Memphis in May: Kerry Crawford’s I Love Memphis Blog

If you want to know what’s going on in Memphis, talk to Kerry Crawford. If you want to talk to someone who turned a regular gig into a dream job, see her about that, too.  Crawford is social media specialist for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, but she’s known by Memphians as the one-woman show behind the I Love Memphis blog. In a nutshell, she markets our city to residents and out-of-towners alike, but rather than maintain Facebook and Twitter accounts, she parlayed that into a full website.

What makes her job so cool? She seeks out the best in Memphis in food, events, music, arts and entertainment and shopping and then blogs about it. She’s been a judge at Cupcake Camp and takes part in her own scavenger hung, finding an old “No Discrimination” sign at an historic downtown nightclub. Crawford is a native Memphian who returned home after attending school out-of-state. Google the site (run by MCBV) and you’ll find that the tagline is always different. One day, it’s “I just call her boo, I don’t know her whole name” and today, it reads “One epic grindfest after another.” Once there, check some of her series out like “5 Things to Do in Memphis This Weekend,” “365 Memphians” where she highlights locals or “Free Things to Do.” In her spare time, she deejays and is a roller derby queen to keep those pounds off from eating at local eateries every day.

Crawford simply wants us to love Memphis, and she’s showing us why every day. Check her out.

I know the blog is your real job, but was that the original position? Did it morph into what you’re doing today? How?

It was originally going to be a freelance project, but when I started writing the proposal, I realized I needed way more time than freelancing would allow. The CVB was awesome – they didn’t really give me any directions, just told me to create whatever I thought would be best. It’s been my full-time gig for almost two years now.

What’s a typical day like?

I wake up sometime between 7:30 and 9. Usually, I head up to Otherlands and write, answer emails and work on projects all morning. In the afternoons, I usually do interviews or visits to the places that I feature on the blog. After that, it’s back home for more writing. In the evenings, I’m usually at either work events, doing story research or at roller derby practice. I’m busy, but it’s on my own terms, so it’s pretty fun.

Your job sounds like a dream. Any advice for someone trying to make a job their own, whether employed or self-employed?

The only way I’m able to do this is through a ridiculous amount of self-discipline. When you’re by yourself all day and in creative control of something big, you have to be able to work through all sorts of conditions. Also, know that while having your dream job is amazing, there’s a lot of minutiae and mundanity, too. It’s not all glamour – for every story that goes on the blog, there’s usually 2 – 6 hours of work behind it.

What are three things you can’t live without?

My records, my roller skates, my amazing friends.

What’s the best thing about Memphis?

It’s hard to pick just one thing, but the city has a great DIY spirit. If something needs to be done, someone does it. If someone wants something to happen, they can make it happen. There’s a lot of opportunity for growth and progress and new ideas.

What do you say to Memphians who think there’s nothing to do in the city?

You’re wrong. Very, very wrong. Start looking around – read my blog, read the paper, look at flyers. Don’t say no. Say yes. There’s something to do here every single night if you look for it.

Memphis in May: Booker T. Washington High School Wins Commencement Challenge

This morning, Sam Champion, chief meteorologist for Good Morning America, stood knee-deep in the waters of the Mississippi River, which is about to crest, and possibly flood even more streets and homes in the Bluff City, even as I type this. All eyes are on us, as we try to make sense of this natural disaster and support our basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies, as they continue to press ahead in the NBA playoffs. This city is a beautiful mess right now, but we love it!

I talk about a lot of things, but now’s the time to shed a light on Memphis. Sure, sometimes it seems as if we have a curse on us, being the place of death for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yes, even some natives are still shocked that Three-Six Mafia won an Oscar for “Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” and so what if we are the stars of First 48? Still, with all that, we love our city. Until recently, there hadn’t been enough positive energy and publicity generating here. My how things have changed so quickly.

Today begins the “Memphis in May” series, taken from our annual festival that includes the world-renowned Barbeque Cooking Contest and Beale Street Music Festival. During the month, I will feature different Memphians, business and events simply because we deserve it.

First up…Booker T. Washington High School 

It’s not my alma mater, but Booker T. Washington is Memphis’ first public school for African-Americans. Today, the White House announced that they were selected by President Obama as winner of the Commencement Challenge. They beat out six finalists nationwide.

From the official White House press release:

“I’m so proud of the schools that participated in this year’s commencement challenge and I want to thank all of them for their hard work and dedication,” said President Obama.  “Booker T. Washington High School proves what can be accomplished when students, teachers, parents and administrators come together to support achievement in the classroom and I’m looking forward to delivering the commencement address at this extraordinary school soon.”

Booker T. Washington High School’s graduation rate went from 55% in 2007 to 81.6% in 2010.  The school has taken steps such as establishing separate freshmen academies for boys and girls to help students adjust to the school culture and creating an atmosphere where teachers take personal interest in seeing students take pride in their schoolwork.  Students can now take AP classes, learn about engineering through robotics competitions, and earn college credits.

Watch the video the sealed the deal:

Congratulations to the students, faculty and staff at BTW!