Wednesday, February 18, 2015

DIY Jacksonville (Why I love being a native)

I grew up in Florida. Jacksonville, to be specific. Home of M.O.C.A, 7 bridges, and the world's largest cocktail party (FLA/GA-in case you weren't aware). Some would say I'm from southern Georgia, but any true Jacksonville native would most likely beg to differ. Mostly because we're the best. Here's why:

1. Gators vs. Bulldogs
My dad is a Gator. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Gator-pride. You will never be able to convince him that any other college football team is worth rooting for, especially UGA. That's how most of us down here grew up. Football is the most important thing in the fall and you have to choose. Weather that's FSU, Miami, UF, or UCF, we are die-hards here in Duval.

2. The Beach
It's a culture down here, no doubt. In Jacksonville we have the Intracoastal Waterway (aka "the ditch") which separates suburbia from the sand, linked only by the language of flip-flops. Once you cross over it's like a different world. I guess that's what happens when you live in the largest city (land-wise) in the U.S.

3. One Spark
Two years ago, my city birthed the world's first crowdfunding festival. It's basically a giant-sized block party for entrepreneurs trying to get off the ground and let me say this: it's legit. There's tons of seed money and prizes and food trucks. Food trucks. The shindig is sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Arts (M.O.C.A) downtown and doesn't disappoint. Did I mention Berlin, Germany has now picked it up? Yes, we're going international.

One of my best friends, Jordan Poole, at his One Spark booth. He was raising money to build homes in Guatemala and will soon be releasing an EP to continue the project. 

4. The Gate River Run
Okay, so this one isn't exactly for everybody, but I've done it for the past two years. It's the largest 15K in the country and a beast to say the least. You run through downtown, San Marco, Riverside, and over 2 of our 7 bridges (The Main Street and the Hart). The race isn't for the faint of heart but it's awesome enough to attract over 20,000 people. I'm about it.

5. TPC
Every year we welcome many of the best golfers on the planet to the Sawgrass Golf Course in Ponte Vedra ("Pont-a Veedra"). There's tee times, country music, and lots of money. We like to put our best fancy foot forward at TPC Sawgrass.

There's so much more to love about Jacksonville, but these are my top 5. Is there something you love about this city that isn't on my list? Let me know!

Twitter: @Smashley355