I went to the Community Alliance meeting today and learned about several interesting happenings. It was a good thing it was interesting, because the meeting was held in the Community Center where there is little or no heat - and I was freezing!
I'll start with my favorite. Regular readers of this blog know I'm a big proponent of cultivating the arts in Natchez. (To see a list of previous articles on this blog, just click on Art in the Labels to the right.) Hedy Boelte and Jennifer Ogden gave a presentation on behalf of the newly created Natchez Council for Arts and got me all excited. They are so energetic and full of ideas, and you definitely get the impression they'll accomplish what they set out to do. They were asking the Community Alliance (which is a 501c3 organization) to serve as a "pass through" for grant funds they're applying for. Once the Council is established, they can apply for their own 501c3 status, but they need help getting started. The Alliance agreed unanimously to provide this assistance.
The Council's emphasis now is on Margaret Martin Hall. They intend to quickly spruce up the auditorium, so that you will notice a big improvement for the Festival of Music this year. But they have big plans for that historic building. There has been talk about the possibility of establishing an art school in Natchez, along the lines of the Savannah College of Art and Design. They think this might be a bit much to accomplish. Instead they have in mind setting up an Institute, where renowned artists and teachers come to teach classes, similar to Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. In fact, they have already lined up some exceptional teachers for these classes, which they hope to start this summer. This is really exciting for Natchez!
Eracism is the slogan of the group ERACE, which was formed in New Orleans in the summer of 1993. Their mission is: We seeks ways, through person to person communication, to show that we are committed to treating fellow human beings of all colors with love and respect. A Natchez chapter is being formed, and they are looking for volunteers to help. Email or call 504.866.1163 if you're interested in being involved.
The Ministerial Alliance is establishing a Disaster Preparedness Network, so that Natchez will be prepared for the next disaster. For more information, contact John Larson at First Presbyterian Church.
God bless Sally Durkin! What would Natchez do without her? She told the Community Alliance about the incentive package that Mississippi is putting together to attract film and movie makers - similar to what Louisiana has done so successfully. She has put together a presentation with video and still photos to demonstrate the attraction of Natchez as a location for films. She is looking for money to go to Hollywood with Jennifer Ogden to make this presentation to the location managers. Knowing Sally, she'll get the money and impress the hell out of Hollywood, and Natchez will be overflowing with film crews soon.
Natchez is getting a 12 passenger van to transport veterans to their medical appointments at the VA Center in Jackson. The van was donated by the Disabled American Veterans, through donations and county appropriations. The VA will provide all operating expenses. However, volunteer drivers are needed to complete the program. If you or your organization are willing to help, contact Erle Drane with the City Veterans Service Office at 601.445.8706. Look for his Top of the Morning column on this topic soon.
Although the purpose of the meeting was to select a community project for 2007, only one project was presented. There were several people who could not attend, so it was decided to put off that decision until the next meeting.
The one project that was presented was to have the Community push to obtain the funds to purchase the third and last piece of property for the Forks of the Road project.
From now on the Community Alliance will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 4:30 in the Vicksburg Room at the Convention Center - which hopefully is heated. If you want to be added to the email notification list, contact Brett Brinegar.