Four families, 13 people, are realizing the dream of being able to call Castanea their home.
Castanea, an apartment building located just northwest of Trevecca’s campus, is a project that began nearly six years ago, when a group of people had a vision of what an intentional Christian community in south Nashville’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood would look like.
The group modeled their community on a national movement known as New Monasticism.
“It means living in close proximity, sharing living space and possessions, daily prayers, and common meals, common work all on a mission,” said
Jason Adkins, Trevecca environmental projects coordinator and resident of Castanea. “These things were taken up by Christians across denominational boundaries who wanted to break through the dividedness of Christ’s body and live in solidarity with people from different denominations and church traditions.”
The group’s main goal in moving into Castanea was to promote environmental, economic, and racial reconciliation. Amanda Burt, one of the residents, said that moving into the neighborhood was something she felt called to.
“When we prepared to move in, we thought ‘How can we live here in a way that would be good for our existing neighbors?’”
Moving into Castanea allowed Burt and the residents of Castanea to become a part of the neighborhood.
Located at 12 Garden Street, the building was purchased in February of 2010. The Castanea group members combined their resources to purchase the foreclosed complex from a bank. The group created a page on Fundly, an online fundraising website, in order to help raise $18,000 for the project.
The group also partnered with Urban Housing Solutions, an affordable housing provider in Nashville, in purchasing the property. Four units are owned and occupied by the Castanea community, while the other four will be rented by Urban Housing Solutions to low-income residents.
Move-in day for the residents came after a six-year wait, but not before encountering a few problems. The project site was broken into a few times. The group also experienced other difficulties, like initially getting support from a bank to take out a loan. Now that the four families live in Castanea, they are taking the opportunity to enjoy their new space in the neighborhood.
“It’s a freeing feeling. We can reevaluate why we’re here now that all of the building is done and we’ve moved in. It’s really amazing to just step back and see it altogether,” Burt said.