The words to the classic hymn “How Great Thou Art” have never meant more to me than they do now. Just after my first day of working at Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center, I have become exposed to the rich culture that surrounds our area. You would think that after living here my entire life I would have recognized just about all that our area offers, but boy was I wrong. Who knew that in my “back-yard” there would be such a movement and group of influential artists that impact the area (and nation) in such a meaningful way?
First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Cade Ingram and I am currently a senior at the University of Alabama majoring in consumer science with a concentration in financial planning and family counseling. I was brought to Black Belt Treasures to help with the website and other marketing/accounting tasks. Working for Black Belt Treasures is giving me the opportunity to apply the knowledge that I have obtained in school through various classes and projects. But, those are not the only opportunities that it has given me. By working here I am being exposed to a side of our region that I have never really been exposed to.
On my first day I met a couple from the state of Washington that were just traveling through the area and decided to make a stop. It is truly incredible to see people from so far away here in our small little town. Shortly after that we were blessed with a visit from two reporters for the Boston Globe. So, within two hours we already have seen people from two completely different sides of the country. Kristin (Kristin Law, our Art Programs & Marketing Director) and I then took the reporters on a trip to tour Gee’s Bend. This was my first time getting the entire Gee’s Bend experience. We first stopped at the home of a “retired” quilter (Mary Lee Bendolph) that the reporters had visited and written a story about exactly 10 years ago. I never really understood how quilts could have so much meaning until hearing the stories of the quilt maker that we visited. It was a very emotional and eye opening experience, one that I will never forget.
Next we visited the ferry terminal in Gee’s Bend. The architecture and work that was put into that facility is simply amazing. We talked with a few wonderful people there who help keep the facility running (Mary Margaret Pettway, Lucy Mingo, and Tyree McCloud). Finally, Kristin and I took the ferry back across the river. The trees were beautiful with their changing leaves. From this day, I have realized how blessed we are to be surrounded by so many passionate and kind people that genuinely care for each other and our area
I find it simply amazing that people from so far away are visiting our small town that you can barely even find on a map. This just goes to show how big of an impact our area has on a national level, which has been showcased through the work of artists and employees of Black Belt Treasures.
One of the most interesting things that I have found is that a lot of locals don’t even know how big of an impact that BBTCAC makes. The exposure that it brings to this area is simply amazing. I hope that the rest of my time here brings on many more adventures and experiences. We are SO blessed to live in an area with such a rich culture, a rich culture that many don’t even recognize. Sometimes you have to look from the outside in to get the big picture.