• Featured BAM Members

    Featured: Tonja Murphy

    Tonja Murphy is a mother of three, an author, mentor and lover of people. She grew up in the Jackson area and now lives and works in Midtown, making her a valuable asset to the community. Her passion for Midtown and the youth is unmatched and it is all grounded in her faith in God. In a conversation with Tonja, one will learn about her children, The Ladybug Club, community service, her books, business and so much more.

    Who is Tonja Murphy?


    I am a lover of life and community. I love to see an aha moment in people, especially kids and women. Just to see them get it and get it for themselves gives me the greatest joy. I love to see all of their capabilities. That’s just who I am. I am a mom of three. I am a friend and I would like to say that I am a good friend. I am a servant. Yeah, that is who I am.


    Do you live in Midtown?


    Yes, I live and work in Midtown. I’ve lived in Midtown for thirteen (13) years and worked for Midtown Partners, Inc. for almost five years. Before working for Midtown Partners, I served on the board of directors. I currently serve on the BAM board of directors as well.


    I know that you are an author as well. How many books have you written and which is your favorite?


    I have published 5 books, and have drafts for several more. All of my books are my favorite, but I have a favorite reason for each one. I enjoy writing monthly columns for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. Recently, I wrote columns for Mississippi Christian Living Magazine and Women to Women with Joanne: The Magazine. I am really proud of my writing for Mississippi Christian Living and I hope that it turns into something more because faith is a big part of who I am.


    Who or what inspired you to write?


    That would be God and my youngest son. I would send out a short “Thought for the Day” by text message to different people and one day my son said, “Mom, I feel like you have more to say.” I told him, “I do, I think I do.” Then I just started writing short stories and that’s how my first book “Icing on the Cupcake” came about. “Icing on the Cupcake” came about because one of my fraternity brothers, who happens to be a baker, would always have pictures of cupcakes on his social media pages. I noticed that on the cupcakes, there was never any icing that went to the edge of the cupcake, it was always kind of in the middle. I wondered why it was always like that and I thought maybe it was so that you would not get icing on your hands when you unwrapped the cupcake. God is like that and He gives us all things to enjoy, but with boundaries. What He gives us, we have to have some boundaries in it. With short story collections, most of them are named for a short story included in the collection. As I was going through the titles, “Icing on the Cupcake” wouldn’t let me go. My fraternity brother’s cupcakes are actually on the cover of the book.


    How do you feel that you are able to reach and impact the community of Midtown through your employment with Midtown Partners?


    As the Youth Engagement Specialist, I am able to impact the youth, middle school, and high school students. It gives me an opportunity to meet them at a very pivotal point in their lives. My goal is to show them that a caring adult is able to mentor them without telling them what to do. I show them choices, and allow them to discover the best choice for them. They decide the best choice for them based on their experience, education and future aspirations. I like working through situations with them and it has been a wonderful journey. Some of the kids live in Midtown, but some of them feed into the community through the high school and I try to reach as many as I can. I love to see them empowered to make their own decisions. It’s not about what I do for them, it’s about what they learn and what they can actually do for themselves and process their way through it. I am so grateful that my life and my work in Midtown has been filled with so many success stories.


    How has the Midtown community inspired you as an author?


    I can tell you about an experience I had at one of the senior congregate meals. I went in to read some of the short stories from “Icing on the Cupcake” and they really enjoyed it. They were glad to see a youth in the community, which is what they consider me as, to be a published author. One thing I can appreciate about being with the elderly is you don’t have to be related to feel warmth that resembles the arms of a grandparent. They are proud when they see someone successful who looks like them. Having those opportunities inspire me.


    Has BAM helped you connect with the community more?


    BAM has helped me connect more with businesses and find out what it is that they do. With work, I am able to go ask business owners if they are willing to take time to speak with youth about the trials and triumphs of being a business owner. It is important that they know that there are successful small businesses right in their own community.


    In ten words or less, describe Midtown in the next five years.


    Evolving with neighbors, businesses, and events comparable to Fondren and Belhaven.

    What is your most enjoyable memory of Midtown?


    My children being able to attend a community school that was loving and welcoming, with great teachers, students, and parents. It was great to see my kids grow up, play with, and go to the same schools as all of the other kids in the community.


    What is The Ladybug Club?


