My name is Jack Knoxville and I am originally from NY. I’ve lived in Knoxville, TN now for just around 5 years. What started as a random road trip, turned into me finding the place that would become my home.
After growing up as a homeless teenager, I can easily say that I’ve lived in 14 states and Knoxville was the first place that made me feel like I was home. (Thank you for that!)
I have over 20 years of experience in marketing and helping launch start-ups. Most of the projects that I have been involved with always have had some type of community aspect to them. The first fundraiser that I did, was for a friend in High School after hearing that her and her family were living in their van.
I organized our mutual friends and approached a venue about holding a benefit show. From that point forward, I was hooked.
Between 2000 & 2001, I worked for a place called Trident Literacy Center where I was the Computer Literacy Manager. My job was figuring out what to do with the storage shed full of donated computers that the organization had built up. Needless to say, I built and implemented several computer labs around Charleston and began teaching basic computer navigation for adults. The program expanded to include an advanced class, where students could learn how to rebuild machines, and if they volunteered 10 hours of their time they would have the chance to build their own machine out of the spares we had.
In 2002, I started a nonprofit called “Free 2 Be”, in Charleston, SC. Our main focus was on using education and awareness to combat the growing tensions that the LGBT community was facing at that time. One of the first things that I did, was contact every LGBT organization in the state and let them know that I wasn’t there to compete, I was there to unite. Within the first 3 months, my membership grew to 140 and was operating out of 3 separate cities in SC. My reward was an amazing certificate signed by the late Rosa Parks, and my name being added to the Wall of Tolerance, by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In 2005, I worked for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition in Los Angeles, CA and worked with several partners to develop the plans for a television show that could call attention to the stories of our homeless in the US.
In 2010, I launched a website called the Home Grown Zine, whose main focus was to facilitate bridging of community in Myrtle Beach, SC (a very transient area). I attracted over 700k hits to the site within the first 90 days of being in business. The content was mostly centered around promoting entertainers and artists around the area. Within one month, we had caught the attention of 3 record labels that sponsored our launch party. The event was $5 at the door or $3 with canned food items. The net result was having the ability to feed over 100 families for Thanksgiving.
In 2016, I launched the Trans Empowerment Project here in Knoxville. Our first event was held in December and saw roughly 100 members of the community participate in a clothing swap, at the Birdhouse.
In 6 months, The Trans Empowerment Project, has held and sponsored multiple events in Knoxville. I feel like the reason we have attracted so much attention is because we aren’t trying to showboat as the new kid on the block, but because we have reached out and partnered with so many wonderful organizations in Knoxville that are already working hard on equality.
The reason I started the organization is because when I first moved to Knoxville, I had a terrible time finding healthcare or resources at all for my own transition.
Our current political climate in this country is one that can be, overwhelming at times. However, I believe that if we focus on our local governments, we can truly effect change nationwide. Knoxville has been a surprisingly diverse and welcoming environment for me, and I really want others that come to our city to feel the same.
It’s going to take rolling up our sleeves and working together to make change, but we can do it.
- The crime rates in this area are unacceptable. According to city-data.com, we are operating around DOUBLE the national average for crimes. Most concerning is the fact that rapes, gun violence, and sexual assaults are on the rise.
- The relationships that many of the minorities in this area have with our city workers can and should be improved. This is esp important for our immigration population. We should be trying to work with people rather than trying to harm them. Most concerning is the recent report by the ACLU that included Knox County for the violence and extreme nature in which violators are being treated.
- We need real solutions for homelessness. Karm and the Salvation Army just won’t cut it. Areas like Market Square are inundated with people that need help and they’re just not getting it. People typically get enough help for a day or two and then starting all over again. Being homeless isn’t a crime, and I’m tired of seeing people get arrested or fined for panhandling, when they obviously can’t afford it. Let’s get creative folks!
- Our schools are failing our kids, each and every single day, when it comes to safety. LGBTQ youth, most specifically trans gender youth, are 40% more likely to commit suicide, and the lack of education on these topics is making it worse. We need anti-bullying systems in place and accountability for everyone who is working with our youth. With 3 suicides at 1 school in less than 6 months, I think this deserves real conversation and problem solving; rather than the victim blaming that I’ve seen so far. Those 3 kids, their families, and the kids around them deserve better than this!
- Let’s work on a real plan for victims of opiate addiction. Topics like the legalization of marijuana and the benefits of substances like Kratom deserve real exploration.
- We are called the solar city, but the use of solar energy for this town is minimal. Why? We need better and healthier alternatives to our energy consumption.
- We need a city council that is going to not just be held accountable but that will work together to hold each other accountable, and will even hold our mayor accountable.
- We need to stop segregating ourselves as a city and start working together, especially to stop the gentrification and displacement of Knoxvillians.
Knoxville is such a beautiful place to live. It’s the perfect city to me. You’re no more than 15 mins from city life or country life, with the luxury of mountains to hike and lakes to swim/kayak. We have beautiful greenways, parks like Ijams, and trails worth exploring. There are a plethora of diverse events going on all year long and it is home to some of the most committed and dedicated people that I’ve had the pleasure of working beside. As the new guy, I’m not looking to change as much as I’m looking to clean up this town. I have a history of creative problem solving, creative funding solutions, and a proven history of community building and I know that if we all roll up our sleeves just a little, we can effect real change!
We have great minds in this town that can contribute to the creative problem solving for all of the tough issues that are in front of us.
If you’re interested in jumping in and helping out with my campaign, please join my email list here.
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