Richard Hyatt: Macon's in the midst of a real municipal love affair

I love Macon.

Not really, but my personal feelings for our Middle Georgia neighbor aren’t important.

More important is a campaign recently launched by five of Macon’s young potential leaders.

The youthful quintet first met when Macon Magazine identified them for its “Five Under 40 Feature” in 2011. They were cited for their commitment to improving various aspects of the city and Bibb County.

From a discussion Josh Rogers, Julia Mullins Wood, Pilar Wilder, Wes Griffith and Heather Bowman Cutway had among themselves about what they loved about Macon grew an idea to ask that question all over town. They were even more determined to explore their Q&A project when a report called the “Soul of the Community” reflected mostly negative views of the city.

The young people dwelled on high marks in the report for aesthetics, openness and social offerings. After receiving small grants from three local foundations they flooded the area with postcards, stickers, T-shirts and other promotional items proclaiming “I Love Macon.”

They are asking people to take an oath of support. To date, nearly 500 people have signed their pledge and their goal is 10,000 signatures by the end of the year. More information is available on the project’s website: www.ilovemacon.org.

Their pledge is simple.

“I pledge to love Macon and be an advocate for our community. I honestly believe Macon is a wonderful vibrant and unique place to live, work and be involved.

“While acknowledging that our community faces problems common to many cities, I believe it is my responsibility to remind others of our good fortune and to focus on the positive. I pledge to respond to negativity about our community by speaking positively about where I live and insisting others do the same.

“I will recruit five other people who love our community to sign this pledge and join me in celebrating Macon.”

But not every day is Valentine’s Day. As I read the nasty comments that followed an article about this program on www.macon.com, I realized that negativity and cultural slurs are not relegated to sites in Columbus. Actually, Macon may have more whiners than we do, but you must remember they have two local governments to complain about instead of one.

What about Columbus? Do you love it?

Not bumper sticker love but the kind of affection that would lead you to call down a person who you hear spreading untruths about the community around the dinner table at a party or positive feelings that would inspire you to join an online comment board and chide someone for tossing around racial buzz words.

Macon can use such an effort and an “I Love Columbus” program might help us remember the good things about our own community. Even without an interactive website or a colorful T-shirt, you can support your town.

But do you really love it?