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Midtown is a Verb. An Action Item.

Greg Guhl, president of the Midtown Neighbors' Associations, speaks about community.

In this age of community branding, building awareness and attracting commerce, we have seen many attempts to paint a pretty picture of a community, only to see the results drop as a sun sets in the sky.

Some communities have appeal. Others don’t.

What makes Midtown special?  Why is a strong sense of community so important?

I recently met with a high school friend of mine, Terrence Burns, president of Helios Partners. He and his partners helped Russia win the bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Terrence knows branding.

He knows every city, country or municipality has its own image, something that makes it uniquely special –- a certain identity. He told me branding an individual community is very difficult (this didn’t surprise me). 

Communities grow, evolve and develop over time. It’s like aiming for a target that is in constant motion.

So who is Midtown really?

Trying to paint an image of Midtown with just one color (sorry, I couldn’t resist) just won’t work.

Midtown is a leader in diversity in the Southeast. More than black or white, gay or straight, conservative or liberal, I am talking true diversity. Our community includes an abundance of residents and business owners from across the globe.

Diversity extends to our professional careers, economic backgrounds and education. We have college students mixing and mingling with professionals, entrepreneurs and families. We have people from all walks of life enjoying our neighborhood together -- artists, lawyers, doctors and executives.

We have neighbors experiencing the woes of the economy. Walking in the park with people who travel the world, we develop a special camaraderie.

The depth of Midtown’s diversity is significant. It extends beyond business to students and professors at Georgia Tech who are leaders in technology.

And just down the block people are pushing the limits of creativity at SCAD. Don’t forget Midtown is a hub of arts and culture with the High Museum of Art, The Alliance Theatre, ASO, MODA, countless art galleries, live comedy venues and the Center for Puppetry Arts.

The passion and drive within the people that live and work here also makes us special. 

Midtown is a verb. It’s an action item.

More about MNA

Midtown Neighbors’ Association (MNA)… I had to mention MNA sooner or later… has created community events like the Tour of Homes and Midtown Atlanta Shop and Dine Week.

MNA hosts community forums to introduce neighbors to candidates for public office.  Recently, our organization gave participants an opportunity to get to know Midtown (and our City Councilmen) by taking part in the Midtown Scavenger Hunt.  Our Education Committee developed and hosted “I ART Midtown,” an art contest for students from local schools.  All original events, created and implemented by volunteers. All giving back -- supporting the police, fire fighters, education, arts, our neighbors and the community. 

A group of enterprising residents planned for well over a year to create and implement the Midtown Festival of the Arts. The group of volunteers successfully closed Peachtree Street to showcase visual artists, vendors, musicians and culinary artists. The event gave the community an opportunity to raise money for safety measures and other causes. 

Why? Because that’s the way it should be.

Do good things, for the right reasons.

