#BTCJXN: Be the Change Grab Bag | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

#BTCJXN: Be the Change Grab Bag

Israel Martinez

Israel Martinez Photo by Trip Burns.

We asked staffers, readers and known change agents in the community for their ideas on being the change we want to see in Jackson (a phrase we've borrowed from Gandhi). Some are specific ideas already in action, some are big ideas we should consider, and others amount to needed motivation as we all work together to lift up our city and the state.

Try these on for side and then head to jfp.ms/bethechange to add yours or tweet using #BTCJXN.

Israel Martinez, Director, LINGOFEST Language Center and KISM@R Computer Services

I have lived in the Jackson metro area for over 11 years. I have seen potential for many great things that can be done: some with little money, some requiring millions.

City support for events. The city of Jackson should offer free police officers to help with events. JPD regularly charges around $25 per hour per officer. Ten officers working eight hours shifts equals $2,000 Concerts

Entertainment. Let's forget about Farish Street. After 25 years and several lawsuits, things are not moving. Let's open an entertainment district in Fondren or a new location.

Beautification Develop "welcome" areas, particularly along Interstates 20 and 55. Destroy old vacant properties. Plant gardens at entrances to and around the city. Many landscapers would love to do it for free as long as their name shows somewhere in the garden.

Economy Create incentives for small businesses to move or open a location in Jackson. Jackson real estate needs to compete with better prices. Retail spaces are more expensive in downtown than Ridgeland or Pearl. Create a commission leaded by the mayor to visit different countries (China, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Brazil, etc.) to attract major investors to open big manufacturers in Jackson, or to invest in an entertainment district.

Marketing Create videos about Jackson; many cities around the world do this to attract visitors and investments. (Just negative stuff comes from YouTube.) Establish sister cities in places like Rio de Janeiro, Monterrey, Dubai and other cities around the world to send a message of being a cosmopolitan city.

Media Ask all the media to include the good things that happen in Jackson. Every day I open the news websites; mostly they focus on the shootings, robbery, etc. That creates a horrible image. I hang out all the time in Jackson, and I am fine. There is crime, but there is a lot of good stuff that is not presented.

Justin Archer Burch, Program Associate, Community Development, Foundation for the Mid South, Kellogg Foundation Fellow

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Justin Archer Burch

I am working on building a workforce collaborative in Jackson for citizens returning from the corrections system. We are looking to build off the success of the Newark model, which was highly successful under Mayor Cory Booker's administration in New Jersey.

We are working to help pull partners together that will rapidly attach men and women who have recently exited the corrections system to employment and the social services they need to (a) become self-sufficient (b) reduce their recidivism and (c) become a productive member of society. The goal is to build a public, private, and philanthropic response to this vulnerable population's lack of resources and opportunities, which causes a cycle of crime, incarceration and poverty.

I think the project is a win-win for the community as it aims to reduce crime, reduce poverty, decrease prison population, increase skills of low skill/low wage workers and help meet the need of employers looking for a quality labor force.

Aisha Nyandoro, Executive Director, Springboard To Opportunities, Kellogg Foundation Fellow

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Aisha Nyandoro

Springboard To Opportunities connects families living in affordable housing with resources and programs that help them advance themselves in school, work and life. We do this by working directly with families, as well as by establishing strategic partnerships with other organizations that help residents achieve their goals.

Currently, we work with residents of two affordable-housing properties in Jackson: Commonwealth Village and Lincoln Gardens (we are expanding statewide Nov. 1). The stability of affordable housing meets an essential need for residents, providing the opportunity to shift their focus away from daily obstacles and toward future aspirations. By working closely with real-estate developers, property-management companies, neighborhood leaders, community stakeholders and residents, we are building pathways for adults, children and families to realize their dreams.

We believe we can create a new model to cultivate hope and start to break the cycle of generational poverty! The two-generation approach is integrated into every aspect of our work—we understand that we cannot support our moms without supporting their children.

Two main points guide the work.

  1. Affordable housing alone is not enough to move people out of poverty.
  2. We implement a "radically resident driven" approach to programming. All community programming addresses direct needs as communicated by the residents through trusting relationships.

See springboardto.org

Brandon Jones, Executive Director, Mississippi Democratic Trust

Men should take a stand against domestic violence by telling and showing that violence against women and children is unacceptable.

Chris Myers, Architect

Inspire and encourage people (natives and transplants) to work to improve just one problem or shortcoming. In this city, much more than in larger cities, a little bit of passion can go a long way, and there's no greater reward than a city that is better because of your hard work.

Emma McNeel, Sophomore, St. Andrew's Episcopal School

Spend some time at a local animal rescue shelter. Some local shelters are the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, the Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi, Webster Animal Shelter, and Community Animal Rescue & Adoption (CARA).

Todd Stauffer, President & Publisher - Jackson Free Press, BOOM Jackson

Start a small business and offer a great product or service.

Josh Hailey, Artist, Photamerica.com

Just do something. Try to activate, educate and bring the community together in all that you do! Everyone has something GOOD to give; we sometimes forget that in this crazy, fast-paced world. But when it comes to Jackson, let's get a little more fast paced and get out and celebrate our lovely city and its diversity; be the change you want to see, Jackson! Come downtown Oct. 3, 5 p.m.-midnight, to the Mississippi Museum of Art and see what I am talking about!

Ronni Mott, Freelance writer and editor, yoga teacher

Share yourself. Everyone is good at something, and some at many things. Offer your knowledge or your hands to the organizations and causes you care about. Nothing succeeds like your passion.

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