A Project for Students and Citizens

Selma and Cahawba: Week Five

In Selma / Old Cahawba on July 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Andrew Odom is living democracy in Cahawba, Selma, and Selmont, Alabama.  Originally from Prattville, Andrew is a recent graduate of Auburn University (political science) and will begin Jones School of Law in Montgomery in the fall.  Living Democracy is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

The halfway point is upon me! Selma has been the most unique experience of my life thus far. I have had the opportunity to live and work in a city with so many hidden treasures and amazing things to discover. The treasure that I find most rewarding, however, is that which comes about when I do something that brings people together. I enjoy working with students and letting them know that with cooperation and a unified spirit, great things can and have been accomplished. This has been the focus of my meetings with the students of Living Democracy Selma.

With the busy 4th of July week looming, everyone seems to be going in a million different directions but I was fortunate enough to meet with my students and accomplish some outdoor games and icebreakers that brought us closer together as a group. It is so wonderful for students to get to know each other in the right way, cooperating and having fun together. When this spirit is developed, then great things can be accomplished. I believe that these students are coming together for a purpose, and that purpose is to help introduce their city and county to an important new development: Old Cahawba’s public use bikes.

I had the privilege of presenting what I am doing at the Alabama Historical Commission’s meeting in Wetumpka this past week. After speaking, I was approached by many individuals who believe that the youth need local history so that the lessons learned can be applied to life. They were inspired to see young folks interested in working with elements of the past, and I could tell that it gave them a brighter outlook on the future.

The world is not changed overnight but steps are being made by dedicated individuals to educate society about their environment and their history so that we may learn to not make the same mistakes again. New initiatives for healthy and socially interactive living is being made, and I believe that this bike trail is one such initiative. The benefits that it will bring to the citizens are innumerable, and it is up to me and my students and other dedicated individuals to get the message out to the public of what is now available to them.

It is my hope that these students can take away important life lessons by the end of the summer. One of those lessons that I hope the students will grasp is that people are our most valuable resource. Not material things or fleeting moments, but people who can be impacted and engaged to work together to solve problems. So much attention and emphasis should be taken away from distractions and empty purposes that the world constantly tries to throw at us, and should be shifted to individuals and how we can reach and encourage.

As we celebrate this country’s 236th birthday this week, we must take heed to the fact that people are hurting in our country and seek them out. The problem will not be fixed by throwing money at it. It will take real people who will be willing to give of themselves to help others. Even it if is as simple as giving a stranger an encouraging word or holding the door open for someone, it will make a positive difference that people will recognize. It is my hope that these students and the people around them step up to the plate and actively make that effort to make that difference.

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