About: Josh Garcia
Writer | Photographer
Josh Garcia is a writer and photographer who landed in Jackson in 2008. With a B.A. in English from Union University in his back pocket, he’s abandoned other adjectives for “home” when describing this city. He enjoys reading, writing, photography, and cultivating community around the dinner table. #INFJ
Check out Josh's latest contributions to Our Jackson Home:
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.
Jackson’s musical dichotomy has had a strange, often polarizing environment for musicians to grow in over the last decade. Often touted as the bathroom break between Memphis and Nashville, Jackson—with the exception of Carl Perkins’ aeonian influence on rockabilly—is not critically recognized as a musically significant city. To say that Jackson is part of a bigger delta blues triangle would be more plausible. Music scenes are often planted in Jackson but never seem to flourish.
Whenever I see children playing, I look on in awe as they construct their secret worlds right in front of me with equal parts determination and abandon. One minute, they’re deeply engrossed in a world of fantastical creatures and spaceships where the good side will undoubtedly prevail.
Dutch Garden Berries is a local start-up business that specializes in growing natural strawberries in a protected environment. Bas Van Buuren, the owner and grower of Dutch Garden Berries, started planting in January and has been experimenting to find the best conditions for the strawberries ever since. Van Buuren is passionate about growing fruits and vegetables, but especially fruits, in a controlled environment.“I believe that growing in a protected environment is the future, ” he said.
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.
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.
Ordinary guys don’t spend too much time thinking about the best escape route out of a restaurant or a home or out of town. And while most people I know aren’t worried about the trackability of their IP addresses or burner phones or whether or not they’ve been recorded on too many security cameras in public, that’s not the case for Lee Wilson. But then again, Lee isn’t exactly having an ordinary moment.
In 1998, one of the most respected scholars in the world made a profound decision. It was a decision that seemed at odds with much of what had previously happened in his life. Jaroslav Pelikan was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1923 to devout Lutheran parents. His father was a Lutheran pastor and his grandfather a bishop in the Lutheran Church. By the age of twenty-two he had completed both a seminary degree from Concordia Lutheran Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
For years I’ve been hearing the name James Cherry. I first heard of him when I was a student at Union University (also his alma mater) and then continued to hear about this guy as a Jacksonian interested in writing. It’s clear that locals are proud to have this Jackson native around. He’s the president of the Griot Collective of West Tennessee, a monthly poetry workshop, and is, upon meeting him, very obviously cool. He has an easy going temperament and a steady, unquestionable passion for the written word.
On the hillside of a Humboldt vineyard, in what was once a barn in the land’s historic farm days, is the Companion Gallery, where local ceramicist Eric Botbyl has his studio as well as a gallery shop featuring work by fellow potters from around the country. It’s a quiet place where the doors are left open to catch the breeze on spring days like today and is kept warm by a wood-burning stove in the winter. It’s surrounded by twenty-two acres of grapevines and neighbors the Crown Winery’s Tuscan-style villa.
We gathered in a living room of earthen walls painted mint green with a dirt floor covered by tarp. Our hostess sat aside from the group on a bench lining one of the walls so that we could all have a seat in a circle of sunk-in couches and ottomans. Alemaz Bola is a mother of five and an entrepreneur. She wore a head wrap striped with the green, yellow, and red of the Ethiopian flag and sat meekly aside as if to stay out of the way, despite the fact that we came to hear her story.
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.
A few years ago I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in Denver about her plans for the evening. She told me she was going on a bicycle pub crawl. I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that she and a group of her friends would rent bicycles and ride around downtown Denver and visit the local pubs and bars in the area. The idea was to have one drink at each location and then move on to the next place via bicycle.
Sitting with Taylor and Craig Lott at their recently opened business The Rugged Reclaimers, I ask them to describe their business to me, partly because I’ve had so much trouble describing it myself. A retailer of reclaimed (and new) goods, it’s tempting to group Rugged Reclaimers in under the moniker of antique or thrift store. But despite the number of antiques and goods usually associated with thrifting (pre-owned men’s flannel shirts, furniture, etc.), “antique” or “thrift store” still doesn’t sound quite right.
I’m seated by a floor-to-ceiling window in a Memphis coffee shop waiting for a former professor of mine. Memphis, because it’s his home turf. I watch the passersby coming and going on this sunny Saturday, and as I’m looking outside, I see Bobby C. Rogers turning the corner of Cooper and Cowden. He is a professor of English at Union University.
It seems like I find myself in a lot of conversations about how much Jackson is growing. You might also hear natives and non-natives alike saying, “Jackson is nothing like it was ten years ago.” I recently found myself in conversation with a new Jackson resident while waiting in a food truck line at the farmers’ market, and the California-native remarked on how young and up-and-coming Jackson feels compared to other small Southeastern towns she’s experienced.
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.
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.
We may be an ocean and a solid grand away from Germany’s Oktoberfest celebrations, but it’s starting to cool down outside (I am feeling really good about wearing a sweater the other day), and there’s no reason we can’t gather in the name of good beer on our home turf.
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.
If your coffee education has been anything like mine, you were probably introduced to the centuries-old beverage that’s been studied and practiced and thought about deeply by way of the Just Add Sugar method. You know what I’m talking about. Your dad might have taught it to you and maybe still practices it to this day. He tears those little pink packets open and pours their contents into his steaming cup, and you see a look of satisfaction on his face after that first sip.
There is something comforting about ritual. Of course there’s also something comfortable about the familiar, but ritual is different. The repetition that comes with ritual isn’t out of habit. It’s not something you slip into, like ordering the same dish every time you go to your favorite restaurant. It’s done with intention, with reverence, and with appreciation. For many Jacksonians, Saturday mornings at the West Tennessee Farmers’ Market is one such ritual.
Many of us slide eagerly down Wednesday’s hump toward Friday. When the last day of our workweek finally arrives, we breathe in deep as if the air is suddenly sweeter and more soothing than whatever else we’ve been breathing. We follow up our posts with TGIF hashtags. And best of all, we feel a sense of solidarity with our fellow man because, regardless of race, gender, religion, or creed, we are all thanking God that it’s Friday.
Summertime means that bees are out and about pollinating our crops and private gardens and the untamed lots where wildflowers grow. They work hard to collect pollen and nectar, they communicate by dance, and they feed from the honey stored in their delicately crafted honeycomb. As they go about this routine, they can provoke a variety of reactions from people.
The Snow Day is a Southern Institution. Annually it affects our lives spent together in dramatic fashion. Schools close, milk is scant, and manufacturers of bread become wealthy overnight. As a life long Southerner the Snow Day is a cultural attribute of Southern life that I have come to adamantly defend.
It has been nearly seven years since I landed in Jackson, and in that time I have lived at all three corners of this town’s Kroger Triangle. First I lived on Union’s campus and then in Midtown for a couple years, until eventually moving back north. Then, last summer when the lease was up and I had already given notice at work without knowing the next step, I crashed with my friends Angie and David’s family while I took time to “figure things out” (very millennial of me, no?). For about two months I was unsure of whether or not I would stay in Jackson, but by the end of the summer I was settling in the Lambuth area into a little apartment of my very own.