Posted inColumns, Main Slider, Saba Long

Atlantans fighting sex slavery and human trafficking

A few years ago while attending a gala at a Buckhead hotel, I noticed an elegantly framed bulletin in the women’s restroom. It provided a phone number to call if the reader was a victim of sex slavery.

One would think sordid, deviant behavior of that nature would take place in the hour motels far from the highbrow crowd. Yet, sex trafficking – a $9. 5 billion criminal enterprise – happens right under our nose.

Posted inColumns, Saba Long

Seeking silence and finding balance in the beauty of nature

Recently, I noticed my equilibrium has been unbalanced. The new year has been a constant barrage of time-sensitive calls and emails and double-digit hours of work each day. The fast pace has left me wanting.

In an attempt to quiet the mind and body, I have sought solace at Serenbe, or in town, at the Cascade Nature Preserve. Trekking deep into these places, I’ve been able to leave the city behind.

Posted inColumns, Main Slider, Saba Long

As more people move to the City of Atlanta, having quality parks is key

In route to a plenary session at Park Pride’s annual conference, I passed a small, Midtown residential building located a short walk from Piedmont Park with units starting at $750,000 – a pretty penny for a town home.

It seemed an appropriate sighting as I headed to a plenary session: Just Green Enough: Contesting Environmental Gentrification. The focus was on the natural challenges of sustainable, equitable development.

Posted inColumns, Saba Long

Campaign begins to get Atlantans to vote on $250 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements

In one week, Atlanta voters will decide if the City will borrow $250 million in long-overdue infrastructure repair and upgrades via a bond referendum.

For context, last November, Forsyth County voters approved a $200 million to fund critical transportation infrastructure improvements. That vote likely will require a slight property tax increase.

Posted inColumns, Main Slider, Saba Long

As our region becomes more dense, we need more transit options

As someone who regularly takes public transit, I fail to realize how stressful it is to commute by car. This weekend served as an unfortunate reminder.

Not because of the person who failed to use signal lights when changing lanes – but rather the inordinate amount of time it took to get from point A to point B.

To be sure, the improved temperature was a factor on the Interstate and roadway congestion. But it wasn’t the primary factor.

Posted inSaba Long

Now is not the time to play politics with homeland security

Our divided Congress has once again found a new way to sink its already abysmally low approval ratings. The latest stunt: the possible shutdown of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Before the month’s end, Congress must pass an appropriations bill to prevent non-essential DHS staff from going home without pay. Secret Service, Border Patrol, active-duty Coast Guard members and other essential staffers will be required to work — without pay. Also trapped in the defunding web is more than 75 percent of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Posted inColumns, Saba Long

Atlanta needs a planning leader to bring equitable growth to city

A city for all.

That’s what long-time Atlanta planner Mike Dobbins yearns to experience.

The resurgence of investment interest along with an improved economy has everyone chattering about the future growth of the city. Firmly ensconced in his second term, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has become the economic development mayor by going back to the city’s roots – real estate deals and transportation.

Posted inColumns, Saba Long

The imbalance of metro Atlanta’s growth shows we must focus on human and physical needs

During the second half of the 20th century Atlanta experienced the demographic and political shifts caused by white flight.

In contrast, during the first two decades of the 21st century, Atlanta could be remembered for its class and economic moves when the pendulum swung the other way. Yet, this booming growth is not being felt across the Atlanta region.

Posted inSaba Long

Developing new rail and bus transit in Atlanta region – a long-term play

At the opening ceremony for the Atlanta Streetcar, Central Atlanta Progress head honcho A.J. Robinson bluntly addressed the project’s naysayers.

He plainly remarked, “We didn’t build it for you, or for me, for that matter.”

I’m a transit-riding Millenial who chose to live in the city center long before public officials and downtown boosters lobbied the public and the federal government to support the first spur of the Atlanta Streetcar.

Posted inSaba Long

Despite anti-tax push-back, Georgia needs more money for transportation

As the General Assembly gears up for 2015 legislative session, transportation appears to once again be the star of the show.

On Monday, Dec. 8, a Republican Georgia State Representative posed the following question on his Facebook page: “Would you be willing to pay additional amounts per gallon of fuel for road and infrastructure build? If so, how much? 5 cents? 2 cents?”

Posted inSaba Long

We can’t keep ignoring the need to invest in transportation infrastructure

Lately, I’ve been watching Aaron Sorkin’s latest TV series The Newsroom. In a recent episode, an official from the Environmental Protection Agency declares the impending death of humanity due to global warming.

When the fictional news anchor Will McAvoy asks how to rectify the situation, the agency head remarks, “We should have turned the cars off 20 years ago.”

In the real world, outside of climate change, there’s a different grave issue we keep ignoring – transportation infrastructure.

Posted inSaba Long

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in a position to attract Democratic Party votes

In the spring, I sat down with a good friend – a white, male Millennial — to discuss, among many things, electoral politics.

In the course of the conversation, he expressed his indifference towards Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter. That’s when I knew it was a goner, and Gov. Nathan Deal would end his political career undefeated.

Compelling messaging married with authentic action matters to voters, regardless of party. With Deal’s opponent lacking both, the governor’s camp smartly navigated their way to a resounding win.

Posted inSaba Long

Public art – past and present – can ‘elevate’ and enliven Atlanta’s heart

I spent some time in a few downtown dumpsters this weekend.

Don’t be alarmed.

I was viewing D­_MPSTERS, a multi-artist, weeklong project by the Goat Farm and curated by Elevate Atlanta.

The public impact of art can be incredibly profound – provided we give these artists the platform – and the funding – to express these societal concerns.

Posted inSaba Long

Investing in Atlanta’s sidewalks will contribute to our quality of life

As a daily transit rider, walking is part of my commute. Being a high-heel wearing urban dweller, I dare not pay close attention to the sidewalk lest I have a Samantha Jones moment and fall down a manhole.

Walking is often a forgotten segment of everyone’s commute – whether it’s from the parking garage to the office or from the chained bicycle to the front door of a restaurant.