Atlanta Magazine: Views from the Brain Trust

Some aspects of the August 2012 issue of Atlanta Magazine may scream “Agenda 21” for some PP readers. However, there are some excellent points about the future of metro Atlanta — particularly on transportation, water and education.

Experts interviewed for the issue, titled “Big Ideas”, include Emory professor Michael Leo Owens, Doug Shipman of the Center for Civil and Human Rights and Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institute.

Read excerpts below and check out the extended interviews and big ideas online.

Atlanta Magazine: Metro Atlanta’s population is projected to top 8 million by 2040. How do we prevent growth from making traffic congestion even worse than what it already is?

 Leinberger: Provide options and choice rather than the current situation where nearly everyone is forced to drive to every single destination. Like your personal finances, it is wisest to have a diversified portfolio. Atlanta has taken steps in this direction, such as Downtown’s tentative redevelopment, Decatur’s revitalization, Atlantic Station, and the impressive redevelopment of Buckhead and Midtown. The market wants much more. For example, walkable urban Grant Park, Virginia-Highland, and East Lake were the only neighborhoods in the region over the past decade to show real dollar increases in housing value, compared to an average metropolitan decline of 29 percent.

Atlanta Magazine: When you think about Atlanta’s future, what worries you most?

Owens: All of us who live in metro Atlanta should worry about our collective unwillingness or inability to see, think, and act regionally. Generally, metro Atlantans lack what an urban economist once called a “regional perspective,” or a strong view that cross-community sharing of resources benefits the entire region. Our dearth of this perspective perpetuates a hoarding of resources — rooted in myths of scarcity, individualism, and otherness. This contributes to much our problems as a region, especially our traffic congestion, failing schools, fragmentation of government and duplication of services, and the secession of resources via the incorporation of new cities and maybe counties. In sum, our hoarding weakens our region.

Atlanta Magazine: What are you most optimist about?

Shipman: The talent of Atlantans under forty. The diversity of backgrounds and experiences, combined with a high degree of educational achievement, makes me optimistic about Atlanta’s future. I believe that creative talent, if supported, will develop new institutions, businesses, and opportunities to allow Atlanta to reinvent itself again. The changing demographics of Atlanta, combined with our civil rights legacy, provide a unique opportunity for the region to lead the country in thinking about living in a highly diverse world. Atlanta has always found ways to bring more people to the table; we have the opportunity to redefine how a community operates across all aspects of identity. Atlanta was known for the way it created the template for a post-segregation city; we can do it again for a majority-minority country that is inclusive of LGBTQ folks, honors all religious traditions, and has power shared equally by men and women.

25 comments

    • Baker says:

      Thanks for linking to that article. It’s dead on.

      “Slavish opposition is just as liberty-sapping as slavish endorsement. Some things are a good idea even if a UN document says they are a good idea.”

  1. Baker says:

    “THEY TOOK OUR JOBS!!!” Rabble rabble rabble (the original “they” reference here was to illegal immigration but I’m applying it to the U.N. and regional thinking in Atlanta)

    I’ll leave what happens in the next part out of this post.

  2. Scott65 says:

    When can we put this agenda 21 conspiracy bs to bed…Its was a nonbinding document from 10 years ago that was a recommendation on sustainability nothing more. All this conspiracy BS came out of the John Birch Society to promote THEIR agenda…sort of like a reverse conspiracy. The fact is we need stronger zoning rules to encourage density in the city. Factoid…if someone was looking from space…Atlanta (the whole metro) if seen as one city is the LARGEST (area) city ever built in the world…ever.

    • Rambler1414 says:

      “When can we put this agenda 21 conspiracy bs to bed”

      Cobb County can’t, considering 1 of the 2 choices for Chairman believes in it.

  3. ChuckEaton says:

    It’s hard for me to believe that there are people out there who use the term “majority-minority” with a straight face.

  4. If you think this Agenda 21 thing is non-binding, don’t come crying to me me when the UN is making you drink fluoridated water and pledge allegiance to the Admiralty flag!

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Only one problem with that….The U.N. doesn’t have any guns and we here in the U.S. have got more guns than Navarone.

      We’re talking about the same U.N. that sends unarmed “peacekeepers” into active war zones to become target practice for snipers in their white uniforms and light blue helmets, what do you think would be their fate if they to pull the New World Order-type of stunts here in most of America that you are talking about?

