Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mound Bayou Marathon: Part I

Today has been one of the best days of my life--one of those days when you just are so blessed and so grateful for the opportunities that come your way.  It was a day of experiencing relationship, and how important those experiences are.  My friends and colleagues, Dr. LaToya Brooks, upper left, and Dr. Debra Moore, 3rd from left, joined me and 3 of our students (Glenn, upper right, Krista, lower left, and Landon, lower right) in Mound Bayou for our Historic Preservation Workshop for youth.  The mayor's wife, Mrs. Johnson (in the yellow shirt) and a teacher, Mrs. Phipps (in the pink and white) joined us for the program, and the walking trip through town, and were such a vital part of the day.  Not only did they give up their Saturday for us, the history and experiences they shared with us was incredible.
 We were met at the community center, and warmly greeted by Mrs. Johnson, Mayor Johnson, and the Fire Chief.  We unloaded supplies and set up as the youth arrived. While we waited on everyone, we chatted with students, set up computers, printer, projector, and laid out art supplies.
We did a brief powerpoint of historic buildings in Mound Bayou, what makes a building historic, and architectural styles evident in Mound Bayou.  The students amazed us with the knowledge they had of the community, and its importance in Mississippi and the US.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say not many high school students know this much about their home town, let alone, its historical importance in the United States.  Last summer, I had discovered some photographs of Mound Bayou that were taken in 1939 as part of the Works Progress Administration photography efforts and the students said they had not seen these photographs of their town before.  Because a major fire had destroyed most of downtown in the early 1940s, it was inspiring to share those pictures of the town and for us to talk about how life might have been during that time.  

Our next plan was to do a walking tour of the town with several things in mind:  Photograph the community in terms of what the students saw as worthy of recording, keep an eye out for what each person saw as unique and unusual, and share, as we only had 5 cameras!  I truly did not know the level of interest they might have in this, but given that I have over 500 photographs to go through, from our almost 2 hour walk through town, I am going to say they had some interest.

We had a semi-agenda (besides sharing the cameras): take some photos, including of each other; take pictures of what you find interesting and what catches your eye; and we would go back to the facility and print photos in various forms.  I had mats, frames, canvases, paints, etc.

 Well, DIG IN, cause there are a lot of things that happened that we never expected!  We did not think we would learn how to dance the Wobble, walk over a mile through town (me without my cane!), or come back to discover that the Mayor and Fire Chief had been cooking ribs while we were gone!  We had no idea the level of creativity this group possessed, and we had no idea how much we would learn about the history of this community.
 So, get your walkin' shoes on, because it is going to take a few days to share this marathon with you.  Just in case you were wondering about those who will be in charge when we are gone, after today, "You're in good hands."
It is exciting to see the world through someone else's eyes.  As we left town--an hour later than planned--we stopped at a vegetable market we had passed on our walk earlier.  We had said we would come back after we finished with the kids (and because all our money was back at the center).  We bought sweet potatoes, turnips, greens, and okra.  All I need now is some corn bread.


Gigi said...

My kind of day! Would have loved to have been there! What a great experience for all.

Suzassippi said...

Yes, I thought about you a lot! On the way home, one of the students said, "This is why I want to be a social worker!"