ADDRESS: Sandy Creek Park
This month's Rabbit Box story showcase, Out on a Limb, took place last night at Sandy Creek Park. The audience was larger than I expected, expanding out of the amphitheater. Guests were advised to bring blankets and warm clothes since the temperature dropped, but people thought to bring other provisions as well, such as food and dogs. The result was a warm, comfortable atmosphere.
The premise of Rabbit Box is simple: tell a true story. Participants recite a 7-8 minute story pertaining to the event's theme (so in this case, the stories were about going out on a limb). Paper isn't involved: you can't read a speech or bring any notes onstage. If you're interested in telling a story for an upcoming event, contact Rabbit Box here.
Seven slated storytellers and one guest (more on that later), took the stage adjacent to a fire pit. Some stories covered relationships, such as Scott Shamp's tale about his grandfather, David Noah's experience on top of the water tower with a girl he had a crush on, and Alex White's hike in the Ocala National Forest with his father. Other stories were about amazing or crazy experiences, such as Jim Ford's first encounter with whales, Brittany Barnes' road kill hunt, Bert Parks' first night in the army, and Grayson Morris' misadventures of young adulthood.
During intermission, the crowd was encouraged to move around, socialize, and roast marshmallows at the fire pit. One of the slotted speakers, Danetta Silmon, was unable to attend, so guests were encouraged to put their names in a box (the Rabbit Box) to be drawn for a "Cracker Jack story." Because Cracker Jack stories are spontaneous, the speaker only has to tell a four-minute story. The drawn speaker, Andy, told us about how he went out on a limb when he got lost in Rome when he was 17.
Most of Rabbit Box's showcases are indoors, at the Melting Point, but I really like that my first experience was an outdoor show. With nice weather and a theme such as "Out on a Limb," it only makes sense that the stories are told among the trees. As it darkened, the atmosphere changed. Such is nature. The campfire and string lights on the stage grew brighter and felt warmer, a crowd of fireflies served as both an audience and a backdrop, and the words mattered more than ever.
On May 14th, the Melting Point will host "Silver Box: Stories from our Elders." Then, on June 11th, Rabbit Box is teaming up with Art Rocks Athens for a special event. Part of me is sad that the next few Rabbit Box events aren't outside or around a fire, but that just means I'll have a new experience to encounter and new stories to hear.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Chicopee Dudley
ADDRESS: East Broad St/Poplar St
Like I mentioned last week, March is creeping upon us and making us want to spend more time outside. Enter the magic of parks - they're free and beautiful, and can occupy you for hours. You can even learn a little if you look carefully.
Dudley Park, an extension of the Oconee Greenway, combines the outdoors with Athens' history, particularly its industrial role. The park is open from sunup to sundown every day. Dog owners and runners are the most frequent visitors. The park has two main entrances. The first is on East Broad street, across from the UGA Chicopee Complex. This entrance has a large parking lot dedicated to visitors.
The second entrance is off Poplar street, behind Mama's Boy. There's an area behind the restaurant fit for picnicking . To get to the rest of the park, just follow the sidewalk to the left and cross the bridge.
Dudley Park's main features are the Oconee River and the creeks branching off it and the large space in the park's center, which is an open field that sits atop a large (though not steep) hill.
I like the open area because I'll sit on the big rocks or the stone wall and read. It's also nice to look around and watch all the people and dogs enjoying the space. And from my research, I've noticed that dogs love the open area too.
At the bottom of the slope, you'll find the Oconee River and a large creek that breaks off to the left. The ground is flat here, so this is a really nice area to walk or run. And in case it snows again, this area is pretty spectacular when it's iced over.
If you keep walking along the creek, you'll come to a bridge that's in front of a large wooden structure. That would be remnants of the railroad that used to run through the area. I would not recommend climbing the railroad beams, but it is cool to hang out under or around them, or to look at them and the small rapids from on the bridge.
This is the same bridge that is accessible from the area behind Mama's Boy. If you're trying to get back to the parking lot on East Broad, follow the asphalt path that's higher on the hill and to the left of the river.
Dudley Park is by no means the only park in Athens, but it is a nice place to enjoy the transient weather and the last bit of the winter sun. You can walk, run, or even just sit and still have an enjoyable afternoon amid remnants of Athens' history.