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.
Photography by Kevin Adelsberger
"Fellow Jackson citizens: Do you need anything? How about legal counsel? Perhaps varicose veins reductions? Are you a painter who needs dance classes? What about some good old-fashioned matchmaking?
Then you need Dolly! Fortunately for us, Hello, Dolly! has come to the stage at The Ned, and she has brought all her business cards with her. Dolly Levi, played by Julie Glosson, is an expert at everything. In her own words, she’s a professional meddler. And she will meddle her way right into the arms of the well-to-do Horace Vandergelder, played by Billy Worboys, by any means possible, Even if it means intentionally botching her matchmaking job. . . ."
9. Home Is Where the Soup Is
" . . . To those of us making our home in Jackson, it’s easy to get excited about the numerous events and new initiatives here at home, to be consumed with inward-focused improvements in our own backyard. While those things are certainly valuable, the temptation we face is neglecting to remember and celebrate the contributions Jackson natives have and are making around the world. Is it possible one of the most transformative and original might be SoupNite—that 'being home no matter where you are,' as Charlie Sell put it, might connect thousands in community and incubate untold initiatives, businesses, and world-changing relationships?"
". . . Our school system may never be what it used to be, but that’s not a bad thing. We always want things to be like they were even though they have the potential to be so much more. There is no doubt that our system is near a tipping point. This may truly be our last chance to start over, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been more encouraged about the person who is leading our district than I am right now. In my ten years of teaching in JMCSS, this is the most confidence I’ve ever had in my school and our district, and that’s something to be excited about. Dr. Jones has put together a great group of people in leadership roles to help him make his vision a reality. This will be a long process, but I’m very eager to be a part of it."
7. Jackson's Top BBQ Tour
"Confession: I don't love barbecue. I know. Shameful. I grew up in the South and everything, but barbecue isn't something I crave—but sometimes I wonder if that's because my tastes have for so long settled for whatever is slopped on a bun at a sporting event, church picnic, or drive-thru.
Whether a barbecue fan or not, it can't be denied that West Tennessee is home to some of the nation's best, and interpretations of the vague title continue to surprise and impress locals and visitors alike. I figured it was time I gave my inexperienced palate a tour of Jackson's favorites, the spots I hear shouted from the mouths of fans all over town. . . ."
Photography by Katie Howerton
". . . 'This started from a passion I had for clothing, but it’s developed into something much bigger,' she said. 'This has grown my faith, built community and taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned to take each day as it comes and let the Lord show me what He wants this business to be. I’m excited and just enjoying seeing where this goes.'"
5. Stay731: Potential
". . . After college I was going to play basketball overseas, however the deal changed, and so did my mind. My son was born, and my priorities changed. After teaching one year and starting my business, D'TOP Roofing and Repair, I had a whole new perspective of what my next five years would be like. Being somewhere familiar and having that hometown support were essential to my survival as a young businessman.
"Jackson has become a place of incredible potential in my mind. Once I started looking out the window of the world wondering what the big city was like, I was able to appreciate what was right in front of me. The growth of downtown Jackson and other areas has continued to make Jackson special to me. I feel like the best is yet to come for the city, and I am glad to be here and be a part."
4. Welcome to Hicksville
". . . I remember many times going to Hicksville, but I never knew its name. My mother would load me and my sisters into our minivan, and we drove across town to the small, but popular, Highland Park Grocery and Bakery at the corner of North Highland and Campbell. They had the best donuts and birthday cakes. As far as I know, it was the best bakery in Jackson at the time. Later we would go play on the shady playground at Highland Park, now known as Conger Park.
"It wasn’t until I had moved away and come back to Jackson that I learned about the history of Hicksville, though many of my own stories had taken place there. . . ."
3. The Escape Artist
". . . It’s this curiosity, this fascination with the chase—or, rather, being chased—that’s brought Lee to this unique point in his life, from starting Jackson Escape Rooms to starring in a reality show, and also, I imagine, to making the consumer decision to buy the copy of Survival Wisdom & Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Subsist in the Wilderness that I notice on the coffee table in his living room where we meet for this interview.
"'I think Jackson Escape Rooms has been one of the biggest disruptions to my normal, everyday life that I’ve ever experienced,' Lee says of the business he co-founded with Jared Dauenhauer while working together at Union University. . . ."
2. Stay731: Worth the Fight
". . . Building community requires courage to show up and be seen: seen on your best days but, more importantly, seen on your very worst days. It takes screwing up and having to shamefully ask for forgiveness. It requires a short memory of offenses done against you and a willingness to stumble through miscommunications and hurt feelings. It requires resolve. It requires patience. It requires a visionary hope of the joy that is promised in knowing and being known. Community is not easy, but I believe that it is worth it. People who were once strangers have now walked with us through grief, celebration, job changes, and the birth of babies. They have lifted our faces in periods of burnout and disillusionment. They have been a source of love that has healed painful places in our lives. . . ."
1. 20 Signs You Lived in Jackson in the 80s & 90s
". . . Let’s go back to Old Hickory Mall—did you eat at The Orange Bowl or “I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt”? Did you buy a “Cassingle” from Camelot so you could always play your favorite song whenever you wanted? Did your mom shop at Mom and Tots? Did you love the window displays at Casual Corners? Did you ever shop at the Walgreens and remember eating at the restaurant there? If you were a girl in the 80’s in Jackson, you probably bought a splatter-painted lunch box and Lisa Frank scratch-and-sniff stickers at Names ‘N Things. . . ."