The perfect spot — with a perfect red porch in the perfect community? That’s what Cleveland Miss. native Dawn Macke thinks of her Mitchell Avenue digs and her adopted hometown of Fondren. Macke, the self-described SoFo Mama, took up residence here in 2010 after realizing Las Vegas was no place to raise a kid.
Macke has spent her whole career in advertising, marketing and PR and behind the scenes in music. After living in Vegas for four years, Macke said, ‘Time to come home.’ And Fondren was it. “I spent most of my life in Jackson and knew I needed to come to a place like this,” she says. A friend turned her on to a house within walking distance of shops, restaurants and live shows. “I can park on Friday and not drive again until Monday.” Macke is thankful to live in a neighborhood full of places where she can take her Lego-loving son, Mark, a six-year-old student at The Education Center School. “I can take him to listen to a band and connect with people. It’s family.”
Another factor for Macke’s decision: history. “Vegas didn’t have a historic district even though it’s been there since late 1800’s,” she explains. “History and revitalization are important to me.” And that translates to one of her favorite things: books. Up for most anything, Macke reads everything from “junk magazines like Cosmo or Glamour”while traveling to bios, mystery or Southern literature. “Anything set in the South, especially in Mississippi, I’m a fan of. I can read it and think ‘I know where that is; I know what that’s about.’”
If being an avid reader and lover of community were an equation, the sum of its parts might be her latest passion: Little Free Library. ‘A sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world,’ Little Free Library uses giant birdhouse-like structures on private property to host books in a “take one, leave one” format. ‘Designed and decorated by neighborhood groups and watched over by volunteer stewards, each little “habitat for the humanities” turns over its collection several times a month’ according to their Facebook page. Macke is seeking input and help from neighbors willing to be a part of the project.
“When I was a kid, my mom would have to force me off the couch because I was intently reading something,” she says. “As an adult, when I moved around, I took my books with me. Sometimes there are books I love and want someone to experience and I’m more than happy to pass them along. So Little Free Library is the perfect resource, and a way to regenerate those books.”
Macke says Little Free Library has everything from plans to help you build a library or you can buy one already made. “They really urge you to be aware of codes and ordinances,” she tells us, saying she can’t place a box in her yard as a renter. That’s why she’s looking for host sites. “We have to make sure we have a location covered.” But she feels like that won’t be an issue. “Between all the designers, architects and realty people in the neighborhood, we have the resources to come up with an amazing design and have people who can help facilitate this.”
Over the last several weeks, Macke says she’s come to realize she’s become a different person since coming back to Mississippi. Her friends describe her, she says, as an earthy, crunchy hippie chick. And Macke’s fine with that moniker. But she hopes she’s known for more than that. “When the time comes for me to move on, I hope they say ‘She loved it in spite of everything. Left it a better place. One of our biggest cheerleaders. One of our urban warriors.” Scratch that: “an Urban warrior-ess.”