    That is a very loaded question because we are so many things, but The Ladybug Club is a nonprofit mother and daughter organization that focuses on four things: education, community involvement, empowerment, and family. Ages range from six to sixteen, but once a Ladybug, always a Ladybug. We keep track of students beyond sixteen and follow them through college and beyond. We have Ladybugs in college and one who is now married with her own family. They are also involved more in sports and other organizations. Some of the mothers have gone back to school and graduated college. Mothers and daughters take life lessons and apply them and this is what’s important. Members teach others what they’ve learned as well. It all started in 2005. I wasn’t looking to do this at all. My nieces loved to hang out and have sleepovers with me and I would always find something interesting for us to do together, whether it was a restaurant or an art project. Well, they started inviting their friends and because I work in the community, people started hearing about it and wanted to know more about it. It started growing and I didn’t know what it was growing into, but I knew it was something. So we were in the kitchen one morning for breakfast when they all spent the night with me and one of the little girls looked at me and said, “Ms. Tonja, this is The Ladybug Club.” I said, “You know what, it’s The Ladybug Club then.” My daughter’s nickname is Ladybug and they had all been around her. So that is how it happened. I knew we needed more structure so we would meet and pray and the moms started meeting as well and helping to organize. It started in Midtown, but we are not limited to Midtown. I’m so glad that we are structured now and things can be delegated. I am just the founder, but we do have a director. If I can’t teach them how to run it without me, it defeats the purpose of one of the core things we are trying to accomplish. We have participated as volunteers in The Good Samaritan 12Ks for the Holidays fundraiser for all nine years that they have hosted the event. We’ve volunteered at museum and exhibit openings, collected toiletry items and box fans for the elderly, cleaned their houses and helped organize their apartments. We volunteer at a lot of nonprofit organizations in the city as well. For us it’s not about the hours, it is about what did you learn about the organization and what did you learn about yourself?


    What do you do in your spare time?


    I enjoy reading and supporting organizations that focus on reaching underserved members of the community. I also enjoy working with the youth at my church, Jackson Revival Center Church.


    What do you have new coming up?


    My new book, “Blessed Thirteen: Lessons from a Ladybug” will be released Spring of 2019. It is a book for anyone who wants to start something in the community. There are things they should consider prior to starting. There is value in people giving that type of information. I am going to save people some headaches and tears with this book. There are also personal stories from some of the girls and their mothers, and pictures of them growing up. Currently, we are having a High School Supply Drive that will benefit the English department at Lanier High School. Anyone interested in donating can check out The Ladybug Club’s Facebook page or email us at ladybugclubjxn@gmail.com.


    For more information on Tonja Murphy, visit her websitewww.tonjamurphy.com. You can also visit her social media sites: Facebook: facebook.com/authortonjamurphy;

    Instagram: @authortonjamurphy

    Featured: Phillip Rollins

    Phillip Rollins grew up in Jackson and in Ridgeland but was introduced to Midtown through his passion of deejaying. Also known as DJ Young Venom, Phillip became very much in demand on the local Midtown music and poetry scene. OffBeat is a hidden gem, where you will find great music playing, albums touching every genre and decade, toys, games, eclectic art pieces, his very own clothing line, his deejay equipment setup to get you out on the dance floor at any moment, and so much more. You can find him there on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12pm – 6pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm – 7pm, and on Sundays from 12pm – 5pm.

    Why did you open Offbeat, what’s the back story?

    I always wanted to have a store and people told me that I know a lot about music so I should have a record store. I thought no, that wouldn’t work. They said well, you know a lot about comics so you should have a comic book shop. I was like no, I don’t see that working. I ended up being a part of the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute where we had to do a project that affected the community. A lot of my classmates were getting doctors, lawyers, aldermen, councilman, etc. They were planning to later run for office, open practices, buy buildings and that was their thing. I was a youth justice organizer for the ACLU and I didn’t want to run for office. I was into politics, but I didn’t want that to be my goal for helping the community, so I decided to open OffBeat. OffBeat is an alternative art store that focuses on records, comics, designer toys and serves as an art gallery for young minority artists


    How did you come up with the name OffBeat?

    Everything that you see at OffBeat is a form of art, it’s really a form of off beat art basically. When people do comics, somebody has to storyboard, draw, ink, color and edit the script before it’s put into publication and printed. The toys have to be sketched out then finalized and then there is a 3D model of it so it is sculpted and then painted. Music is pretty self-explanatory, but a lot of people still don’t consider hip hop, electronic music and in some cases jazz a form of art. That’s why I call this place OffBeat.


    Where do you purchase your items that you have for sale?

    I buy wholesale. For everything here, I go through companies and buy it wholesale. The comics, I usually buy from a company that has pretty much cornered the market in comic books. For the used records, I normally buy people’s collections. I carry new records too so I curate everything specific so it’s not the same as you see in major stores. For the toys, I go to the International Toy Fair in New York and I meet with vendors there and those are the same distributors that major stores buy from.


    Do people come in OffBeat from all over the state?

