Lillian Rouse – Project Reflection

Wow, this semester has been complicated. From the very beginning when Kendall and I logged in on the first day, driving to the hospital, I knew this would be an interesting semester. It did not disappoint.

Over the course of this COPLAC class, I learned so much. Documenting the non-discrimination ordinance has been a relief from other classwork, and allowed me to channel my interests in research and advocacy all into one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through City Council documents day in and day out, I felt more connected to my community than I have ever felt before. Reading the thoughts and opinions of individuals within our community, finding new documents, scribbling down dates and times and locations, all of it was so fulfilling and interesting. It was like striking gold when I would find an opinion that I hadn’t read before, or an article that was more detailed than the last.

The most challenging part of this project was coming out of my shell. I have always been a shy individual (although it may not seem like it), and interviewing people, even e-mailing community members and requesting their thoughts, was a complicated and often anxiety inducing process. Now that it is done, I look back grateful that I chose to send those e-mails, speak with Dr. Eckelman and record it, and research everything until there was nothing left to research.

The Montevallo community deserves the explanation of what went on during those two years, and to compile all of that information into an easily readable and easily comprehensible format was more so an honor to my community than to myself. I hope that people within the Montevallo City Council and community can look at this project and benefit from the explanation we’ve provided, and maybe even learn something new themselves.

I am really proud of the way the website turned out, both aesthetically and content wise. I will not forget Dr. Welch’s comment, “More rainbows! We want to see more rainbows!” I tried to make it happen, I hope there are enough rainbows! Designing the logo for the website with Kendall was fun, and helped us to calm our nerves regarding this project in it’s initial stages. Once the research began, compiling it all within PaperPile and Google Docs was immensely beneficial for quick reference. When we became confused about what the narrative would look like, we drew it out on a white board.

We worked long hours on this project, not only compiling information, but mulling over the website tweaking little details. There are things I would have changed, but as the website stands now, I think it does great justice to the conflict and subsequent resolution in Montevallo, Alabama.

It has been a difficult semester, no doubt. I have faced some scary health problems, both at the beginning of the semester and towards the end, and both Kendall and I lost our grandfathers two days apart. But I am incredibly proud of the website we created, the narrative we wrote, and the presentation that we gave, even through all those difficulties. I look forward to showing the website to anyone and everyone who will look at it. I thank all of my fellow classmates for their diligence and kindness, and Dr. Wallace & Dr. Welch for being incredible professors.

Thank you all for a wonderful semester, and for being a part of this experience with me. I have enjoyed it thoroughly and will miss the challenges it presented. I feel like it has enhanced my education, and given me something to show people that I am capable of research and execution of projects. I hope we can all keep in touch!

Good luck if you still have finals, and hope you all have a wonderful summer

Lillian Rouse

Almost complete!

Hey everybody! Hope you all are having an alright time in these last few weeks of class. I went through this afternoon and figured out what still needs to be completed as far as polishing and editing for the Progress & Resistance website. So, here’s what I have!

  1. Review Mellon Grant requirements for homepage acknowledgement/look back at Leah’s email with graphic
  2. Create citation page & go through and ensure citations are made for each individual source. Make these abundantly clear.
  3. Remove all links from HTML format and reformat once setting for ‘open in new tab’ is on. 
  4. Standardize LGBTQIA+ acronym across website
  5. Remove links from HTML & reformat with shortened hyperlinks
  6. Create & write takeaways page 
  7. Reformat sidebar design with “Creation”, “Community Discussion” and “Passage of the NDO” as narrative road markers
  8. Include an About page on the menu
  9. Review notes from Dr. Wallace’s email to go over smaller changes

I am really proud of the website and can’t wait to make it look as good as possible. I’ll be spending tonight and tomorrow working on it heavily.

Best of luck to everyone! – Lillian

Almost Complete? Here’s what still needs to be done.

After an incredibly long night on Monday night and Tuesday night, I’m hoping to get the narrative of the non-discrimination ordinance finished, edited, and well polished (and cited!) by about 8-9 p.m. tonight.

I will say, this has been a challenge. I haven’t ever done a project like this before, and I feel like it has taught me the value of research organization (I will know better next time, I guess!).

