[vimeo 48779935 w=600 h=450]

Hello, cheri.

Today I’d like to share with you something special––or at least something that was special to me. As many of you probably already know, I graduated with a degree in writing & photography & a big ole love for all things beautiful, cutting-edge & creative, but chose to stay at least a little while in the tiny Tennessee town where I went to school. And as you may can guess, there’s not much value or opportunity for the arts in Jackson, Tenn. And there definitely aren’t any major magazines coming off the press in this place.

Which is why I’m so excited to have found a family in the community of artists around me. Some are still in school, but there’s a good & growing group of us graduates who have, for one reason or another, felt tied to this town. We spend our days working the jobs that fill our bellies & give us beds in this place, but we spend our nights & weekends on patios & couches, dreaming & planning the projects that weigh in our guts & come alive in our minds––the ones you can’t always get paid for, but you have to do nonetheless. Not for money or because anybody else may ever see or care, but you do it because you gotta. There’s something inside whispering––sometimes shouting––at you. And it can only be stifled so long.

So we figure we’re stuck in this town for better or worse, but we must not ignore the voice. Creativity is not a constant. It has to be cared for. It can grow or it can shrivel up. We have turned to the water of community to keep ours going.

But what does that really mean? Sometimes it means inspiring one another to pursue personal projects or collaborating as a group. But it doesn’t always mean work. Sometimes it means fostering conversation through food––the healing power of preparing a meal & sitting down to dinner. And sometimes it can be a combination of the two.

Last month four of us bloggers sat down & mapped out a plan to create this city’s greatest dinner party––complete with the best guests Jackson could offer & a meal made entirely of West Tennessee fare. We started early with a trip to the market, making our menu as we went. Fish tacos? No, there’s no avocado today. It was a tough process. Then we cooked all day, together, & documented as we went. Finally, the guests trickled in & something wonderful happened. We shared food & swapped stories & I learned a little more about the life of a kindergarten teacher, a print maker, an artist, a wife. There’s something holy & human about coming together over food prepared by friends. Or at least, that’s what we believe here in Tennessee.

That’s what the video at the top of this post is all about. I chose to try to document all the goodness of our dinner in one just-under 3-minute video. I hope you can catch a glimpse of the magic we were feeling. Be inspired. Cook, & eat.