About: Courtney Searcy
Writer | Photographer
Courtney Searcy likes to design things, take pictures, and write words that tell good stories about their community. Jackson became home after she graduated from Union University in 2014, where she studied Graphic Design and Journalism. She currently works as marketing manager at TLM Associates while continuing to make paper goods on the side via her business Fine Company. She thinks the best things in life are porch swings, brunch, art, music, and friends to share it all with.
Check out Courtney's latest contributions to Our Jackson Home:
If you drive through the suburban sprawl surrounding Nashville, headed west towards Jackson, Tennessee, the rolling hills will soon taper to level ground. You’ll know you’re almost there when a field of trees swallowed in kudzu forms hovering masses, almost like ancient creatures gathered alongside the road. We don’t think about it too much, but there’s something to the landscape of a place. Plenty of artists have tried, but it shapes us in ways we can’t quite name.
When I was young, my family would take vacations to different cities to watch baseball games. While I loved baseball, the thing I looked forward to the most was seeing the skyline of whatever city we were visiting. In my single digit years, it was always St. Louis. Driving past the multitude of Drury Inns in the suburbs and waiting for the skyline to materialize in the distance never got old. Seeing the Arch stretch across the sky is something I can still see in my mind today. As I got older, the cities became larger: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York.
While growing up on the east coast, Christal King became intrigued with the breathtaking surroundings of Hampton, Virginia. She fell in love with every aspect of nature, especially the endless views of the ocean and its beautiful aromas. She was inspired to put her memories into a dream that she would never forget. Those inspirations are what fueled what is now Indigo Scents Candle Co. King started selling her specialized products in 2012, then took it a step further to selling her products at the farmers’ market and other vendors within West Tennessee.
2017 has been a year to remember, and much of that is thanks to our talented contributors who have poured themselves into telling the stories of Jackson in such a compelling way that they become part of our lives. With that, we are proud to share this year's top ten stories from our blog, encouraging you to read any you missed and to high-five the writers, photographers, and subjects featured.
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.
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?
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.
A twenty-minute drive away from the busy hub of I-40 and the noise of the road, the work day of a farrier begins unceremoniously. A trailer full of equipment is backed into a horse barn, equipment is unloaded, and work is immediately undertaken. Father-son duo Donnie and Chris Taylor begin their day beneath the hum of rain on the barn’s tin roof with intensity, focus, and a careful and determined pace that could only be settled into after years of practicing their craft.
The precious things are always removed first. They’re handled with care, preserved, and safeguarded so as not to disturb their history or perceived beauty. Careful hands wrap them in padded blankets or quilts and gently set them in an arrangement that will in no way cause a fracture. The pieces that are disposable or not as aesthetically pleasing are swept into a pile or thrown away or burned or sold. And so goes the process of preparing for the demolition of a building.
“We help any person with any disability realize their potential.” Star Center President Dave Bratcher’s summary of the non-profit is simple, but a tour of the facility will quickly show just how far it reaches into the community. Since their start in 1988, they have grown into a thriving center serving a wide range of clientele by listening to the needs of the community.
To call Jackson home sometimes feels like a betrayal of the place that taught me the meaning of that word. Two hours east on I-40, home is a small white farmhouse on top of a hill with a porch swing and a bed of roses that welcome you to the front door. At home, the sound of that swing’s rusty metal creaking still steadies me like I imagine the ticking of a metronome does for a novice musician. There are days when I ache for the rhythm of home, just as we gasp for air when deprived of breath.
Entrepreneurs are sometimes the kind of people who come up with an idea and ruthlessly execute it. Others stumble into businesses ownership when their hobbies or passions lead them down a winding path of challenges and unexpected joys. Walt and Michelle James, the new owners of the Downtown Tavern, fall into the latter category. They are a pair of charitable entrepreneurs who were flung into the revitalization of downtown Jackson.
A little over a year ago, I spent the summer exploring as many nearby state parks and national parks as I could squeeze into my schedule and my budget. After shedding more than a few dollars in kayak and canoe rentals, I decided to consider what it would be like to actually purchase a kayak. After some research and shopping around, I plunged into becoming a kayak owner.
Megan was a fact nut, the kind of girl who was interested in the details in everything she studied. She once committed a semester to checking out a certain number of design books at the library just to keep herself inspired in her trade and always learning. So it shouldn’t have surprised me when began research on her new historic duplex on Arlington and affectionately referred to it by the name the metal sign read outside: The Merriweather House.
Loading my three children into the car to take the oldest to school in the early morning is usually a pretty somber and quiet routine. However, sometimes my kids have the craziest conversations. Recently my daughter, who is five, asked, “What are we doing today?” This is a common question for her to ask, as lots of times she runs errands with me or visits friends. On this day, though, we were going to check out Marmilu Farms, a recently established farm in Jackson raising organic animals.
