Visit Jackson Spotlights Partners Serving the City During NTTW

May 7, 2021

National Travel & Tourism Week 2021 in Jackson, Mississippi is going out on a community-minded note.

Visit Jackson takes a look at several recent service initiatives aimed at bettering the City With Soul.

On Friday, Visit Jackson team members, alongside Downtown Jackson Partners and Keep Jackson Beautiful picked up trash, pulled weeds and planted flowers in an effort to beautify the gateways into the downtown area, specifically near the “Welcome to Jackson” mural.

“We’ve got to stop throwing things out of our windows,” said Visit Jackson CEO Rickey Thigpen. “We had a (Mississippi) First Lady, (Pat Fordice), who said, ‘Your mama don’t work here.’ So we want to spruce up the area, not just for visitors, but for our residents as well.”

Volunteers are receiving a free lunch and school students’ efforts qualify for community service hours.

In March, World Central Kitchen (WCK) reached out to Jackson, Mississippi to serve a need, meeting residents with water and hot food following a February ice storm that caused the city’s water system to malfunction.

WCK worked with local restaurants to provide hundreds of meals daily. More than 38,000 meals from 15 different restaurants – including Sugar’s Place, The Manship, and others – were purchased and distributed at pre-determined pick-up locations in Jackson. This partnership resulted in an estimated economic impact (EEI) of more than $304,000 for the Jackson economy.

Due to local restaurants’ willingness to participate, WCK was able to increase the number of drop-off locations in the three weeks they served Jackson.

Also in March, restauranteur and Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership President Jeff Good organized a virtual “explainer” of sorts for residents and business owners alike who may have lacked basic knowledge of the city’s infrastructure following that same storm.

“My phone was ringing off the hook, with lots of questions on Facebook and emails,” Good said of others seeking his help understanding lack of water or water pressure. “It dawned on me, some many people don’t understand the mechanics (of the water system).”

Good reached out to City of Jackson Mayor Chowke Lumumba, Public Works Director Dr. Charles Wiliams and Planning and Development Director, Jordan Hillman, asking, ‘Is there a way to have a presentation to learn how the water system works, from ‘source to sewer?’

“Civic knowledge and education is a basic tenant of being a good citizen, to be able to work together to make things happen,” Good said.

This spring, Downtown Jackson Partners took steps to provide services and compassionate care for the homeless population of downtown Jackson.

Their Homeless Outreach Project provides for a liaison to work with the homeless population, oftentimes intervening before more drastic or unnecessary measures are taken.

Community Outreach Worker for Stewpot Ministries, Tommie Brown said the purpose is not to move the homeless out of the park.

“The conversations that we have had have been along the lines of coexistence versus ‘us or them,’” he told WLBT. “They can still continue to enjoy this alongside of — that’s the key — alongside of other residents in the downtown area.”

Finally, the architects of the City of Jackson’s new Long Range Planning Division, Salam Rida and Travis Crabtree took a love of urban design, public art, and community-based solutions to new levels with the Fertile Ground Project.

Since moving to Jackson four years ago from Detroit, Salam & Travis applied for funding, won it, and managed a multi-year million-dollar grant for the project focused on food scarcity. For their work on socially distanced events on Duling Avenue to Farish Street, to community gardens, and more, the pair have also been responsible for a bulk of the public art projects in the past twelve months in Jackson.