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Celebrating the people and the stories of the city we all love: Jackson, Tennessee.
I am convinced that every young person dreams of leaving their hometown, going to a larger city, and making it “big.” That was definitely a dream of mine. Born in Memphis, I moved to Jackson with my family at the age of four. Jackson is my mother’s hometown. This is when my understanding of what made living in Jackson special began.My siblings and I were in a childcare program, and Jackson Parks and Recreation’s summer program is where I met many friends.
Let’s suspend our thought for the next ten to fifteen minutes and imagine what could be. Let’s not think about dollars and cents or logistical structure. While those things are necessary, they’re not for us right now. What we need are open minds and unencumbered ideas about what our downtown might possibly be if we could just think a little bit beyond what we’ve always thought. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen beyond. I’ve seen what downtown Jackson could be if we could just all get on board.
Walt Disney World, Gulf Shores, Baton Rouge, France, the Bahamas, the Yucatan; these are places we go to retreat from the normalcy of life. These are the destinations of our vacations, our free week off from work to do what we want. Yet retreating to something different doesn’t have to mean venturing beyond state lines. As native West Tennesseans, we forget the vast culture and history that surrounds us.
Vineyard’s Gifts, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, is located in one of the quaintest little pockets of Jackson. On the corner of Wiley Parker and North Highland Avenue sits a small shopping center including a florist, spa, children’s clothing store, and café. In the center of it all is Vineyard’s Gifts, a boutique gift shop that specializes in bridal and baby registry, stationery, invitations, and gift items. The store was originally opened as a florist in downtown Jackson by Lyda Tomlin Vineyard.
Tabitha Moore’s dream started with an idea, a few dresses, and an old camper. “Owning a business was always something I wanted,” said Moore. “So to be able to build one from my love of clothing is a huge blessing.” After months and months of thought and prayer, Moore started La Petite Boutique last October with hopes of providing trendy, stylish clothing at affordable prices and building community with other women in the area.
The Jackson Theatre Guild is kicking off this spring with Neil Simon’s farcical play Rumors this weekend at The Ned. Rumors is crammed with two hours of mass chaos, assumptions, misunderstandings, and (of course) rumors. The play opens as Ken and Chris Gorman (played by Kyle Williams and Caitlin Kent) arrive at their friends’ Charlie and Myra Brock’s house to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. But everything is amiss. Myra and the house staff are nowhere to be found, the meal isn’t cooked, and Charlie has survived a gunshot to his head.
We are proud to bring you our very first edition of the #OJHjournal—Vol. 3, Issue 1: Identity. Order your copy or subscribe today at our shop online or at theCO. (Don't forget—individual issues are now $6 and subscriptions just $20!) This April-March 2017 journal will be available April 7, premiering at A Night of Storytelling, Vol. 3.
As I walked into the bustling and brightly colored waiting room of Pat Brown’s dance studio, I was immediately hit by a rush of memories from my days in leotards and tights. I heard the combinations being called out with extreme zeal in the studio, an extremely familiar sound for the sixty dancers who make up the Ballet Arts of Jackson troupe. The older group of dancers were hard at work rehearsing a routine to Thriller for a Halloween event while younger girls peeked in from the hallway.
It’s funny how a reunion can make people nostalgic for their younger days. It’s a time to reflect and think back about how we grew up and memories we made. I feel blessed to have spent my childhood in Jackson, Tennessee. It’s the foundation to who I am as a person, and I can’t imagine growing up in any other place. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some memories I have with you. I’m thinking if you lived in Jackson in the 80s or 90s, you might relate to many of these.
When I think about the vocation of a photographer, I think of the words of Simone Weil, saying that “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Paying attention is what gets most photographers into their profession. They pay attention and capture a moment and then linger in the darkroom, spending hours waiting to see an image develop from the blank white of a sheet of photo paper, the details slowly emerging in a chemical bath.
