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Bridging the Gap on Buford Highway

A grassroots movement is in the works to try to unify the newly annexed communities with the older side of Norcross.

Every city wants to feel that sense of community, a connection that makes its citizens feel like one big family.

The city of Norcross has established that to a degree, but considering the cultural diversity in the across Buford Highway and I-85, some extra work may be in store.

The city knows this and wants to connect the communities together. Around 50 local leaders gathered Wednesday, March 25, at the to start that process through the Norcross Together Leadership Summit.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, PR Manager Tixie Fowler and author Joe Kissack of "The Fourth Fisherman" gave anecdotes and presentations of what the city wants to accomplish and how the leaders in the room can work together to make those connections.

"Buford Highway is a very real dividing line, making it physically and psychologically challenging to create a sense of community, which is our goal," said Fowler at the March 21 event. "What we need to do is create an environment that makes positive results inevitable."

Some of those challenges root back to differing perceptions, she said. Social values and ethnic and economic differences clash among the cultures on both sides of Buford Highway. 

Fowler explained that this is the perfect time to fix those preceptions. The Imagination Proclamation, which was made by the city years ago and was read yesterday by the mayor, gave Fowler an epiphany: It says that the community may find itself at a point where there's a way for the past and the future to intercept.

"We are at that crossroads right now," she said. "We have a phenomenal opportunity ahead of us."

Kissack, author of "The Fourth Fisherman," was also a major part and inspiration for the seminar. He talked about his inspirational novel, which tells how three Mexican fishermen were rescued after being stranded at sea for nine months and how their story changed his life with his personal struggles. 

"The common thread between the fishermen's stories, and my story, [and everyone else's stories] ... is that, ultimately, we are all the same," Kissack said. "We're just trying to survive the next day."

Overall, the first summit for Norcross Together had everyone inspired and ready to hit the ground running. Many people were ready to tackle the issues of communication and developing a database for community resources, and committees were formed by the end of the summit.

Other Norcross Together events will be planned for leaders in the next few months before the final event, which will be a June festival in Lillian Webb Park.

Neva Spell March 22, 2012 at 06:56 PM
"Bridge the Gap" : And, please, lets think this through - 1. Yes, there's a gap and why would we want to bridge it and, lets describe it as the east side and the west side, with Buford Hwy the dividing line? 2. If this, yet another enormous project mentioned above, is started on the east side of Norcross, who's paying for it? Is this a private-sector venture? Government/tax-payer venture or all the above? Who's in charge? Are we even thinking about hiring local people to do the work? etc...... 3. How is this project, in the above article, going to compliment the other project that is now being introduced for the Downtown, west side? 4. Which area is more important to begin with, east or west? (I can actually see layers of improvements, on both sides, as we can afford them.) 4. And how are these above projects, even going to compliment, our American Spirit?
Ivan Santos January 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I'm very fortunate to live close to my job at Technology Park and I drive every day through the city. I love to see what the city is doing and did with the Lillian Webb Park and Thrasher Park too. The improvements on sidewalks and landscape make me feel proud to be part of the city. I’m not ashamed to live at the east side, close to Buford Highway. But, boy! Have anyone try to cross on foot this Buford Highway it is just impossible. I see people running or stuck at the middle road. I don’t understand why it is so difficult for the City’ council see this. I would enjoy very much to have a walk from my house to these parks or downtown, but it getting very dangerous to cross the road. I hope with all the improvement at Mitchell Road there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and let it be “green” for pedestrians.

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