My City, My Soul – Oakley Weddle

In our city, “soul” isn’t just a word. It’s a feeling, it’s a movement, it’s a vibe. As Memphians, we wear soul with pride. Our city isn’t just the birthplace of musical icons or the city where food, music, and culture come to life.

Our city’s soul is described by generosity that knows no bounds and the thousands of Memphians building community with each other on the daily. It’s the activism that stirring in our hearts, pushing each other and the world to see better and do better. It’s in the limitless innovation fueling insatiable curiosity and so, so much more. Memphis has always been a place of big hearts and even bigger ideas, where the spirit of soul finds its home. So, when you’re seeing your fellow Memphians’ faces across the city, you’re seeing a mirror reflecting our collective pride.

We’ll be sharing stories of how your fellow Memphians connect with our city through food, fitness, music, and so much more! Be sure to keep an eye out for billboards across the city featuring some familiar faces!

Meet Oakley Weddle

“As a born and raised homeschooled Memphian, I spent many days exploring the 901. When I wasn’t exploring literary luminaries or historical hypocrisies, I ventured to many iconic Bluff City sights. Here are a few of them and some insights on growing up 901!

Photo Credit: Memphis Zoo

My top sight is definitely the Memphis Zoo. While I never considered myself an animal fanatic, being raised on exhibits like Creatures of The Nights, Teton Trek, and of course, the pandas, makes an impression on a young person. My family has many memories at the Zoo, including climbing on the plastic cow in the farm pavilion for generations of pictures.

The second spot that impressed me in my Memphian adolescence is the Children’s Museum of Memphis! From the grocery store, the fire truck, and the FedEx airplane, CMOM is where I exercised my childhood wonder that lingers far into adulthood. Personally, that’s where I discovered I belonged on stage as my brother Peyton and I dawned cowboy hats and feathered boas.

Friday nights were special in my household. We all piled into my mom’s Ford Expedition and headed straight for the Summer Drive-In. Neon lights and the concession advertisements still conjure happy/sad feelings of nostalgia; summers gone by. With wrapped candy and double features, I remember those days like it was yesterday. I remember the nights with my cousins counting the stars as Shrek played softly in the background. I still treasure the Summer Drive-In fondly.

Photo Credit: Beale Street

My fourth spot is undoubtedly the epitome of Memphis: Downtown. It exudes the true essence of the city with its iconic trolley system gracefully gliding down Main Street, providing a delightful glimpse of notable landmarks such as the Orpheum Theatre. Moreover, one cannot miss the enchanting duck parade at the renowned Peabody Memphis. As a child, I was captivated by the acrobatics of the Beale Street flippers and indulged in trying on an array of ridiculously charming hats at A Schwab. To this day, I derive immense joy from strolling through downtown, for the very atmosphere resonates with the soul of Memphis itself.

The fifth and final spot that holds a special place in my heart is the abundance of parks scattered throughout the city. These serene havens offer a respite from the bustling city center and the crowded urban spaces, inviting Memphians to embark on explorations of nature. Among these natural retreats, I hold a deep affection for T.O. Fuller State Park, Meeman-Shelby State Park, and Shelby Farms. During my undergraduate years, I was fortunate to intern with Tennessee State Parks, a role that allowed me to immerse myself in the beauty of these landscapes. It was within their tranquil embrace that I found solace, healing from grief, and undergoing personal growth. To this day, these parks continue to provide me with a sense of serenity and peace. They serve as poignant reminders of my youthful experiences while simultaneously offering strength and support as I navigate the challenges of adulthood.

Memphis is a special place, filled with even more special memories and people. Growing up in Memphis has been wonderful, and I know that if I ever leave, this city lives in me. But for now, I am trying my best to give back to the community through my family’s non-profit, The PEYitforward Foundation. This organization honors my late brother Peyton by encouraging random acts of kindness and serving the community through service projects and initiatives.

This is My City, My Soul. Yours too.”

Shoutout to Oakley for sharing how he connects with the city! Ready to share yours? Be sure to tag us at @wearememphistn as you show off your city and soul!

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