Atlanta City Design 2017: A grand vision for people, nature and people in nature

In a  City Hall conference room, Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane gently unrolled a mega-watercolor that Christian Sottile, an urban designer from Savannah, had painted of the new Atlanta City Design.

The watercolor captured the significance of the design process and its potential for Atlanta by using a graphic style that dates back to the early 1900s – depicting a desire fort this design tol become part of city’s landscape and identity for decades to come.

Atlanta’s mayoral race is up for grabs

The 2017 Atlanta mayoral election is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

And it is anybody’s guess on how it will shake out.

The back-and-forth between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell this past week shined a spotlight on several of the complex issues that will influence the outcome.

Forget the symbols of the Confederacy; instead let’s preserve our African-American heritage

It makes no sense.

As the nation and our region ponder whether to erase Confederate history by removing monuments and renaming streets, we are letting our precious landmarks of African-American history crumble to dust.

Where is the passion and dedication to save the pillars of U.S. black history? Let’s begin with Gaines Hall, built in 1869 and the second oldest building in the city of Atlanta, and the place where W.E.B. DuBois wrote the mind-changing book: “The Souls of Black Folks.”

Mayor Kasim Reed may award key employment contracts before leaving office

With less than six months remaining before he leaves office, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is working on all cylinders trying to accomplish as much as he can in the precious time he has left.

But all this activity has a downside.

The next mayor of Atlanta could inherit a City Hall where major policy moves, government contracts and personnel decisions will have been decided before he or she takes office.

Mayor Reed and key city council folks are at odds over closing Eastside TAD

Invest Atlanta provided financing to a record number of developments at its board meeting July 21 – projects that will add a total of 493 units of affordable and workforce housing – a top priority of Mayor Kasim Reed.

But a reason there was such a rush of projects was due to the possible closing of the Eastside TAD (Tax Allocation District). And Mayor Kasim Reed supports closing the TAD.

France rises as new French President reaches out to President Trump

The ascension of France on the global stage was exemplified on July 14 – Bastille Day – when Frenchman Warren Barguil gave France its first Bastille Day Tour de France victory in 12 years.

But an even more significant sign was when U.S. President Donald Trump accepted an invitation from the recently-elected President of France – Emmanuel Macron – to spend Bastille Day in Paris.

A growing chorus: Atlanta must be proactive to preserve its unique tree canopy

This is the third column in a series about Atlanta’s trees

A groundswell of community leaders are doing all they can to make sure Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi” doesn’t become Atlanta’s reality.

The song’s chorus feels all too familiar:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Atlanta is uniquely positioned as a city in a forest, and there is a movement afoot to make sure it stays that way.

Time to dream big for the future of Atlanta’s parks and green space

Part 2: This is the second in a two-part series about Atlanta’s parks.

The next mayor of Atlanta – whoever he or she may be – should make parks and green space a priority as a way to counter-balance the anticipated increase in density as more people move into the city.

Atlanta’s environmental community has come together to make sure we preserve, protect, maintain and increase our city’s natural green assets.

When it comes to our national ParkScore, Atlanta has room to improve

This is the first in a two-part series about Atlanta’s parks

Atlanta has a long way to go to become a leader in the country when it comes to parks.

For years, the Trust for Public Land has been tracking Atlanta’s “Park Score” to see how we compare among the 100 largest cities in the country.

Out of a possible score of 100, Atlanta’s total score was only 51 percent. And among the 100 cities, Atlanta ranks 50th in a tie with Dallas.

Georgia Trust’s tour of Southwest Atlanta helps us appreciate the history in our town

Frances Westbrook of Brookhaven was having lunch Saturday in Adair Park – a southwest Atlanta community that she did not know before signing up for the Georgia Trust’s Southwest Atlanta Expedition.

“I thought it would an excellent opportunity to see this area, which I had never been to before,” said Westbrook, who has also been on the Atlanta BeltLine tour. “It’s really a superb opportunity to get to know another part of Atlanta.”

More than 200 people visited the 20-plus sites on the Southwest Atlanta tour – which included houses, industrial buildings and some of the incredible academic institutions that have anchored the communities for more than 100 years.

Atlanta joins other cities in grassroots support of Paris climate change agreement

A grassroots movement is rising to support the Paris Agreement on Climate Change – despite the decision by the Donald Trump administration to withdraw U.S. support of the globally historic accord.

One of key power centers of this grassroots response in support of the Paris Agreement is the City of Atlanta.

“Cities have the leadership role especially in the United States,” said Stephanie Stuckey, the Chief Resiliency Officer for the City of Atlanta, which is one of the 100 Resilience Cities Initiatives pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Mark Pendergrast asks: Is Atlanta on the verge of greatness or mediocrity

In the eyes of Mark Pendergast, Atlanta is a “City on the Verge.”

Pendergast, an Atlanta native and author, has just penned an elaborate and exhaustive tale about the Atlanta BeltLine in his most recent book – “City on the Verge.”

Throughout the book, Pendergast sandwiches in slices of Atlanta’s history – providing a non-judgmental view of the city’s racial tensions and successes as well as its obsession with transportation and its own identity – nationally and internationally.

Atlanta’s urban tree canopy leads the nation; but most trees are not protected

This is second in a multi-part series about Atlanta’s tree canopy.

We have always described Atlanta as a city in a forest.

Amazingly, it is true. Our old growth forests are among our most special treasures in metro Atlanta.

Joan Maloof, founder of the Maryland-based Old Growth Forest Network, is an author who has written several books about the environment including her latest: “Nature’s Temples: The Complex World of Old Growth Forests.”