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With 346 official municipalities in Tennessee, it sometimes takes a bold gesture to get noticed by the state government.

“Sometimes, you’ve just got to walk to Nashville,” said David Barto, executive director of the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation.

Barto, along with others, will embark on a nine-day, 166-mile walk from Collegedale to Nashville to raise awareness and support for The Commons.

A “cultural, recreational and civic heart for the regional community,” The Commons will house more than 60,000 square feet of open-air space. That space would also include a full-scale version of the Chattanooga Market.

The message behind the walk is twofold, according to Barto. The team will have meetings with state representatives to request additional funding and to match donations already raised. They plan to ask for $330,000 of support. But the walk will also highlight Collegedale’s efforts with Gov. Bill Haslam’s Healthier Tennessee initiative to increase physical activity, eat healthier and reduce tobacco consumption.

“We’re asking the governor and secretary of agriculture and tourism to match what the city is putting into the project,” Barto said. 

Barto will begin his walk from his Collegedale residence Tuesday morning. He’ll be joined by others along the way, including civic leaders, local high school students and residents of each town. The walk will take him through Soddy-Daisy, Dunlap, McMinnville, Woodbury, Smyrna and Brookline.

You can follow Barto’s journey here and here. Donations can be made to the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation in support of Barto’s walk here

Although funding has been well-received for The Commons, Barto said nearly $2.1 million (of the needed $3.7 million) is required on the front end for initial development of the 8-acre site. That work must be completed before any of the planned buildings are raised. Barto said $1.1 million has been raised so far. 

The Collegedale Market opened in May as a test version of the Chattanooga Market in the space. Barto said at least 20 vendors set up on Wednesday evenings each week. Although an official attendance number hasn’t been tallied, he said between 1,500 and 2,000 people visit the market in those three hours each week.

“The Commons started out as a little town center for Collegedale,” Barto said. “But it’s really becoming the Hamilton County version of the Chattanooga Market.”

Along with supporters from the community, local businesses such as Heritage Health Food, Kim’s Simple Meals, Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters and the Chattanooga Market owners will offer support during the actual walk.