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Atlanta loves you – pass it on

A possible design for "Atlanta Loves You" button (Designed by Carmen Luse)

By Maria Saporta

Last week, Leadership Atlanta alums presented several “Big Ideas” for the region to kick off the organization’s 50th anniversary.

The “Big Ideas” covered a spectrum – from teaching inmates the plays of William Shakespeare to nonprofit journalism to tracking health disparities. All the ideas stimulated thought and introspection.

But one idea sparked my desire to write this column.

Impact 50 invite for “What’s the Big Idea?” (Special: Leadership Atlanta)

Soon Mee Kim, an executive vice president of Porter Novelli who was in the Leadership Atlanta class of 2017, made a compelling case for Atlanta to shed its decades-old slogan: A city too busy to hate.

“It doesn’t tell us what we are for,” Kim said during the half day “Big Idea” program at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Alliance Theatre on Feb. 4. “I don’t really know if we are a city too busy to hate.”

Sometimes, to Kim, it feels as though Atlanta is a city too busy to care.

Instead, Kim suggested we adopt the slogan: “Atlanta: A city busy for love” to respond to the “too busy to hate” line that has been around for about 70 years.

“We are a city for love,” Kim said. “We need brands. There are many ways to love intentionally.  We stand for love.”

Kim closed her presentation by quoting Atlanta’s own Martin Luther King Jr., who wisely said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

As she spoke, I kept going back to a slogan I’ve suggested several times over the course of my career. It’s short; intentional; welcoming; and adaptable.

“Atlanta loves you”

A possible design for “Atlanta Loves You” button (Designed by Carmen Luse)

For me, those three simple words convey volumes of who we are and what we aspire to be. At our best, we are a welcoming city. We are known for our Southern hospitality.

As the home of the world’s busiest airport, our reach extends all over the world. Sending the message that “Atlanta loves you” harks back to our best selves – the beloved community that King dreamed about.

As I’ve already written, I have the good fortune to be in Leadership Atlanta’s 2020 class – the 50th class. We feel the weight of hitting the half century mark, and we are exploring possible legacies that our class can contribute to Atlanta.

Coincidentally, one of my classmates is Bernice King – the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. The chair of our class is attorney Eric Barnum, who proclaimed that the Class of 2020 has “a vision of leadership; a vision of love.”

I applaud Kim for bringing up the big idea that we adopt a more pro-active and positive slogan for our city. But instead of saying we’re busy for love, which kind of sounds like it’s a chore, “Atlanta loves you” is effortless and open-ended. It is a great reminder for all of us to be kind to one another.

A slide presenting Soon Mee Kim’s suggestion of a new slogan for Atlanta (Photo by Judith Service Montier)

Atlanta loves you can be adapted for our convention and tourism industry; for economic development, for simple decency.

Looking ahead, there also is a move afoot to brand Atlanta as a city for peace. Yes, that also appeals to our aspirational self. And it would be wonderful for Atlanta to be branded as a place known for contributing to world peace.

But I actually believe that “Atlanta loves you” is more inclusive, and the spirit behind the logo also suggests a city where people get along – our own way of creating peace.

So, readers, once again, I’m throwing it out there. Yes, we are a city too busy to hate.

But more importantly, we can also be a city for love.

Atlanta loves you….

Skyline photo by Maria Saporta with Atlanta loves you added by Carmen Luse

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Alex Barrella February 10, 2020 5:28 pm

    kinda falls apart in the face of the fact that atlanta openly hates on its citizens; violates their civil rights and abuses their decency with monstrous capitalistic policy that puts greed over need.Report

  2. Ted Morrow February 11, 2020 10:29 am

    I always enjoy your commentary. I love the aspirational slogan.Report

  3. Judy Wicks February 11, 2020 10:40 am

    Maria and Soon Mee, I’m with you. Love is more consistent with our brand today, and aspirational. Thank you both for your leadership!Report

  4. Michael Crowe February 11, 2020 4:18 pm

    I like very much ATLANTA LOVES YOU. That is what people need to hear today. Love not hate!!!Report

  5. George Wilson February 11, 2020 5:33 pm

    Excellent idea!Report

  6. Barbara Martin February 12, 2020 2:19 pm

    My suggestion:
    “Atlanta Unlimited.”Report

  7. Gairy Moore February 16, 2020 9:34 pm

    Maria, I love it!Report


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