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Community Thursday, November 21, 2013



A snap chance to see through new lenses Annie Faulk Community Reporter

Who knew a simple disposable camera could teach kids moral lessons such as how to be better leaders and citizens? This semester, with the help of Auburn students, a group of children ranging from 6–12 years old, learned how to express themselves through photography, writing and drawing in a pilot program called Be You: A Citizen Photography Project. “There’s a disconnect on what’s being focused on in the schools, so the family environment and the personal characteristic environment at home are separated,” said Mary Afton Day, senior in public administration and civic and community engagement. “We realized that art, critical thinking and writing were main issues that needed to be focused on.” Day organized the program as part of her capstone project, along with assistance from the Ridgecrest Housing Community. She encouraged the kids to discover what makes them unique, how to express themselves and how to solve issues in their community they are passionate about. “I learned that it doesn’t take much to help kids or make an impact because even if they don't admit it, they enjoy having someone there who listens to them and have someone to talk to and engage with,” said Morgan Allison, senior in mechanical engineering. “It doesn't take much. Even if you don’t see results, over time, the stuff that you do really does make an impact.” Day said she wanted the kids to learn about themselves, because she said she feels individuality is not a bad thing, and it can be taken and ran with to really create a better leader and citizen for tomorrow. The group met Tuesday afternoons to discuss how to be better leaders in the community and

Zach Bland / Photographer

TOP: Jamiyah and Mary Afton Day sit at a computer looking at Jamiyah newest piece. RIGHT: One of the many submissions at for the Be You photography project.

be creative in solving issues facing their communities. One week, Day gave the children a disposable camera and told them to photograph scenes demonstrating their uniqueness. “My favorite part was when we took the pictures and we had to write about them,” said 9-year-old Jamiyah. “I took a picture of a flower. My granddad, he died in the U.S. Army. The flower and my granddaddy are connected because I put flowers on his grave.” Another week, the kids were asked to think about leadership characteristics. They were given a popsicle-stick frame made out of four sticks, and asked to write one leadership quality on each stick. Jamiyah said the lesson helped her “learn about leadership - like help anyone she should be nice. Because you have to follow those to be a good leader.”

Allison said he worked with one student in particular throughout the project and said he was lucky to mentor the boy. “I think I helped him change because he needed someone who was there, who he could count on and someone who listened,” Allison said. “Not saying that he didn’t have that, but he needed someone in the program to show him that he didn’t need to act like a tough guy.” Day said the object of the project was not to change the children’s outlook or their maturity, but to allow them to be children in a constructive environment. “They have grown up so much faster than any of us realized,” Day said. “Even though I was 10– 15 years older than most of these kids, it was unfathomable to what they have seen, what they have heard and the way they act.” Day said he understands that even though they’re young, they have dynamic feelings like

all people. “You are pretty much dealing with small adults, size–wise they are small, and they’re mature in some ways more so in the world than you would expect for an 8-year-old,” Day said. The pilot project began in the Ridgecrest Community, but will spread to the other five Auburn Housing Authority communities. “Be You was really an effort to show them their greatness. I know that’s not a wonderful way to describe it because it doesn’t have a deep meaning,” Day said. “It’s hard to put words to what those kids accomplished, especially what they taught me and definitely the other volunteers.”

Auburn citizens express concerns about racial discrimination Council member Arthur Dowdell again raises issues of racism in Auburn through the allegedly racially-charged Turner case

Annie Faulk Community REporter

The Auburn City Council met Tuesday, Nov. 19, to discuss board vacancies, traffic developments and the purchase of the Auburn Depot, but Council member Arthur Dowdell dominated the meeting with claims of racial discrimination. Two men spoke on behalf of Christopher Turner during citizens’ communications. Turner, an African-American firefighter, is suing the Auburn Fire Department for alleged racial discrimination after he was demoted from lieutenant to firefighter. Turner’s attorney, Julian McPhillips, demanded the council eliminate the fire department assessment test, which screens candidates for promotion. “Eighteen years and we have not had a black promoted, only because we have allowed the assessment center to be there, and it should be deleted,” Dowdell said during the meeting. “It should not even be there, but we got it there. To me, it’s there only to predicate things upon black firefighters.” Dowdell said he was concerned, being an elected official, with what he has seen in this city. “Do we really look like Amer-


Do we really look like America? We aren’t going any place. We got black and white, rich and poor.”