While we did not accomplish everything we had first wanted to accomplish, I still feel like I am putting out my best work and will be proud of the final product. Things I still need to complete are the final page of the narrative, citations (so many citations!), scanning and sending in interview consent forms, editing for clarity, and making sure the website runs how I planned (it is so far, which is such a joy).

There are two interviews (transcripts only) which need to be uploaded, and while I am disappointed that we were unable to interview some of the important community members involved in this process, I still feel like the individuals who I was able to interview are diverse in their roles in the community.

Finishing touches are the thing I am most nervous about, I just want it to look as professional/well-done as possible. So, I will be reading, reading, and re-reading! I’m excited to see everyone’s work tomorrow.

Best of luck to everyone and hope your projects are going well! – Lillian

Second Interview Completed, Drafting NDO Conflict/Resolution Page

I began working earlier in the week to schedule an interview with a member of the MAP (Montevallo Acceptance Project) steering committee. Ms. Elaine Stephens, a notable member of the committee, was in contact with me and offered to do an e-mail interview. I sent her the questions we created and she was prompt in answering them. Since I am currently off campus for Spring Break, I will have to print and sign consent forms once I am back on campus. Thankfully she was able to sign and email her scanned consent form back to me along with her interview answers.

Today, I have been reviewing the documents I originally collected regarding the NDO. This includes mostly City Council meeting documents/minutes. Most of them are incredibly descriptive, and will make up the majority of the content on the page for the Conflict/Resolution. They detail dates of forums, panels, and comments made by constituents at City Council meetings, which allow for a better understanding of how this all came together.

I am hoping to have a complete posted draft of the page by later this evening, posted to the Progress & Resistance website under a new page. I feel confident that the chronological order of events will allow readers to understand the conflict from beginning to end. I am still searching for more information during 2017, as the majority of the conflict/resolution played out quickly in 2018, even though the initial NDO was proposed to City Council in 2016.

As for interviews, the only two interviews I have on hand now are Dr. Eckelman and Ms. Stephens’. We will have to reformat the interview tab, considering we do not have any opposition opinion as of now, and I don’t expect that we will receive any. We will be sure to note information which I found within the City Council documents.

I am working on interviewing Erin Green, a peer from the University who serves as the President of Spectrum (the University of Montevallo’s LGBTQ+ group). I believe his input will give a larger picture of the impact this NDO had upon the University student life.

I am so far pleased with the information I have been able to collect and will continue drafting throughout the day today, and tomorrow.

My only question for this week is this: If names are located within the (public) City Council documents, is it still okay for us to include these in the documents we post to the website? I obviously don’t want to target anyone in particular, but for instance, the names of City Council members in opposition alongside their comments in the public minutes records?

Hope everyone is having a good Spring Break (even though I know some of y’all have already had yours, hopefully it’s been a decent week for everybody!)

First Interview Completed

Kendall & I did our first interview with one of our professors, Dr. Eckelman, on Friday, March 14th, 2019. We found that some of the questions are a bit repetitive, but I think they serve their purpose in digging deeply into individual thoughts and opinions regarding the non-discrimination ordinance. Editing the audio was easy, there was only one portion of the audio which we redacted, and the cut is clear but not distracting.

Audio recording was done using a Tascam DR-05. The interview wound up being exactly 14 minutes after editing, which I felt was an incredibly reasonable amount of time for an individual to listen if they were interested. Editing was done on Audacity. Typing the transcript of the interview only took about 45 minutes, and the transcript does include some notes in brackets which allow for a reader who is not from Montevallo to better understand some of the language used by Dr. Eckelman. The only con about the audio recording is that it picked up every little bit of noise, and since this interview was done in an office adjacent to an elevator, at times you can hear the elevator moving in the background. I didn’t personally find it difficult to listen to, and not obnoxiously loud, but Dr. Eckelman does project her voice to allow for the audio to be as clear as possible, which was very helpful.

Dr. Eckelman also gave us some further resources for opposing opinions to the non-discrimination ordinance. She mentioned post-recording that she had taken pages of notes during the opposition panel (mentioned in the interview). We asked if she felt comfortable sharing them with us, at least to give us some context on what exactly happened (neither Kendall nor I were in attendance of the panel). She said she would look for the notes, but if not, she gave us some information on who to speak to otherwise. She did mention that many of the opposition panelists were from our of town or even out of state, making their opinions less salient in the context of the city of Montevallo’s cultural atmosphere. Regardless, we are still digging for further information regarding the opposition. It’s important to us that we present this in a more level-handed way.

