The Clearfork Valley (Eagan, TN and surrounding communities) is the destination for the third annual community and civic engagement course on Appalachian community development. Eight Auburn University students and Mark Wilson from the College of Liberal Arts are working with friends at the Clearfork Community Institute (CCI) from March 9 to March 16.
Anna Claire woke up early to prepare scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, and sausage, making our second morning all the more pleasant. We headed to Clairfield Missionary Baptist church and received a warm welcome from members. After lunch we met with Marie Cirillo, Brenda Partin, Candace, and Amanda to discuss our oral history project. CCI is interested in recording the stories of elders in the community, especially those reflections on the community building aspect of their work. The Clearfork Valley experienced the migration of nearly 30,000 people during the 1950s and 60s, but many of these folk moved back to the area after working in factories for decades. We’re also working with some young people this week at the Clairfield School and Fonde Christian Academy, and we want to somehow link these two projects so that they complement each other in a productive way. So we’re interested in childhood memories, stories of migration, and some wisdom related to challenges that young people face today.
The weather was perfect for a hike, so the group enjoyed a walk in the forest with Carol Judy, James, and Sam. Carol is an acclaimed root digger, explains the use of anything that can be found on the forest floor, and introduced students to edible mosses and other delicacies not found in the Auburn Kroger. They happened upon a small snake, frog eggs, and a water well, in addition to the flora and fauna. James helped us find and cut some bamboo for fishing poles, and several of our students dug some energetic worms for fishing. After lining poles, we drowned the worms in a nearby pond, all of which died in vain, since we had only a few bites.
University of Notre Dame students arrived today, following a nine-hour drive. These six students are freshmen, and we’re looking forward to our week with them. They are staying nearby at the guest house on the Woodland Community Land Trust. Savannah is treating us to chicken parmigiana tonight, and we’re quite thankful for another delicious meal. Hamburgers by Jamie and Evan hit the spot last night, but we’ve had a good laugh today after CCI director Marie Cirillo discovered that our disposable grills burned holes in the picnic table overnight. We’ll be adding another project to our list this week, just as soon as we find some replacement boards for the table.