Announcing the Coosa Lodge History Project

by Chris Brightwell on January 6, 2014

As the Order of the Arrow approaches its centennial, the National Order of the Arrow Committee is charging each lodge to participate in its “Legacy Project”. This project has four components, the third of which reads as follows:

Each lodge should prepare a written history. This history, combined with other lodge artifacts, will become part of the 100th anniversary celebration at the 2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference.

I have been particularly inspired by this task. I know that a monumental amount of effort has already been spent on recording detailed histories of Coosa Lodge and its predecessors (Cherokee Lodge #50, Achunaunchi Lodge #135, and Kaskanampo Lodge #310). My work will undoubtedly stand upon the shoulders of those efforts.

But I want to take this one step further. In addition to gathering the endless archives of data that have been collected before me, I know that any sincere effort in this task will involve many hours of personal interviews to capture stories, anecdotes, and first-hand accounts of countless moments spanning more than 80 years of cheerful service in North Alabama.

I already intended to record audio of those discussions, for obvious reasons, but then an idea struck me: Why not film these discussions instead? If I can give the stories a voice, why not give them a face? Instead of describing a place, why not show it? This is where my long history with Coosa Shows comes into play, and this is where things get interesting.

My goal is to shoot, edit, write, direct, and produce a documentary film on the history of Coosa Lodge and its predecessors, from 1930 to today. This will be accompanied by a comprehensive historical reference book that will include listings of every Lodge Chief, every Vigil Honor recipient, every Founder’s Award recipient, and any other recipient of any award that I can find.

It will also include pictures and notes for every patch ever issued by any of the lodges, essays discussing key contributions and accomplishments from each lodge, and any other piece of our history that is meaningful or significant – from Chief Cross and his legacy in Cherokee Lodge to the deaf dancers of Achunaunchi Lodge, the leadership of Bill Ingersoll in Kaskanampo Lodge and Area V, and the masterful unification of three historic lodges into Coosa Lodge.

My goal is to capture and preserve the rich history of Coosa Lodge, but I need your help.

I have identified four ways in which you may be able to help me:

  1. I need to expand my network of contacts. Perhaps you can introduce me to someone who was critical to a certain time in our history, or perhaps you know someone who can tell an interesting, unique, or compelling story from our past.
  2. I need help collecting and cataloging historical artifacts. This includes obvious items like patches and other memorabilia, but also includes lodge charters, rosters, newsletters, and anything else that might be related to our history. Every small piece tells a part of the bigger story.
  3. I need people to interview! This might be obvious, but finding someone willing to sit with me and my camera for a couple of hours can be difficult. If you’re interested in talking with me on-camera, or know someone who may be, let me know! There are thousands of stories that will be lost to time if they are not told. I want to capture some of those before it is too late.
  4. Finally, I am accepting some financial support. I have a lot of knowledge and equipment, but I am currently unprepared for a project of this magnitude. I have some material needs, and I’m planning to cover much of it out of my own pocket, but they’re going to add up quickly. There’s also cost for transportation and reproduction, plus maybe some research expenses. If you are interested in providing some monetary support, please contact me (chris@dimwell.net) or Joey Kiker (jkiker@1bsa.org).

The contents of the final product – the film and the book – will be available online, free of charge, for anyone to download. Professionally printed versions of the book and film will be available for sale online, in the Greater Alabama Council service centers, and in the Coosa Lodge Trading Post.

The proceeds from these sales will pay for reproduction costs, then any profits will be contributed directly to scholarship funds designed to send Scouts from the Greater Alabama Council to summer camp, national high adventure bases, National Order of the Arrow Conferences, and Order of the Arrow National Leadership Seminar.

This is a large project and the window of opportunity is narrow. As far as I know, no other lodge is attempting to record its history in this way. I hope that you will be a part of this project.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

“The Order of the Arrow is a thing of the spirit rather than of mechanics. Organization, operational procedure, and paraphernalia are necessary in any large and growing movement, but they are not what count in the end. The things of the spirit count.”

— Dr. E. Urner Goodman, 1961

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Ray LeCroix June 12, 2016 at 6:46 am

I was very active in Kaskanampo from my induction in 1974, to my moving away in 1988 and was on the Lodge Executive Comm. for most of that time.

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