For the “Macon in the Mirror” project, we asked residents across Macon: “What misconceptions do people have about you or where you live?” Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
Melody Faircloth, 63
Faircloth, a Macon native, lives in Lizella and runs a business downtown.
“A lot of people are scared to come downtown,” she said. “They have police that walk the beat now and they’ve cleared out a lot of panhandlers, and it’s really a whole lot safer than some of the shopping centers. ... People don’t realize how much safer downtown has gotten.”
Belinda Colbert, 35
Colbert grew up in the Unionville neighborhood but has lived near the south side’s Houston Avenue for the past nine years.
“The only misconception is people tend to try and judge a book by its cover. Just see people for who they are.”
Shirley Irvin, 70
Irvin was born and raised in Macon and likes to spend time helping others.
“The misconception they have about where I live is because we live in Pleasant Hill, they think the only thing in Pleasant Hill is drugs and wild young people, but we have a rich history here in Pleasant Hill,” she said. “We were very active in civil rights. We made sure they got the opportunity to vote and stuff like that. ... We have some very important people that lived or have lived in Pleasant Hill.”
Chris Johnson, 32
Johnson has lived in Macon all of his life and said he could teach others how to repair cars.
“Macon is actually a really nice place. If you just spend time here in Macon, you will realize that it is a really pretty place and it has a lot to offer. It has a lot of history and there is a lot to know about Macon.”
Rick Cain, 41
Cain has been in Macon for 13 years and runs a downtown fitness and personal training business.
“It’s sad that only bad news seems to get a lot of press,” he said. “When you hear how Macon is a ‘thug town,’ I think that’s a misconception. Macon has been branded with that label because of its crime problems and lack of the ability to get control over it, but I don’t feel the crime in Macon is any worse than it is anywhere else. It’s just advertised more.”
June Bryant, 64
Bryant was born in Macon and said the people here are generally good with what you would describe as “good home training.”
“The public schools are not nearly as bad as you would think by only reading the paper. If you walked in the door and sat in a class, it’s not nearly as bad. We hear the most awful stories of the most awful incidents, but we don’t get enough of the positive.”
Maria Whitby, 24
Whitby grew up and lives in Macon, but she attends church in Warner Robins, where her father is a pastor.
“I want them to know that Macon, Georgia, is a good place to live. There may be crimes and stuff that’s going on, but you will find some good. ... You will always find good in the Macon area. It’s a promising city.”
Roz Goudeau, 67
Goudeau has been in Macon for 36 years and works as a licensed clinical social worker.
“Somebody gave me when I moved to Macon a book of lists -- and that was in 1976 -- and Macon was listed as of the 10 least desirable places to live in the United States,” she said. “Somebody also gave me a ceramic wall hanging that said, ‘Bloom where you’re planted.’ I guess what I would want people to know about Macon is I think that any place you go could be good if you choose it to be good and you work for it. I really believe you make wherever you live what it is going to be.”
Jarome E. Gautreaux, 46
Gautreaux moved to Macon in 1973 and enjoys the weather and the cost of living.
“The typical popular portrayal of towns in the American South is not exactly flattering. Macon is certainly not perfect, but the typical superficial portrayal does not capture Macon either as it is or as what it can become. We have lots of good people dedicated to making Macon an even better city -- economically, socially and culturally.”
Benjamin Walters, 71
Walters lived in Macon for a few years before joining the Marines in 1960. He retired from law enforcement and moved to south Macon’s Lynmore Estates community five years ago to help his sister.
“It’s hard to say,” Walters said of misconceptions about his neighborhood. “Some people think it’s the poorest section of Macon, and the people who live out here are proud of it.”
Compiled by Debbie Blankenship, Center for Collaborative Journalism