    Yes, we have people that are visiting the city to stop in. We have people from England to California who have heard about the store and want to stop in and shop.


    What is your most enjoyable memory of OffBeat?

    My most enjoyable memory would probably, well there are too many. We had a fundraiser and it was great to see everyone from the community rally around and support it to help out. The fundraiser was to help pay ASCAP Fees, to allow us to play music in the shop.


    What is your most enjoyable memory from Midtown?

    My most enjoyable memory of Midtown is going to be MidFest.


    What is your favorite thing about BAM and how do you think it benefits you and OffBeat?

    The activeness with trying to bridge the gap between the community and the businesses and that was a big concern of mine. Many people were talking about gentrification in the area, and I feel that if I’m here, I can get involved and help put a stop to that. Just getting people that live here onboard with BAM and knowing that the board is trying to work together with the community to actively get some of these issues addressed and resolved.


    If Midtown were a superhero, what superpower would it have?

    I believe the superpower would be akin to what the Green Lantern does. Being able to create anything since this is an art district with a lot of creativity and creative people. You can get a painting here, you can get a glass sculpture, you can get wood, you can get home-brewed tea. It’s the creativity and the innovation that comes out of Midtown that would be its superpower.


    How do you see Midtown being different in five years?

    What I would like to see in Midtown is a café. That’s the only need that I see, everything else is here. I don’t ever see it being like a big retail district, I see it being like this cool little-hidden treasure of Jackson. I think a good spot to get a good sandwich would be beneficial to the area.


    What do you do in your spare time?

    I practice deejaying, I play video games with my son and I listen to my record collection to see what I will play for my next vinyl set. That’s really it because I don’t have a lot of free time.


    What do you have coming up for OffBeat?

    We plan on doing a Black Friday where we will have a special record store day where we’ll have sales on records and offer exclusive releases that other retailers won’t be able to get because we are an independent record store. We’re getting ready for the Holiday Studio Tours and getting ready for next year. Trying to start up a producer/beat making workshop for an after school program for kids. Hopefully, we will launch this by the middle of next year if not the beginning of the year.


    Is there anything else interesting you would like to add about OffBeat or yourself?

    I do an event here at OffBeat called Sunday Night Slow Jam, where I play all vinyl. I will be starting it back up once a month since it is football season. After that, it should go back to bi-weekly. We also host Significant Saturdays every first Saturday in conjunction with daniel johnson of Significant Developments. It’s a community project for kids. We do art projects in the mornings, Saturday morning cartoons on the projector and he plays children’s funk records. I also have a collaboration with Lucky Town Brewery in Midtown for a cider that I have coming out. I can’t consume Lucky Town Beer so I wanted to come up with something that I could enjoy. I also noticed that when OffBeat would host events that serve alcohol, the ladies were always requesting something other than regular beer. I think this would be a great option for them as well so I want to cater to that. It is a hard apple cider with a natural spice and orange peel flavor. A good flavor for the Fall and Winter. I plan to introduce a small batch of 22 oz. bottles at our Black Friday event in November and see how it goes.


    For more information on Phillip Rollins and OffBeat, visit the website www.offbeatjxn.com. You can also visit his social media sites: Facebook: facebook.com/objxn; Twitter: @offbeatjxn; Instagram: @offbeatjxn

    Featured: The reclaimed miles

    Chad Schwarzauer is the owner of The Reclaimed Miles, an architectural salvage business here in the Midtown community. At The Reclaimed Miles, you can find furniture and art objects made from reclaimed wood and a variety of authentic architectural salvage. The Reclaimed Miles is open on Monday-Saturday from 10AM-5Pm, and on Sundays from 12PM-4PM.

    In a few sentences, please describe your business.

    We take down old houses from the 1800s piece by piece, bring them back here, clean them up and resell the salvaged items. The houses find me. I used to do a bunch of research. These days, people call me, and I stay so booked up that I’m six months out now before I can take on a new job.


    How did you arrive in the Midtown community?

    I grew up in Belhaven – moved there in 1987. I went to college at Mississippi State and then came back and started doing things in the Midtown neighborhood. I figured there was a good correlation between Belhaven and Midtown, so what’s prosperous for Midtown is prosperous for Belhaven. We are pretty involved in the Midtown community. We usually open up for all the Final Fridays, Midfest, Holiday Studio Tours, and I try to get to Lucky Town whenever I get a chance.


    What made you interested in the business and led you to opening your business in Midtown?

    My mom had an architectural salvage company here in Jackson back when I was in high school, and I was the free labor back then. I just learned the ropes from that. When the recession hit, I was doing residential construction and then when work disappeared, I decided to go back to State and finish a degree. I studied construction there under the architectural school. When I graduated, I started doing historical restorations and found that there wasn’t a good place anywhere around where you could go and buy a bunch of wood to do historical projects.


