Article by: Isaac Weston (@IsaacWeston)
I began writing for Everything Tennessee over a year and a half ago, and I have always wanted to do more coverage of Nashville. It is a very interesting city in many aspects, and it possesses attributes that every city aspires to have. It is rich in history yet maintains its relevancy by keeping in the national spotlight. Nashville is constantly changing and with 85-100 new people moving to the city and its suburbs each day, the cultural landscape is constantly being tweaked. The physical landscape is keeping with the trend of constant change as Nashville has become a hotbed for development. I was walking around Nashville all day on the day I wrote this article and was amazed. Just looking at downtown, the Gulch, and West End, I counted nearly twenty cranes interrupting the skyline. One of the coolest aspects of Nashville is its ever-changing cityscape. Every time I return home from school, I like to drive by downtown and see how the overall composition of the city has been modified. Maybe that is just a result of years spent studying architecture, or maybe that is just a sense of pride felt for the city as it makes strides and continues to add high-rises. The most-recent addition comes in the form of a 27-story Westin that shoots up near the Gulch, but surrounding the Westin and his giant, glass neighbors are dozens of exposed concrete slab constructs, which the next time I come home, will be completed and inhabited. At some point, I will return and not even recognize it, but personally I believe that is a good problem to have.
I primarily cover Memphis since I am in school at the University of Memphis and live there nine months out of the year. I have always enjoyed writing about that city and it has been very good to me. However, I was raised in Nashville and when asked where I’m from, I answer “Nashville” only elaborating with “Spring Hill” if someone knows their outskirts. Even though this is what I claim, I began to resent Nashville when I first left for college in the fall of 2014. The more I fell in love with the city of Memphis, the more I found myself bad-mouthing Nashville for stealing so much attention. “Do people not realize that Memphis is a city that has a lot to offer?! It has a low cost of living! It is rich in culture! It has excellent food! It has great music! The people here are genuine!” And although all the points I made about Memphis weren’t wrong, they weren’t reason to dismiss the great traits Nashville had to offer. Plus, comparing the two cities is honestly foolish. There is no point in making a competition out of the two cities since both are so different and both so unique… and both in the same state. This isn’t New York vs. Chicago. So as someone who used to instigate that debate, let me be the first to tell the people of Tennessee to knock it off. In fact, I am pretty sure I have actually written an article covering the Nashville vs. Memphis debate, which is written from an unbiased perspective -somewhat.
This article isn’t going to cover any of the adventures I will take the next few weeks in Nashville; this is more about telling you why I feel compelled to do this series in the first place. Two things have contributed to my rekindled love for the city of Nashville - spending two summers in Orlando and two breaks working in Nashville. I have spent the past two summers on summer ministry projects in Orlando, Florida meaning I have spent more time living in Orlando than I have Nashville since I began college. Let me tell you, Orlando is not the South and anyone who tries to convince you it is, is beyond mistaken. There is nothing about Orlando that feels like Nashville. Nothing. It is more humid, it is way more diverse, it has hardly any soul food, it has palm trees (definitely not complaining about that one though), it rains every day, it’s flat as a board, nobody speaks English and if somebody speaks English, they sure don’t say “y’all.” Being away from Nashville twenty-two of the last twenty-four months reminded me what I missed about the city I was brought up in. Secondly, working for an architecture firm led to spending time in the city and eating at cool food places in the city and talking with company reps who came to Nashville from who-knows-where. All of this showed me a side of Nashville that you don’t see when you walk around Main Street Franklin. Being on the inside of the development, hearing what companies are outsourcing to Nashville, and getting to be a part of the process all gave me a greater appreciation for what investors, designers, engineers, architects, and contractors are doing to bring business to the city. They are the ones responsible for the crane-counting games I am playing.
I am doing this “Winter Break Series” to become more familiar with a city I thought I already knew pretty well. I am doing this to arm myself with more food recommendations for visitors (that is a pretty good excuse and I think if I read that line enough, I will convince myself that is what I am actually doing). I am doing this for the readers that want to learn more, readers that need information for a visit or readers that are elsewhere and feeling homesick. I am doing this so people can learn more about what is going on in the city. I am doing this so people can hear other people’s stories. I am doing this because, honestly, I just want to do it. I don’t ask you to keep up with the entire series and I don’t ask that you agree with my opinions. I just ask that you appreciate what makes each city unique, and over the next few weeks, that is my goal for my relationship with Nashville. So, thank you. I look forward to these next few weeks with y’all.