How are these related and why are they important concepts to our community? Let’s start with mutual aid, one of the best descriptions of mutual aid I’ve read was written by doctoral candidate Joel Izlar. The full text can be found here.
“Mutual aid is when everyday people get together to meet each other’s needs, with the shared understanding that the systems we live in are not meeting our needs and that we can meet them together, right now, without having to pressure power structures to do the right thing. Mutual aid is an idea and practice that is based on the principles of direct action, cooperation, mutual understanding, and solidarity. Mutual aid is not charity, but the building and continuing of new social relations where people give what they can and get what they need, outside of unjust systems of power.”
Sound familiar? You’re probably already practicing mutual aid in several ways already. If you have utilized our Little Free Library, whether by leaving a book or taking a book or both, that’s a type of mutual aid. When you utilize the food/seed pantry, that’s also a type of mutual aid. Sharing a resource with a neighbor, also mutual aid. Our weekly women’s craft night – more mutual aid. Here in our rural communities, our volunteer fire departments practice mutual aid, by helping each other on calls. Our different community organizations are engaging in mutual aid, whenever they work together to fill a need in our community. Mutual aid has always been a big part of our communities and the need to recognize that, and expand it is becoming even more vital.
By sharing space, both physically and for each other we are practicing mutual aid. Any time we teach someone a skill for free, share knowledge, or share a burden, we are practicing mutual aid.. We practice mutual aid when we pool resources to accomplish goals in our communities, whether it’s a group of friends, family members, church members, or something encompassing a wide range of people. A powerful example of local mutual aid we can probably all remember occurred in 2019, when we came together to protect each other’s lives and homes. While the Arkansas River was flooding its banks, people in our community came together to fill sandbags, donate cold drinks to volunteers, haul sandbags on their personal trailers, help neighbors regardless of any differences, and so much more.
How does ethical giving/donating impact mutual aid? Ethical giving means that we think about the impact and not solely the intention of our donations. Ethical giving means our donations don’t cause more harm than good. Being ethical about donations means that we take the time to ponder the impact to recipients or organizations that distribute them. To create sustainable mutual aid practices, ethical giving is essential.
When you’re cleaning out your closet and you make a pile for donation, ethically you would make sure the clothes are clean, and without stains or tears. Otherwise you’re creating work with your donation, instead of providing aid, as anything unusable will have to be sorted and thrown away. The same goes for any other items you donate, are they usable “as is”, or do they need to be repaired? That’s not to say that something may not still be usable, however before donating it’s important to ask yourself what the impact of donating a broken item will have. Depending on where you are donating, they may or may not have the capability to make the repair, thereby creating more work for the recipient. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would wear or use it “as is” if the answer is no, then don’t donate it. Instead, utilize social media or word of mouth, describe the item and let people choose if it will be useful to them or not.
It’s important to our community to continue building mutual aid practices ethically in order to ensure they are sustainable. Practicing ethical giving helps us to see others humanity, while accessing our own at a deeper level. It’s a practice of learning and growing. Within ethical mutual aid practices we can learn to feel good about receiving as well as giving. In order to build the communities we dream of, we need to move away from the mindset of giving to those less fortunate than us and towards ethical mutual aid practices, where we know everyone has something to give and receive.
The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources is excited to partner with Sipp Culture and the Artists at Work program to bring on two local artists in residence for a year long community-based partnership!
These two artist in residence openings are paid positions through the Artists at Work program, a national workforce resilience program designed to support the rebuilding of healthy communities through artistic civic engagement. Conceived as a public/private partnership, this program will provide a living wage salary, plus full health benefits and professional development resources directly to participating artists. This program is designed to put artists to work as artists. Any qualified artist who is not currently working in their field is eligible to apply!
The Artist at Work program provides financial support to participating local cultural organizations and connects both to the work of local social impact initiatives in areas such as antiracism, justice reform, sustainability and equitable development, health, economy, homelessness and housing, child welfare, and immigration. It is designed to impact the whole ecosystem of a community.
If you have seen the mural in the downtown Dardanelle Post Office, you have seen some of the artwork that came out of the 1930s Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) artists work program. Artists At Work was an idea inspired by the WPA and founded by THE OFFICE performing arts + film with an initial pilot in Western Massachusetts in 2020. Following that success, AAW was recently awarded $3M by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand its program in other parts of the country, including the Mississippi Delta Region. More information can be found at artists-at-work.org.
The selected artists will participate in the following ways:
- Engage with their own creative practice daily.
