Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post

The Global Digital Post: Franklin, North Carolina - A Touch of Global

Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post: “Franklin is a progressive community and increasingly has global connections.” Margaret Ramsey


Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 12/01/2010 -- As we began writing this column on Franklin, NC having a global touch, Dr. Suzan Cheek, a political scientist living in Chapel Hill, NC, pointed out to us that in 1773 as the original Tea Party rebels threw British tea into the harbor to protest the Tea Tax, the British Crown probably received news of revolt while drinking tea from Wedgwood tea sets made from kaolin clay mined in Macon County, North Carolina. We were discussing globalism with her after our last “Franklin Press” column was featured on “Silobreaker,” a global news service based in the United Kingdom that features news of global relevance. When we think about global places, we think of Rome, London, Paris or New York City. How globally connected is Franklin, NC? We could not find much research about globalism in small towns and decided this area needed exploration.

After getting some ideas from Barbara McRae, editor of the “Franklin Press,” we conferred with Margaret Ramsey, a key leader of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County. Margaret Ramsey helped Franklin become designated the “Quilting Capital of the World,” and provided the quote. Internationally recognized quilts from Franklin have included: The Original World's Largest Quilt, The Cabarrus Quilt, The Celebrate America Quilt, and The World's Fair Quilt.

We learned that community rating sites do not consider global connectivity in designating communities as a place to retire or visit. Is globalism important?

Globalism includes global historical sites, business connections, global impact and influence, and global activities. Franklin is exemplary on all counts.

The Scottish Tartan Museum retains our Scottish heritage and connection with the Scottish immigrant experience. The annual Taste of Scotland Festival brings Scottish music, dance and culture and attracts visitors from around the world.

With James Conley listing over 23 gems in Macon County in his well known publication, “Mineral Localities of North Carolina,” Franklin’s title as the “Gem Capital of the World” is well earned. Franklin mines fire the imagination with pigeon blood rubies, sapphires and rhodolite garnets that attract international tourism. The international Tiffany owned a mine in Cowee Valley the 1890’s. Kaolin clay from today’s Macon County was shipped to England for Wedgwood pottery in 1768.

Visiting the gem festivals here and the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum are like opening a window to rare and beautiful treasures from around the world. The Macon County Gemboree and Gem and Lapidary wholesale shows attract international gem dealers and buyers.

Macon County is a world of wonder with stunning mountains, rivers, gorges, and waterfalls. The Appalachian Trail, Little Tennessee River Greenway, Nikwasi Mound and so much more, all give Franklin a global reputation for natural beauty.

Caterpillar, an international corporation, makes Precision Seals for global distribution. Franklin is a wholesale point for Caterpillar equipment.

Tom Quigley, who resides in Franklin, was an architect of DOCSIS, which has impacted countries around the world developing broadband capabilities. You may read about his contributions in “Broadband Last Mile,” edited by Nikil Jayant. “Randolph’s Shop” and “Building Shop” by Franklin’s Randolph Bulgin are used internationally as excellent references to metal working and CNC machining. Phil Drake and Drake Enterprises develop software used by over 38,000 tax preparers. Their early innovations in software have had global impact.

Many medical staff and selected physicians from Angel Medical Center along with churches and individuals in Franklin traveled to Haiti to help with medical relief after the earthquake.

The work of the Coweeta Hydrologic Lab has had a global impact. Dr. Charles Hursh and Wayne Swank along with other scientist’s research on sources of water supply, water quality watersheds, movements of ground water, acid rain and erosion control have influenced ecological science around the world.

Educational programs in our schools help youth adapt to global challenges and future jobs. Finally there is a strong veterans community in Franklin.Their experience in defending freedom in global wars gives Franklin a valuable global perspective on service.

We found it impossible to identify all global connections in Franklin. But we found that global connectivity is not just for large cities. A touch of globalism builds communities economically and adds excitement and adventure. Globalism enhances the value of cultural heritage and traditions. Visitors come to Franklin looking for the depth of something different whether it is our natural beauty, gems, festivals, historical sites or unique folk heritage events.

The interaction between local and global is important in history. Looking closely at some of Franklin’s finest quilts you will see regional and global influence in the complex geometric designs. Is it in our nature? Thousands upon thousands of years ago, our ancestors traveled over many continents. We cannot easily escape our shared global heritage.

We encourage small towns around the world to explore their global connectivity. Students at colleges and universities around the world might want to take on this project of researching global connectivity in their towns and communities and alert local press of their findings.

Gordon Mercer is international president of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor of political science at Western Carolina University (WCU). He holds a Ph.D. degree in organizational development, founded the Public Policy Institute at WCU in 1999, and has held the position of associate dean of research and graduate studies at the university. Marcia Mercer is a writer and published columnist with the Franklin Press. Go to http://9955.hostednr.com to get to our Global Digital Post Press Room. Views expressed in this column are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations.