Dirt road teambuilding – Finding common space in unexpected places

Published 3:48 pm Monday, August 21, 2023

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Last week I traveled to Demopolis for the first time, taking advantage of an opportunity to become acquainted with the staff and operations of The Demopolis Times and visit an area of Alabama I had never explored. The trip resulted from a recent promotion to Regional Editor and afforded me the privilege of working alongside the news team in Selma and Demopolis and to be part of covering the stories important to the residents of Dallas and Marengo counties.

Little did I know the trip would take me and Demopolis staff reporter Andrea Burroughs, on a dirt road adventure to discover common ground in the woods of Gallion.

Our out-of-the-ordinary team building exercise started over lunch, when Burroughs invited me to help her locate the site of a Supreme Twelve Links Association barbecue. Organizers had invited her to attend their 120th annual picnic event, which had been described as “dinner on the grounds.”

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Almost every Alabama native knows that dinner is synonymous with lunch. Supper is typically used to refer to the evening meal, but Burroughs thought the event was a banquet, hosted at the group’s lodge. She invited me to help her find the venue and I was glad to oblige.

The trip took us seven miles outside of Demopolis and into Gallion, where we located and drove down the dirt road just off U.S. Highway 43 and into a wooded community where we thought we would have to stop and ask for directions.

Eventually, we came to the end of the road in front of the Twelve Links Dinner Grounds and met association members preparing for the picnic which would commence around 9 a.m. Friday and continue throughout the day.

After shaking hands and promising Burroughs would return for the picnic, the two of us returned to our car, laughing over our adventure. I suggested she wear a sundress and not banquet attire.

It was the best kind of team building activity and quite funny to us both. During our trek we each learned the other had grown up adventuring down dirt roads in rural counties, she in Marengo and I in Crenshaw.

As a little girl, she traveled into the woods to church and for visits with family. Around the same age, I spent summer vacations and weekends on a Crenshaw County dirt road, shelling peas and romping in the woods.

It was not what I expected of our time together or for my first trip to Demopolis, but it was a very good day and I suspect it will help the two of us serve our readership from a space of commonality born out of community coverage and nurtured in the woods of Marengo County.