Welcome back, bloggers! This week, I want to introduce you to something that I am honored to be participating with called the Make Cycle (CLMOOC). This is a dedicated program to encourage other around the country to expand upon their idea of education, classrooms, and what we consider public spaces. This is the last week, or “cycle”, and it is fantastic to be involved in the wrap up because we are encouraging you to get out of the door and explore all of these wonderful ideas that have been discussed the last five weeks! So, let’s Geo Locate our Spaces!
I am currently sitting inside the Visitor Center at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. We are experiencing (well, for the last week and a half experiencing…) a heat advisory, where our heat index is reaching 110 degrees! It’s hot out there! But, I still encourage everyone to get outdoors. I led the 9am tour this morning, and we first started here at the visitor center. We have a great room with large windows to give an excellent view of the mobile station and the side of the school in an air-conditioned room before we head outdoors. It’s encouraging to not only the visitors on the tour, but who honestly wants to listen to an out of breath , sweaty tour guide? I sure don’t (and I don’t want to be one!) But, inevitably, we are going to head outdoors.
There are three wonderful stop on our educational tour. The first is the mobile station, which serves historically as a reminder of how gas stations looked back in 1957, but more importantly tells the story of the media. Next is the school itself, and today we were luckily able to get into the school. We are not always able to enter this school since it is still a functioning high school, but with the blessings of their principal (Mrs. Rousseau), we are able to show a limited number of visitors a couple times a day when the school is open and available for business. Next, we head to the memorial garden, a fantastic place for someone to have a quiet reflection, see pictures from the 1957 school year and onward, and wrap up after an hour long tour.
I find the most fascinating place to be is the mobile station. It tells not only the story of the media, but the Little Rock Nine, school desegregation, and of course the history of gas stations. It’s also not a bad place to see how much gas was in 1957! (22 cents, btw!) I think that the most important part of the CLMOOC and this weeks last cycle, is to encourage everyone to not only get outdoors, but find out the historical, cultural and your own personal meaning behind a site. It may just look like a gas station, but it has a large and diverse history. We don’t even go inside the gas station, and I can tell you tons of fun and interesting facts that eventually lead back to the story of this Mobil gas station. How wonderful is that? And, to tie it in with public spaces, it is located on Daisy Gatson Bates Drive in the urban area of Little Rock, Arkansas. We don’t have to lead you to a large museum, or even the downtown district. Right here, in the middle of a neighborhood, is a fantastic site to explore, educate and enjoy. (FOR FREE!)
There are so many places around the state of Arkansas that one can enjoy. From Mount Magazine, to the Delta, one can get a world view unlike any other. Arkansas has a fascinating history, and one that is not always what it seems at first glance. I encourage anyone reading this blog to go explore a new area in you town. Who knows, maybe it is the most fascinating piece of history or cultural significance to date that you discover. But, you won’t know until you put on those hiking shoes, pack some water and GET OUT THE DOOR!
Have fun exploring, bloggers! Until next time…
I find it interesting how the gas station becomes a historical marker, and I hadn’t really thought of gas stations as historical indicators on the level you describe. Thanks for writing and posting and engaging the CLMOOC and others this week.
I posted this to the Google Plus space: https://plus.google.com/communities/111619469354411254407
This post helps us to look at familiar spots in new ways.