Reflecting on Sydney Southerland, from a sexual assault survivor

In the wake of this tragedy, I found myself murmuring to myself one night. “What a waste.” I was taken aback. What did I mean by that?

Last week, Sydney Sutherland, a 25 year-old woman, went jogging near her home in rural Arkansas along State Highway 18 near Newport and Grubbs.

Two days later, her body was found north of her residence.

Two days after that, August 23, 2020, Quake Lewellyn was charged with capital murder, rape, and kidnapping.

In the wake of this tragedy, I found myself murmuring to myself one night. “What a waste.”

I was taken aback. What did I mean by that?

I realized I had said the same words to myself, and maybe aloud to others, many times in the light of untimely deaths. In the light of global catastrophes. In the light of major losses.

What a waste of a life is what I think I meant.

But I hated how that sounded. I hated how it felt.

25 years lived vivaciously, beautifully, in service to others after nursing school… how is that a waste of a life? It’s certainly not. Not in any way at all. Just because a deviant perpetrator targeted Sydney Sutherland and opted to terminate her life abruptly does not in any way indicate that her life was wasted.

I vowed to stop using those words and to find new words, even if only to mutter to myself. What would those words be?

I reflected on my own incidences of sexual assault.

As a survivor of multiple incidences of sexual assault by multiple perpetrators over my lifetime (thank God none ended in death), I recall that vivid sense of purposelessness. Uselessness. Depravity. Feeling devoid of the desire to continue. Lack of hope. This often occurs in sexual assault victims after trauma; it lasts for varying lengths of time, depending on whether the victim seeks help or not.

Thankfully, I sought help, but not right away.

For years, I coped on my own terms. You can imagine how well that worked for me. Self-medication, self-help books, and talking to all the wrong people who give all the wrong advice will get you to all the wrong places. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was scared to trust anyone at all with what hurt the most.

I finally found a cobbled path to healing through Christian counseling and a recovery program. It’s a continual journey. Post-traumatic stress disorder reminds me of getting divorced. It’s supposed to be final and over, but it’s never really over. I paid the money and moved the turd out of my house. But I’m still stuck with the residue, the financial effects of our marriage, and the reminders every time those stupid Facebook Memories pop up. “12 years ago today: ‘Can’t wait to watch Biggest Loser with X and eat banana splits at the same time!” Barfarama.

Over the past few months, I’ve found it interesting to observe this surge of interest related to #SaveTheChildren—all things related to sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and human trafficking. As a survivor who’s advocated, volunteered, and served in this realm for almost 20 years, I’m thrilled that the world suddenly cares.

I only hope it won’t stop at sharing posts and gory articles online. Let me reassure you if you’re only doing this much that there’s much more you can do to help save children’s lives, if that’s your genuine motive.

Locally, you can volunteer for the Rape Crisis Center operated under the umbrella of the Family Violence Prevention Center or for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Independence County.

If you’re interested in working to combat human trafficking, you can contact P.A.T.H. (Partners Against Trafficking Humans). In fact, you can attend their volunteer training for 20 hours to learn a wealth of information and then volunteer in numerous ways within their organization, too.

To support multiple global human trafficking organizations, select from a myriad of nonprofit organizations, some faith-based and others non-partisan, doing excellent work all over the world. You can volunteer remotely to manage social media, write articles, answer hotline calls, or perform a variety of other tasks. If you’re outspoken and comfortable with public speaking, many organizations need community representatives and educators. You can write a check if financial support is more your speed.

There are no limits to the ways these organizations need help—trust me. I personally align myself with two organizations—P.A.T.H. and The Asservo Project. I recently published a book and give $1 of each book’s proceeds to The Asservo Project. I’ll continue to look for ways—always—to support these organizations because the work they do changes lives, supports survivors, and brings perpetrators to justice.

Ultimately, we’re never doomed to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, victims, or survivors unless we choose to. There’s plenty of work to be done. We just have to choose to take action.

The work of organizations (and volunteers) ensures that beautiful souls like Sydney Sutherland’s are honored, that tragedies like Sydney Sutherland’s assault and murder are redeemed.

Bethany Wallace owns a consulting business, Bethany Wallace Communications & Consulting, and partners with mission-minded organizations to build better workplaces through soft skills solutions.

Bethany presents research at conferences and contributes to major publications and recognized podcasts, including Glassdoor, College Recruiter, Zip Recruiter, Jobscan, Flex Jobs, the New York Daily News, Business Tech, Human Resources Online, Life After Teaching, Love Your Story, 10 Minute Mindset, Everyday People, and more. In June 2020, she also recently  published a collection of original poetry, “Hindsight 2020: A New and Selected Poems by Bethany Wallace.”

Bethany earned her Master of Arts degree in English Language and Literature at Arkansas Tech University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Lyon College.

Homes selected for 2019 Preservation Awards

Each year the Batesville Preservation Association (BPA) selects a small number of property owners to honor for their part in preserving unique architectural assets in the city.

