Written by Felicia Ingram
What happens when a bunch of creatives fill one coworking makerspace? Pandemonium. Or
theCOtoberfest—or what is often referred to as a celebration of do-it-yourself and do-it-together.
The event featured an art exhibit, local food trucks, a storytelling event, and West Tennessee Maker Exhibits.
The Pop-Up Gallery featured seven Jackson artists, each creating with the inspiration of John Steinbeck’s words, “But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed—because ‘Thou mayest.’”
Some pieces referenced the destruction and abandonment that may exist within society, but all included traces of the theme of rebirth. The forgotten pieces of our Hub City were captured through the eyes of Katie Howerton of Our Jackson Home in her photography installation, “Project: Fill the Hub.” Natalie Douglas’ sculpture, her interpretation of a phoenix, was assembled from often neglected scraps of material, including onion nets, clearance Hobby Lobby supplies, and tree branches.
Similar sentiments were echoed in each story told in the “Night of Storytelling” portion of the evening. This Our Jackson Home event allowed a view in the lives of locals making a difference in our community and those who facilitate the spirit of rebirth daily. Presentations ranged from Patrick Beard’s revelation into the world of outreach to Keegan Paluso’s band of musical misfits to James E Cherry’s soul-hitting poetry. No eye was dry as Trunetta Atwater, final presenter and owner of Little Kitchen food truck, told the story of creating employment for her brother and others with criminal records.
The second day of the theCOtoberfest shifted its focus to makers i and around West Tennessee. The collaborative event included robotics, virtual reality gaming, pottery, a mini maker area, woodturning, indigo dyeing, laser cutting, student-built videogames, watercolor painting, embossing, and screen printing.
Former intern of theCO and entrepreneur Jeremiah Marcellino featured his puzzle box business, Puzzle Nook.
“I’m a physics major,” he explained. “What we do is problem solve we figure out and understand how things work. I guess my God-given talent and also the training I’ve had in undergraduate and the personal experience is a business that is problem solving. I enjoy the process because I know that when I finish, I’ve fixed a problem.”
Two moms were in need solving the problem of boredom during naptime when Hub City Love was born. Co-founder Trista Havner creates art from her faith and her heart for her city. She and her partner Amanda Larsen Wells were set up at theCOtoberfest showing off bits and pieces of their creative process.
But theCOtoberfest wouldn’t be theCOtoberfest without food. Serving up a pumpkin spice “zizou bars” fit for the season was L’abeille Sucrée, a local pastry chef. Others enjoyed lunch at the El Mariachi food truck parked outside.
Lisa Garner, theCO’s Executive Director, got the chance to exhibit her side business, Garner Blue. Getting her arms elbow-deep in indigo to dye various textiles, Lisa and her business reached national recognition on USA Today’s Top 10 Best Home and Garden Maker List.
The star attraction for the youth was the Virtual Reality station. Gavin Harris, son of CO:founder Ben Harris, and intern Devin Dean led children into the new world of the HTC VIVE Virtual Reality system.
theCO’s Dan Drogosh is able to see theCOtoberfest as more than just an event. “You can’t find a more engaging event for people of all ages here in West Tennessee,” he said. “When you have the latest technology meet the community’s most creative individuals, something magical happens.”
And all of this was happening at once with a robotics station, pottery exhibit, makerspace workshop, and more. It’s this mix that excites Dan even more.
“It’s not just art, and it’s not just tech. What you see happening is progress and improvement toward a more educated future. It’s important to me because I believe it’s these types of events that people need to attend to understand what’s possible with today’s technology right in their own community. No longer do people need to live in big cities in order to have the opportunities to create and build the next life-saving invention. You can start at your local machine shop or computer lab. theCO just happens to have all of that under one roof.”
Be on the lookout for the third annual celebration of theCOtoberfest in October 2017.