-- Greg Guhl, president of the Midtown Neighbors’ Association

JonC July 27, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Agreed, Midtown is a place that's truly lovable. What are the boundaries for the Midtown Neighbors' Association?
Mary July 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Gregg sure paints a picture of diversity but certainly leaves out the fact of dysfunctionality as represented by the MNA, which he heads. Interesting that he touts accomplishments by other organizations. The one that was actually under the banner of MNA, was actually organized and paid for personally by a MNA Board member and he allowed MNA to take the credit. The one thing that the “diverse” Midtown has organized around is Safety, yet Gregg personally closed that Committee down. Then there is the street light program where the MNA funded street lights which are a proven tool in reducing crime. Now dead; Gregg shut it down. Gregg and the MNA need to come to the reality that MNA is an albatross that really does not serve a viable purpose except to raise enough money through tired events. His own pet project Shop and Dine has had a few years to succeed but it a mediocre performer. Yet MPSA in one year pulls together a world class event that had a positive impact on Midtown. MNA can’t even deal with special events in the Park. Heck even Ansley Park had more input to the upcoming Music Midtown than MNA did. And finally, under the new & improved MNA the one little thing that improved the quality of life in Midtown also disappeared. Where did the clean-up crew and trash can program go. These once vibrant, hugely successful volunteer programs are gone. Keep in mind that Gregg is a “professional” PR person. The context of his postings need to clarified by the Patch.
Rick D. Day July 29, 2011 at 01:05 PM
No one on the MNA Board is allowed to speak in public about Midtown without permission of the President of MNA, so I am not speaking as a board member. As a resident and business owner in Midtown, as well as a member of MNA who regularly attends meetings, I do remember when things were a bit more community focused, but to attack Greg per above, is to also belittle the years of volunteer work several board members who have come and gone, have put into that organization. Yes, sometimes, some positions have been abused by those with 'agendas', but they tend to get weeded out and marginalized. As they should. Like everyone else, that particular entity has been hurt with a drop in volunteer hours, and lower than expected fund raising. Every person reading this knows as a fact: we are all working harder and longer just to keep up (or survive). Any time given to the community should be considered precious. While there are a few gems of fact in Mary's post, I challenge Mary and other's who may feel the same way to step up and join this board (there are several openings, from what I understand). Once here, join the newly formed Community Involvement Committee and work to bring back the MNA you perceive, rather than being critical of sound volunteer work done today. Again, I am not speaking as a official representative of, rather. a supporter of this entity as a concept. Thank you, Patch, and thank you MNA.
Deedra Hemphill July 29, 2011 at 04:51 PM
"Mary's" comment contains more than a few glaring inaccuracies. Too many, in fact, to address each. Moreover, the comment seems to focus on the Midtown Neighbors' Association and not on the overall topic of the article. I would have to question "Mary's" animosity and join with Rick Day in inviting her to become more involved with the organization. And, to quote one of my professors, "Cite your source."
Mary July 30, 2011 at 12:08 PM
Gregg attempts to lay out the welcome mat to Midtown; in practice he lays out the door mat. Gregg is a PR professional. He is attempting to use his skills to market Midtown to bring more people to our businesses and to fill our empty condos. He and MNA ignore the fact that safety is the number one issue for residents, businesses and visitors alike per MNA surveys. Gregg personally lobbied for the removal of the Safety Committee and Street Light Program. He has shutdown voices and decided he speaks for our community. As evidenced by his article, he appears to whitewash Midtown and bury the safety issue under a rock by not even mentioning it. MNA is avoiding real safety issues by shutting down the safety committee. It does not effectively act on the dozens of emails, resident input about the City’s inept management of special events in the Park. When the Safety Chair try’s he is silenced. Gregg is personally complicit in supporting the City in abusing our neighborhood. Read the email chains of outraged citizens from Jazz Fest. Indeed the MNA Board has many talented and dedicated people. MNA hides behind the auspicious of nonprofit to avoid speaking out against the ineffectiveness of the City; it’s political. MNA ignores the reality that nonprofits can educate and in that process point out what is wrong. The past safety chair was ignorant of the ostrich group think of the Board and dared to educate. In that process he was ostracized, minimalized and then shutdown.
Deedra Hemphill July 30, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Again, "Mary", your statements are full of inaccuracies. And "Mary", you know I have, in fact, read not only the emails to which you refer, but many, many more. Please, feel free to give me a call and I can try to explain to you where you have misunderstood various conversations regarding the Midtown Neighbors' Association, specifically, the Safety Program and Street Light Program (which, by the way dear readers, have NOT been disbanded, are still active and are NOT going away - the Safety Program is simply being realigned to more effectively address the neighborhood issues). This article was one to highlight all that is good about Midtown in the midst of all of the negative press Midtown has received through the summer. I would suggest that if you feel so unsafe in Midtown, and do not agree Midtown is truly a great place to live, perhaps this isn't the neighborhood for you. However, I suspect your angst lies not with the content of this article, nor with Midtown, but with Greg personally. It's sad that you have chosen this forum and taken the focus away from an overall positive article about the neighborhood I love.
Mary July 30, 2011 at 04:10 PM
My, My Deedra…..how typical of MNA……if one does not agree or sees things differently than the MNA the actual words are “perhaps this isn't the neighborhood for you.” What I hear, is move away! As the Board dwindles and the challenge to find Board candidates grows greater each year, MNA may want to consider that your message to me has rooted itself in the community. Gregg is the one that chose to open the door on MNA in the article. He did not leave it as a PR piece for the area; he gave a good percentage of the article plus his personal credits with MNA. Interesting that other Board Members can’t do the same without his permission. You seem to want to assure me that safety is a priority and will be handled in an effective & efficient manner. If such a significant change was going to occur why wasn’t it clearly outlined in the Board Agenda; why wasn’t it headlined on the website? This is a major change, yet it wasn’t even discussed as a possibility at the Annual Meeting. It appears to be a knee jerk reaction and a maneuver to undermine an individual board member…..one that has been very effective and well liked by the membership. That person may not fit the “mold” of the desired MNA persona but he is definitely a character gets attention, and may I say…results! As my college professor used to say, “be careful what you say in a crowded bar, it may be over heard.” Perhaps you and Gregg should not have MNA conversations in crowded bars.
Sabrina Watson August 02, 2011 at 04:07 PM
This is a great article Greg!
Lynda Idleman August 15, 2011 at 11:19 PM
As treasurer of MNA, please let me assure anyone concerned about the streetlight program, that I pay the bill for 15 lights to the tune of $223 and change each month. The program is not going away. I want to see more lights installed and the board is working to get volunteers to help us find more places for them. If ANYONE knows of a dark spot in the Midtown area where there is a pole with electricity, but no light, let us know and steps will be taken to install a light (that will be paid for by MNA each month). Each light costs about $15 each month. We could also use donations to the streetlight program. Either money OR residents can "adopt a light" on their street and pay for it themselves each month.
Lynda Idleman August 15, 2011 at 11:27 PM
JonC...the boundaries of the Midtown neighborhood (not the Midtown Neighbors' Association) are the following: western boundary is I85/I75, the eastern boundary is the old railroad tracks that run beside the Sears building and behind Whole Foods-Home Depot-etc., the southern boundary is North from the connector to Argonne and then up to Ponce, follow Ponce until it goes under the train trestle at Sears. Piedmont Park is not part of Midtown (nor any other neighborhood...it belongs to all the citizens of Atlanta)...so 10th to Piedmont is the northern boundary of the neighborhood, up Piedmont to 14th, then from 14th up Peachtree to where Peachtree and West Peachtree converge at Pershing Point. Those are the boundaries of the Midtown neighborhood.

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