At a ceremony held at The Royal on Main, a new luxury hotel downtown and the recipient of one if its 2019 preservation awards, the board of the BPA announced the full list of honorees for the year.

They are as follows:

MERIT AWARD

(Recognizing long-term preservation of significant buildings)

Sleep Star Lite Building
147 South Broad Street

Built in 1929

Mission Style, reminiscent of Spanish Colonial buildings in the American southwest, with prominent feature of terra cotta tile

“We took him (the state expert) by and he said ‘that is the ultimate in Mission Style’,” Dr. Terrell Tebbetts said of the award committee’s review of the property. “They have maintained the terra cotta tile at the top, and they still have the paneled wood below the show windows.”

Owner Rodney Hall commented that the building was owned by the notable Hale family prior to his purchase of the property in 1974.


MERIT AWARD

Stanley Wood Chevrolet Dealership Building
290 S. Central Avenue

Built in 1930

Mission style, reminiscent of the Spanish Colonial buildings with brickwork in a basket-weave pattern

“A couple of years ago a church approached us, and they’re using the building now,” owner Scott Wood updated. “They’ve done a lot of work to make the building better than it was and keep it going, and we hope they’re going to be there a long time. It seems to be working well for them, and they enjoy having a location that is downtown.”

“The building has been in the Wood family since 1939, so 80 years,” Myra Wood added.


MERIT AWARD

The Stalker House
1580 E. Main Street

Batesville’s fullest example in Batesville of the Mid-Century International Style

“This one is a house I’d long, long admired… Scott and Stephen Stalker and sister Suzanne Magouyrk all grew up in the house, and Scott and his wife live there today,” Dr. Tebbetts said, adding that the home was a Freeman Mobley house.

“We haven’t done a lot to the outside. We remodeled the inside after we bought it after Dad passed in 2009,” Scott Stalker said, adding that his family plans to complete some exterior upkeep projects in the coming year. “We’re not going to do anything really different, but we’re going to update the paint and roof,” he described, recalling, “Suzanne was 3 and I was 2 when we moved into the house.”


MERIT AWARD

The Musgrave House, owned by Karl and Terry Kemp
733 Vine Street

Ranch Style home with sleek, International style influence

“We were driving around the residential neighborhood when the state expert, Paul, noticed the Musgrave house on Vine Street. The Kemps own that and they had just put a new coat of paint on it,” Dr. Tebbetts said. “He said it’s a ranch style house, but that clean stucco surface makes it a very different type of ranch house than you normally see — more International Style. So it’s a Ranch Style with International influence. The Kemps have it now and they’ve done a wonderful job with it.”

“When we first bought the house and moved in, there was carpet all through it, and of course I knew Terry was just dying to see underneath the carpet,” Dan Kemp said. “We knew there were wood floors, but she really wanted to know what they looked like, so I guess really it was the first day, we pulled every stitch of carpet out of the house. The floors were in great shape…Mrs. Musgrave, we had been told, wanted to be able to take up the carpet if she didn’t like it. So we didn’t even have to re-finish them.”


MERIT AWARD

Lyon College’s Highland House
2030 Bearette (the corner of Gwyn and Bearette)

Remodeled in the Georgian style by the Hathcock family in the 1960s


HONOR AWARD

(Recognizing extensive restoration and renovation of historic buildings)

The Carly Dahl and Dustyn Bork Residence
1141 E. College

An interior renovation of the Craftsman-style McMahan Bungalow. The couple recently rebuilt the kitchen, remodeled and added baths, and installed drywall throughout the house, all while respecting and preserving the original elements of the house.

“This was the MacMahan House, and she moved to be with her daughter, and Carly and Dustyn Bork bought the house,” Dr. Tebbetts said of the recent project. “They have done a paint job on the outside, but what they’ve done on the inside is a total (rehabilitation).”

“We refinished the floors — they were beautiful, hardwood floors — and we updated (the layout) so that it went from a 4-bedroom/1-bath to a 3-bedroom/2.5-bath,” Dustyn Bork described. “We tried to keep as much of that 1921 Bungalow Arts & Crafts style because we’re big fans. There’s a lot of interesting trim, even on the ceiling, so a lot of nice architectural detail that we wanted to bring back to life.”


HONOR AWARD

The Ned Metcalf Residence
679 E. Boswell Street

Remodeled at one point in the past in the Craftsman Style, owner Ned Metcalf recently completed a total restoration of the interior


SPECIAL RECOGNITION

The Royal on Main
187 E. Main Street

A Nineteenth-Century commercial building with a façade remodel in the Midcentury Modern style in the 1950s, the building has housed the Sterling Store and a furniture store in recent years. This year, owners Stan and Shanna Fretwell completed an adaptive reuse remodel for mixed use, with commercial space on the lower floor facing Main and suite rentals at the rear and on the second floor. The building has already received both Merit and Honor awards in the past, but was given the Special Recognition Award in honor of the hotel reuse adaptation.

