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Street Talk

Mark Your Calendars For MAC Party

Melody Thortis and Emily Tschiffely were in town last Friday, They work for the Mississippi Arts Commission and were in the Valley to check out arrangements for the coming South Arts party on May 18 at Yalo-Run Studio at 211 North Main Street. Last year Coulter Fussell won a big art award, the first year for this nine-state art association. 

The Mississippi Arts Commission wants to celebrate her award plus hold a yearly art celebration around the state and not in Jackson. So, Melody and Emily were the planning vanguard for this inaugural party. Plus, they had a lunch at Trusty Diner. You should try that also, if you have not already. Mark your calendars for May 18 and the MAC party.

Renee Crafton and John Rounsaville were in town last Friday as well. They work for the United States Department of Agriculture in Rural Development. Renee works in the Batesville office and John is the director in Jackson. The USDA assists rural communities, places with under 20,000 in population, which incidentally are most of the towns in Mississippi. 

They were in town to see how things have been going, to have lunch at the BTC Old Fashioned Grocery and to take a good look around for themselves. John is no stranger to the area, he grew up in the Big Creek area where Grenada, Calhoun, and Yalobusha counties intersect – or collide, depending on your perspective. But John’s worked up on the Hill in DC years ago and all over the state, so it was good for him to see how the Valley has evolved – if you believe in the evolution of places.

Melody Warnick is a writer who lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.  I met her in 2015 at a Placemaking meeting in Washington D.C. She was unlucky enough to be at the same table I was. She told me then she was finishing a book on why people love the places they live and why that’s good in general. And what happens if they don’t love the places they live and why that’s bad in general. 

Her book was published in 2016 and titled “This Is Where You Belong.” Monday I was at the Main Street conference in Kansas City and Melody was the opening speaker for the conference. She was a good fit, as a speaker, for everyone in the room.  That’s the unspoken job description for a Main Street director, make a place good and hopefully great. There were 1,200 Main Street directors at this meeting in Kansas City from around the country, she was speaking to her people.

I often say the work we do at Water Valley Main Street is not for tourism or people who might visit, but somewhat selfishly, it is for us who are already here, so that the town is good place for all. Melody says in her research if you live in a place where you have social capital, a bit of self-esteem, and a sense of well-being, it will lead to a longer life and being physically healthier in general. I think that’s one of the subtle things Main Street does.  Just ask Betty or read her column on page one.

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