Kati Baird, 24, Jaclyn Edmonson, 24, and Gabby Woodland, 23, are Scout Fox Productions.
In the middle of a documentary series called “The Gentrified Us,” they explore the topic of gentrification and what it means for the growth of Nashville.
The trio met at MTSU. Gabby studied journalism and political science while Kati and Jaclyn studied video production.
Katie and Jaclyn graduated in May 2014, and Gabby graduated in December 2015.
“Individually, we’ve all been thinking about this topic of gentrification,” Jaclyn said. “When we first started we were coming at it from a very curious point of view. So we started interviewing people to figure out what it was.”
The women said they were curious to see what people were saying about gentrification, how they defined it, what the consensus was if there was one, and possible resolutions for it.
Kati, a video specialist at Journey’s Shoe Retail Company, stays mostly behind the camera as a technical lead. Jaclyn, a freelance director and editor, also does videography for the docu-series. Gabby is a multimedia producer for WSMV Channel 4 News and does a lot of the research and networking for their project.
“I think we’re all go-getters,” Gabby said. “We make what’s got to happen, happen no matter what, we’re a good mix of what each other is not good at.”
Kati and Jaclyn are award winning documentarians and have won multiple film festivals nationally and internationally.
the GENTRIFIED US
Noticing how other media outlets have contributed to the conversation about gentrification, the women understand that news moves fast and what people talk about day-to-day or week-to-week changes.
“Their job isn’t to talk about gentrification all the time, but we can,” Jaclyn said.
Filming for the docu-series began in February of this year. The group said with this project, titled The Gentrified Us, they hope to continue the conversation on gentrification in Nashville.
“We’ve been able to hear people’s hearts, and we’ve been changed for it,” Jaclyn said.
Kati moved to Nashville after graduating from college. Originally from Clinton, Tenn., she chose to move to the city because of the growth opportunities.
She said moving over to East Nashville and seeing the houses built in the 1960s juxtaposed to half a million dollar homes was something that didn’t make sense to her. She said that was the initial spark in her interest in gentrification.
“One thing that’s really important when we’re talking about Nashville is that there’s a difference between city growth and gentrification,” Gabby said. Gabby is originally from Fairfax, Va. and moved to Nashville her junior year of high school. “Nashville is growing right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Nashville is undergoing gentrification in all areas.”
She explained that gentrification specifically means that low-income are becoming middle-class areas purposefully displacing people.
Jaclyn is originally from Kansas and moved to Franklin when she was seven years old. She said hearing people’s stories and listening to what people were saying about the city and gentrification has made them grow as people tremendously.
“I can definitely say we’re better neighbors because of the things we’ve heard.”
She said along with their perspective on city development another thing that’s changed for them is the language they use.
Jaclyn said from a conversation with a friend at Salemtown Board Co, she learned labeling areas and people as “sketchy” can be offensive. She said in all reality, those people worked hard to be where they are.
“People use that type of language to justify gentrification. When it comes to city development and city growth, people say they’re ‘cleaning up the areas and making it a better place to live.’ Well, what are you cleaning up? The people who worked hard to stay here?” she said. “Just because a place doesn’t look the way you want it to look doesn’t mean it’s wrong or that it needs to be moved.”
The trio said when other people use language like that they want to get on their soapbox and tell them what they’ve learned.
“We’ve heard from the people who have lived in those houses, we’ve heard from the people who have gotten pushed out,” Jaclyn said. “Just this past week, we were walking to get footage, and we saw a guy on his front porch. We asked him how long he’d been living there, and he said 50 years. He talked to us about what’s been happening in East Nashville street by street because he’s been here and seen it.”
Gabby said as a group they are learning that everyone is an individual.
“Maybe it’s people who don’t look like us, or maybe it’s people who don’t have the same income, so they don’t wear the same clothes as us,” she said. “Whatever it is that’s making us different – we’re realizing people are people, and no one shouldn’t be judged for their differences.”
She said in one of their interviews someone said, “Who are you to say because you have more money, that you have more of a right to live somewhere?”
Jaclyn said she understands both sides of the issue. She understands that people work hard for what they earn and if they have the resources they should be able to choose where they want to live.
“A lot of the problem comes from a lack of communication,” she said. “There’s got to be a medium ground, and I think the city, as a whole, is still figuring that out,” she said.
GENTRIFICATION vs CITY GROWTH
“Don’t get us wrong, we want the city to grow,” Gabby said. “Everyone want to live in a cool city, and everyone wants to live close to amenities. We just don’t want people to get out in the process. It is such a fine line because we say that but how do you do that?”
Gabby said she isn’t sure they have the answer to those big questions but said it can come from the people.
As a part of their research, the women talked to a city planner in Kentucky. When they asked him about city growth and gentrification, he said that city growth doesn’t always have to mean numbers. The city planner said city growth should mean a better quality of life for people already in the city.
“We’re spending so much time accommodating the people who are wanting to come here and not enough in taking care of the people who are already here.”
“City growth is not pushing people out, and it’s not adding numbers to your city. It’s taking what’s already good about your city and working on that to make it better,” Jaclyn said.
“Everyone loved Nashville before. They loved the small town feel of it. They loved how it was the coolest place to be, but no one really knew about it yet,” Gabby said.
The trio said there are so many complexities to the city development which makes change difficult sometimes.
“We’re so proud of our city and love seeing it grow,” Jaclyn said. “All the neighborhoods are so cool, but there’s got to be a way in which we can take care of the people who’ve been here and who are here. It’s just respect for people regardless of income.”
the FUTURE of CHANGE
Kati said seeing everything evolve from when they first came up with the idea for the docu-series is surprising, yet rewarding.
“We’re blessed in a way to see people’s stories and understand a different vocabulary,” she said. “We’re not fully educated, and I don’t know if we ever will be, but we’re on that journey to know more.”
Jaclyn said what’s been surprising for her is the reaction from the community. When she told her friends what Scout Fox Productions was up to before it made its way to social media, they received a ton of positive feedback.
“It’s obviously a topic people are interested in and have things to say about,” she said. “We put it on our Instagram and our website and so many people were messaging us, encouraging us to keep up the good work, and asking for ways to be involved.”
The women said it’s not all positive, though. Jaclyn said she’s had a friend who said their Instagram page made him mad because the things he sees offended him.
Regardless, the trio is excited about the future of the city.
“There are a lot of people who put in a lot of time into making a structure for the city to grow,” Kati said. “It’s a very interesting time in Nashville right now.”
Kati, Jaclyn, and Gabby are big supporters of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s goals for the city and the NashvilleNext plan.
According to the city government’s website, NashvilleNext is a plan created by Nashvillians to guide how and where the city will develop in the next 25 years. Last year “the Metro Planning Commission unanimously adopted NashvilleNext after three years of community engagement involving 18,500 participants,” their website stated.
Right now the trio is gathering content. They decided to create a docu-series because they realize there’s so much to be told. Jaclyn said it would be a shame to pick and choose so why not try to tell as many as they can in a season.
Within the next two months, they hope to have a few mock episodes ready to look for funding and distribution.
Jaclyn said a community is a group of people who happen to live or be in the same area deciding to live together and share life with each other.
“I feel that people are not meant to walk alone, and I feel that I’m a better person because of the community I surround myself with,” she said. “A community is made up of people who build you up and know you. It’s good to be known. I feel like when you’re not known, it’s destructive. You have no one to share things with or do things with.”
Jaclyn said the cool thing about Nashville is that there are a lot of different people, ethnically, vocationally, and even in terms of style.
“People are better when they live with people who are so different from them,” she said.
Kati and Gabby agreed and added that to them, being a part of a community means being a part of something better than oneself. They said a community means unity.
Thanks for reading, Nashville!