    What is a typical day like in your business?

    We do a lot. So, today we are removing nails from boards and cleaning up a bunch of material that we brought in. Pretty much everything is done by hand. There’re very few power tools. We don’t have big, heavy equipment.


    Are your customers mainly local or all over the US?

    We do a good bit of shipping, especially in the southeast. We usually have a delivery once every other month to Texas and then we’ll have one every couple of months down to Florida. We have a lot of stuff that goes to Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee. We have a lot of people that will drive over to see us. We even sold some stuff to Game of Thrones, so pretty much any Night’s Watch scene that you saw from last season had wood from here.


    Do you have any new products/ what are some future goals?

    We go and pull sinker material, so old cypress and pine trees. We go and pull these logs up off the bottom of rivers that have been down there for hundreds of years. We’ll pull them up and take them to the mill and have them sized up into large slabs. While they are underwater, they’ll absorb some of the surrounding material and they start to get these color bands. In cypress, you get a lot of blues and purples that you don’t get out of clean-cut cypress. With old reclaimed pines, you get a lot of greens and stuff that you don’t get any other way, and it’s also really high-quality wood. We’re getting ready to go pull some of these out of water that can be anywhere from 4 feet to 12 feet deep. We’ll go over to the delta, near Indianola and down to Louisiana – it just depends on what we’re looking for.


    What do you like to do in your free time?

    My fiancé is as much of a workaholic as I am so we don’t do a whole lot of free time type of stuff, but we go to the Neshoba County Fair every year and make sure to take off that week. We try to go to the beach when we can, too.


    What is your favorite thing about being a part of BAM?

    Getting to do the street festivals. It’s fun getting to know the other business owners and learn more about what they do.


    Anything else you'd like us to know?

    Check out our Facebook page, especially on Sundays for our specials!


    For more information on The Reclaimed Miles, check out their Facebook!

    Featured: Pat Boland

    Pat Boland has been a member of the Midtown community since the 1970s. He is the owner of CS’s, a popular bar and restaurant located in Midtown across the street from Millsaps College. CS’s is a historical restaurant that has been around for a long time and is iconic to the surrounding area. Since at least the 1930s, a restaurant has been located on the corner of West and Adelle Streets that serves the Millsaps and Midtown communities.



    In a few sentences, describe your restaurant to us.


    We are a restaurant and bar and we serve home cooking, but we are probably known best for our burgers. I have a few employees that have been with me since the start, Inez does the cooking and she has been here off and on since 1979. She has been a bartender, waitress, bouncer, cook—she can do everything. Floyd has also been here continually for almost 30 years, and he does everything. He’s a good one to have! The three of us work together to keep this place going. We do some catering, but more delivery to these hospitals in the surrounding medical community. Sometimes we have entertainment here—the other night we had Beer and Business—The Else School comes and supports us a good bit. We also have entertainment at night from time to time.


    Can you talk a bit about the history of CS’s and how the business has progressed throughout the years?


    I have spoken with some older people that were coming to CS’s during the 1930s and 1940s. There has always been something here on this corner, it seems, and we have always been here for the Millsaps community. I moved into this building in 1978, mainly as a bar more than a restaurant. It kind of evolved into more of a restaurant and bar.


    What does CS’s stand for?


    Well, the place was originally called Hollingsworth’s back when I was coming here in high school. An old man named Mr. Hollingsworth owned it back in the 1960s and the majority of the 1970s before I got here. When I moved in, that’s what all the students and people that came here were calling it, so I just left it as CS’s.


    What is a typical day like in your business?


    We get in here around 8:30 or 9:00 in the mornings, start getting ready preparing the food and getting things ready for the lunch crowd. If we are open at night we stock the beer, and get the place set up.


    How would you describe CS’s to someone that has never been before?


    Well, you better have a sense of humor if you come in here. You can take a look at the walls and see why. It has character, some of the sayings on the stickers are filled with political jokes, and other sayings from past and present elections and such.


    What is your favorite memory from CS’s?


    In either 1981 or 1982, Jackson had the worst snow storm we have ever had. There was so much snow and ice they closed Millsaps for three or four days. Since the students were in school for the fall semester and the weather prevented them from going home, somehow they ended up over here at CS’s. From the time we opened at 11 for lunch until midnight we were slam packed full of Millsaps students! It was a very fun four days.


    Do you have a favorite Midtown memory?


    Not one in particular, I have enjoyed watching it grow from almost nothing into such a vibrant community. There is so much going on in the area, with lots of people working towards new businesses and projects. There’s lots of good stuff going on in Midtown.

