Rank #1: Coming Soon: The Promise
Here's a preview of the new special six-part series from Nashville Public Radio, where we take you inside Nashville's oldest and largest public housing project.
Rank #2: Part 1: A Change is Gonna Come
At 61 years old, Vernell McHenry is like the grandmother of her corner of James Cayce. Where she’s lived for more than 17 years, greeting the neighborhood from a metal folding beach chair on her stoop. But Cayce is about the be transformed, torn down and rebuilt as mixed income apartments. And now, Vernell has a decision to make. Does she stay in her dilapidated and aging apartment where her friends and a gaggle of smiling kids live next door? Or does she go down the hill to a brand new building, potentially losing her social life and sense of home in the process? **Music Credits: ** Our theme music is by The Insider, additional music by Fleslit and Willbe, all found through the Free Music Archive. The archival audio, found through YouTube, is from the United States Housing Agency. **Production Credits: ** Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez, Emily Siner, Chas Sisk and Julieta Martinelli Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez Fact Checking: Steve Cavendish
Rank #3: Part 2: A Beautiful Day In The Projects
If you live in the Cayce Homes in Nashville, you know Dexter Turner. Not by Dexter, but by his nickname: Big Man. A husband, a father, a community leader, a showman — Big Man is a name everyone knows here. People love Big Man. And he loves his neighborhood just as much in return. But the chaos and the violence in Cayce make him irate. We follow Big Man one pivotal afternoon where his plans for a family barbecue are upended by a fatal shooting right in front of his apartment. More info and photos are at thepromise.wpln.org Music Credits: Our theme music is by The Insider, additional music by Fleslit, all found through the Free Music Archive. Production Credits: Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez, Emily Siner, Chas Sisk and Julieta Martinelli Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez
Rank #4: Part 3: The People And The Police
The relationship between James Cayce residents and the Nashville police is a tenuous one. In this episode, we explore two defining moments in Cayce: A viral cell phone video of a police officer being assaulted, and the most controversial police shooting in the city’s recent history. Both were caught on camera. And both reveal the strain between the people who live in Cayce and the people who patrol it. Music Credits: Our theme music is by The Insider, additional music by Fleslit, all found through the Free Music Archive. Production Credits: Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez, Emily Siner, Chas Sisk Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez Archival news clips were from News Channel 5 and WKRN. With additional audio from the Metro Nashville Police Department and Andrew Hunter.
Rank #5: Part 4: The Great Divide
This is a story about the assumptions we all make. And the secrets we keep. With WPLN reporter Meribah Knight as the go-between, Big Man, a public housing resident from the Cayce Homes, walks across the street to meet the wealthy couple who live in the fancy new home on the hill. In many ways, their lives couldn’t be more different, but in breaking the silence between the two sides of the gentrifying neighborhood, a friendship begins to form — only to be dashed in a way no one could have expected. Production Credits: Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez, Emily Siner, Chas Sisk and Julieta Martinelli Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez
Rank #6: Part 5: Get Some Gone
There is a saying in Nashville’s James Cayce Homes: “Get some gone.” Three simple words that describe the urge, the mission, to move out, to get away from the city’s oldest public housing project. Tonya Shannon grew up in Cayce. And she was determined to get out. So at 18 years old, she got some gone. But leaving the place is rarely a clean break. And with her mother still at Cayce, she lives with complicated thoughts about its future and the people she left behind.
Rank #7: Part 6: The Future
Does this big idea to have low-income and higher income people living side-by-side really make a community better, safer, healthier? As The Promise comes to a close, we dig into the fundamental question driving this massive overhaul of Nashville’s public housing. The city’s housing agency is betting on mixed income, big time. But its only attempts have been on a much smaller scale than what’s envisioned for the James Cayce Homes. We explore one particular attempt, at a housing complex nearby known as John Henry Hale. And what we find reveals that building pretty homes, and putting people side-by-side doesn’t necessarily produce a flourishing community. Music Credits: The Insider, Black Ant, and James Pants, all found through the Free Music Archive Production Credits: Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez
Rank #8: Bonus
We return to the James Cayce Homes to follow up with residents amid the $600 million overhaul. But in checking back, we trip into some news. And we’re reminded, yet again, of how difficult it will be to pull off this massive redevelopment. As the city preps to turn its largest public housing projects into a mixed income development, Cayce residents have to sign a new agreement with steeper fines for late rent, stricter limits on guests and cleaning rules. Plus, higher income tenants won’t have to sign it, which is making residents all the more skeptical, casting doubt on whether the housing authority can really deliver on its promise: To build a community where both the city’s poorest residents and prosperous city-dwellers can live in harmony.
Rank #9: Bonus 2: The Big Man Interview
If you've listened to The Promise, you no doubt remember Dexter Turner, aka Big Man. We met him in episode 2. The husband, father and community leader with a quick wit and a large personality had been planning a family barbecue, when a fatal shooting happened right in front of his apartment. In this episode, Meribah Knight speaks with Big Man months later, live on stage at Nashville Public Radio's Podcast Party.