Editor’s Note: As part of the five-part “Macon in the Mirror” series published in the Telegraph and at macon.com, we invited readers to join the conversation by completing an online survey. Responses from nearly 600 people who completed the survey online or through in-person interviews formed the basis of the series. Today, we are publishing a sampling of comments from the latest respondents.
Charles Olson has lived in Macon for 23 years and loves the city’s architecture and feeling of community. He said there are misconceptions that people who live in north Macon are “uppity” and “racist.”
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he wrote. “Folks in north Macon feel isolated because of this misconception and thus do not get involved as much with other projects as they should. We have a lot of great happenings here, but as long as those who try to help don’t feel appreciated, it won’t get better.”
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Wendy Barnard has lived in Macon all of her life. She designs bridal wear and formal wear as a hobby and expressed frustration at urban blight, racial divisions and the public school system. But, she said, she stays because her roots are here.
“Macon-Bibb seems to be growing culturally and economically and there is an active and passionate movement to get Macon to continue to evolve and provide,” she wrote.
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Karen Capps moved to Macon as a child and is frustrated by the “good old boy network” that is still in existence. She also wrote it was frustrating that there are “new retail facilities on the outskirts of town, when there are multiple empty strip malls that could be recycled.”
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Devon Morris spent part of his childhood off Rocky Creek Road and now lives downtown. He said people’s misconceptions that downtown is dangerous are wrong.
He wrote that he has, “enjoyed every minute of living downtown. I walk to work and have since given up my car and am glad about the revitalization of the entire downtown area from College Hill Corridor to NewTown Macon.”
Theresa Johnson grew up in Pleasant Hill and described it as a “community where hard working, middle class, African-American families lived” and one of the few areas where blacks could live in a segregated Macon.
She now lives in Decatur, but returns to Macon frequently.
“I believe the crime problem here is overblown,” she wrote. “Crime is everywhere. What frustrates me most is that Macon appears to be a divided city. Economic development is occurring in the northern reaches of the county. Certain areas, such as Pleasant Hill, east Macon and south Macon seem to be left out entirely. I have not seen any nice or high-end restaurant or retail establishments open in those areas.”
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Jake Carpenter grew up between Macon and Warner Robins but said he considers himself a Maconite. He is currently in Uganda working in water supply development and plans to be back in Macon for part of next year.
He said he was frustrated by the “limited success of efforts to improve the public school system.”
“Public schools lie at the heart of a community, and there is no doubt that despite the sincere efforts of many, Bibb’s system continues to struggle,” he wrote. “My frustration is specifically directed at a state Legislature and governor that don’t value (and actively undermine) public education, a BOE (Board of Education) that has often made poor decisions, and a paradigm that seems to undervalue good teachers and administrators while retaining poor ones. These frustrations cannot be separated from my disgust with the racial and socioeconomic prejudices apparent throughout our local history that contributed to the current situation. With that said, I’m hopeful that new leadership can set Bibb’s school system on a better course.”
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Carol Pillow grew up in Macon and later moved to Virginia before convincing her husband to move back to Macon.
“It feels like home,” she wrote about what she likes most about Macon. “I love the architecture, the friendliness of the people, the fact my family lives here and the lack of bad winters.”
If you are interested in being a part of “Macon in the Mirror,” please contact us at 478-250-9629, email us at MaconInTheMirror@gmail.com or send us a tweet using #MitM.