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For the Love of Suwanee

Two messages that author and bottom-up community development guru Peter Kageyama hammers home in his book For the Love of Cities are that little things matter a lot and that creative, innovative, and engaged citizens are essential to producing vibrant, lovable communities. Kageyama will explore these topics and inspire residents to work together to make Suwanee even more loveable when he visits March 23-25.


Peter Kageyama

Kageyama's keynote presentation will be an interactive community workshop, offered from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at the George Pierce Park Community Center. All Suwanee residents and businesspeople are invited to attend this free workshop. Please RSVP to love@suwanee.com by March 17 if you plan to attend.

In addition to discussing what people love about Suwanee and strategies for how to increase citizens' emotional engagement with their community, Kageyama will challenge participants to come up with small, inexpensive ideas that will make Suwanee more lovable.

In his 2011 book, Kageyama outlines a city hierarchy, similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, that posits that once a community's "basic" needs of function (e.g., potholes are repaired expeditiously) and safety are met, citizens aspire to live in places that provide social interaction, are interesting and unique, and offer meaningfulness.

Designs on downtown


Photo by David Douglas

The City of Suwanee will officially kick off its second update to the Downtown Master Plan at a community meeting at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5. Originally adopted in 2002 and last updated in 2009, the Downtown Master Plan provided the foundation for development of Town Center.

This Downtown Master Plan update, which will include a market analysis, design charrette for targeted areas, and other opportunities for public input, is intended to determine the kinds of development that will be appropriate for downtown and to position the City to be eligible for grant funds related to transportation projects associated with future development.

"The original Downtown Master Plan," says Planning Director Josh Campbell, "was one of the biggest factors in transforming Suwanee into what it is today. Hopefully, this update will have similar transformative effects. As the economy is picking up, we anticipate significant development opportunities over the next several years. Downtown Suwanee is by no means a finished product, and we're looking forward to broadly programming additional pedestrian-oriented, mixed uses in the area while respecting the character of what we already have."

In addition to considering specific development opportunities in the downtown area, the plan will focus on transportation, open space, and connectivity. The area in the study covers Town Center and Old Town and includes the entire Downtown Development Authority area.

See a map of downtown area and additional information about the Downtown Master Plan update on the Community/Downtown Master Plan page.

Food, music, fun & more

A total of 48 events, including 19 runs/walks, six Food Truck Fridays, numerous traditional favorites, and several new events, are sprinkled throughout the City of Suwanee's 2015 event calendar.

New events include the Big Cheesy Festival on April 18, Chili Cook-Off on May 2, Melanoma Awareness event on May 31, and Alive! Expo on October 24.

Suwanee's very popular Food Truck Fridays are back the first Friday of the month April-October, with the exception of July. Also back are favorites such as Suwanee Beer Fest on March 14, Woofstock on May 9, Arts in the Park May 16, and Taste of Suwanee October 10.

Broadway in the Park returns to the Town Center stage July 24 and 25 with performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Suwanee Fest will be September 19 and 20.

Here are a few changes to the 2015 events calendar:

  • The Suwanee Farmers Market, which opens May 2, will be Saturdays only this year.
  • The Memorial Day weekend kick-off event is being reworked and tentatively will be rebranded as Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach.
  • All Movies under the Stars presentations – on June 6, July 18, and August 29 – will be double-features.

Ride along with one of Suwanee's finest

Suwanee's Citizens Police Academy allows residents a better understanding of the day-to-day functions of police officers as well as an opportunity to patrol Suwanee's streets alongside an officer. The next academy will be offered Monday evenings March 9-May 11. Classes will be from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Suwanee Police Training Center, 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Notarized applications are due Friday, February 27.

The academy offers classroom training and hands-on experiences in crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification and provides an understanding of the risks and responsibilities of officers. The program is designed to open and maintain communication between citizens and the police department.

Classes are free and open to the public, but space is limited and preference is given to Suwanee residents or those who work in the City of Suwanee. A criminal and driver history background is required for all applicants. For additional information, contact Theresa Miranda or call 770-904-7669.

