Students in Macon County are part of a mentoring program with Auburn University students through the Community and Civic Engagement Initiative in the College of Liberal Arts. The project is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the work these students do together revolves around workplace, college, and life readiness.
The National Conference on Citizenship has issued a “Civic Data Challenge,” a contest to see what local groups and individuals can do with raw statistical data related to civic health, and NCOC and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life recently published the Alabama Civic Health Index. Mobile Studio artist Dan Neil, AU landscape architecture professor Jocelyn Zanzot, and some of their AU students are assisting with the art, design, and submission process.
On Friday, June 8, Roberta Baldwin, Quincy Bentley, Xavier-Charles Duplessis, Elizabeth Graham, and AU graduate student Raven Conwell surprised thirteen local organizations by delivering the following message:
Congratulations! You have been awarded a Designing Alabama’s Civic Health poster because we believe your office, organization, or business seeks to increase the overall civic health of our community. We hope you will display this poster in a prominent location and continue the good work you do in Macon County.
The posters are digital prints from truly original handmade works of art, screen printed on new-from-old created paper. Students crafted the messages, and they all use the county name Macon as a verb. But the messages are not straightforward, and they require some interpretive imagination and a little decision making.
“Macon Our Voices Heard” poster states that 65% of Alabamians are registered to vote. Is that enough? We’re 31st among all of the states according to the Alabama Civic Health Index.
“Macon Music, Macon It Happen” poster reveals 29.1% of Alabamians are members of a group (43rd among all states), and the illustration is of the local student band Monsoon. Membership in community and civic groups has declined in the United States over the past forty-something years. Are we missing something as people when we are not connected to others in our community?
“Macon Doors Open” poster might be the most challenging to interpret, perhaps because its message is so important. Alabama ranks 4th (yes, three from the top!) when it comes to exchanging favors with neighbors frequently. The illustration comes from students making paper together for the project. To everyone inside and outside Macon County: The doors of Macon County are open, and inside the county lines you’ll find exactly what you need for a successful business and life worth living.
Students awarded the following groups with a Designing Alabama’s Civic Health poster:
- Macon County Commission
- Macon County Cooperative Extension
- Macon County Head Start
- Tuskegee News
- Tuskegee Repertory Theatre
- Macon County Board of Education
- Tuskegee-Macon County Public Library
- Tuskegee University Archives
- Upward Bound
- Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center
- Alabama Rural Ministry
- Tuskegee Swimming Pool
- Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven
Several of these organizations offered part-time jobs to our students this spring, which means they provided many young people with their first opportunity to join the American workforce. We have one more organization who fits this category (get ready for your poster Divine Inspirational Ministries!) and another that has provided space for students to meet throughout the past ten months (Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church!).
Do you think your organization contributes to the civic health of Macon County and develops the capacities of citizens to live productive lives? Do you deserve recognition as a group that relates to citizens as citizens (rather than just consumers of services or goods) and helps people live independent and interdependent lives? If so, you are designing Alabama’s civic health, and you deserve recognition.
If you would like the students to consider your organization for the award, write me using the form below. The students make the final decision, and they are a tough bunch of judges. So make your case strong!