- Work in partnership with the McElroy House and the Social Impact Initiative, devoting 12-15 hours per week over the course of the year.
- Submit a statement of intent for a project that will be developed over the course of the program.
- Commit to a project or area of work as the focus on the 12 month residency in partnership with the McElroy House, creating new work that will be accessible to the community.
- Work closely with the McElroy House to envision and execute community accessible art that helps build and sustain equitable community.
- Sustain a commitment to exhibit and share this work and participate in events that are free and open to the public.
- Attend monthly Professional Development workshops and Artist Work Shares (via Zoom).
- Be responsible for monthly progress surveys (via email) to be submitted to THE OFFICE performing arts + film.
- Be employed by THE OFFICE performing arts + film for the 12-month term and receive a salary and benefits.
- Keep a video, audio, or written journal and/or other documentation of the work created during participation and share this documentation bi-monthly, which could also include:
- Virtual and/or in-person field trips
- Discussion or presentation of works in progress
- Remote and/or in-person studio visits
- Collaborations with community organizations
Annual salary is based on the living wage for our region and is set at $25,614. Full employer covered insurance is also available for those who opt in.
What we’re looking for in potential artists:
We are looking for two artists of any medium (can also include traditional craftspeople) who will work closely with the McElroy House to create engaging community-based art that brings people together across divisions to build and sustain community. Please note that the following list is a wish list and a point of entry. Even if you don’t fit all of these descriptions, please apply! We will be looking at the applications as a whole and are not interested in simple checklists.
- A direct connection to the Dardanelle, Yell or Pope County area. (required)
- Interest in, or willingness to, engage historical content and research as part of their artwork and artistic practice.
- Interest in, or connection to, stewarding the land, agricultural and natural resources abundant in our area.
- An intergenerational approach to their art—-something that connects across generations both past and future.
- It is important that our artists be representative of our diverse community. At least one of our artists in residence needs to be fully fluent in Spanish as a first language or grew up in a bilingual home.
- A willingness to approach art as an avenue for trauma-informed community work.
- Excellent communication skills and timely communication.
- We would love to work with an artist who can approach our space as a site for an interactive installation that involves our mutual aid resources, including the garden, the craft nights, and the food pantry.
Professional requirements include:
- Experience organizing and/or being an integral part of a large group project.
- Three professional references and/or character references which include people who can speak to your reliability and commitment to your life’s work and your community.
- Established experience in preferred medium (no less than a year)
- Excellent communication skills either verbal or written or both
- Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States as a salaried employee.
To apply for this positions please send:
- At least three samples of your artwork. These do not need to be professional photos. Smart phone photos are fine.
- Three letters of reference with willingness for a call back to those references. These can be character references rather than specific art references. Basically, we just need to know you’re dependable, willing to communicate about any concerns, and will fulfill jointly agreed upon obligations.
- A cover letter which answers the following questions (or use this google form):
- Why are you interested in this position?
- What led you to start making art?
- What is your connection to the Dardanelle and/or Yell and Pope County region?
- Who are your mentors? This could be anyone from Frida Kahlo to your grandmother. We just want to know who inspires you to do your best work.
- What do you know about both the long arc and recent history of this area and/or what do you want to know? (We’re not looking for a historian. Just someone who cares about and/or wants to learn about how the past influences the present and how an understanding of this information can help us build a future!)
Questions? Call 479-957-0551 or send an email to email@example.com
About the McElroy House:
Watch this film about our work!
Located in the small town of Dardanelle, Arkansas, McElroy House is a grassroots organization working to bring people together across differences and find local solutions to local problems. Valuing its landscape and its cultural resources, McElroy House explores how the past informs the present, and how, by building bridges across generations and cultures, we can work toward a stronger and more inclusive future. We are both a place and an idea. McElroy House hosts weekly craft nights and bilingual gardening gatherings; tends to a grief and joy garden; runs a mutual aid food pantry, and holds story circles and living room conversations. The organization believes that community members are experts in their lived experience, and it works to carve out space where people can come together to build equitable, beloved community.
Mission Statement: McElroy House is a beginning and a journey. A brave space to unravel racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. To weave together a just and kind small town community. McElroy House accomplishes this by coming together across differences and practicing our humanity, through gardening, crafting, and granny skills. The organization is women-led, lending a nurturing aura to its intergenerational rootwork. McElroy House’s humble quest is to plant seeds of self love, self acceptance and healing for all.
