Wednesday, January 27, 2016
This entire column could have been a list of events and places, no descriptions. Just a list of all the festivals, the amazing cultural events and the deep history in our city. These make up the fabric of our city, but in and of themselves, they are not what makes Jackson so livable.
Next, my thoughts went to food. Again, it could be a list of hidden gems: soul-food shops; new and exciting ethnic fair; the young chefs and entrepreneurs bringing new dishes and concepts from fine white tablecloths to mobile goodness; the city's great, established restaurants; or the best gas-station food around.
But food isn't the thing that makes Jackson so livable, but it is close. The people and their passion about the entire experience here are what makes the vibrant Jackson food scene so special for me. The people and their passions as a whole is what makes Jackson a city with soul and a city full of passion. This is obvious by a passing glance, and more keenly noticed with deeper looks.
One has to only look at the political passions. Be it activists marching on the capital, rallies for and against various causes, blogs calling for change or demeaning concerns, passions abound. Whether the cause is one I deeply believe in, vehemently oppose or even one I personally consider trivial, one cannot deny our capital city holds many deeply concerned and invested citizens.
Look also to our music. If you cannot find a good performance somewhere any day of the week, you simply are not looking. We have passionate musicians, too many to list, who spend their days and nights pouring out their souls. Less seen and noticed, these same musicians donate countless hours to fundraisers or community gatherings.
It is not just the artist showing their passion and drive, it is also the people behind them. It's the two brothers decades ago who decided to open a bar and have some rock 'n' roll, the older promoters on the scene who have brought in every imaginable genre and act and young blood reinventing our city as a musical destination. Passion flows from them and pumps more life into our city.
The people and their passions also improve our city for all. It is activists like Scott Crawford who work tirelessly for their causes, all to improve the life of Jacksonians and all Mississippians. It is the artists creating works for and about our city; the rescue groups like Cheshire Abbey and others spending their time and risking their safety to save animals; those who spend their days at committee meetings to engage their local and state governments; and Stewpot and other charities feeding our hungry, reading to children, clothing those without.
While this could be a list of great businesses, volunteers and artists who do such great work to make life beautiful here, the passion of the people is evident at a more personal and quiet level. Just a few of these people doing their good deeds without fanfare include: the couple who every week picks up trash on their running route to keep a high school cleaner; the happily anonymous man who spends his days researching our history to bring mostly unknown important historical facts about Jackson to life; the various small businesses whose owners not only sponsor events, but make quiet and needed donations of time and effort to various causes; the business owner who makes sure an employee has an appliance or other repair work when a catastrophic expense unexpectedly hits; and the many I know personally who make sure someone downtown will not be hungry at lunch, with a delivery of a plate to those in need. Everyone reading this column knows one person or 50 in Jackson who do not seek attention for their good deeds and drive. That is the passion of Jackson.
Feel the passion and desire to grow as a city and more so as a community. You can find it in the neighborhood meetings in west Jackson, at the coffee-shop debates in Fondren, the various newly creative boards and projects bringing citizens in to address issues facing our city, and the front porches where we gather to discuss and improve our city. Let the passion and drive of the people of Jackson sweep you up. Get involved, live fully in Jackson, feel the passion.
Anders Ferrington is a native Mississippian and proud to be transplanted to Jackson over a decade ago. He has his own law practice, Anders Ferrington PLLC.