Battling Brain Drain, New Duling Debuts and Tacos for Charity | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Battling Brain Drain, New Duling Debuts and Tacos for Charity

Architect Claude H. Lindsley designed and constructed the Lorena Duling School, now known as Duling Hall, in 1927. Duling Hall now serves not only as a historic landmark, but also a pillar of the Fondren community.

Architect Claude H. Lindsley designed and constructed the Lorena Duling School, now known as Duling Hall, in 1927. Duling Hall now serves not only as a historic landmark, but also a pillar of the Fondren community. Photo by Trip Burns.

Mississippi Brain Drain Launches Fast Forward Mississippi

On Friday, April 25, the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission announced the official launch of its Fast Forward Mississippi outreach initiative at the annual conference of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi. The branded outreach effort will focus on stemming the loss of Mississippi's intellectuals to other states and communicating the career and quality of life advantages available to college students remaining in Mississippi after completing their education.

Fast Forward Mississippi and the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission have formed a partnership with the Mississippi Leadership Forum, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which will allow them to raise tax-deductible funds on behalf of the initiative's efforts. The MLF is an organization that promotes leadership principles in Mississippi youth. The MLF had been inactive for the last four years, but the agreement with the Brain Drain Commission has allowed the organization to rewrite its bylaws, get a new board of directors and become the financial manager of the Fast Forward program.

Tim Mask, vice president of Jackson-based Maris, West and Baker Advertising—the company providing common resources for the Brain Drain Commission—made the deal to revive the MLF with a friend of his who is the organization's owner.

"We were looking for a 501 company to partner with to fund Brain Drain, and I thought reviving the Mississippi Leadership Forum would be perfect for it," Mask said. "We have a vested interest as a company in making sure we don't lose young intellectuals in Mississippi. It's a personal passion of mine, as well."

The first projects of the Fast Forward effort include the development of a young professionals-based statewide career mentoring network and the production of a video series featuring innovative job opportunities and recreational aspects across the state.

The occupational mentoring network aims to engage young professionals in a variety of fields across Mississippi who are interested in getting back into youth programs in schools, as well as promoting the opportunities available in Mississippi.

The Fast Forward television series is still in the early concept stage and does not currently have a release date. The series' goal will be to produce a multi-use video series in conjunction with Mississippi Public Broadcasting that will spotlight career opportunities and cultural aspects of Mississippi that young intellectuals may not be aware of and will focus on the state's creative economy.

Fast Forward also published the first issue of the Fast Forward aggregated digital magazine on Friday. Intended as an advance companion of the Fast Forward television series, the digital magazine uses the Flipboard platform to aggregate content relevant to young intellectuals from across the Internet and social media outlets into a web-based magazine format. View the publication on the Mississippi Brain Drain website.

"I get tired of hearing people say, 'There's nothing here for me in Mississippi,'" Mask said. "We spend hundreds of millions on public education from kindergarten through post-secondary education, which is great, but it's a net loss for us if we do that and all our young intellectuals go to New York or California after they graduate when there's ample opportunities for them right here. We have to get that information out there, that there's opportunity for advancement and great quality of life right here in our state, and Fast Forward is how we hope to do that."

For more information visit the Fast Forward website or check out the Fast Forward Twitter feed @FSMississippi.

Arden Debuts New Duling Hall

On Friday, May 2, Arden Barnett, founder of entertainment company ardenland, is inviting everyone in the Jackson community to see the updates and new features he's made to Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.) during a concert featuring The Wild Feathers and Tennessee Jet.

Architect Claude H. Lindsley designed and constructed the Lorena Duling School, now known as Duling Hall, in 1927. Duling Hall now serves not only as a historic landmark, but also a pillar of the Fondren community. Barnett finalized a long-term lease for Duling Hall Jan. 1, 2014. Since then, he has been implementing a number of cosmetic updates to improve the space while still preserving its nostalgic, historic feel. Barnett hopes the improvements will enhance the customer experience for concerts, fundraisers, weddings and private events.

The show is presented in part by Capital City Beverage, Cathead Vodka, A2Z Printing and Find It In Fondren.

Tickets for the concert are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at ardenland.net, all Ticketmaster locations or by phone charge at 601-292-7999.

Babalu Announces Results of Charlie's Taco Shop

Babalu Tacos & Tapas (622 Duling Ave.) recently announced the results of a record-breaking day for taco sales during a recent one-day, in-store fundraiser focused on helping a local boy in his fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The "Charlie's Taco Shop" fundraiser was a pop-up restaurant concept created to highlight the culinary skills of 4-year-old Charlie Berry, who is being treated for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Babalu sold 1,450 tacos during the event Wednesday, April 16. The restaurant donated $1 from the sale of every taco during the event to Charlie and his family to help cover the costs of his ongoing treatment.

After the event, the Babalu staff presented Charlie with a $3,000 check. The restaurant raised more than $1,400 through the sale of tacos, including a special taco of the day created by "chef" Charlie himself. Two members of the wait staff, Kaylan Carter and Chandler May, selflessly pooled and donated their $250 cash tips for the day. The remaining $1,300 came from donations taken at the door, additional staff contributions and a "top-off" from the company itself.

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