Thursday, September 6, 2012

Volunteers: Sweetwater v. Chopping Cotton?

 Designer Natalie Chainin

"Chopping cotton" is not a term frequently heard today. Thanks to modern herbicides, farmers no longer have to chop down the weeds in cotton fields, saving time and labor. Yet herbicides are a two-edged sword--they often destroy much more than the intended weeds and cause other environmental problems. That's where organic farming comes in.

Currently there's an organic cotton field in north Alabama, and local designers Natalin Chanin and Billy Reid have requested help in weeding this cotton field. That request resulted in some questions from our readers. Just how did we feel about this? Isn't that similar to the once frequent requests for local volunteers to restore Sweetwater Manison, aka the Weeden Home?

It's not even close. Those who volunteer to help chop cotton for these two designers will be given an exclusive tee-shirt designed by Chanin and an invitation to a season-end party thrown by the two local clothing czars. We consider that pretty good pay for helping with this project, plus we understand several who have already participated have lost weight in the process. 

Those who requested help at Sweetwater were doing so in order to restore a privately owned home, a home that had deteriorated due to neglect from this same owner. There were always questions about those who organized this project and just where the money went. It's our understanding that the committee has now disbanded at the request of the owner, who failed to take in the tremendous sums promised by the committee chairwoman. She also reportedly had concerns over the property being used for private parties. Earlier this year the committee threw a going away party for one of its members; that seems to have been the last straw for owner Susan Leigh Smithson.

On the committee's side, a former member has told us those who paid for needed items out of their own pocket were never reimbursed. That hardly comes as any surprise.

What do we predict for the Weeden Home? Unless Smithson can find a buyer, we see a bleak future for the ante-bellum house that will surely fall into even more disrepair.



Thursday, September 6, 2012
8 p.m.
Shoals Democratic Headquarters
1529 Broadway, Sheffield
(between McDonald's and the Kia Dealership)

Join us in watching President Obama's Acceptance Speech.
Finger foods will be served. The public is invited.
Valuable information and handouts will be available.


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