30 many years in the past, Dana Miller was a contributor to an alarming problem on Jacksonville’s Eastside.

He was a drug supplier who served establish the community’s standing for crime. In the long run, Miller’s bad deeds caught up with him. He was arrested in 1991, was identified guilty and sentenced to provide a obligatory 10-12 months sentence in jail.

But that was not the end of his story.

Following his release from prison in 2002, Miller turned his life about. He has been the operator of the Male Cave barbershop on A. Phillip Randolph Boulevard considering that 2013.

Beyond jogging his organizations, which also include a mobile barbershop, he’s doing the job to assist revitalize the group as the president of the Eastside business council.

″I wanted to make a change to do far better,″ Miller explained. ″Given an opportunity, people can alter, for the reason that I’m a solution of that change. All the young fellas come into the store and say they really like me. I know where they are. I’ve been where by they are. And they just have to have someone they can converse to. That made me notice the significance of currently being again in this community.″

Nonetheless, with 40 percent of the families in the community residing under the federal poverty line and no new commercial, industrial or retail buildings constructed in over four many years, revitalizing the Eastside is substantially way too huge of a task for one individual, or even 1 firm.

With a target of ending poverty in Jacksonville, nonprofit firm Elevate JAX is directing its endeavours on the Eastside with the Historic Eastside Local community Improvement Corp., led by the organization’s president, Suzanne Pickett.

Shad Khan, Jaguars commit in Eastside location

With an objective to be action-based, Lift JAX landed a important associate on Friday. Jaguars owner Shad Khan, whose staff has been an Eastside neighbor for the earlier 25 many years with their group facility at TIAA Lender Field, is committing $1 million to the group’s efforts to help revitalize the Eastside community.

″I like what Elevate JAX signifies, so it’s my privilege to make this donation and aid to set a class that I hope will have an instant and lasting influence,” Khan said. “This is not about slicing a look at, on the other hand. It’s about all of us building a dedication of our time and sources, continued and uninterrupted, to empower our neighbors and split the cycle of poverty. That usually takes perform and needs accountability, and the Jaguars Basis is additional than all set to do its aspect.”

With the Jaguars in partnership with Raise JAX and the CDC, they strategy to goal five important, shared priorities:

Food insecurity: Provide calendar year-round obtain to healthier meals and nourishment training and create a long-lasting community sector.

Parks, playgrounds and eco-friendly spaces: Reimagine outside areas to really encourage healthful existence and maximize group wellness for all ages.

Area tradition and business: Rejoice the abundant historical past and lifestyle of the Historic Eastside neighborhood as a result of the help of community organizations and events these types of as the quarterly Melanin Marketplace and other spot-making functions.

Countrywide register of historic destinations: Aid the software of the Historic Eastside neighborhood to the Point out Historic Preservation Workplace for designation to The National Sign up of Historic Places.

Organizational and local community guidance: Make the capacity of Lift JAX and the HECDC to be certain operational assistance to keep on to positively impression the Out East local community.

″I think the most straightforward factor in the entire world to do is to get somebody to generate a examine,″ Jaguars President Mark Lamping stated, ″if you are lucky plenty of to have the potential to do that. The tough thing to do is to genuinely have that check out make an affect in the neighborhood and have that impact be defined by the resident and not anyone from outside.″

Lamping recalled that the only introduction he experienced with the Eastside neighborhood was two or a few years in the past when he ventured from TIAA Bank Area on his golf cart.

″I under no circumstances really put in any time on this aspect of the bridge,″ Lamping claimed. ″We in fact had a night activity and I jumped in a golfing cart, and I was driving around the community you know and a (Jaguars formal) stated you’re mad going around there. And you can see that you know, the soul of the community like so pure but the methods and opportunity have just not been provided. When we sat down, we needed to know how is stuff likely to get completed.″

Lately, Jaguars coach City Meyer took a golfing cart tour of the Eastside with Pickett to get a really feel of the area.

Historic neighborhood of Eastside

Started in the mid-1800s, the neighborhoods of Eastside consisted of East Jacksonville, Fairfield, Oakland, Campbells’ Addition and Phoenix, according to the CDC. The Eastside is the birthplace of civil legal rights activist A. Philip Randolph, businesswoman Eartha White, and Olympic gold medalist sprinter and NFL Corridor of Fame extensive receiver Bob Hayes, who was a star athlete at Matthew Gilbert just before excelling at Florida A&M.

Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston spent time dwelling on the Eastside in 1914 with her brother John and his spouse, Blanche.

″People try out to realize the Eastside, but you can not comprehend until finally you see it. I say you have to see it, which is why we give the excursions,″ Pickett claimed. ″There’s no excellent answer, but there is so significantly sensitivity inside the community.

″I grew up listed here correct here on Pippin Street, and I used to wander up and down with my sister. I also lived on Harrison Avenue. then we moved absent and I truly moved again and achieved my husband below. I really like the neighborhood. Eastside and I have a thing for the way the folks are taken care of. When I walked in the park at Flossie Brunson, there was so a lot lower glass — broken glass — in the sand. It reminded me of when I was a kid. It could have been the similar piece of glass almost certainly dropped there when I was 9 several years old. So that and looking all over and noticing and all the other neglect. When you neglect roads and houses, you neglect people as perfectly.″

Priorities for revitalization

By Raise JAX and the CDC, priorities for the Eastside include stimulating the financial system and increasing earnings and occupation options by getting workforce improvement services in a centralized area. Another objective is supporting the expansion of the grassroots Melanin Current market. Started in 2017 by Dawn Curling and Angie Nixon, now a state agent, the avenue truthful showcases Black-owned companies, arts and tradition, offers healthier food items solutions, and connects residents to assets and providers.

There are designs to revitalize the area with mixed-revenue housing.

They are turning row homes created in 1904 into changeover households for women to be with their young children in transition immediately after serving time in jail. A community middle has been set up at the Phrase Worldwide Middle on Spearing Avenue where absolutely free food items is dispersed to needy family members and the aged. Phrase Global Middle is among the 49 churches in just the Eastside community.

Similar to New City in the Jacksonville city core and other underserved regions in Jacksonville, the Eastside is a foodstuff desert, with the nearest grocery retail store at the Harvey’s Supermarket on North Market place Avenue close to downtown.

″I would like to see a lot more plans for the young ones in the parks close to right here,″ explained lifelong Eastside resident Antonio McCray, 42. ″Some of the flats definitely require repairing up. We need help out in this article. Everybody doesn’t have a dollar in their arms to assistance them selves.″

Longtime Eastside resident Marvin Curtis stated he thinks it great the Jaguars are ultimately investing in the neighborhood.

″I see some fantastic issues going on here out East,″ Curtis reported. ″The woman (Pickett) set garbage cans all around almost everywhere and we fill them up to preserve issues clear close to here. You know if you never aid by yourself, who else is likely to assistance you? But I like that the Jaguars are getting an curiosity.

″There’s a total whole lot of property that requirements to be enhanced and we could use a refreshing market place proper here so people today do not have to drive 20 miles here or there. The Eastside requires to arrive again like it was.″