West Alabama Tell Our Story
The West Alabama Campaign community has largely focused its literacy efforts on infrastructure and sustainability. The community is still recovering from a tornado that hit West Alabama two years ago, which almost completely levelled multiple neighborhoods, including some of poorest areas of Tuscaloosa. Residents lost houses, possessions, and access to community facilities. To meet these needs, the GLR coalition has been planning and hosting literacy and literature-themed fundraisers, which will supply books and learning/enrichment facilities to these devastated communities.
The coalition has been focusing on the construction of a Learning Center in Tuscaloosa County. It will house a computer lab, classroom space, a library, a children's area, and business work space. They plan to provide after-school tutoring, summer enrichment, parenting classes and GED classes, as well as offer space for other community classes. Funding has been secured for the furniture, computers, and books. The Learning Center is part of the larger New Foundry Center that also will house a Head Start Center, a Senior Center and a Kitchen Incubator in the first phase.
The Literacy Council of West Alabama is involved in two events to raise money for some of the ongoing projects like GED Scholarships, stocking new Habitat homes with age and interest appropriate books, and recruiting volunteers for service providers. First, volunteers make wreaths from the pages of old books to sell at a local craft shop and at various holiday bazaars. Second, they are presenting the first annual literary event, The Author's Edge, featuring Frye Gaillard. The event will include an author reception, an art competition at the high school, and a book-signing at the Barnes & Noble, and will kick off with an author talk and book giveaway at the area's lowest-performing high school. Author Frye Gaillard will be speaking about his recent book, "The Books That Mattered", a memoir about his transformation from a reluctant reader to a ravenous one. He will speak to students about the definitive moment when he realized that he could see himself in a book, and how the experience changed his perspective on reading.
Free copies of "Clover" by Dori Sanders, one of the books Gaillard mentions in "The Books That Mattered", will be distributed to high school juniors and seniors at the event. Many of the books discussed in "The Books That Mattered" have to do with the civil rights movement, which is particularly appropriate, as this year is the 50th anniversary of desegregation at Tuscaloosa's University of Alabama. Gaillard says that Clover is like Alice Walker's "The Color Purple", but from a different perspective: "The simple notion that things can get better, that barriers can fall before the force of good will, is the fundamental story line of Clover." In a community that is still finding its footing, that's a good message to hear.