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  1. Civic Dispatch: Giving to the Giving Garden

    Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern Jack West reports on Elba’s Giving Garden in his thought piece from Coffee County, Alabama. 

    Behind the old jail and its rusted-out cells, new life sprouts every year in Elba. 

    The community’s Giving Garden is a plot of land where volunteers can help grow cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and other produce that is then donated to the Elba Community Food Bank.

    The garden was started and is managed by Restoration154, Inc., a non-profit group in Elba. 

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  2. Civic Dispatch: BAMA KIDS Inc. Builds Wilcox County Success Story

    Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern Laura Thompson reports on the work of BAMA KIDS Inc. in her thought piece from Camden. 

    After nurturing children in Wilcox County for more than 25 years, BAMA KIDS Inc. provided a full slate of educational and recreational opportunities for more than 70 children this summer.

    Created in 1993 by a group of volunteers inspired by Albert Gordon and the Rev. Frank Smith, BAMA KIDS started with a “lot of enthusiasm and community support” but little money.

    Today, thanks to collaborations with people throughout the Camden community and institutions like the University of Alabama in Birmingham and foundations, the organization has produced countless success stories.

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  3. Civic Dispatch: When Rural Isn’t Rural Enough, Challenges to Mental Healthcare in Walker County

    Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern Logan Fenhouse reports on access to mental healthcare in her civic dispatch from Walker County.

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, almost one in five of American adults will suffer from a mental illness of some form within the next year. In Walker County alone, that means nearly 13,000 of the almost 65,000 residents here will experience mental health problems. For a tight-knit small town like Jasper, this means that practically everyone knows someone, or are themselves, facing mental illness.

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  4. Civic Dispatch: Lou Schell Loves Life on the Road and at Home in Chatom

    Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern Melissa Dennis shares Lou Schell’s story in her thought piece from Chatom, Alabama. 

    When talking with Inda Lou Schell in Chatom, Alabama, three things become evident: one, community is an essential part of life; two, the sky’s the limit; three, “people [truly] make the difference.”  Read More »

  5. Civic Dispatch: The Future of Small Town America

    Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern Vaughn Gingerich reflects on small town America in his thought piece from Walker County.

    I kept an open mind, having spoken with a previous intern who had a great experience, but didn’t quite know what to expect. Having grown up in Anchorage, Alaska, I had never spent much time in a rural setting before, let alone in the American South. So, when I first came to Jasper, my eyes mostly picked out what confirmed the stereotypes and assumptions people have about small, rural towns: vacated industrial properties, abandoned storefronts, and empty streets.

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  6. Civic Dispatch: Collinsville Museum Celebrates Local History

    Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern Hannah White reports on The Museum of Collinsville History in her thought piece from Collinsville, Alabama.

    Not all small towns can boast of having a museum to showcase their history. But Collinsville can.

    The Museum of Collinsville History documents and celebrates the rich history of this community in northeast Alabama. Historic objects donated by countless citizens, ranging from military artifacts to agricultural tools, can be seen by visitors who stop by the museum housed in a former bank on Main Street. Read More »

  7. The Fourth Annual Civic Institute: Closer to Home

    The David Mathews Center for Civic Life held its Annual Civic Institute at the American Village on August 16th, 2019.

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