16 Days of Jackson – Day ONE

Community Engagement

16 Days of Jackson

From day one, my experiences in Jackson, Michigan have been full of small world confirmation connections; wonderful natural nourishment in the form of outdoor experiences, music, art and Jackson culture; true stories of innovative service unique to the Cool City in South Central Michigan; and everyday people who have survived, thrived and creatively derived aspects of the best community in the world.

Over 16 Days in December, a small group of Jackson residents will share stories, images and personal passions to state the case for our great community. This social media experiment sprouted from the “How Jackson of You” movement.

You can find my “How Jackson of You” message at http://www.dahlemcenter.org/about-us/pawprints-newsletter/

Cool Color

Today, I watched the Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison documentary. I have listened to his music for most of my life, but his work has been central in my experiences throughout 2013. My move from Northern California to Jackson — just ahead of the turbulent weather that triggered the May 20th devastating EF5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma — included six CDs loaded and looped for the whole 2,259-mile road trip. After hours of white-knuckle driving, I finally approached Jackson County. Just after Spring Arbor, for what was probably the 20th time of the car journey, this song and these lyrics sung by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash welcomed me to Jackson, Michigan:


We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around,
Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson,
Look out Jackson town.

Well, go on down to Jackson; go ahead and wreck your health.
Go play your hand you big-talkin’ man, make a big fool of yourself,
You’re goin’ to Jackson; go comb your hair!
Honey, I’m gonna snowball Jackson.
See if I care.

When I breeze into that city, people gonna stoop and bow. (Hah!)
All them women gonna make me, teach ’em what they don’t know how,
I’m goin’ to Jackson, you turn-a loose-a my coat.
‘Cos I’m goin’ to Jackson.
“Goodbye,” that’s all she wrote.

But they’ll laugh at you in Jackson, and I’ll be dancin’ on a Pony Keg.
They’ll lead you ’round town like a scalded hound,
With your tail tucked between your legs,
You’re goin’ to Jackson, you big-talkin’ man.
And I’ll be waitin’ in Jackson, behind my Jaypan Fan,

Well now, we got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper Sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, and that’s a fact.
Yeah, we’re goin’ to Jackson, ain’t never comin’ back.

Well, we got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout’
And we’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went…

The song “Jackson” has risen in prominence right alongside “Ring of Fire” and “Man in Black” in my music adoration.  Earlier this year, I visited Folsom Prison and spent an afternoon as a special guest of the Youth Diversion Prisoner’s Outreach Program sponsored by Robyn Cole at California State Prison (CSP) Solano in Vacaville, California.


In the same documentary, Johnny greets Glen Sherley on the day of Sherley’s release from CSP Solano.  Here’s the moment when Johnny and Glen met during the Folsom Prison concert prior to Cash’s performance of Sherley’s song “Greystone Chapel”.

Johnny Cash shakes Glen Sherley's hand before performing Sherley's "Greystone Chapel"

Johnny Cash shakes Glen Sherley’s hand before performing Sherley’s “Greystone Chapel”

Johnny’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, “25 Minutes to Go” and “Greystone Chapel” are powerful prison messages for inmates worldwide, including those at Cooper Street Correctional Facility.

The California Medical Facility (CMF), neighbor to CSP Solano, has an active inmate artist program. An original painting by one of the inmates was gifted to me by my friend Laura. It hangs between the two windows in my downtown Jackson apartment looking out over Schupbach’s Sporting Goods http://www.schupbachs.com/ and the Grand River.

Beauty out of Ashes: Original art from inmate at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, CA

Beauty out of Ashes: Original art from inmate at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, CA

The 15 subsequent stories in the 16 Days of Jackson will include storytelling involving Jackson institutions, Jackson legends and Jackson masterpieces. The art, nature and intrigue of Day One will continue throughout this community experience.  Watch as it unfolds on your favorite social media outlet.