Living Democracy

Ashby Henry discovers 'new home' in Camden

Less than a year ago, I did not know what the City of Camden was, I did not know anyone from Camden (except for the governor), and I could not have pointed it out on a map. Now, it is a place that I can call home. 

I visited Camden twice before I moved in for the summer of Living Democracy, and I quickly got the impression that the town was made up of good, kind, hardworking people. It is that and so much more. 

I have been welcomed as one of their own this summer, and I am so honored to have gotten to be a part of it, even for a little while. The people I met are smart, interesting, hardworking, genuine, and care deeply about their communities. 

Spending most of my time at Blackbelt Treasures, I got the privilege of getting to know the staff. 

I cannot thank my community partners, Sulynn Creswell and Kristin Law, enough. Their efforts to introduce me to the community, answer my questions, and suggestions on who to talk to were incredibly beneficial, and my internship would not have existed without them. 

My thanks also go to all those I interviewed, spoke to, or met. It was intimidating for me to move into a community I knew almost nothing about, without knowing anyone previously, but every step of the way I was greeted and welcomed by this community. I am so thankful for all those that I got to interview. I enjoyed the interactions I had and enjoyed getting to know new people. 

Those I spoke to may not have even realized the impact they made on me, simply my engaging in conversation or answering my many questions. 

Another person I must thank is Betty Anderson. I met Ms. Betty for the first time on my first visit to Camden last December. She took the time them to show my mother and I around her museum. Little did I know then the impact Ms. Betty and her museum would have on me. 

I chose to dedicate my project this summer and the proceeds received from it to Ms. Betty’s museum for an air conditioner. Ms. Betty has worked very hard over the years to accumulate, display, and maintain her Shoe Shoppe and Quilting Museum, though she is still without air conditioner. 

In observing how difficult the heat made it to comfortably maintain the museum and give tours, I decided this was a strong investment. The museum itself is full of local history, and a big lesson I learned this summer is how significant that history is. 

Personally, I had never considered West Alabama to be a historically and culturally significant part of the state. I knew very little about it. But constantly throughout the summer I learned that Wilcox County is such a treasure, as are the people there. Contributing to Ms. Betty’s museum was a small way for me to help preserve that history and beauty. 

I am so thankful for Ms. Betty. For her introducing me, allowing me to help her, and for becoming a friend. 

The investments you make are important, and I am so grateful I got the chance to know and to love Camden. Though I grew up only about an hour north of it, I learned about its differences and quirks, the challenges it faces, the people who live there, how they interact, and how they worship and how they live. 

Embarking on this summer I was very unsure of what it would bring. I am so grateful that it brought me a new place to call home.

 

 

 

May 30, 2014
Auburn Student Collaborates with Elba's Project 154 for Summer
Auburn Student Collaborates with Elba's Project 154 for Summer

Auburn University student Jelani Moore started his summer of living and working in Elba May 28 as a part of the university’s Living Democracy program. A media studies major in the AU School of Communication and Journalism, Moore is from Huntsville, Ala. He will be working with a local nonprofit, Project 154, and the Just Folk Coffeehouse on community projects.

By Jelani Moore
May 8, 2014
Auburn University Student on Mission to Discover and Share Linden's Story
Auburn University Student on Mission to Discover and Share Linden's Story

Auburn University Living Democracy Fellow Cristiana Shipma will be living and working in Linden for ten weeks this summer.  She hopes to collaborate with citizens, business owners and local government officials to better tell the story of Linden.

By Cristiana Shipma
May 12, 2014
Auburn student to work with Old Cahawba and city of Selma this summer
Auburn student to work with Old Cahawba and city of Selma this summer

Auburn University history major Lowery McNeal will be living and working in Selma from May 14 until the end of July as part of Auburn’s Living Democracy Initiative. She will be working with Old Cahawba Archaeological Park to implement many of their new outdoor adventure and ecotourism projects, including a canoe trail on the Alabama and Cahaba rivers.

By Lowery McNeal
May 12, 2014
Senior Center Provides More Than Meals
Senior Center Provides More Than Meals

It seems that the older a person gets, the more they cherish their time here on earth. The “millennials” of the current era, of which I am a part, seem to place little value on where they’ve been and what they’ve done. Having lived in seven states myself, the idea of “home” is a foreign concept, but one that I have always longed for and hope to find one day.

By Cristiana Shipma
May 19, 2014
Linden Teens Discuss the Future
Linden Teens Discuss the Future

Twenty-two students from Marengo Academy and Linden High School got together to brainstorm about “Finding the Good Life in Linden” in a May 15 forum led by the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. The forum, sponsored by the Marengo County Economic Development Authority and the Extension Office, focused on how young people can make a difference by investing in their community.

By Cristiana Shipma

By Ashby Henry
Last Updated: September 11, 2022