Five students traveled to the Clearfork Valley of Tennessee to live and learn at the Clearfork Community Institute as part the course LBAR 3910: Practicum in Liberal Arts. Zoe Davis, Gabrielle Lamplugh, Lindsay Steelman, Donna Tosh, and Taryn Wilson share a desire for adventure and an openness for experiencing rural life in former coal-mining communities that stretch along the border of East Tennessee and Kentucky.
By Dr. Mark Wilson, Director of Civic Learning Initiatives and van driver
Some students worked with local folk a few hours digging a water line for a friend’s house, while two others helped out at Kinfolk Market, the local place for fuel, food, and birthday supplies for student Zoe, who turns 19 tomorrow. Today was the day for rain, but that didn’t stop students from working with Sam Marlow on the garden on the CCI property.
We also worked for a while today on photographs of headstones from the Eagan Cemetery and the Valley Creek Cemetery. Our plan is to work with VIP Tiffany Hurst to create Web sites for both of these, allowing families who have moved away find their ancestors online. Tonight we enjoyed an hour of music at the home of Ronnie Adkins. He worked on cars in Detroit for nearly two decades-from Cadillacs to Pintos—before moving back to Eagan to care for his grandmother. Ronnie writes his own songs, many of which come from very interesting circumstances. He wrote one on a friend named Bruce, who wrecked twenty-seven cars in one year.
Ronnie’s stepson Brandy brought his guitar and played several songs of his own, including ones for children when they were born. One great song talks about gossip in a small town, written because of the rumors that surrounded the time he spent working on a lady’s house. Ronnie and Brandy are true artists, writing songs when the muse strikes, reflecting on life’s serious experiences, and the other types as well.