Reversing the Curse in our community's land using Robotics

We want to reverse the curse of racism, by transforming an abandoned field into an incredible park for everyone!

Photo of Maxie Cole
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education
  • Technology
  • Environment

Date You Started Your Project Started

September 2nd 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

There is an abandoned piece of land in our neighborhood with a forgotten history of racism. The land sits on the border of two neighborhoods. One is historically black and one is white. The city has used this area as a dumping site for decades. This is hurting our local environment and affecting the property value of community homes. We want to change this.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We are sending a message of unity in a city that is divided by race. Our goal is to reverse the curse of racism by transforming this overgrown lot into a welcoming park for all. Through a partnership between Mercer University, Campus Clubs Robotics team, and Habitat for Humanity, we are going to restore our environment for good! This park will create a bridge between two worlds where healing can finally occur. The land was purchased by Steven DeGeorge about 5 years ago from the city of Macon at an auction. A day before the auction the newspaper wrote a story about this land. In 1940 it was given to our city in a man's will. The will said that it had to be used for park space for whites only. The crazy thing is that it sat just over the border in a historic African American neighborhood called Pleasant Hill. We have decided to partner with Steven to transform the place into a beautiful park for everyone no matter what color their skin is. The Campus Clubs robotics team is doing research to see how they can use robotics to make the park welcoming, add security, keep away mosquitos, and celebrate the diversity of our colorful city.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Being an education major, I already have a soft spot for the youth. So, when Mr. Steve DeGeorge, the Campus Clubs director, told me about the plot of the land that he had bought and wanted to turn it into a park, I thought there was no better opportunity than giving the Robotics team a chance to be apart of this great initiative. I have been all about reform lately, whether it be education reform, socioeconomic reform, or community reform; it is all apart of my passion. According to City Data, 38.6% of residents in Macon, Georgia generated an income below the poverty level in 2016. Building a park in the middle of this scene will create a source of positive economic benefits by bringing in home buyers and increasing property values. Habitat for Humanity, whom I have also volunteered for, are building houses on this same street, so, it is the perfect time to put our plan to action.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

The exciting thing about this project is all of the folks already involved. Just last week a group of 27 high school students came to help haul off trash and dig a path for water to flow across the property. A group of neighbors is helping us by weed eating the land on Saturdays. Mercer University is sending students to the field in October as a part of a city-wide volunteer day. Getting involved with this project means that you will hear our story. We are recruiting people to join us. I am especially committed to helping the students at Campus Clubs get excited about caring for the environment. We have an education garden on the edge of the land. We are working on diverting waste water that is being dumped on the land in an eco-friendly way. It is imperative to show the new generation the importance of land preservation.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

I think our story sets us apart. When you hear about Campus Clubs and the unique things that they do and you hear about the curse the kids are trying to reverse, you cant help but get involved. I am glad that I chose Campus Clubs to volunteer at because this is an after school setting. The students are in a non-stress environment where creativity is celebrated! The students are inspired to do things that actually teach them about the real world, and there are so many different clubs for them to join. Here, everyone is apart of something.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

My robotics team so far consist of about five ten 5th grade students. The 5 girls in the videos are the robotics research team. Seeing young, minority girls at this age want to engage with their community and actually know the history behind why this is so important is amazing. The girls are full of ideas. As soon as they heard about the Changemaker project they've been talking non-stop about this submission!

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We are so excited that Habitat for Humanity has adopted our street! They have already built 3 houses that lead up to the land and have plans for many more! The executive director of the Macon Georgia chapter has talked to us about how glad she is that we are making a park for her residents to enjoy! There are plenty of engineering clubs at Mercer University that I know would love to help with this project as well. We are looking for other groups to collaborate on fundraising to gain the funds and publicity to make this park spectacular and inviting. We think the T-Mobile seed money will help us inspire others to contribute!

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Donations over $10k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Word of mouth


Join the conversation:

Photo of Matthew Tikhonovsky

I love the idea that a park can be turned into a place for healing! This idea definitely could and should be replicated across America.

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