    Featured: Andy Hilton

    Andy Hilton is a business owner based in the Midtown community. He is the owner and creator of SwingLab, a modular swing company. The swings’ aluminum frames are produced locally in Clinton, Mississippi, while Andy does the woodwork himself. The swings have a modern furniture design, with versatile backrests that can be rearranged according to the occasion. Sold mainly online, SwingLab swings have been purchased from all over the globe. Andy is always focused on developing new designs, and fulfilling current demands for his designs. We met with Andy to discuss what being based in Midtown means to him.

    How did you arrive in the Midtown community?


    “Midtown found me. I came back after I graduated college from Auburn University, I was doing lots of concrete counter tops and furniture design. I was renting the building across the street—what is now AND gallery—it was a garage. I looked out of that door and I would see this abandoned building, considered it an opportunity, and happened to get it for a steal.”


    What do you enjoy most about the Midtown community?


    “The Arts District of Midtown is very productive. It seems like everyone is busy doing something. It’s easier to work because when I walk in and the guys up front are working on something, it motivates me to work hard. The people in this community are invested, and always busy working toward their goals.”


    As a member of the Midtown community, what role do you see yourself playing?


    “I’m not sure if I have a certain special role, I maybe see myself as a kind of “boots on the ground.” I try to patrol my small area of land and if the gutters are clogged up, I speak to the city. I believe in the “broken window pane” theory, if something is messed up and left that way it will attract more problems. I do my best to do my part, and to be a good neighbor.”


    How important is “shopping local” and being interconnected with other small businesses to you and the community of Midtown?


    “I think it’s important for everyone in the community. For me, it’s not as important since most of my sales come from online. I love interacting with the community. I used to sell more around this area; I buy from the community more now. Midtown is important, but I think it’s even more important to consider Jackson as a whole. I buy my lumber from Jackson and the aluminum from Clinton, so I’m on the other end of the equation.”


    What are you currently working on, or plan to work toward in the future?


    “I’m working on one new prototype swing now, and some others in the future. My wife and I are restoring a house in the neighborhood that we plan to rent out. I am always working on improving this building, and trying to make it look better.”


    Outside of your business, what do you like to do in your spare time?


    “I do a lot outside, I kayak on the Pearl a lot. I like to get out on the river with my wife Jessica, and my dog Marvin.”


    What do you enjoy most about being a part of BAM?


    “It’s good to be in a forward-thinking business group. We are a collaborative group and this is helpful and inspiring to business owners throughout the community.”


    For more information on SwingLab, please visit https://www.swinglab.co 

    Featured: Lucas Simmons

    Lucas Simmons is a co-founder, co-owner, and head brewmaster at Lucky Town Brewery, a place where passion and pastime meet beer and business. Located on North Mill Street between Downtown and Fondren, Lucky Town is the only brewery in Jackson, MS, and Lucas handles everything from operations, management, and accounting, to the actual brewing of the beer. With the passing of House Bill 1322, which will allow breweries to sell their product on-site starting July 1st, there is a lot of excitement surrounding Lucky Town, as work begins on installing indoor seating, cooling fans, and thirty taps. This growth opportunity will also allow Lucky Town to position itself as a “culinary beverage center,” offering customers a selection of wines, meads, and ciders, in addition to its craft beer, which already boasts a wide variety of tastes and styles. We sat down with Lucas to learn more about Lucky Town, and its place in the eclectic and creative Midtown community.

    Why did you decide to bring your business to Midtown?


    “It was actually kind of a perfect storm of circumstances. We wanted to be surrounded by a community, so being somewhere way out in the suburbs didn’t make sense, especially in Mississippi where most of the suburbs are not real keen on having an alcohol producer. So Jackson made the most sense. We got contacted by the Midtown Partners, they wanted us to come down, they had a few properties for us to look at, and the first one they showed us was the one we ended up with, which is this gorgeous old building that was originally a Greyhound bus service depot, World War II steel river architecture you don’t find anywhere, lots of land. It was just an old building that needed a lot of work, but it was beautiful, and on top of that we’re right next to an amazing, flourishing arts community, a great neighborhood, and we’re right in the middle of everything. It’s a little out of the way for people who don’t know what Midtown is, but I think that’s going to change in the next five years as people realize all the wonderful things that are happening down here.”


    What do you enjoy the most about Midtown?


    “Just the camaraderie of the people, you’ve got such a varied group of individuals down here, from all walks of life, all areas around the country, and all different skill sets, and even though I might not understand some of them or they might not understand some of the things I do, we can sit there and talk about it all day long, and there’s always been a very tightknit group of people down here. When you go from a brewery, to what Philip is doing at Offbeat, to what daniel johnson is doing, who is an amazing creative mind, to Chad over at The Reclaimed Miles, you have all these somewhat like-minded people that just do completely different things, and that’s very cool.”


