Make Friends, And Build A City | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Make Friends, And Build A City

Febuary 1, 2006

What we call the "Best Of" season in January here at the JFP always ends with a big bang in the form of our Best of Jackson party, which happened this year in the Electric 308 building in downtown Jackson. It was an extraordinary event this year, attended by hundreds of folks … and at least one cute little dog. We had exceptional food from a slew of local restaurants (all of whom were big winners in the Best of Jackson 2006 reader poll), and entertainment ranging from bellydancing to fashion models to DJ Phingaprint, who is not only Jackson's Best club DJ, but also the secret ingredient to turning a good party into an outstanding party.

My favorite comment: "I feel just like I walked into a party in SoHo."

To me, though, it felt like walking into a party in Jackson—I saw so many great friends and familiar faces in one night, most of them enjoying music, art, food and drink along with the company of an incredible diversity of people. There's nothing I love more than the energy at a Best of Jackson party—this year even more than ever with the blend of art, restaurant fare, companionship and entertainment.

You know, you can talk as much as you'd like about car plants and defense contractors and lobbyists and suburban stripmall developers, but at the end of the day, for a place like Jackson to thrive, the solution is supporting and empowering the creative entrepreneurs who are willing to work hard to develop the city's core. They're the ones who will help you make a city a livable, workable and desirable place to be.

That's why we throw them this party.

As with any undertaking of this magnitude, it was made possible by a number of sponsors—Duckworth Realty, Downtown Jackson Partners, Capital City Beverage, Barefoot Cellars, Kat's Wine Cellar and a host of restaurants and individual businesses and artists. I thank them all for their help and applaud them for their vision in supporting this event.

But perhaps most importantly, the Best of Jackson party was what we at the JFP hope it can continue to be—a celebration of Jackson's creative class of professionals, artists and entrepreneurs who are the backbone of an extraordinary renaissance in this town that is exciting to watch and thrilling to be a part of.

I was talking the other day to a local artist who has a room that he rents in New York and job offers in Paris, but who chooses to make Jackson his home base and a big part of his work. He told me that he has stories that he needs to tell—in art, in film—that he wants to tell from Mississippi. He's a huge advocate of the Jackson creative scene, and his excitement is contagious when he talks about his fellow artists and what they're able to accomplish in this town.

That's the sort of excitement that will continue to build Jackson's creative community. It's an excitement that's palpable in a place like the Electric 308 building, where a combination of shrewd development, entrepreneurship, and cooperation among municipal entities and smart corporate partners has made something exciting happen. And it's a piece in the puzzle that leads to an exciting future for a creative town like the one that Jackson could, should and damn well better become.

While we can all point to a fault or three that we see in the Jackson landscape, it has something that other locales anywhere in this country would kill for—authenticity. It's my favorite thing about this city and this state—the extraordinary quality that makes this place thrive on its uniqueness, which manifests itself in so many different creative ways—the art, the storytelling, the music, the culture.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and Jackson never will be. This town will always be a work in progress, changing and growing and faltering and reaching new heights and hitting snags. Part of the fun is the journey, as with anything, and for me personally, the journey for Jackson can be a ton of fun. It can be experienced in a new rock club or a new candy store or the reopening of an old favorite restaurant or the reemergence of an old electric building into a new office tower with amazing condos on the top floors. And it can be seen in people expressing themselves as poets or musicians or DJs or chefs or florists or bartenders or bookshop owners. It can be seen anywhere that excellence is practiced.

Maybe we don't say this enough to one another in the course of the day: Go for it. Maybe you aren't in a position to put together a new loft building in downtown Jackson. That's great, because it's not all we need. There's no point in sitting and waiting on government or big business to solve problems. The dirty little secret is that they're going to follow our lead, if we'll lead them.

Spring is right around the corner, and it's time for you to dust off your paintbrush or your quill pen or your voice or your tap shoes or that business plan you put in a bottom drawer. If there's something that you feel like you'd love to do excellently, then start to make it happen. Work on nights and weekends, turn off the TV, do some deep leg bends and start practicing whatever it is you need to get done.

This is a great town to do it in, because you're going to find a community of people who can support you in that endeavor. You're going to find that if you pursue excellence in your creativity that you'll win people over to it. And when you begin to understand that tolerance and acceptance of other people's expression is the basis of a truly exciting and diverse community, you're going to find that it's easy to make friends and enjoy yourself at parties.

In the meantime, thanks to the hundreds of people who made the Best of Jackson party a success this year and the thousands of people out there who believe in a vibrant, creative Jackson enough that you're willing to participate in it. You are Jackson's best … and its future.

Previous Comments


Does anyone know if they have any of the lofts available or are they booked? What did/do they go for?


BTW, all, I always like to remind everyone right after the Big Party every year that the way to be guaranteed an invitation is to get on the Lounge List e-mailing list. You join yourself on the front page of the site, and you can take yourself off, or change your address anytime yourself. It's automated, and beyond winners and advertisers, it is the basic invitation list every year. And you'll also get two or three event updates a week, including special prices for play tickets and other unannounced events and specials. It's only used for this. So if you want to get your invite for next year's big bash, that's here. Shhhh. Superstar, I don't have the details on the apartments, but I'll ask Stephen to get it for you.


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