Sustainable Communities Initiative
Cooperation Jackson is seeking your support for one of our first major initiatives: our Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI), which entails establishing a Community Land Trust, a Community Development Corporation and an “Eco-Village” Housing Cooperative in Jackson.
Over the course of the next year we intend on establishing this network of interlocking and interdependent institutions that will help stabilize rents, provide affordable “green” housing, create quality living wage jobs, and lay a foundation for the sustainable transformation of Jackson’s economy through cooperative enterprise and solidarity economics.
Our Vision of Sustainable Community Development
We will accomplish all of the aforementioned outcomes by establishing the following institutions:
1. Community Land Trust (CLT): Cooperation Jackson will purchase a number of vacant lots, abandoned homes and commercial facilities primarily in West Jackson currently owned by the State of Mississippi, the City of Jackson, and private owners, organizing them into a Community Land Trust. The purpose of holding them in a trust is to ensure that they are removed from the speculative market and dedicated for sustainable communal endeavors.
2. Community Development Corporation (CDC): Cooperation Jackson will create a Community Development Corporation or CDC to help develop new low-income housing to sustain working class communities and affordable commercial facilities to support the development of cooperative enterprises in Jackson.
3. Housing Co-operative: Cooperation Jackson will turn a significant portion of the land and properties acquired and held by the CLT into an “Eco-Village” Housing Cooperative. The Housing Cooperative will provide quality affordable housing and stable rents to help sustain and build vibrant working class communities in Jackson. It will also create a significant degree of its own energy and waste management infrastructure to ensure that it can more effectively and efficiently utilize alternative sources of energy and eliminate waste by creating a comprehensive “zero-waste” recycling program.
The establishment of these institutions will help us foster the growth of the following cooperative enterprises:
1. Construction Cooperative: We intend on building a comprehensive Construction Cooperative that will have the skill and capacity to build homes, commercial buildings, landscaping, infrastructure repair and development work. However, the Construction Cooperative will start by handling all of the building work required to develop the Housing Co-op and establish the CDC, which will include rebuilding and refurbishing the abandoned homes purchased by Cooperation Jackson and building new homes on some of the vacant lots or demolished sites held by Cooperation Jackson and assigned to the CDC.
2. Waste Management/Recycling Cooperative: We intend on building a comprehensive Waste Management and Recycling Cooperative, based on “zero waste” principles and practices to serve the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi to make these areas and communities global pillars of sustainability. One of the key areas where the Waste Management and Recycling Cooperative will begin is in serving the waste management and recycling needs of the Lumumba Center, the Housing Cooperative in addition to the other cooperative enterprises listed herein. The cooperative will ensure that none of the materials used and consumed by the Housing and other cooperatives are wasted, but fully reintegrated into productive use in other areas within the cooperative network (via composting, deconstruction-reconstruction building techniques, material reuse, etc.). This cooperative will also create a number of sustainable, quality, high paying jobs for Jacksonians.
3. Freedom Farms Urban Farming Cooperative: We intend on building a network of farming plots throughout Jackson, but primarily concentrated in West Jackson, to build a comprehensive urban farming operation that will provide and sustain dozens of living wage jobs over time. Freedom Farms will start operations at the Lumumba Center (see below) and on several of the vacant lots in West Jackson being acquired by Cooperation Jackson that will be held in the CLT. The Farming operation will start with hoop house and raised bed production and hydro, aquaponic, and aeroponic farming in some of the commercial facilities held in the CLT in West Jackson. The objective of the Urban Farming Cooperative is to supply Jackson with high quality foods (vegetables, fruits, fish and poultry) at affordable prices and to create sustainable, living wage jobs for Jacksonians.
4. Child Care Cooperative: We intend on establishing a Child Care Cooperative in West Jackson that will also be held by the CLT. The objective of the Child Care Cooperative is to provide affordable, quality child-care and pre-school education to Jacksonians. We intend for the Child Care cooperative to provide a solid multicultural education to our children to help prepare them to be “global citizens” as they grow and mature. Our multicultural curriculum will include exposure to various languages including French and Swahili with broad exposure to Spanish and Mandarin. It will also focus extensively on mathematics, science and elementary engineering, in addition to the development of skills in the arts, such as dancing and music. The Child Care Cooperative will also engage in extensive nature scout and urban farming training.
