A Project for Students and Citizens

Living Democracy in Linden: Week Seven

In Linden on June 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Linden Art Show 2

 ACES Workshops Build Community Assets

By Kaleb Kirkpatrick

The two-day art workshop I helped organize with Kathryn Friday, county extension coordinator with the Marengo County Extension office in Linden, is aLinden Art Show 1 great example of our government in action. First, the people got exactly what they paid for: the children and young teens of Marengo County were allowed to express themselves in a safe, clean and fun environment. Best of all, it was free! This summer art workshop is only one example of of opportunities that the Alabama Cooperative Extension Services (ACES) provide for children in Marengo County and all across Alabama. ACES sponsors a variety of workshops for students throughout the year.  According to Friday, upcoming plans include career classes for young children to learn about opportunities in Marengo County.  I believe this is exactly how public funds are meant to be spent, in ways that give back to the people.

Linden Art Show 5

Teen artist Jonalan Aydelott creates work for Linden’s Downtown Art Walk. (Photo by Nan Fairley)

The recent art workshops for youth, and the other ACES events, provide a perfect example of a community building exercise between different generations. These workshops bring together both the young generation and the older generation and allows both sides to work together and bond over a common goal. During the two-day art workshop, June 18-19, local youth enjoyed the opportunity to express themselves.  For example, one teen participant, Jonalan Aydelott, told me after the workshop, “Thank you so much for having this. We don’t ever get the chance to do this stuff normally, and I really enjoyed doing it, so thank you.” This is exactly what these workshops should bring out in the students, to help inspire them and encourage them to pursue their dreams in life.  And the bonus is that adults get pleasure out of teaching the kids.

The art workshop and other opportunities provide kids a chance to “see” good examples of role models. In many cases, this can lead to a relationship between the adults and the kids. Eventually that can help to shape the lives these children will lead in the future. That is why it is so vital that Marengo County continue to support these workshops. If just one young person if positively influenced and is able to realize his or her potential then the entire program is a success.

In addition, the basic hope behind much of these efforts is that youth can be inspired to find a reason to stay home in MarengoLinden Art Show 6 County. One of the very big problems for Linden and rural communities in general is “brain drain”.  If these workshops can help a student decide to stay in Linden, then everyone benefits. One of the results that comes from “brain drain” is a lack of young people to fill vital job positions. Any attempt to attract young people or influence them to stay is a major asset.

At the June Art Workshop, local youth created wonderful work that will be featured at the Downtown Art Walk in Linden. The workshop and the art walk will allow citizens in Linden and Marengo County to enjoy local artists’ work.  One of the first steps in asset mapping is to identify all the different assets in a community. People, in almost all cases, are the greatest assets in a community, and this is certainly true in Linden. These kids did great work that will be recognized and honored at the Art Walk.  I hope they will be recognized as excellent examples of assets. They all have true talent that needs to be treasured by the community.

Linden Art Show 3

County Extension Coordinator Kathryn Friday, Living Democracy Fellow Kaleb Kirkpatrick, and Brenda Tuck, with the Marengo County Economic Development Authority, planned Linden’s Art Workshop.


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