Guest Columns

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.

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.