Huge tip of the hat to this collaboration between Rick Leith at Howard Community College and Barbara Kellner and the Columbia Archives. Oh, and a shoutout to Blair Ames for writing about it.
For the past four years, Leith has had students in his English 121, college composition, class work on a semester-long project surrounding Merriweather that culminates with students submitting audio and written history documents to the Columbia Archives.
This is my idea of what "Excite Columbia" could be all about. Leith is connecting with young people, engaging them through a topic that is meaningful to them, and asking them to make a contribution to their community through interviews and research. And the end result is that both they and the community are better for it. Everybody wins.
"My goal is to collaborate with the community in a real, meaningful way, so that the students can understand that they are a member of a community and that they need to be civically engaged in the community," Leith said.
I've written about how Michael McCall and Michael Hobson provided a connecting point through middle school students' love of Minecraft in order to explore the development of the Symphony Woods/Inner Arbor plan. What this project and the HCC project have in common is that they use an active mode of learning rather than a passive one. Both require participants to add something of themselves to make the experience a success.
Isn't that what Columbia is all about?
During the last few days I have seen folks reminisce on Facebook about their memories of the Columbia Exhibit Center. As one man recalled.
1967, my first exposure to the Columbia concept, billed as the next America. I bought into that concept lock, stock, and barrel.
But the visit to the Exhibit Center was only meant to be a first step. The most important thing happened when you walked out the door and became a part of the New Amercan City. Columbia wasn't Columbia until you put yourself into it. So every time I see a partnership like this, I smile.
What can I say? It's, well, exciting.