Free Jackson, MS

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Jackson is the state capitol and largest city in Mississippi. While only a medium sized city, it has a surprisingly happening music and art scene. Mississippi is a very conservative state but very cheap on living expenses.

The city is served by several interstate highways and US highways, including the famous Natchez Trace. It is considered a major crossroads in the deep south. I-55 is north-south from Chicago to New Orleans and passes through Jackson. I-20 runs west passing into the casino city of Vicksburg, Mississippi; Shreveport, Louisiana; Dallas, Texas; and beyond. Eastward, I-20 goes to Meridian, Mississippi to Birmingham, Alabama to Atlanta Georgia all the way to the Carolinas. Highway 49 runs north-south from the Arkansas state line to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, passing through Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Oddly enough, the city is built atop an extinct volcano.

Jackson's historic Fondren District is the center of its arts and music scene. Bookstores, theaters, antique stores, a yoga studio, and an organic food store are all to be found in this area. Fondren is walkable, and a trolley (75 cents a ride) covers most of the area. [1]

Contrary to popular belief, there are four seasons in MS: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Christmas. The weather is hot and humid most of the year except for a brief, rainy winter from about November to February. Mississippi is subtropical, and the heat and humidity can be intense during the summer months (approx. May-October). Be sure to drink water and find adequate shade. Bugs and mosquitoes can get really bad and eat you alive in rural and wooded areas in the spring and summer months, so you probably want to wear mosquito repellent.

Even the within the city limit areas of Jackson there are vast tracts of woods, although greedy development has been chopping up forests to put overpriced houses (particularly in Madison and Rankin counties because of white flight and the extensive use of cars). If you go walking or hiking or stealth camping in a wooded area, you should be aware that Mississippi (and the South in general) has many poisonous snakes. Be careful when wandering in the backwoods high grass without boots and without some sort of transportation or way to call for help. Never harass or attempt to capture any snake you might see. If a snake hisses or rattles its tail at you, freeze and very slowly back away. If bitten, get to a hospital immediately to receive anti-venom. Don't try to suck out the poison or apply a tourniquet - that stuff only works in movies.

Housing[edit]

If you keep away from the high rent areas of North Jackson and the suburb cities of Ridgeland and Madison, affordable rent with low deposits can be found. In the lower parts of Bellhaven towards the fairgrounds, there even apartments such as the Deville which are utilities paid and weekly rent. Rooms for rent can be found, but be sure to interview the landlords. One such room for rent place was owned by freaky couple in West Jackson that kept Christmas decorations up year round and spied on their residents in addition to very nosy house rules and no air conditioning!

Catholic Charities runs a Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter for kids aged 12-17 and a shelter for pregnant women trying to kick their addictions. Call 601-355-0161 (youth shelter) or 601-371-7483 (pregnant women's shelter). [2]

Matt's House, 343 Adelle St. near Millsaps College, provides temporary shelter for women and children as well as two meals a day. [3] Call 601-353-2759.

Sims House is a transitional shelter providing up to 90 day stays for women and children. Services include classes, counseling, job placement assistance, and day care. Call 601-353-2759 or email mthompson@stewpot.org.

The Billy Brumfield House, 1244 South Gallatin St., provides shelter for men, and also has a homeless program, a drug-work transitional program, and a special needs program. Call 601-353-2759 or 601-948-2864.

If you find yourself in Jackson smelling to high heaven, out in the elements, and need to wash yourself and your clothes, The Opportunity Center has now been reopened on 845 West Amite Street past Union train station heading towards West Jackson. They will wash up to three sets of clothes fro you if you drop them off and let you take a shower with a valid ID. Careful as this is a high crime area. The Opportunity Center doubles as an emergency shelter that takes all comers no questions asked if the temperature drops below freezing. Call (601) 949-3540.

Many of the homeless tend to congregate in Smith Park, but we discourage this because of a large hard drug scene there and occasional police oppression. If at all possible, take advantage of Jackson's many wooded areas and stealth camp. Along the Pearl River and down Galatin Street (and many others if you look)are all accessible areas to camp relatively undisturbed and still be near most of the services of Jackson. Careful of those snakes though, and mosquitoes get rough in the summer!

If you are homeless and at least are washed, you can do like the more intelligent folks do and hang in the Eudora Welty library as long as you do not come in there drunk or acting an ass. It at least gets you out of the elements for a bit. It opens about 9 or so and closes about 8 on weekdays. The library has open wireless that is not locked down if you use your own netbook - even sitting in the parking lot after hours. In addition to wireless, the library is also a huge research resource containing newspapers from around the Empire, information on public programs, and a work lab to fill out applications.

Food[edit]

Free/low-cost markets, produce, butchers, day-old bakeries, Food banks, missions, church meals, etc.

Stewpot serves a meal at noon to all-comers, no questions asked. [4] Call (601) 353-2759. Unfortunately, this is only lunch.

