This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday, January 31st 2015, Mobile Studio hosted a Local Foods, Local Places grant kick-off meeting and winter picnic at the Macon County Food Pantry, in partnership with Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven, the Macon County Minister’s Council, Tuskegee Housing Authority, Tusk-Mac Community Development Corporation, and the Carver Integrative Sustainability Center. The meeting brought together a diverse group of community members already engaged in work related to food security and health in the region. Strengthening the capacity of the food pantry to feed people and transform lives, the Made in Macon, Homegrown in Tuskegee Proposal invests in the food pantry as a critical food hub. Mobile Studio’s proposal includes a Co-Op Kitchen & Design Lab, Community Garden & Teaching and Learning Workshops, and Mobile Market & Food Truck. Civic Leaders such as SEED (Students for Education and Economic Development), TULIP, (Tuskegee Unified Leadership and Innovation Program), and Farmscape Solutions underscored the importance of these initiatives to create sustainable, green, and creative economic development opportunities.

Preparation for the Winter Picnic began Wednesday morning at the Macon County Farmers Market in beautiful downtown Tuskegee. A day of visiting local farms across Macon yielded the bounty and inspiration for the meal. Mobile Studio served up a vegetarian and meaty version of West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup and Cornbread Cornucopia inspired by Dr. George Washington Carver. The meal featured produce from across the county including cabbage, kale, collard greens, and sweet potatoes from Hooks Produce in Shorter, pecans and yogurt from Pecan Point Farm near Creek Stand, hibiscus, tumeric, ginger and honey for Sunbright Organic’s Happy Heart Tea, as well as leeks, green onion and turnips from their hoop houses. With the help of our most amazing studio partners, Gabriella Arevalo and Rachel McGraw, we fed about 65 people throughout the deliciously sunny afternoon. A truly amazing convergence took place around this comprehensive food systems initiative and savory winter meal, as film makers and musicians from Chicago shared stories with blueberry goddesses and snack shack sweeties from Tuskegee, well-water drinkers traded tales with the Vietnamese spring roll artist, and the radical justice activists and Auburn’s philanthropists brainstormed the future.

For More Information on the Local Foods Local Places Grant and the community partners and farmers mentioned above, please see:



Mobile Studio’s proposal “Made in Macon, Homegrown in Tuskegee,” just won a technical assistance grant called Local Foods, Local Places from the White House Rural Council. The collaborative project will work with local partners of the Macon County Food Pantry to create a community kitchen & garden business incubator, and local fresh food truck system. Tuskegee was one of twenty-six communities selected to participate in the Local Foods, Local Places Initiative.

Local Foods, Local Places is a Federal Creative Economic Development Program funded jointly by the EPA, the USDA, The DOT, CDC, ARC and DRA. “Made in Macon, Homegrown in Tuskegee” uses the Mobile Studio methodology to foster meaningful dialogue and advance design solutions to develop an implementable plan for promoting local foods, enhancing the downtown Farmers Market and main streets, and extending access to healthy foods through civic infrastructure in Tuskegee, Alabama and the surrounding region.

Mobile Studio is honored and delighted to partner with Dr. Raymon Shange at Tuskegee University Carver Integrative Sustainability Center and Tony Haygood with the Tuskegee-Macon Community Development Corporation. Shange brings an expertise in sustainable soil and water systems, and directs student outreach organizations focused on food security and community gardens. Haygood and the CDC work with local contractors and businesses to connect professionals, students, and community members through on-the-ground project development and educational workshops. Please contact us if you are interested in being a part of this unique entrepreneurial collaboration focused on community food health and celebration.

Macon a Movable Feast: A Taste of the Ridge


The Ridge Interpretive Center is on the Old Federal Road in Warrior Stand, Alabama. It is a place of its people and its people are of the place. Since before the founding of the State of Alabama, the tiny community on Macon County Road 10 in the far south of the county has held onto its unique identity with pride and dignity. Beautiful rolling woodlands with abundant springs, Warrior Stand and its companion communities of Creek Stand and Boromville have seen the winds of history change from Creek (Muskgogean) to Federal encroachment for the benefit of white planters to some of the first black land owning farmers in the nation.DSC_0151

There is depth of conviction in Warrior Stand; conversation is serious and inclusive, gentle and revolutionary, rooted in the past and reaching for the future.

On September 20, 2013, Mobile Studio joined The Ridge Interpretive Center and about 50 of South Macon County’s citizens to celebrate the great food traditions of the area. With a vision of health and longevity, traditional recipes and new culinary creations were collaboratively prepared and consumed! The stories told and heard transferred the wealth of collective knowledge of two centuries of American life between generations.

“A Seed and the Sun are Powerful Things”—Willie Pace DSC_0138

Celebrating Local Foodways in Macon County: Fall Field Days

Mobile Studio is collaborating with Auburn University’s College of Agriculture and partners throughout Macon County to study and advance food health and security through new infrastructure and celebration.

