From the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority:


Participating in Reimagining the Civic Commons offers an opportunity for Macon

to develop innovative approaches to public assets as we emerge from the



May 27, 2020 — Macon has joined a national initiative to advance

ambitious social, economic and environmental goals through public spaces.

Reimagining the Civic Commons has invited Macon to participate as part of its

efforts to bring the benefits of strategic investments in parks, libraries, trails and

community centers to more cities.

Macon will join leading edge public space practitioners, policymakers, advocates

and residents from around the country advancing new and innovative ways of

designing, operating and measuring public spaces nationwide. The new cities

joining Reimagining the Civic Commons are Lexington, Macon, Miami,

Minneapolis and San José; they join five teams from Akron, Chicago, Detroit,

Memphis and Philadelphia. For the next three years, these 10 cities will work to

transform civic assets to connect people of all backgrounds, cultivate trust and

create more resilient communities.

Macon leaders note the important role that public spaces have played during the

COVID-19 pandemic, and that joining Reimagining the Civic Commons will help

them develop strategies to rebuild social capital and foster more equitable and

healthy neighborhoods.

“We are hardwired as humans to be happier with more social interaction. When

we were in grammar school we instinctively sought out the playground to reenergize

our spirits during our work-day,” Chris Sheridan, Chair of the Macon

Bibb County Urban Development Authority said. “We can bring the experience of

the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail to the urban core by re-imagining our streets and

sidewalks as a playground that enriches our souls. We are not isolated in our

cars speeding on the same routes from home, to work, to shopping or the same

group of friends. Let us re-imagine a place where we want to go just to see who

we might meet.”

Macon’s project will focus on expanding the Ocmulgee Trail network from just a

recreation experience along the river into an equitable bike and pedestrian trail

network that connects core neighborhoods to downtown. The expanded network

will include downtown parks and connections to Pleasant Hill and East Macon.

The team will consist of public and private partners representing the local

government, philanthropy, non-profits agencies, and local businesses. Alex

Morrison of the Macon-Bibb UDA and Robert Walker of the Macon-Bibb County

Recreation Department have agreed to co-chair the effort.

Reimagining the Civic Commons is a collaborative effort of national foundations

— including The JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,

The Kresge Foundation and William Penn Foundation — and local partners

working to transform public spaces in ways that advance engagement, equity,

environmental sustainability and economic development.

“Months of quarantine has brought home to all of us just how much we need

great public spaces.” said Sam Gill, Knight’s senior vice president and chief

program officer. “These spaces will be key to supporting socially connected,

healthy communities as we emerge from this pandemic.”

Launched in 2016, the original Reimagining the Civic Commons cities are

already demonstrating the wide-ranging, beneficial impacts of innovative public

space investments, design and operations:

● In Akron, a formerly neglected lake in one of the city’s hardest hit

neighborhoods has become a gathering place to experience nature.

Summit Lake is now a point of pride for the community, with 94 percent of

visitors believe the previously isolated neighborhood now has a bright


● Memphis has reimagined a set of all but abandoned spaces along the

Mississippi River into an active, revitalized waterfront. Following the

removal of Confederate monuments, the renamed and revitalized Fourth

Bluff Park and River Garden now welcome a diversity of Memphians every

day. Average visitorship to River Garden has nearly doubled and visitors

come from more than 40 zip codes.

To learn more about Reimagining the Civic Commons and explore plans for the

initiative across all 10 cities, please visit:

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About The JPB Foundation

The mission of The JPB Foundation is to enhance the quality of life in the United

States through transformational initiatives that promote the health of our

communities by creating opportunities for those in poverty, promoting pioneering

medical research, and enriching and sustaining our environment. For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in

journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and

James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and

engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

For more, visit

About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress.

Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to

opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle

structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant,

loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually

to foster economic and social change. For more information visit

About William Penn Foundation

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is

dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region

through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from lowincome

families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that

enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. The

Foundation’s assets exceed $2.5 billion. For more, visit

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