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What Is Antioch Anyway?

December 30, 2009

Duane Dominy, councilperson of the 28th District, just sent out a copy of a letter he had written to Christina Sanchez regarding the Tennessean article on the opposition to the WIC clinic by Antioch residents:

Dear Ms. Sanchez,
I appreciate the story in today’s Tennessean regarding the search for an alternate location to serve the needs of resident that qualify for WIC. This is truly an important program to assist mothers and children in all of Davidson County.
I ask that you correct the following statement, which is not factual as printed in the story. "More than 43 percent of Davidson County’s WIC participants live in Antioch, but the closest clinic, in the Woodbine community, is 20 minutes away and even longer by bus."
The fact is that 43% of Davidson County’s WIC participants live in three zip codes. These are 37211 and 37217, both of which are Nashville addresses, with the third being the 37013 or Antioch zip. Furthermore, over 8000 recipients or nearly 63% of this group reside in the Nashville zip codes. There are a little more that 4800 recipients of WIC that live in Antioch. This equates to just over 16% of Davidson County participants residing in this community.
Maybe this was a simple mistake, repeating an incorrect statement or the details were simplified in editing to save space in the publication, either way the statement is factually incorrect. I hope that accuracy is important and this will be corrected. I and the community I proudly represent look forward to your response.
Respectfully,
Duane Dominy
District 28 Councilman
101 Cherokee Place
Antioch, TN 37013
615-831-0774

What Councilman Dominy’s letter raises is a continuing place of concern for those of us who live in the Southeast part of the county popularly known as Antioch– the concern that the media and city leaders (like the health department whose publicity suggested that 43% of WIC families were in “Antioch”) continue to redefine our neighborhood with a larger and larger boundary which ends up making problems seem more prevalent than is actually the case.

As a member of the board for the Nashville Chamber South (formerly, the Southeast Business Council) this is an issue that is continually raised, for it creates a perception in the rest of the city that “Antioch” is some sort of crime ridden community of decline, often based on statistics and data for areas far from Antioch proper. Defining the community has been tough for me as a pastor trying to determine his “parish” in that it’s not always easy to identify what folks mean by Antioch. While the post office defines Antioch as encompassing the 37013 zip code (the only zip code that can truly use the Antioch moniker), there is some truth that portions of 37211 and 37217 self identify as Antioch as well. Certainly some folks along Haywood Lane between I-24 and Nolensville Rd. who are in 37211 think they fit within the boundaries of Antioch, but do those boundaries extend all along Nolensville Road in the area down to the Fairgrounds (the northern limits of 37211)? Likewise parts of the Priest Lake area are probably included in the Antioch descriptor, but should that continue North of the airport?

This isn’t to say that a WIC center in the Antioch boundaries isn’t a good thing, for it may make some sense given transportation patterns (especially if we could get MTA to develop a plan which would have feeder hubs allowing for easier transport within zones), but there continues to be a danger when people use community descriptors that aren’t very accurate, especially when those communities begin to obtain a negative reputation. In our case down South, it feeds into a perception of decline that may not be fully accurate, but that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy due the the faulty perception.  This then leads to efforts like that of the “Cane Ridge” community to create an alternative definition so that this thriving community isn’t tarnished by the Antioch moniker and reputation, fragmenting the community and leading to division that only feeds into the perceptional morass.

So how do you define the limits of Antioch? When you hear the word what boundaries would you draw? Do we need to redefine smaller and more specific communities (Cane Ridge, Priest Lake, Tusculum, Mt. View) or is there something to be gained by having a larger statistical area? Based on what you read in the media, what is your perception of this place called Antioch?

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