A Project for Students and Citizens

Linden: Week Nine

In Linden on July 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Blake Evans is living democracy in Linden, Alabama.  Originally from Deatsville, he is a junior majoring in communications in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.  Living Democracy is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

Throughout Linden’s Living Democracy Project, I have sought the participation of Linden’s citizenry.  It is my strong belief that ultimate success will occur only if the final result of my project is the reflection of a collective effort by all of Linden to improve the community.  The citizens’ desires have left a unique imprint on my project.  Their wants, desires, opinions, and suggestions have led to ultimate success for my project.

Linden’s Living Democracy has focused on two primary projects.  The first was the creation of an economic development promotional DVD, and the second was a photography exploratory project for the City’s Youth Advisors.  Both of these projects have demanded the collaborative effort of numerous citizens.

Mayor Mitzi Gates stated, “The DVD project is a direct reflection of Linden’s top priority goal because the primary purpose of the DVD is to use it as a marketing tool to attract business and industry to Linden, which is vital to the growth and future of our town.”

During the script writing process, I sought the insight of people such as Mayor Gates, the Executive Director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority Mrs. Brenda Tuck, the members of the Industrial Development Board, and the members of Linden’s City Council.  I knew the importance of seeking input from others.  This video was not mine, but Linden’s, and the citizens of Linden know the qualities of their town much better than I.

Furthermore, the DVD benefits more than simply the business and industry sector of Linden.  Mayor Gates said, “I also think the DVD provides a unique way to document a snapshot of life in Linden at this moment in time.”  She said she would be overjoyed to have a DVD similar to one I have worked on that shows what life was like in 1960.  She believes this 2012 DVD, “based solely on its merit as a means of documenting Linden’s history,” will be a great treasure for Linden in the future.

The second main Linden Living Democracy project for the summer was the Youth Advisors’ photography project.  The hope was that this project would encourage students to search Linden to find the qualities that make it a great place to live, and the qualities that could lead to Linden being a better place in the future.

Linden’s slogan is “Life is good in Linden.”  As part of the project, students were asked to take one picture that exemplifies why life is so good in Linden, and another that shows how life can be even better.  Next, the students had to present their projects so they could be videoed and judged by members of the Industrial Development Board.  Based upon the presentations, first, second, and third place winners have been determined, and cash awards will be given at the public celebration on July 19th.  The awards are being offered thanks to the generosity of Linden’s Industrial Development Board.

“The photo project has been a great way to challenge the Linden Youth Advisors to really take a look at their hometown in a way that they have likely never looked at it before, which has engaged them in truly thinking about what it is that makes Linden uniquely home to them,” Mayor Gates said of the photography project.

The mayor also expanded on the fact that she really likes that the project asks the students to look into the future and think about how Linden can improve.  “To have citizens consider that question, to come to the realization that positive change and progress happen when citizens are actively engaged in wanting it to happen and making it happen, is all that City leaders anywhere could hope for.”

Furthermore, in the June 11th Industrial Development Board meeting, MCEDA Executive Director Mrs. Tuck said that this photography project will also help Linden from an economic standpoint because it will provide the citizens of Linden with the perspective of the youth.  Having knowledge of the youth’s perspective will help City leaders know what they need to do to keep the youth living in Linden so they can work, live, and continue to contribute to Linden’s economy well into the future.

Both of the Linden Living Democracy projects have benefited from the perspective of the public.  The DVD project has been molded by the desires and input from countless individuals, and the photography project has brought forth the youth’s beliefs and intuition concerning the future of Linden.  Through these outcomes, I am hopeful that Linden Living Democracy 2012 has made an impact that has been and will continue to be beneficial to the citizens of Linden.


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