With spring upon us and workshop season now in sight, there is much to look forward to at theCO in addition to the constant buzzing that is brought about from our weekly meetups and get-togethers. In anticipation of next week’s gathering, A.M. Creative, we recall gleanings from February’s edition of the event which took on a new look, as the meetup tailored for artisans and patrons moved from the traditional early morning convening to an afternoon lunch hour that proved to be exceedingly popular.
There is nothing beautiful about a neighborhood razed and left for kudzu and vines to swallow trees whole, while grass begins forming veins in the cracks of the abandoned streets. There is nothing beautiful about a lot tended only enough to keep back tall grasses. So when I say I love the patch of abandoned land called Westwood Gardens, I get that it’s kind of weird.
This past Saturday afternoon I dropped by Lisa Garner’s Love Day Pop-Up Shop at the Neely House in search for a little something for my wife and two daughters. And while I walked out with a small stack of mini valentines for my loves (thanks, Courtney Searcy!), I left being reminded of why Jackson has my heart. As the sun began to slowly warm my skin from the cutting breeze, I realized it had been nine years since I last stood on the porch of the former Murphy Hotel.
In case you haven’t taken note, Jackson’s skies are pretty incredible. Particularly due to the way the sun sets in the evenings, our community has distinguished itself apart from others in the area for hosting some of the most arresting color shows and cloud movements. Whether it’s reflected through curious little wisps or cascading textures and patterns, the sky often transforms into something of a light box when the daylight begins to turn.
Merry Christmas, Jackson! For those of you who don't know, December 25 also marks our one-year anniversary from launching www.ourjacksonhome.com. In celebration of all the fun we've had this year, we present you with a little Christmas gift from us—an Our Jackson Home 2016 Desktop Calendar! Enjoy a little taste of Jackson each month while you work, featuring photography from stories we've run in 2015. Just save these photos to your computer and use them as you will.
As the end of the year draws nigh, discussions about what the next year will look like are taking place at dinner tables, over late night cookies, in the Twittersphere, and beyond. How have we grown and been shaped over the course of the last year? How will that affect our trajectory for the next? And how on earth will we condense the local zeitgeist into a 2016 hashtag? As I’ve found myself in these conversations, #Hustle2015 is a recurring term of endearment used to describe the last year.
We've got the perfect selection of local gifts that will cover everyone on your list. Check out details below.
Our lives are marked by transition, and our feet don’t grow roots to tell us when to stay put. At every new season we find ourselves uncertain about what a step in a new direction might mean for us. Maybe we are desperate for change to lift us out of our monotony or afraid we took a wrong step somewhere or disappointed by our careers. Maybe it’s the success-driven culture we are raised in—but sometimes choosing to stay put is the least appealing option. Especially in Jackson, Tennessee.
Among a greenhouse full of sprouting and thriving plants and hanging baskets overflowing with carefully attended vines, Rita Randolph meticulously places a cutting of a plant into its own compartment of soil so that it will take root and grow. I am at Morris Nursery on accident, because a warm spring afternoon convinced me I could learn to keep a few plants alive.
Fall is finally in full swing, and if you're anything like me, you know that there are few things better than fall camping season. There's just something about the cozy campfires and the chilly mornings that makes being outdoors in the fall so much more invigorating than any other season. And if you live in Jackson, you're fortunate to be surrounded by tons of nearby state parks and recreation areas that make getting out in nature a breeze.
Jackson is home to a community of phenomenal people and growing social appeal. While our weeks can seem mundane and leave us jaded, there are plenty of opportunities to socialize, express creativity, and simply relax. I've compiled a list that I hope will enhance our weekly routines to create shared memories with friends and family as we together enjoy Jackson.
The events, places, people, and things that we remember in our lives can be extremely non-discriminant. In a singular moment, I sometimes think that whatever I’m doing or whoever I’m talking to in that moment is so important or emotional that it will be burned into my mind forever, only to realize a few weeks later that I can’t even remember the moment. I simply remember thinking that I would remember the moment.
I had been craving some good country biscuits for a while when the Autrys invited me over for breakfast one Sunday. Marcie told me that her husband, Jamie, makes excellent biscuits and, man, was she right. “One of our dreams is to have a biscuit truck at the farmers’ market. We have a lot of dreams, though,” she said laughing in their kitchen. In fact, they’ve started keeping a written list, storing their dreams away in a log, ready for the picking when the time is right.
Alba, the coffee shop that now sits on 112 East Baltimore downtown, follows a string of laughable changes in owners and names. First, there was Starbucks, followed by Green Frog. Green Frog sold their business to Ugly Mug, and Ugly Mug closed shop within a few months. The important thing, though, is that there is a really good local shop there, and it is celebrating one year in business.