    With the passing of House Bill 1322, what does that mean for Lucky Town?


    “It is huge. Number 1, as a business it means a lot more revenue, and the bottom line is, being able to keep the doors open, paying the bills, paying our employees, we’re going to be able to expand faster, we’re going to be able to hire a lot more people, which helps me and helps everybody. The second part of that is, it gives us a better tie with the local community, because people can just come in here and buy a pint, or they can buy a six-pack to go. Someone working in Midtown that doesn’t want to drive, if they want to come and get a six-pack and then go head to the house, they can, which is awesome, but if they want to come in, sit down and hang out, have a pint, they can, which is awesome. This industry is very, very huge in tourism now, and because we are at the crossroads of the South here with I55 and 20, we have tons of people that pass through this town every single day going somewhere, and we have a lot that stop here just because there’s a brewery in town, and to be able to sell them a pint or a six-pack so they can get back on the road, that’s huge. And then they get to spread the word, and say, “Hey, this is an ultimate cool place, stop down here. Around the corner there are a bunch of artists, and a record shop, and this is going on,” and they’ll put it out there, so it helps everything around it, it helps tourism, it helps us grow, and it’s just good from every angle.”


    What do you think Midtown’s superpower is?


    “The ability to open people’s eyes with something completely different. Everybody down here is a maker of something. Mississippi has never been known for being the maker of something, even though there are so many amazing products that are built in this state. So having a complete center right here in Jackson where everyone is making something different and making something that usually people haven’t seen or done before, right here in their home town is pretty cool.”


    Anything else you’d like to for people to know?


    “If you haven’t been here, get down here and experience what Midtown is doing, it’s very cool.”


    For more information on Lucky Town Brewery, please visit http://www.luckytownbrewing.com/


    Featured: Karen Clem

    Located in the heart of Midtown, the Good Samaritan Center and their resale store NUTS help serve the Jackson community by assisting families in crisis. The local non-profit serves clients from Midtown as well as Hinds, Rankin, and Madison counties, helping nearly 300-400 people a month with basic needs, mainly clothing and food. Clients can go to the Good Samaritan Center directly, but are also referred there by other organizations and churches.

    We met with Director of Operations Karen Clem to find out more about NUTS and the Good Samaritan Center and their impact in the Midtown Community.


    Why did you decide to bring your business to Midtown?

    “It was 24 years ago and the Good Samaritan was looking for a permanent location. Since the Good Samaritan services the tri-county area, we wanted something that was centrally located, something that was along the bus line for easy access. So we got looking around and Midtown seemed like a nice area at the time, and it was kind of unknown. When we got this building there was not a lot going on, at that time Andy Young and Chris Porter were here. Plus it was affordable at the time, because this building was foreclosed for a couple years, so we were able to get it at a good cost, and we thought it would be a good place to grow. When we got we thought we would never fill it, but now it’s busting at the seams, so we’re blessed in a lot of ways.”


    As a member of the Midtown community, what role do you see yourself playing?

    “I think probably just a quiet supportive voice. We’ve been here a long time, we try to help our neighbors out as best we can. And I think with us starting to be more involved with BAM I think that has given us an opportunity to get to know a little more about what’s going on in the are, and it gets people to know a little more about us. Because I think there has been a little disconnect for a while, because everyone knows Midtown as an arts district, or they know Lucky Town, they don’t really think about a non-profit being here help people. And sometimes it’s not fun work, it’s not easy work, but it’s something that is very important. I think it’s just trying to be a part of something that helps complete the community, because we have a little bit of everything in Midtown. And I think the Good Samaritan Center is offering a part of something that can better the community and the people who live here.”


    What do you enjoy the most about Midtown?

    “Well there is always something going on and I like that, and I like the diversity. And not just the diversity in people, but diversity in the groups that are within Midtown. Whether it’s Luck Town, whether it’s the Good Samaritan center, whether it’s the Thrift Store, whether it’s artists, whether it’s the neighborhood association putting on different events, Midtown Partners has always got something going on. It’s like a combination of a lot of different things and I think that is what I like most about it.”


    What are you currently working on and/or plan on doing in the future?

    “Well the biggest thing we have going on right now is our community container garden and the Cooking Matters, which is a big thing because we have a huge food pantry and we help a lot of people with food, but sometimes it isn’t the most nutrsious food. So the community garden will give us an opportunity to provide better balanced meals, and also inform and educate people on healthier eating and that they can cook. A lot of people think they can’t cook, or they don’t want to take the time, and they can do it. I think it’s a slow process to get people more aware of that, but that’s something we’re going to be working on this year.”


