Reflecting on Creative South 2017.

The past week has been spent reflecting and resting after the hustle and bustle of Creative South 2017, all culminating in an amazing Easter weekend. God is so good! He is Risen!! Hope everyone had a great weekend enjoying quality time with their family and just kicking back.

Since 2011, I have had the honor of planning and executing Creative South. For those that are reading this for the first time, “CS” is our design conference held every second weekend in April, with three main purposes:

Build Community.

One of the most important goals of Creative South is to bring together designers from all over the world for one-on-one face time. We have conversations and interactions with our friends and peers online all day every day. What we need is more huggin’ necks and breakin’ bread with one another. So the thought was let’s give this community just that: a place to come, sit and have fellowship face to face. I believe this is one of the biggest draws for people each year. In fact when “First timers” ask me what the best way to not feel like a first timer, my first response is go have a meal with a group of people you don’t know. You won’t feel that way when you leave.

Showcase that Southern Hospitality.

We want to showcase true southern hospitality. It’s real. I grew up this way. It’s how I try to live daily. I am not perfect by any means but showing a bit of hospitality reminds me of how I was brought up and it truly goes a long way! Be kind, be courteous, offer what you have when you have it, take life at a slower pace, speak when spoken to, open doors, hug some necks, feed people well, share a meal, have manners, stand up for what’s right, slow your roll and appreciate each minute, all while speaking with a sweet southern drawl. Southern hospitality is defined as a phrase used in American English to describe the stereotype of residents of the Southern United States as particularly warm, sweet, and welcoming to visitors into their homes or to the South in general. When you come to Creative South, I want you to feel like family and leave knowing you have become just that. Don’t rush conversations with people you just met for the first time in person. Go eat a meal with them and listen. Learn about each other. This is what the weekend is all about — building lasting relationships. For me, I have built so many lasting relationships as a result of Creative South. Every year I pick up more and more of them! I have so many stories I could share — I’ll leave those for another time.

Get Inspired.

We want you to leave inspired. The talks and workshops will definitely make that happen but so will all the great conversations you’ll have with each other. Personally, one of my best projects and some of my fondest memories emerged from sharing time with rad people I have met at Creative South.

This year was incredible. Despite the weather, God took care of us and it was just a rad time! Throughout the weekend, I get to hear bits and pieces of different talks but never seem to finish a whole one! I am backstage or running all over putting out little fires, ones that if they are going unnoticed means that we are doing our job. We are making it the best experience for you. I would not trade that for anything though. The highlight from this year’s talks was when I was backstage listening to Charles Anderson as he wrapped up his talk giving God all the glory. Then as he walked off towards me, I could see his emotion and his tank was full. That was something I will carry with me. As for me, I feel God has charged me with the mission to connect y’all — and I enjoy doing just that! It’s a lot of hard work, but it is well worth it. It is truly a privilege to share these days every April with all of you! Every year just keeps getting better. It’s like my year just gets started in April, as I leave inspired and recharged for the rest of the year. We had a packed house all week at CS, and it ended with 130 creatives worshiping together on Sunday at the Springer Opera House main stage auditorium. It was amazing!

When people ask me to compare Creative South to something — I give them this mental picture. Imagine this: You and your family visit your grandma’s house in the early spring for a Sunday supper. She comes out to greet you when you are getting out of your vehicle. The ‘hellos’ are many as the sun and humidity hit your face. She hugs all your necks as you enter the home. Y’all gather around the table in the kitchen and you see all your cousins that you don’t see regularly sitting there with you. She prays over the meal and everyone digs in! The conversation doesn’t stop for three days as you share with one another over good food and drink. This is Creative South in a nutshell.

Time to Rest.

I will conclude with this — I love what I do and I’m glad to host you all in my city — Columbus, GA. I truly hope y’all came as friends and left feeling like family. I read this quote in an article and it’s so very true.

“In the South, the ‘goodbyes’ can take a while, as you stand at the front door talking just a little bit longer. We reluctantly let our guests leave, but only if they promise to come again soon.”

So with that, I look forward to hosting you back to hug necks and break more bread. Until then, we are already planning for 2018 and can’t wait to see everyone’s faces again soon. Thank you for being a part of Creative South this year. Thank you to everyone on the team that helps make it possible: SandyFran, Alison, LennyMattPeter, Rob, Mark, Diane, Holly, Jason, Tina, JohnBradTreyJordanJeff, Tasha, AllieBrenda, and Carla — and all the amazing volunteers; I couldn’t do it alone. A very special thank you to my amazing wife Karen — thanks for letting me dream big and for handling the household so I can be free to do just that!! Love to all and May God bless you. Holler if you need me or if I can ever be of service. Word.