...and I have to admit that, while I haven't been to the Big Peach since December of 2001, I am not a fan of the city.
I am one of the many urbanists who ridicules suburbanized auto-centric cities like Atlanta, who makes fun and rolls eyes and dismisses. Whenever I hear about sprawling cities' growing populations I smugly think to myself "That's fine...in another twenty years those cities will be shrinking so quickly that they'll make the decline of the rustbelt look like a glacial recession," though that analogy is not really as applicable to slowness as it used to be, thanks largely in part to places like Atlanta and--whoa, there I go again.
The truth is, many people are finally waking up to the very real dangers posed by global warming--and still more are admitting that even if climate change is cyclical, air pollution is still a bad thing that causes serious health problems and needs to be curbed. With Atlanta turning the massive brownfield ring of abandoned rail tracks into a pedestrian- and bike-oriented green development corridor (not to mention the infamously freeway-tangled Los Angeles aiming to become the Greenest City in America) it's beginning to look like the cities with the worst sprawl problems are going to be some of the biggest and best laboratories for sustainable development ideas.
So I admit my prejudice up front. I will be posting from Atlanta over the next week, and I probably won't be too nice about it because, as an avowed "Northerner," I tend to carry a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the whole "brain drain" thing. But rest assured that I am well aware that Atlanta sees the challenges before it and that the city has a great deal of potential.
The move toward a sustainable global economy is shaping up to be the next frontier of innovation, and will provide America with a golden opportunity to reclaim some of the entrepreneurial spirit and passion for innovation on which our country's reputation was built. If cities like Atlanta are truly up to the challenge (and I'll be looking for evidence) they may not only wind up saving themselves--they could save our international reputation.
Cross your fingers.