Chattanooga, Tennessee’s virtual 2020 time capsule

🎶 Hey look, ma — we made it. 🎶 No matter where you are, 2020 has been one for the books. At home here in Chattanooga, we’ve quarantined, protested, learned, innovated, voted and when all else failed, we sang

We know a lot of you probably just want to forget this year ever happened. But there are lessons to be learned from all we’ve experienced as a community: adaptation, growth, resilience, patience, and perspective (to name a few)

To preserve these lessons and memories for the future, we’ve been collecting your virtual memories for a digital time capsule.

For the past month, we’ve asked you to submit your most meaningful Chattanooga-in-2020 related photos, videos, diary entries, blog posts, text messages, screenshots, etc

In total, we were able to accept 10 “items” from residents around the Scenic City — including photos, recipes, memories + messages for the future.

Here’s what you shared with us:

Pandemic baking + more

From reader Kelly B.The “Rona” gave me time to learn a new art form – fiber art – and I’ve started a small home/online business as a result. 

I’ve also taught myself how to bake bread.

And – though she came to our home shortly before Corona took over – she helped make it bearable (Phoebe)!

Despite these newfound hobbies and housemate – I will be glad when this year is over and pray that 2021 brings JOY to us all. 

Rock the vote

Another reader sent us a photo that documents the surge in voter participation in 2020. Turnout for the presidential election was up in every state and all but 56 counties nationwide. 

When the pandemic changes proposal plans

From Mikaya R. – My fiancé had planned on proposing March 20th, 2020 and having a party after at Parkway Pourhouse. This was the DAY that the city shut down. He changed plans and ended up proposing in our kitchen with Sidetrack take out. Our engagement has been very close as in quarantining three times and a covid diagnosis only once!

The sun always rises

Abigail S. sent us this photo from Snoopers Rock on a bright, pandemic morning 

Moving meals outside 

COVID-19 forced people to change routines, including moving some meals like this Thanksgiving feast, outside. Check out these photos from Betsy R. 

Spice up the lockdown 

Sarah M. shared her Lockdown Chili recipe:

This chili is a bit spicy.  You can back off on any of the seasonings if you want it milder.  I thought –what better time to have a spicy chili than when I am in lockdown, practicing social distancing. 


Olive oil spray

1 pound of ground sirloin

1 cup of chopped onion (yellow, white or red)

½ of a green bell pepper, diced

½ of a red bell pepper, diced

2.5 Tbl of chili powder

2 Tbl of ground cumin

1 Tbl garlic powder

1 tsp of grated sea salt or to taste

½ tsp of ground pepper

¼ tsp of ground cayenne pepper (optional)

3 – 4 cups of beef broth. This just depends on how thick you like your chili or if you like it more like soup. 

1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes. I used fire-roasted. 


Add a 15 oz can of pinto beans in sauce. I use Bush brand chili beans.  They have a nice gravy. Choose mild to hot. 

Grated cheddar can be served on top of the chili

Spray your soup pot with olive oil.  Add the ground beef and break it up as it begins cooking on medium-high.. When it’s about ½ way cooked (about 5 minutes), add the onion and the bell peppers.  Cook a few minutes more just to loosen up the veggies.  When no pink remains in the beef, you can add all the rest of the ingredients.  Bring the chili to a boil and then turn down to simmer.  Cook it 15 – 20 minutes. 

One constant? The Wienermobile

Another reader sent in this picture to sum up the year:


The year of the mask

This reader documented mask-wearing at the Chattanooga Choo Choo

Getting closer than ever 

Reader Robin M. said: This messy picture defines our 2020. It is now the hub of our household in our tiny North Chatt home. What was once just our dining room has now become the work room/virtual school room/crafting space/Zoom room/ wrapping room, etc. It’s so full with our daily activities that we often now eat in the living room come dinner time— something we never used to do. All this messiness stresses me out but I hope that one day I can think back on 2020 and remember the good things— we are healthy and we are always together, even if sometimes that can be stressful in a small home.

NOOGAtoday riding out the 2020 waves

We briefly moved into a new office (we loved you and miss you, Society of Work), Chloé + Trista did some work at Chambliss Center for Children just as the pandemic was beginning and last January (pre-pandemic) they toured Common House for the first time.

Trista: My partner and I had flight vouchers to use before the end of 2020, so we took a trip to Joshua Tree and he proposed to me in the desert, the most magical place. This video has some of my favorite pics from the trip. 

If we can make it through 2020 together, I think we can make it through about anything.

Chloé: The year is a blur of bends and breaks that scared me, challenged me, and made me better. And now, putting down the day-to-day weight and looking back, I see mainly bright spots —  beautiful moments of strength and unity in my community; deepening connections with family, friends, and coworkers (despite the distance put between us); and a stronger self-assurance that even when life isn’t easy, it can still be good. And I’m grateful.

📸 No. 1: April tornado damage in East Brainerd
📸 No. 2: New social distance signs downtown
📸 No. 3: That “I-must-dye-my-hair” pandemic phase
📸 No. 4: The 2020 girls night takes place via Zoom
📸 No. 5: Black Trans Lives Matter protest downtown 

“Long story short — I survived.” – Taylor Swift, “Evermore”

Brianna:  It’s been a stressful, difficult year as a college student, but through this mess of a year I was able to start + complete my departmental honors thesis about weird and cosmic horror fiction, celebrate turning 21 years old with my roommate (thanks to our other roommate, who threw us a super fun quarantine-style birthday party at home), create a small podcast series that aired on our local NPR station WUTC, and camp in the back of my car all by myself. Now, I’m excited (and admittedly a bit nervous) to finish my last semester at UTC!