15th Anniversary

Fifteen People, Places, and Ideas Shaking up the South

As G&G marks fifteen years, we take a look at fifteen changemakers forging the South of tomorrow, from Brittney Spencer’s resonate voice to a divine Mexican pastry to a small river town making a big splash

Since Garden & Gun’s debut in 2007, the South has changed in ways pleasurable and profound, from the biscuit and bourbon booms to reckonings centuries in the making. That progress continues, led by visionary Southern creatives, destinations, and ideas, all forging the future of the region for the next fifteen years and beyond.


1. Brittney Spencer

Photo: Robby Klein

Country singer and G&G‘s cover model Brittney Spencer.

​​It’s a balmy, blustery winter night in East Nashville, the kind of weather that makes locals jittery following the deadly tornado outbreak of March 2020. But inside the Basement East, rebuilt after those storms demolished it, the backstage dressing room is jammed as Brittney Spencer, resplendent in a floor-length leather jacket and white cowboy boots, basks in the glow of her first-ever headlining show in her adopted hometown. A who’s who of Black Nashville country artists, including Jimmie Allen, Blanco Brown, Reyna Roberts, and Tony Evans Jr., whoop it up as flashbulbs pop. Continue reading >>


2. Bourbon’s Next Golden Age

Photo: Squire Fox/AUGUST

A bourbon old-fashioned, photographed at the Bar at Husk in Charleston, South Carolina.

If you’re pacing your consumption of bourbon—especially if your doctor advises you to do so—we suggest you plan for ramping up your intake in, say, a decade. Because by that time, the range and abundance of sipping whiskeys will almost certainly be extraordinary. Yes, even more so than now. Continue reading >>


3. Edward Lee

Illustration: Lars Leetaru

Edward Lee.

Lee, the chef-owner of the renowned Louisville hot spots 610 Magnolia and Whiskey Dry, as well as Succotash in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. “I can name you twenty nonprofits started by chefs.” He rattles off a handful: the Abundance Setting, cofounded by Beverly Kim, advocating for working mothers in the culinary and hospitality industries; the Power of 10, created by D.C.’s Erik Bruner-Yang, supporting restaurants hurt by the pandemic; José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, offering meals in times of crisis; Chris Shepherd’s Southern Smoke Foundation in Houston, and Atlanta’s Giving Kitchen, both of which lend a hand to workers who have fallen on hard times. Continue reading >>


4, 5, and 6. Wes Gordon, Emily Bode, and Christopher John Rogers

Illustration: Lars Leetaru

From left: Wes Gordon, Emily Bode, and Christopher John Rogers.

Paris, New York, and Milan may get most of the love as beacons for what’s next in fashion, but the American South has held its own in the new century as an influential force, fostering the rise of regional icons Billy Reid, Alabama Chanin, Sid and Ann Mashburn, Miron Crosby, Imogene + Willie, and others. Now three young designers with Southern bona fides have made their way to international catwalks and fashion houses with designs and perspectives that nod to their roots: Atlanta’s Wes Gordon succeeded Carolina Herrera at her iconic fashion house; Emily Bode, also from that city, is reimagining the language of vintage textiles; and there is perhaps no brighter spotlight on runways at the moment than the one shining on Louisiana native and Savannah College of Art and Design graduate Christopher John Rogers, who has championed racial diversity in a traditionally very white industry while turning out jaw-dropping silhouettes that embrace a Southerner’s love of color. Together their designs speak in a compelling dialect, at once authentic, glamorous, and eccentric in the best possible way. Continue reading >>


7 and 8. Sarah M. Broom and Dee Rees

Illustration: Lars Leetaru

From left: Sarah M. Broom & Dee Rees.

When Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House won the 2019 National Book Award for nonfiction, she thanked her family “for allowing me to call your names, because it is no small thing to recover the names.” For African Americans, slavery and segregation made records hard to keep; therefore these stories must be recovered. In her memoir, Broom does just that, recounting her family’s history in New Orleans, from post-Emancipation to Hurricane Katrina. She nestles their experiences in the cradle of American history, marking World War II, the establishment of the suburbs, the Space Race, and other milestones, peeling away over the course of the book how Blackness gets stripped by the bulldozer of American progress. Continue reading >>


9. Red Wolf Renaissance

Photo: North Carolina Zoo

Flint, one of the endangered red wolves at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.

“This is what I like to see,” says Chris Lasher, of the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, as he surveys a seemingly empty wooded enclosure that holds four red wolves that have scattered from sight, disturbed by our presence. “They’re being red wolves.” Continue reading >>


10. Paducah, Kentucky

Photo: Courtesy of Paducah CVB

Downtown Paducah.

Cape Town, Cairo, Beijing, Montreal, and…Paducah? That’s right—UNESCO designated the small Western Kentucky town right beside those global heavyweights as a Creative City in 2013, a hub of innovation, where arts and culture drive thoughtful twenty-first-century development. If you’re surprised to find Paducah (population: 25,000) on that elite list, you simply haven’t recently visited the vibrant burg at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. Continue reading >>


11 and 12. J. Drew Lanham and Isaiah Scott


Isaiah Scott and J. Drew Lanham on the lookout for birds at South Carolina’s Congaree National Park.

The country has been in the grip of a freeze, and South Carolina has not been spared. To avoid black ice, J. Drew Lanham, a writer, poet, and wildlife biologist, has advised Isaiah Scott to arrive at Congaree National Park in the warmer afternoon to bird-watch. Lanham, a son of Edgefield, South Carolina, is meeting Scott for the first time. Scott has traveled up from Savannah to meet his mentor-from-afar; the eighteen-year-old enrolled last fall as a freshman at Cornell University, majoring in environment and sustainability and working with the Lab of Ornithology there, inspired in part by Lanham’s work. Continue reading >>


13. Roles de Canela to Covet


Six days a week at seven in the morning, the future of Southern baking emerges from a convection oven in Louisville and goes on display in a six-slot pastry case that looks like a grade-school gym cubby. Continue reading > >


14. Rick Crawford


Crawford fly fishing for redfish in a tidal creek in Charleston, South Carolina.

It wasn’t the sexiest summer gig. After graduating from college in 2008, a time when decent employment prospects were few, Savannah native Rick Crawford landed a job as a waiter and housekeeper at a resort ranch in Wyoming. His roommate, he recalls, “was the cool fly-fishing dude, and when he introduced me to fly fishing, I was completely enamored. I loved everything about it, but what I really liked figuring out was the entomology. Everything in fly fishing is so interconnected, which made it a great crash course in systems thinking. And that’s pretty much what I do today.” Continue reading >>


15. Southern Soigné

Illustration: Lars Leetaru

Zacchaeus Golden.

“The ideas I have in my head will take a long time to catch up to,” says Zacchaeus Golden, a twenty-eight-year-old chef with a New Testament name, a wrought-iron frame, and a headlamp-bright smile. “This is my laboratory,” he says of Southern Soigné, which opened in Jackson, Mississippi, last December. “This is where I’m trying to figure things out.” Continue reading >>