Guest Columns

Alternative Baseball promotes life skills for adults with autism, special needs

By Guest Columnist TAYLOR DUNCAN, founding commissioner/director of the Alternative Baseball organization

Hello everyone! My name is Taylor Duncan! I am 23 years of age from Dallas, and was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at the age of 4 years. … As I grew older, I faced a lot of social stigma and preconceived ideas from several coaches. … The sport of baseball has indirectly contributed and helped me become more of an independent person today.

A bolder path forward: Reflections on accelerating Milestones progress

By Guest Columnist ED CHANG, founding executive director of redefinED atlanta

Editor’s note: A full statement from the author on the decision by the Atlanta Board of Education to not renew the contract of Superintendent Meria Carstarphen was added to the bottom of the column shortly after the decision was announced.

Like so many of you, the back to school season is one of reflection for me. As a former teacher and principal, it has been a time to hold a mirror to myself to applaud past successes while also acknowledging failure and contemplating growth opportunities and future action.

Saving the Atlanta BeltLine: A shift from transit to micromobility

By Guest Columnist KEVIN H. POSEY, who writes about transportation and has served on related boards in the Washington region. He moved to Atlanta in 2017.

Atlanta’s BeltLine is perhaps the city’s best-known landmark. As with New York’s High Line, travel writers point it out as a key stop for those visiting Atlanta. However, that popularity poses a threat to its viability as a usable transportation corridor.

Government-imposed design requirements cost Georgia home buyers

By Guest Columnist AUSTIN HACKNEY, government affairs director, Home Builders Association of Georgia

For generations, home ownership has provided individuals and families with a path towards economic prosperity, and a strong residential construction industry is known as an indicator of a healthy economy. However, recent restrictions and mandates enacted by some local jurisdictions are infringing on private property rights and adversely affecting home buyers, escalating the cost of new home purchases beyond the reach of some buyers, especially those interested in entry-level and workforce housing.

Remembering Woodstock

By Guest Columnist BILL VANDERKLOOT, a film director/producer who attended the event

The late Tip O’Neill once said, “all politics is local.” As a corollary, I believe that all history is personal. That is until it grows and grows and becomes a defining cultural event. Then it is owned by everyone and the memories morph into things almost unrecognizable.

Health of Atlanta's neighborhoods a marker of progress toward equity

By Guest Columnist DEBRA EDELSON, executive director of Grove Park Foundation

If our Atlanta region continues to grow as predicted, we will have tens of thousands of new residents move in town over the next 10 years. How will they decide what neighborhood to live in? Like many of us, they will look for a community that feels safe, is proximate to good schools, and is accessible to retail and community services. Sadly, across Atlanta, many neighborhoods don’t have these critical characteristics.

Along the South River, large tracts of tree canopy under siege

By Guest Columnist RYAN GRAVEL, AICP, founder of Sixpitch, Inc.

The latest tale in the slow destruction of Atlanta’s iconic tree canopy might seem like a bizarre aberration. When you see it in context of generational disinvestment in the South River watershed, however, suddenly it’s not so surprising. As it turns out, this tale is not an anomaly, but if you look closely, an elegant and aspirational solution to the larger narrative is hiding in plain sight.

The absence of children in transportation planning

By Guest Columnist DOUG JOINER, a lifelong child and adolescent advocate

In January 2012, I was introduced to Safe Routes to School in metro Atlanta through the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors via a Kaiser grant. As I assessed the program in metro Atlanta, two disturbing issues immediately caught my attention – children rarely factor in transportation planning; and low-wealth minority communities have even few safety provisions for children walking to school.

The Westside Work continues: There are no silver bullets

By FRANK FERNANDEZ, senior vice president of community development of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

The Westside is indeed On the Rise. It is not perfect and long-time residents are rightly and deeply concerned about displacement and gentrification. However, Atlanta’s historic Westside is a different place than it was five years ago when our collective place-based efforts began.

