Best of Knoxville 2012: Knoxville Life

Best Story About Knoxville

Martha Boggs Kicking Out Stacey Campfield From Bistro at the Bijou
It was the booting heard 'round the world: Bistro owner Martha Boggs decided she'd had enough of state Sen. Stacey Campfield's wildly inaccurate statements about AIDS (a man, a monkey, etc.) and LGBT people in general, and did not want to serve him in her establishment. That small act of defiance created an avalanche of media coverage, loud opinions from detractors and supporters, and increased business. If only it would set a national trend: No restaurant service for politicians who lie to further their political agendas. They'll just have to eat at home. Meanwhile, the Appalachian Community Fund has named Boggs winner of its Appalachian Hero Award, with a bash in her honor on May 12, 8 p.m. at Relix Variety Theatre. (C.T.)
Runners Up: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition helping the Restoration House, Love Kitchen on Oprah, Popcorn Sutton

Best Local Annual Event

Dogwood Arts Festival
See our April 5 cover story!
Runners Up: Boomsday, Brewers' Jam, International Biscuit Festival

Best Environmental Steward

Ijams Nature Center
It's a dry-sounding category, maybe, but green, lush, and suddenly huge Ijams is a natural winner. The 275-acre wildlife preserve and nature-study center recently celebrated its 100th anniversary (as Harry Ijams' personal bird sanctuary), but has stretched the boundaries of what can be expected of a nature center. It hosts bat caves, owl prowls, birdwatchers' excursions, river cleanups, and classes about nearly everything nature-related. Due to its personal connections, it has evolved a reputation for exhibits concerning extinct birds, especially the rare ivory-billed woodpecker; the last surviving person known to have seen one alive is a big supporter of Ijams. (J.N.)
Runners Up: Beardsley Farm, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Legacy Parks Foundation

Best Community Service Oriented Group or Church

Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries
The controversy, like the poor, will always be with us. But no matter your views on whether Knoxville inadvertently attracts transients by offering so many services; whether a meal or bed for the night should be contingent on a Scripture reading; whether Knoxville neighborhoods should welcome permanent housing to aid the chronically homeless, it's plain to see that KARM is out in the trenches. Their mission is unabashedly faith-based: "To seek to rescue the poor and needy of the Knox Area by providing recovery services in Jesus' name." And their residential recovery program is Biblically based. But the group also serves nearly 1,000 meals a day to the least of our brothers; shelters some 400 men, women, and children each night; offers a place for victims of domestic violence and another for one- and two-parent homeless families. Most recently—and visibly—KARM has opened a Crossroads Welcome Center, which they call "a practical starting point where people can get off the streets, use the restrooms, have access to computers, make phone calls and even stow their bags while they work to get off the streets." And KARM's a linchpin in the cooperative group, where secular agencies and Christian ministries from across Knoxville work together to serve the homeless. (R.K.)
Runners Up: Cokesbury United Methodist Church, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

Best New Trend Knoxville Needs to Jump On Three Years Later

Food Trucks
Well, maybe we didn't word this category as well as we should've—we meant national trends that are hot now and should arrive here in about three years. Food trucks have already landed here, buying local has gotten much attention in the past year, and micro-breweries... c'mon! (C.T.)
Runners Up: Buy Local, Micro-Breweries Located in Knoxville, Same-Sex Marriage Equality

Best Thing About Knoxville That's Not Found Anywhere Else

Market Square
First, we have to say that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park got the most votes. But it isn't located in Knoxville! You can kind of see the mountains from here on a clear day, but let's face it: We can't claim the Smoky Mountains. They are not ours. Now Market Square, on the other hand, is uniquely Knoxvillian. After decades of decline, it has truly returned as our town square, where everyone comes together from all parts of the region to relax, to shop, to eat, or to protest—no dome required. (C.T.)
Runners Up: Ijams Nature Center, Neyland Stadium, Sunsphere