In Macon, Ga.’s College Hill, a busy events calendar reflects successful efforts at community-building – Knight Foundation

In Macon, Ga.’s College Hill, a busy events calendar reflects successful efforts at community-building

Photo: Zach Deputy entertains the crowd during a Second Sunday concert. Photo by Scott Corkery, courtesy of Bragg Jam Inc.

School rankings, property values, walkability–there are any number of metrics that can be used to gauge the “quality” or desirability of a given neighborhood. Since the College Hill Alliance was formed in 2009 with a grant from Knight Foundation, progress has been made on multiple fronts toward the revitalization of College Hill Corridor, the two-square-mile area that links Mercer University’s campus to downtown Macon, Ga.

One factor that speaks to that change is the robust roster of events and activities that are now held in the corridor. There are large annual happenings, such as the Magnolia Soap Box Derby, during which community organizations sponsor and build soap box cars to race in the midst of food and music, as well as Bragg Jam, a Knight-sponsored music festival held every July across downtown and midtown Macon.

The crowd during a Second Sunday concert. Photo via Bragg Jam.

There are smaller, regular events, too, including the Mulberry Farmers Market at Tattnall Square Park, which attracts local artisans and farmers from all over Middle Georgia every Wednesday, and the Yappy Hour that brings live music, vendors and raffles to Macon Dog Park every third Thursday (the fall schedule this year runs through October).

“The key to College Hill’s success has been the focus on collaboration from the start,” said Jessica Walden, director of communications for the College Hill Alliance, speaking to residents’ efforts to create thriving neighborhoods. “The community didn’t just embrace a Master Plan. They embraced a new way of accomplishment by driving that plan into action.”

It was a group of citizens from the Magnolia Street Neighborhood Association who coalesced to bring back the city’s aforementioned soap box derby, entering into a partnership with Bragg Jam’s nonprofit umbrella organization, Bragg Jam Inc., in 2015. And the Second Sunday Concerts series, which was initiated by the College Hill Alliance, is also now owned and operated by Bragg Jam Inc.

Clarence Carter performing at the Second Sunday Concerts series. Photo by Maryann Bates, courtesy of Bragg Jam Inc.

Held the second Sunday of the month from April through October, the concerts are billed as “community picnics” with live music. Always free, they regularly draw crowds of 2,000 people, with acts ranging from a private high school’s extracurricular band to the late, legendary Percy Sledge.

“The Second Sunday Concerts have been a way to see that [community] collaboration in action,” Walden said. “People from all walks of life have regularly attended these concerts–which came from the community’s ideas–and have grown them into a part of our Macon culture and offerings.”

The final concert of the year will be on Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m. Concertgoers can expect to hear Latin music in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.