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Well, the assembly of nations in the U.N. have historically ‘recruited’ the U.S. military to do its dirty work, so I’m not sure how it would work—unless they came to us and asked us to invade ourselves for humanitarian reasons; a lame trick which our government would probably fall for and carry through with.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Yep, government tierney, that’s exactly what all the privately-owned guns are for that the anti-gun crowd wants so badly to take away against the wishes of the U.S. Constitution.

          Although I doubt that our government would invade itself…That is, unless, of course, there was some oil or huge sums of money in it for some insiders somewhere.

          …Like I said, that’s what all the privately-owned guns are for.

  5. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Owens: All of us who live in metro Atlanta should worry about our collective unwillingness or inability to see, think, and act regionally.”

    From the looks of Tuesday’s referendum results, it looks like Metro Atlanta displayed quite the willingness and the ability to see, think and act as a region in their 63-37% thumping of the T-SPLOST.

    Owens just sounds upset that Metro Atlanta doesn’t necessarily display a collective willingness or ability to see, think and act as a region on HIS terms.

    • smvaughn says:

      “From the looks of Tuesday’s referendum results, it looks like Metro Atlanta displayed quite the willingness and the ability to see, think and act as a region in their 63-37% thumping of the T-SPLOST.”

      GMAFB. So everyone who voted the same way was acting in concert?

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        By the looks of it, yeah. Everyone who voted the same way was acting in concert in that they did not like the piece of legislation that was put in front of them.

        Now each individual voter or interest group may have had their own unique individual reasons why exactly they did not like it, but they all disliked it enough to vote against it collectively in very large numbers, numbers that were shocking even for those who opposed it, quite frankly.

  6. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Atlanta Magazine: Metro Atlanta’s population is projected to top 8 million by 2040. How do we prevent growth from making traffic congestion even worse than what it already is?”

    The water and transportation mobility-challenged Atlanta Region could easily top the 8 million mark by 2040 and could probably make a run at 10 million as, seemingly unbeknownst to many Metro Atlantans, the Atlanta Region is the home to a very large and very fast-growing Asian community, particularly from South Asia and particularly from the Indian Subcontinent, which, by the way is home to well over 1.2 billion people.

    Which means that over 200 million people could leave India tomorrow and no one would probably even notice there.

    Metro Atlanta is already home to what is supposedly the largest Hindu temple in the world outside of India in the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn (that big temple that sits across the road from the Publix and right behind the Walgreens at the corner of Rockbridge Rd & Hwy 29 for those of you who may be familiar with that part of Gwinnett).

    Traffic or no traffic, water problems and all, Metro Atlanta is a very attractive, if not the most attractive, relocation target for millions of Indian families looking to relocate to North America as part of what is projected by many to be the next big wave of immigration to the U.S., a wave of immigration that has the potential to completely dwarf the recent wave of both legal and illegal immigration that we’ve experienced from Mexico and Latin America.
    http://atlanta.baps.org/

    Btw, Atlanta, good luck with that traffic thing, because you are REALLY going to need it, probably more than you might have ever imagined, because even if people stop relocating here from around the U.S., they’ll keep coming here in droves from other parts of the world.

  7. notsplost says:

    Well if current demographic trends continue (young people delaying marriage until they’re in their mid 30’s, lower birthrates and reduced illegal immigration) the only population growth we’re going to get in the next few decades will be from legal immigration.

    Better start lobbying Congress for increased quotas.

    But seriously, the failure of these supposed “brain trusts” to imagine a future for Atlanta that doesn’t have endless geometric if not exponential population growth is part of the problem. Reality may look very different than these guys linear extrapolations of trends that may be reversing as we write.

  8. Charlie says:

    OK, since the internets are where these things seem to start, I guess I should just go ahead and annouce here, today, publicly, that Qunicy, Ban Ki Moon, and myself have started working on Agenda 22. If any of you have any requests, please let me know. Thank you.

  9. saltycracker says:

    Demographics (Forbes Aug 6 – source U.S. Census)
    Subject of the article was the booming Hispanic market for the media advertisers

    Projected U.S. population growth (another chart showed income growth for Hispanics) through 2050

    +42% Total
    +1% White non-Hispanic
    +56% Black
    +142% Asian
    +167% Hispanic

    Atlanta Mag. “Leinberger: Provide options and choice rather than the current situation where nearly everyone is forced to drive to every single destination.” He then went on to extoll the live, work, play idea. Trying to turn metro counties into bedroom communities and Marta/interstates into a downtown hub with spokes might not be the best approach.

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