Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weldon NC Rockfish makes Big Splash on Market Day: Why and How Social Design Works

Rockfish Capital of the World
By Michael Smith
This shot helps to appreciate Rocky's massive size before unveiling against my apt building in the foreground.
Weldon’s Market Day was simply amazing, as Mayor Julia M. Meacham led troops of supporters, city workers, news reporters, commissioners, volunteers, residents and vendors to the opening ceremony of unveiling of Rocky. During “Rocky’s” unveiling, Mayor Meacham said “he’s one of the largest and if not the largest, the most impressive fish sculptures in the nation.”
Mayor Julia M. Meacham & Commissioners

Rocky greets everyone with dignity and grace as they enter downtown Weldon from Highway 158 and even Amtrak passengers traveling north and south. His massive size, undeniably attractive in appearance and lifelike features simply will not allow anyone to miss him. Rocky truly represents and brands Weldon as The Rockfish aka Large mouthed Striped Bass Capital of the World.”
NC Senator Ed Jones (left)
Mayor Julia M. Meacham & News reporter Lance Martin 
I've watched car after car stop or quickly turn around, and people pull out their cameras or cell phones to capture Rocky’s appealing majestic beauty and they stand admiring what he represents to the Weldon community, which I believe will go a long way in building a sustainable economy and move the community forward.

Market Day Vendors
Vendors from Roanoke Rapids, Littleton, Ahoskie, Franklin VA, Warrington, Raleigh and downtown local businesses filled Downtown Washington Ave with enthusiasm, excitement and arts and crafts.

Ms. Nancy Eckert (left Blue coat) Riverside Mill Antique Mall Weldon NC

Sheila Green Creative Affairs 535-4067 Roanoke Rapids
Catering & More Sabrina Webb & Jermane Daley Weldon 252-536-4438 offered visitors free cuisine. Sabrina says, Market Day provides an opportunity to show people that her restaurant offers more."

Jermane Daly Catering & More assistant Weldon NC
Rocquina Vaughan designs Happy Faces by Tudi 862-5435 Ahoskie NC says she's Painting the world one happy facer at a time at Parties & Special Events. She says, "Market Day is an opportunity to draw people out & gives communities a chance to come together."

DIRT Roanoke Rapids NC
Family & twin pups enjoying the festivies

Got it 4 Cheap Darlene & Demba of Warrington NC
Truly satisfied customers!
All the way from Raleigh, Mike's Grilled Foods sets up and says "Market Day is an opportunity to provide free food to the less fortunate and there's nothing like the smell of BBQ in the air to get people to come back to the next market day"

Classic Cars & Hot Rods lined Washington Ave

Classic Car enthusiast got jokes

Creative Affairs Sheila Green shows off handmade mesh wreaths for all occasions from Roanoke Rapids 

"Everyday Expressions" Vendor Debra Williams lives in Weldon & runs her business in Roanoke Rapids  says Market Day "gives people an opportunity to get to know where her shop is located." 

Hugh 71 years old started bee keeping at age 12 & wife Jinny  Franklin VA.  says, "Market Day  is a time to come together & talk up bee keeping. People are not aware that bees endangered of becoming extinct because of pesticides & other problems. So it's becoming more difficult to keep bees alive."
Rocquina C. Vaughan "Face & Body" artist Ahoskie NC  online Website "Happy Faces by Tudi" hosts Parties & Special Events.  252-862-5435

Tudi's Daughter makes it a family business
Tudi's daughter's artwork

Tudi's Mom Trinette Vaughan-Sharpe makes a statement as a poet, spoken word artist & get this, she raps! Serving customers attractive and affordable handcrafted jewelry. From Ahoskie NC 252-332-4844. Trinette also says, Market Days are effective ways for communities to get together and boost the economy at both the local & state levels.
3 Generations of Artists is really a cool way to keep business a family affair. Trinette above, Tudi below & her daughter

Other Vendors
Dangles & Dangles by Ms. Touche Weldon
Fred's Baits Littleton NC says, Market day is a time for festivities & getting together for fun."
Mojo's Funnel Cakes Roanoke Rapids says "Market Days helps Weldon to grow."
New local businesses:

  1. Jerry's Catering & Creative Cuisine 3rd St Weldon
  2. Azia's Beauty Supply Washington Ave Weldon
  3. Ben's Furniture Washington Ave
  4. Catering & More Washington Ave & 1st St Weldon
  5. A New Beginning Thrift & Consignment Washington Ave Weldon
  6. Well Kept Adult Daycare Washington Ave Weldon
  7. Downtown Clearance Center (scratch & dent furniture) Washington Ave Weldon

After 11 months into my project as an Independent Ethnographer and Social Entrepreneur seeking to understand why and how rural cultures “must change” as Mayor Meacham put it during one of my many interviews with her. She says, “We’ll be left behind if we don’t change.”

Weldon has become part of a new social movement that has begun to use social design methods to change their identity by implementing a revitalization plan and community development program in order to build sustainable economy partly based on tourism along with the rest of the world which is undeniably changing before our eyes.

Author John Emerson defines social design as projects that:
  • are affordable and sustainable
  • are made of renewable materials
  • use energy from renewable sources and increase energy efficiency
  • reduce consumption and waste, are reusable or recyclable
  • are produced and developed locally
  • are universally accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and physical conditions
  • are developed at the initiative and with the participation of the communities they serve
  • facilitate mobility, communication, and participation in civic life
  • decentralize political power and facilitate transparency and accountability."
The word social, in this definition of social design is connected with consciousness and responsibility, and does not necessarily refer to the social world. The definition is based on the value judgment that e.g. environmental sustainability and decentralization of political power are goals to be pursued.

"A decentralized system is one which requires multiple parties to make their own independent decisions"

Why is this definition of social design so important? As a result of my field note analysis and multiple interviews with the mayor?

Mayor Meacham is motivated and empowered by her vision. She believes in what she has not seen, that which is in the minds eye or a hidden reality. This is a truly the mark of a social entrepreneur who envisions a reality and uses social design methods and processes in small responsible steps. 

Despite the uncertainties that onlookers may or may not have, the mayor says, “we must move forward” and “build a future for the residents” and that is her vision and mission. Ms. Meacham believes “We are what we do” which promotes the idea that small and easy changes in our everyday lives can lead to significant large scale change.

In other words, the social design process contributes to peoples needs, their well being and not their wants.

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