Author Archives: Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper

About Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and consultant who lives in Nashville, Tenn. A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Samford University, she spent several years editing a music magazine in Nashville before venturing out on her own. Brittany loves all things magazine, especially Real Simple and Whole Living, and now finds that she spends too much of her spare time looking for great recipes on Pinterest.

Nashville Foodscapes

Nashville Foodscapes Helps You Landscape with Fresh and Beautiful Food

Nashville FoodscapesReclaiming the purpose and function of traditional landscaping, Jeremy Lekich and the team at Nashville Foodscapes are helping Nashvillians adorn their yards with beautiful, nutritious and edible plants.

It’s Saturday and you’re scrambling to check off that to-do list. You mow the lawn, pull the weeds, water your garden and then run out to the market to get food for the week. But what if you could consolidate those tasks by growing fresh and delicious food right in your own backyard? And we’re not just talking about keeping a garden or a raised bed, though those are wonderfully helpful as well.

Nashville native and permaculture guru Jeremy Lekich and the rest of the team at Nashville Foodscapes are teaching people how to incorporate edible foods like lettuces, herbs, fruits and vegetables into their everyday landscaping. And people are quickly catching on. Here, Lekich talks to about foodscaping, how to get started and why he sees it as such a vital next step.

For those who aren’t familiar with foodscaping, could you describe a bit about the idea behind it and how it plays into a more holistic approach to landscaping and gardening?

Foodscaping is landscaping our yards, lawns and open areas in an attractive, low-maintenance and poison-free way that provides food and beauty in one; a way to satisfy both our eyes and taste buds at the same time. It integrates landscaping and gardening into a process and system that is fertile, abundant, low-maintenance and fun. Foodscaping allows food to be grown in a way that is convenient and practical for most people’s lives, while satisfying the aesthetic desire too.

This isn’t just a hobby for you. You have years of experience, degrees and internships that have led you to come back to your native Nashville to do foodscaping. Tell me a little about your past experiences and what made you come back to Nashville.

I became fascinated with foodscaping in western North Carolina. While at college there, I spent my years studying the concepts and design patterns of foodscaping, while at the same time receiving hands-on experience in a diverse foodscape. It was great to study the theory for half the day and get my hands dirty putting those theories into practice for the other half. After I graduated, I realized that Nashville has way fewer foodscapers (if any) than western North Carolina. I also felt that I could be more successful in an area that I grew up in and knew so well. It feels good to be doing what I am doing and to be able to say I grew up here.

If I’m just starting to think about foodscaping in my own yard, what questions should I consider before moving forward?

What foods do I like to eat? Which foods do I find are the most expensive to purchase and are most difficult to obtain? How much time and money do I feel I can invest into creating a foodscape? Am I ready to have lots of fun and learn new things every day?

What’s a good first step for me to take if I’m not sure I can maintain an entire yard of fruits and vegetables?

Start with one or two fruit trees/shrubs. Start with a couple herbs. Pot a few lettuce plants or a tomato. Once you start growing a little bit of food, it is usually hard not to want to grow more. Also, read some books on ecological food production or edible landscaping, also known as permaculture or forest gardening.

What is the maintenance like for someone who decides to take the foodscaping route?

Depends on the landscape and design. For the most part, the first 3 to 10 years can be a significant bit of work and maintenance, and usually education too. But after that initial period of high work input, a well-designed foodscape should take care of itself, producing food and beauty with little input. Of course, if someone is less interested in that initial phase of high work input, a call can be made to Nashville Foodscapes. Also, the initial phase can be spread out over a longer period of time so that the work seems very minimal.

Why do you encourage people to adopt this new mindset when it comes to their yards and their food?

If you are going to spend time, money, attention on your yard, then why not have it produce more than just aesthetic appeal? Additionally, food plants are just as beautiful (or more) than the most popular ornamental plants sold on the market.

As for food, most food sold these days is void of nutrition and flavor. This is not only unhealthy but unsatisfying too. If we can integrate food production into our daily lives by planting food plants in our yards, we find that the health benefits are outstanding and evident due to the high nutritional value in our food. Just as important is the satisfaction that the food tastes wonderful and we had an active part in the growing of it.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Foodscaping takes into consideration the ecological processes and patterns found in nature and replicates them. A forest takes care of itself. By replicating those forest patterns, we can also create a landscape that takes care of itself, with the added benefit of producing tasty, nourishing foods.


How to Transition into Life After College with Ease

How to Transition into Life After College with EaseYou’ve walked across the stage, received that hard-earned diploma and hugged your chums goodbye. Now the task is transitioning into the so-called “real world” with as few speed bumps as possible.

College graduation is undoubtedly one of the bigger transitions many people face early on in life. You leave the safety of your dorm or apartment, play your last intramural game and realize that your 8 a.m. class really wasn’t that early after all (What was I thinking?). Some look ahead with starry eyes, energized solely by the dreams most certainly about to unfold in their futures. Others are intimidated by the new freedom and perplexed as to where to start. But don’t worry — you can make this transition with minimal culture shock. Consider these five tips to easily avoid some rookie mistakes.

Approach job opportunities with confidence and humility: If you don’t already have a job lined up by the time you walk across that stage, don’t let fear paralyze you. Remember that you have a degree and you’ve already begun to establish yourself as an expert in one specific field. When you send resumes, set up interviews and network, businesses want to see that you’re competent and confident and that you also have the humility to learn and to work hard to achieve your final career goal. You don’t have to pretend like you know everything there is to know on a topic; just show that you have taken advantage of every opportunity and that you are a hard worker who cares deeply about your work. Always be willing to put in your time at a job that will help you on your path to your career goal, even if it’s not the sexy starter job you dreamed of.

Buy a filing cabinet: One mind-boggling aspect of life is the amount of paperwork it requires, even in the Digital Age. You’ll have documents for your car insurance, health insurance, medical records, taxes and any credit card or bank account you hold — just for starters. The paperwork piles up faster than your assignments in college, and if you don’t handle it from the beginning it can quickly get overwhelming. Buy a filing cabinet and folders that you can label to keep all your documents organized. This way, you avoid accumulating piles that constantly need your attention, or worse, losing important documents.

Pay cash: When you get your first job, it’s easy to look at your salary on paper and think the cash flow will be endless. It’s way more than you made in college, right? Life is more expensive than you think, so be sure to budget from the beginning. Don’t take on a lifestyle that’s above your means by strapping yourself with car payments or rent that you’re just pretty sure you can swing. Instead, give yourself some breathing room until you’ve budgeted for a few months and know exactly what you have to work with.

Continue learning: If you get a job but it’s not your ultimate dream job, remember that no one is keeping you from learning about and practicing the skills you’ll need for that end career. Volunteer in your field or seek out mentors who can teach you and better equip you for the job you want.

Ask Questions: One of the best things you can do as someone transitioning into life after college is to ask good questions. Mom, Dad or anyone older than you has been in the throes of life for some time now. If you’ve got a question on your W2 or you just aren’t quite clear on how to wash your wool sweaters without shrinking them, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who has a few years of experience on you.


The Lumineers Head to Hangout Fest with Dave Matthews, Jack White and Others

The Lumineers Head to Hangout Fest 2012

Photo of The Lumineers By Jade Ehlers

Dozens of artists and bands are descending upon Gulf Shores, Ala. this weekend for Hangout Fest, and folk rockers The Lumineers are one new crowd-pleaser joining the party.

Last year Denver, Colo.’s folk rock trio The Lumineers faced a major setback when someone broke into their tour van and stole most of their instruments and gear.

“We had been robbed of most of our musical instruments in Los Angeles, in broad daylight, right outside the La Brea Tar Pits,” the band’s percussionist Jeremiah Fraites tells “We drove to the LAPD and reported the crime. We were number 3,600-something of that day since midnight. We then drove from the LAPD to a house show where we played using borrowed instruments. It was one of the best shows we ever played.”

Launching a campaign through the direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic, The Lumineers were able to replace their stolen necessities with help from their devoted fans in less than a month. With their instruments back in hand, the two-man, one-woman outfit finished their self-titled debut, which they released with Dualtone in April of this year to wide critical acclaim.

Now, with a fresh new album to their rootsy name, The Lumineers are headed down to Gulf Shores, Ala. this weekend to take part in the third annual Hangout Music Fest, which takes place right on the beach (jealous yet?).

“We have never played or been to Hangout before,” says Fraites. “We’re all very excited and are honored to play it though. There are so many great bands going, it’s hard to choose which act I’ll try to see. We don’t have much festival experience in general, so it will be a fun event to break into summer!”

Aside from their upcoming Hangout Fest debut, The Lumineers have recently made appearances on shows like “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” where they brought their upbeat, danceable hit “Ho Hey” to an excited audience.

“Performing ‘Ho Hey’ on Conan was unreal. Words can’t express …” Fraites begins, “but I’ll try. Oblivion of pleasure. A shopping cart full of nerves. Blackout joy. Surreal. Unreal. Didn’t happen. Not real. Not to me. Never. Amazing. Would go back any day, any time, any second. Dream come true.”

Perhaps he’ll feel the same way after sharing a festival bill with the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White, Randy Newman and more. Hangout Fest kicked off yesterday (Friday, May 18) and lasts through Sunday. Even if you can’t make it out to the beach show, check out The Lumineers and get a taste of their summery folk sound.

Rodeo Rider

Saddle up the Family for Franklin’s 63rd Annual Rodeo

Franklin RodeoFamilies across Nashville are kicking off the summer with a visit to the 63rd annual Franklin Rodeo, where kids and adults alike have been entertained for decades.

The kids may still be in school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the family out for the night to enjoy an experience they won’t likely get any other time of the year (unless, of course, you’re a family of real-life cowboys). Beginning tonight (May 17) and lasting through Saturday night, the Franklin Moon Rotary Club is presenting the 63rd annual Franklin Rodeo.

Held at the  Williamson County Ag Expo Center, the rodeo features events like bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, barrel racing and bull riding. Plus, the kids get an opportunity to take part in the entertainment by signing up for mutton busting or the calf scramble.

