Activate Selma applies for HGTV Home Town Takeover

HGTV-5Lordy, we’re shooting a video!

When we started Activate Selma a year ago – four people meeting on Wednesdays at 9 am at the Visitor Center in uptown Selma, North Carolina – I had no idea whether the grassroots effort would gain momentum or not.

Grown it has! Activate Selma now has 41 activators on the weekly e-news list and 14 to 16 people who pull together three tables in Selma Public Library each Wednesday. Our mission: To spark individual creative problem-solving. We don’t complain; we take action. No more broken record stories about Selma’s past.

0115201007_HDR (2)
Jana Jones with Steve Brown

At the start of 2020, one of our activators, Jana Jones, a branch manager for First Citizens Bank in Smithfield, challenged us to do a GROUP project. Jana, a graduate of Leadership Johnston, reasoned that a group project would show an outward, visible sign of  how Activate Selma is working to transform the town.

The next week I expected the group to pick an easy project: A litter pickup in April.

That’s when Allyson Caison, a local realtor stood up. She said HGTV has a new series premiering called Home Town Takeover.

Allyson Caison

If we send in an application and Selma is selected, the show’s hosts, Ben and Erin Napier, would come to Selma in 2020 and work with us to shoot eight episodes about the town’s renovations. The Napiers’ current show, now in its fourth season, centers on renovations in their home town of Laurel, Mississippi. The Selma episodes of the new series would air in 2021.

Screenshot_2020-01-26 Home Town

We fit the criteria for the competition – a town with population under 40,000, homes with great architecture longing to be revealed and a main street that needs a facelift.

HGTV-6The deadline for the application is February 7, 2020. In less than two weeks, we would need to shoot a brief video; select five compelling photos, and write a narrative. Final step: Plug those three elements into the online application, with Allyson as a contact, and press submit.

Wow. The activators adopted the group project and within minutes we had a volunteer videographer – Pastor Todd Daniels of Selma Baptist Church; a volunteer script writer – Melissa Dooley of the Town of Selma Parks & Rec Department; and a volunteer narrative writer – myself. With input from Randy Cahoon-Tingle of the Town of Selma’s Economic Development, we now have a draft narrative, draft shooting script and we began shooting interviews and footage yesterday. The Triangle East Chamber of Commerce has offered additional footage, already shot, as well.

0122200904 Melissa Dooley 1 randy 0118201736a

From the left, Pastor Todd Daniels, Melissa Dooley, Randy Cahoon-Tingle, Cindy Brookshire

I have no idea if we’ll make it to the application finish line. And even if we make it to the submit button, we’re up against some stiff competition across the United States – towns investing money, time and professionals to get their application to the top of the heap. Even here in North Carolina the towns of Thomasville, Kinston and Whitakers have applied – and all are worthy of the Napiers’ attention.

Whether we succeed or fail, that doesn’t matter – the journey to the deadline is what we care about. The application is our group action project. The whole point of a group project is to bond as a group. Dodge the wrenches and naysayers and other obstacles in the way. Pool our talents together. Work as a team. Lift each other up. And as we lift ourselves, we lift up Selma.

I am so proud of these people! In the doldrums of winter – the “shoulder season” for many businesses between Christmas and Valentine’s Day – we are taking action in Selma, North Carolina!

Oh, and there is still the litter pickup in April, date and time to be announced! We’ll be there, too!

Update 02/07/2020 – We made it! We submitted our application to HGTV yesterday! Here’s a link to our application video on YouTube (tdanielsdrms):


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