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Communities and Individuals

Applying image change in communities and through the social artistry of individuals

Swamp Gravy

Social Artists

Based on the real-life experiences of residents of Colquitt, Ga., Swamp Gravy is a comedy, drama and musical that annually attracts tourists from far and near. With a population of 2,000, Colquitt exemplifies the successful economic revitalization of a small rural town through cultural tourism.


While attending a conference on community development in 1991, Joy Jinks, a resident of Colquitt, Ga., met Richard Geer, a student who was doing research on performance as a community-building tool. Jinks talked with Geer about her town’s dwindling population and her desire to preserve its rich heritage and instill civic pride in fellow residents. With the assistance of community residents, and ICA members like Nan and Bill Grow and Jan Sanders creating empowerment initiatives. Bill Grow writes “The Role of Swamp Gravy in Civil Society” (2006).  Colquitt now demonstrates how the arts can be  a major driver in revitalizing a town’s economy.  See “Swamp Gravy Artifacts” (2004), “Rural Revitalization, Southern Style” in the 1996 Initiatives and “Swamp Gravy Evaluation and Next Steps” (1994).


Each performance of Swamp Gravy is a blend of comedy, drama, and music, featuring a cast of more than 100 volunteers who transform Southern life into unforgettable theater. These volunteers, who are the backbone of all of the efforts of the Arts Council, bring to life the stories that have helped shape the community.  Swamp Gravy has been gaining national attention since its inception, including an invite from Vice President Gore to the a 1996 performance at the Kennedy Center of the Arts in Washington DC and a 2018 National Public Radio  interviewAs a testament to that authenticity, the state’s general assembly designated Swamp Gravy “Georgia’s Official Folk Life Play” thanks to the efforts of then-Rep. Cathy Cox. Nan Grow writes July 2002: Magic Seeds: Transformation of a Small Town.



See Human Development Collection for other community examples of imaginal education.

Art can challenge us.

Art can take risks.

Art can show us our humanity when we don’t see it ourselves.

Art can help us hear our own voices and other people’s voices, sometimes for the first time.

Art can teach us.

Art can help us experience beauty.

Art can push us.

Art can make trouble.

Art is dangerous in all the best possible ways.

From Chicago Tribune


Social artists “… work to re-pattern human nature … think like a planetary citizen, appreciating cultures and cultural stories while searching for the emergence of a new myth  …  offer new models and paradigms  …  exhibit joy of being a lifelong learner  …  bring laughter and delights in learning and change. Social Artistry uses diverse techniques to help individuals, groups, and communities to discover core values, purpose and vision”. (Wikipedia)


In the past few years many colleagues have become social artists, stirring our images and sometimes changing them. As said by LiDona Wagner in Eve’s Imprint, “… visual art – similar to storytelling – resonates with the human heart and inspires acts of caring and daring in modern times.”



  • Playwrights and producers:  Donna Woodard Zeigenhorn creates and produces plays.  Michael May produces Interior Mythos Journeys.



  • Writers:  John Cock writes a daily blog called Journey Reflection. A list of books colleagues have written can be reviewed under Authors (see side menu).  As we learn of other books being published, we will add to this list.

  • Meida McNeal, as asocial artist, has produced a one-woman play about 5th City Revisited: stories of its origins in 1800s, the 5th City Human Development Project, and questioning its future. She hopes a second production of the play will be held at the Church of the Brethren in 5th City in June or September of 2020.
  • For many years Carol Fleischman (Fleischman Associates) worked in New Orleans facilitating educational institutions resulting in some of the following documents: