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Elon University / Today at Elon / Lindenman, Lake awarded N.C. Humanities grant for Power and Place Collaborative

The $3,500 grant will support the Power and Place Collaborative that is a partnership between the university, Burlington’s Mayco Bigelow Center, and the African American Cultural Arts and History Center.

Heather Lindenman, assistant professor of English, and Danielle Lake, director of Design Thinking, received $3,500 from North Carolina Humanities for their project, “Power and Place Intergenerational Storytelling Community Engagement Initiative.”

Heather Lindenman, assistant professor of English, and Danielle Lake, director of design thinking and associate professor

The Power and Place Collaborative seeks to cultivate participatory practices of community co-creation and storytelling. Grounded in a commitment to mutually beneficial community/university relationships, the collaborative is an evolving partnership between Elon University, the African American Cultural Arts & History Museum, and the Mayco Bigelow Community Center.

Collaborative members include Elon faculty Vanessa Drew-Branch and Sandy Marshall as well as the AACAHC Director Shineece Sellars and Mayco Bigelow North Park Center Director Bobbi Ruffin. During the past two years, faculty and courses from across Elon have been working with Lake on Power and Place initiatives including Contemporary Issues in African Art (taught by Evan Gatti), Art Administration Senior Capstone (taught by Wen Guo), Visual Aesthetics (taught by Phillip Motley, Place, and Memory (taught by Marshall and Lake), Human Service Studies Senior Capstone (taught by Vanessa Drew-Branch), Writing for Visual Media (taught by Ruth Eckles), Masters in Education Design Thinking (taught by Lake), and more.

Since 2018, the collaborative has been collecting, curating and showcasing oral histories and digital stories about people and places in Burlington’s African American communities. Approximately 30 oral histories and 20 digital stories about the lived experiences of local leaders and activists have been celebrated and archived. The collaborative works to record, preserve, and present stories from and about people and places in Alamance County’s African American communities, strengthen intergenerational relationships and dialogue between residents across the county, and contribute to just, diverse, and inclusive community spaces.

The community engagement project seeks to:

  • Share and discuss oral and written history materials with community members, especially youth;
  • Design and facilitate participatory workshops for community youth, building greater knowledge of African American history in Alamance County;
  • Host an intergenerational storytelling event where youth and community leaders share their own stories and histories, oral and written, and engage in discussion about what they learned from one another.

Students in 10th grade at ABSS-ACC Early College, taught by Elon alumna Courtney Kobos ’19, will participate in an eight-week-long collaboration with students enrolled in COR4170: Literacy and Power at Elon. The groups will participate in walking tours of local neighborhoods, will visit the AACAHC and Mayco Bigelow Centers, and will jointly host Building Bridges: A Night of Intergenerational Storytelling on the evening of Nov. 9, 2022. The Elon and high school students will participate as storytellers, curators, and discussion leaders for the community event, to be held at the Mayco Bigelow Center.

This program is supported in part by North Carolina Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, www.nchumanities.org.