By David Pendered
Editor’s note: Visit our page Sept. 22 to read more on this subject and the broader issue of millennials in metro Atlanta.
The Atlanta Regional Commission recruited some of the sharpest millennial minds in metro Atlanta to come up with their best solutions to the region’s thorniest problems. The overarching response is that no challenge is too great if folks are willing to try new things and work together.
A proposed Pledge to Win the Future is the clearest example of the unified approach that one group of millennials think the region should use to approach its challenges. Presenter Michael Leithead said Denver created its Mile High Compact 15 years ago, and the compact helped create a shared vision for the region.
Eight working groups of millennials presented their solutions in a format similar to those on the TV show, Shark Tank. The Millennial Mixer, on Monday evening, culminated a project that ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker has pursued for almost three years. The teams have been working most of this year.
After the mixer, Hooker said he viewed the eight teams as a convergence of focus group, think tank, and implementation team.
“They are a focus group in that we started with the idea of putting them in a lot of settings they are comfortable in and asking, ‘what do you want to see in this region and what will keep you committed.’ We got lots of ideas and these eight subjects rose to the top. So that’s a focus group.
“The think tank aspect is, ‘How do you put these ideas into action; how does the region implement them,’” Hooker said. “As far as implementation team, you saw their energy, their excitement. They are laser focused on implementing these ideas.”
At this point, Nick Juliano, a presenter, walked up and offered to be a contact for future stories about his group’s effort. Juliano said he wanted to approach the Metro Atlanta Chamber to gauge its support and interest on advancing the group’s subject – creating a unified voice of support for transit in metro Atlanta, and a unified transit system to operate it.
Hooker offered to introduce Juliano to chamber chamber President/CEO Hala Moddelmog, who attended the mixer.
The solution Juliano and his teammates devised is to unify the support for transit that is emerging throughout the region. A number of polls have showed a rising level of support across the region for improving transit.
The group already has created a website to begin building support and gathering responses to a poll.
A related aspect is to unify the region’s five major transit systems in order to promote the development of a comprehensive transit system. The group cites MARTA, GRTA, Cobb Community Transit, Gwinnett County Transit, and Atlanta Streetcar.
According to a statement on the website: “Transit is top of mind for individuals across the region, but this has translated to limited action. If metro Atlanta is to remain competitive as a region, it will need to provide residents with a comprehensive and unified transit system capable of moving people conveniently and efficiently throughout the region.”
A second team that considered the transit issue considered the issue of healthy transit habits.
The upshot is to make MARTA an integral part of life in metro Atlanta. Ideas include an app that lists events occurring at locations near MARTA bus and rail stops; expanding the fresh market concept that MARTA has developed at the West End Station; staging pop up community gardens in underused parking lots; and having live DJs mix music inside MARTA trains.
MARTA would hire an art curator to coordinate the events, according to presenter Blake Bredbenner.