Guest Columns

Save Atlanta’s Olympic Cauldron, move it to Centennial Olympic Park

By Guest Columnist NICK STEPHENS, a writer and Atlanta native, interested in historic and environmental preservation

Over the last few weeks, as the 20th anniversary of Atlanta’s Olympic games came and went, much of the discussion of this city’s Olympic legacy naturally focused on the successful continuing use of so many of the games’ facilities, a rare feat for any city. But in an Aug. 8 interview on WXIA-TV, Olympic organizer and former Atlanta Mayor Andy Young admitted that one crucial component of the Olympic infrastructure was never as great as it could have been – and remains an under appreciated and mostly ignored relic.

Congress needs to take climate change seriously

By Guest Columnist MICHAEL WALLS, a former labor and employment lawyer and long time advocate for environmental, public transit and peace and justice issues

As a father and grandfather, I am deeply concerned about the most pressing issue the world’s children will likely have to face during their lifetimes.

Every news cycle seems to bring more bad news about climate change. Each of the last two years set records as the warmest since we began measuring surface temperatures over 150 years ago. Based on temperatures to date, it’s virtually certain that 2016 will establish another record. In fact, July was the hottest single month ever recorded.

Breaking the black male code of silence to promote change for the good

By Guest Columnist PATRICK MEDLEY, Sr., dean of students at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School

“I find it important that I send a message from my office addressing the recent issues regarding police across our nation and incidents that have led to seven senseless deaths (two citizens and five uniformed police officers). I ask that we pray for all of the families involved, our nation, and countries around the world….
My name is Patrick Medley, Sr. Above is the message that I sent to the staff, faculty, and students at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School….

Old growth forests – in the city?

By Guest Columnist KATHERYN KOLB, director of EcoAddendum, which raises awareness of Georgia’s natural environment

The greater metropolitan area of Atlanta was predominantly old growth forest less than 20 decades ago. For those of us who have lived a few decades, this seems perhaps not such a long time. For trees and forests and ecosystems, whose maturity is measured in centuries rather than decades, it is but the blink of an eye.

Better breast health will require support from entire community

By Guest Columnist JANICE MCKENZIE-CRAYTON, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta

African American women in metro Atlanta are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. While there are several possible reasons for this difference in survival – barriers to health care, genetic differences in tumors, and other risk factors – one thing is clear: We must and we can do more to turn around this tragic statistic.

Child well-being required for every student to succeed

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

Throughout all of 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission conducted a “top to bottom review of public education.” The goal of this effort is to make education “more accessible and effective in preparing our state’s students for the rigors of college and the workforce.”

Midtown Alliance to weigh in on protected bike lanes on Peachtree Street

By Guest Columnist BEN FOSTER, membership and campaigns manager for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

You may know Atlanta as the “City in a Forest,” but to NiAya El Jamah and many others who bike in the city, Atlanta might as well be called the “City of 100 Hills.” That’s one reason why the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is working to connect the city’s ridgelines (Peachtree Street) and rail lines (Lee Street and DeKalb Avenue) with protected bike lanes to make it easier and safer to bike.

Time to stop hateful rhetoric

By Guest Columnist SHELLEY ROSE, interim regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Southeast Region

Like millions of Americans and people throughout the world, we are trying to come to grips with the horror and tragedy of the mass murder in Orlando. This was not just an act of terror. Nor was it simply the result of religious extremism or easy access to guns – it was fueled by hate against LGBT people.

There may be many factors that will continue surfacing in the coming weeks and months, but a central factor in this mass murder cannot be overlooked: Hateful rhetoric leads to hateful actions.

Mayor Reed: Unfinished legacy – with bomb clock always ticking

By Guest Columnist JEREMY C. GARLINGTON, an executive leadership consultant who is based in Atlanta

How many lives do you get as a public leader? Nine, like Felix the Cat? Six, like Hillary Clinton? Three, like Donald Trump?

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed represents that rare modern breed still on his first life, politically and humanly speaking. His resume is impressive: Former rising star as a state senator; two-term mayor of Atlanta who led efforts to redo the city’s charter; frequent advocate for President Obama’s agenda with an ambitious eye towards higher office. Reed’s track record shows him to be effective, yet he is perceived as highly combative, divisive and often unconcerned about public opinion.

Promises to keep

By Guest Columnist MICHAEL RICH, associate professor of political science and director of Emory University’s Office of University-Community Partnerships

Atlanta has again taken center stage in the nation’s urban revitalization efforts through its recent selection by the Obama administration as one of nine new Promise Zone communities. Will Atlanta’s public, private, civic and community leaders seize this opportunity to improve the quality of life in some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods, or will this initiative end with a string of broken promises as was the case with so many previous efforts?

Georgia Walks Summit to focus on making the region, state more walkable

By Guest Columnist SALLY FLOCKS, founder, president and CEO of PEDS

When I founded PEDS 20 years ago, people who walk were not on Atlanta’s radar screen. Not so anymore. Walkable communities are now a top priority for both the region and state.

Indeed, walking trails are popping up across the state, and the region’s walkable urban spaces are attracting a growing share of new office space and retail.

Excitement draining for reservoir boondoggles

By Guest Columnist CHRIS MANGANIELLO, policy director of the Georgia River Network

Georgians agree we need a healthy and dependable supply of drinking water.  We need enough water flowing in our rivers for economic and environmental reasons.

A recent turning point indicates that one pathway is no longer as appealing as it once was.

Atlanta’s moment? Convergence of housing people can afford plus access to transit

By Guest Columnist MIKE DOBBINS, professor of the practice of planning at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture and a former commissioner of planning and community development for the City of Atlanta

Against the backdrop of an antagonistic and often toxic campaign season, two opportunities are emerging that could begin to lift Atlanta out of its wealth gap, the city’s own divisive and persistent stain.

Independent process to congressional redistricting may be solution for Georgia

By Guest Columnists MAYA DILLARD SMITH, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, and BRINKLEY SERKEDAKIS, executive director Common Cause Georgia

Just days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in Evenwel v. Abbott that broke a recent wave of dangerously restrictive approaches by the high court that have been slowly chipping away key elements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Landfill Goliath picks a fight with tiny Wayne County

By Guest Columnist DINK NESMITH, a Jesup native who is president and co-owner of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc., publishers of newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina

How far back can you remember?

Our three children, Alan, Emily and Eric, joke that I can remember the day I was born in 1948. Actually, I can’t. I tease them that I do recall the ride home from Ritch-Leaphart Hospital in Jesup, 40 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.