News of infighting, just like family conflict, usually get more attention than what is appropriate. Too often, discontented voices overshadow what is honorable and right as a morning fog can overshadow a farmer’s field until you can barely distinguish the pecan grove or fields of cotton all around you.
The antidote, or cure to this poison, is not adding to the discontent by fussing about it; The antidote is to shine a light on what is the anchor for this community-to remind our homefolks that God is still on His throne, America is still good, Georgia is still home, and that Cairo has been, is still and can continue to be a community of bravery, dedication, leadership and valor.
We need to make a choice to celebrate our life and honor the ones that made it possible. PM is intentionally doing both-celebrating what we have today and honoring those who made this life possible. Already we have had artists groups, retreats, a bbq for our local veterans, and soon to be on the schedule are events such as a thank you dinner for the Friends of our Library, another for our volunteer firefighters, luncheons for Grief Support groups, and we working toward a partnership with our school system.
During our many tours of the museum it has been perplexing the number of long time Grady County families who did not even know that local veterans are carved in marble in memorial on that wall. A campaign has launched to change that.
While Dan and I have been working for 18 months on the needs of the house itself, it is time to focus on the art works of Laura Pope Forester. Through a nonprofit organization, set up with the GA Sec of State and the IRS, we are empowering the community to partner with us in rebuilding and restoring PM to a place of civic pride, community involvement and economic impact. Our first project is to light up that wall.
Listen to the following nuggets about the historical and potential economic impact of preserving and promoting this National Treasure. There are 10 Library of Congress files with over 261 photographs on Popes Museum . That does not even begin to share the many magazines and newspapers that have featured this Grady County jewel. Locally, FSU has books, exhibits and professors that specialize in her work. Denver Airport-58.3+ million travelers last year walked through the main terminal where Popes Museum was one of two featured attractions for GA. If 1/100th of 1% come to South Ga that is almost 6,000 tourists in Grady County .Additionally, the High Museum in Atlanta and the Savannah College of Art and Design is looking to see the museum restored and Laura’s artwork preserved or returned to the site. I have spoken with both the assistant folk-art director at the High and the Dean at SCAD. Both organizations are interested in seeing this restoration take place. This will be a boon to our economic and cultural resources.
All of these opportunities begin with a vision and a team of support. Enlightening Grady County of this treasure and demonstrating the community’s support is a critical first step. A fundamental task is promoting what is on the site now. The Shine the Light campaign is set up to do both.
What we are seeking to do is to set up security and illumination lights on the wall directly on Popes Store Road right near SR111.
This is an easily attainable goal: For 5 LED architectural series lights to be installed, wiring, trench dug, inspected and the landscaping to protect them from damage we have been given estimates of $4,500. We already have 13% of the funds raised and are asking our community for help in raising the rest. All donations are tax deductible and go directly to our Shine the Light campaign. BTW: Once the wall is lit up we will do the exact same thing with the memorial to Red Cross, nurses and the GC men from WWI who are on that memorial.
Not only is this attainable, This is impactful long term. Many of the grants that PM could be eligible for -both commercial and gov’tal- require evidence of community support before they commit to using their resources. A successful campaign demonstrates we are committed to this vision of restoration.
Lastly, This is honorable as the 26-foot wall lists our families that have served us with everything they have. More than 40 names of Grady County men are on that wall and illuminating it will build support and gratitude for their sacrifice. Numbers are fine, but when you see the names of Donaldson, Bell and Richter you realize these are our families. Over and over again I hear from local families who are linked to the house through marriages that happened here, parties they attended here or field trips they took here. 2 months ago a 97-year-old woman sat on our patio chairs sharing how she went to her first high school party put on by “Miss Laura’. This is not the first person to dream of what was years ago. She also joined me in believing that we can do it again.
I am boldly asking you to partner with me to begin the process by donating to our campaign to shine the lights on the wall.