I Moved to Selma with a Bad Attitude, But She Won Me Over

March 11, 2023
“Do you like the crunchy part of the brownie or the gooey part? If you don’t like brownies, why not? I believe in the brownie principle of starting a conversation and finding a place where we can meet. Let’s commit to finding something in common and start from there.
I was raised on creativity and service. My mother is an artist, and I learned from her. My formative years were in Atlanta and New Jersey, and I met my husband at Sewanee. We moved to Oxford, MS, and I thought we were going to settle there, but my husband is from one of the oldest family law firms in the state, and he wanted to return to Selma and work with his dad. I moved to Selma with a bad attitude, but she won me over. I am from a family of researchers and educators, and Selma has provided 25 years of independent study.
I was a stay-at-home mom, but I missed art during that time. So, I helped found Arts Revive twenty years ago to support local artists as a part of community development. Later, I co-owned a real estate company for 13 years, and my creativity went into renovating buildings.
There are many opportunities in Selma for somebody like me to do what I do. Functioning and creating beauty in dysfunction is my superpower, but I feel an urgency to do everything all at once. I am 57, so that’s an urgency. Community healing is another urgency.
I bought the old Woolworth building in the heart of downtown with two business partners. It was built in 1908, and we are bringing it back to life with artists and creatives. We named it 5&Dime, and this is becoming a place of harmony to share stories, history, and ideas. We will soon have chefs bringing their art of food.
We get creative in this safe container and feature a different artist every month. This is my month, and I brought in photographs on the paper I made and collages of ‘junk’ in plaster. One of my favorite pieces is ‘Boy Drawer Disassembled.’ My brothers and cousin had a ‘boy drawer’ at my grandmother’s house filled with Army men, a pencil, marbles, matchboxes, a cap gun and string. I couldn’t touch that drawer, and there was no girl drawer for me, so ripping up the drawer and making art from it is how I dealt with it years later. There is a lot in my brain that needs to come out.
I renovated the old offices upstairs into Woolworth Lofts, a funky AirBnB with five lofts— we were the first AirBnB in downtown Selma. The 5&Dime is evolving into a creative retreat for women where we can teach art classes breaking things down to the easiest level and provide encouragement to try something new. We play and have fun. I like helping people figure out what they are good at and what to do with it.
The 5&Dime has become a community center, and everyone walking by — from the homeless to tourists — wants to come in. I welcome them all. More and more people are making pilgrimages to Selma, which is exciting because tourism raises all boats.
The world comes to Selma, but she is more than a photo-op with history. She holds world-changing stories for the human family, and when she is seen, heard, and loved, and not shamed, she will heal and change the world again. You can’t avoid the hard conversations in Selma. Standing here, she makes you think and then understand that hate doesn’t work.
A.C.
(More photos in the comments)

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