A Project for Students and Citizens

Hobson City: Week Four

In Hobson City on June 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Marian Royston is living democracy in Hobson City, Alabama.  Originally from Roanoke, Alabama, she is a senior majoring in history at Auburn University. Living Democracy is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

I wholeheartedly believe that civic places are vital to the civic health of any community. They offer citizens a gathering place to share ideas, hopes, dreams, concerns and frustrations. These places are not simply the official places like city hall. No, the best civic places in my opinion are the informal places where citizens come together and casually discuss issues. I feel that these places are best because many are intimidated by the official spaces. A city council meeting may feel daunting to the average person as an outlet to voice concerns, but that same person may feel perfectly at ease giving their opinion to a city councilperson at the local café. These places are important because they create a public forum of sorts for residents. Issues can come out in the open, rather than stay isolated to private individuals.

Hobson City, like many communities, could benefit from additional public places. Despite its tiny size and close proximity of citizens to one another, there are not many places designated to the public for citizens to gather. The only place that functions as such a space is the public library, but given its small square footage, it isn’t the ideal place for people to gather for hours and shoot the breeze. This poses a real problem for city officials, community leaders and anyone else looking to improve Hobson City. How can anyone democratically move forward with development ideas without first receiving the guarantee that a project will be accepted by the community at large?

A public gathering place would be of great benefit for a place like Hobson City because it offers individuals from every walk of life common ground. This is beneficial because the citizens of a community need to interact regularly with one another the ensure that the community functions properly. Individuals who are able to attend city council meetings may never interact with their neighbors who have to work the night shift. Citizens who regularly visit the library for a casual read may never come into contact with their neighbors who enjoy spending their free time outdoors. With a civic place like a park, for example, the city council attender can meet up with their neighbor who works the night shift while they take their children to play. Or, the outdoorsmen can meet up with their bookworm neighbor, who decided to read in the park one afternoon.

People need to be given opportunities to casually interact with one another. Although a place may be designated for one function, it can turn into a place for individuals to do the work of citizens. Everyone has something special to contribute to the community in which they live, but if they lead an isolated existence, either by choice or lack of opportunity, a community is held back from its true potential.

Fortunately for Hobson City, the Hobson City Community and Economic Development Corporation (HCCEDC) is working to bring a new park to the town. This park will be the common ground that the community desperately needs. Hobson City needs citizens that are loyal to it, and in order for that to happen for continuing generations, a public forum must be created for people to feel as though they have a stake in the place they call home.

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