I wrote the following poem when I was 16 years old. Some of my thoughts and ideas have changed. But not the knowledge that we are not all free. Do you remember when you were 16? Really coming into your own, your first real tastes of freedom. When you were given more trust to interact out in the “world” on your own? Making serious choices on your own? One of the most influential times of your life. I remember, and I remember the first thoughts formed when perceiving the world on my own terms.
Is this the way it should be?
Are all the people free?
We are all one,
What God’s done cannot be undone
This is not what he has planned
The prejudice, the hate, the destruction
We the people? In God we trust?
Is that not what was said?
Six million Jews dead
And more, with prejudice, ahead
The change just out of our reach
We must learn and you must teach
Who will be our future?
Does it not scare you? Him or her?
So many questions
Who will have the answer?
You leave us destruction
Where do you start construction?
The youth of today fights
To find what is right
Can our generation run our world?
More and more problems being unfurled
We’ve been given no chance
You dismiss us at first glance
Hear our thoughts or help us change them
We learn from you and what you have done
A child learns from what it sees
Think of our problems today,
Does history not repeat itself?
Can we change for the next generation?
Can we teach what needs to be taught?
Is there hope in this life?
Will there ever be true peace, love and happiness?
You may wonder, why I care about this? I’m white, I’m not Jewish… I don’t have to do much to pretend I’m like everyone else around here. I can blend in and turn a blind eye. I will tell you. Because I know the pain of being less than. I know through my own traumas what it’s like to believe you have no worth. I know what it’s like to be expected to keep my head down, be grateful for what has been given, and keep my mouth shut.
When I was 16, from the outside I looked just like all my friends. At home behind closed doors, a completely different story. My home life was filled with abuse. Physical abuse, emotional and mental abuse as well. I couldn’t have my own thoughts or ideas, I couldn’t choose my own interests, I had to uphold the view for the outside and never let anyone know what it was like. I will never be chained like that again. I will not allow my fellow humans to be chained that way either. Not in thought, word, or deed. That is what racism does, it refuses to allow people to be who they are and live their lives free from fear, based solely on the color of their skin. I care, because it matters. It matters so much.
Let’s set aside any guilt or shame, here. We don’t need it for this conversation. Not to foist it on anyone, or to take it from anyone, or to take it into our hearts ourselves. It won’t help, it won’t allow us to talk openly and honestly without judgement. If you are white, no matter what your life has been like, and no one is saying it’s been great or easy. You have benefitted from systemic racism. The United States of America has a legal system, that perpetuates racism. You didn’t ask for it, your birth was chance. Just like every single other human being on Earth.
If you are white, then there is a very high probability that your ancestors (again, chance – you didn’t choose them) were racists. Through sheer ignorance, willful and otherwise, they believed that white people were superior. We aren’t here to dissect why they believed this. It won’t change the past. We know it was partly religious, and partly something else insidious. It doesn’t matter, because we know they were wrong. We can’t change the past. It isn’t up to us to take responsibility for what our ancestors did, no matter how far back. However, it is our responsibility to change the present, and leave a better future for the next generations.
The fact that today, there are racists, walking around proud of their belief that they are superior based on the color of their skin – something that was gained entirely by chance, proves how much more work we must accomplish. We must do more. I must do more. This conversation has got to span generations. We can’t go up to our grandfathers, great grandfathers and blame them for beliefs that were so ingrained in them, they are too ashamed to talk about it and berate them. We have got to let go of that judgment, or denial and accept that racism is still a huge part of our world, and the only way we can change that is to talk about it. Openly. With our older relatives, with our children, holding space for each other to learn and grow. Approach your friends, and neighbors. Bridge the gap and talk about the hard stuff. It isn’t easy… and it’s not getting any easier. Do you really want to stay “color-blind” thinking if you ignore it and play nice it will just go away? We know what that does. Nothing. It is time to ally ourselves with our Black, Brown, and Indigenous fellow humans.
Please, from the heart of a 16-year-old kid, no different from so many other kids who see but don’t know how to make a change… be that change. I am that change. You are that change. Our children, our family, our friends, our community… need us. Sixteen year old kids, so impressionable, need us. We can be that change. You don’t know what to do, or where to start? That’s okay, neither do the rest of us, not really. All we must do, though, is start the conversation, turn out fear, and accept love and understanding into our hearts instead.
April is finally here, the sun is brighter the days are longer, and all things are growing. Get ready friends, it’s almost time to begin work in the community garden!!
