Author Archives: Jennakessler

Proms of the Past

HUB-BUB’s spring fundraiser is this weekend – Just Like Heaven: Second Chance Prom – an 80’s Dance Party!  In anticipation of this event, we asked a few friends of HUB-BUB about their past prom experiences.  What we received were a variety of responses, from the good to the bad to the unexpected.  People went solo, went with friends or groups, or their own date.  One interviewee had even been to six proms total! That’s a lot of dresses.  And most of them agreed that the after party is what they remember most.

The great thing about HUB-BUB’s Second Chance Prom is that it’s like the after party: you can bring who you want to bring; you can relive the 80’s (and if you didn’t go to prom in the 80’s, you can still enjoy some Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper); and you have an excuse to get all dressed up.  With your ticket, you’ll get two drinks, snacks, and a night of dancing to your favorite 80’s tunes.  Cribbs Kitchen will also be offering a special prix fixe menu.  Now’s your chance to go for the Madonna look one last time!

Just Like Heaven is this Saturday, April 20th at 9pm at The Showroom.  You can purchase tickets in advance or buy them at the door.  Either way, make sure you’ve got your outfit ready and your dancing shoes on (preferably sparkly ones).


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“Silent Majority” art exhibit

AmeriCorps VISTA and regular HUB-BUB volunteer, Sarah Hager writes a guest post about the reason behind this week’s art exhibit at The Showroom – the “Silent Majority.”  Hager is the organizer behind the exhibit.

the silent majority picture

“It’s no secret that women have made, and continue to make, extraordinary contributions to not only the local community, but the worldwide community as well. In many countries around the world, women make up the majority of the population. But even though statistics show an equal representation in society, women continue to go unheard.

Specifically in the United States, women hold only 3% of clout positions in the mainstream media but comprise 83% of consumer purchases. Additionally, the United States is 90th in the world in terms of women in national legislatures, with women holding only 17% of the seats in the House of Representatives. Ironically, women in the US are more likely to graduate from college and have a lower unemployment rate than men.

Concentrating more globally, it’s important to note that 70% of the world’s people living in poverty are women, yet women spend twice as much time, or more, than men on unpaid work. World-wide women on average earn 2/3 of what men earn.

This exhibit is meant to give women the voice they deserve by highlighting women’s contributions and innovations as well as the existing and continuing challenges women face today. Please join us for the reception on Thursday, March 14th, from 7pm-9pm at the Showroom to give a voice back to the ‘Silent Majority’.”

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The Sparkletones at The Showroom

The Sparkletones played on February 16th to a sold-out crowd at The Showroom.  I was taking tickets at the door, so I know how much the audience wanted to see the band (let’s just say that when someone’s in a hurry to see someone, the tickets fly at you from all angles).  The enthusiasm and excitement the crowd had for The Sparkletones was palpable, and the show didn’t disappoint expectations.  People got up to dance around and enjoy the music out of their seats – those are the best kind of concerts, in my opinion.

As a little background: The Sparkletones formed in Spartanburg in 1955.  They have a great history that travels outside of Spartanburg – they’ve appeared on TV shows such as The Nat King Cole Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and Dick Clark’s American Band.  The band is famous for their influence on Rock & Roll and Rockabilly music.  The group performed in Sparkle City after recently being honored on the Spartanburg Music Trail.   They’ve even made Sparkle City shine a little bit brighter by earning three gold and one platinum record!

Below are some pictures to recap a great show.  Thanks again, Sparkletones!  Until next time!

sparkletones 1 sparkletones 2 sparkletones 3 sparkletones 4 sparkletones 5 sparkletones 6

sparkletones 7

You can also go to for Dan Armonaitis’ review of the show.

P.S. The Mill Billy Blues (pictured below) opened for The Sparkletones.  They’re playing at The Showroom on March 1st, so if you enjoyed their show you can see them again!  You can even purchase tickets in advance.

sparkletones 9

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“Faces of Homelessness” Speakers’ Bureau: Giving the homeless a voice

faces of the homeless

HUB-BUB focuses on building and strengthening our community, with a particular focus on the arts and new ideas.  We’re always interested in learning more about Spartanburg’s needs and how we can all come together to address them.  In the guest post below, Lyn Radke shares with us her thoughts on homelessness in the Upstate.

