Mural in Smyrna, Tennessee

May 2019 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

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For whatever reason, May is, without a doubt, our busiest month every year. I think many tourism boards want to get a head start on promoting peak season tourism, so we seem to be booked six months to a year out on May projects each year, and this one wasn’t any different.

In May, I spent 11 nights away from home, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but our schedule was a whole lot of three days gone, two back, four days on the road, three days home—it’s hard to establish a routine with that kind of inconsistency. That said, it was my favorite month of the year so far, and we revisited several of our favorite cities and caught up with so many good friends, so absolutely no complaints on how hectic it was.


We produced this tourism video for Visit Rutherford in Tennessee. It took nine months of shooting and a whole lot of rained-out days, but I’m pretty happy with the end product.

We started the month by traveling to South Walton. While we were there for National Travel & Tourism Week to give a workshop to South Walton’s partners, we wisely tacked on a day for rest on each end. Want to know the best time to visit the Florida Panhandle? Mid-week in May, without a doubt!

South Walton in spring
South Walton in spring

Then, I kept my one-year-old niece Charlotte for five days, and we both survived! Other than a stomach bug, it was pretty smooth sailing. She’s an absolute joy to be around and just the cutest, happiest thing. I’m going to have to convince Josh and Kari to go out of town more, I think!

Charlotte Rose, 15 Months
Charlotte Rose, 15 Months
Charlotte Rose, 15 Months
Charlotte Rose, 15 Months
Charlotte Rose, 15 Months

I tackled not one, not two, but THREE speaking gigs. One was via my computer at Elevate Marketing Summit; the other was a workshop in Florida; the third was an educational seminar in Maryville where I was the closing speaker at Tennessee College Public Relations Association’s annual conference. Want to see me talk in the future? I’ll be at TravelCon next month, and you can still nab your virtual ticket here.

Journalist Speaking Gig

DMA turned one year old. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we installed the magnolia mural and commissioners in Manchester tried to have us arrested. Ha! The latest is they’re still trying to boot SVV and John Mancini from the HZC. Retaliation much? It’s crazy to me that a city continues to punish us for gifting the community with beautiful (and free!) public art, but c’est la vie. Our public-benefit corporation, DMA-events, was born out of this bullying, and we’ve since worked with seven muralists, more than 50 artists and many great local sponsors. Rise above the bullies—that’s our motto!

DMA-events mural program in Tullahoma

We took some of our favorite people to Oklahoma City with us. Group campaigns with pals are just the best, and I was elated to get to show my beloved OKC to Jade, Bob, Phillip, Billy and Christie!

On that OKC note, SVV is the cover boy for the city’s visitor guide. Want a free copy? You can request one here! You may also see this girl within the interior pages.

Oklahoma City Visitors Guide

We spent three days in the Peaceful Side of the Smokies. We’re working on some fun projects with Blount County, which will give us an excuse to spend more time in East Tennessee. Full summer guide to this little piece of peaceful heaven coming soon.

Tubing in Townsend, Tennessee

We produced another art festival. And when I say “we,” I mean SVV—though I helped with the graphic design, marketing strategy and pouring beer, ha—as we have to divide and conquer these days with alllll the work we have on our plate. Arts Alive went off without a hitch, and we met so many cool artists we hope to partner with for DMA on upcoming murals.

We took a day trip to Chattanooga, yesterday. I absolutely love Chattanooga but hardly spend any time there as we simply don’t have any work in the city, and we rarely have a day off, even on weekends, to actually explore for fun. But luckily, I got an excuse to go when Marriott asked me to go down and profile the Dwell Hotel, which is total design goals and I’m ready to move in.

Dwell Hotel in Chattanooga
Dwell Hotel in Chattanooga

We’re in Huntsville for the weekend! Last time, we ate and drank everything in Huntsville; this time, be prepared for all the space fun!

I had several print stories hit newsstands and mailboxes. One of my favorites was my AAA Living pages, which included our very own murals in Manchester, Tennessee! And another was for JCK, a jewelry trade magazine I’ve been a contributor to for more than six years, and I absolutely loved profiling this darling shop owner in Nashville.

Riveter feature in JCK magazine
Riveter feature in JCK magazine
Riveter feature in JCK magazine


Other than the city of Manchester withholding payment from us for 16 months now, no real lows in these neck of the woods!

How did May shake out for you? Anyone heading to Bonnaroo really soon? It’s my favorite time of year—I can’t wait!

  • June 1, 2019

    How amazing is the Dwell? I stayed a while back and have since gone back many times for happy hour, parties, and dinner.

  • June 2, 2019
    Matt Thompson

    Work is worship 🙂 Keep it up.

    All the best to you and keep shining the light.

    Greetings from New Zealand


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