The Gateway Rescue Mission on 328 South Gallitin serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week only requiring a valid ID. They also have housing, but you must sign up for programs and there are waiting lists. Call 601-353-5864.

The Food Pantry can provide a 4-day supply of food for screened applicants. Open Monday-Friday from 9-11 am. Call 601-353-2759.

Food Not Bombs, 721 N. State St. Apt 2B, JXN or email sarabradshaw@hellokitty.com

Operation Shoestring, 1711 Bailey Ave, has a food pantry, as well as programs for kids and parents. [5]

Medical Care[edit]

Central Mississippi Health Services, Inc.
1850 Chadwick Drive
Jackson, MS 39204-2841
Phone: (601) 376-1700
Hinds County Health Department at the Jackson Medical Mall, 350 W. Woodrow Wilson, Suite 411.
Phone: 601-364-2666

There is only one Planned Parenthood in the state of MS, and that's in Hattiesburg, a couple of hours south of JXN. Call them at (601) 296-6001 or visit their website. [6]

Stewpot also provides free counseling services for families or people suffering from depression or stress. Call 601-353-2759.

Baptist Health Systems provides low-cost ($25 each) heart, lung, and cancer screenings. The cancer screening includes a pap smear and breast exam (if female) and a prostate exam (if male). [7]

My Brother's Keeper, 500 E Woodrow Wilson, Building M. You can get FREE HIV testing. Walk-ins welcome. Call 601-500-7660 ext. 303 or 304.

Grace House provides counseling and hospice care for people living with HIV/AIDS. Call 601-353-1038. [8]

The University of Mississippi Dental School takes applications for very reduced cost (or in some cases free - if the student uses you for board exams) dental work. Acceptance is not guaranteed. It probably is not good for emergency work and if you need lots of dental work, it may take months or years for them to get around to completing all of it. If you get accepted, do not cancel any appointments and be willing to come if someone cancels and they will keep using you.

Legal Aid[edit]

ACLU of Mississippi can be contacted at 601-355-6464 or msacluoffice@msaclu.org [9]

Mississippi Center for Justice, 5 Old River Place, Suite 203, JXN. (601) 352-2269. [10]

Legal Notes[edit]

Mississippi has decriminalized possession of Marijuana for any amount under an ounce. If you get caught with less than an ounce, the cop gives you a ticket with a court date and a hefty fine. You do not go to jail. If you have more, you are looking at possible jail time in a county or city facility. Always make sure to carry less than an ounce.

Many of the counties and communities surrounding Jackson have stricter laws for pot which circumvent the more liberal state law. In places like Madison and Ridgeland, they CAN put you in jail. However, for smaller amounts and first offenses, they usually give you a big fine, make you go to forced outpatient rehab paid for out of your pocket, and make you pee in a cup under threat of jail if you test positive for a certain amount of time. Be careful.

In Jackson, you can buy beer 24/7 from convenience and grocery stores. However, if you care for hard liquor or decent wine, you must go to special liquor stores that buy their alcohol straight from the state. Be careful if you stray into some of the suburb towns outside of Jackson, though. Rankin County is across the Pearl River from Jackson only lets you buy beer in a six pack (no singles) with no beer sold on Sundays or election days. There are also no liquor stores allowed in Rankin County. Rest assured, Rankin County pigs love to lay in ambush across the bridge to catch drunks making runs to Jackson.. so wait till you get home.

If you get arrested in Jackson by the city pigs, you are going to the city jail in downtown Jackson on Pascagoula Street. If you get hauled in (or transferred over to) by the county pigs, you are really screwed. They are going to haul you 12 miles away from Jackson to the county farm way down in Raymond, MS (the actual county seat of Hinds county) where the sheriff is a known huge fan of hard slave labor. While more than happy to take you there, they will not give you a ride back to Jackson on release, either. We have seen many folks getting released without a ride walking the long, lonely stretch on highway 18 and NO ONE picks up hitchhikers there because they know what is up.

Play[edit]

Downtown Jackson is one of those places that pull up the sidewalks at night. There is, however, a movement among more liberal folks to try to turn Jackson into a more vibrant place like New Orleans or Memphis with limited success over the last decade or so. However, religious right and old money opposition has hampered and slowed many efforts to give Jackson a soul. Yeah.. Fondren is hip and it IS a start, but one coffee house, a Rainbow, and a yoga place do not a hip place make. You will find that outside Fondren, which shuts down early, most of Jackson only has the "nightclub flavor of the season" that gets closed after a year, a few pool halls, or sitting home with a brew watching the Saints or NASCAR. Nightlife is limited. However, all is not lost and the artsy folks have added cultural stuff in spite of opposition. In fact, the saving grace of Jackson IS that there is a counter culture of resistance (however small).

