Building Community Is a Team Sport in Jackson, Tennessee
City programs bring residents together to create change, revitalize neighborhoods.
Sponsored by: City of Jackson
Friends, family and community — the past few years have reminded us of what is truly important.
In Jackson, Tennessee, “community” is a call to action. Two recent initiatives from Mayor Scott Conger’s office underscore the importance of connection and highlight the power of citizens to effect change.
Making a Plan
Stan Pilant, planning director for the City of Jackson, knows connection takes forethought. With community input, he’s leading the charge on creating a master plan for bicycles, pedestrians and greenways.
“It’s looking at centers of activity across the city and trying to get people safely to them if they choose another mode of transportation other than a car,” he explains. “Not only is it important for physical activity and to get places, but it has also become a fundamental part of quality of life.
“It’s not so much just connecting, but connecting well,” Pilant continues. “Having the ability to step off a hard surface and into a green space is an important enhancement and important to this idea of community.”
When completed, the master plan will serve as a guide to future investments.
“We want to make sure we fill in the gaps and reach a level of connectivity across the entire city,” Pilant says of the long-term strategy.
Love Your Block
“Love Your Block is a Cities of Service grant program that brings city leaders and residents together to revitalize neighborhoods one block at a time,” explains Abby Palmer, AmeriCorps VISTA representative and co-coordinator of Jackson’s Love Your Block (LYB) program.
One of eight U.S. cities recently awarded $100,000 to impact underserved areas, this two-year initiative will focus on East Jackson in year one before spreading to other areas.
The LYB program awards mini-grants of up to $1,500 for multiple small projects such as creating community gardens, installing public art or pitching in on repairs for a string of homes.
“The whole premise behind Love Your Block is we want it to be resident-led and community-driven,” says Jameson Colbert, LYB fellow and Jackson co-coordinator. “At least 50 percent of volunteers should be connected to the project site. We expect to see community pride in a whole new way in areas that have really needed the boost.”
Palmer says the goal is to create a channel of communication with city leaders and an understanding of available resources.
“We hope residents will feel empowered to initiate a project on their own — that’s the sustained legacy.”
Mayor Conger agrees. “The progress of our city is only as strong as its connection to the community that we serve. Our bicycle, pedestrian and greenways master plan, as well as the Cities of Service Love Your Block initiative, are ways that will allow the city to continue to reconnect locally.”
Find more online
For information on city initiatives or to apply for a LYB grant, go to jacksontn.gov.