The first of four Mobile Studio field days this fall was at Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven. In addition to drawing, cooking veggie chili gumbo, and discussing favorite recipes for the upcoming cookbook, we made fresh juice together and planted the garden. A wonderful Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned for the next event at The Ridge Interpretive Center on Septmember 21st in beautiful Warrior Stand, Alabama.

Creek Stand: exploring a cultural crossroads


Big Warrior looked out upon an uncertain world from this overlook along the Federal Road in Creek Stand, Alabama in the spring of 1811, the vast Halawakee wetland, teaming with fish and otter and beaver and white tail deer, spreading below his feet represented only a fraction of the good and nurturing land under his family’s care.  As a principle Chief of Tukabatchee town on the mighty and fertile Tallapoosa river at the confluence of the the Uphapee Creek watershed, Big Warrior had to choose wisely the course he would advocate on behalf of his family and kin in the Upper Creek Towns in their emerging relationship with the United States Government. DSC_0239There was this road he was standing on to consider carefully. The Federal Road, built so that the Americans could deliver their war correspondence from their capital in Washington City (later D.C.) to the hotly contested international ports of trade of Mobile and New Orleans on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. By a treaty with the Americans, Big Warrior’s daughter and her husband ran an active and, by accounts and archeological evidence, successful trading and lodging business here, giving this modern Alabama town its name, Creek Stand. Quite literally a place to stand and stretch one’s legs and back after a day’s brutal and exhausting travel on the poorly constructed road through the wilderness of the Creek Nation.


Galena, the ore of lead, from southern Illinois is mounted into the posts that protect the historic marker in front of the Creek Stand A.M.E. Zion Church. Big Warrior may have sent the Galena to his daughter and son-in-law at Creek Stand to smelt into lead for bullets, bullets for sale or bullets to hide, for a ban on the amount of arms a Native American could posses in his own nation was coming in the next few years; a directive from the land hungry speculators from Tennessee and Georgia that would petition the U.S. government for the right to deprive Big Warrior’s people of their land. Maybe Big Warrior’s friend in the Pan-Indian resistance, the Shawnee Holy Man, Techumsah had shared the Galena traders routes with Big Warrior and his family. With bullets from Illinois, deer and beaver skins to London, Big Warrior’s world was epic in scope and ultimately tragic in reality. By 1835, under the insatiable leadership of greed embodied by then Major General Andrew Jackson, Big Warrior’s landscape was no more. The land around Creek Stand was sold sight-un-seen by land speculators from Georgia to eager families of white folks ready to populate the landscape with cotton rows and slave shacks. And so they did with less or more success; an older Alabamian once said, “Cotton in Alabama in the first half of the 1800’s was just like the Cocaine boom in Columbia in the 1980’s, it was just a few families willing to do whatever it took to make all the cash they could”.  Whichever lens one chooses to look at the period of transition from Creek Nation to white owned, slave produced cotton to post Civil War small planters, it should be considered that it all happened in a mere 54 years. The Federal Road was built in 1811 and the American Civil war ended in 1865. So what now?
The Bobcat Flats juke joint that probably ran from the 1970’s to the 1990’s on the remnant of the Old Federal Road is just a pile of rotting lumber and a brick foundation in the woods, probably a good thing, serious drug trafficking has pretty much made juke joints too dangerous to operate in the South anymore. Big land owners have several large hunting clubs in Creek Stand, as if the white tailed deer that fed and enriched Big Warrior and his people just keep getting fatter and bigger on the abundant acorns and cover of the Halawakee Swamp. There was a food CO-OP that tried to grow a good crop of sweet potatoes to give away to folks on a limited budget, but the deer ate them up. Things are old and delicate and somehow wounded in Creek Stand. There isn’t a store to buy anything. Everyone who needs to go do something other than hunt or go to church goes up to Tuskeegee or even further, all the way up highway 29, up to the Walmart in Auburn.

But Creek Stand whispers its story into the ears of sleeping descendents  far away from the A.M.E. Zion Church, where a slave named Jalani, later Steve Pace, who was kidnapped in Africa and brought to Creek Stand, managed to keep the lock that shackled him and passed it down to all the Paces that followed him into the cemetery at Creek Stand…Dr. Lorenzo Pace heard Jalani from his resting place in Creek Stand, he heard his great-great Grandfather tell him the story of the lock, and Dr. Pace, who is an artist, told everybody else, especially children, in his book for children called Jalani and the Lock. DSC_0233

Shari Williams, heard her grandmother’s voice in Akron Ohio telling her about the wonderful sense of peace that came over one in Creek Stand, how you could really listen to the land and the land speaks. Shari is a descendent of Jalani as well, and when she finally came to visit the Creek Stand of her grandmother as a grown woman, she knew she had come home. She now is the director of the Ridge Interpretive Center at Creek Stand, Alabama; finding out more, listening more closely, and telling more people about the land that sings so quietly but so persistantly.