Thee Ross Barnett Reservoir is a huge lake created by blocking the Pearl River. It is actually located in Ridgeland, MS. In times past, this was the center of nightlife in Jackson with institutions like The Dock that folks would go to to drink beers over the water. However, the religious right backed leadership of Ridgeland managed to take away control from the state backed Pearl River Valley Authority and shut down these institutions that served generations of party goers. "Living Right" indeed like the sign says as you enter Ridgeland. Now, unless you have a houseboat, swim in the crappy water, or have expensive jet ski equipment, fish, or own a speed boat there is nothing more to do out here.

Mississippi Museum of Art, 380 S Lamar St. Admission is $5 for adults ($3 for students). Call 601-960-1515. [11]

Eudora Welty House, 1119 Pinehurst St., free admission on the 13th of each month when the 13th occurs on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. [12]

New Stage Theatre, 1100 Carlisle St. [13]

Actor's Playhouse, 121 Paul Truitt Ln, Pearl. [14]

Mississippi Arts Center, 201 E. Pascagoula St., hosts a variety of exhibits that are free (but donations are encouraged). Call 601-960-1500

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, 565 N. 5th Ave, Laurel. [15] 601-649-6374. More free exhibits.

Mississippi Crafts Center, 950 Rice Rd., Ridgeland. 601-856-7546. Several free exhibits, including Choctaw Day on September 28, featuring art and music from the Choctaw nation. Often serves small free lunches during its exhibits.

Mississippi Symphony Orchestra occasionally puts on free live performances. 601-960-1565.

Jackson Progressives Lunch is hosted by JxnPro and encourages anyone who's interested in revitalizing JXN to join them for lunch at Peaches (327 Farish St.) every Wednesday at 11:30 am. Free event.

OUToberfest is hosted Oct 9-12 at Hal & Mal's, and celebrates and supports local gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. [16]

Family Day in the Park, September 21, 1pm at Smith Park. An art exhibition, health fair, live music, and kid's activities are provided. Call 601-291-5296.

Jacktoberfest, Oct. 17, free admission. Live music, beer, and brats. [17]

Banned Books Club will host readings from banned books on Sep 29, 7-8:30 pm, at Lemuria, 4506 Office Park Dr. Refreshments will be served.

The Mississippi Fairgrounds in downtown Jackson hosts the State Fair every fall, but bring quite a bit of cash as the amusement companies tend to jack everything up.

The Dixie National Rodeo is held once a year and is considered almost the Superbowl of that sport.

Underground Papers[edit]

  • Jackson Free Press [18]] is similar in scope to New Orlean's Gambit. The weekly can be found for free outside of many coffee houses and major traffic areas. The articles are very well written and much less mainstream than Jackson's big paper, The Clarion Ledger.

Public Transit[edit]

The local buses, Greyhounds, and train run out of Union Station in downtown Jackson off of Amite and Capitol. JATRAN is the local bus line, but is not considered efficient or safe by locals. The buses stop running a bit past 6 pm. Unlike Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or the better bus systems in the southern region, JATRAN does not have a bike rack system unfortunately. JATRAN is prone to budget cuts and has a bad reputation of not going to anywhere folks want to go other than the dead MetroCenter Mall or Downtown. If you are in the suburb areas of West Jackson or South Jackson, you may have to walk miles to get to the nearest bus stop and sit and wait because even during peak, the bus only runs once per hour! Due to racist and classist policies, JATRAN is not allowed to run into surrounding counties even though folks do need to get there. That means NO service to the public airport in Pearl and only a drop off at the county line to all the businesses including Northpark Mall on the Ridgeland/Jackson border up north! Not that with a system that cuts out at 6PM, it can be useful for anyone that is not a day shift worker. [19] To contact Greyhound, call (601)353-6342.

The Fondren Express Trolley covers most of the Fondren District Area, from St. Dominic's Hospital to Millsaps College to as far north as Duling St. Cost is 75 cents a ride. [20]

Amtrak runs a train from Chicago to New Orleans with a stop at Union Station and is a much cheaper and more comfortable ride than Greyhound. Call (601)355-6350. It leaves for New Orleans once per day and for Memphis and Chicago once per day.

Jackson is served by an international airport with flights to Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and others. [21] The airport is actually located in Pearl, Mississippi in Rankin County. There are no buses that go out there, so you need either a hotel shuttle (if you have a hotel room booked), a taxi, or someone to pick you up. Cab fare from the airport to downtown runs a little above 20 USD.

It is possible to bike in Jackson, but a bit difficult and you will get a hell of a work out. Because Jackson is situated on a bluff and the ancient, extinct volcano you will find very many steep hills. Also, there are very few bicycle lanes and much of the commute may be on busy streets or highway. Be careful for motorists!

There are some freight trains that run through the city, but you hop one at your own risk.

Free Clothing and Furniture[edit]

Clothing Closet, [22] Call 601-353-2759.

Dress for Success of Metro Jackson provides clean, gently-used dress clothes for disadvantaged women who need suits to go to job interviews. Call 601-985-9888 or email jackson@dressforsuccess.org

NUTS is a thrift store that sells clothing for as little as 25-50 cents. 114 Millsaps Ave, JXN. 601-355-7458