A Project for Students and Citizens

Living Democracy in Linden: Week One

In Linden on May 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

By Kaleb Kirkpatrick

When I first heard about Rotary Club I had no idea what it actually did and what it was. After a short Google search I found that Rotary is a group of citizens united by a common goal of community involvement.  These clubs, which can be found around the world, attempt to create service projects for their members in order to give back to the community. I attended both the Linden Rotary Club and the Demopolis Rotary Club meeting. Both were very different and interesting meetings.

photo-48Goodloe Sutton, the editor of The Democrat Reporter, heads the Linden Rotary Club. The civic meeting occurs at one of the popular restaurants in town, Screamers. Everyone sits down for lunch before the meeting actually begins. During this time everyone munches on fried chicken, green beans and rolls. Everyone greets one another in a manner that only longtime close friends can. After lunch, everyone stands for the prayer and pledge. This is another example of how citizens are united by common roots such as religion and patriotism. I think that is one of the reasons this group of citizens wants to participate in Rotary Club. They are all looking for a chance to give back to their communities and help make small but real changes in the lives of Lindenites.

Next, the club has a few announcements on what’s going on in town and what events are coming up that they need to participate in. The winter Chilly Festival was mentioned as was the carnival scheduled for the end of June. Then the president called for any other announcements or ideas from the members. After this, the meeting concluded. Many people stayed around to talk and catch up on what is going on with each other. I think these meetings, where citizens and friends communicate, are how things can begin to change in communities.    Living here in Linden is very different from anything I’ve experienced before. The unity and camaraderie exhibited by so many in the city is admirable and is something we should all try to emulate.

The Demopolis meeting is similar but different, as is the entire city of Demopolis from Linden. Demopolis is much larger than Linden. The city has more than 7,000 residents. This might cause someone to think that the citizens of Demopolis aren’t as engaged and friendly as the people of Linden or other much smaller communities. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Demopolis meeting is held in the hospital basement. Citizens eat just like at the Linden Rotary meeting. Next they also do the pledge and prayer.  Then a few announcements, including news on a scholarship being raised for students who want to attend Auburn University but may not be able to afford it, were made. They also mentioned an excellent past service project they had at the country club. In addition the club has a donation bucket. Members or really anyone can buy a ticket and if their ticket number is called they have a chance to draw a card and win how much money is in the pot. If someone does win they have to split a portion of the money with the Rotary Club. The pot carries over and currently it’s getting quite large. The man who was called didn’t draw the right card to win, so everything is left for next meeting.

Finally, a guest speaker, manager Butch Larkin who works for an oil company that recently located in Demopolis, took to the podium. His speech emphasized the important point that “although we might be owned by nonlocals, the people who work for us are local family and friends from Marengo County.”  He wanted everyone to know that the company wants to be a major part of the community and all events that citizens participate in. Larkin made a few other points such as schools are a major reason for why Demopolis is thriving. “You have to support your schools because that’s what companies and businesses are looking for. It’s one of the reasons they choose Demopolis over other areas.” He also made a call to action for everyone to get involved in local government. “If there’s something you don’t like about what’s going on, then get involved and help change it and make it better.”

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