OneMacon! 3.0 update
By Verda Colvin and David Thompson
OneMacon announces the implementation of its third five-year community action plan with three new tri-chairs. These three individuals will organize community outreach in 2023, alongside Fourth Economy, a national community and economic development consulting firm that focuses on fostering action to create great communities, impactful organizations, and strong economies, to develop the third five-year community action plan.
OneMacon is a community collaboration consisting of a range of community voices to identify what changes the community would like to accomplish in the next five years. By working with existing partners to recruit new partners, OneMacon identifies problems and opportunities, finding solutions to community issues.
Former chairs Kathryn Dennis, Robbo Hatcher, Justice Verda Colvin, and David Thompson will remain involved to assist the new tri-chairs.
We sat down with Dominique, Erin, and Gary to learn more about their vision.
Erin Keller - NewTown Macon Chief of Staff
Dominique Johnson - Pastor at a Kingdom Life and CEO of The Urban CEO
Gary Wheat - President and CEO of Visit Macon
Why does OneMacon matter? What is the value of this work?
Gary: OneMacon is critical to success and growth of our community as it allows for various organizations and leaders to work a plan with many moving parts to success. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment in establishing a forward-thinking map with our neighbors to make sure all Macon citizens benefit from the work being done.
Erin: The OneMacon initiative is distinctive, and its purpose is inextricably intertwined with Macon’s renaissance and her future successes. The way in which OneMacon functions is unique because OneMacon belongs to the people. Macon’s evolution has been curated by plans, people, and partnerships. OneMacon’s success is a direct result of our change agents deciding to commit to this process and be accountable to their peers and the larger Macon-Bibb community. This work is valuable because today’s work will undoubtedly impact the next generation.
Dominique: OneMacon matters because this is an opportunity for the city, citizens, and organizations to come together to move the city forward.
What special talents do you bring to OneMacon for V3.0?
Gary: I am happy to be serving alongside Dominique and Erin as we each bring unique talents and qualities while sharing an immense love for Macon-Bibb County. In my role as President/CEO at Visit Macon, I have the opportunity to work with diverse groups, events, and leaders. I use these opportunities as learning experiences as well as using for visioning future projects, networks, and relationships. Plus, in my role in tourism, I am able to hear from and see through the eyes of Macon’s visitors on what attracts them here and what is needed for the future.
Erin: Dr. R. Kirby Godsey said, “A community has to continually be re-founded, re-invented, re-created, and that can only happen if we foster entrepreneurial thinking.” OneMacon is an inclusive and collective approach to engage different individuals from every aspect of our community who choose to work side by side for the betterment of this place we call home. OneMacon is the proven resource that creates the lull in the chaos to think big, re-imagine, re-tool, and build trust to ensure this is a better place for tomorrow than today.
Dominique: Outside of vision casting and team building, I think I have the unique ability to convene and communicate with those from different socio-economic backgrounds.
What priorities do you hope to address in the next five years with your partners?
Gary: I want to continue to shine the light on Macon through our work with travel writers and publications. We have been featured in Forbes, Southern Living, and Garden and Gun, as well as being listed as one of the “Best Places to Visit in 2023” by Frommer’s Travel Guide. I also want to continue work on the designation of Ocmulgee Mounds as Georgia’s first National Park as well as working on designs in East Macon to welcome the influx of visitors over the next 10 years.
Erin: Not wishing to get ahead of myself, because you don’t know what you don’t know, but I am eager to re-invent, re-tool, and re-imagine the ways in which we can expound on the existing work and momentum around wealth building and racial equity. Those are real-life issues that affect a majority of Maconites.
Dominique: Within the next five years, I hope we can continue to move forward with education, economics (addressing redlining), the development of urban leaders and the communities they live in, and also being a voice for those who may not have one.
What ideas do you have to increase participation and increase diversity?
Gary: We will continue to tell the wonderfully unique stories of Macon’s neighborhoods and citizens as our visitors want to experience all of Macon.
Erin: Identifying issues and opportunities that affect an even larger community base will inherently increase participation and diversity. I am elated to work with, learn from, and build alongside my fellow tri-chairs! Dominique and Gary are established, dynamic leaders in this community, and, genuinely I am looking forward to creating “Macon Magic” with them as well as each of the working committees to continue and further the new strategic plan!
Dominique: I think we have to be intentional and go where people are and invite them into places where they may not normally be invited. We have to create learning communities where we can listen to each other and speak freely as well.
What excites you most about Macon in the next five years?
Gary: The world is now noticing Macon through all the hard work of visionaries in our community. It is exciting to introduce the world to Macon, Georgia, and show all the wonderful qualities that make Macon home. In building a destination that people want to visit, we also create a place that people want to live, open a business, and raise their family. That is exciting to me – sharing my home with new visitors which can become new residents.
Erin: To have received each of the former Chairs’ support, confidence, and belief to further this necessary work, I am equally humbled and honored. Macon was a completely different place when I arrived in the Fall of 2004 compared to Macon as she stands today. “Cities exist, but communities are made.” Macon was just a city when I started college, but today — Macon’s change agents, collectively, took a bold stance: Macon’s best days will be ahead of her. The next five years excite me because we are leaning into the uncomfortable, having transparent discussions, listening (for the most part) to each other, and collaborating. We are honest about our challenges, committed to addressing historical wrongs/failures, while boasting a genuine passion for Macon to reach her potential, and yet dreaming about the impossible, and even daring to do it!
Dominique: There is an energy that is brewing in Macon that we need to catch. I am excited about the work that Cure Violence, The Urban CEO Inc. is doing. There are people that I am excited about the most. I’m excited about the diversity that you are bringing in Macon Magazine. Also, there are people who are reaching across racial lines and trying to make a difference as it relates to race and economics.