A Project for Students and Citizens

2012 Fellows

Group pic 2 May LD

 

2012 Living Democracy Fellows

Blake Evans

Linden, Ala., is a small town with a big heart.

That’s how Blake Evans, the Auburn University Living Democracy student who will be living and working in the community this summer, sees his host community.

Evans, a junior in communication, is Linden’s Living Democracy Fellow. He said he likes Linden (http://www.lindenalabama.net/)because it is a welcoming, tight-knit community that reminds him of his hometown of Deatsville, Ala.

However, a school system split between private and public education in Marengo County has divided the youth in Linden, Evans said. His project this summer will be to create ties between them through Linden’s youth advisory board.

Another goal for Evans is to produce a promotional DVD for the town to use to lure in a much needed economic boost for businesses.

His main focus will be on the youth.  Building connections between them, crossing all socio-economic boundaries, will have more positive effects for Linden, Evans said. Working with his community partners has already shown him this change is possible.

“They want to be very proactive in moving ahead in the future,” Evans said. “And they do have big goals for their town to kind of get rid of negative stereotypes.”

The Auburn University Living Democracy Project in the College of Liberal Arts is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

Mary Afton Day

For Mary Afton Day, Living Democracy in Marion, Ala., is personal.

The public administration sophomore with a minor in community and civic engagement lived in Marion when she was a child.  Now the Auburn University student is heading back into the heart of the Black Belt in Perry County.

Day, an Auburn University Living Democracy Fellow, will be working with Sowing Seeds of Hope (http://www.sowingseedsofhope-pc.org/perrycountyal.html), a non-profit advocating better living conditions, healthcare and education in Perry County, this summer. Her plan is to help the group by getting more locals, specifically youth, involved with the program through local internships.

“They get a little bit more pride for their community and say, ‘hey, this is cool, Marion citizens are actually doing stuff for each other,’” Day, from Alabaster, Ala., said.

Marion Military Institute, Judson College and other programs bring many visitors to Marion each summer. Day said she would like her project to help locals, especially teens, build and share pride in their community with guests as ambassadors for their community.

After Day leaves Marion, she hopes her presence there will have helped the community’s youth come together with Sowing Seeds of Hope to team up for an ever-evolving Marion.

Andrew Odom

Selma, Ala., is considered by some to be the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. Auburn University Living Democracy Fellow Andrew Odom sees it as a place for new beginnings.

Odom, a pre-law senior majoring in political science with a minor in community and civic engagement, will be living and working in Selma this summer. He will be working with a variety of civic groups and high school students to accomplish different tasks, like restorative projects, in Selma, the Selmont neighborhood, and the historic Old Cahawba State Park.

Local community partners include Linda Derry, of Old Cahawba State Park http://www.cahawba.com/, Vivian Jones, of Selmont CDC, and Sheryl Smedly, of Dallas County area Chamber of Commerce. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Selma-Dallas-County-Chamber-of-Commerce/132660253422914) , and Caroline Anderson of Church Street United Methodist.

“Living Democracy is an initiative that strives to open the eyes of the youth in the area so that they can see the potential for positive change that they possess and complete real projects that bring about that success,” stated Andrew Odom, who is originally from Prattville, Ala.

Summer projects, Odom said, will include a career-shadowing program for students in Selma where they spend the day with a local business professional.

It’s all about showing the youth the value in their community beyond the old headlines, Odom said.

“I just want to get these students to realize that their community matters,” Odom said. “I would love for these students to recognize a need in their own community and plan a project so I can help coordinate and complete it with them.”

The Auburn University Living Democracy Project in the College of Liberal Arts is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

Marian Royston

Marian Royston thinks many people don’t know the “historical jewel” of Hobson City’s story, but she plans to help change that.

Royston is the Auburn University Living Democracy Fellow for Hobson City, a community founded in 1899 as the first all African-American municipality in Alabama.  She will be working with the Hobson City Community Community and Economic Development Corporation (http://www.hobsoncitycdc.org/) to build a brighter future for the community of less than 1,000 people.