Since Dr. Eckelman is a professor who both Kendall and I have a previous rapport with, she was easy to talk to and made the interview incredibly easy. This was such good practice for interviews with officials which we have not met before, especially in my case, since I’m typically incredibly shy. Pro-tip for interviews: talk to someone you’re candidly comfortable with before speaking to someone you aren’t! Everyone in Montevallo is very inviting and kind, so I don’t think we’ll run into many issues, especially since the questions are open ended and allow for endorsement or opposition.

The only thing which we were unsure of is if we needed a signed consent form from interviewees before posting their interviews online? Dr. Eckelman gave us express consent to use audio and transcript, and we do have documentation through messages with her, and we can always ask for her signature on a printed document as needed. This may have already been covered, but I don’t remember.

Again, this interview process so far has been incredibly positive and I’m glad to be gaining the experience. Dr. Eckelman hit on many of the points which we are interested in taking on in our project, and reinforced many of the ideas which we had discussed in putting together the narrative form of this conflict.

Overall, off to a great start on the most intimidating part of this project (interviews), in my opinion. Hope everyone is having a great weekend and will see everyone in class on Thursday! – Lillian

Progress and Resistance: Conflict on LGBTQIA+ Rights in a Small, Southern Town

Our purpose in analyzing the passage of the Montevallo Non-Discrimination Ordinance, an amendment to Article IV of Chapter 16 of Montevallo Municipal Code, is to examine the conflict which arose from the conception and inception of the amendment. By understanding the conflict regarding the Montevallo Non-Discrimination Ordinance, which expanded recognized minority groups protected against discrimination within the city of Montevallo, we can begin to understand the conflicts which can arise due to differences in belief and being within the small towns of Alabama.

In our unique community in the ‘Deep South’, establishing the rights of those within the LGBTQIA+ community was paramount. The city of Montevallo residents’ conflict and subsequent resolution could provide a striking example of the ability of ‘opposing’ groups to compromise and overcome differences for the sake of preserving the social culture of a community. Between the summer of 2016 and the spring of 2018, several community forums, panels, and discussions were held. These were highly facilitated and often took place in communal areas, such as the community library and campus buildings. During deliberation among members of our community, which at times was relatively heated, the non-discrimination ordinance, or NDO, became a point of contention in our very small town. Through this project, we hope to provide this real-life example as a blueprint to other small cities across the United States in their quests to make their communities more accepting and welcoming to people of all kinds.

On April 23rd, 2018, the amendment to Article IV of Chapter 16 of the City of Montevallo’s Municipal Code was approved in a 4-2 vote (Shelby County Reporter). After a two year struggle between progressive LGBTQIA+ groups and members of the community against more conservative and religious members of the community, the NDO became the second of it’s kind, an amendment to protect the rights of individuals regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in the state of Alabama. The only other city which already had a non-discrimination ordinance enacted was Birmingham, Alabama, with a staggering population of roughly 210,000 citizens. Meanwhile, Montevallo hosts roughly 6,500 citizens by comparison (U.S. Census Bureau).

The non-discrimination ordinance was first brought to the Montevallo City Council in early May of 2016 by an organization called Montevallo Acceptance Project, or MAP (Shelby County Reporter). We have reached out to this organization and have come into contact with a member of their steering committee who was directly involved in the creation of the NDO. The importance of this non-discrimination ordinance is to ensure and expand on the rights of those who have historically been disenfranchised. Montevallo is home to a diverse population that includes many members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Without the non-discrimination ordinance, the possibility of denial of certain rights to members of the LGBTQIA+ community still lingered.  Establishing a non-discrimination ordinance with clear language and context was an important step in securing the safety and well being of LGBTQIA+ individuals in Montevallo.

While Montevallo is overall an accepting community, despite being in a highly conservative red state, the conflict over the non-discrimination ordinance and its existence demonstrates that even in the most liberal areas, there is resistance to change. The need for this particular analysis is not only to tell the story of Montevallo and uphold its reputation for being a welcoming and diverse town, but to possibly influence a chain reaction of assisting those who need these protections the most in communities beyond ours. Many of the people who participated and fought to have this non-discrimination ordinance established grew influential as the discussions continued. We believe that our analysis and project will show a valuable example for small communities who desire a positive change through persistent and effective rhetoric.

