PROFILE: Brian Blackmon, Sustainability Officer, Knoxville, TN
Brian Blackmon grew up in small town South Carolina in an agricultural family. The first in this family to attend college, he chose English and Anthropology to match a love of words and an interest in social behavior. Post-college, Brian worked as a lab tech for a non-profit that performed archaeological contracting for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Following an interest in public land management, Brian joined AmeriCorps to explore career options. First he worked with the Montana Grass Conservation Commission on a historic document preservation project and capacity building in rural Montana.
He served his second term in Knoxville, TN with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee’s (CAC) Beardsley Community Farm. He spent his year implementing community gardening programs with homeless and disenfranchised populations, and became interested in community development and social movement building.
Following his AmeriCorps term, Brian was hired as program coordinator of CAC’s AmeriCorps program. During his four years with CAC, Brian placed 160 people in local environmental jobs, started the Knox County Conservation Corps, oversaw seasonal FEMA emergency food distributions in Knox County, and developed grant writing and management skills.
Brian came to work for the City of Knoxville in August of 2015. He notes the job transition has been fantastic and a little overwhelming. SSDN and USDN members have been hospitable, open, and helpful: an environment that he feels has helped level the learning curve.
What Challenges do you Face in your Work?
Getting a handle on open data and coordinating data from various sources to meet city sustainability goals has been my biggest undertaking. I see the opportunities that exist to improve processes through analysis of existing trends and conditions, but with many players involved it can be complicated. I am most excited about the advancement of urban agriculture in Knoxville, as they are close to having new ordinances ready for council approval.