Macon County high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are fulfilling requirements for Bridge Builders Alabama, meet every other Tuesday night at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 81 between Notasulga and Tuskegee. Auburn University undergraduates work alongside them, as they develop skills related to life, work, and college. The program is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
After being rained out on Saturday, we finally had a chance to unveil the “Education Is Key” mosaic tile bench at Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven, plant the pear tree, and install the Little Free Library. This project is the culmination of many hours of planning and work, and the partners who came together are many, including Kay Stone of the AU Environmental Institute, Jocelyn Zanzot and Kevin Moore of the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction at AU, and artist Dan Neil of the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery. Blooming Colors of Auburn donated the tree, and Guy Trammell of Safe Haven has been there all the way to assist, advise, and encourage. Clifford Hawkins of the Alabama Forestry Commission has helped along the way, and he even braved the rain on Saturday to be with us.
But the most important people to thank are the students, whose ideas and hard work resulted in this bench/tree/library trio. Students brainstormed the messages they would like to create in glass on a bench top; they glued and grouted the glass. Students held book drives and received some quality books, appropriate for all ages. They learned how to think and draw architecturally and learned the importance of creating public spaces that allow citizens to share and build community. And they dug holes, one big one for a pear tree, and four small but deep ones for the legs of the library. They hauled topsoil and cedar bark. The stocked the library with books.
But the project isn’t over, of course; it just moves to a different stage.