What’s it like to take the job formerly held by the new mayor of Columbus?
“What was I thinking?” Teresa was president-elect of Trees Columbus, and when she resigned to be director of MidTown Inc., she asked if I was willing to take her place as president of Trees. Then I followed her as executive director of MidTown. Isn’t it smarter to follow a bumbling underachiever? But she and our MidTown board have built a strong foundation, and she is in the right place at the right time, and I hope that I am, too. And in eight years, I do not plan to succeed her again.
How are you different from and similar to Mayor Tomlinson?
Age. And I require sleep. I have worked with Teresa for years on MidTown and other projects, and I don’t think she sleeps. She is absolutely tireless. We both chose Columbus and MidTown as home. I think we share the same passion for community, for the attributes that make MidTown and Columbus special — the walkable neighborhoods and our local businesses, the parks and trees, the architecture, history and stories that give us a sense of place, and the people who define our local character. Columbus is a wonderful size, not too big, not too small. It offers variety, is a wonderful place to raise a family and is a place where you can be as engaged as you want, where you can find ways to make a positive difference, individually, through involvement with your children’s schools, and through organizations and efforts you embrace. Though I came from a small town, and Teresa from the city, I think we both found in Columbus an ideal balance and sense of community.
What’s the biggest misconception about the geographic area known as Midtown?
People are surprised when they learn our actual MidTown boundaries: They think we are more expansive, or much smaller. We are six-plus miles bounded by I-185 on the east, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on the south, 10th Avenue on the west and Talbotton-Warm Springs Road on the north.The other misconception is about crime. We are often asked about safety issues within the MidTown area. So it is heartening to look at the 2010 statistics from the Columbus Police Department and learn that, in fact, MidTown’s Cross Country area is one of the safest places to shop in town. We all need to be aware of our surroundings and use our common good wherever we are, but it is nice to have statistics that support MidTown’s ongoing efforts to build a safer community of neighborhoods and businesses.
What’s the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley that you don’t mind everybody knowing about?
MidTown. As a place to live, to work, to shop and to play. My favorite place in MidTown is no secret at all: Lakebottom Park is a gathering place for all of Columbus, and this time of year at any time of day, it is pure joy to see hundreds of people of all ages engaged in playful, competitive and healthful activity there. And the graceful new trail and tree plantings connecting Lakebottom Park to the Village on 13th is a great enhancement to neighborhood walkability.
What is MidTown Inc.?
MidTown Inc. is a young, nonprofit organization with the mission to sustain and enhance the neighborhoods and businesses within MidTown Columbus. We pursue this mission through education and advocacy, projects and programs, all undertaken in support of community, conservation and diversity. We were founded, in part, to implement a 25-year master plan that outlined infrastructure improvements to help redefine the community; to help facilitate these improvements; and to foster economic redevelopment. Just as importantly, MidTown Inc. was founded to help re-establish a community, to erase the impression of the Wynnton-Macon Road corridor as a dividing line, to be an inclusive model of diversity, to be an organization that facilitates positive growth and revitalization and undertakes advocacy and educational efforts.