"When in Rome...do as you done in Milledgeville"
Andalusia's pull extends across the globe. Flannery O'Connor's books have been translated into many languages, and pilgrims come from far and wide to visit the place that inspired her art. Our visitor log includes entries from Rome and Paris, the U.K. and Canada, Iraq and Japan. These folks are joined by visitors from all over the United States. Each visitor that comes to Andalusia invariably contributes in varying degrees to the local economy. We of course appreciate the income from purchases in the Andalusia Store; these funds help to support our preservation and conservation efforts. Visitors also spend money on food and drink, gas and lodging in Milledgeville and Baldwin County. All this activity has synergy with Milledgeville's own august history and the destination tourism marketed by the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). The local CVB is funded by hotel/motel tax dollars and those funds came home to roost last week when area attractions were surprised by the CVB with a cash award and Andalusia received $5000. Wow! That is big money for an organization whose charge is to care for and to provide access to over half a dozen historic structures and close to 544 acres of open space. Well, I can tell you the money is already being well spent, and spent locally. These surprise funds from the CVB are being used to hire local contractors to clear and restore the Cow Barn's dirt floor to allow for a safe environment for visitors as we work towards opening the barn to the public by May. We are also using some of the surprise gift to overhaul our website. While it is rich in content and a very useful source of information, the graphics and navigation are dated, and we are using a new platform that will be easier to update. Again, local talent is being tapped, and we hope to roll out our new site April Fool's Day, in a nod to Flannery's famous sense of humor. Since our website extends Andalusia's access to our global audience we are excited by the potential for the new site, along with our growing social media presence, to reach and engage even more Flannery fans world-wide. Local funds for global reach? I like it!
- Elizabeth Wylie, Executive Director, The Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Foundation