Blog Day 8 – July 2, 2018

TU to ATL “Daycation”

Written by: Lindsey Lunsford and Stephen Penner

Reflecting on our journey from Tuskegee to Atlanta, the dominant narrative of the rural to urban divide weighed heavy.  People and place-based concepts would weigh heavy on the group.  Coming in from the rural- Tuskegee population of 8,722 with a density of 532/mi² compared to Atlanta at a population of 472,522 with a density of 3, 526/mi² served as a strange contrast. The ICRPS group was doing this once, many of the Tuskegee students do this repeatedly with frequent sojourns to the bigger cities of Montgomery, Atlanta, and Birmingham- this juxtaposition and contrast is harsh.

From calm to hurried, airy to dense, communalism to a sense of individualism- lost in the numbers- it was a deep contrast.  We started our “big city trip” at the wickedly diverse “Your Dekalb County Farmers Market” where the veil of Atlanta disappeared into a swirl of food cultures. Five types of yams, durian, varieties of apples numbering in the teens, fish from across the globe and a goat stew that the late arrivals were able to have with the most delicious goat meat ( sorry early comers).  It had the elements of a global place where acculturation conversation was ongoing in the form of food. Food shared among those wishing to remember a taste of home and food consumed by those wishing to explore other “places” through food.

Our post-activity lunch featured a tour of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. There was an abundance of evidence that spoke to President Carter’s commitment to Social Justice, be it in his early work in the de-segregating institutions in his home town of Plains, Georgia, to his work in post presidential life with the Carter Center  and Habitat for Humanity . Carter built bridges among and between different global communities- both people and place based.

Our visit to Hotlanta concluded with a tour of the home of “fake news”,  the CNN World Headquarters, (an acknowledgment and a wink to the ongoing national conversation) to see the inner workings of a global media giant. The tour showed us the number of people and the complexity of being one of the worlds’ “most watched network.”

We rounded the day out with brews and great conversation over dinner. Which sparked this post’s authors to add original poetry to this post! Below is an original poem written by Lindsey Lunsford upon the suggestion of her co-author, Stephen Penner. It’s written to describe the experience of rural people venturing to the big city. Enjoy 😉

“Where we come from….”

We are the small ones
The unreported
We come from the small places
The edges
The periphery
The outside
We speak from beyond the margins

We are here
We exist, and we belong in this space
This is our world as it yours

Us country folk?
No, We are not all white
No, We are not all polite
And the rural has not now nor ever been excused from blight
No, we are not out of sight
Let those with eyes… see us
Let those with ears… hear us

We produce the worlds food yet still we hunger
We give way to the green, the good, and the holy
Yet still our rivers bleed and our children continue to need

We dwell in the lands that your people came from
Before they danced in to the expanse known as urban
Before the reflection of the setting sun on sky scraper glass blinded them to the lands of their origin

We do not suffer in silence
Gunshots still signal the violence
And we take cover as our climate rises

We come from the small places
The edges
The periphery
The bush
The tundra
The woods
The back of beyond
The hinterland
The backcountry
The sticks
The middle of nowhere
The boondocks

You cannot forget us
We cannot be erased
No matter the speed of the developers or hesitation of the planners
We are not to be outcomes, out zoned, or outcast
Nor do we thrive in the sense nostalgia in which your sanity so heavily depends

We are not simply a vacation for those over run with city lights and siren wails
We are not the end of lovely tales of childhood and visits to grandma’s house
We are not a simple people
For we are the foundation of our civilization’s structure
The back roads are where you’ll find the backbones

We are live, living, and thriving just beyond the limits of humanity’s focus
We are our only hope
We speak from beyond the margins
And we are here

Poem by: Lindsey Lunsford