Guest Columns

Investing in America’s ‘Best Idea’ – our national parks

By Guest Columnist SALLY BETHEA, the board chair of Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy, the nonprofit friends group for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

America’s mayors are pitching an investment in the infrastructure of our national parks as a win-win for cities and their residents: A way to create U.S. jobs by restoring historic buildings, fixing outdated and unsafe water and electrical systems and improving crumbling roads and trails to benefit all park visitors.

Georgia’s WIN List plans to ‘Grab ‘em by the midterms’ in 2018

By Guest Columnist MELITA EASTERS, founding chair and current executive director of Georgia’s WIN List

As Women’s History Month, with its selected celebrations of women’s achievements in business, education, the arts and even politics drew to a close, women received many reminders in recent weeks of just how much is left to do before the face of power truly changes to one which is more equitable and representative.

Time has arrived for politicians to step up and fund transit, mobility

By Guest Columnist PAUL MCLENNAN, a retired member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, co-host of WRFG’s Labor Forum and human rights activist

With the closing of a major interstate in the heart of the city, Atlanta is facing a major transportation crisis. Traffic came to a standstill. Some parked their cars on side streets and chose to walk miles to get home. Schools have been closed. Workers must spend longer hours in their commute. Businesses and productivity will take a huge hit.

Monroe Drive Road Diet will save lives and improve quality of life

By Guest Columnist THOMAS HYNEMAN, whose daughter, Alexia, died in February after she and her bicycle were struck by a motorist at the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive.

I prefer to be direct so I will get right to it. A road diet on Monroe Drive could have saved my daughter’s life. A road diet, converting the four-lane road to three with a center turn lane, improves visibility and discourages speeding, so that even if my daughter had been hit, she would have had a much better chance of walking away from the crash.

Who killed the proposed stronger regulations for toxic coal ash?

By Guest Columnist DINK NESMITH, a Jesup native who is president and co-owner of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc., publishers of newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina

If fictional detective Sherlock Holmes were roaming the halls of the Georgia General Assembly, he could give an “elementary” clue why the proposed strengthening of coal-ash handling died before 2017’s Crossover Day. “My dear Watson,” the pipe-smoking sleuth would say, “follow the money.”

Georgia residents leverage solarize programs for residential solar growth

By Guest Columnist BETH BOND, curator of Sustainable News, Southeast Green

Last summer in a Green Tech Media article, Georgia Power received a disturbing headline. The headline was Georgia Power’s Rooftop Solar Program Signs Up Only 5 Customers. The implication was there was no solar market in Georgia for residential sign-ups. After all, the article reported, there were over 10,000 inquiries but only five customers who had actually signed up and gotten a solar installation. What was wrong with Georgia citizens?

Responding to Trump: Count one, two, three – breathe

By Guest Columnist JEREMY GARLINGTON, an executive leadership consultant who resides in Atlanta

While the contents of this post are political, the intent is apolitical. What does that mean? No axes to grind, no sides left to choose. Only observations that hopefully will lead to better perspective. So others in leadership positions can consider for their own usage.

Addressing Georgia’s chronically failing schools

By Guest Columnist DANA RICKMAN, PhD, the director for policy and research at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Last November, Georgia voters rejected a constitutional amendment to establish an Opportunity School District (OSD) that would have created a new state-run district with the authority to step in and manage “chronically failing” schools. At that time, 127 schools were on “the list.” These were schools that received a failing score on the state’s accountability report card three years in a row.

Tips on how to garden sustainably

By Guest Columnist SUSAN VARLAMOFF, the former director of the University of Georgia’s Office of Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and lifetime Master Gardener

Landscapes occupy vast swaths of land across urban and suburban areas in the U.S. and how we cultivate our gardens directly affects the surrounding environment. Since Atlanta is bisected by the Chattahoochee River, which serves as a drinking water source, runoff from the land directly impacts the river’s water quality. Misuse or overuse of fertilizers and pesticides can result in water contamination as these chemicals run off the land during rain events.

We are chronically failing, but it’s not our schools

By Guest Columnist FRANK BROWN, CEO of Communities in Schools of Atlanta

As the headlines come and go about our current political climate and the state of our international relations, our students are dying. Several weeks ago, two metro Atlanta students were killed by senseless gun violence. Violence in communities where we live and work is on the rise. Teachers and administrators are trained in self-defense tactics to ensure their safety as they work in communities plagued by the violence that poverty makes more likely.

Learning from our past for a brighter transit tomorrow

By Guest Columnist NATHANIEL SMITH, founder and chief equity officer (CEqO), Partnership for Southern Equity

More than 100 people attended an event at Georgia Tech recently to mark the release of a report, “Opportunity Deferred: Race, Transportation and the Future of Metropolitan Atlanta,” that was commissioned by the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE).

GDOT’s support of disadvantaged businesses evident in $170 million in DBE contracts in 2016

By Guest Columnist KIMBERLY A. KING, director of the equal opportunity program at the Georgia Department of Transportation

For more than 20 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has had a policy in place aimed at helping small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including minorities and women. This is known as the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, and it extends to each state’s Department of Transportation.

APS commits to reducing inequality with affordable housing policy

By Guest Columnist COURTNEY ENGLISH, chairman of the Atlanta Board of Education

Atlanta works best when it works for everyone. For far too long, my beloved Atlanta, has been a tale of two cities.

Recent studies have placed Atlanta near the top of list in job creation while at the same time, one of the country’s leaders in income inequality and child poverty.  The negative effects of this kind of disparity is felt first and hardest in our school system.  76 percent of our kids are on free or reduced lunch.

Lithonia promotes rock solid revitalization

By Guest Columnist MELODY HARCLERODE, who promotes significant historical, cultural, and natural sites as an architect, non-profit consultant, and writer

The city of Atlanta receives much press as the financial, cultural, and transportation hub of the metropolitan area, yet small cities in this region also offer amazing stories for the public to appreciate. Consider the city of Lithonia, a town with approximately 2,000 residents covering a radius of one square mile of land north of I-20 and outside I-285.

The path to leadership: Nurturing perseverance and grit

By Guest Columnist KAAMEL NURI, program manager of American Explorers, a program of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

If I asked you to define leadership, chances are you would come up with a list of noble character traits, moments of everyday greatness, or inspirational quotes meant to propel us forward on our quest to be better.

DeKalb Avenue make-over reignites debate over cars vs. all other modes of transportation

By Guest Columnist CARL HOLT, an avid promoter of bicycling who volunteered as project manager for the installation of Atlanta’s first bike corral, in the Kirkwood neighborhood

While attending the Nov. 17, ReNew Atlanta Bond public meeting on the DeKalb Avenue Complete Streets plan, I could not but help notice the same issues arose at this meeting that came up during the Peachtree Road safety improvement plan, which was presented by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The issue of cars vs. bikes reared its ugly head from many attendees who live on the along the corridor that connects Decatur and Downtown Atlanta.