Students answer Causeway Challenge, unite Chattanooga

Jessie Rigney, Chattanooga, Tenn., — Two UTC students were among those who won grants from the recent Causeway Challenge competition.

The Causeway Challenge is a citywide contest that allowed creative students a chance to publicize their ideas with the goal of connecting Chattanooga’s several diverse communities.

Mae Stuart, a Chattanooga freshman, and Ella Sanders, a Fairview, Tenn., junior, submitted their ideas and were two out of the 20 people selected to receive the $2,500 grant.

Stuart’s idea was to have guided coffee tours around Chattanooga, and Sanders’s idea was to have a café where people can come and share a meal together.

“It occurred to me that my roommates wouldn’t know their way around Chattanooga,” Stuart said. “So I thought I would give them a tour of all the coffee shops here.”

Stuart and her partner, Julia Martin, senior from Chattanooga, teamed up with Bike Chattanooga for the tours. Each person will receive a 24-hour bike to explore the rest of downtown Chattanooga. Because there are other college campuses around Chattanooga, Stuart said she thinks the tours will be open to the public.

Stuart said she hopes to get everything started before the end of the semester, but may wait until spring semester to launch it because of the weather.

Some of the coffee shops Stuart plans to include are Rembrandt’s, The Camp House, Stone Cup and Mean Mug.

Sanders came up with the idea of a Community Café, a “pay as you can” café where anyone from the community can have a meal with others from the area. If someone is not able to pay, he can volunteer his time in exchange for his meal. The person could clean tables and dishes or carry out food.

Sanders was inspired when she visited a similar café in Jackson, Tenn. She said she thought it would be perfect for Chattanooga because, “Chattanoogans are so willing to help their neighbor and support something like this.”

“It was one of the most beautiful things I have experienced; to see so many different kinds of people eating together and having access to a healthy meal,” Sanders said.

Sanders said local farmers donate most of the food they use, and it is all prepared fresh. They plan to serve standard café food such as soups, salads and sandwiches.

The first two café openings will be Oct. 25 and Nov. 22 with locations to be determined at a later time. For more information, visit or

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