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Alabama revisited

From 2009–2011 I lived in a rural town of 2,700 — Greensboro, Alabama.

Greensboro is the county seat of Hale County, which was the backdrop of James Agee and Walker Evans' Depression-era Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. It's in the middle of catfish farming country, the middle of the Black Belt, the middle of the heart of Dixie. There is so much to love about this place and I am so grateful for the time I spent there. 

Over the course of the 2 years I lived there, I helped create a pop-up pie shop; helped build-out a permanent pie shop (PieLab) with community events, workshops, youth classes, and more; and also began my independent freelance career. The place and the people and the experiences were extremely formative for me. They set the trajectory for my life, both personally and professionally.

And after a 2-year hiatus, Will and I recently returned for a short visit. The nostalgia was as thick as the humid air...

Some photos from the trip below.

First stop: 20K 9. Built by Will Holman, Pernilla Hagbert, Clem Blakemore, and Danny Wicke for Rural Studio in 2010.

First stop: 20K 9. Built by Will Holman, Pernilla Hagbert, Clem Blakemore, and Danny Wicke for Rural Studio in 2010.

PieLab! It was busy. There were some familiar faces and some not so familiar faces. We shared pimiento cheese sandwiches, lemon pie, sugared pecans, and some great conversation with a couple from Tuscaloosa. 

PieLab! It was busy. There were some familiar faces and some not so familiar faces. We shared pimiento cheese sandwiches, lemon pie, sugared pecans, and some great conversation with a couple from Tuscaloosa. 

Same signs. Higher prices. Different menu. Same tables. Different people. Same sense of community.  

Same signs. Higher prices. Different menu. Same tables. Different people. Same sense of community.  

Busy lunch at the PieLab.

Busy lunch at the PieLab.

New addition to Main Street since living across the street 2 years ago: A beautiful classroom, event, kitchen, and office space for Project Horseshoe Farm. 

New addition to Main Street since living across the street 2 years ago: A beautiful classroom, event, kitchen, and office space for Project Horseshoe Farm

Friendly Fellows

Friendly Fellows

The HERO garden and fence Will built with YouthBuild.

The HERO garden and fence Will built with YouthBuild.

Some things change. But mostly they stay the same...

Some things change. But mostly they stay the same...

Walking down Main Street

Walking down Main Street

Chatting with Charles at the PieLab, just like old times.

Chatting with Charles at the PieLab, just like old times.

The sign Robin and I painted for Charles is holdin' up good! It is aging well, just like Charles himself.

The sign Robin and I painted for Charles is holdin' up good! It is aging well, just like Charles himself.

Exploring the streets I used to run down regularly. 

Exploring the streets I used to run down regularly. 

Gorgeous country.

Gorgeous country.

One of the latest Rural Studio Projects in Lions Park.

One of the latest Rural Studio Projects in Lions Park.

William Christenberry's green barn in Newbern.

William Christenberry's green barn in Newbern.

Stopped at Jessica Peterson's The Southern Letterpress on our drive from Greensboro to Birmingham. Jessica taught me everything I know about letterpress printing and she is amazing.

Stopped at Jessica Peterson's The Southern Letterpress on our drive from Greensboro to Birmingham. Jessica taught me everything I know about letterpress printing and she is amazing.

Once in Birmingham, we got a tour of the incredible Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Our friend Sara runs their educational programming. I would love to work at a place like JVTF one day.

Once in Birmingham, we got a tour of the incredible Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Our friend Sara runs their educational programming. I would love to work at a place like JVTF one day.