Living Democracy

Collinsville gives Allen summer of opportunities

When I drove up to Collinsville from Auburn on May 21, 2022, I knew that this summer would be different from anything I had ever done before. I had no idea what to expect other than that most everyone would know who I was before I even got there. And as nerve-wracking as that may have been, it was this same closeness that made my summer so special.  

Collinsville is an intricate quilt of different lifestyles, ethnicities, beliefs, and families. At first, I was intimidated by this and struggled to make sense of it all. Eventually, though, I grew to love how much everyone's lives are woven together. 

There was not one moment this summer when I felt unwelcome by anyone in this community.  Everyone I met was incredibly kind and devoted to their town.  I got to see what a community looks like when its citizens care deeply about it and want the best for each other. This, to me, is what Living Democracy is all about.

I met so many new people and tried so many new things in the past ten weeks that it’s hard to believe! I learned how to make glass mosaics, gave a public lecture on the history of fashion, learned about the black bear population in DeKalb County, and led multiple children’s programs. This summer truly has been an adventure!

Even though there were definite failures and successes, I am blessed to have experienced them.  This summer was a never-ending opportunity to learn new things about my strengths, my interests and what I want out of my future. I hope to emulate the commitment and dedication of the people of Collinsville in my own community.

I would like to thank Rev. Carol Gullatt for welcoming me into her home for ten weeks. We quickly learned that we have more in common than we initially thought. I learned so much from spending time with Pastor Carol this summer. She was an invaluable resource, mentor, and friend, and I will be forever grateful.

Thanks so much to Jennifer Wilkins at the Collinsville Public Library for believing in my ideas when I often didn’t believe in them myself. I was given the opportunity to do so many things I never imagined for myself this summer.  

Thank you to Martha Barksdale and all the volunteers at The Museum of Collinsville History. I knew that any time I walked into the Museum, I would leave with a smile on my face. The love they have for the town of Collinsville is inspiring, and I know the work they do will benefit many generations to come.

Thank you to Linda Muñoz for inviting me into her home and teaching me about her mosaic art. I had so much fun working with her and getting to know her story.  

Thank you to Robin Rowan for becoming a great friend for me this summer. Her presence was always a welcome respite from whatever project was stressing me at the moment. She inspired in me a desire to meet as many kinds of people as possible. I learned from Robin that you should do what makes you happiest even if it scares you.

I would also like to thank Dr. Mark Wilson and Nan Fairley of Auburn University. Their support has been invaluable to me this summer.  Thank you to Dr. Wilson for giving me this opportunity and being there every step of this process.  Thank you to Nan for always, and I mean always, being available when I needed help.

Finally, I would like to thank the people of Collinsville, Alabama, for welcoming me into your community. This was the experience of a lifetime, and this town will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

 

By Brin Allen
Last Updated: August 31, 2022