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“Southern Blend” book project in the works, how you can help

Southern Blend
John Rittmann


I wrote a whole book on accident, and now it seems silly not to publish it. Your help could make that possible.

You see, I wrote an ongoing column in “The Coosa County News” called “Southern Blend” from 2020 to 2022. It’s something I’d thought about for years beforehand, and Ms. Christa was kind enough to give me somewhere to make that happen.

If you don’t recall or weren’t a reader at that time, each week I explored topics related to the history and culture of the South, while keeping a modern, humane point of view on things.

I feel that the people talking about the history of the South tend to focus heavily on the 1800s, and specifically the losing side of the Civil War. That’s not to discredit some amazing writers out there, but it’s definitely disproportionate.

In the meantime, there are beautiful places, incredible people and truly historical cultural developments happening right under our noses. It’s almost as if people haven’t updated their mental idea of what our home looks like – maybe it’s that thing where you always think you look like you did when you were 19? I’m not sure.

With “Southern Blend,” I walked a fine balance between acknowledging our past with honesty without myth-making or retelling stories that have already been told. Rather than retelling the story of Helen Keller learning sign language, I focused on her support for the Socialist Party and the NAACP. Rather than talking about how Elvis is The King, I wrote about his Black Belt in Karate.

Sure, Hank Williams was a great musician, but did you know that Hank Williams III played in the acclaimed heavy metal band Superjoint Ritual, which was fronted by Phil Anselmo, the lead singer of Pantera? Yeah, Nick Saban is a good football coach, but what if he’s an occultist?

That was originally my main intention. Then 2020 happened. Vladimir Lenin once said “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” 2020 was a year in which many decades-long weeks occurred. We contended with a worldwide plague, a president who divided our country, an awakening to racial injustices, and right when we had shut the door on 2020, a shameful insurrection on the U.S. Capitol building that we now know was coordinated by terrorist groups like The Proud Boys, The Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.

“Southern Blend” became a column about speaking truth about our current experience while reflecting on how our past informed or created today. When read as an ongoing narrative of expressing love for our home, there’s a lesson in there. Love is not always easy, and it can’t always be kind.

Over the past two months, I’ve been running a fundraising campaign to gather funds for publishing “Southern Blend” as a book. I’ve raised enough money to publish it as an e-book, and that’s incredible.

However, I believe this piece of our history deserves to exist as something you can hold in your hands. At the time of this writing, I have 10 days left to raise the remainder of the publishing costs. If you’re interested in contributing, then go to the website and search “Southern Blend.” You can make a donation there. If you need help navigating this, Ms. Christa and myself would be more than happy to assist.

There are plenty of benefits to contributing: You can get a digital copy of the book, acknowledgment by name in the book itself, and higher contributors can even participate in Q&A sessions or even get a handmade cutting board as a thank you. Also, excess funds will go into a creators’ scholarship at Coosa County Schools to help empower future artists.

Please help me make this happen. I believe in my heart that these stories deserve to be told. Without your help this week, that might not happen.

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