Campus News

9 Students, 1 Big River

A group of UGA students, faculty and staff departed earlier this summer on a four-day, two-state journey from Columbus to Fort Gaines. The trip kicked off a three-year effort dubbed “The Chattahoochee Summer Studio,” an initiative based out of UGA’s Fanning Institute that aims to improve communities along the Lower Chattahoochee River.

The group’s projects are shown in the exhibition, Project Riverway: 9 Students, 1 Big River, which is on display through Sept. 8 in the Circle Gallery in Caldwell Hall.

The project is part of the Alliance for Quality Growth, a university group designed to increase Georgians’ awareness of efficient land use by pooling experts across campus.

More than 15 people are involved with the Chattahoochee project, including Jennifer Lewis, historic preservation specialist at the Center for Community Design and Preservation, and Danny Bivins and Leigh Askew, both public service assistants in the Fanning Institute.

UGA faculty also assisted in the project, including Pratt Cassity, professor of environmental design, Leara Rhodes, associate professor of journalism, and Alfred Vick, assistant professor of environmental design.

The Chattahoochee studio takes place during the summer semester each year and each session focuses on a different region of the river-this summer, from Columbus to Fort Gaines.

Students who participated in the project for course and internship credit started by generating creative ideas and designs for communities in the region as a whole.

One group conceptualized plans for a regional cotton museum that incorporates locations in Bibb City, Eufaula, Ala., and Fort Gaines.

Other projects included a book promoting nature tourism in the region, plans for a redesign of a now-neglected Native American heritage monument in Fort Mitchell, Ala., and an interactive Web site that allows visitors to the area to create a custom map of attractions suited to their specific interests.

To gather information for their projects, the group spent the trip meeting with residents in Alabama and Georgia and learning about the area’s local heritage and natural resources.

The group hoped to provide that fresh perspective with a charrette-a short, intensive creative design session that generated ideas for a single community-at the end of the summer. The charrette, which focused on Fort Gaines, produced a wide range of sketches, maps and plans for improving the community.

“What we hoped to do is create a greater sense of community pride for what they have-the resources already there,” said Bivins, project coordinator for the AQG.

Students’ products included designs for docks that could boost economic vitality and-because the town is a prime spot for retirees looking to build homes-suggestions for neighborhoods that conserve the area’s environmental assets.

“It’s a whirlwind of activity with a definite end point,” Lewis said of the charette.

“We start out with information coming from lots of different directions, and it comes to one spot, one final presentation.”