A Project for Students and Citizens

Valley: Week Three

In Valley on July 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Audrey Ross is living democracy in Valley, Alabama.  Originally from Siloam Springs, Ark., she is an honors students majoring in mathematics at Auburn University.  Living Democracy is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

One “wicked problem” that always seems to get in the way of progress in small towns and large is that there is often too much talk and not enough action. I believe that the residents of the city of Valley truly care about the community and want it to thrive as it did in the past when the textile industry was booming.  Here, as elsewhere, progress can be slowed down by simply expecting someone else to do the work.  We all need to realize that we are the ones needed to make change happen. It is easy to place the blame on city leaders. While it is true that poor leadership can have a huge impact on a community’s health, we must remember how much power we as citizens have both to choose our leaders and take action ourselves to solve community problems.

Valley is proud of its many historic buildings.  However, too many still need care and attention. Citizens talk about these buildings like lost loved ones, looking back fondly on what once was. Many hope that historic buildings and special places in the community can be restored.  But that hope needs to turn into action.  We cannot bring back the buildings that have been destroyed, but we can make the most out of the buildings that we still have.

One example is the once-thriving Girl Scout troop in Valley.  After those who ran it aged, no one has yet stepped up to take their place.  Thanks to the hard work of a few citizens, all of the materials required to rewire the Girl Scout building were donated. But that’s where progressed stalled. Citizens now need to take action and give their time to rewire the building and start up a new troop. Today the building sits empty, waiting for someone to step up to the plate and do the work necessary.  Everyone agrees that community projects like these are good ideas, but in the end the community as a whole must be willing to sacrifice its time to keep things going.

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