November 11, 2012
At Working Together Jackson’s first Delegates Assembly, 35 religious groups and non-profits unveiled their plans to reclaim a number of neighborhoods, improve education, reduce unemployment and hold area politicians accountable. The high energy gathering, held at Voice of Calvary, marked the transition of Working Together Jackson into public action. See below for descriptions of the various partnerships and their Action Plans, or view the Cooperative
Working Together Mid-City
The evening of September 13thwas a typically warm evening in the blighted neighborhood of Mid-City in Jackson. What was not typical was the small group of its residents gathered at True Vine Baptist Church to talk about their hunger to renew their neighborhood.
Three men sat shoulder to shoulder in the meeting. One declared he had lived in Mid-City for 30 years. The next said he had lived there 40 years. The last man said, “I’ve been living here for 74 years, but I’ve never met these two.” A woman in the back row then added softly, “that’s the problem with this neighborhood. Nobody knows anybody.” At that point the room went silent.
That night Working Together Mid-City was born. Working Together Mid-City was the first of Working Together Jackson’s partnerships aimed at transforming Jackson’s neighborhoods from the inside out. Why “inside out”? Because all these partnerships are created by the institutions and individuals that live in the neighborhoods. Only the residents can truly transform the many and varied troubles of Jackson’s failing neighborhoods.
Founded by Ms. Debra Brent, President of the Mid-City Neighborhood Association, and Rev. Claude Edwards Tucker Sr., pastor of True Vine, Working Together Mid-City has identified a number of issues it will address; abandoned housing, overgrown lots, crime, mentoring for its youth and services for its elderly. But everyone involved knows that at the heart of transforming the neighborhood lays the insight of the soft-spoken woman from the back row. As Rev. Tucker puts it, “the real work of rebuilding the neighborhood
isn’t cutting lawns or boarding up houses. The real work is building relationships between its residents.”
That’s why Working Together Mid-City started house meetings at their second meeting. That night they recruited 12 block captains. Each captain is now recruiting neighbors from their blocks to come to the third meeting were they introduce more people to each other. “I’ve always been big on getting things done. But no one can fix this neighborhood for us. We’ve got to do it ourselves. And to do that we have to know and trust each other.”
Click here for President Brent’s update on Working Together Mid-City.
Working Together Southside is a partnership between Emmanuel Baptist Church, New Horizon Church International, Open Door Mennonite Church, and Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church. The youngest of the neighborhood partnerships, Working Together Southside is combining many of the efforts its individual members’ are already engaged in to reclaim the Southside of Jackson. Initiatives include: Emmanuel’s focus on neighborhood renewal
and evangelism; New Horizon’s I58 (Isaiah 58) program that is relocating 200 families from outside of the city into the South Jackson area; Open Door’s educational focus, including after school tutoring and bible study, as well as online aids to parents and an effort to increase high speed internet access in poor neighborhoods; and Great Mount Olive’s initiatives on partnering with local schools, ministry supporting prisoners’ reentry to the community, financial literacy education, and outreach to The Friendship Connection.
Click here for Rev. Christopher Wheatley describing Working Together Southside.
Working Together Southwest is a partnership between Rosemont Baptist Church and Lake Elementary School. They are partnering to go door to door in the neighborhood, surveying residents about the educational needs of their children. Last summer for the first time the two institutions created a
community garden that taught children how to work a garden, and provide their families with fresh vegetables. Another priority is creating more partnerships by reaching out to the neighborhood associations and creating a local business association.
Click here for Jamal Brown’s presentation of Working Together Southwest.
Working Together Downtown is a partnership between St. Andrews Cathedral, New Hope Baptist Church and Central United Methodist Church. The initial focus is on cleaning over grown lots, riding the neighborhood of abandoned houses, reclaiming
Meadger Evers’ historic field on Farish St., and expanding the partnership by reaching out to other churches, developers, and neighborhood associations. The first action scheduled is a “Spying Out the Land: mapping the community,” based on Numbers 13:17-33. Rev. Carole Spencer will teach the workshop, and then pairs from the partnering institutions will drive through the neighborhood mapping out specific issues that Working Together Downtown will then make part of its agenda.
Click here to hear Rev. Cook on Working Together Downtown.
Click here for LaFawn Gilliam’s presentation of DiverCity Diner.
The Education Action Team is a group of parents and current and former teachers and principles who have been meeting to determine how Working Together Jackson can best support children, parents and schools. The goal is to improve the educational achievement
of students, engage parents in the lives of their schools, and form partnerships between Working Together Jackson’s members and the schools in their neighborhoods. The strategy involves the Fact Finding Tour in which small groups of delegates will visit principles and teachers from their local schools to ask what issues that particular school faces, and how Working Together Jackson partners may help.
Click here for Andrew’s presentation.
The Work Force Development Institute is a job-training institute based on other such groups the IAF has created. These institutes have very high placement rates for their graduates in jobs that pay living wages and include benefits. The key to success is twofold. First the institutes start with students referred
by the leaders like those of Working Together Jackson. These are people that the pastors know want to succeed. The second piece is that the institute is employer-based. Students are trained for jobs that employers have said they need filled, so when the students graduate they have been trained for jobs that actually exist.
Click here for Rev. Phil Reed’s report.
The Political Accountability Action Team is focused on creating a unique forum for political candidates to listen to the issues, plans and concerns Working Together Jackson members. Two things make the forums unique. The first is that they are designed to build lasting relationships between Working Together Jackson and the candidates. Members
of the team will do small meetings with the candidates individually, where they will get to know each other, and the candidates will learn the goals and plans of Working Together Jackson. The second thing that makes the sessions unique is that it is a time for candidates to listen, not talk. After being fully briefed about our issue and concerns, the candidates only need to answer one question; if elected, will they work with us on our issues.
Click here for Thorne Butler’s presentation of the Accountability Seesions.