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Public describes Dunwoody in one word

Champion Newspaper (32)

Can a city be described in one word? And if so, is social media the best place to find out?

Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber member Heyward Wescott sought to answer such questions on Jan. 3 with a seemingly well-intentioned post on Facebook.

“I am looking for words (one word) that describe Dunwoody,” Wescott posted. The post was public and aimed to garner responses from metro Atlanta residents, not just those in Wescott’s social media circle.

Wescott told The Champion on Jan. 6 that he was not yet ready to discuss the motivation behind the post, but would be ready in “a few weeks.”

With more than 120 responses and shares—including some from Dunwoody government officials—the results, as one might expect, varied from supportive to critical, positive to negative, playful to serious and constructive to miserly.

Within five minutes, Joseph Fuentes, a Sandy Springs resident responsed with “TRAFFIC.” A few minutes later, Dunwoody business owner Travis Reid responded with “Homogenized.” Less than one minute later, Dunwoody resident Adrienne Duncan simply responded with “NO.”

Certain respondents pointed out issues they felt need to be addressed. Georgia Wescott posted “White,” while Scott Stephens said Dunwoody should be described as “banks.” Howard Cobb called Dunwoody “elite,” while Jon Ussery labeled the city “Former home of the Brook Run Theater,” which was recently demolished.

Debbie Montgomery joined in by calling Dunwoody “theaterless,” while Kerry de Vallette responded with “Drama!”

The majority of Facebook respondents posted positive labels for Dunwoody. Resident Katie Williams responded with, “Central. Pleasant. Attractive. Preferred. Prime. I could go on and on.” She was joined by Realtor Terrell Swarbrigg who branded the city as “welcoming,” as well as Cary Romanoff (“cozy”), Vicki Letbetter (“friendly”), and KG Fletcher (“supportive”).

Dunwoody city councilman John Heneghan referenced Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town by responding with “Grover’s Corners,” the fictional, small-town setting that serves as the play’s main focus.

Councilman Terry Nall responded with Spruill Gallery’s famous white panel sign by posting “Everything Will Be OK.”

Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch did not give her own suggestion, but thanked Wescott for the exercise.

“I love seeing everyone’s responses,” Deutsch said.

According to Steven Polunsky at the Scholars Strategy Network at Texas A&M University, social media breaks down barriers between government officials such as Wescott and the public they serve.

Polunsky said innovations such as Facebook and Twitter allow the public to express opinions and share information readily with officials and vice versa.

In Dunwoody specifically, this is evidenced by councilman Heneghan’s blog as well as county board of education member Stan Jester’s blog, both of which provide information to constitutents before and after meetings.

“What if there were an easy way for citizens to share opinions with decision makers at optimal moments, when their views might really count?” Polunsky said. “New forms of social media may offer just such opportunities.”

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