A Project for Students and Citizens

Selma and Cahawba: Week Six

In Selma / Old Cahawba on July 16, 2012 at 1:38 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.

This week in Selma and Old Cahawba has been truly rewarding. I began the week by loading up four huge cement filler columns (giant toilet paper rolls) into my trailer and making the trip up interstate 65 back to Selma. Thankfully there was no rain because the small tarp that I had placed over them would not have stood a chance! After arriving back in Selma Sunday afternoon, I began planning out how to go about by decorating these huge cardboard rolls into the Crocheron Columns of Old Cahawba. This task needed care and attention to detail as the actual columns mark one of the most memorable and historical landmarks in the archeological park.

I decided to take lots of pictures of the original columns, specifically the brick and the grout color so that the recreations could be accurate and true to the originals. After comparing paint mixtures and finally deciding on what colors to use, I got right to work with one of my students! We really enjoyed the process of rolling the columns with the base coat and “setting” the bricks in place with uniquely textured sponges and we painted layer after layer of brick on the columns. Before we knew it, we had all four columns completed and we took cans of black spray paint to add the smutty look that the original columns possess!

Following that artistic endeavor, I met with the students Monday evening at the Dallas County Commission meeting so that they could have the opportunity to learn the functions of county government and know what it feels like to be an active citizen. After calling the commission’s secretary, we were set to be recognized by Probate Judge Kim Ballard, but we got much more than that! To my and my students’ surprise, they each were given the oppourtunity to introduce themselves to the public and to the commissioners at the meeting, something I am sure they will not soon forget. After these introductions, we stayed and observed the goings on of the meeting and had a chance for a picture and more words to exchange with the commissioners. It was an awesome experience and I am thankful that it worked out so well.

The week continued to be eventful Tuesday as I completed more event planning and phone calls in preparation for the ribbon cutting event at Old Cahawba. Tuesday evening saw myself and my students sitting in on the Selma City Council meeting where we were once again given a fine introduction by Mayor George Evans, who publicly thanked me for my desire to reach Selma’s youth and encourage the future development of the city. I was then asked to speak and I thanked the Mayor and the City Council for the warm welcome and urged everyone within earshot to seek out the youth and build them up in any way that they can. It was a great opportunity to publicly state how I feel about the importance of youth involvement and civic engagement and it went very well!

Later in the week I continued with preparations for the ribbon cutting ceremony; finalizing the agenda and walking the park with Linda to discuss where we want to locate everything. Thursday I transported the painted columns to the park where they were stored away with the help of myself and park staff Don and Tommy. I then drove to the historic site of Castle Morgan to collect some Spanish moss to be used on the columns during the ceremony. Little did I know, I collected more than just Spanish moss….

On my way back from the park, with the huge garbage bag full of Spanish moss in my back seat, I noticed something fluttering in my rearview mirror. At first glance I thought it was a butterfly, but suddenly I realized; a brown bat was flying around the inside of my car trying to escape. I swerved all over the road out of fear and surprise and the bat hit me in the shoulder on one of its flights to the front and to the rear of my car. Finally I was able to get my windows down and the bat escaped the confines of my car and I was able to breathe again. I now know that bats will nest in Spanish moss and the surprises never end at Old Cahawba.


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