• 68°

The Social Exchange: Another Sumter County treasure

BY:  Tracy K. Hall

It was another perfect Americus evening. Fine company made up of all kinds of our neighbors, little white lights, a celebration of arts, great food, live original music and a taste of optimism were all on display to kick off a Halloween weekend.  The Social Exchange held their “Horrors of Addiction” event this past Friday on Finn Street. You might have heard about The Social Exchange lately as they are stirring a lot of conversation. They have a grand vision for Americus and Sumter County. They are busy about the work of creating a community of recovery and they are using creativity and connection to facilitate this healing. While they are directly working with those who have a history of, or are in active substance addiction, they are not limiting their transformative work to the recovery community. They are inviting folks of all walks into their vision. There is a place for every type of personality. There is a home for every type of strength. There is healing for every type of hurt. Their mission is to bring about the well-being of people, but it’s the way they are doing it that brings healing and excitement for the whole community.

The Social Exchange is determined that Sumter County, Americus in particular, will have a designated arts district. Art districts are not a new idea, and they have enriched many a city through their offerings. Elaina Lockhart, one of the staff of The Social Exchange has spent time in Miami and speaks highly of the benefits of having such an area. Carl Reid, III, the COO of The Social Exchange, emphasizes the unity an arts district can bring. “We want to get folks involved in the city. We are losing our young population since 2010 and we want to keep those good minds here.” Carl sees the arts district as another attraction to keep our citizens engaged in our community.

Arts and community are a powerful tool in recovery. In recovery circles, you will often hear, “the opposite of addiction is connection.” The Social Exchange seems to inherently understand this concept, and they invite Sumter County to connect for our health personally and for our health as a village. Unity is a huge concept for the initiative, and Elaina, Carl and Summer Murray are excellent in making sure the table is large enough for folks from all walks of life to enjoy the feast. This past Friday was a great example of our diversity coming together to enjoy each other. There were neighbors of all races, ages young to old, different political views, different talents and different strengths represented. Not all at the table are in recovery but it is fair to say we found a place to exhale and enjoy an evening together as neighbors, so for a while we were all enjoying a recovery. One of the artists and neighbors present was Robin

Transmissions by Robin Humphrey

Robin Humphreys, Artist

Humphreys. She is an artist who seems to understand the dynamics of what it is like to experience recovery. The work she submitted to the show was entitled, Transmission. Through a burlap and wool medium, she created thousands of little glass nails as well as small, rusted nails and pierced it through the burlap/wool. When viewed from the back, you can see the light coming through and reflecting off the glass, which makes her piece an exceptional experience whether viewed from the front or the back. It is not lost on her that recovery has a lot in common with being pierced yet finding a way to shine through those places where we are pierced. The art wasn’t just limited to those who have practiced it for years. A first timer had also submitted a painting. She was able to tell her story through presenting a path with a tornado threating on one side, and a tree offering solace on another. The art, as good art does, has a way of putting into reality what can be difficult to conceptualize.

The Social Exchange is in itself a work of art. It is putting into reality what can be difficult for us to conceptualize. Elaina, Carl and Summer are putting the idea of unity into concrete terms. They are using their strengths to make Sumter County stronger by uniting us by our humanity. They are saving you a place at the table, please know your invitation is always standing.