Cooperative Jackson Works to Transform Mississippi

Shareable's Cat Johnson recently covered Cooperative Jackson, an organization promoting economic justice in the nation's poorest state. Mississippi has a median household income of just over $37,000 and almost a quarter of residents live under the poverty line. Cooperative Jackson hopes to change that by developing a strong network that encourages economic democracy and equality.

 

 via Shareable

via Shareable

Shareable interviewed the Coordinator of Cooperative Jackson Kali Akuno, to talk about the organization's goals, challenges and the impact they have had on the community.

Founded in 2005, Cooperative Jackson is a network that includes a training center, a cooperative bank and several other established cooperative institutions. Aside from teaching people about the importance of cooperatives, they also provide education on how to create one. Recently they hosted Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference, a successful event that attracted international attention. 

While well-received by the majority of residents, not everyone is pleased. Campaign contributors to Jackson's new mayor have shown opposition, but that does not discourage Akuno. "WIthout question, the arms that are open to us are far more powerful than the few detractors when they act as a unified front. But, the detractors presently control much of the economy of the city and region, so we have a fight on our hands."

Jackson aims to lead the south in creating a new economy, and perhaps even the US.

We believe we are in prime position to do many things that have not been done to scale in the U.S. overall as it relates to cooperative development and solidarity economics. The greatest challenge we have is securing the resources to fully capitalize our vision. That is our challenge. But, we have thousands of individuals in our community who ready and willing to work to make our city a beacon of the cooperative movement.

Cooperative Jackson aims to have a minimum of 10% of jobs in Jackson be drawn directly from the federation of worker cooperation. If successful, Jackson would set an example for the influence the sharing economy could have on struggling economies. 

Check out the rest of the interview on Shareable and let us know what you think.