Photo by Catt Sirten
If you want a good selection of novels there’s no better place to visit than the library. If you prefer to read local news and current events pick up a Lagniappe. But if you’re looking to get on a personal level with the people and places behind the South’s rich culture, art and music, navigate to readers’ Favorite Local Website or Blog, www.southernrambler.com, where for the past five years writer Lynn Oldshue and photographer Michelle Stancil (pictured above with The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm owner Cathe Steele) have created a veritable archive of Southern sights, sounds and personalities, each with a unique story to tell.
COMPLETE LIST — 2017 NAPPIE AWARDS
“Michelle wanted to take photographs and I wanted to write, and after submitting stories to a few magazines and other publications we decided we’d publish it ourselves,” Oldshue explained. “I grew up in Mississippi so I have a love for [this area] and telling her stories — there’s such a rich collection of people, culture, art and music — so much good in the South — I felt like we needed to change the story, change the perception of who we are.”
In addition to the website, Oldshue and Stancil also publish an annual companion magazine and have recently branched out to publish a blog called “Our Southern Souls,” a man-on-the-street style interview with strangers.
“The stories are funny and inspiring, sad and heartbreaking, or a quick moment in time,” Oldshue describes it online. “Readers say they find a part of themselves in the stories or share similar thoughts and feelings.”
The pair has also produced a number of striking videos — including “Give a Lift Mobile,” which focused on Sheena and Zionne Williams, parents who rely on public transportation daily to get their children to school. The project inspired Oldshue to launch a fundraising campaign to buy benches for bus stops. A total of 10 were purchased and are currently being installed.
Oldshue described another, more widely shared video, “Mobile’s Potential is Her People,” as “kind of a love letter about all the people who have taken risks to make this city what it is. … I’ve been so thankful to meet all the people I have and appreciate it and fall more in love with Mobile the more I write about it, and it makes me just want to keep giving back.”
Other projects include a partnership with The Steeple to host occasional concerts and an upcoming public art installation with artist Chris Cumbie, Oldshue said. She has a shortlist of musicians and artists she’d still like to interview, but Southern Rambler has “exceeded my expectations,” she said.
“It’s great for us because it has the flexibility to be anything we want it to be,” Oldshue said. “We make zero money off it but it is our magic carpet to go anywhere we want. If it ended today it would have far exceeded anything I wanted to it be … but having a platform like that and telling those stories — for me it’s giving a voice for people that otherwise aren’t heard.”