The Emerald City: Atlanta seeks green improvements
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed sets the bar high for locals and officials in his quest for a place among the top ten greenest cities in the U.S.
Friday, October 29, 2010 - 01:12
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has chosen to shy away from laissez-faire politics in the name of environmental and economic progress of an ambitious nature. Nearly one week ago, Reed unfolded an essential plan to improve the city by reducing smog, increasing green space and local food production, as well as improving water conservation practices. The mayor's symbolic strategy is intended to not only revive the quality of life, but refresh Atlanta's reputation as an unevolved city.
Unfortunately, the mayor isn't the only party privy to Atlanta's lackluster green expansion. People-powered sustainability guide, Sustainlane.com, ranked the hopeful city at a disappointing 19th in a 2008 peer-reviewed survey, up from an embarrassing 38th place in the previous report. Reed's ambitious goals have been paced on a grid stretching into 2050, with the aim of pushing Atlanta into a top ten spot in the national ranking for sustainability.
Implementing a popular term of this political era, the mayor has labeled the plan "Power to Change." The unveiling of the plan headlined Atlanta's first ever Sustainability Week, which ran Oct. 25-29. Each day during the inaugural celebration, there were various programs offered that drew attention to the details of individual campaign within the overall plan.
A notable portion of the sustainable celebration was devoted to the launch of the Nissan LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) electric vehicle, which has chosen Atlanta as one of the first cities in the Southeast to take part in the presentation. The model is the inaugural model in a group of four total electric vehicles to be released by the auto manufacturer — all 100 percent electric and made proudly in America.
In order for sustainable living to flourish in Atlanta, the citizens must embrace the movement while simultaneously communicating its value to local policy makers. Fortunately, this ideal is seemingly taking hold with locals. As Atlanta's Director of Sustainability Mandy Mahoney said, "there is a general will among Atlantans to invest in initiatives that will improve our quality of life."
The Sustainable Atlanta initiative, founded in 2007, was formed primarily to act as the facilitator of eco-friendly discussion between lawmakers and locals. The group collected information regarding the environmental pulse of the people and extracted significant statistics. A survey found that a major concern expressed by Atlantans revolves around greenways and parks. The 22-mile rails-to-trails Beltline is a living, breathing example of progression. Green jobs, recycling availability and the prominence of electric vehicles are also on the list of interest. Lastly, the improvements hope to bring local food to within ten minutes of 75 percent of the population.
In the wake of Atlanta's first ever Sustainability Week, local eco-friendly hopefuls can look forward with promise as politicians in the area shed light on initiatives that will ultimately improve the quality of life for its citizens. If Atlantans continue to openly communicate the value of sustainability and implement these means of progression in their personal lives, these factors will surely perpetuate a green movement that will push Atlanta to the top spot in the sustainability rankings!