Run 13.1 on 1/31

You can be a part of history in 2015: Georgia Fitness and the City of Suwanee are teaming together to host the first-ever Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon on Saturday, January 31.

"If you can run a 10K, you can run a half marathon," says Georgia Fitness Manager Jason Vance. "The more training you do," he adds, "the more confident you'll be."

At the same time, Vance believes that the Suwanee half is scheduled so that it will make a good training run for those preparing for a spring marathon.

The race will begin at 7:30 a.m. at Town Center Park. From there, the Peachtree Road Race-certified, 13.1-mile course will meander through Old Town, along Eva Kennedy to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, to Tench Road and eventually George Pierce Park and the Suwanee Creek Greenway to McGinnis Ferry Road, up and back along Northolt, and back along the Greenway to the finish at City Hall.

Registration is available at active.com. Runners will receive a finisher's medal and long-sleeved technical shirt. Race news, including a course map, is available at runsuwanee.com.

Race volunteers are needed as well. Email jasongvance@gmail.com to volunteer.

Farmers wanted

The season of fresh produce, lovely flowers, and yummy baked goods returns to Suwanee when the City's Farmers Market opens on Saturday, May 2. The market is in search of farmers, herb and flower growers, butchers, bakers, jams and soap makers, and others to participate in its 11th season.  Vendor applications are due March 30.

"The Suwanee Farmers Market has a loyal customer and farmer base," notes Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Our market is almost as much a social event as it is an opportunity to access locally grown produce and a variety of other items, such as salsa, honey, eggs and meat, and baked goods."

The Suwanee Farmers Market does not accept arts and crafts, non-licensed products, or produce re-sold from other markets. See additional guidelines.

Vendors who have been part of the Suwanee Farmers Market for less than two years are required to attend the annual Farmers Market meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. In addition, all farmers may be subject to facility inspections by the market manager.

The Suwanee Farmers Market will be open from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May 2-October 3, at Town Center Park. The City of Suwanee will not host Tuesday markets this year.

Put your 'designs' on Suwanee Fest

Your creativity + Suwanee Fest could = $500!

The winning creator of the 2015 Suwanee Fest theme logo, which will be used on official festival t-shirts and marketing posters, will receive $500. The theme for the 2015 festival, to be celebrated September 19 and 20, will be "For the love of Suwanee."

The competition is open to professional and amateur designers of all ages. Designs may be hand-drawn or computer-generated. Entries should be submitted in printed and electronic format. The deadline for submission is May 1. See guidelines for additional information and an entry form.

Suwanee Fest is the community's annual two-day fall celebration. The award-winning festival includes arts and crafts exhibitors, children's rides and activities, and on-stage entertainment. Last year, approximately 55,000 people attended the festival at Town Center Park. For more information, visit the Suwanee Fest website.

Google: Suwanee is 2014 eCity

Google has announced that the City of Suwanee is Georgia's 2014 eCity and one of the country's digital capitals. This designation from the global technology company recognizes Suwanee as having the strongest online business community in the state.

"We're thrilled," says Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, "and if I could speak in emoticons, I'd add several of those to this statement. More seriously, I'm very proud of our connected, forward-thinking, and engaged community. Like many of our businesses, the City of Suwanee has worked hard to keep pace with electronic technology and the opportunities it presents, maintaining a dynamic website, having a strong social media presence, and, most recently, making our website mobile-friendly.

"We know that e-commerce is a big part of Suwanee's thriving economy and we welcome that, and we'll continue to embrace electronic and other technologies to further strengthen our economy and overall community."

To determine America's digital capitals, Google and IPSOS, an independent research firm, analyzed the online strength of local small businesses in cities across the country. Factors considered included whether small businesses had a website, used a blog, promoted themselves via social networks, sold goods directly  from their website, and had a mobile-friendly website.

"Clearly there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit in Suwanee, which should be embraced," says Brett Williams, Google's director of SMB marketing, Americas. "Businesses in Suwanee are turning to the internet to start and develop their own businesses and we hope Suwanee becomes an inspiration to other areas in the country."