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, 2017
Preserving Heritage with Pepper Jelly
Preserving Heritage with Pepper Jelly

A group of Thomaston women work hard to keep Thomaston on the map by making pepper jelly. Their work preserves the heritage of rural Alabama as they continue a tradition in the Thomaston area. The women gather in the commercial kitchen at the Center to make the pepper jelly known and loved by both natives and visitors.

By Magnolia Wilson
May 23, 2017
Planting a sense of community
Planting a sense of community

Nothing keeps community members from stopping by the annual Collinsville Public Library Plant Sale. An elderly woman walked over two blocks from her home with her walker to purchase plants at the fundraiser being held in front of Collinsville Drugs on Valley Avenue in May 11-12 this spring.

By Whitney Sutton
May 31, 2017
Elba comedy night raises money for Main Street
Elba comedy night raises money for Main Street

The Elba Chamber of Commerce put on a Star-Studded Comedy Night to help raise funds for Main Street Elba Thursday, May 25. The Comedy Night, held at the National Security Conference Center, started with dinner followed by a comedy show.  The Star-Studded Comedy Night was a fun-packed show bringing laughs from everyone in attendance.

By Emily Vick
May 23, 2017
Elba Theatre moves one step closer to opening night
Elba Theatre moves one step closer to opening night

Last summer, Restoration 154’s Laurie Chapman traveled to Montgomery to present to the Alabama State Council of the Arts, or ASCA, in hopes of the being awarded a grant to complete the design phase for the Elba Theatre renovations. Fast-forward a year later and the time came to continue in the renovation project by applying for the Arts and Cultural Facilities (Construction phase) grant through the ASCA.

By Emily Vick
May 23, 2017
Fellowship with First Baptist of Thomaston
Fellowship with First Baptist of Thomaston

First Baptist in Thomaston is one of the few churches in Thomaston with a primarily African American congregation. They have worship services at 11:30 a.m. every first and third Sunday of the month. I decided to attend First Baptist on Sunday, May 21, my first weekend spent in Thomaston.

By Magnolia Wilson

By Ashby Henry
Last Updated: September 11, 2022