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People, Places & Parks Thought Leadership

Georgia Conservancy to Launch Mayors’ Clinics for Community Design in 2022

GC Board Chair Dr. Mark Berry, the Honorable Shirley Clarke Franklin, and GC President Katherine Moore (Credit: William Brawley)

Announcement made at gala honoring former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin

On November 4th, Georgia Conservancy held its 27th annual ecoBenefête gala, honoring former Atlanta mayor Shirley Clarke Franklin with the organization’s prestigious Distinguished Conservationist Award. The evening brought together supporters of the Georgia Conservancy’s work to celebrate and reflect on Mayor Franklin’s legacy as a strong, practical, and tenacious advocate for clean water, natural resource preservation, and community-centered development.  

The theme of the evening — “Courage in Conservation” — rang true through Mayor Franklin’s words, as well as through those of Yeou-Rong Jih of the Kresge Foundation, who was presented with the Longleaf Award by Georgia Conservancy’s young professionals board, Generation Green. 

In her acceptance remarks, Mayor Franklin reflected on the importance of empowering local leaders to embrace the challenges of working towards economic and environmental sustainability and resilience. She took the opportunity to laud several colleagues that helped her set a long-term vision for cities’ infrastructural future, crediting the team around her for working together to champion marquee projects like Westside Park and the Atlanta BeltLine. 

She issued a call to her fellow mayors and elected leaders in Georgia to “have the vision for what comes 25 years after you, and to have the courage to build the foundation for a place you will not see in your lifetimes.” 

Mayor Franklin’s remarks come at an incredibly opportune time. In recognition of her passionate and tireless leadership, Dr. Mark Berry, Chair of Georgia Conservancy’s Board of Trustees, announced that the UPS Foundation, Georgia Power, Colonial Pipeline, and Troutman Pepper have generously provided the initial funding for Georgia Conservancy to design and carry out a series of Mayors’ Clinics for Community Design in 2022.  

Downtown Sandersville, GA (Credit: GC member Julian Buckmaster)

Modeled after the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors’ Institute for City Design curriculum, Georgia Conservancy’s in-depth training program for mayors offers tailored problem-solving, education, and hands-on technical services for visionary elected officials responsible for the betterment of their communities.  

For the 2022 cohort, Georgia Conservancy will focus specifically on engaging female and minority mayors in Georgia. 

This opportunity for Georgia’s elected officials comes at just the right time: our state is projected to add 3.5 million people by the year 2050 (according to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budgeting). But that 3.5 million figure masks the more nuanced truth that each one of Georgia’s communities will face its own challenges based on location, size, existing assets, and hundreds of other factors.

Georgia’s numerous small towns (80% of Georgia’s municipalities are comprised of 5,000 people or less) face pronounced challenges related to competitiveness, longevity, and sustainability. As our communities change, we must equip Georgia’s leaders to make informed, strategic decisions about how we use our land and its resources to build a more sustainable future.  

Through the continuation of its well-regarded Mayors’ Clinics, Georgia Conservancy aims to address these issues with those who know their community best. Local elected leadership is key to ensuring that individual communities and Georgia at large are successful, vibrant, and sustainable—25 years from now and beyond. 

Mayors who participate in this program will receive general education on good, sustainable community design. Each Mayor will also be asked to submit a challenge from their community that will be discussed with their entire cohort. Through this peer-to-peer exchange, not only do mayors receive direct technical assistance and innovation, but they also cultivate a sense of community among each other.  

Building this network will allow these important local elected officials with the support they need from others to follow Mayor Franklin’s example: to have the courage to conserve, steward, and use our land in order to build a sustainable foundation for generations to come.

Learn more about Georgia Conservancy’s Mayors’ Clinics for Community Design at  www.georgiaconservancy.org/mayors-clinics


Learn more about ecoBenefête at www.georgiaconservancy.org/ecobenefete


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