We really did it! We ate at fifty local restaurants in a year! And guess what? We're doing it again! Yep, we're challenging you to join us in hitting 100 local meals by spring of 2018. Where have we been so far, you ask? Winter has brought so many opportunities to cozy up for some of Jackson's best comfort food. Check out Katie Howerton's play-by-play below.
The births of our first two sons took place in the Northeast at two very well-respected and innovative research hospitals. Yet the family-centered birthing experience we had been longing for took place right here in Jackson, Tennessee. At times I can become cynical with the issues facing our city. We have complex challenges, and there are not always clear solutions.
In his essay collection Heretics, G.K. Chesterton extols, “Once men sang around a table together in chorus. Now one man sings alone, for the absurd reason he can sing better.” In other words, as our scientific age has grown in competency and achievement we have become isolated from the rootedness which gave rise to our confidence in the first place—experts in everything but being human. Can there be any question this is more true today than when Chesterton wrote almost a century ago?
Still a little confused as to what the Our Jackson Home journal is and why you should subscribe? Here's the perfect answer to your question. 1. It's the perfect thing to take on-the-go. With our new, hand 6" x 9" sizing, it's never been easier to take a piece of Jackson with you on the road, whether you're throwing it in your bag for a reading break or passing it off the a friend who's visiting Jackson for the weekend. 2. It looks pretty darn impressive on that coffee table of yours.
We're so pumped to finally introduce the Our Jackson Home journal—our makeover on the look, feel, frequency, and price of our magazine. Mark your calendars because a month from tomorrow we'll be premiering Vol. 3, Issue 1: Identity at A Night of Storytelling at the CO. Check out this video by Shelby Kee highlighting the exciting changes, then head over to our shop to sign up for a one-year subscription for just $20 (shipping included). Music courtesy of PSALLOS.
It can occasionally seem desirable to be someone else. Perhaps to be someone who doesn’t feel what we feel or who says the right things (or who doesn't care that they don’t). Sometimes I’d like to slip out of myself like an outfit poorly chosen at the beginning of the day and roam about for the rest of the afternoon as another person, as someone who is not me as I or others know myself but who in some way still reflects something essentially true about who I am.
Sometime between fifth grade and high school my dad altered my musical taste. I didn’t understand it at the time, and I have to give him credit because it was subtle, but now that I have two kids of my own toting around digital devices, filtering all means of communication in the home is an important part of parenting. What does that have to do with the short documentary I recently produced? Today lovers of R&B music have no fewer than four radio stations in Madison County to get their fix.
There’s a lot of jerk chicken in Joseph Kabre’s future. It’s the most popular dish at Jamaican and African Cuisine, the restaurant he manages. On a typical day, he has enough ready to serve a couple dozen people. But Saturday, March 4, he’s hoping for potentially four times that many customers to show up hungry for the spicy dish. It will take him two days to prepare enough. The chicken has to be smoked, seasoned correctly, and then finished out in the oven.
I moved to Jackson a starry-eyed eighteen-year-old ready for the “real world.” I came to Union University to play volleyball and study my way to becoming a chemical engineer who would change the world with brains and athleticism. Three months into my first semester, I had quit volleyball and was failing at my chemistry courses. A few days into my second semester, a tornado blew away all my belongings, including those starry eyes.
The year was 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Jackson City Hall had separate drinking fountains for "colored" people and "white" people, and Union University and Lane College were still neighbors downtown.It was a crisp fall night in the middle of basketball season. Camille Long was one of only four African-Americans in the bleachers of the Union University gym, including the fellow Lane College student she'd dragged with her.
The first part of a wedding that a bride and groom chooses is often the venue. Availability, location, and amenities are all factors in choosing the right venue, and this guide highlights four great options in the Jackson area. As a wedding photographer, I have worked in each of these places and have personally witnessed the strengths mentioned. Each venue has been operating long enough to have the process down to a science.
