TedxPoplarStreet asks ‘why Macon?’ last Saturday

An independently organized Tedx event called TedxPoplarStreet took place in Rosa Parks Square Saturday night. The event featured 11 local speakers discussing their thoughts on the positive qualities of Macon.

“I organized it based on a previous experience at a Ted event,” event organizer Andrea Cooke said. “I wanted to bring something like what I experienced to my neighbors.”

The event kicked off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening and lasted until 8:30 p.m. Each guest spoke for around 10 minutes on Macon’s qualities as a city as the audience listened from covered seating. Cooke says the event accomplished her original goals.

“The goal was to share the good news about Macon, how far we’ve come and where we are going,” Cooke said. “The process was long and it required a lot of patience but it was so worth it.”

“Why Macon?” was the question Cooke asked to begin the event. It was a question echoed by all 11 of the presenters that night. “That’s the question we aim to answer,” she said.

Some speakers like Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution program director Brenda Williams commented on their lives growing up in Macon.

“Why did I stay in Macon? I found myself here,” Williams said in her presentation. “I was born and raised here. I got a great education here. I became a mediator and a radio personality… I learned leadership.”

Many of the event speakers relayed their personal experiences in the same way Williams did, linking personal growth to community growth for the city. Maconite and professional dancer Princess Davis mentioned Macon’s rich musical history and the impact it had on her career.

“Macon is greater than the negative,” Davis said. “Am I ‘Macon’ a point, Maconites? It’s filled with amazingly gifted musicians and notable artists seen all over the world.”

Other methods of talking about Macon’s growth included referring to downtown’s economic progress and even a reference to the film Field of Dreams’ “If you build it they will come” and “going the distance” moments.

“I know over the last 11 years I’ve done a lot of the ‘if you build it,’” said Alex Morrison, Executive Director of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority. “I hope I’ve done a lot of the ‘go the distance,’ but I know that I’ve found where I need to be.”

The talks did address some other aspects of Macon. Koryn Young, Executive Director of Storytellers Macon,  acknowledged some problems the city has had in the past in her talk titled “Macon Me Mad,” citing various statistics on Macon crime and education issues. 

The problems weren’t the overall focus of the conversation for Young, however.

“Statistics do not make a community or a city,” Young said in her presentation. “When I lived in California and New York, I was a tiny little tadpole in an ocean of people. I couldn’t possibly make a difference. In Macon, I get to be a medium-sized fish who does make a difference.”

“Macon is my love, Macon is my sister, Macon is my home,” Young said.