Ms. Vernell has another big decision to make: to stay in Cayce through the chaos of redevelopment, or to leave? Her conclusion reveals something about this long, messy process to overhaul Nashville’s public housing.
If you’ve listened to The Promise, you no doubt remember Dexter Turner, aka Big Man. We met him in episode 2. In this bonus episode, Meribah Knight speaks with Big Man months later, live on stage at Nashville Public Radio’s Podcast Party.
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.
Does this big idea to have low-income and higher income people living side-by-side really make a community better, safer, healthier? As season one of The Promise comes to a close, we dig into the fundamental question driving this massive overhaul of Nashville’s public housing.
What happens when you try to leave Cayce? 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.
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 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.
The relationship between James Cayce residents and 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.
If you live in the James 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. 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.
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.
Photos from the early days of Cayce Homes (built in 1941), some of the people you meet in season one, as well as the redevelopment efforts in recent years.