Where is your flashlight?

Published 4:09 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

When I first moved to Atlanta after college, I settled in an area of the city which consisted mostly of older residents, vacant lots and challenged schools.

One morning I woke up to find 18 cars had been broken into. This was not uncommon. I decided that if thieves were breaking in at night when everyone was asleep, I would just get a flashlight and walk up and down the street between midnight and 4 am. The car breakins stopped completely.

During this time, a news crew was returning from an assignment and stopped and asked me what I was doing. I told them. And it made the news.

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The local neighborhood association ask me to be public safety chairman, and we continued to work to combat crime throughout the whole neighborhood.

While serving as neighborhood president, I worked as a Realtor. I was at work one day when a woman walked in to my office — it was Jane Fonda looking to buy a condo. Later, within the neighborhood association a Parents Network was established. Guess who chipped in to raise money to start a Neighborhood Charter School: Jane Fonda, herself. Schools were improved, crime dropped and home prices increased substantially. Many ideas helped start this change — mine was a flashlight. Who would’ve thought that a crazy idea of grabbing a flashlight and working with an established association could have had those results?

A few months ago, while talking with family and friends, my cousin James Amerson mentioned he would like to have an arts festival in Atmore. We agreed. After coming up with a catchy name “ARTMORE,” we reached out to the Chamber, city leaders and local businesses. Everyone was supportive.

It just so happened that one of  James’ clients had been commissioned to create eight bronze busts of tribal leaders by PCI. We reached out to PCI and they became our sponsor.

Long story short — we had 40 artists from around the Southeast, including a glass blower, pottery thrower and a band and food vendor. And the community turned out to join us, making a successful inaugural event.

What impact can we all have on our community? It all starts with an idea. Where’s your flashlight?

Bub Gideons is the advertising consultant for The Atmore Advance.