Honored to Serve on the Boards of Landmarks of DeKalb, Inc., and Little River Arts Council

Having an Impact Behind the scenes

I haven’t really publicized it before, but it’s worth noting that I am serving on a couple of boards for local organizations that are near and dear to my heart. It is my hope that by mentioning them to anyone following this blog, our membership ranks can grow as we set out to do some pretty amazing stuff.

Celebrating Heritage: Landmarks of DeKalb, Inc.

In the summer of 1969, some of Fort Payne’s most historic structures appeared doomed, but a group of concerned citizens decided the historic Opera House and Fort Payne’s train depot – constructed to support the dreams of New England industrialist investors – were worth restoring and preserving for future generations to experience.

As a private, non-profit 501c3 corporation, Landmarks issues publications, maintains interpretive exhibits and conserves historical properties such as the Opera House, the old Cabin Fort Site, Wills Town Mission Cemetery, Wills Valley School, Richard C. Hunt Hall, the Hosiery Museum, & the Council Bluff School.

My hometown has an extremely rich history. DeKalb County, Alabama was established in 1836 from land that was ceded to the federal government by the Cherokee Nation. Fort Payne’s name refers to the stockade site where native populations were held in preparation for removal to make room for increasing numbers of white settlers from the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee.

Founding president James Ray Kuykendall coordinated all Landmarks projects and events until his death in October 2007. Valley Head native Jessica Harper-Brown now has the reins as executive director. I think she’s doing a fantastic job and injecting some welcome energy. She’s young, which I like because our board and organization tend to skew toward the older set. I have actually worried over the years that younger citizens would lose interest in preserving our community’s story, but it feels now like that won’t happen. Not if I can help it.

I was blown away when Jessica booked the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s traveling troupe to perform Mid Summer Night’s Dream at the Fort Payne Opera House back in February, back before mentions of COVID-19 were a daily thing.

I imagine that given my decades of photographing DeKalb County as a newspaper photojournalist, some of my photographs of the people and the area may eventually land up in some future printed publications. Landmarks sells a large variety of print books directly from its website, https://www.landmarksdekalbal.org/ as well as select stores.

I’m very proud to serve on this prestigious board with a lot of distinguished community leaders and happy if I can play a small role in preserving our rich history for generations to come. The Deep South suffers from a historically poor image, much of it deserved, but there is also much to admire and find intriguing. We can’t allow the good parts to be lost to obscurity while negative portrayals of Alabama dominate media presence.

For more information on joining or donating to Landmarks, call 256-845-6888 or visit https://www.landmarksdekalbal.org/membership-landmarks-dekalb-county-alabama/.

Promoting and Protecting Artists: Little River Arts Council

I also serve on the board for the Little River Arts Council (LRAC), formerly known as the “Mentone Area Arts Council” or MACC. It is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that raises funds arts programs that enrich the quality of life for people in the Mentone area; sponsoring events; providing educational opportunities; and strengthening cultural resources. It is not to be confused with the Mentone Arts and Cultural Center (MACC).

​LRAC relies on memberships, individual and corporate contributions, program revenues, and fundraising to support our programs throughout the year. You do not have to be an artist to join. All you need is an interest in making art possible for those who live in and visit Mentone and neighboring communities!

The COVID-19 coronavirus interrupted a lot of the things LRAC was planning to do in 2020, such as the Summer Music Series, Silent Auction, Home Tour, etc. We are hopeful we will still be able to do some things in the fall, put together art classes, pop-ups, and lead workshops.

We are working on putting together an Artists Directory. If you are a local artist, please feel free to tell us about yourself by filling out the form at https://www.littleriverartscouncil.org/registry.html. We ask for your consent before publicizing your artwork on the LRAC website and social media. You can email three samples of your work to info@littleriverartscouncil.org.

For more information about LRAC, visit https://www.littleriverartscouncil.org/.