Since starting at the Jackson Free Press in May, I have been involved in producing 15 issues. For some of them I didn't do a lot, but others I can flip through and see the work I put in on most of the pages inside. It's very cool having a physical product for our efforts each week and see people carrying it around, but it's even better to be proud of what we're doing—not just printing words and images into a paper, but being a force that strives to make Jackson a better place.
And now, we're upping those efforts on the Internet with our new website, including these fancy blogs for staff members and anyone who wants to create one.
So what's my story? I was born in Utah to Oregonian parents, moved to Mississippi for high school and decided to stick around for college—I went to Millsaps and loved it. Then I went to graduate school in Boston and lived three blocks from Fenway Park for two years. Boston was big and wonderful and I loved so much of it, but it was difficult to feel connected to the community in a meaningful way. So when the time came to move back to Mississippi (this time, for my fiancé-now-husband's enrollment in medical school), I was actually excited.
I touched on a lot of the reasons why in my first editor's note, but when I went to the Sal & Mookie's/Parlor Market collaboration PM Pizza on Monday night, I was reminded all over again how great our city is becoming these days. To me, the event is a perfect example of why I'm glad to be back in Jackson. First of all, Liz Lancaster (who does marketing for Mangia Bene) is a great friend of mine and a fellow Millsaps alum, and I just love seeing young people (especially intelligent former Majors with open hearts and minds) become the movers and shakers in this town. Liz and everyone at both restaurants did an amazing job for the event.
Second, the community. Walking over from the JFP office, I immediately found the table of my people, and throughout the night several more people or groups came in and came over for hugs and happy greetings. Everywhere I looked I saw people I either knew well or recognized. I love living in a capital city that still manages to create those moments.
There was also an influx of players from the local kickball league, which my table immediately wanted to know more about and get involved with. A friend who is moving out of the country for a year said multiple times how great Jackson is and how jealous she was that all of us could do events like PM Pizza and local kickball leagues. This person is moving to Paris, y'all, and she couldn't stop talking about how great Jackson is.
Third, the food. Ohhh, the food. I was there for three or four hours, and several friends and friends-of-friends drifted in and out of our table in that time. Everyone shared bites and traded slices—a couple I met five minutes before offered to trade a slice of their charcuterie pie for my white pizza with egg. Now that is something that doesn't happen in Boston very often. In the end, I think I was able to try around six of the pies, and not a single one disappointed.
It feels like no coincidence that the Travel Channel aired a show featuring Jackson the same night as PM Pizza. Our lil city is finally getting some real notice in the food world (and not just for down-home southern food, but for innovative cool cuisine too).
It's true, there are a lot of areas that Jackson, Mississippi and hell, the south, need to grow (as I'm sure we'll be reminded all over again heading into election season), but we're getting there. Hopefully I will be able to help chronicle even a bit of that growth here and in print.
And because this is the Internet, and no page is truly complete without a cat, here is ours: