The Newtown Oral History Collection and the accompanying photographs are beginning to be posted on the website of the Montgomery County Archives! So far, two of the interviews and more than two-dozen photographs have been made public (and are accessible free of charge). This collection was a project that Foster conducted with his students in early 2019; it was made possible by an education grant from the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, which purchased supplies and rented a space to hold interviews, and was generously supported by County Commissioner Isaiah Sankey, Newtown Reunion organizer Martha Johnson, and other members of the Newtown community.
Foster’s new book Closed Ranks: The Whitehurst Case in Post-Civil Rights Montgomery is available online in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon, Target, Walmart, Books A Million, and Barnes & Noble, from local retailers, or directly from the publisher. The release was held in November 2018 at the Read Herring Bookstore in downtown Montgomery and was covered by the Montgomery Advertiser, WSFA, and The Crime Report. If you missed the release event or others, the bookstore has autographed copies in stock. You can also read the Alabama Writers Forum’s review of the book.
To schedule a signing or book talk, please use the contact form on the About page. While you might think of these as public events that occur in bookstores or on college campuses, Foster will also schedule invitation-only readings and discussions with book clubs, civic organizations, and school groups.
Emily Blejwas’s new book The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods has been released, and the curriculum guide that Foster created for it is available here on Welcome to Eclectic. The book, published by the University of Alabama Press, is available now in hardcover, and access to the curriculum guide is free. To learn more about The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods, visit Emily Blejwas’ website.
The guidelines for the 2019–2020 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum’s annual Literary Contest are now posted. This year’s theme is “Love + Marriage” to honor the couple’s love affair in 1919 and their 1920 wedding in New York. The contest is open to high school students and college undergraduates. Submissions will be accepted from September 1 ’til December 31, 2019. This year’s judges are Kwoya Fagin Maples and Joe Taylor. Please see the guidelines for how to enter.
Foster re-designed and began coordinating the contest in 2018, a year that marked the centennial of Scott and Zelda meeting in Montgomery. Last year’s theme was “What’s Old Is New,” giving a nod to the daring and innovative spirit of Scott’s and Zelda’s artistic and literary work. The winners were notified in March 2019, and their winning works are being published on the Fitzgerald Museum’s website.
Last summer, Foster participated in Arizona State University’s National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy as part of a “teacher team” from Montgomery. The week-long workshop was held in Missoula, Montana and centered on training teachers how to evaluate their schools’ needs and potential for improved sustainability and how to implement positive solutions. In using what he learned in the academy, Foster is expanding the school garden extracurricular into a student-driven sustainability committee that will move the whole school into more sustainable practices. (Thank you to the Montgomery Advertiser for running a nice article on it!)
Having been continuously published since 2010, Foster’s blog Pack Mule for the New School was re-named Welcome to Eclectic in June 2018. The focus of the blog remains the same, and no previous posts have been removed. The name was changed to more accurately describe writing that is “Deep Southern, Diversified & Re-Imagined.”
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Beginning in October 2018, Welcome to Eclectic is also featuring a new weekly column called “Dirty Boots: A Column of Critical Thinking, Border Crossing, and Noblesse Oblige,” which is published on Tuesday afternoons. The column offers a Deep Southern, Generation X perspective on life in the 21st century, whose daily (and political) realities regularly present new quandaries that are often born out of the old quandaries. Whether the issue is education or race or food or economics, weekly posts address the possibilities for change in a region with an earned reputation for resisting it.
Any of Foster’s books, including I Just Make People Up about artist Clark Walker and the anthology Children of the Changing South, are available on Amazon and through other national retailers. For a complete listing of Foster’s books, visit his Author Central page on Amazon or his page on GoodReads.
To learn more, visit the About page.
*The photograph of Foster browsing books, which appears in the header of the website, was taken by artist Tommye Scanlin in the library at the Lillian E. Smith Center in the summer of 2010.