Meet our newest column beginning this month on the SoulGrown site and socials, Alabama Things Worth Knowing with Jennifer Kornegay. Here are a few things worth knowing about Jennifer. Jennifer Stewart Kornegay is a freelance writer and editor living in Montgomery. Her articles have been published in and on Garden & Gun, Southern Living, The Bitter Southerner, Conde Nast Traveler, Food & Wine, The Local Palate, thekitchn.com, Modern Farmer, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, AllRecipes, okra, Good Grit, Alabama Living, JOY magazine, Salvation South and more.
Alabama Things Worth Knowing
Long before “writer” ever appeared next to my name, I’ve been a storyteller. As a kid, I encouraged my cousins to act out my “edited” versions of plays. (They may use the word coerced, but tomayto/tomahto.) In elementary school, a neighborhood friend and I wrote mysteries and recorded them, old-school-radio-show style, over her older brother’s AC/DC cassette tapes. I filled stacks of spiral notebooks with short stories, bad poetry and ideas for screenplays throughout middle and high school. In college, after a short stint as a biology major, I studied English, creative writing and journalism, all requiring a lot of imagination, research and more writing.
Today, I’m producing nonfiction. My official titles are journalist, reporter, freelance writer and sometimes, editor. My articles cover a diverse range of subjects — from a first-hand account of a traditional Acadian boucherie and a deep dive into the world of Southern oyster farming to profiles of wildlife artists, birding enthusiasts, bourbon makers and doughnut bakers, plus travel guides to big cities and tiny towns. They’ve been published in and on local, state, regional and national publications and websites. But no matter the platform, format, length or theme, there’s a common thread: They’re all stories, containing some or all of the elements that make a good story: settings, characters, hurdles, heroes, revelations and conclusions. Whatever else I am, I’m still a storyteller.
And starting in December, I’ll be telling stories here on SoulGrown. In a monthly column called Things Worth Knowing, I’ll highlight people, places, eats, events and all sorts of things across our great state I think more people should be aware of: almost-forgotten bits of history and folklore; off-the-beaten-path destinations and outdoor spots to explore; obscure or just plain weird diversions; somebody (anybody) making something beautiful, useful, meaningful or a positive impact. Not just thinks to know but things worth knowing. (And I’ll do my darnedest to make the stories worth reading.)
Telling stories is the passion that keeps me traveling, making new friends, asking questions, scribbling copious notes, searching for the perfect words and pecking away on my keyboard, so I’m always thrilled when I’m given an outlet to engage with a new audience and share this passion. And part of the fun is discovering the right stories to tell.
Stories are everywhere (and every single person has a unique story), but for Things Worth Knowing, I’m most interested those that remain at least somewhat hidden or unknown. If a story has already been told many times, it’s less likely to end up in my column — unless there’s a fresh chapter or unexpected perspective I can illuminate. And I won’t be writing about breaking news or purely negative narratives.
I’ve got a short list of topics already, but I’d love to hear from you, SoulGrown readers. What are some things (again: people, places, events and more) worth knowing in your neck of the Alabama woods? What stories do you already know that deserve to be told on a bigger stage? Direct message your thoughts to me on Instagram @jenniferkornegay. I look forward to hearing from you.
This column’s goal is to acquaint you with something or someone entertaining, compelling, inspiring or uplifting (and I hope, all the above) each month. And while it’s been almost 200 years since stars fell on Alabama in a massive, 1833 meteor shower, bountiful bright spots still shine, even if the glow is sometimes faint, in every corner — from Mobile to Mooresville, Selma to the Shoals, Birmingham to Brilliant and everywhere between. Using the power of story to help you see them is my mission.
The first thing worth knowing is there’s a new coffee table book, coming in hot, just in time for holiday gifting. “Southern Makers,” the book, highlights the work of more than 50 Alabama makers, including chefs, painters, basket weavers, furniture makers, bakers and many more, with stories and gorgeous photography. I’ll tell you more about it in a few weeks. Thanks in advance for reading.