Through a program called the “Faces of Homelessness” Speakers’ Bureau, Lyn Radke works with currently and formerly homeless people to dispel myths about homelessness. Based out of The Haven Shelter in Spartanburg, she spends her days educating the public and helping speakers share their experiences at churches, schools, and other local places. In return, they share their wisdom with her—and through their words, always remind her to see the proverbial glass half-full.

Spartanburg Speakers’ Bureau on Facebook

As an undergraduate and Creative Writing minor at Wofford College, I spent a lot of time crafting stories. With the help of some truly wonderful writers (who also happened to be professors), I learned the creative writing basics: avoid purple prose, don’t let your plot get away from you, and remember that the reader can’t read your mind.

So when I accepted a job as a Speakers’ Bureau coordinator for National Coalition for the Homeless, I thought I was more than ready for it. After all, I had a lot of experience helping (and being helped by) writers—surely helping currently and formerly homeless people tell their stories couldn’t be much different. But let me say something that I don’t say very often…I was totally wrong.

And it didn’t take me long to figure it out. One day, I met a potential speaker for coffee. He asked me to describe a typical speaking engagement, and I explained that he would have about ten to fifteen minutes to tell the audience about his experience of homelessness. “Only 10 minutes?” he asked. “How am I gonna do that? I was homeless for almost 10 years!”

I realized then that what I’m asking people to do is really hard. Not only does it involve converting years of struggle into mere minutes of story, but the telling requires speakers to relive some of the hardest parts of their lives. At Speakers’ Bureau panels, some speakers describe their experiences in shelters—still others remember life on the street. But always, they speak about a place that most of us can only imagine. After 3 months of coordinating a Bureau, I now realize the strength of the speakers. Because of the bravery of currently and formerly people across the country, communities are gaining a more accurate understanding of homelessness—one that goes beyond facts and figures.

Typically, Speakers’ Bureau panels last about an hour and feature three speakers—but this Friday, the Upstate community is invited to hear just one at a special community event. Local organizations are partnering with the UU Church of Spartanburg to host a silent auction that will benefit the Ali Forney Center in New York City.  The AFC provides LGBT homeless youth with critical services, including medical care and housing referrals.

In addition to helping vulnerable youth (LGBT homeless youth are seven times more likely to be victims of a crime than their heterosexual peers), the events’ sponsors are hoping to educate the public. At the event, member of the Speakers’ Bureau will share his story about homelessness. After coming out, he was forced to leave his home at the age of fifteen—sadly, his story is all too familiar. Although LGBT youth make up only 3-5% of the entire youth population, they represent 20-40% of the homeless youth population.

As a Spartanburg native, I’m happy and proud to coordinate a program that gives members of the Upstate community a voice—and I can’t wait to see more projects combine the arts and social justice issues here in the Upstate.





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talk20 Recap – A Few of My Favorites

I don’t know about you all, but I’m still thinking about some of the talk20 presentations from early November.  Especially as Thanksgiving draws near (tomorrow!), I’ve come to appreciate more of the interesting and unique voices that Spartanburg has to offer.  talk20 was an event that opened up my eyes and ears to different voices of the community that I don’t think I would have otherwise known, and I’m thankful for that.

As a student at Wofford, I was especially impressed with Chuck Smith’s presentation about the 21st century serpent.  I’m not a biology major, and usually I tend to shy away from all things science (give me fiction, and I’m good!), but his presentation was fascinating to me.  I was so interested in the discoveries about these snakes, that I almost forgot that I’m prone to tuning out anything about reptiles.  The beauty of talk20 is that it gives listeners new insights to different worlds of information, information you might have otherwise looked past.

