Let’s do a better job preserving Atlanta’s past in 2017

The coming of a new year heightens our sensitivity to the changes in our life and our city.

This year marked the last Peach Drop as we know it. Sadly, the rain and the cold dampened the final event held at Underground Atlanta before it is sold to WRS Realty in the near future.

The good news is that the historic structures in and around Underground will be preserved as new buildings are constructed as part of the new development.

But there are so many other landmarks in danger of being demolished during 2017 with Atlanta having a spotty record of preserving its most precious landmarks.

Green infrastructure plan can link Atlanta’s HBCUs with Westside communities

Westside Atlanta represents the rise and fall and the impending revival of a community.

The historic core of the community is the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of historically-black colleges and universities. The consortium of the black colleges began in 1929.

“We were in the business of aspirations and dreams,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College.

Finding hope in people who believe in public spaces and planet Earth

After a brutal presidential campaign and election season, it has been a struggle to envision a brighter future for our nation and our world.

My emotions have vacillated from despair about the future of our planet to concern about the future of our cities to empathy for the millions of people seeking a better life – hoping to find comfort and acceptance in America.

With that backdrop, I attended two distinctly different events last week that helped give me hope for the future.

City of Atlanta still has not turned over property deeds to APS

In a spirit of cooperation, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, announced Feb 4 that he would be turning over 10 disputed property deeds to the Atlanta Public Schools “right away.”

Now 10 months later, the City of Atlanta has yet turn over those deeds.

In an interview Dec. 1, Reed said he has no intention to turn over those deeds unless APS agrees to require buyers to offer affordable housing.

Thinking of my European heritage as we face U.S. elections

As I write this column, on the day before the presidential election, it is without knowing who will be leading our country for the next four years.

A comment I often heard during this election season, often with humor was: “If (fill in the blank) is elected president, I’m leaving the country.”

It just so happens that I’m trying to become a Spanish citizen – a move that speaks more to my heritage than my political beliefs.

AT&T, now seeking merger with Time Warner, could have been based in Atlanta

News of AT&T acquiring Time Warner brought up all these feelings of “cudda, wudda, shudda” for Atlanta.

Not only does Time Warner own the formerly-independent Turner Broadcasting System – including CNN, which is based in Atlanta but controlled from New York.

But Texas-based AT&T acquired the former Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., a move that changed the city’s telecommunications profile forever.

Saying good-bye to Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, A.D. Frazier filled with emotions

While watching the final Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field, almost everyone present became emotional with their individual memories and reflections of this moment in time.

For A.D. Frazier, one of leaders behind the building of Turner Field, the moment was especially poignant. Frazier was the chief operating officer of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and he was largely responsible for the negotiations to build the Centennial Olympic Stadium, which then was later converted to Turner Field.

Atlanta’s Westside ‘Action Plan’ strives to improve lives of residents

For the past six months, a team headed by prominent planner and urbanist Dhiru Thadani has been working on an action-oriented plan for Atlanta’s Westside communities.

The team recently presented its draft Action Plan at the Transform Westside Summit, and now there will be about two months when community members and stakeholders will be able to respond to the recommendations and ideas.

A year after fire, questions plague future of Gaines Hall

Second column in a two part-series. Last week: Revival of Hancock County’s Courthouse in Sparta, Ga.

The story of two eerily similar buildings reveals a tale of two cities.

The Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta caught fire on Aug. 11, 2014. Atlanta’s Gaines Hall caught fire Aug. 20, 2015. Both designed by the same architect – William Parkins – before the turn of the 19th Century.

But the similarities end when we look at how both communities have responded since their respective fires.

Hancock County Courthouse – ‘Her Majesty’ – is reborn

First in a two-part series. Next week: Sparta’s story a lesson for Atlanta’s Gaines Hall.

SPARTA, Ga. – Take note, Atlanta. The people in Sparta have found a way to cherish their city’s landmarks – showing what can be done when a community believes in preserving its past for future generations.

No building in Sparta tells the story better than the Hancock County Courthouse.

Hank Aaron statue to remain in Atlanta – but where is still TBD

It was both symbolic and intentional to announce the pending sale of Turner Field in a tent next to the famous Hank Aaron statue.

It marked a moment. Atlanta may be losing the Braves, but it will always have Hank Aaron and his remarkable legacy – one that extended far beyond hitting homeruns. Hank Aaron built bridges between the races in the days of segregation in the deep South.

Legacy lives on from when Atlanta hosted the Paralympic Games 20 years ago

Twenty years ago Aug 15, the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games left a lasting impression as Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, pulled himself up 40 feet up a rope, using only his hands, while a flaming Olympic torch was tucked between his legs before he dramatically lit the Olympic caldron.

The Paralympic Games in Atlanta were a turning point for both the Olympic movement and for Georgia becoming a leading center for people with disabilities.