Group unveils Northside High teacher’s poem to the community

The sun was up and so was the humidity. And though the official program was over, those gathered to unveil Columbus’ newest mural still wanted local author Isiah Harper to read his “My River Valley” poem once more before dispersing.

Harper obliged, and the word mural, overlooking a parking lot in downtown Columbus, is now open for business.

Together 2017 hosted the ceremony Tuesday morning in Columbus to unveil the installment of the “My River Valley” poem mural. The installation is the final phase of the Together 2017 “My River Valley” mural project in the Columbus, Phenix City and Fort Benning region.

The installation is on the south face of the parking garage for the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts and overlooks a parking lot between the garage and the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Harper, an English and drama teacher at Northside High School, was commissioned to write a poem about the community, characterized by organizers as “a love letter to the community we call home.”

Harper said he and a friend took nearly 300 photos around the community and collected stories and recollections from people to begin the writing process.

“The collective tapestry that we have here gave me a wonderful, wonderful starting place to write,” said Harper to those gathered for the ceremony.

When Harper completed his poem, artists Sally Bradley, Najee Dorsey, Garry Pound and Butch Anthony with R.C. Hagan then created murals based on Harper’s poem. Those poems now hang in different locations around the Columbus and Phenix City.

Together 2017 is a collaboration between 17 community partners to promote community asset and create projects to build a better region. It consists of businesses, education groups, nonprofit organizations, foundations and community leaders. Another project, an outdoor, family-friendly, accessible fitness center in Rotary Park near the RiverWalk is scheduled to be dedicated and officially opened later this summer.

The Together campaign, with its Together 2017 and Together 2016 partners, have made a $344,000 investment in the community through various projects.