As always, Little Free Library is stocked and open and Craft Gatherings are every other Wednesday, the next one is this week from 6-8pm,
Don’t forget, every Thursday the Domestic Violence Survivors Support Groups are held as follows, Women @10, Men @ 12 and LBGTQ @ 2. For questions contact River Valley Shelter for Battered Women and Children @ 479-219-5148.
|Our main event this month… is in honor of Earth Day!|
|Come join our Earth Day Celebration on April 20th from 2pm – 4pm. We’ve partnered up with Citizens’ Climate Lobby to share stories about what we love about our Earth. Enjoy the weather, while talking about real ways we can help to take care of her.We’ll do a little work in the Bee & Butterfly gardens, CCL will be providing light refreshments for all of us, and we’ll be sharing stories about the plants we grow at McElroy House. We can’t wait to celebrate with y’all!|
McElroy House Film
Last May Cornell grad student and film maker Bruno Seraphin came to help us make a short film about our work! It’s in process! Here’s a behind the scene shot from Bruno! We are so looking forward to the finished film! Thanks, Bruno!
Vision Board Gathering
Here’s a shot from our vision board gathering a few weeks ago! These are the words we brainstormed that embody our core values here at the McElroy House. Soon we’ll be scheduing another event to finish the artwork to go along with all the brainstorming! All are invited, stay tuned!
ATU Electrical Engineering
… Study Group/Workshop
worked on and finished their group project right before spring break. The group built an Inductance Meter. Pictured are Chris Hunter & Francisco Cruz.
Sharon, has created a beautiful space in the garden for all of us. Of this space she says “I had been thinking for sometimes now I could show my love and respect to all of our family who have passed on. I dearly loved them all and they were all a large happy part of my childhood. I miss them all but still carry each one in my heart. This little memory garden is just my way of remembering and loving them all. Anyone please feel free to sit and reflect and enjoy the love that was put into putting it all together. Much love and Joy.” Sharon we are so grateful for all that you bring to the McElroy House!
How White Supremacy Relies on Covert Racism
One of the many ways we can stop White Supremacy is by understanding how they operate and recruit members. Then educating ourselves with facts, and talking to our youth, so they also have the education and knowledge not to be manipulated. Racism is a hard topic, with so much more to it than I had ever thought. We need non-judgmental spaces to learn in and to assist each other in that process. The McElroy House is such a space, and we invite everyone to join the conversation.
Saying we are “colorblind” or don’t see race, is not addressing race and racism. Not talking about racism leaves our youth to make their own decisions. By watching their peers, government leaders, and prominent people in their lives. They can come to conclusions that uphold racism, unbeknownst to us, leaving them open to being preyed upon by white supremacists.
The biggest tools by far in recruiting new members into white supremacy are fear based. The fear that white people are under attack and will be erased. For example, how many times have you heard, “White men are now a minority”?
Personally, I can remember being told that as fact and passing it along as fact as early as 1990, when I was just starting High School. I can admit this. I bought into this mentality for a short time in my adolescence. The fact that it was so easy to believe is terrifying. To be clear I was not part of a white supremacist group, but I perpetuated convert racism.
At that time in my life, all I had to do was question these ideas. Instead this phrase played into my confirmation bias, a type of cognitive bias that involves favoring information that confirms your previously existing beliefs or biases. Having been raised in a rural, heavily white town, with underlying racism… why would I question it? My grandparents were openly racist. My Parents were racist, but covertly of course. So were all my friends’ parents. No one spoke to me about race or racism, so I formed my own erroneous opinion that white people were better.
The thought of my kids becoming white supremacists, is utterly horrifying. Yet, how can I be sure they are safe from the recruitment efforts of white supremacists if we never discuss race or racism in a world where covert racism is commonplace? By discussing race and racism openly and honestly, we can address all the ways in which we pass along racism to the next generation without even understanding what we do. Covert racism is a form of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, rather than public and obvious. If we don’t notice it’s been passed down to us, then how do we stop passing it on to our kids?
We educate ourselves. We talk about race and racism. We do the work that needs to be done, and then we educate our kids. You are all invited to take part in a living room conversation in regard to race, racism, convert racism, and white supremacy.
Our garden has been greatly in need of some work! We gathered Thursday for some fun and digging!
Our garden is a community project and open to all. We’d love to have you!
If you have any plants you’d like to see in the garden, please let us know! And please consider becoming a member by donating hours or money! Members drive our programming and decision making.
Come join us this Thursday for a garden work evening! Free food, garden education and lots of fun and community!