“The Maxfield Building has already received Honor Award and Merit Award in the past, so we’ve run out of awards to give it!” Dr. Tebbetts explained. “But now, Stan and Shanna have done such an amazing job with this building, so occasionally the Awards Committee will give out a Special Recognition Award and this year voted to give one to the Maxfield Building, now The Royal on Main.”

“We kept everything original that we could, and re-used as much material as could, but also inside of that, we have modern amenities as well,” Stan Fretwell said. “It was a lot of late night working for a year and a half — Danny Dozier and I were working buddies, him working in the park and me working in here and we’d meet out back.”

“And a lot of the rooms are named after people who historically were connected to the building,” Shanna explained.

How to do plant-based eating in Batesville

Danielle Adams has been eating a plant-based diet for two years and during that time, has discovered a few tips for doing so in Batesville.

“Ethnic food restaurants are my best bets. American-style food is really difficult to eat,” she said. “Thai is the easiest,” she added, explaining that while she is normally limited to one or two items on the menu, at a Thai restaurant, she can order nearly anything on the menu since the creamy items are made with coconut milk and she can add tofu for the protein.

Batesville currently does not have a Thai restaurant of course, but it does have Mexican restaurants. Adams said she and her family were regulars at El Palenque before she went plant-based and still go there after. She said she and the restaurant owner worked together to find a dish to fit her new lifestyle. 

“He was asking questions, and because I speak Spanish, I asked all sorts of questions. He was genuinely intrigued.”

She now orders veggie fajitas with corn tortillas (and sometimes refried beans). 

The Trend

Adams is not alone in her quest. 

Because of the growing need for more protein sources to address the food gap (amount of food being produced verses the amount needed), as well as perceived environmental and health concerns, a growing number of consumers are turning to plants for their 46 grams (adult female) of protein per day.

“The demand for dietary protein…is projected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2030, compared to 2000,” Anne Pihlanto, PhD, food chemistry scientist of Natural Resources, explained at the International Conference on Food Chemistry and Nutrition.

Pihlanto says the reason plants have been underutilized for protein is because of their lower nutritional value and poor solubility in water.

However, now, at two-thirds of the way into the projected growth period, plant-based foods are showing more than 11 percent yearly growth in sales, with plant-based milks contributing significantly to the growth, per a July 2019 report by SPINS, one of the leading wellness-focused data researchers.

Large companies are jumping on the plant-based wagon, too, offering new vegan and vegetarian options. 

Disney added a plant-based option to every one of their dining locations in Walt Disney World in October and plans to do the same in Disneyland this spring, to accommodate the growing number of vegan customers. In September, McDonalds announced it was testing a plant-based burger in Canada.

Also in September, Tyson Foods announced its investment in a plant-based shellfish company. This was preceded by General Mills investing in D’s Naturals, maker of plant-based protein bars and spreads, in early 2017, and Dean Foods Co. taking a minority stake in Good Karma Foods, a flaxseed-based milk alternative mid-2017.

The Problem

Batesville-native Adams says there is a difference between eating a plant-based diet and eating a nutritious plant-based diet. 

In high school, she tried to eat “vegetarian,” but did not replace the meat with other protein sources, which caused other health concerns. 

And one of the forms of plant-based proteins producers have tried offering, plant-based meat, has been criticized as highly processed, high in sodium, and high in fat; therefore, not any healthier than animal-based meat. However, some argue it can serve to transition interested consumers away from a meat-heavy diet. 

Adams started eating plant-based protein to lose weight. She now chooses it as a lifestyle and educates herself by reading books and watching documentaries, and she receives motivation and support from her interactions within plant-based Facebook groups.

She also participates in a local farm share offered by a partnership between Five Acre Farms and Real Goods Market Eatery. Five Acre Farms, in Pleasant Plains, is a Certified Naturally Grown farm, which means it does not use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs. To read more about Five Acre Farms, click here. Real Goods Market Eatery is a local health food market located in the old Radio Shack building across from Bryant’s Pharmacy. Five Acre Farms brings baskets full of fresh produce every Tuesday at 2 p.m. to Real Goods Market Eatery where customers can pick them up.

Real Goods owner Paige Hubbard (pictured above) has a Rainbow Wrap on her regular lunch menu and will sometimes offer a weekly special with a plant-based protein, like quinoa.

Other Certified Naturally Grown farms in the area are Brood Farm and Stewart Produce, both located in Cave City.

For the most part, Adams still has trouble going to restaurants in town for a specific reason. 

“I am not a send-it-backer,” she said laughing, calling it a quirk.  Not wanting to be different means making a lot of compromises when eating out. 

“I miss 109 terribly,” she said.

(109 is an upscale bar and fine dining restaurant located in downtown Batesville, owned by Robert and Beth Christian. It has been closed for updates for eight months, since March 2019.)

“I could go and get the veggie burger, carrots and hummus, and eat 100 percent plant based and feel great about everything I was eating, and I did not have to order anything special. It was the one meal in town I would not have to order extra.”