What Has Happened So Far?
The planning process began in November 2011 with several activities:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation team was introduced to the Mississippi Delta with a tour on November 15, 2011. Luther Brown and Lee Aylward from the Delta Center for Culture and Learning guided a tour which included Bryant’s Grocery, Dockery Farms, The Alluvian Hotel, the grave of Fannie Lou Hamer, Hoover’s Grocery,
the grave of Robert Johnson, Mound Bayou and other stops.
The board met with the consultant team to review the timeline and activities for developing the management plan. The board also enjoyed participating in a visioning session to think about the future of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.
Kick Off Luncheon
Approximately 150 people from throughout the Mississippi Delta attended a kick off luncheon at the Charles Capps Building in Stoneville. The meeting included remarks from K. Lynn Berry, National Park Service Southern Regional Office, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area board member Spencer Nash, project manager Luther Brown. Carolyn Brackett introduced the consultant team members who each spoke briefly about their areas of focus in developing the management plan.
In February, the four committees convened for 1½ days of meetings. Each of the committees – civic engagement, interpretation and visitor experience, resource stewardship and enhancement, and organization structure and management – met and reviewed the plans related to assist the consultant team in their work and to encourage involvement from throughout the Delta in the National Heritage Area.
Three public meetings were held on May 14 and 15 in Vicksburg, Greenville and Clarksdale which drew approximately 170 participants. The meetings offered an opportunity to present an overview of the purpose of a National Heritage Area and to provide examples of the wide variety of activities National Heritage Areas can undertake. The process for developing a management plan was also reviewed. At each meeting, participants were divided into breakout groups to address three questions:
- What are the places in the Mississippi Delta that you like to visit or tell others to visit?
- What do you see as the heritage of the Delta?
- What are the important stories of the Delta?
Participants enthusiastically addressed the questions and summarized their discussions when the groups reconvened. The team will be able to build on these findings to draft thematic statements and strategies for the National Heritage Area.
February – July 2012
Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Exchange was held on November 7 with approximately 100 participants engaged in discussion sessions on historic preservation, natural resource conservation, interpretation and education, preserving living traditions, visitor services, tourism promotion and organization/management. Each session included brainstorming ideas, discussing opportunities and identifying the role of the heritage area.
February – 2013
Public meetings were held in Greenwood and Southaven on February 26. Participants considered five alternatives for the direction of the MDNHA. On February 27, the heritage area’s planning committees met and review the alternatives. Participants in the public meetings and committee meetings recommended that the heritage area take a “blended” approach tell the Delta’s story, build a network of partners, save places and perpetuate culture with the goal of creating a climate of sustainable economic development based on the region’s heritage and culture. At the conclusion of the meetings, the MDNHA board of directors met and voted unanimously for the “blended” approach to developing the management plan.
The management plan will be drafted in the coming months. In the fall of 2013, public meetings will be held to present the plan and solicit feedback. The plan is scheduled for completion in early 2014.