But as many rushed to get out during the mid-20th century, others stayed and focused on making Atlanta, the heart of the sprawling region, better. They pushed for transit to create MARTA, supported affordable housing to make sure people of all incomes could live here, and pushed for justice. They invested in their communities and fought off projects that could have destroyed their homes. They knew that Atlanta had value and it could be better. So they worked toward that goal.
Today, the visionaries in our ranks include a City Hall official who is trying to retrofit the mess previous generations made to cater to commuters. There is a neighborhood activist in West End who is reaching out to young people to give guidance and structure. There is a group of historic preservationists who refuse to allow another beautiful building — in this case, a library — to be forgotten. And there is an annual gathering of people who flock to a truly visionary project to look at lanterns and be around other people.
Atlanta has too often focused on short-term fixes to solve problems. It’s been blind to the long-term problems those fixes can create. But pushing back, and sometimes leading us, are people who can see past the next year or election. To the people who are committed to making the city a better place, we say thanks.
— THOMAS WHEATLEY