Ian McNay – Born and raised in Atlanta, GA. Chattanooga transplant as of 2023.

I’ve always been deeply involved in outdoor pursuits.

Hiking, biking, camping, climbing to name a few.

Nature keeps me grounded, soothes me when nothing else can, and provides answers when the world gets too noisy.

Outdoor access in Chattanooga is one of my main callings here.

Along with family, friends, and much less traffic. It’s a perfect place to build the next phase of my life.

When I move to a new city, I seek community and knowledge of the area and its history.

I search for connections. I desire to connect with new people, new ideas, and share some of my own.

My passion for the outdoors has led me down a career path I started in Atlanta over a decade ago.

I knew long hours staring at a screen wasn’t going to be sustainable for me.

It didn’t matter how much anyone offered to pay me, I needed to be more grounded. I needed nature.

I began to apply for any job involving working outside. Landscaping, construction, etc.

I tried many opportunities.

I was able to withstand physically demanding conditions for quite a while, mostly due to my pure enjoyment of being outside and not glued to a computer.

However, that didn’t last forever. I’m insatiably curious about ideas and acquiring new skills.

That led to me asking questions about why we do things the way we do. Is there a more efficient or better way to do things?

I was shut down pretty quickly with questions or suggestions on how we could perform better for our clients, or even provide better quality of life for employees.

After a few years I grew tired of doing the same things over and over that weren’t yielding great results.

Aside from being overworked and underpaid, I saw a better way to manage client expectations, employee/employer relationships, and more environmentally responsible ways to perform our work.

I realized the only way of making my ideas happen was to be the boss and make my own set of best practices.

I started working weekends on my own to prove I could do it before I transitioned full time and gave up working for other people.

After a year or so of trying things out, losing money, and working even harder than my day job, I fell in love with being my own boss.

It sounds a little ridiculous, but the part I didn’t mention was how happy my new clients were, how much I was learning, and how much fun it was knowing I was doing good work and treating my sub-contractors really well. It was empowering for everyone.

I just had to solve one problem…

I had to become a better business person.

It was a little slow going at first, but when it really hit me how important it was for me to do my own work, be my own boss, and make all my own decisions, I had no choice but to become better.

I learned to offer more value, charge more money, and be more confident about the work I do and empower the people I serve.

The skills I learned unlocked so much opportunity, growth, and flexibility.

It was absolutely worth all the long hours, the literal blood, sweat, and tears to make it a reality.

Fast forward 7 or 8 years and now I’m here in Chattanooga.

I spent the past two years living on the road with my amazing and supportive partner, Kate.

We traveled to incredible places, had many adventures, and learned a lot about ourselves and our country.

It’s an experience we’ll never forget. Ask me about it any time 🙂 

Now that I’m here, I’m so ready to explore what Chattanooga has to offer, and share everything I have to offer to the city I now call home.

I’m already connecting deeply with the river, the mountains, the valleys, and the array of landscapes that are here to appreciate.

I want to share my knowledge of landscapes, home gardens, and sustainable practices.

I want to work with community members to enhance our neighborhoods and cityscapes to create healthy and diverse communities for plants, animals, and people.

I’m creating this website, chattgardener.com, as a resource for all who want to connect with nature and in turn connect with themselves and their communities.

There will be blog posts, videos, community events, and many more opportunities to get involved.

If you made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time and reading my story.

I hope to meet you soon, to hear your stories, and connect with your community.

I’m very much looking forward to building our soil, growing strong roots, and becoming a more connecting, loving, and sustainable community together.