Vine City Peace Park – Much more than a name: A place to study war no more

By Guest Columnist ANDREA L. BOONE, Atlanta City Councilmember and daughter of the late civil rights leader Rev. Joseph E. Boone

In 2008, the city named the north border of Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park for my late father, the Rev. Joseph E. Boone. The park located on Atlanta’s west side will consist of 16 acres of green space, with a lake, and, of most significance, a Peace Pantheon with a library, 18 sculptures and tributes to civil and human rights leaders from the area. All said, it will be the largest peace park in America.

Reflecting on Obama 50 years after Stonewall

By Guest Columnist ERIC PAULK, deputy director of Georgia Equality

During the eight years the Obamas occupied the White House, two moments stand out vividly in my mind. July 19, 2013: President Obama made the following comments during an impromptu press briefing in the days following the Trayvon Martin verdict – “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.”

Breaking down barriers for Latino entrepreneurs In Georgia

By Guest Columnist GIGI PEDRAZA, executive director and founder of Latino Community Fund

From the carpet industry’s rapid growth in Dalton in the 1980s to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to Georgia’s continued economic growth right now, our state has repeatedly drawn in Latino immigrants with the promise of a chance to live the American Dream and provide a better life for their children. Today, over a million people with Latin American roots live in Georgia.

It takes a community to end human trafficking

By Guest Columnist JIMMY ETHEREDGE, senior managing director, Accenture – U.S. Southeast

Last summer, I joined more than 250 representatives from the private, public, faith, educational, advocacy, and civic sectors, who convened at Mercedes Benz Stadium and committed to support a three-year strategic plan to address the risk factors that accelerate human trafficking in Atlanta.

It's time to complete DeKalb Avenue

By Guest Columnist STEPHANIE STUCKEY, director of sustainability services at Southface

Public spaces create a sense of place and belonging in a city.  Our streets, sidewalks, and greenspaces – and the neighborhood shops and restaurants along the way — are what connects neighbors to each other and builds community.  For too long, Atlanta’s shared spaces have been dominated by roads designed to move vehicular traffic quickly and massive heat islands of parking lots. Cars and asphalt jungles foster isolation, not togetherness.

Atlanta at the I-85 Crossroads: A 3,850-square-foot flat screen TV in your face – or not?

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

Motorists coming into the city on I-85 southbound toward the Downtown Connector, about 150,000 of them every day, pass on their left a giant wall sign, surmounted by a large sphere. The signs advertise big corporate products, like Comcast, at great profit for the advertising company that owns them. For the 25 years of their existence, with ordinary lighting, most drivers have been able to overcome their distractions and keep their eyes on the road.

Why are communities most affected by research often the last ones involved?

By Guest Columnist NICOLE KENNARD, a Georgia Tech graduate and doctoral researcher at Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Sheffield

“I got out!” An overwhelming feeling of relief and achievement washed over me as I went up to the stage to receive the piece of paper I’d paid for in my own sweat and sanity over the previous four years….

Although I had a few job offers in engineering before graduation – from companies including Michelin and Boeing – I turned them down in the hopes of pursuing a career in sustainable community development.

Hands-free Georgia Act saves lives; Atlanta physicians advocate national initiative

By Guest Columnist Dr. MARTHA WILBER, president of the Medical Association of Atlanta

Every day, at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes. This is an epidemic, and one that can be prevented.

Last year, the Medical Association of Atlanta joined with a coalition of advocates to fight this epidemic. … The physicians of the Medical Association of Atlanta want to do more [and are] pushing for national initiatives from both the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Climate changes needs big solution: The carbon fee pending before Congress

By Guest Columnist ALEX MACGREGOR, an Atlanta-based transportation consultant

With each passing year, the harmful effects of global climate change are becoming clearer, and the damage is mounting.

So far, Georgia has been spared most of the headline-grabbing disasters related to climate change, like California’s Camp wildfire that killed 86 people, or Hurricane Maria’s devastating toll on Puerto Rico.

But the damage to Georgia is current, and the costs are already high.