—Arthur Dowdell city Council Member

Dowdell ica?” Dowdell said. “We aren’t going any place. We got black and white, rich and poor.” In contrast, Dowdell admited the Auburn Police Division fit his qualifications and reflected America. “We believe our hiring and promotional practices are raceneutral,” said Charlie Duggan, city manager. “Race does not play a part in our decision making. We hire and promote the most qualified candidates for the job.” Duggan assured professionals with experience and background in fire service run the assessment center. “They come in, and they rate individuals on a number of criteria, not just the test. They put them through a number of exercises,” Duggan said. “We believe the most qualified are identified and promoted.” While McPhillips was at the stand, he passed envelopes filled with case details to all

council members and the press. Mayor Bill Ham said he did not want to answer further questions, because the lawsuit lists him, along with many other city officials, as defendants in the case. “I thoroughly, faithfully, believe this city is fair in all of its practices and the council has no authority in hiring anybody,” Ham said. “I personally think that’s a good thing. It’s unfortunate that these accusations are out there, but certainly that’s what lawyers do.” Dowdell followed the accusations aimed at city officials with concerns for school principals have expressed race-related issues in the school system. “I’m not going to retire from this city council, or somebody defeat me, until we see change for all of the people in the city of Auburn,” Dowdell said. “And let the record know that I was the first to say students should have a voice in this city council. Let’s be realistic, we all know why we

Photos of the week

don’t allow students to be here when we have elections.” In reply, Ham said for the past two city elections, Auburn University was in session for the fall semester. Dowdell also spoke out about the local news source, the Opelika-Auburn News as another a racist entity. “To me, the Opelika-Auburn News has become the most racially unbalanced paper I have ever seen,” Dowdell said. “When it comes to blacks, they put them on the front page. When it comes to some of the same crimes that whites commit, they put them on the back pages.” Dowdell said the newspaper was the one of the most racial paper in the United States. “It is our goal at the Opelika-Auburn News to be fair to all individuals and to be factual,” Patrick Johnson, managing editor at the Opelika-Auburn News said. “And I think we do that very well.”

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Current city code restricts solicitation from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Phelan proposed the code be altered to 8 a.m. until dark. The council approved an alcoholic beverage license for J and S Food Mart at 1700 Opelika Road, and an additional no-parking zone stretching from 600 to 604 Edgewood Drive. It also approved a development agreement between the city and Eastwynn Theaters’ Carmike Wynnsong Cinemas, for rennovations. Approved four planning commission recommendations dealing with the Auburn Club Fitness Center, Initial Outfitters, Project Special K and Vapor Craft of Auburn. Approved a sewer study conducted by Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc. to evaluate the sewer system’s sufficiency rates and operational fees. Approved a contract with C.W. Smith Decorating Co. to complete sealant and wall restoration work at the Douglas J. Watson Municipal Complex. The cost of the restoration is $201,083 to include labor, equipment and materials. Approved a preliminary engineering agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to install stagger traffic signals to control traffic in the City. The council approved to match the funding of the project. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $760,500 with federal funding through the Metropolitan Planning Organization of $608,400, 80 percent, and City match funding of $152,100, 20 percent. Approved various drainage and utility easements for 160 North Ross St. and 2025 Brenton Lane. Appointed Rex Griffin to the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The term is effective immediately and will end March 8, 2017. Appointed Bobby Poole and Doug Klinkenborg to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The terms expire March 8, 2017. The council approved the Industrial Board to purchase the Auburn Depot, located at 104, 120 and 124 Mitcham Ave., for economic development.

Drag no longer too queer Chandler Jones Community Editor

Zach bland / Photographer

Lily Laces performs at the Stir drag show Nov 16.

Four years ago, when Imberlie DiArmani was serving at Fort Benning. Ga., he decided to perform in drag. “It was very nerve-racking, hiding my stuff from inspections,” DiArmani said. “It’s hard to hide a wig and heels.” Monday through Friday, DiArmani was military, and on the weekend he became she and reigned as queen. In February, after he moved to Auburn, Balcony Bar asked him to start a drag show. Now, since Cinco de Mayo, they have held a weekly Sunday show for Stir. DiArmani said they’ve got the show down to a science. They have help from DJs around town and said they are professional about everything.

Devin Ward, owner of Stir, said he recently decided their performance deemed them worthy of Friday night. “It has taken off,” Ward said. For the last seven months, Ward said the show has drawn huge crowds. “I didn’t know what to expect at first,” Ward said. “It was so busy every time I didn’t get to actually watch the show until a few months ago.” The show sees an average of six to seven queens and every so often a king. The show features music, dancing and some pyrotechnics. “We don’t discriminate between color, race or sex,” Ward said. “All we are really about is a having a good time.” Ward said he’s passionate about the show because it’s become an alternative for people who want to do other things.

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