Guest Columns

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.

Congestion pricing reduces travel times, improves quality of life

By Guest Columnist ERIC GANTHER, a mobility planner in metro Atlanta

Congestion pricing manages traffic with money instead of time. Without congestion pricing, we pay by sitting in traffic. With it, we pay a small fee and get a shorter trip. The HOT lanes on I-75 in Cobb and Clayton counties and on I-85 in Gwinnett County are examples of how this works, except with congestion pricing there are no “free” lanes.

Water Quality in South River – Root of the Problem

By Guest Columnist JACQUELINE ECHOLS, Ph.D., board president, South River Watershed Alliance

As we celebrate Earth Day, we are all likely reminded of a special place where nature comes to life in all of its grandeur that we celebrate on this day, this month, and all year long. That special place for me is the South River. Rather than being known for Panola Shoals or Albert Shoals, two massive and magnificent rock outcroppings, or one of its other unique natural features, the South River is best known for its long struggle with pollution.

Start funding the ‘right’ non-profits

By Guest Columnist DIANNE BERNEZ, global head of philanthropy at North Highland

An integral part of our mission at North Highland, a consulting company launched 27 years ago in Atlanta, is giving back to local communities to boost economic empowerment. This focus led us to a new approach: Provide pro-bono support only to organizations that can end poverty rather than just treat symptoms.

What Atlanta decides on tree canopy could benefit people as well as urban forest

By Guest Columnist KATHRYN KOLB, a naturalist who serves as director of EcoAddendum and also consults with communities on tree ordinances

As more of Atlanta’s trees fall to new development, the city plans to update its Tree Protection Ordinance. New tree ordinance revisions are being drafted in the next few weeks, so the time is now to embrace the moment and help our city’s leaders take the responsible road forward in protecting more of our irreplaceable trees and superlative urban forest.

Solar ready homes could be Atlanta’s next step toward 100 percent clean, renewable energy

By Guest Columnist JENNETTE GAYER, director of Environment Georgia

When you look at a rooftop, what do you see? A protective shelter for a family or a business, sure, but do you also see a missed opportunity? I do.

In a world facing so many environmental challenges – from polluted air and water that threatens the health of our communities, to a rapidly changing climate – our existing infrastructure must be a part of the solution.

Georgia senators risk impairing the most important economic engine for our region

By Guest Columnist BEN DECOSTA, former aviation general manager of ATL, 1998-2010

By a 5 to 4 vote, a Senate study committee proposed a hostile takeover of the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) from those who built it over the past 40 years as the premier magnet for global businesses, as a $60 billion regional economic engine and as the door for millions of travelers from around the world to visit Atlanta and America.

Atlanta city jail unsustainable, should be converted to transitional housing

By Guest Columnist JOE BEASLEY, a human rights activist in Atlanta and founder of the Joe Beasley Foundation

The taxpayers of Atlanta are losing over $30 million annually trying to maintain the Atlanta City Detention Center. We must ask whether that remains a good investment and, if not, how to create something that would be worthy of our great city and its historic legacy. I believe we need to strive for more.

Atlanta’s gentrification, now a challenge, started as sign of city’s spirit of civil rights

By Guest Columnist HATTIE DORSEY, civic volunteer, founder and retired president of the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership

Gentrification is a word used to describe what happens with housing development patterns in cities, particularly in the North, Midwest and West Coast cities, when neighborhoods change by race and by income. It was not a pattern that happened in the South, because housing in this region was segregated by race even years after the civil rights movement.

Women, wages, wealth, health: Power at the polls must translate to policy change

By Guest Columnist JENNIFER OWENS, deputy director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

During the 2018 elections, a record number of women engaged in the political process, many for the first time. They ran for office, turned out to vote and flexed their civic engagement muscles. Nearly two-thirds of all competitive state legislative races had at least one woman on last November’s ballot.

Georgia’s struggling areas could benefit from smart use of federal opportunity zones

By Guest Columnist BUZZ BROCKWAY, vice president of the Georgia Center for Opportunity

Buried in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was a provision that, if used wisely, could benefit investors, while at the same time knocking down barriers to human flourishing in struggling areas of our state. Championed by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina, opportunity zones allow an investor to defer capital gains taxes for up to 10 years, if the gain is invested in a Census tract designated as a qualified opportunity zone.

Building trails can build regional connectivity, state incentives would help

By Guest Columnist, MELODY L. HARCLERODE, executive director of the Sandy Springs Conservancy

Engineers from the Union Army noted a tributary in north Fulton County running into the Chattahoochee River as “Mans Cr” or “Mars Cr” on 1864 map. Now, the nonprofit Sandy Springs Conservancy is spearheading the development of the Marsh Creek Trail along Abernathy Road in partnership with the City of Sandy Springs as the initial stage of a city-wide trail system, envisioned as, “a beautiful amenity that can build physical and civic connections in Sandy Springs.”

Why save it? Just pave it – a conservation easement at risk in Morgan County

By Christine McCauley Watts, executive director of Madison-Morgan Conservancy

It sits on a little rise, Davis Crossroads does, and gives you a long view of one of Morgan County’s more bucolic landscapes. Davis descendants have farmed and cared for the land surrounding this crossroads for generations and in the last two decades have donated three conservation easements to permanently protect the scenic and agricultural conservation values found here.

Let’s rebuild trust in government with participatory budgeting in Atlanta

By Guest Columnist AMIR FAROKHI, who represents District 2 on the Atlanta City Council

Public trust in government is historically low. At a time when voting rights are under attack, transparency the exception, and inaction on critical issues the frustrating norm, cynicism about government is at fever pitch. Yet, democratic government is well placed to reestablish public trust; city government, even more so. More nimble and less partisan than any other level of government, City Hall is where residents should have the most direct input.

Unlocking potential: How mentoring changes metro Atlanta

By Guest Columnist KWAME JOHNSON, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.

One of the more under-utilized resources in metro Atlanta is the potential of our young people.

In Atlanta, more than many other large cities, your ZIP code determines your life trajectory. A 2018 study from Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights showed that Atlanta and Charlotte have the lowest rates of upward mobility for children who grow up in those cities, despite very high rates of job and wage growth over the past two decades.