Kids are always welcome!
Thanks to your support, we are open every Friday 9-3!!!
Here are a few photo updates. Come see us!
Thanks to all your support we’re getting organized here at the McElroy House! And we’re going to start using this blog again! It will connect to our Weekly Seedling newsletter. Haven’t signed up for our weekly (super short) newsletter? Go here!
This week we are dividing yarrow, harvesting daisy seeds, and we’re getting our first tomatoes from the veggie garden!
We’re open every Friday from I:00-3:00. Or by appointment. Come see us! 420 s. 2nd in Dardanelle. We work by membership model. Please join us!!! Click here to sign up/learn more!
A few more photos from the garden!
Every year we host our Harvest Run & Walk 5K. This is our only major fundraiser and it makes all of our programing possible.
It’s fun! Previous years’ Harvest Runs have been held at Bona Dea Trail in Russellville but this year it’s coming home to downtown Dardanelle! The route starts at the Latham’s Furniture Store and ends at the US Post Office, both on Front Street.
Read more about this year’s event below!
Participants get an awesome t-shirt designed by artist Bryan Moats. We offer awards in each division and a chance to learn more about the community!
When you become a sponsor or sign up for the run you are automatically entered into this year’s raffle.
Raffle items include
- Homemade cinnamon rolls from Bakers Gonna Bake in Dardanelle
- Handcrafted signs for your home from Rebekah Avila
- Hen Pins and a hand drawn vegetable calendar from Azul Home
- Posters and stickers from Bash-O-Bash
- and more!
Be a virtual runner!
If you don’t live near or are unable to participate and still want to support our work, you can run “virtually” in your own hometown or you can sign up as a sponsor of the run. Donations of ten dollars or more get your name or organizational name on the back of the shirt.
We’ll be hosting an open house and art reception at the McElroy House after the run.
- Art from Kim Doughty-McCannon and others
- Free art lessons by Susana Torres in the kids room
- Art historian Gayle Seymour is coming to talk to us about the significance of our town’s WPA mural
- Muralist at work painting with Arkansas artist Larissa Gudino
- Artisan baked goods from local panaderías and pie makers
- Bring your legal questions to Law to Go during and after the race! Attorney and owner Stephanie Harris will answer your questions and talk about her low cost law firm
Why We Especially Need Your Support in 2017
In the past, proceeds from the Harvest Run have gone solely to the McElroy House gardens and programming, while the bills for the space were paid for by a few key members. Now that we are open more hours and offering more gatherings, our utilities are going up. Individual members can no longer afford to pay out of pocket to keep our doors open. We really want to be open every week and whenever there is a need! But to do that we need YOUR HELP!
Individual runners and walkers
Groups of 10+
Sign up (at $15 each. 25% discount!)
Sponsors or monthly sustaining members
Where Your Money Goes
We have to raise around $3,000.00 to keep the building operational for our programing and diaper bank. This includes the utilities, the water bill for the food and flower gardens, and the property taxes. Anything we raise on top of that—whether through the Harvest Run or through our soon-to-be unveiled membership model—goes straight to our programing. (We’ll be unveiling our membership plans after the first of the year!)
One thing we know how to do is s-t-r-e-t-c-h a dollar. Whenever we can, we trade or re-use. This past year we received a $5,000 grant from Alternate ROOTS, which allowed us to put all that money back into local artists, artisans, and businesses as well as purchase some higher quality recording equipment we can now use to document local stories and histories. When you come to the Harvest Run After Party you’ll get to learn all about what we did with this grant!
But we simply can’t trade anything for the water bill or the electric company or the tax collectors. So when you sign up for the Harvest Run—as a runner, walker, or sponsor—your donation makes everything else happen. This operational funding is the backbone of our work. It allows us to keep the lights on so we can offer these art workshops. It allows us to grow the food that goes to the community. It allows us to open up our doors to the community so we can plan big events, like we’ve hosted at Dog Ear Books and at Fall Fest this past year.
Take a Look at Your Support
Click through the photos below to see just a few of the things your support makes possible!
This past year we have hosted workshops on wild foods, ethical hunting, workshops on early childhood education, conversations about cooperatives, art workshops, and knitting circles. We grow food and flowers for food banks and offer a butterfly garden for the community. We are building a place to come together across differences to build community support. And it all begins in our living room. Help us make this work possible! Every single dollar really does matter.
Ready to sign up?
Individual runners and walkers
Groups of 10+
Sign up (at $15 each. 25% discount!)
