A Weekend in Cobden & Alto Pass

May 25, 2011

Book profiles people, events in Alto Pass, Cobden

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Celebrations over the next two weekends in Alto Pass and Cobden will also highlight the photographic talents of Southern Illinois University Carbondale journalism students.

The 80-page, all-color vertical book “A Weekend in Cobden & Alto Pass,” profiles the two Union County villages. The more than 200 photographs document the people and events in Alto Pass and Cobden over more than 48 hours, Oct. 1-3, 2010.

The book costs $20, and will be available for sale beginning Friday, May 27, in Alto Pass. The book will also be for sale Saturday, June 4, in Cobden.

Mark J. Dolan, an assistant professor in the University’s School of Journalism, who was photo editor and project director, received 1,000 copies of the book last week.

The book will be available in Alto Pass from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 27, at 65 Elm St., which is adjacent to Farmers State Bank. The reception will feature hors d'oeuvres and beverages. Dolan and several SIUC students involved with the project also plan to sell the books from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, May 28, during the Alto Pass Springfest, which is also the Alto Pass High School reunion.

In Cobden, the book will be on sale from 2 to 4 p.m. in the village’s downtown park pavilion, and coincide with the village’s family fun day. The Cobden Community Business Association will provide refreshments.

Media Advisory

For more information on the “A Weekend in Cobden/Alto Pass” project, contact assistant professor Mark J. Dolan at 618/536-3361 or 315/882-2446, or by email at markjdolan@mac.com.

Cobden Village President Molly Beckley has seen the book, which captures a wide range of activities in the two communities. The stories and photographs feature everything from the Alto Pride Barbecue Festival, to sand artist Juana Durand, to several of the region’s vineyards and orchards, and the Cobden Junior High softball team. The photographs provide rich detail that some people may never before noticed, she said.

“It’s such a beautiful book,” Beckley said. “The thing I like most is the absolutely profoundly beautiful photography and the beauty of all the people who live around us. You don’t realize how beautiful the whole area is until you see it like this. It’s like a National Geographic of Cobden.”

Don Rehmer, the Alto Pass village president, said he also supported the project, noting that students were able to further hone their own skills by working with professional photographers. “It’s a great way for us to showcase our natural beauty,” he said. “There are many human interest stories. It’s not just a book about places it’s a book about people. That’s important. I think they have done a wonderful job.”

The photographs capture “the absolute quaintness of the village,” Beckley said. In addition to the wonderfully skilled musicians and artisans the region offers, the book also profiles the “absolutely ordinary middle America that we often forget and don’t see.”

Beckley and Rehmer believe the book will resonate throughout the area. Both also offered praise for Dolan’s project and his efforts with the students. Beckley noted students were in fields as early as 3 a.m. to capture mist as the sun arose.

“He pulls out of students what they want, and they work really hard,” she said.

This book format is different from the “Weekend in Murphysboro” book that details the students’ 2009 project. The change from a horizontal to vertical book allows for an easier fit on a bookshelf. It also “gives us more opportunities to use the photos,” Dolan said.

The book credits 26 photographers. An advanced graphic communication class worked on putting the book together this spring. Rehmer visited the classroom while students were working on layout and design and came away impressed with their efforts.

The experience is “invaluable” to students, Dolan said.

“For them to see their work published in this form it validates their work, and they realize the importance of their work when they see the impact something like this has on a community,” he said.

This type of project “raises the ante” for students by making them appreciate what they do, but also realizing that others appreciate their work, Dolan said.

The project only sells enough books to cover the printing costs, Dolan said. The goal is to keep the projects going and focus on a different community each year.

“We feel these projects are beneficial to the students and to the communities,” he said.

The book will also be available at the SIU School of Journalism at 618/536-3361, and in respective village halls in Alto Pass and Cobden.