Chuck Smith’s presentation about the 21st century serpent

Another presentation that I absolutely loved was new-to-Spartanburg Jack Fisher’s talk about Rockin’ on Radio in the 60s.  The audience soon learned during the short presentation that Fisher had actually met The Beatles – he had even introduced them for their first concert in the United States!  The audience was in awe and Beatlemania was palpable.  My favorite part of his story was when he recounted a statement made by none other than John Lennon; as the Beatles were sitting backstage, Fisher overheard Lennon say something along the lines of, “Yeah we’re hoping to at least get two years out of this.”  And then history followed.  Fisher’s story was unexpected but a treat.  There was that feeling of connection to something bigger, something legendary.  The Beatles.  And here was the man who met them at their first concert in the U.S.!  His personal anecdotes made his presentation one of the most memorable for me.

Jack Fisher tells us about the Beatles

I loved all of the presentations though; from being inspired by Leah’s talk about the community to learning about going green from Anne Anderson – I went away from the evening with an enhanced knowledge of my community, its members, and about things I probably wouldn’t have learned about otherwise.  talk20 was a great success in my eyes; I’m already looking forward to next year’s.

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talk20 Spartanburg: A Speaker’s Insight


Have you heard of talk20 Spartanburg?  

“What is talk20? A night when you can talk about anything you want. A night where you may learn about anything and everything. We’ve had everything from the 10 year renovation of someone’s house told through the eyes of their dog, to how to build an experimental airplane, to the 20 works of art that changed someone’s life, to the story of someone’s life through their fave articles of clothing, to the history of punk rock, and on and on. It is not a lecture but a gathering, an informal exchange of ideas with in and without our community. Here’s the catch: you get to show 20 slides with images only, and speak for only 20 seconds per slide (a total of a little over 6 minutes). The slides are on a timer, so the format is quite rigorous.”

Leah Lomotey-Nakon took the time to write a wonderful bit about her view of talk20 and why she’s participating.  You can read below about her topic and her insights in order to have a better grasp of what to expect before you go.

“Talk20 Spartanburg is here! When the opportunity to participate in Spartanburg’s version of the event I knew it was my chance to share my insights about Spartanburg – the area I love unconditionally and coincidentally my hometown.
I just returned to Spartanburg from a six year exploration of Atlanta which, along with many other cities, hosts a similar event to Talk20 called Pecha Kucha pronounced “pa-chok-cha”. The event style – started by designers in Tokyo – allots each presenter 6 minutes 40 seconds to share 20 slides each on screen for 20 seconds and advancing automatically. It is one of my favorite presentation styles, because it makes distill what might be a 20 page paper into the heart of the matter.

The work I will be presenting on Friday evening, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” pivots off of the idea that in a healthy neighborhood, each person and organization has a role and their contribution is asset-based, like transformers that are able to reform into the vehicle of their choice when necessary and several robots fuse as one when combating a tough enemy.

Although I am thrilled to share this idea, I am equally enthusiastic to encounter the work of my co-presenters, including: Lindsay Champion, Sterling Anderson, Anne Anderson, Jack Fisher, Abe Dunas, Lara Harrill, Chuck Smith, and the fabulous organizer of Talk20, Cate Ryba!

This is my first Talk20; I look forward to meeting the visionaries, thought-leaders and passionate folks like you who show up to events like this.

See you all there!”

Thanks so much, Leah, and to all of the participants and supporters of talk20 Spartanburg! 

The event takes place Friday, November 9th at 7:30 pm in The Showroom.

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Zombie Crawl this Halloween!


Last year around this time, zombies crawled along the streets of Spartanburg, celebrating Halloween in spooky style.  This Halloween, HUB-BUB is hosting another Zombie Crawl and we’d like you to join us!  Meet us at the Little River Coffee Bar downtown on October 31st at 8 pm to start the festivities.  We’d like you to arrive already dressed up for some ghoulish fun, so start practicing your zombie crawl to get ready.  No need to look alive at this event!  Shortly after 8, we’ll start the walk down Main Street in our best zombie attire and then make our way back to the coffee shop (see map below). Everyone can crawl at his or her own zombie pace, but it’s necessary to stay in character!  We hope to see you there!


Here are a few photos from last year’s crawl to serve as a guide and inspiration:


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