While there are a number of Cooperatives and Credit Unions operating in the state of Mississippi, most of which are members of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, there are only a few Cooperatives and Credit Unions operating within the city limits of Jackson, Mississippi.
There is one existing Consumer Cooperative in the Jackson; Rainbow Co-Op. Rainbow Co-op is Mississippi’s largest full-service organizing natural foods grocery. It is a consumer cooperative grocery owned and operated by its members. It is dedicated to providing natural, organic, and local products that support healthy individuals, a thriving local community and sustainable planet. Rainbow Co-op has been an integral part of the Jackson Community since 1980.
What Jackson currently does not have are worker, producer, and housing cooperatives. However, there are two major initiatives being advanced by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in Jackson that are beginning to change this equation. The two initiatives are the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson and Cooperation Jackson.
The Cooperative Community of New West Jackson
The Cooperative Community of New West Jackson (CCNWJ) is a grassroots neighborhood collective whose mission is to build a sustainability model neighborhood from the ground up and from the inside out that could be replicated to create a strong again community core in West Jackson. Founded in August 2013, this effort represents a first step toward reknitting the fabric of our neighborhood. The scope of the vision includes clean-up and beautification, rehab, retrofitting and building homes with green technologies, new neighbor recruitment, education and neighborhood based economic development.
Like many poor working class urban communities, our neighborhood has been plagued with violence, drugs, abandonment, divestment, blight, poverty and neglect. Nonetheless, the area has great wealth building potential because of its centralized location (near Downtown, within walking distance to the Jackson Zoo, quick access to I-220 and close to Jackson State University), inexpensive commercial and residential property and the unique character of the community. As a result, private developers and outside interest groups have begun speculating the area for eventual gentrification, potential bad news for local residents. Unfortunately, unlike these speculators, we lack access to the capital resources needed to withstand such an onslaught.
Despite it all, we are on the rise! We believe that we the people who live, work and play here should be at the helm of any community envisioning process and directly benefit from any economic development—not just as consumers. We believe in the right to self-determination, self-reliance, self-respect and self-defense. We believe in casting the vision for our community and determining its destiny. We believe that every resident has the right to contribute to the Cooperative’s development through participatory democracy.
We believe our community should be healthy, safe, sustainable, and fit to address our unique needs. We believe that our community cannot remain in the mode of mere consumerism if we are to break the vicious cycle of poverty and chart a true course toward sustainable revitalization. To this end, CCNWJ residents have created a cooperative economic development strategy and other initiatives that aim to build real community wealth and overall wellness.
Grenada Street Folk Garden: A resident-owned, cooperative farm that will empower the neighborhood by shrinking household food budgets and increasing household incomes through profit sharing, job creation and valuable skills training. Situated on 1 ½ acres, GSFG will function like a production farm but with the look and feel of a landscaped cottage garden, adding both beauty and bounty to the community. Design elements embrace permaculture principles and the African American folk art aesthetic, and include an aquaponics tilapia fish farm, chicken coop for 50 laying hens, small fruit orchard, production green house, beehives, organic garden beds, milk goats, a dairy cow, a food handling, preparation and storage area, and a Nature Explore play space. The Teaching Center will house a folk school, green build school, large multipurpose room, commercial kitchen, a book room, gift shop and gallery. There are also plans to open a vegetarian café’ and street market.
The Co-op Center: In January 2014, CCNWJ acquired a dilapidated house that it is rehabbing for use as a neighborhood center. It will be used as a shared space for meetings, workshops, short stays, book store and wellness center.
Community Dollars Campaign: CCNWJ’s ongoing fundraising campaign, asking supporters to donate $100 to help build the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson. Please make checks payable to the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson, and put in the subject line where or how you would like us to use your funds. Mail to: 1908 Grenada Street, Jackson, MS 39209. For more information or more ways to contribute, please contact Nia Umoja at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (601) 454-2143. Visit www.coopwestjackson.org to make a donation beginning March 1, 2014.
Our Garden Fundraiser will launch March 1, 2014 on Kickstarter.
Volunteer Some Time: CCNWJ always needs volunteers to help in constructing the farm, rehabbing the Co-op Center, and skills training, and are seeking volunteers for our first comprehensive Co-op Clean-up on Earth Day. Currently work days are Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM. Contact Nia Umoja at email@example.com or call (601) 454-2143 for current week’s activities.
In-Kind Giving: CCNWJ needs building materials, garden materials, equipment and other supplies for various initiatives. Please visit www.coopwestjackson.org (launch date March 1), email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Nia Umoja (601) 454-2143 for complete list of things needed.
Cooperation Jackson is an emerging cooperative incubator, worker/owner training center, and enterprise network to serve the people and community of Jackson, Mississippi. Cooperation Jackson is forming a partnership with the Administration of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba to help facilitate the growth and development of cooperative and worker owned enterprises in the City of Jackson.
The Mission of Cooperation Jackson is to advance the development of economic democracy in Jackson, by building a solidarity economy anchored by a network of cooperatives and other types of worker owned and self-managed enterprises.
The Objectives of Cooperation Jackson are:
- To create a Cooperative Incubator to foster the development of cooperatives and other types of worker owned enterprises by providing new cooperators with training in starting a business, financing it, managing it successfully, and creating and sustaining work-place democracy.
- To recruit and train new cooperators from the City of Jackson, focusing primarily on individuals from working and economically marginalized communities, particularly formerly incarcerated individuals.
- To create a network of interweaving and interlocking cooperative enterprises, following examples like Mondragon in Spain and Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio, to help revitalize the economy of Jackson by providing stable employment, living wage income, and creating greater wealth and asset equity in the community.
Current Organizing Initiatives
- New Economies Conference. The Coordinators and organizing staff of the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference constitutes the founding members of Cooperation Jackson. They will be coordinating the follow through processes from the conference to ensure that it makes a lasting and ongoing impact to the City of Jackson.
- Waste Management and Recycling: Cooperation Jackson is exploring the development of a waste management and recycling cooperative to create a more sustainable system for the City of Jackson to bring the City in alignment with the vision of Mayor Lumumba to make Jackson one of the most sustainable cities in the United States.
- Construction and Skills Trade Workers Cooperative: Cooperation Jackson will be launching a campaign in the spring of 2014 to recruit construction workers and skilled craft-persons to start a worker cooperative to serve the major infrastructure repair and housing development needs of Jackson.
- Urban Farming Cooperative: Cooperation Jackson is working with the Urban Farming Initiative of Mayor Lumumba to launch a major urban farming complex in the City of Jackson in the spring and summer of 2014, utilizing the Cities current abundance of vacant properties and City owned land.
For more information on how you can join and/or support Cooperation Jackson please contact CooperationJackson@gmail.com or mail P.O. Box 1932 Jackson, MS 39215.