An eclectic assortment of live music ranging from jazz to opera to eco-conscious hip-hop will take over Market Square this Saturday for the fourth annual Knoxville Music Harvest.
Hosted by the Knoxville-based nonprofit SEEED, Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development, performances begin at 4 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m.
"We try to mix-up the lineup as much as possible every year," Stan Johnson, SEEED executive director, said. "Our organization is very multi-cultural and multi-faceted, so we like to reflect that through a diverse mix of genres. There will be something for everybody."
In addition to live music, raffle tickets will be sold for weekend stays for two at Marriott locations in Ohio, Georgia and Mexico, as well as a donation booth.
All proceeds from the event will go toward SEEED's aim of enrolling eight young people in their upcoming pre-apprenticeship program.
"Our goal is to host a 12-week educational program for youth teaching them life skills, such as how to properly interview," Johnson said.
Started in 2009, SEEED is a community-oriented nonprofit focused on creating jobs for Knoxville's urban youth and ensuring that clean energy and conservation technologies are available for low income residents. The program was conceptualized by Johnson, Josh Outsey, Jarius Bush and Jerome Johnson, who each saw a need for an organization melding green jobs with urban youth empowerment.
"I was approached by these three young men who wanted to start up a program that could serve as a continuation of organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and AA," Johnson said. "Basically, they felt that a lot of programs have this 'okay, you're cured now' mentality and send kids on their way. But these people wanted something more."
Josh Outsey was one of those people.
"At the time that we got the idea for SEEED, I was 23 and my living situation was not the best," Outsey said. "I found myself seeking self-improvement and internal changes while at the same time realizing that my external community also needed change."
His solution is to help Knoxville residents live environmentally sound lifestyles while simultaneously giving young people like himself a positive direction and the power to make a change.
"I came to Knoxville from Birmingham and felt this community quickly becoming the place I could call home," Outsey said. "Knoxville was already better off than a lot of places I've been, but I still felt I could see potential that perhaps some natives couldn't. I felt like we could tie together the environmental efforts already underway and help improve people's living conditions."
SEEED aims to improve the weatherization and sustainability of homes in especially low income communities.
"We have two big problems – poverty and nonrenewable energy," Johnson said. "A lot of energy is being wasted in homes due to their old age."
Outsey expressed frustration over the tendency of low-income Knoxville residents to pay more for utilities due to antiquated heating and water systems.
"We saw that these communities have lower incomes, yet higher prices on bills," Outsey said. "It's totally disproportionate. Instead of just complaining, we questioned how we could improve this. Clean energy and sustainability is the way to go."
SEEED then began enlisting young people for help in their mission.
Under the guidance of mentors, youth from primarily Knoxville's urban areas update old homes by weather stripping, adding sustainable insulation and switching light bulbs to energy efficient ones.
Currently, 22 young people between the ages of 16-28 are enrolled.
"We always start off by referring to these young adults as our 'kids', but it becomes harder to keep calling them kids as the process goes on," Outsey said. "These are young adults undergoing the process into adulthood and seeking self-improvement and positive motivation through us. You get to see them evolve through social responsibility and self-discovery into educated and empowered adults."