There is a little Italian café in Geneva, Switzerland, that sits just across the street from the headquarters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I found myself there one rainy morning in February hunched over coffee with a colleague. We ran through the updates of the people around us who were doing their best to keep their flags flying in the midst of deep decreases in global budgets and broad increases in needs for life-saving work in areas such as human rights and global health.
If you want to see the inside of Jackson’s newest art gallery, call a real estate agent. There are no ropes looped from gold partitions. No security guards standing with their feet spread apart and hands clasped behind their backs. No tourists snapping pictures and scrolling through Yelp reviews to find the best place for lunch. There was no grand opening with trays of silver trays of hors d’oeuvres or patrons of the arts in cocktail dresses. Someone off peeled the blue “for lease, three floors” that sagged in the window.
Since the conception of our journal in 2015, we have had the honor of featuring a new local poet in each of our issues, allowing them to creatively respond to the theme given. Today, in honor of World Poetry Day, we share our full collection of poetry from 2015 to 2017 and encourage you to enjoy and reflect on the following pieces.
Professor Haelim Allen’s office, like the rest of the art department at Union University, is in beautiful disarray. There are paintings on the walls, half-completed sketches on her desk, various models in differing states of completion on a bookshelf, and of course a second bookshelf overflowing with literature that seems a staple of every teacher’s office. Just outside of her office door is a gorgeous light box which fills the hallway with a sense of peace and calm. The building itself is not by any stretch beautiful, but Professor Allen has transformed her office and the hallway leading up to it into a peaceful, welcoming environment.
“I want you to close your eyes and imagine waking up on Christmas morning with all of the gifts your family and Santa Claus has brought you under the Christmas tree,” third grade teacher and author Natalie Cravens tells her students at West Chester Elementary in Chester County. “Now, while keeping your eyes closed, imagine being very sick instead and waking up in a hospital room void of presents on Christmas morning.”
It’s the woman at the bus stop holding a toddler’s hand. It’s the woman using food stamps in front of you at the grocery store. It’s the woman at the soup kitchen who can sing like no one else. These women and their families eat, sleep, and live a few blocks away but their stories are too gruesome to share, and it makes us a little uncomfortable to talk about them, much less look at them, eat with them, or live with them.
On Sunday afternoons when I was young, my grandparents and I would drive south from church on the 45 Bypass and inevitably come to a stop at the red light at the bottom of the Hollywood Drive exit ramp. I would be in the backseat of my grandfather’s Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I could barely see out of the window, but my eyes would always be drawn to a sticker on the light pole next to the intersection. On the sticker was the head of the Atlanta Braves mascot from the early 1980s: Chief Nok-A-Homa.
The door opens with a wide swing as I'm greeted with the usual "Hi, friend, come in!" Tiny footsteps come faster and faster around the corner until I'm hit by my favorite little person hugs. Coffee is probably already in the works for me, and a spot on the couch cleared. "So, how are you?" she asks.This is the usual welcome I receive at the Havner household. There are some people in life who were made to share in our stories—people who don't simply listen to your words but involve themselves, too.
Step inside the middle store at theLOCAL, Jackson’s new micro-retail development, and enter Chase Walker’s vintage world. Mounted to the wall behind the register, a rusted mattress frame displays coats and bright ski jackets. A taxidermy red squirrel (who doesn’t have a name yet) holds business cards urging “GET LOST.” Vinyls slump in a crate under the window. Afghans are folded next to a row of soft, faded flannels. Wooden pallets display statement pieces high on the walls.
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.
All my life I have heard people talk about how time flies. I have never actually witnessed a clock sprout wings and take off, but as a child, that's the only way I could picture time flying. As I got older and little bit wiser, I knew clocks did not really fly and understood it was just a figure of speech—but to me, it seemed like a joke because time felt like it was crawling. For many, it becomes a reality when children are born. One minute, you're holding your precious baby; the next, they are having babies of their own.
Something unique is happening in Jackson: a space dedicated to handmade pieces by a collective of artists, many of whom are local to the area, where people can feel a connection to the items they purchase. While micro-retailing has seen a boon in large metropolitan areas across the country, Jackson now has its own venture in theLOCAL, a collection of small shops curated by local entrepreneurs in downtown Jackson.
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 you interview a guy you’ve known for years—a guy who has had dozens of articles and interviews published since the launch of his business—the thing you are probably the most aware of is the desire to be original in what you put on paper for the whole world to see. If nothing else, don’t be cliché about it. So that was my goal as I mentally prepared myself to interview Sam Bryant, owner of Samuel T. Bryant Distillery here in Jackson.
The Duncan family greets you as a soon as you arrive. At first you see a quaint gift shop atop a hill, and below to the left, you see a few rows of trees of the first farm. As your wonder begins to take over, you get closer to that tiny shop, and you notice they have hot cocoa for you to enjoy right there on the doorstep. You walk in, and the shop explodes with color and warmth. There are beautiful homemade wreaths, ornaments, and holiday decor that just seem to resonate in a place you’ve long forgotten.
