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Creator Of ‘Make Jax Weird’ Stickers Now Hosting ‘Weird’ Meetups To Further The Cause

people sitting around table with beer
Jessica Palombo
People mingle at the first ever Make Jax Weird meetup at Aardwolf Brewery on Aug. 23.

You might have seen a sticker that says “Make Jax Weird” on a cash register at a café or maybe on a car driving by.

The slogan acknowledges Jacksonville isn’t quite Austin or Portland – places that have proudly proclaimed their oddness for over a decade.

More than five years in, the creator of “Make Jax Weird” is still trying to do just that — now by holding in-person meetups.

On Thursday, Aug. 23, Patricia Larkin was greeting her Make Jax Weird “tribal council” for the first time ever at Aardwolf Brewery in San Marco.

Patricia Larkin smiles as she talks to people
Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News
Patricia Larkin greets people at her first Make Jax Weird meetup.

Reading from her phone, she said, “Our values are mutual respect, creative expression, supporting local business, healthy living, active participation”—it was a long list, and Larkin rattled it off before she’d introduced herself — “And I’m still anonymous!” she said when she was finished.

That’s been intentional, she told them.

“I am aware that I am a white woman, and I didn’t want people to think that it was just for white people or just for women,” she said.

Judging from the diverse crowd, people did not.

One woman said she goes beyond homeschooling to “unschool” her kids. The owners of the Murray Hillbilly vegan Southern food truck were there, along with the founders of the upcoming Jacksonville Hispanic Culture Film Festival, a woman who’s launching a fermented foods business and an assortment of artists and musicians, like Matt Monroe, who offers private French horn lessons for kids.

“Jacksonville kind of chose me,” Monroe said.

When he saw the invitation, he thought of his hometown’s slogan, Keep Portland Weird.

“And it reminds me a lot of the Portland I know as a kid: just A lot of meetings like this going on, just kind of grassroots stuff, and creative people. Just a place that’s not known that well to the rest of the world,” he said.

His adopted city is getting weirder, he said. And Eva Toutain said she’s helping.

She came to network for her “laughology” business, Elevate. Laughology, or laughter yoga, is the practice of forcing yourself to laugh to trick your brain into being happy, she said. It’s popular in India, but not so much in Jacksonville yet.

“I have to be able to just let myself go and show people it’s all right and there’s no judgement, that these are exercises and you’ll thank me for it later,” Toutain said. “But it’s weird.”

Toutain smiles at Aardwolf
Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News
Laughter yoga teacher Eva Toutain came to the Make Jax Weird meetup to network. She said her mouth logo was designed by students at Douglas Anderson.

All in all, about 25 people responded to Larkin’s invitation.

“Everyone shared so sincerely, and I could tell everyone felt comfortable and welcomed in the space,” she said after the meeting.

The stickers were born in 2012 after she saw a similar one in Fort Worth, Texas, but it took a year of thinking about it for her to actually sit down and get them printed.

“Creating the ideas that you have in your head is actually scary, and pushing through that is so important, and I wanted to inspire other people to do the same thing as well, which is the message of the stickers. ‘Make Jax Weird.’ It’s an imperative. Do the thing. Take action,” she said.

Not only did she create the stickers, but she sells them to local businesses, who sell them at their counters for twice as much—$2 each.

Murray Hill’s Community Loaves bakery has one of the stickers on its cash register. Barista Linda Weatherly said the stickers always sell out quickly when they’re in stock.

Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News
A Make Jax Weird sticker can be seen on the cash register at Community Loaves as barista Linda Weatherly grabs a pastry.

So many have sold across town, Larkin said she doesn’t react anymore when she sees them on random laptops in cafes or, once, on a boat being towed down the street.

“I want to see a world where everyone can authentically be themselves and be accepted for who they are, so (the goal is) reclaiming that label of ‘weird,’” she said. “That’s something really beautiful that happened tonight. Everyone that showed up – some of the people stood up and said, ‘I’m weird.’ And the people smiled and applauded, and it was beautiful.”

Larkin said she plans to keep spreading the weirdness through her Make Jax Weird podcast, discussions on the group’s Facebook page and more meetups like that one.

Contact Jessica Palombo at 904-358-6315, or on Twitter at @JessicaPubRadio.