Gallatin Pike’s New Focus

Joe Nolan is the type of person who sees the beauty in everyday things. That might be why his professional biography includes the roles of singer, songwriter, poet, critic, and photographer. Wearing one of his many hats, that of a reporter for Nashville’s National Public Radio affiliate WPLN-FM, Nolan has turned his rose-tinted vision on Gallatin Pike and started a movement.
     After moving to East Nashville in 2012, Nolan found himself captured by the scenery along its main thoroughfare. As WLPN sought content that would drive visitors to its website, he saw the chance to share that feeling with a wider audience.
     “I saw all these things that were really cool and beautiful on Gallatin Pike, all the signs and the diversity, the gumption of all these little businesses and how that’s really special,” Nolan says. “As I kept seeing it more I had this urge to pull over and take photos of all this stuff. So when the opportunity to do a project for WLPN [came up], it seemed like a place to actually share that idea with the world.”
     Nolan’s pitch became the Pikes Project, a series of photo essays on WPLN’s website that has featured Gallatin, Nolensville, Charlotte, and Dickerson pikes, along with extended captions and radio spots punctuated with Nolan’s spoken word poetry.
     The project has been recognized with a $4,000 THRIVE award from the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, which Nolan will use to keep taking photos, host an exhibition and poetry reading, and promote #PikesProject on Facebook and Instagram to encourage others to post their photographic tributes.
     “The whole thing has turned into a campaign where I’m trying to engage East Nashville, and eventually the whole city, so that any of us can go online and see the photos that the whole neighborhood has taken,” Nolan says. “There’s any number of other people that have their own take on what Gallatin Pike is and what makes it special. There’s every reason to keep on looking at it, keep on asking what it is, keep on wondering what it will be and what it has been.”