Jackson, Tennessee, is a constantly changing and expanding city—with the many colleges and schools in the area, it also has an influx of a younger age group that calls Jackson home. With this younger crowd comes different and varying interests, along with new forms of entertainment.Enter Alex Sanchez, competitive online gamer. Sanchez graduated from Union University in 2017 with a degree in business and an unstoppable vision to bring people together in Jackson under the banner of e-gaming.
Inevitability is the evil twin of hope. Hope is when we’re not quite sure what will happen, but we’re certain that we want it to happen. The mystery of hope and, to be quite honest, the appeal of hope rest in its uncertainty. There’s the idea that what we are hoping for will eventually morph into reality and, if we’re lucky, possibly exceed our original expectations. Hope is why the idea of something is oftentimes better than the thing itself. We survive on hope. Hope keeps us moving.Inevitability, however, is certain.
We are so proud of the dozens of local students who submitted their artwork and poetry to our contest in collaboration with the Jackson International Food & Art Festival! If you missed the festival last weekend, make sure to check out our winners in this virtual gallery, then go see them for yourself at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital's new gallery later this month.
There’s a new show in town; Jackson, Tennessee, has been chosen to host the inaugural TN Music Awards. The TN Music Awards is a red carpet event focused on fostering community feedback, supporting local music, and expanding entertainment. Nathan Hunnicutt, along with the Jackson Area Music Society (JAMS), has been planning an event like this with Jackson in mind for some time now.
A morning ritual, a conversation piece, a shared bond: coffee adopts whatever role its faithful consumers may assign. It’s one of the few addictions that our local cultures openly embrace. Even just the word “coffee” can be seen on decorative signs for the home, on t-shirts, on mugs. Coffee has transcended its place as a drink to an idea: the symbol of incentive in an increasingly demanding world. “I can’t do anything before I have my coffee” is not a personal statement; it’s a cities-spanning mantra.
Throughout my childhood, my parents and I would travel to Bells, Tennessee, to visit our relatives. With me being an only child, looking out of the car window was my main source of entertainment until we reached our destination. While passing through, there was one particular building that caught my eye. I suppose it was the huge movie poster displays or vibrant signs that always grabbed my attention. We’ve stopped in and shopped at a few stores on that strip, but I can’t recall ever entering in the mysterious building.
In March of 2016 I began dating my girlfriend Natalie, a girl who was born and raised in Jackson and who had the knowledge to back it up. Me being an out-of-town transplant, she thought that it was of great importance for me to learn a little culture and history of this city that we know and love. I gladly complied. Usually these lessons were unplanned and casual. As things came up in conversation she would explain to me the history as best she knew it. One of those things was Waffle House.
Poet and Nobel Prize winner T.S. Eliot once said, “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” This is certainly true for higher education opportunities that may have not been available to many students based on the space in which they find themselves in life. However, community colleges around the country have given a new hope to these students, providing them with an opportunity to “Stay Close, Go Far.” In fact, this is the slogan of Jackson State Community College.
It’s dark as Aaron Witmer trudges out to his food truck at 3:30 on Saturday morning. Stars twinkle overhead and moonlight throws shadows as he unlocks the door and climbs into the back. With careful precision, he measures out flour, oil, eggs, and other ingredients and dumps them into the stainless steel mixer resting on the floor. At the flip of a switch, it comes to life and beats the disparate ingredients together into cohesive dough—the first donut dough of the day.
Having been a hairstylist for nearly sixteen years, Tamara Reed takes pride in beautifying her clients with the latest hairstyles. And with a keen eye for fashion, she chose to incorporate more options for clients at her salon, Studio 31. Tamara didn’t stop there, though. Her love for fragrance influenced her to turn an idea into a reality, which was creating her very own perfume line. This soft, elegant aroma is an oil-based perfume called Aramat.
It seems like we are constantly bombarded by fast food commercials and diet ads. If we aren’t getting a burger then we need to be taking a weight loss pill. Or hey! Why not both at the same time? Our society is constantly on the go, grabbing whatever we can reach to put into our body. We approach every part of life with this fast-paced mentality, including the most important thing: our health. Advanced medical knowledge is still crippled by bad lifestyle habits.
Balance. Poise. Grace. Stamina. All things that are waning for this thirty-seven-year-old man. Honestly, I never had a lot of physical grace or poise. In my athletic years, I generally excelled by crashing, slamming, and flinging my body all over the court or field in order to succeed. I was never a graceful athlete. Unfortunately, for me, the workout at Pure Barre required all of the aforementioned attributes.
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.
I remember being in the locker room as a seventh grade basketball player at Tigrett Junior High School and coming to the realization that I was going to have a hard time keeping up with most of the guys on the court. I had some normal feelings of insecurity and nervousness, but nothing out of the ordinary for a prepubescent boy in 1992. Fast forward twenty-five years and those feelings came back in a hurry as soon as I walked into the CrossFit Jackson gym.
In the 1940s my grandmother’s boss proposed to her, which she promptly refused. It must have made her daily life incredibly awkward, particularly since she didn’t have a car and her boss frequently picked her up to take her to work. She lived near the neighborhood now known as LANA in midtown. It’s a part of Jackson that many remember as Hicksville. The proposal most likely happened only a few yards from where I get my prescriptions filled.