We’ve been visiting my parents in Macon, Mississippi for the holidays. The place is full of holiday memories for me! As a child, I spent every two-week Christmas vacation at my grandparent’s house on the farm at Busy Bee. One of our Christmas Eve traditions was driving the ten minutes to “town” to see the Christmas lights. We would tour the small neighborhoods and recall who lived in each house and ooh and aah over the holiday decorations.
Now, my children and I also spend much of our holiday vacation in Macon as well, and I’ve tried to revive that practice of checking out the lights. We usually wander through downtown and Main Street to see the stars, angels and Christmas trees in white lights. We notice the white lights lining the tops of the Main Street buildings even though some are sagging now and it’s not hard to find a missing bulb or two. We drive to the end of Main Street to see the “Peace on Earth” lighted letters that serve as sort of a last call for the sentiments of the season as you leave town. There are not quite as many neighborhood lights as there once were. The town’s citizenry is getting older, and many of the antebellum homes stand empty. Like so many small Mississippi towns, the heart of Macon is changing with fewer businesses, fewer activity, and more people traveling out of town for what they would normally find at home. Still, it’s neat to share these sights with my little ones, and enjoy the peace of quiet lights. Here’s a glimpse…
Hundreds of little metal doors with tiny windows marked with hand-painted numbers in red and gold. I have to admit it’s why I love to walk in the post office in Macon, MS. I wander in there every now and then when I’m visiting my parents hometown because it’s filled with interesting shapes and textures. And those little decorative, but time-worn doors. They are so fascinating to me for some reason.
The lobby is a tiny L-shaped space where folks still come to check their mail. I’m not sure when the structure was built, but it has the tall, chicken-wire laced windows and warm woodwork you don’t often see in more modern public buildings. Plus, the north wall contains a painting created by Douglass Crockwell through the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, dated 1944.
Mr. Crockwell became a fairly popular artist in the 1940s-50s creating advertisements and cover art for some notable companies as well as the Saturday Evening Post. The work was created more specifically under the jurisdiction of the US Treasury Department in its Treasury Section of Fine Arts designed to offer artists commission work to create paintings and sculptures for public spaces in the 30s and 40s. The painting depicts the “Signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.”
I imagine walking into the Post Office would be a lot like it was in the 1950s if it weren’t for the glossy posters touting first class mail and “forever” stamps. It still has hand-painted signs for the “office” part of the Post Office and the now-dissolved “Civil Service Commission”. The stained wood is still polished and pock-marked next to newer, more modern metal stands and the metal sliding door covering the postal counter.
Every time I wander in, I always wish for a tiny key to slip into box number 534 or some other sacred address to turn the lock and retrieve some treasured bit of correspondence.
[Macon Post Office, 201 Jefferson Street; Macon, MS]
Today I’m sharing a recent logo project I completed for the City of Starkville Department of Environmental Services. I’m posting it because it was a fun public project and because I think it’s a good design solution. But, I’m also sharing it because Starkville, MS is doing something special, and I always enjoy applying good design to good ideas.
The project began as a logo for the city’s Curbside Recycling program. Several years ago, Starkville began a free program of picking up recycling at the curbside with no sorting required by citizens. That’s a pretty common service, but in our area, the fact that it was free to citizens was pretty groundbreaking. We were one of the first communities in the state to offer it as a free service.
In our initial meetings on the project, however, the tone of the conversation began to expand beyond just recycling to the concept of environmental services as a whole. In addition to recycling, the department handles sanitation, as you might imagine, but also rubbish & debris, a landfill (like most communities), and city landscaping. The committee members shared their thoughts on the ways sanitation and recycling are tied together and their goals of creating a community where the days for recycling pick-up actually outnumber the days for garbage pick-up. We recognized together that the underlying goals were really bigger than just recycling. The work of the department is really about creating a positive environment in the community, and about doing that responsibly with greater citizen involvement and buy-in.
We changed the program of the project to create a logo and brand image for the Department of Environmental Services as a whole, so that all the elements of creating this “clean community” are represented by the same image. With the visuals, we wanted the logo to be about more than trash — just as the department is. And, we wanted the brand to reflect that Starkville is growing something positive with our environmental services — in both mindset and the physical environment.
Enjoy this first look at the solution the City of Starkville embraced!
There is no “sign of life” in Mississippi quite like the signs for bar-be-que. While there may be a discrepancy in how to SPELL bbq, you can scarcely find a small pond that doesn’t have at least one joint devoted to this Southern delicacy. And, invariably, the signs outside are just as lovingly created as the “special” sauces.
I’m making my way through the archives in my collection of “vernacular” type — or hand-painted letters and signage. It’s a secret obsession of mine that I’ve been slowly sharing on Plop! Clearly, “decay” isn’t limited to the urban environment, but you have to admire the efforts in repurposing in RaDonna’s signage.
Small pond views are always a little wacky and endearing all at the same time. I love this photograph. I took it several years ago in Macon, Mississippi. Macon is a typical small Mississippi town, and I happen to know it well because my parents live there. The photo was taken from the second floor of the old Noxubee County Jail. The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places and was beautifully restored and converted to the county library. It’s quite an experience to visit the stacks inside the old jail cells and see the remains of gallows when walking through the hallways.
The back view of the lighted tinsel “Peace on Earth” spanning Jefferson Street captured from one of the jail cells’ barred windows is an ironic and poignant juxtaposition.