For mutton busting, kids weighing in at less than 50 pounds can enter into a drawing, and the 10 selected each night will be given a helmet and a vest and the opportunity to ride a sheep and try and stay on as it runs around trying to get the child off its back. It’s the thrill of the rodeo without the defeat (or pain) of falling off a bucking bronco.

The calf scramble is a little different, as tons of kids run around an arena with one goal in mind. As calves run amok, the kids try to find the three with ribbons tied to their tails. The first three people to snatch a ribbon and give it to a clown are declared the winners. Kids can enter to take part in the 8-10 age group or the 11-13 age group for a chance to win a cash prize of $15, $10 or $5.

Rodeo performances begin at 7 p.m. each night, but you can show up early to grab some food and take a look at all the other activities taking place, like performances by clowns and a shopping area where you can get everything from cowboy hats to ice cream. One of the largest rodeos east of the Mississippi, the Franklin Rodeo tickets cost $17 for adults, $8 for children ages 5-12 and is free for anyone four years or younger. Plus, it takes place in an air conditioned arena, and free parking is easily available.

Mother's Day Image

Mother’s Day: Do You Know How it Originated?

Mother's Day

Whitman's Mother's Day ad from Life magazine May 7, 1951

You buy chocolates or a card for Mom on Mother’s Day every year, but do you know about how today’s maternal holiday actually began?

Every year around this time people across the country step into the card aisle or pop into the local florist to find just the right arrangement to say “I love you” to one very special woman. I’ve always taken part in Mother’s Day as a daughter thinking up some way to celebrate Mom. But this year, with my first little one due to make an appearance here pretty soon, I started wondering about the history of this holiday (and no — for the skeptics among us — it did not originate with Hallmark).

According to, Mother’s Day is actually celebrated in countries across the world, though not every country celebrates it on the same day. Called “Mothering Sunday” in England during the Middle Ages, the holiday used to be observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent leading up to Easter. In the Middle Ages, people commonly worked as servants of some kind in the households of others, so Mothering Sunday gave them a chance to take a day off to go home and visit their own families.

While the true origins of Mother’s Day can be traced back to ancient Greece, where people would celebrate the mother of the gods, the modern American holiday didn’t really begin until 1907. On May 12 of that year, Philadelphia native Anna Jarvis put on a memorial service at the church of her late mother in West Virginia, honoring the mothers in the congregation with white carnations.

That act sparked a movement that had people across the country observing the holiday within five years. Jarvis’ own mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, had been a social activist who worked tirelessly during the Civil War to ensure health and safety for workers, and she also did a good bit to unite mothers around the ideas of pacifism and social justice.

After holding the memorial service for her mother, Jarvis set out to make Mother’s Day an official holiday. She saw her hard work pay off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday, but by 1920, Jarvis was so enraged by how commercialized the holiday had become that she began trying to abolish it. She and her sister went to great lengths and are said to have spent a good deal of their inheritance fighting and campaigning against what the holiday had evolved into.

What made her so angry about the Americanized Mother’s Day? Interestingly enough it was the fact that so many people were sending printed cards to their mothers.

While I have to admit I did get my mom a store-bought card this year, I’m thinking she won’t mind, especially as we think of creative ways to celebrate her and thank her for all she does. Happy Mother’s Day to mamas everywhere!

TechVille 2012 masthead Sponsors Nashville Technology Council’s Flagship Event, TechVille

Techville is excited to announce that we’re sponsoring the upcoming Nashville Technology Council event, TechVille, which will take place May 15 in Nashville.

Each year for the past 11 years, the Nashville Technology Council has hosted an event to address the state of technology in Middle Tennessee. This year, is partnering with the NTC to sponsor the annual gathering, called TechVille, which will take place in Nashville next Tuesday, May 15. With the goal of encouraging tech and marketing professionals, TechVille offers thought-provoking sessions on innovation, talent and entrepreneurship.

The conference, which used to be known simply as Technology Nashville, draws an impressive crowd of some 300 technology professionals and community leaders from within and beyond Nashville to talk about trends like mobility, analytics, social and digital media, innovations and tech talent.

The theme for this year’s event is Tech Doers, Dreamers and Drivers, a broad theme that has already been attracting professionals on all levels in the industry, from top executives to the newest members of the field. The keynote speaker taking the stage this year will be Ken Gay, a widely celebrated entertainment industry visual artist who was actually one of the people behind this year’s Super Bowl XLVI Half Time Show featuring Madonna. Whether you’re a member of the NTC or not, you can still register to take part in TechVille and learn more about the technological pulse of Middle Tennessee.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about partnering with TechVille as a sponsor this year,” CIO and NTC board member Jeff Fields said. “It’s truly going to be an insightful event.”

If you’re not familiar with the NTC, it’s a council devoted to helping Middle Tennessee become known as a leading technology community worldwide. Everything they do works to carry out that vision and help the tech community of Middle Tennessee succeed. This event is just one of the many ways they reach out and support professionals in that field.