Sponsors or monthly sustaining members
People in the community have been talking about how they want to know more about the basics of getting involved at the local level in both local politics and organizing.
This interactive panel and workshop is hosted in partnership with VOTV ~ Voices of the Valley ~ and Dog Ear Books is a bit like 5th grade civics for grown folks with some action elements thrown in.
Panelists will cover some of the basics of local duties and structures, but also touch on how to get involved in the work that matters most to you. They’ll tackle questions like: How do you get started? How do you make decisions about using your energy? Where do you turn for analysis to stregthen your efforts? Most importantly, and perhaps most challenging, how do we learn work with others to create real and lasting change for those that will come long after we’re gone?
We antcipate this to be the first in a series of similar workshops/discussions. This is part of our yearlong series focusing on the concept of HOME and sponsored by Alternate ROOTS.
Irvin Camacho is a native of California who moved to Arkansas at the age of 10. His parents were both farm workers and members of the United Farm Workers Union created by Legendary Activist, Cesar Chavez. Irvin is currently pursuing a degree in Broadcast Journalism and is currently a mortgage specialist at Arvest Bank. He is also a community activist. Irvin has served as NWA Coordinator for Arkansas Coalition for Dream. He was also the State Wide Coordinator for the Arkansas Natural Dreamers now known as LUCHA, a youth led organization to empower and educate Immigrant Communities. He has been involved in the Immigrant Rights Movement for 7 years in Arkansas and is also a former candidate for State Representative for District 89 in Springdale.
Mayra Esquivel is native of Mexico. She was brought to the USA at the age of 3 years old and has been a resident of Fort Smith since then. She is currently 26 years and is a Cum Laude Graduate from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. She works as a navigator for Arkansas United Community Coalition, a non-profit organization that aims to empower immigrants across the state. Mayra has spent the last 5 years advocating for immigrant rights, undocumented youth, and social justice and has found an interest for mental health along the way. She discovered her passion for advocacy work in 2012 after learning about her own undocumented status and how it had the potential to limit her in various aspects of her life. She believes her personal struggles have taught her to be aware and more understanding of the various injustices found in society.”
Stephanie Harris is the founder of Women Lead Arkansas, a non-partisan nonprofit, whose mission is to empower women and girls to engage in politics, policy, and leadership. She also started her law firm, Law to Go, in January. They offer low-cost, flat-fee services to people who represent themselves or who need stand-alone legal services.
Chris Housenick: Christopher Housenick is a tenured assistant professor of political science at Arkansas Tech University, where he has taught since 2009. He teaches World Politics, International Relations, and American Politics, which gives him a unique perspective on the political events of the last few years both within the United States and abroad. He hopes to provide greater perspective on how the current president, the forces that led to his election, and the crises that surround his administration, fit into longer historical trends and into larger global movements.
Anika Whitfield: Anika Whitfield is a Little Rock native. She is a proud graduate of the Little Rock School District where her parents and all of maternal and paternal aunts and uncles graduated as well. She is an active human rights and social justice advocate. As an ordained Baptist minister and a licensed, private practice Podiatrist, she enjoys the opportunity to minister to and with her patients and community in navigating through choices that help lead to healthier living. She has been enjoying serving as a volunteer in the Little Rock School District for over two decades. And, for the last four years, she and a few of her friends and neighbors, known as the Team of Neighbors that Love, have helped develop the Promise Garden Park where neighbors and community members enjoy learning about more about each other while learning to garden and share the healthy fruits of their labors with others. Recently, as an organizer with the Save Our Schools Campaign and the Citizens Against Taxation without Representation Campaign, she and several other community organizers and supporters of the LRSD enjoyed a few victories in their efforts to restore and revitalize democracy in their school district, city and in our state. One of those victories was gained through the power of the vote when 65% of the LRSD that voted in the May 9th LRSD millage tax extension stood up as a very diverse group of united citizens (age, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, faith/religion, politics, and class) to protect our students, parents, teachers and schools from being further oppressed by big business politics.
Marie Williams is currently working on her PhD at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Marie is a native of Russellville, where she lives with her two children. She is an adjunct professor at Arkansas Tech University and the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville. Marie’s fields of study include, American and Arkansas history. Her dissertation focuses on Arkansas politician Jim Johnson and his segregationist, anti-Communist influence on Arkansas politics during the 1950s, as well as how Johnson and Arkansas fit into the larger Cold War political narrative. Marie has studied both American and Southern political history extensively.