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 31, 2016
Community Corrections provides option that works
Community Corrections provides option that works

Alabama state prisons are filled with 11,000 more inmates than they were designed to contain. The go-to solution for many lawmakers has been to build more prisons to sustain the growing number of prisoners. However, one program, Community Corrections in Randolph County, has a different approach for mitigating the problem.

By Weston Sims
May 9, 2016
Communities Become Summer Classrooms for Living Democracy Students
Communities Become Summer Classrooms for Living Democracy Students

Four Auburn University students participating in the College of Liberal Arts’ Living Democracy initiative will begin summer adventures in Alabama communities May 9.  The 2016 Living Democracy students who will live and work for ten weeks in diverse Alabama communities are Weston Sims, Hamilton Wasnick, Madison Chamblee and Miranda Whitten. 

May 25, 2016
Grant application experience provides valuable lesson
Grant application experience provides valuable lesson

In order to raise funds for the Elba Theatre, Restoration 154 is applying for a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts whose mission is to "enhance the quality of life and economic vitality for all Alabamians by providing support for the state’s diverse and rich artistic resources."

By Randy Whitten
May 25, 2016
Senior Center more vibrant than ever
Senior Center more vibrant than ever

Welcome to Linden’s Senior Center.  The Center, funded by grants, provides hot meals and more for those who visit.  The Center staff will also carry meals out to those who can’t be at lunch.  This wasn’t originally planned to be a senior center.  This building once served the community as the school lunchroom for the elementary, junior and high school.

By Hamilton Wasnick
May 25, 2016
Attending first city council meeting informs, inspires
Attending first city council meeting informs, inspires

On Monday, May 16, I attended my first city council meeting. The meeting demonstrated local politics in action. I attended the meeting in the Collinsville Town Hall with library director Jennifer Wilkins. The lobby area was decorated with the American flag, Alabama state seal and the Alabama flag. The meeting began promptly at 6 p.m. with a brief prayer, pledge and roll call. 

By Madison Chamblee

By Ashby Henry
Last Updated: September 11, 2022