“Along with the HCCEDC, I will be implementing a community needs assessment, which will give us a comprehensive look at the town’s strengths and weaknesses. It will allow the community to move forward with development,” Royston said.

Royston, an Auburn University history major with a minor in community and civic engagement, plans to recruit local youth to canvas neighborhoods to discover these needs and assets.

In the future, Royston hopes this survey will give Hobson City a ‘holistic’ view of itself, giving leaders a better focus for how to write grant applications to improve upon the needs discovered in the survey, like finding a solution to a short supply of housing.

“I hope our work will give the community the tools they need to move forward with development,” Royston, a native of Roanoke, Ala., said.

The Auburn University Living Democracy Project in the College of Liberal Arts is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

Alexis Sankey

Alexis Sankey sees Elba, Ala., as a canvas ready for paint.

The sophomore in psychology will be living in Elba as a Living Democracy Fellow this summer. Her project will be centered on bringing visual art to Coffee County children.

Sankey is creating JumpstART, an enrichment program that features different forms of the arts.  She is working closely with Mart Gray, pastor of the Covenant Baptist Church in Elba, to develop the program, which will be based in the Just Folk Coffeehouse (http://www.facebook.com/justfolkcoffeehouse).

Sankey said she has always been interested in the arts so starting a summer enrichment program for Elba children, who have little opportunities for artistic expression in school, seems like a perfect idea.

Mainly focused in the visual arts, the project will give children ages 4 through fourth grade a chance to learn about different art styles and give them an opportunity to meet local artists.

“The main thing I would like to get out of this project is lighting a flame under the youth to not only get them more involved in the arts, but in their community,” Sankey said.

Sankey, from Montgomery, grew up in Highland Home, Ala.

The Auburn University Living Democracy Project in the College of Liberal Arts is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

Angela Cleary

Angela Cleary cares about people and the environment they live in.

Bayou La Batre, Ala., the seafood capital of Alabama, she said, is an ideal place to put those passions to work as a 2012 Living Democracy Fellow.

For Cleary, an interdisciplinary studies major with an emphasis in community and civic engagement, sustainability studies and natural resources and environmental policy, the chance to live and work in Bayou La Batre presented an opportunity to work for real change.

This summer she will be working with Boat People SOS. (http://www.bpsos.org/en/branches/gulf-coast) and Bayou Hope, (http://www.facebook.com/BayouHOPE), a community engagement initiative in the Bayou La Batre area, as a liaison between them and the community at large.

Cleary will spend 10 weeks in the community working with three Bayou Hope advisory boards made of middle school students, high school students and community elders respectively.

These advisory groups, Cleary said, will tell her about problems they face and make suggestions on how those problems can be fixed. She will then meet with BPSOS and Bayou Hope to discuss those findings and see what practical solutions can be found.

In the end, Cleary said all this work will be in the shadow of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

“They make their money off the ocean,” Cleary said. “So the environmental things, I think, will be definitely involved and interwoven somehow, but regardless of that it’ll have to still be their project and how they decide that they want to get involved with will be up to them.”

The Auburn University Living Democracy Project in the College of Liberal Arts is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

Audrey Ross

Audrey Ross believes her community has a strong vision for the future.

As an Auburn University Living Democracy Fellow for 2012, Ross will be living and working in Valley, Ala., in Chambers County. She will be launching a youth leadership program to help build on the vision with a variety of activities.

To Ross, mathematics major from Siloam Springs, Ark., “Living Democracy” means working with Valley citizens for a better future.

“We must understand that we are part of a group much larger than ourselves and our families, and as such we must respond to the needs of our group,” Ross said.             “All citizens, not just a select few, should take both pride in the positive aspects of the community and responsibility for its problems. Living democracy is taking these ideals and working to make them reality.”

Ross plans to start a program aimed at getting the youth of Valley interested in making changes to their hometown and cultivating the next generation of Valley’s leaders. She said by connecting their past with the rich history of Valley, she wants her project to help preserve the days of old and blaze a trail for the future.

The Auburn University Living Democracy Project in the College of Liberal Arts is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

Ross will be working closely with community partners Jim Jones, with the Valley Community Development Corporation, and Martha Cato, Valley city clerk.

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