Guest Columns

Guest Columns

Local leaders, weather experts seek to prepare Atlanta for climate change

By Guest Columnist GARRY HARRIS, president and CEO of HTS Enterprise Energy Solutions as well as president and CEO of Center for Sustainable Communities and the executive director of Emerald Cities Metro Atlanta.

Although we are now feeling the heat and humidity of summer, only a few months ago, Atlanta was brought to a virtual standstill by a rare snowstorm.

The storm was a glimpse of the challenges the region could see as a result of climate change causing extreme weather.
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Environmental justice offers a new way to engage Atlanta’s architects

By Guest Columnist GARFIELD L. PEART, an architect and sustainable business consultant, serves on AIA Atlanta’s board of directors

Architects have the power to take Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “outside the building envelop” to transform communities by leading diverse design teams and community stakeholders to combat some of our most pressing social and public health issues in the metro area.

Environmental justice presents a unique opportunity for community leaders and public officials to engage Atlanta architects to address these challenges.

Now with all the pressing economic issues facing communities in metro Atlanta, you may wonder why we should focus on environmental justice and how architects can possibly make an impact in an area traditionally addressed by city planners, community development corporations and policy makers.
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Court of Appeals’ ruling protects Georgia’s marshes; let’s hope state leaders will do the same next year

By Guest Columnist JOHN SIBLEY, former president of the Georgia Conservancy and a concerned citizen

Georgians have many joys in common, but is any greater than the moment when our coastal marshes break into view? The majesty and vastness of our marshes touch something essential for the human spirit, lifting it every time.

And that moment also reminds us of our shared history and joint obligation to be the best stewards we can be of the natural wonders with which our state is so greatly blessed.
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Atlanta University Center a pathway to increase diversity at technology firms

By Guest Columnist DARAKA E. SATCHERpartner and chief operating officer of the Pendleton Group consulting firm

Most of us have seen the news by now. A number of major tech firms recently reported dismally low diversity numbers. Only 2 percent of those who work at Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn are African-American.

If one accepts the widely held premise that these companies are representatives of the economy of the future, then this is a harbinger of a much greater problem.
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Are students learning? The second piece of the education puzzle

By Guest Columnist DANA RICKMAN, director of policy and research for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

On July 22 there is a primary run-off election in Georgia. One of the statewide offices voters can cast a ballot for in both the Republican and Democrat run-off is state school superintendent. Whoever is elected to this important post will be responsible for guiding the continued implementation of a broad education reform agenda.

Part of that holistic agenda involves the implementation of a new student assessment system.
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Fighting for women’s rights in Georgia – a state where women need it most

By Guest Columnist STEPHANIE DAVIS, recently retired (or as she says ‘rewired and re-inspired’) executive director of Georgia Women for a Change

To everyone who wonders how a feminist can survive—and thrive—in this state, how she can continue to persist, to overreach, to maintain an optimism in the face of so much hostility to women, I have this to say. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

In the 30 years I have lived here, I have seen a creep towards more women’s leadership and the difference it has made.
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Society’s demand for ‘big data’ creating shortage of skilled workers

By Guest Columnist JENNIFER PRIESTLEY, professor of applied statistics and data science, and director of the Center for Statistics and Analytical Services, at Kennesaw State University

Big Data has created a big employment problem for metro Atlanta – there are simply too many jobs in data science and not enough people. And the gap between supply and demand is getting bigger. Universities in metro Atlanta are filling that void, helping both employers and those who want to obtain those jobs.

A day does not go by that we don’t hear of, or read a news story related to, the topic of data. It seems that everyone is collecting data – everything from our Facebook posts to our energy consumption to the books we read. The data we generate, which someone else collects, has become a pervasive characteristic of our society.
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Georgia celebrates Nobel Peace ties as Atlanta’s ‘Rights Center’ opens

By Guest Columnist JAY HAKES, director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library from 2000 to 2013

Atlanta can boast of a special relationship with the Nobel Peace Prize. For starters, the medals for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (1964) and former President Jimmy Carter (2002) reside here. The Nobel Prize organization rates Martin Luther King as its most popular Nobel Laureate of all time in any category, just ahead of Albert Einstein for physics (1921), making the King medals arguably the most important of them all.

Moreover, historically the King and Carter medals have been displayed just off Freedom Parkway within comfortable walking distance of each other.*
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Atlanta’s Paralympics legacy ‘Blazes’ on with BlazeSports America

By Guest Columnist JON McCULLOUGH, executive director of BlazeSports America

Atlanta’s Olympic legacy has not just been about buildings and landmarks but it’s also been about the longstanding impact it has set in motion.

In discussing the merits of Atlanta’s Olympic Games on this site in recent weeks, a key element that must not be forgotten is Atlanta’s Paralympic legacy — it is one that has continued to grow since the flame was doused for the last time on August 25, 1996.

The influence and the legacy of the Atlanta Paralympic Games has reached far beyond Georgia.
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Atlanta to showcase its volunteer spirit as a city where everyone can serve

By Guest Columnist TRACY HOOVER, president of the Atlanta-based Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

In a matter of days, more than 4,000 leaders in volunteering and service from around the world will gather in Atlanta to share ideas, learn from each other and – as you might expect in Dr. King’s hometown – serve together.

At Points of Light and Hands On Atlanta, I’ve seen our city of volunteers in action: planting trees along the Atlanta BeltLine, tending community gardens in vacant lots, tutoring children in afterschool programs and serving meals to the homeless.
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