Well, 2020 is turning out to be quite the year, eh (*drips with irony*)? Just when we thought things were turning a bend, more chaos explodes. It’s a delicate balance between staying informed and staying sane; at the moment, I seem to be doing more of the former than the latter.
It feels weird writing a highs and lows piece when the country is swirling around in such a hurricane of hurt right now, but I’ve always sought to remain honest on this blog, so here are some highs of the past month mixed in with the lows.
My baby nephew was born! He was slated to make his arrival tomorrow, but couldn’t wait a moment longer and debuted nearly three weeks early at a whopping 9 pounds and 2 ounces. Due to the virus, none of us were able to be at the hospital, but my sister brought him into the world like a champ, and they’re both doing wonderfully. Internet, meet Baby Mac.
Our marriage turned 10! On May 22, we celebrated a decade of marriage and lifelong partnership. Dang, I like this guy.
We finished a tourism marketing project for Franklin County. I was born in Winchester and went to school up in Sewanee, so was thrilled to get to work with its chamber on this project. The bulk of this video was slated to be filmed this spring … right when the virus arrived. We had to get creative with the filming, but I think it still turned out great—and a way to promote safe outdoor adventures this summer.
We’re finishing up two more regional projects. The deadlines for the state grant projects we work on each year were bumped back till the end of June due to recent events, so we’ve spent a lot of time in both Bedford and Hickman counties shooting marketing assets for both chambers. We’re so grateful that even in a time when tourism is so uncertain, we have plenty of work to fall back on, and promoting local businesses—particularly in Tennessee—has always been a passion project of both of ours.
I spoke on three webinars. We hosted a webinar for Tennessee tourism partners on how to move forward with your marketing during a crisis, as well as were invited on both Connect Travel and Visit Saskatoon’s webinars to speak to similar issues for their tourism members. It was really rewarding getting to connect with folks in the industry and sharing what we’re so passionate about. That said, I’m about all Zoomed out! I don’t think I’ve had a day, weekends included, since mid-March without two to five Zooms a day. I love the “face-to-face” aspect of it, but as someone who has worked from home for 12 years, it’s also a bit draining.
We snuck away to Dauphin Island for four days. Need a complete break from real life while not interacting with a soul? Rent a beach house on sleepy Dauphin Island, a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.
Fox 17 highlighted our all-female mural festival, Walls for Women. Our 10 walls for Walls for Women are already solidified, but we’ve had a few requests come in after this Fox segment aired and are trying to see if it’s at all feasible to squeeze them in. Regardless, we can’t wait to get started in mid-July. It’s going to be such a fulfilling project to work on under our nonprofit during the strangest, most traumatic of years.
Speaking of Walls for Women, we’ll be on the road the next two months solid. As I write this, we’re off to East Tennessee for a couple days, and as we near the installation dates, we’re bopping all over the state ironing down what we need for the walls we’re doing in Knoxville, Maryville, Martin, Nashville, McMinnville, Nolensville and beyond. (Don’t worry, we’re still doing any travel in a socially-distanced, safe way.) Right now, we’re at 10 murals to be installed between July 18 and Aug. 18, over half of those which SVV and I have to prep (so patch, paint, etc.) before the muralist starts. Whew! It’s going to be a busy month. And after the segment, several other cities emailed wanting to be a part of this celebration of the 19th Amendment centennial, so I’m trying to figure out if it’s humanly possible to add any additional towns to our already full plate.
The Nashville Scene quoted me in a story where a prominent Nashville developer attempted to take advantage of artists. Shame on MarketStreet Enterprises for attempting to exploit muralists during a pandemic. You can read the whole story here. In other news, I may update my Twitter bio to: “makes murals happen all over the place.”
I filmed a segment for TODAY in Nashville—remotely. This was a new one: I was on News4 Nashville (WSMV) via Zoom! Actually, Carole and I pre-recorded the segment last week from my messy living room (more on that below), and I think it will air sometime this week or next.
We ripped out the carpet throughout the house. If you follow my home renovation stuff, you’ve likely seen the process as it’s been a tedious one. We bought a one-story house with two wings, one of which had a major water leak and some serious damage. They left the hallway without a floor, and SVV and I installed the parquet there back in March on our one-year anniversary in the Cedar House, but that still left our offices, master and walk-in closets, all of which were carpeted in some cheap temporary stuff soaked in animal urine from the previous owners’ menagerie of animals. We ripped out the carpet, pad, tack strips and staples, then shellacked the plywood below to prevent any future smells. I’ll be blogging the full process when it’s done (we are currently waiting for the carpet company to get the product in and do the actual install), but let’s just say: We’ve had all our furniture from our offices piled in our great room for 2.5 weeks now, and I’m ready to move it all back already.
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Three people who were murdered in cold blood due to blatant racism, plain and simple. Learn their names, say their names. Desmond Tutu said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” For my white friends, here are some helpful articles on understanding white privilege as advantages you’re allowed, ways white people can help counter racial justice and 10 tips for standing up against racism and understanding white privilege. And here are just a few places you can donate if you, like me, feel so helpless. After all, money talks, and if you’re feeling that you don’t know the words to say, then the least you can do is help others who do:
- Black Visions Collective
- Reclaim the Block
- Northstar Health Collective (medics)
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- NAACP LDF
Feel free to share any additional resources for my own education in the comments. Black lives matter, today, yesterday and forever.