Chattanooga Organized For Action
The mission of Chattanooga Organized for Action is to assist individuals and organizations in becoming the essential agents of real systemic change to achieve social, economic and environmental justice.
On Saturday May 20, 2017 at the South Chattanooga Youth and Family Development Center, CALEB (Chattanoogans in Action for Love, Equality, and Benevolence) will host the Rising River Summit, a daylong educational event focused on Chattanooga’s economic landscape. Dr. Ken Chilton, Assistant Professor of Public Administration at Tennessee State University and former President of the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies, will give the keynote address. Seminar speakers will address topics including “Inequality and Education,” “Energy Costs and Solutions,” “Community Benefits Agreements,” and “Community Reinvestment,” among other topics. The Rising River Summit is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided; all donations will be graciously accepted.
Over the last several years, Chattanooga has seen a flood of economic growth. With the development of North Shore, Southside, Gig City, and the Innovation District, our downtown area is thriving and people are drawn here from all over the world. We pride ourselves on our innovative and collaborative spirit. We have a flourishing non-profit sector that funds creative projects all over the city, and words like “renaissance” and “revitalization” are part of everyday discourse. We call Chattanooga the best town ever and the greatest mid-sized city in America. But is it really?
Two things are rising in Chattanooga: the cost of housing and the poverty rate. According to the recently-released Enterprise Community Partners report, “Bridging the Gap,” 25,000 households in Chattanooga are burdened by housing costs. Hamilton County students born into poverty only have a 4% chance of escaping it and a lower chance of success than their peers in other places. In spite of massive tax subsidies for multinational businesses, Chattanooga has been recently highlighted as having the 7th lowest wages in the country for a person with a bachelor’s degree. Ranked 7th in the nation for income inequality and home to two of the top ten zip codes for racial displacement, Chattanooga’s progress is leaving many people behind and displacing others.
Rev. Charlotte Williams of Eastdale Village Community Church explains the motivation for the economic summit:
“As Dr. Angela Davis says, ‘We are no longer accepting the things we cannot change; we are changing the things we cannot accept.’ Hopefully this economic summit won’t just be one of a passing of information, but of collaboration for the community and community officials, to ensure that people have equal access to power and resources to change their own lives. We’re only as strong as our weakest link. The economic inequality in our city, and the intersections with law, the courts, and various communities, isn’t a sign of justice. CALEB’s multiple organizations have been doing the work in greater isolation, so we’re coming together out of a desire for change.”
Who Is CALEB?
CALEB is a non-profit, institutional coalition of Faith-Based, Labor, and Community organizations working to give their constituents a powerful voice in public affairs and issues in the wider community. One of CALEB’s core objectives is to raise public awareness around the economic disparities that exist in our region, and to increase civic engagement in our area. CALEB operates under the Gamaliel Foundation, a grassroots network of non-partisan organizations organizing to empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the social and economic decisions affecting their lives.
Ryan Scott, organizer with the Ironworkers, says “I am proud to join together with the other members of CALEB to provide an avenue for the average citizen of Chattanooga to have a stronger influence in their community. I hope we can all work together to improve the quality of life for all the people in Chattanooga, regardless of their social or economic status, and give a voice to those who might not otherwise be heard.” CALEB institutional partners include Bridge City Community Church, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Eastdale Village Community Church, the Ironworkers Local 704, the Unity Group, SEIU Local 205, and Chattanooga Organized for Action.
CALEB is committed to organizing and mobilizing the residents of our community to affect change in the socio-economic and political institutions of Chattanooga and the surrounding region, and to bringing together people of all ages, races, religions, abilities, and economic statuses in order to shape the future of our city for the benefit of all. We hope you will join us in this endeavor.