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Decatur Diary | April 6, 2018

UMCH Community Input: Still time to host or attend a Civic Dinner

Still looking to contribute your ideas for the former United Methodist Children’s Home property? Then check out Civic Dinners.

Civic Dinners are sort of like a focus group where people come together around a table to share their thoughts on a particular topic. Except in our case, rather than the future of widgets, that topic is the future of these 77 beautiful acres. And rather than a sampling of demographically-aligned strangers, it’s your neighbors. And rather than a sterile conference room with two-way mirrors, it’s someone’s dining room or local restaurant.

So far we’ve had 16 dinners with 18 more coming up shortly, bringing the ideas and ambitions of another 200 people to the table.

“I had a pretty mixed group so it wasn’t surprising that we had some pretty diverse ideas,” says Angie Macon, who hosted a dinner in March. “People had very different views of what the property was to them, particularly those who grew up here. Very different historical perspectives on what this opportunity represents.”

Want to be a part of it? Because there’s still time to host your own gathering or attend someone else’s.

A Simple Premise

Here’s all you do: Folks sign up to host a dinner (or lunch, breakfast, coffee…) and are given three topic-specific questions to explore during the meal. Others sign up as guests, with 6 to 10 attending each gathering.

Hosts set whatever terms they’re comfortable with. Gather at home or at a local restaurant or coffee shop. Provide everything or ask your guests to bring something — side dish, dessert, beverage — to contribute. Everything is fully customizable.

Civic Dinners bring people together in purposeful conversation. The format is designed to avoid debate or dominant voices, and instead encourage listening and understanding of different perspectives. In short, it’s a way for Decatur neighbors to do something they often do naturally, but towards a very specific goal: A master plan for the future of this extraordinary 77 acre property.

Join the hundreds of people who’ve already contributed to this process. Sign up today!

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Ground Rules: We encourage respectful community conversation around planning and development issues in the City of Decatur. Participants are asked to login via Facebook, Twitter or Google, or create a user account through Disqus. Profane or abusive contributions may be moderated.


  1. Crazy Bob says

    Being the “crazy” kind of guy I am, I would like to suggest “A Running Track” facility, complete with bleachers and bathroom and dressing room facilities. Not only could it be used by student athletes in the City Schools of Decatur for practice and track meets, it could be opened to all residents of Decatur. In it’s 126 year history, this is something the school system has never had and it’s time has come. Please make it a reality.

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