Dr. Julia Brock seeks to tell stories of the past in a new way in order to bring history to a broader audience. Through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Our Town Program,” Dr. Brock will explore Tuscaloosa history in new and exciting ways.
The Our Town Program is a national creative placemaking grant program that supports projects combining art and culture to strengthen communities and advance social outcomes. The program functions to strengthen not only local communities but also our nation as a whole. As one of just 63 awardees from across the country, Dr. Brock and her project partners have created Flow Tuscaloosa, an initiative that arose from the fascinating story of Tuscaloosa’s Hurricane Creek.
Hurricane Creek has a complicated history: from precontact peoples and the historic Choctaw and Muscogee Creek Nations, to white settlers who used enslaved workers to mine the surrounds for coal, to the “New South” industries that filled the creek with toxic chemicals and industrial waste. The creek found new life in the 1990s, when local activists fought to end its pollution and resuscitate its ecosystem.
Flow Tuscaloosa aims to use this story of human agency to inspire creativity and environmental consciousness in the Tuscaloosa area on multiple fronts, such as hosting community dialogue-and-creation workshops that culminate in a lantern parade planned for May 2022, and art exhibitions at the Mildred Warner Westervelt Transportation Museum, the Paul R. Jones Museum, and The University of Alabama Gallery at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center.