    For more information on NUTS and the Good Samaritan, visit http://goodsamaritancenter.org

    featured: daniel johnson

    Meet daniel johnson! daniel johnson is a socially engaged artists who serves as both the Director of Engagement and Learning at the Mississippi Museum of Art, and as the Chief Aesthetics Officer at his company Significant Developments LLC, which he describes as the “primary vehicle by which I formalize relationships around building projects”. Although neither of these are located in Midtown, daniel has been and continues to be an extremely active member of the community. He has been involved in past Figment arts festivals in Midtown, and will participate in the upcoming Verge interactive arts festival. We spoke to daniel about why he is dedicated to helping the Midtown community and what he believes makes it special.

    Why did you decide to bring your business to Midtown?

    “It’s important for me to be in conversation with other artists, and there is a congregation in Midtown of artists who are working in different disciplines, who are thinking very differently about the application of their art, and who come from very different backgrounds, but still see value in intentionally being in community together. Where as Significant Developments is often about working with non-artists, as an artist it is important to receive critical feedback from other artists about what I’m doing and just to be in ongoing conversation about our work.”


    As a member of the Midtown community, what role do you see yourself playing?

    “I think in Midtown you already have a lot of strong leaders that are taking initiative in ways that are complex, that are interrelated.”

    “From this moment where you have all of these leaders to 10 years ago when it was like ‘Hey, here’s this empty building. We should do something with it,’ I think my role has been to be an engaged member of the community. To show up when there were conversations about how do we relate to each other, how do we do things in coordination, and to serve in a role.”

    “I think it’s also to be a “dramaturge”, which in theatres is the person who helps to ensure that the story doesn’t disappear in all of the activity, and all the actions and all of the individual scenes that are created serve the point of this play. And so I think that when you’re doing that for theatre you only have one constituent, the director or the playwright. But to be the “dramaturge” for a community, although I haven’t been elected to that position so I don’t assert myself very strongly in that role, but at the same time when I’m involved in conversations, it’s to remember what all of these different people have articulated on their personal goals, on their hopes for Midtown, and to continually feed that back into the conversation and say, ‘Well remember this?’ or ‘Do we still believe this?’ or ‘This is what I hear us saying. Is this really what we’re saying? Is this really where we want to move based on what we’ve said before?’ And to try and just be a voice that helps Midtown and everyone involved continue to reflect on what is the coherent narrative of who we are.”


    What’s your favorite thing about being a part of BAM?

    “The forgiveness with which we all approach being busy individuals and coming together with an intention to do something at a thousand-foot level for this group of people, but recognizing that it’s difficult to do things in an intentional way for a group like this.”


    What do you think Midtown’s superpower is?

    “That the arts district itself, that it’s character is one of potential. That it’s not a clarification of this is good for this particular kind of artists. That it’s character is that we are a community of artists who believe in community and are open.”


    For more information about Daniel Johnson and Significant Developments LLC, visit www.danieljohnsonmakesart.com


    Featured: Dr. Kristi Hendrix

    Located at 329 Adelle Street (or two doors down the road from the famous CS’s), Midtown Partners is a community development corporation that focuses on supporting the revitalization of the Midtown neighborhood. For over 25 years, Midtown Partners has provided comprehensive assistance to households in the area with a focus in five specific areas: community engagement, education, economic security, health, and housing/economic development.


    Executive Director Dr. Kristi Hendrix takes a lesson from Disney’s 2008 animated film Bolt in how to inspire “superhero” qualities. In the film, the titular character’s “superpowers” derive not from any supernatural source, but from the unfailing reinforcement from his friends. The belief that we are great and able to do great things is itself the thing that makes us great. Dr. Hendrix uses this belief to motivate herself, her staff, and the Midtown community to reinforce the community’s unbreakable strength and resilience.


    Among Dr. Hendrix’s stated priorities for Midtown Partners: to help provide avenues by which the business owners in Midtown can get to know the residents and vice versa. In essence, to help build a community.


    We spoke with Dr. Hendrix to get to know a bit more about her and about Midtown Partners.

    Can you tell us a little about your origin and your ties to Midtown?

    I grew up in San Diego in a military family. My father retired and we moved to Kemper County during my high school years, so that’s how I made it to Mississippi. My husband and I, along with our two children, relocated to Jackson from Philadelphia in 2007. My background was in family and community development so Midtown became a perfect fit!


    What is your favorite thing about being a part of BAM?

    It provides me with the opportunity to engage with the business sector of Midtown! The entrepreneurs are so creative and I’m always impressed with the diverse quality of work.


