Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Regardless of how you feel about politics at a national level, we all love seeing Jackson grow and improve. The one thing many people don't realize is that we can all be urban warriors for our city. Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of learning the ways of the urban fight from Jackson's finest. Here are a few tips to become the city's next Wonder Woman, Black Panther or Aquaman.
Listen. The best way to learn about the city is directly from its people. Jacksonians have some amazing knowledge to share and stories to tell. Have you heard about what Farish Street used to be like? Have you heard the ups and downs of bringing it back to life? In order to gather all of this knowledge, we must listen to those who lived it—our greatest resource. Take time to go to a city council meeting and hear locals speak up in favor or against issues that matter most to them. Attend a rally at the Capitol building. Show up to 1 Million Cups and hear the latest entrepreneurial pitch. Just by listening, you can begin to find things that interest you in the city.
Explore somewhere new. An urban warrior must know the lay of the land, always taking the opportunity to find a new hot spot, local hidden gem or a space to activate. Jackson is a very large city in terms of land mass—roughly the size of Tampa, Fla., Salt Lake City, Utah, or Fresno, Calif. By driving around the city, I have discovered more about it than any map, website or Facebook newsfeed could ever show me. Explorations in Jackson have taken me to a hidden sandy shore, a Hindu Temple, a beautiful library and even some of my favorite spots to eat. Take a Saturday afternoon and explore that part of Jackson that you've never been to before.
Take notes. Every urban warrior is a good note-taker. And I mean literal note-taker. Grab a Moleskine at Lemuria Books or Field Notes at Buffalo Peak Outfitters along with your favorite pen and get to jotting. Feel free to sketch images, doodle, highlight keywords, insert bumper stickers and personalize however you like. These notes will help you keep track of the ideas you have, lessons you learn and people you interact with. Beyond physical note-taking, make sure you analyze everything happening around you in the city. Observe an event and ask yourself: "What did I like or dislike about this event? In what ways was the event successful or unsuccessful? How would I do this differently?" Through this process, we can continually set the bar higher for ourselves and for our city.
Find something you are passionate about and fight for it. Passion drives an urban warrior's every move. Networking is easiest when you can connect with people on a cause. Setting aside professional ambition to relate over something that is deeper and aimed at creating a greater good will draw people in to help you fight. Organizations such as Team JXN, 1 Million Cups and Leadership Greater Jackson allow people to learn how to plug into the city and take leadership roles in movements happening all over Jackson.
Share. Word-of-mouth is an important tool for urban warriors. Creating something that is worth talking about generates success. We must share what we are learning and doing with everyone in our lives. Sharing our experiences at museums, restaurants, local stores and with local causes will get others excited about the change that is happening in Jackson. Most importantly, as we share our experiences, we are telling the story of the city's renaissance ourselves—and that is the most powerful force as we get further into 2018. So, grab your tools. Strap on some boots. Gather your fellow warriors and start charting a new path to make more of the Best of Jackson.
J. David Lewis is the vice chairman of the board for TeamJXN and a project specialist at the Greater Jackson Arts Council.