building community

by kellie abrahamson
Bemoaning that there’s nothing to do in Jacksonville stopped being cool in high school. Thanks to the power of the internet, finding a place to go on a Saturday (or Monday or Wednesday) night is a mere click away and might be your only stop. JaxScene began back in 2007 when founder Tom Pennington went to a poorly attended concert.
“I believe it was a benefit show at the Skate Lab in Mayport. It was amazing; bands were playing on the top of this bowl while people were skateboarding. All I could think was ‘Why isn’t anyone here?'” Pennington recalled. “But Jacksonville at the time was like that. A good band would come to town and there would be 15 people there. That was sort of the icing on the cake that made me decide I wanted to do something about it.”
That “something” would be JaxScene, a site dedicated to giving people their entertainment options. Each day Tom or one of the site’s seven contributors will post a listing of things to do that night. From karaoke at TSI to dancing at the Pearl to Craft Night at Anomaly, JaxScene proves that there’s always something going on in Jacksonville. But that’s not all.
“We don’t just tell you about an event, we go to them and you get to see pictures from that event,” Tom explained.
The site’s Flickr account has literally thousands of photos to look at, documenting events from as far back as 2003 to as recent as a couple of days ago. There are also over 70 videos to watch, so if you didn’t make it to a show, you catch a few minutes of it in the comfort of your own home. When you visit JaxScene you can also find links to numerous local blogs, a playlist with over a dozen tasty tracks and “Street Interviews” with local scene-makers. The most recent addition to the site is the JaxScene Social Network, an online community that boasts 105 members to date. There, people can upload their photos and videos, meet other locals, chat about events and post on their friend’s pages.
“It’s essentially the same thing as a MySpace or a Facebook but it’s obviously a more focused and targeted audience,” said JaxScene contributor Jack Diablo, who came up with the social network side of the site. “The main idea behind it was to initially get people talking and start discussions about issues, but the part that is really taking off is the events part of it, [which allows] people to create their own events and promote their own things.”
The addition of the social network is another step forward for the ever-evolving site and the next step could be an actual yearbook. Pennington is currently working on the ingenious project.
“I want to make Jacksonville’s best coffee table book, I figure I have all the pictures. I want to convey the message of community. This is Jacksonville and we do have a scene, here it is,” he said. “It will have all the best of our Flickr pictures but the categories will be more combined, like instead of just Crash the Satellites at Jack Rabbits it will have a local band section. It will help people get more familiar with Jacksonville as well. I also like the idea that if you perform or do something in Jacksonville it’s possible it will be documented, for some reason I think that helps hype things up.”
Running a site of this magnitude is undoubtedly a lot of work, but for Pennington and the other JaxScene contributors it’s worth the time and effort.
“I took on this responsibility to make this city the best it can be,” Tom said. “To get behind the things that I enjoy and hope they grow.”
Jack’s motivations are similar. “I would just like it to become the premier place [for] people in Jacksonville and specifically the urban core, because I think that’s the target audience right now, to go to feel the heartbeat of the city and just [find out] what’s happening. We don’t make any money off of it; it’s just something that we do for the community. My whole goal with it all is just to build community and bring people together.”
EU decided to turn the tables on Tom and ask him some questions “Street Interview” style. Here are his answers: Who would make a better ambassador: Jessica Simpson or Homer Simpson?
Tough question. It depends if Homer would be a TV celebrity or a fat guy that sucks at working in a nuclear power plant. If Homer was a celebrity that played a fat guy from Springfield on a TV show and Jessica Simpson was, well, Jessica Simpson and both had the opportunity to be ambassadors, I would say Homer. Just seeing a cartoon perform the task of a human would make the place he is representing amazing, cause for real who else has that.
What was the happiest moment of your life?
Whoa. I think I haven’t had one that was like pinnacle I’ve always been waiting for it.
What’s the first thing you notice about a person?
Their attitude.
How many hats do you own?
Right now one. My hat has been the same for 7 years but it’s like my 5th one. When it goes bad I always buy a new blue trucker hat and sew an Armageddon patch on it. I think it just fits me.
You just got a million dollars. What’s the first thing you’re going to buy?
I could say something smart like a house or a ticket to Rome but I would say a yellow short school bus. Only cause as long as I could remember I wanted a short school bus longer than anything else.
What would your porn name be?
If it’s my first pet and first street I lived on, Teddy Fontainbleau.
Describe Jacksonville’s scene in one word.
Describe JaxScene in one word.

About EU Jacksonville

october, 2021