It’s the Wednesday after Labor Day, and Jerry Mercer, senior director of Mercer Brothers Funeral Home, assures me his desk doesn’t always look like this. “But getting ready for the appreciation [day]…” he says, shuffling through the stacks of papers and documents in manila file folders and opened envelopes on his desk. The fax machine emits a whiny cry that reminds me of time spent in the 1990s waiting on dial up Internet, and the office phone rings continuously.
Sitting in an intro philosophy class my sophomore year at Union University, I was asked a question: Would it be ethical to sacrifice a person (or a few people) in order to find the cure for cancer? Well, yes, of course it would, I said. We’re talking about cancer, right? I was nineteen and, apparently, omniscient—or so I thought at the time. The certainty of an arrogant college student is a certainty like no other.
We’ve all seen our fair share of family-focused reality TV. Men, women, and children sign up to put their lives on display for all to see. So what does that look like in Jackson, Tennessee? The recently launched web series, Loving My 6. Now happily married for over ten years, John and Timond Williams are the parents of six children under the age of ten.
The Wizard of Oz. That’s my earliest memory of the power of a tornado. From the time I saw that witch riding a bicycle in the air with that house spinning out of control, the power of a tornado had me under its thumb. As a five-year-old, I had no idea how close I would come to that dominance that struck so much fear in me as a child. West Tennessee, and Jackson in particular, is no stranger to tornadoes. As much as we think tornadoes are an indiscriminate act of nature, they’re not.
As a lover of clothing with a longing to become a fashion designer, nothing could have deterred me from introducing myself to a group of women whose sewing flourishes with creativity and design. Most of you may know these women as none other than the Wilbourn sisters. These talented women have been a household name for the past thirty years, not only in the surrounding counties of West Tennessee but all over the globe.
While most of us are prone to toss out old things and run to the new, others are gifted with the vision to make something out of what the rest of us leave behind. Ellen Bennett, the creator of “The Restored Attic,” creates home decor and furniture pieces by repurposing found and thrifted materials. From childhood trips to yard sales with her father, she learned that she didn’t have to pay full price for anything. As she grew up, it evolved into trying to search for furniture and other pieces to decorate her home.
“For Sale” signs and broken windows adorn a large portion of buildings within Jackson’s city limits. Right next to thriving businesses can be found abandoned restaurants or forgotten startups. In the northern part of the city, the lack of uninhabited buildings is less obvious, but take a ride down 45 and it will become more apparent. It is a very sobering sight for those who call Jackson home.
She made the best mincemeat pie,” Cousin Diane recalled, and everyone nodded. The minister for the funeral service had asked what made Janet Bennett unique, and this couldn’t be left off the list. Together with her love of Jeopardy, her skills at sewing clothes for the family, and her impeccable penmanship, the mincemeat pie stood out as an example of Grandma Bennett’s talent, service, and love. Grandma Bennett was a great cook.
Being young with creative aspirations takes hard work and initiative, sometimes particularly so in smaller towns. Yet Jackson is the lucky home to a plethora of up-and-coming talent with big plans for the future. Having lived and worked here for several years now, the members of Coopertheband are no strangers to the trials and rewards of the independent music world. They have recently played several shows back-to-back in the community, extending their central messages of hope and joy through their lyrics.
On Our Podcast
Happy Arbor Day!
So many of the best and worst parts of a city are seen most clearly in its school system, and it's thanks to our school board that issues can be addressed and families can be encouraged. Today on the podcast, Kevin Adelsberger interviews Jackson-Madison County School Board member Bob Alvey about the challenges of his role, his perspective on public and private schools, and what new superintendent Eric Jones has to offer.
When I first moved to Jackson, my only regret in my college choice was (what seemed to me) the lack of natural beauty in the university’s town. As a Middle Tennessee native and an East Tennessee enthusiast, I grew up enthralled by the beauty of Tennessee’s landscape: the rolling hills, slow-moving rivers, and Blue Ridge Mountains in the east. Hence, my relocation to West Tennessee was, quite literally, flattening.
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