Here we go again; we read in the paper about One Macon. This is a great idea, but if it is to be done by the same people what will be the end result? In a couple of years, another study will be completed by an out-of-town company that will interview the same people -- and you already know the rest of the story.
I mention this because in my 29 years of living in Macon, the story keeps repeating itself. We move so slowly. When I first came here the first thing I thought was, why dont we have one unified government? That only took 28 years to happen.
Nothing against the One Macon ideas and principles, but the problem is that we keep talking about engaging the community. If we dont start talking with the people who have been marginalized in the beginning, we may never reach them. Did the people that gather information for the study go to poor neighborhoods? Did they talk with people of different nationalities? Did they talk with regular people on the street? Or did they only talk with people in their office and by appointment only?
We cannot engage the community if we refuse to talk with very people who are affected by these decisions. Many of our elected officials only visit various neighborhoods when its election time. They dont have any idea of the struggles of real people or the treatment they receive. At this time and age we are still looking at people as categories.
Were any of the studys participants youth involved in the local gangs? They are part of the generation that we are losing daily. They are engaged in moving the community in the wrong direction. If we can get their attention and focus their energies on something positive, maybe we can actually begin moving forward.
One Macon will not be a success if small businesses are not included as well. Not all of the owners can afford to be part of the local chamber of commerce, but they are generating bright new ideas and money. They take the risk and dont get enough recognition. I am almost certain the interviewers did not speak to people of Indian decent who own a vast majority of the hotels, Dairy Queens and gas stations in the area. I wonder if the people creating One Macon interviewed any Latino business owners? One Macon is not black and white anymore. We are very diverse and we need to lock that fact into our minds.
One Macon cannot be successful until we stop reading, and worst yet, being victims of crime. We can bring all the statistics we want but if I were going to bring a new business to town and I read that almost every day a business is robbed, believe me, I would look elsewhere.
One Macon cannot happen until parents, students and teachers get serious and involved in real education with measurable accelerated standards of learning.
One Macon can happen when we listen to everyone. If only we listen to a few, we going to get the same results we are already getting.
One Macon can happen. I hope its not too late.
Moises Velez is the editor for Qué Pasa newspaper.