By David Provost
On the evening of September 30, the Mountain’s Community-Engagement House (often referred to as “the Co-Ho”) launched an informative and wonderfully entertaining showcase for the best humble servants Sewanee has to offer. The evening began with picnic cloths over green grass, brightly shining sun, and the sounds of laughter an accordion (courtesy of featured musical guest, BAZZANIA). BAZZANIA, a staple in Tennessean music, is and all female-band and plays an excellent array of Americana music currently as the official South Cumberland State Park music attraction. They opened the venue playing a variety of instruments from the acoustic guitar to the accordion and even harmonica. The band performed some classic Southern Antebellum songs with spiritual lyrics and songs focusing on past hardships and awaiting life’s future pleasures.
To complement BAZZANIA opening of the event, a number of Sewanee theme houses provided hand-crafted edibles. Pumpkin muffins, beer bread, and fresh cheese were only a few of the many selections offered.
The theme the Co-Ho wanted to voice this year was “belonging to people, to each other”. The incipient speaker was BAZZANIA band member and Blue Monarch’s founding director, Betty Carpenter. Blue Monarch’s focus is a recovery community for women that come from background of abuse, addiction, and mental illness. Since 2003 the organization has changed over 2,000 lives. Carpenter encouraged everyone to gain new perspective on the trouble that hides in our community and how to provide hope and care on a deep level. Following Blue Monarch was a brief speech from the CAC (Community Action Committee). The CAC does much more than provide food for the hungry, truly making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate in the Sewanee area. The committee wants Sewanee students to know there is in fact poverty in the area, and the change starts when students take part in working for progression. Chastity Melton of Grundy County’s Safe Coalition also spoke about her organization and how they reach out to the community. To state Grundy County’s education is less than ideal would be a vast understatement. In a county of 14,000 residents only 10% of youth move on to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Melton and all those involved in the Coalition want the Sewanee community to realize there is a large substance abuse problem not far from the Mountain, and things will only get better as more information is provided concerning diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, and other health concerns.
Towards the closing of the event, a collection of different Sewanee community groups and theme houses spoke on their contributions as well. Sewanee’s Women’s Center encourages equality and gender-based discussion on campus. The Business House supports creating and discovering new and unique businesses. The new Wellness House advertised themselves as “an awesome, and safe space for meditation”. The Farm House (who displayed their Sewanee-grown gourds and pumpkins on their booth) encourages that eating and growing food locally should be a part of everyday Sewanee life.
The Co-Ho kickoff was a very successful event for both the campus and local community, in an exercise of growing closer to one another. Big service is happening all over Sewanee this academic year, fueled by students, faculty, and community members all realizing the benefits.