and not a wasted word. Remarkable!
The annual event raises funds to keep Legacy Parks running. Evans always has a big announcement and a unique speaker. Alexandra Cousteau, film-maker and global water advocate, talked about learning to dive at age 7 with her grandfather, the French explorer Jacques Cousteau. “I was scared.”
She grew to love underwater exploration, but said when she became a parent she realized the importance of preserving the world’s water. “I didn’t want to be the third generation (of her family) to chronicle the degradation” of special dive spots. “We need a different narrative.”
A legacy, she said, is not something you leave your children at the end of your life. A legacy is what you build every day. It’s how your children and grandchildren choose to remember you, based on your actions. “I feel amazing when the choices of my life align with my values. I feel at peace.”
- McBee Ferry Landing: Evans said the nearly three-acre site has been acquired by Legacy Parks. It will be gently developed and turned over to Knox County for operation as a public park with access to the Holston River. The property is located off the Andrew Johnson Highway on Old Strawberry Plains Pike and offers a view of the unique McBee Bridge. The ferry transported people across the river before the bridge was built in the 1930s.
- Head of the Tennessee Initiative: This effort will continue to help protect the shoreline and create greater public access to the French Broad and Holston rivers, which join to form the Tennessee River just east of Knoxville.
- Blount and Anderson counties: Evans said Legacy Parks continues to work with the Department of Energy to secure easements to construct two new trails on DOE land in Oak Ridge this year. The Foundation is also working with entities in Blount County to extend the greenway, which will eventually connect Maryville and Knoxville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Playground for middles: Legacy Parks will join the ribbon-cutting in October on the first playground in the region built to encourage physical activity in middle school aged children. The new Play Forest is at South-Doyle Middle School and Baker Creek Preserve. Its innovative design, based on research involving the middle school users themselves, can serve as a model.
- Emojis: A free Legacy Parks digital emoji sticker keyboard for use in messaging was produced by Smallball Media. Legacy Parks is one of the first nonprofits in the U.S. to utilize emojis to drive engagement. The stickers depict outdoor activities with unique Knoxville touches and favorite destinations such as Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. The keyboard can be downloaded from online app stores.
- Kudos to former County Executive Tom Schumpert and Pete Claussen of the Gulf & Ohio Railroad who joined to preserve the 425-acre Seven Islands park on the French Broad River. Both men now serve on the board of Legacy Parks Foundation.
- Thanks to Justin Bailey of Bailey & Co. Real Estate, who sponsored the “Powell table” where we ate lunch with Bob and Louise Collier, Larry and Laura Bailey, Jerry Sluder, Margaret Massey-Cox, Kathy Fitzgerald and her grandson, Jaylen Fitzgerald.
- Salute to Chef Holly Hambright for the lunch, and most of all, thank you, Carol Evans. Great idea, this Legacy Parks Foundation, and even better execution. You’re the one!