left on mallory - A Writers Community for Jacksonville

July 27, 2013 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Local writer Jared Rypkema talks about moving to Jacksonville and the inspiration behind left on mallory, the writers community in Riverside.

When I moved from a small city to Jacksonville a year ago, I didn’t know what Jax would be like. I definitely had a hope for what it could be, but then a few locals corrected me, “You know those tall buildings downtown?” they said. “They’re all empty.”

They’re weren’t just putting the city down either, that was the sad thing. The more I looked, Jax had the tall buildings but not a lot happening. It suddenly felt like a big city with no calling.

The same people laughed when I said Jax looked like it was a place where things started. “They start here,” they said. “But then they go somewhere better.” Again, they weren’t upset about it. They loved the city, they grew up here. They were just tired of seeing how dormant everything was.  

Since then I've seen the city start to change, and the more I connect with people, I see I’m not the only one seeing the change. Every day I meet someone who shares my feeling that the groundwork is being laid for this city to have a full revitalization where the anticipation for what’s ahead outweighs the disappointment of what’s past.

There have been a number of elements involved in this groundwork, but none so important as the recent surge of local artists in the community and their dedication to create outstanding work. The energy they’ve brought to the city and it's community has been exciting to watch, and their creativity is spreading through little movements within this large city.  

But there's something missing. As I became part of the growing excitement in the city, I kept looking for its writers to be among the celebrated artists, but I didn't find any writers influencing the community as much as the other creatives. This doesn’t mean I thought there weren’t any involved in the city, I just couldn’t find a noticeable community of writers who wanted to become better at their craft and had a vision to become a force in Jacksonville’s rebirth.

This is an important part of the foundation that still needs to be laid. Even in the twenty-first century, the writer is one of the top influencers in society. Their stories can speak directly to the human condition. Their stories can be retold over and over, and others can build on their foundation.

Jacksonville is primed to attract writers who will tell it’s story. A lot of them are already here, all we need is a rally point. So the writers have created a community. Myself and a few great local writers have laid the foundation for this vision: left on mallory.  

This organization is a community of writers who want to become a force in the River City’s rebirth by challenging and producing a writing culture beginning in the Riverside district.

To grow this community, left on mallory hosts several free collaborative workshops throughout the year for writers and access to a growing list of local writers. Along with building a strong community, the long-term vision for left on mallory is to launch Riverside’s very own hard copy literary zine featuring local writers and published by local people and businesses.

If you’re a writer in the city and looking for this kind of community, join us. If you’re not a writer, but want to show your support, follow us on twitter for future updates.

I’m not going to say this is the missing piece for Jacksonville, but the creative energy being poured into the groundwork of the city can definitely be taken to another level by writers with a vision to perfect their craft, tell their stories and with them the story of Jacksonville’s revitalization.

Written by Jared Rypkema