For the design of our website, first, we will incorporate a single page dedicated to the unique history of Montevallo. Since Montevallo has a rich and lengthy history, we want to showcase it’s evolution throughout time to allow people who are unfamiliar with this area to truly understand the eccentric culture surrounding it. On this same page, we will create a Timeline by KnightLab so that the viewer can see photos and text with historical information which we feel is pertinent to understanding the history of Montevallo. We will upload photos of the town, and possibly a Google My Maps to allow for navigation and a better understanding of the layout of the town. The size of Montevallo is an important component in understanding the way in which this non-discrimination ordinance was truly a community effort and a grassroots movement.

Secondly, we have reached out to interview a variety of community members, and will establish a single page structured for ease of use to our audience. These interviews will serve as both profiles of the individuals and their importance to our city, as well as provide valuable information about their participation and role in the creation, passage, or dissent of the non-discrimination ordinance. We hope these interviews will set the stage for our audience’s understanding of the necessity of a non-discrimination ordinance in Montevallo. Depending on the consent given by community members and officials, we may incorporate video and/or audio to make our interviews more concise and accessible.

Thirdly, we will incorporate a page dedicated to PDF access of the multiple versions of the non-discrimination ordinance, alongside explanations for how and why each draft was changed, and the important role that language played in the creation and conflict surrounding the final document. We hope to make these PDFs accessible to people with different needs through some technological integration which can make them easy to process through a screen reader. Explanations of the language will hopefully be influenced by our interviews with MAP (Montevallo Acceptance Project) members and their understanding of the language and the inherent problems which existed in multiple drafts. Alongside these PDF documents, we have reached out to City Hall in hopes of access to audio files or videos taken during City Hall meetings or other meetings where the ordinance was discussed. We have reached out to our school newspaper, The Alabamian, for information about relevant photographs which would enhance the experience for the audience.

Lastly, we will provide context for our audience on the resolution of the non-discrimination order. This is incredibly important to the story telling fashion in which we are hoping to present our project. Surely questions will arise among our audience as to whether the non-discrimination ordinance has made a significant or latent impact on our community. We hope to illustrate the importance of integrating minority members of our community into a social safety net which many of us had no idea we were privileged to, possibly through further interviews/follow-ups with our interviewees. With this, we will find ways to conclude this story in a meaningful and impactful manner, to leave our audience possibly with a call-to-action for change in many towns across the United States. The conclusion and resolution will be in their own page, allowing for users to click through from one section to the next and follow the story seamlessly.

Sources: https://www.shelbycountyreporter.com/2018/04/24/montevallo-passes-non-discrimination-ordinance/

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/birminghamcityalabama/IPE120217

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/montevallocityalabama


Rough Draft of NDO Timeline

Hey everyone! This is my incredibly rough draft of the NDO timeline, there’s more to add, obviously, but here’s what I have for now. I’m having a little difficulty with this, but I think I will figure it out once I tweak it a little bit more. For instance, the totally blank white slide before my other two slides? And the fact that they’re stacked directly together?

Anyways, I also tried to add citations to this. I will list them below because I want to be double sure the credit is out there to our wonderful journalists from our school newspaper, the Alabamian. I personally think this timeline tool will be very useful in demonstrating the amount of time that passed, how the conflict looked throughout time, and discourse which happened during that time.

Citations for sources used in my timeline are below!

Haas, Jamie, and Geordie Kennedy. "Montevallo Inclusivity Forum Prompts Community Discussion." The Alabamian, 6 Oct. 2017, http://www.thealabamian.com/montevallo-inclusivity-forum-prompts-community-discussion/. Accessed 4 Feb. 2019.


Haas, Jamie, and Geordie Kennedy. "Montevallo Divided over NDO." The Alabamian, 26 Jan. 2018, www.thealabamian.com/montevallo-divided-over-ndo/. Accessed 4 Feb. 2019.

Ideas for Project Proposal

During class today [01/24/2019] I discussed two separate ideas for mine and Kendall’s project. These included the city of Montevallo’s recently passed Non-Discrimination Ordinance as well as the lynching memorial dedication. Below I will outline these two ideas and allow for better context regarding the pros and cons of both, and the answers to Dr. Welch’s three questions.

