On Tuesday, October 26, the David Mathews Center for Civic Life and Alabama Communities of Excellence kicked off the first session of an online discussion series with various ACE communities. Each week, groups meet via Zoom to discuss how to become “leaderful” communities based on a forthcoming book by Dr. David Mathews, entitled Together: Building Better, Stronger Communities. The goal of this series is to help community leaders and active citizens strengthen civic life in their communities and connect with other small town leaders across the state.

Mary Shell, Executive Director of ACE, welcomed all the participating communities, which included both new additions to ACE, Aliceville, Ashville, Luverne, and Ozark; as well as longtime members Eufaula, Fairhope, and Monroeville.

DMC Executive Director Rachel Naftel Mosness led the first session on civic inventiveness and the role of citizens in a community. Community representatives shared what makes their small towns special, such as the community of artists in Fairhope and Monroeville, the delicious family-owned restaurants in Luverne, the outdoor recreation opportunities in Eufaula and Ashville, the entertainment district in Ozark, the support of community partners at UWA in Aliceville, and the remarkable people that make up these communities. The discussion then turned to describing current challenges faced by the community and sharing ways to address them with those experiencing similar conditions. 

In Together, Dr. Mathews states “Democracy is a journey, there is no detailed road map, just a few guideposts. Those who make the journey have to call on their inventiveness because much of the road has to be made by walking it.” Through these weekly meetings, ACE communities can learn methods to strengthen civic life and better engage their citizens.