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Atlanta Sustainability Week Oct.

25-29: 5 Things This Means for Citizens
by Lindsay Oberst | 10/25/10 http://culturemob.com/atlanta-sustainability-week-oct-25-29-5-things-this-means-for-citizens The 2010 Sustainability Week in Atlanta is the first one of its kind in Georgia. Mayor Kasim Reed and city officials plan to present their plans to become one of the top-ten sustainable cities in the nation by 2012. What is Sustainability? Balance and synergy are two words that relate to the concept of sustainability. The Environmental Protection Agency defines sustainability as policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own goals. Sustainable conditions focus on present and future generations of Americans, as established by the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act.

A vision of Atlanta in 2050. How Sustainable is Atlanta? Atlanta’s sustainability ranking jumped from No. 38 out the 50 most populous U.S. cities in 2006 to No. 19 in 2008. This is a significant jump, however, Atlanta wants to continue to do better. As former Mayor Shirley Franklin, who began the sustainable push, said in a speech in March 2010, sustainability is one issue that Atlanta is still having particular difficulty with. She points to our lack of sidewalks, long commute time and limited public transit system. Another issue that many are not aware of is the city’s lack of water. Urban sprawl is another challenge for Atlanta.

What Does Sustainability Mean for Citizens? Sustainable Atlanta, founded in 2007, describes itself as a catalyst, consultant and facilitator for sustainable progress in Atlanta as well as across the nation. This initiative improves and promotes Atlanta’s “green” plans. 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.” Here are some ways the city is directly improving life in Atlanta: 1. Through a 2007 survey, the city discovered that Atlanta people desire more greenways and parks. The Beltline,a 22-mile rails-to-trails transit, parks and development project, is an example of a major improvement in this direction. Citizens can expect this project to expand and other park projects to continue. 2. The city plans to increase the availability of green jobs. Details will be presented on Oct. 26. “It has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment.” Phil Angelidesthe chair of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups championing green employment. 3. The city hopes to bring local food within 10 minutes of 75 percent of Atlanta’s residents by 2020. This means more farmers markets. This part of the plan will be discussed on Oct. 27. 4. The availability of recycling and energy conservation will improve in the coming years. Plans will soon be presented to Mayor Reed. 5. Electric vehicles in Atlanta will increase. For example, Atlanta is one of the first cites in the Southeast to launch the Nissan LEAF Electric Vehicle. As Franklin said, sustainability is not going away. The city embraces this fact. For their efforts to be successful, the people of Atlanta must support and desire sustainability as well. For the complete list of events for Sustainability week, visit the Southeast Green website. Is sustainability something you value?