Hi! I’m Katie, and I love the Birdhouse.
I moved to Knoxville not too long ago. It’s still new to me in many ways. Every day, I discover new places and people, roads to take and dumpsters to dive, new crops of summer sunflowers and groundhog holes under the Gay Street Bridge.
I moved here, indirectly, from Washington, DC. I’d been shifting myself all over the Appalachian spine for about six months. Pennsylvania, Connecticut, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, New York. You name it, my car had broken down there.
At some point, though, I realized the need to settle down, to grow some roots. I sort of closed my eyes, and, with my partner, decided on Knoxville. It’s cheap, and fun, and has lots of trees, and was close to the activist work i’d been doing in the mountains. So it was less because I thought we could build a life here, and really more on a pure gut feeling.
For a moment, I was afraid my partner and I had set ourselves adrift, here in the hills, ten hours’ drive away from all our loved ones. Our weekends were quiet, and settling was difficult: the job search yielded almost nothing, the friend search almost as much. I felt at sea here in my new city. And this is where the Birdhouse comes in.
One night, the one person we knew in Knoxville invited us to one of the Birdhouse’s Cypher Saturday events.
As we approached the house, a deep bass rhythm reverberated off the pavement and the canary-yellow walls. Lights moved inside the house, dying the grass outside the windows a thousand different colors. Wafting toward us was the sound of laughter and the unmistakeable smell of frying plantains. As my friend moved us around in circles, from room to room, introducing us to a dizzying array of new faces, we introduced ourselves and were greeted by open arms at every turn. And then the music started and we couldn’t hear each other any more and we simply danced. When we left that night, staggering, full of jerk chicken, a little drunk and laughing our heads off, I knew: I wanted to stay here. I wanted to grow roots in Knoxville.
We returned to the Birdhouse, time and again. Art and music shows, Sunday potluck dinners, workdays fixing up the foyer, sunny times in the garden laying down sunflowers. Movie nights, Food Not Bombs, activist meetings. It was fun, and more than that, it was an anchor. A place to find community as I searched for my place in this city.
These days I do my best to help the Birdhouse in any way I can. The sunflowers are part of a garden remediation effort to improve the soil; at organizing meetings every month we figure out how to keep things running. Because now that the Birdhouse has given me a place to roost, I want to give back to it – help this community keep its own roostin’ spot. What the birdhouse provides is incredibly rare and special – a central space for all sorts of people to develop ideas and relationships with one another.
We can always use a few helping hands! Ever wanted your own vegetable plot in a garden? A place to hang your artwork? Play music? Paint walls? Ever wanted to hang out with extra cool, creative people? Come on over. You’ll get a warm welcome, I promise.