Macon Magazine

August/September 2021

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Page 37 of 116

The community and its leaders should note that the conditions of poverty — in which nearly a third of our community live — were created as part of a system of advantage using policy and power to build the wealth and influence of those already in power. The direct consequence has been systemic and concentrated poverty afflicting black Maconites at a far greater rate than any other community group. We need to be more intentional about creating and fully funding solutions that employ targeted universal principles. Right now, what is the best thing going on in Macon? There is a really cool movement happening amongst 20- to 30-year-olds in our art community that has been fun to watch develop. Not just in music, but all genres showing creativity: clothing designers, comedians, playwrights, canvas painters, mural painters, tech and web designers, furniture makers and more. What is your vision for our community? My vision is for our county's growth to happen in an equitable and sustainable way. To develop a growth trajectory that will ensure all areas are growing at an equitable pace and which is inclusive of areas now known for their neglect and blight. That will require that the county government take more ownership of the plight and circumstances of the many families living in abject poverty in concentrated neighborhoods, whose views are typically left out of decision- making and power-brokering among the county's leadership. What would be a missed opportunity in Macon? For things to remain the same. If our community continues to avoid the hard conversations about race and poverty — because directly confronting our systems of advantages makes us uncomfortable — then we will continue to perpetuate all the negatives that we claim to be against. Avoiding the tough issues and sidelining the voices of the marginalized can't continue to be the solution. When you talk about Macon to people who don't live here, what do you tell them? I talk about the art scene, the smooth sailing traffic, how big and affordable the housing and lots are, how our central location and highway system can have you anywhere in the Southeast easily and our downtown. There is plenty of opportunity here and a community that is inviting to incoming students, entrepreneurs and creatives. What does it mean to be a good leader? For me, it is trying to listen with more intent from those who barely get a word in, and to advocate for that point of view. It's getting those uncomfortable conversations and important viewpoints to the front of the room, because those ideas and plans that help the most marginalized residents in our community will make the community better for us all. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I have been so blessed throughout my life with a couple of degrees, a few certificates, awards and recognitions that I'm proud of. The brick-and-mortar projects that I've been part of stand out, from the rec centers, to the removal of blighted homes, to the improvements downtown. Also, the opportunities to champion our social, cultural and arts programs, ensuring they get funding to continue and expand their work. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2021 | 35

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