Eden author moves Andy up on list

Published 1:15 am Saturday, October 26, 2013

Charles Anderson said he has tried to be as scientific as possible in creating his In Search of Eden list of the top small cities in America.

The retired high school geography and civics teacher who spent more than 50 years researching his list, which he hopes will be published by a national magazine. He’s spent most of the last year contacting communities on the list, and revising it somewhat.

And the revisions keep getting better for Andalusia.

The list always ranked Andalusia higher than any other small town in Alabama, and originally had the city 49th in the nation.

But Anderson has revised that list twice, first moving Andalusia to No. 44, replacing Livingston, Mont., because “it has too much wind in the colder months.”

And, because community spirit matters, he said.

Actually, community spirit matters so much, that after a recent visit, Anderson moved Andalusia to No. 33 on the list.

“When I do the kinds of thing that I do, I try to be as scientific as possible,” he said Friday. “But after 50 years, I know it’s impossible. There is leeway, and in a certain group of towns, various reasons I could put one higher or lower. I just like you guys, and I think you deserve extra, because you and your mayor have done so much with it. It shows enthusiasm in and for your town you don’t always see.”

Anderson said Andalusia has a perfect layout with a court square, a beautiful courthouse, and community space.

Mayor Earl Johnson claimed to be speechless, he was so delighted with the city’s jump to No. 33.

“We won’t rest until we’re No. 1,” he quipped.

Anderson offered some advice for that.

“If he wants to be No. 1, every little place around that Square needs to be filled,” he said. “That’s the only thing holding you back. You’ve done a good job with it, but others have their downtowns filled.”

Anderson, who splits his time between Michigan and Winter Haven, Fla., previously has said location, mild winters, and reasonable costs of living help the city rank.