Students Take First Neighborhood Walk


Davis second graders set out for their first neighborhood walk today, accompanied by teachers, parents, and me, the resident artist. We walked along Congress, Barksdale, West, and George streets to meet neigbhors of all kinds: lawyers, homeowners, missionaries, labor unionists, restaurateurs, developers, and public policy analysts. All the houses we toured were very old, but had been renovated for various uses.


In several places, students noticed photographs hanging on the walls: in two places, the photographs were hung as artwork: a law firm had a small gallery of black and white photographs of old buildings around the state and a restaurant had copies of very old photographs of Jackson in the early 1900s. In the family home we visited, there were many family pictures displayed in the hallway and on the dining room walls.


We spent time with some Christian missionaries who open their homes for church services, prayer meetings, meals, and who give away clothes and Bibles. The students had many questions for the two women: “Where do you get the money to buy all these houses?”
“Do you also have toys to give away?”


“Do you know your neighbors?”
“Do you walk around in the neighborhood?”
“Why do you have all these pictures on the walls?”


In several cases, the current owners of the houses were able to tell the students about the first occupants of the house. Across Congress street from Davis is the childhood home of writer Eudora Welty. One stop along our tour was a new development called The Commons at Eudora Welty’s Birthplace. Old homes around the newly built plaza now house a coffee shop and bookstore. Another house has been renovated for a restaurant. In addition, there is a brand new building — built in a style consistent with the surrounding houses — for large events such as weddings.


In the center of the plaza is a water fountain, which the students loved. All in all, the tour took about two hours. We stopped in on eight of our neighbors. Now, students will reflect on what they learned, do some more research, and select the places they’d like to go back and photograph. That will happen next week.

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