Week Ten | Tiptonville, TN to Memphis, TN: the next 150 miles

1pm, Thursday, September 18, 2020

Tiptonville, Ridgely, Ripley, Fort Pillow Historic State Park, Covington, Randolph, Memphis

LANDSCAPE | Where does the South begin?

From the widening river to the sight of unique crawfish roadkill, the question of where does the South begin stayed with us for quite a while traveling downriver from Minnesota to Louisiana. Flags, monuments, and reenactments paved the way through Kentucky and Tennessee, but even in Elsberry, Missouri the drawl became thicker and breakfast was served with grits.

COMMUNITY | Imprisonment

Prisons are everywhere, especially in the more rural spaces of Middle America, but the history of imprisonment—as well as its manifestations in modern life—run deep in our socioeconomic structures and historical biases. There are those that keep us safe, and those that keep others down.

VOICE | Robby Tidwell

Park Manager of Fort Pillow Historic State Park and overall champion for Lauderdale County. Voice gathered over the course of two days, from September 17 to 18 in both Ripley, TN and at the park several miles closer to the Mississippi River.

VOICE | Graydon Swisher

Conservationist and historian, actively engaged with issues such as the MRT, Second Chickasaw Bluff, and at large the Lower Mississippi River Conservation. Voice gathered at the A-Frame and across the bluff along the river in Western Tennessee near Randolph on September 20, 2019.

This week was entirely spent in the state of Tennessee—a deep dive into the South, as we first encountered cotton fields and cotton gins and entered into a more complete history of the Confederacy, not to mention its present day controversies. The way many people speak of “the South” around here, starting from Cairo, IL on down, you’d think the States never settled their disputes! But then again, as we listed more deeply and connected the stories we heard, it became clear this country has a through-line of values and beliefs that’s more powerful than any divides. How to bring this to the fore in our minds and conversations again? We’re listening for this as well, and continue to listen.

During the event this week, we had a small but significant audience and are forever grateful for their presence. Much thanks to Robby Tidwell of Fort Pillow Historic State Park and Graydon Swisher representing our time in Randolph, Tennessee, for joining us, sharing updates from their neck of the woods, and convening around our reflections.

We continue to work on developing these themes and lenses derived from our listening each week—we hope you will tune in and give us more to listen to some week in the future. This is just a beginning in the process of working through this data, so please share your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. You are our collaborators. We’ve only made it this far with your help.