Montevallo Non-Discrimination Ordinance or NDO

“The NDO was initially presented to the City Council by the Montevallo Acceptance Project on May 9, 2016, requesting legal protection against discrimination of the LGBTQ community in Montevallo,” according to Caroline Carmichael, a reporter for the Shelby County Reporter. The NDO was a point of contention throughout Montevallo for almost two  years until it’s passage on April 23, 2018. A series of town hall meetings, panels, and city council meetings were held to allow for citizens and representatives to speak their mind, whether for or against the NDO.  (Source: https://www.shelbycountyreporter.com/2018/04/24/montevallo-passes-non-discrimination-ordinance/)

Our hopes in examining this recent conflict, and it’s resolution, would be to better understand the channels through which public debate and forum allowed for citizens to feel as though they were part of the greater process of the passage of the NDO. Understanding that allowing for individual voices in a larger community to be heard is a valuable tool, when everyone feels as though they are heard and their opinions are involved, does this make for more cohesive and acceptable policy? Does this allow for the community to come to a more peaceful agreement, even if not everyone agrees about the final decision? There are more questions to ask, and surely through this process we can begin to recognize more facets of this conflict which are yet to be explored.

In accordance with Dr. Welsh’s three questions, I wanted to explore why I had a personal interest in this topic and my motivation for preference of this topic.

  1. Is this something you find interesting? Yes, exploring the NDO is something that has interested me since it’s inception. I was just moving to Alabama from a relatively progressive and much larger city whenever this ordinance was being explored. I am interested in understanding the origins of the ordinance, and those who were opposed, unsure, or for it.
  2. Is this researchable? Because Montevallo is such a small and closely knit community, I believe the resources we require will be easily accessible. The Mayor of our city is actually a professor at the University and a very receptive person. We also have former professors who acted as moderators who would be willing to discuss the more in-depth concepts behind this conflict and the more ‘behind the scenes’ work which went into allowing for town halls, forums, and panels to be held throughout the two and a half year conflict around the necessity of this ordinance.
  3. Is this something that connects to your major or career objectives? Absolutely. My major is in Political Science, with minors in Pre-Law and Human Rights & Public Service. I feel that identifying the concepts around this conflict (which we discussed in class on 01/29) would be beneficial in my understanding of resolution, which is something I had surprisingly not encountered in my Political Science major. This project would also serve as a great example of my dedication to fact-based reporting, research, and data analytics.

01/17/2019 [about me]

Hey everybody, as I said before, my name is Lillian Rouse. I am a junior at the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama! I am studying for my Bachelor of Science in Political Science with minors in Pre-Law and Human Rights & Public Service. I have worked on several campaigns since I was 17 years old. My interest in politics draws mostly from learning about poverty and healthcare.

I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee. I have family sprawled across the country in Tennessee, California, and Florida. I love to travel and have visited China twice since 2008. During the summer of 2016 I traveled with my Dad for two weeks through different geographical areas, experiencing some of the best food the world has to offer, and meeting some of the most interesting and kind people.

Upon moving to Birmingham, I met all kinds of interesting people! Including, but not limited to, my boyfriend Joshua! He is a pinball repair technician and an industrial copy/print machine technician. His job has taken us to some pretty cool events, and I have learned to love playing pinball as much as he does!

Some of my hobbies include participating in local political campaigns, doing yoga, and drinking tons of coffee (in every form you could imagine) and of course, hanging out with my cats. I am glad to be participating in such an interesting class this semester, trying new things. I believe this will be beneficial to my education in a formative way!

I look forward to spending time with you all throughout the semester and hope that you have enjoyed this [lengthy] post, learning a bit about me along the way!

See you all soon and have a wonderful weekend!

01/17/2019

My first blog post made for COPLAC Conflict in America course! My name is Lillian, I’m 20 (turning 21 on 01/28, yay!) and this is my first online course! I’m excited to learn more about digital humanities & conflict resolution in my community of Montevallo, Alabama!

I will be updating today or tomorrow with some photos and a better explanation of how it was logging in for the first time!

Enjoy a photo of my cat!

His name is Lil Boy!