5. Nubia Lumumba Arts and Culture Cooperative: We intend on establishing an Arts and Culture Cooperative that will promote the cultural gifts of the people of Jackson and expand the arts, entertainment, and hospitality industries in the city. The Arts and Culture Cooperative will own and operate a number of creative enterprises, including operating a cultural center for hosting and promoting arts and entertainment events (concerts, theater, comedy, parties, etc.), Nubia's Place café, an audio and video studio, a restaurant and a movie theater. The Arts and Culture Cooperative will also produce and distribute films, audio productions (music and poetry), and books and pamphlets that focus on the rich history and culture of the peoples of Jackson, in addition to Black history and culture, and the history and culture of the South.
In order to build these institutions we are partnering with several regional and national organizations, alliances and federations including the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, the Fund for Democratic Communities, the Working World, the Southern Grassroots Economies Project, the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, the Climate Justice Alliance and the Our Power Campaign, and the Right to the City Alliance and the Homes for All Campaign.
What We Need
In order to turn this vision in to reality, Cooperation Jackson needs three fundamental things: Capital, Technical Support, and Training.
At this stage in our development, we essentially need 3 types of capital:
1. Gift Capital, in the form of individual, organizational, and philanthropic funding donations that we can use for a variety of purposes, including purchasing land and abandoned properties, rehabilitating abandoned houses, building new buildings and structures, and purchasing tools, equipment, seeds, etc., and general operations. We are seeking to raise over $500,000 during our first year of operation to purchase and repair a number of abandoned homes and facilities to firmly establish the physical presence of our operations (see full projected budgets below).
2. Patient and low to no-interest loans, that we will use to rehabilitate abandoned homes and/or build new ones, purchasing major equipment, etc.
3. Capital Gifts, in the form of donated tools and equipment to help supply the cooperatives. This includes gifts ranging from hauling trucks, to tractors, to construction equipment, aqua and aeroponic equipment, to tables, chairs, and playground equipment for the childcare facility.
Technical Support Needs
Our greatest Technical needs at present are:
1. Legal Support: We need some lawyers to provide volunteer legal advice and assistance with filing and processing applications and legal documents for the CLT, CDC, etc.
2. Preparing Legal Documents: We need lawyers, legal experts, and academics to volunteer to write articles of incorporation, draft by-laws, and other documents critical to the legal establishment and operations of the aforementioned entities.
3. Grant Writing: We need grant writers and individuals familiar with grant writing and foundations to volunteer their services to help us pursue various grants to help with the establishment of the CTL and the CDC.
4. Craft Support: We need a number of LEED certified contractors and construction workers, urban planners, designers, architects, engineers, urban farmers familiar with hydroponic and aquaponic design and building techniques, and recycling specialists, etc., to train our members and help us design and build the cooperatives that will be built in part through our Sustainable Communities Initiative.
We need individuals and organizations to support us with volunteer skill shares in how to do legal work in support of cooperatives for our local lawyers, how to prepare and write various legal documents, and how to write grants and conduct research for various grants (particularly various Federal and State grants).
We also need volunteer training on how to successfully operate and manage a CLT, a Housing Cooperative, and a CDC from individuals and organizations that have extensive experience in these areas who are ready and willing to share them with our membership.
How You Can Help
You and your organization can help by making a generous donation to Cooperation Jackson for the purchase of land and abandoned homes and commercial facilities. Gift Capital donations are also very welcomed. Please contact us at CooperationJackson@gmail.com to discuss terms and arrangements for the exchange of various gifts, such as equipment, tools, building materials, and various supplies, etc., to ensure that we can and will adequately use them.
You and your organization can also help us by providing no to low-interest loans to support our endeavors if you believe in our vision and the principles of solidarity that we maintain and uphold.
You can also aid us by volunteering with us to provide legal support, document drafting, grant writing, and grant research, planning, architectural design, urban farming, and training in a broad list of areas.
To support us in any of these ways, please email us at CooperationJackson@gmail.com. Please entitle your email ‘Sustainable Communities Support”.
Please make a financial contribution today by donating online here.
You can also write a check or money order to “Cooperation Jackson”, note in the memo “SCI”. Mail the check to Cooperation Jackson, P.O. Box 1932, Jackson, MS 39215.
Thank you for your support!