THIS POST IS MY PERSONAL OPINION AND NOT THAT OF ANY ORGANIZATION TO WHICH I BELONG.
Whenever Tuckerites gather, there always seems to a discussion of what Tucker actually means to them. I’ve heard plenty of people talk about maintaining Tucker’s character as the main reason they voted for cityhood. I had this happen again at a dinner Saturday. Getting people to define what Tucker’s character is, however, is not easy. I think I have managed to extract a number of characteristics that often come up in these conversations, and I would love to hear your thoughts. These characteristics are:
- Small-town feel
- Ability to get to know your neighbors
- Ability to be left alone
- Civic participation/engagement
- Established community – not one being developed
- Commercial and cultural opportunities
- Desirability – walkable, social, convenient, etc.
- EDIT, courtesy of Christy Robnett Atkins: I would add Tucker’s historic resources. Many of these may be unknown or just not yet identified as the gems they are, because they have been there for so long. They really help Tucker’s sense of place, and appeal to old and new residents alike. These include Main Street of course, Johns Homestead, Browning Courthouse, Tucker Recreation Center (formerly Tucker Elementary School), the old Andrews House (currently Wade’s Vans), lots of wonderful houses from the early 20th century, and so many awesome mid-century neighborhoods.
I want to go into more detail on these over the next few weeks, and will start now with that “small-town feel.” This is probably the most common characteristic I hear in these conversations – Tucker feels like a small town despite being so close to Atlanta. There are certainly smaller cities closer to Atlanta – Pine Lake, East Point, Avondale Estates, for instance – but it is the small town feel that seems to matter more than it actually being a small town.
Some of the other characteristics I mention above are part of that small-town feel, especially the ability to get to know your neighbors, but other traits really come into play here. They include:
- Locally owned businesses. Yes, we have a Walmart and plenty of fast food joints, but we also have locally owned restaurants, Tucker Pet Store, Cofer, Ace Hardware, the Tucker Mattress Company, and a host of others you would not expect to find in a bigger city. Tucker also has a lot of industrial area (about which I will talk later), some of which houses locally owned businesses.
- City center. Main Street has been a destination for decades, even if just for Matthews Cafeteria. However, it is also ground zero for civic events, the farmer’s market and more actives that draw people from all three Tucker districts.
- Greenery. Everyone I talk to wishes we had more trees, but they are grateful for what we do have. Parks are a key part of this, but the trees along our stream buffers, in neighborhoods, and even in industrial areas help us feel we are distant from the stereotypical grayness of a city.
- Established neighborhoods. Many of our neighborhoods have residents who have been living there for decades. While newcomers are welcome, there is an existing identity as well as a wealth of local knowledge that such longevity provides. In addition, a number of our neighborhoods have members of the same family living in multiple houses, also making it feel more tight knit.
- Ability to know Tucker’s political leaders. You may not always agree with them, but our city council members, mayor and the like are approachable and easy to talk to. They engage in conversations before and after meetings, and some are especially active on social media. I certainly recommend contacting them if an issue concerns you. However, you can also meet them before such an issue arises, so that when one does, the lines of communication are already open.
Does Tucker feel like a small town to you? What makes it feel that way to you – or keeps it from feeling that way if it does not?