    What is on the horizon for Midtown Partners that really excites you?

    We just finished up our $9 million dollar West Project in conjunction with our housing partner, which added 31 units of affordable housing. That was exciting! We are rolling out the redesign of the Prosperity Center and will be reopening the Family Resource Center which will focus on children 0-5. In addition, we’ll be ramping back up our creative economy efforts and business recruitment.


    For more information about Midtown Partners and the work that they do, visit http://midtownpartners.org/.


    Featured: Andy Young

    Since it first moved to Midtown in 1976, Pearl River Glass Studio has been an integral part of the Midtown business district.


    “We were the first artist studio in Midtown, so we’ve always been there as sort of the anchor for the whole arts district idea. So that’s what I see our role as, as sort of the grandfather figure,” says founder Andy Young.


    A true artist’s haven with its numerous studios and open courtyard, Pearl River Glass produces a versatile set of artwork, everything from stained glass windows for churches to architectural art glass to Christmas tree ornaments.


    Occasionally, they take on larger tasks. Among the projects Pearl River Glass has tackled: the Holocaust Memorial for Beth Israel Congregation, an intricate and powerful installation just completed in mid November.


    We spoke with Andy to gain some insight into both his person and the business:

    Tell us a little more about how Pearl River Glass Studio works.

    Pearl River is the place where I would want to work if I didn’t have a job. The primary purpose is art, then production, then business, which makes the other parts possible, is last on the list. Anything done as an art form has to have very precise craftsmanship. We strive to make well-made things. There are very few places in our culture where you can actually make art on a day to day basis and get paid for it.


    What’s your favorite thing about being a part of BAM? How about being based in Midtown?

    I guess that would be developing relationships with other entrepreneurs and the neighborhood.

    One of the things about Midtown that I like is that everyone can work and live together in parity.

    If you come down to Midtown to one of our events, you will definitely see a mixed crowd and I can’t think of another venue in Jackson where you will see that.


    Outside of your business, what do you do in your spare time?

    I’m a gardener. I do my artwork, I do paintings and drawings when I have time. I take care of two teenage children four days a week, so that occupies a good part of my energy! I also write poetry, and I’m actually trying to get a poetry reading off the ground as part of Final Fridays.


    For more information about Andy Young and Pearl River Glass Studio, visit http://pearlriverglass.com/.

    Featured: Quincy Grant

    Quincy Grant may be the newest friend of BAM, but it is clear after just a few minutes of speaking with him that he is one of Midtown’s most enthusiastic fans.


    Quincy has an easygoing demeanor and a smile that springs easily to his face. His passion, he says, is event planning, something he came to realize several years ago when creating awareness for what would become Jackson’s Juneteenth celebration.


    If you’ve spent much time in Midtown, you have likely seen Quincy riding his bike through the neighborhood or hanging out at OffBeat.


    Though he does not yet have a physical location in Midtown, expect to see Quincy’s involvement in Midtown’s events increase, since he sees himself as an advocate for the neighborhood as a whole.


    “I like to believe that I’m sort of a bridge to bring people over and introduce them to Midtown,” Quincy says when asked about his role in the community.


    We asked Quincy some questions about his connections to Midtown:

    What do you enjoy the most about Midtown?

    I enjoy the youth of Midtown. I like that a lot of the businesses are owned by younger people; I like that a lot of them are start-ups. A lot of these things that are in Midtown started as a passion and then moved into a business. I just really want to promote that to a lot of other people, that your passion can turn into a profit.


    What are you currently working on or planning for the near future?

    So, I am working with BAM to help with Holiday Studio Tours this year. I have teamed up with Final Fridays to try and get more people to go business to business. I teamed up with Spokes, who donated some bikes to let us do bike tours around the neighborhood. We’ll play some music, hook up a speaker to a back pack or something like that and take five or six or seven bikes around during Final Fridays.


    Last year the Midtown Public Charter School E-Club created a comic book starring the scrappy local superhero Midbot, a robot that used its superpowers to improve Midtown. In that spirit, if you could possess any superpower, what would it be and why?

    Mind control. I wish I could mind control everybody and just send out this message: Go to Midtown! Whenever there’s something going on, go to Midtown, spend your money, hang out with your friends and drink beer!


    What do you think Midtown’s superpower is?

    Midtown’s superpower is its ever-changing face. It can go from new to old and old to new and start over again and it can just be recreated. Buildings can be repurposed and events can be anywhere and everywhere. I feel like that’s what Midtown is: always moving and changing.

    For more information about Quincy and his involvements, his social media pseudonym is Q Hefner and he can be found on Instagram or Twitter at @q_hefner_