Other than the Falcons going to the Super Bowl, Atlanta has been rubbing me the wrong way lately. Not to be a hater, but the show Atlanta was underwhelming, the city is being overrun by white profiteers, and our culture is shifting, for the better and worse. Are we really just going to let Atlanta go that easily?
As I drove up 75N coming from Marietta, I realized how much I hadn’t really appreciated our skyline. Growing up in the city, you easily take it for granted. It’s home, it’ll always be home. But it’s starting not to feel that way, so much has already changed. Places that used to be mine are already starting to feel unfamiliar. Like I now have to “fit” into the space versus it being a part of me.
For instance, I was off Ponce over the weekend (a place I’ve gone since I was a child). Now, I know this was wrong, but when I took the less than mile walk from Boulevard to the “improved” Old Fourth Ward park, I almost threw up. Instead of regurgitating, I shouted, “you don’t even know where you’re standing!”, in classic Lillian (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) form. I feel like any place from the West End to Inman park is my home. Not only is Inman Park where I kissed a crush, had a massive kickball game, spent many a 4/20s and had plenty adolescent/adulthood endeavors, this area has a rich history of artistic influence for black youth.
When you look at Atlanta natives in the arts community little 5, Glenwood, Edgewood, Ponce, and a few other spots have been creative outlets for youth that didn’t necessarily fit the “mold”. Hipsters, differenters, counter-culture enthusiasts, whatever term people choose to apply really ends up meaning those kids that value liberty. Those kids that don’t really care to “fit” in.
Maybe I’m holding on to the past, but I don’t want Atlanta to lose that. Atlanta’s hipster community is a genuine blend of creative individuals from a truly diverse background. It’s not forced (although it can be fake lol) and it’s inspiring. But there are larger issues at stake here too.
Atlanta took a major loss when the Beltline’s father, Ryan Gravel stepped down from his position. It’s no secret that his resignation stemmed from disagreements in funding for affordable housing around the beltline. Housing, markets, an array of new developments are springing up around the area driving the costs way up and disparaging the current residents, most of whom were already systematically disadvantaged. In the letter, signed by both Ryan Gravel and Nathaniel Smith it is stated that “the recent announcement of $7.5 million from TAD bonds, for example, will likely support fewer than 200 affordable units out of ABI’s obligation to 5,600 – it is a drop in the bucket when compared to the need.” So there it is in plain English, no fancy jargon to fool the natives out of their land.
This sign is my favorite, why? Because it’s exactly how I feel walking around the new Poncey-Highland. If you read the history on Inman Park it was first established for upperclass whites who, upon the increasing use of automobiles, then ventured North to Buckhead, Alpharetta, etc. Thus the area became “urban.” Now, it’s trendy again so they want to take it away from the very people that created its trendiness.
Atlanta, we can not let this happen.
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