Experience Being Known
“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” There has always been an allure in those words for me. Something that tugs on the deep desire we all have to be known. Who doesn’t want to walk into a room and have everyone shout their name with excitement at their arrival? (Introverts, put your hands down. I know you want to be known too.) Whether it’s through a quiet conversation over coffee or a raucous party, we all want to feel as if someone in our world knows us.
If you Google “what makes a city feel like home,” you will get approximately 2.2 million results. These results will offer up self-help sites with “12 easy steps” to make a new city home, books with insightful and inspiring quotes, community boards to support new transplants, and a million other options. My answer to this thought-provoking query? Move to Jackson, Tennessee.
Okay, I know it sounds cliche and trite, but I wholeheartedly believe it to be true. I’m not a transplant to this growing city; but, I have lived elsewhere and there is always a pull to come back to Jackson. You may say “it’s your hometown” or “you already have roots there.” What if I told you the majority of my former community is dispersed across multiple states and time zones? (The doubters in the back of the room are dismissed. I see you.) Jackson has an aroma of home, and I am not the only one drawn in by its charm.
Jackson is the second largest city in West Tennessee and the eighth largest in the entire state. Over 60,000 people call Jackson home and those numbers have been increasing over the past two years. The heart of Experience Jackson is to show our community, our state, and the other 49, what we have to offer in the Hub City.
This summer, the Jackson Chamber of Commerce entered its second year of Experience Jackson with the aim of inviting young professionals to see the potential of Jackson as a place to live, work, and call home. We millennials – who don’t always deserve the bad rap we receive – look for completely different criteria from our parents’ generation when seeking employment opportunities. Taking these desires into account, Experience Jackson has created a six-week program to immerse participants in all the special places and activities we love in our city.
The next six weeks will offer Experience Jackson participants the following:
- Networking with professional members of the Jackson community, city officials, and other participants while enjoying a performance by LOLO at Jackson’s first local brewery – Hub City Brewing. *If you haven’t checked out Hub City Brewing, then it’s your next Friday night stop. I like to compare it to Nashville’s Pinewood Social. They have three bowling lanes, multiple cornhole boards, and a great relaxing outdoor space.
- An indulgent food tour of local Jackson cuisine.
- A high-energy night in Jackson with interactive trivia and freshly baked pizza from Rock’N Dough. *Try them out TONIGHT! Your tastebuds will thank you.
- Explore Jackson’s vibrant arts, culture, and features that make it sophisticated and eclectic.
- A virtual reality world experience at theCO with networking and information on innovation and small businesses in our area.
- An end of the year celebration at Central Distributors! *Yes, please!
See all you doubters, there are so many wonderful aspects and activities to enjoy in Jackson. We are no longer the middle child between big sisters Memphis and Nashville waiting for our turn to get attention. Jacksonians are actively creating the life they want to live right where they are. Members of our community are opening restaurants, starting coffee shops with the desire to be on the cutting edge of the bean (check out Urban House in Henderson, Green Frog in Jackson, or The Coffee Shop in Humboldt), pouring into the public school system through hands-on engagement, creating art, music, dance, and theatre – making their town a better place because of their existence in it.
Last night, Experience Jackson participants had their first mingle moment at Hub City Brewing. As they arrived, it was akin to watching a group of college freshman walk into orientation. Eyes wide. Stomach churning. They want desperately to make friends while simultaneously feeling as if they should be at home partaking in some “Netflix and chill.” Despite these urges, they toughed it out and made the effort to get to know one another, mingle with members of the community, and have a delicious burger and beer. (The last part required little convincing.)
I spent some time meeting both interns and transplants to my beloved city and they reinvigorated my passion for Jackson. It was refreshing to speak about this city to others who had no preconceived notions about it; except, that perhaps, they ate at our Chick-fil-A once while journeying along I-40. Here were my blank canvases on which I could paint an honest, but passionate, picture of Jackson. It was a joy to see their eyes twinkle with new discovery as they learned more about the ground they walked on and the people they rubbed shoulders with.
One of the highlights of the evening was a private pre-concert show with LOLO. Many of you may not know her as LOLO but simply as Lauren Pritchard – the talented young woman who spent her defining days of adolescence living, performing, and growing up in the Hub City. Lauren gifted us with her talents and honesty as she sang and spoke with the participants about why she has chosen to call Jackson home. What impacted me most was when she called this city her “happy place.” How she felt at home in her hometown. Whether it was watching her parents sing along with every song, or counting how many of the 250 in attendance at her concert stopped her to chat or exchange a quick hug, I could see the same draw for her that I have believed is special about Jackson. She is known. Here, she is known for the woman beneath the ridiculously wonderful talent. People know and love her because she is herself.
So, maybe this entry has inspired you to be involved with Experience Jackson? Perhaps, you want to know how to recruit interns for your company? Or, you could just want a full review of the mouth-watering food from our food tour. (I mean, who doesn’t?) If you want to partner with The Jackson Chamber and Experience Jackson, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to stay up on the latest happenings in Jackson this summer and beyond, then keep checking in with us on our social media, website, and this blog!
I can’t wait to share this journey of discovery through the known and unknown of the town I am proud to call home. I hope this space will become a venue for all Jacksonians, whether they are a native or a transplant, to write their love letter to the Hub City.