The City of Atlanta, or Atlanta, is located in the north-central part of the state of Georgia, which has been one of the top growth areas of the country for the last two decades. Atlanta was established in 1847, and since then it has provided municipal services to its residents, citizens, and visitors. These services include police and fire department, the maintenance of streets, roads and street lighting and other infrastructures. It provides recreational activities and cultural events, public transportation, municipal health services, land use and building regulations. The City is also responsible for the energy and water supply, and sewage collection and disposal operations. The City is also the home of the worlds’ most transited airport, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport . The City of Atlanta forms part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (MSA), or commonly known as the Metropolitan Atlanta. The Metropolitan Atlanta is number nine in the largest metropolitan areas in the country and has become known as a leading center for logistic activities and business. The area represents one the biggest national and international transportation hub and it is among the top three distributions cities in the U.S., As a result, Atlanta has ranked number three in the country for the number of FORTUNE 500 company headquarters. The City has built a powerful economic base and was lately ranked 10th nationwide as an important technology market. The City of Atlanta also ranks 10th in the nation economy and social well-being with a gross domestic product of approximately $295 billion.
Addressing sustainability in cities like Atlanta is a complex undertaking, demanding respect and a comprehensive understanding of the interconnected nature of social, economic and environmental issues, and collaboration across all established jurisdictions, municipalities, geographies, fields, and expertise. Meeting Atlanta’s sustainability development goals, therefore, entails complementary efforts at different scales and domains, where everyone and every single entity and organization is relevant, and where everyone has a role to play, and everyone has a responsibility to work to accelerate progress towards sustainability across the city.
Power to Change aims to offer a clear path forward for all Atlantans in these commitments, joining national best practices with local context, leveraging the work of countless individuals and organizations from the public and private sector, across many impact areas, and giving all a sense of shared accomplishment and purpose.
As Atlanta’s citywide sustainability energy, Power to Change is the result of the contributions of more than 250 stakeholders across the city, representing their businesses, neighborhoods, their schools, their community organizations and their government agencies. The input and continuing commitments and efforts of these individuals and organizations are what make Power to Change (P2C) alive and powerful, transforming goals, targets and initiatives into a better Atlanta.
Power to Change employs this framework of co-creation processes to build a strong foundation for measurable sustainability actions around 10 impact areas, joining and leading sustainability cities around the globe by using this compelling approach.
My Internship Experience
This fall I had the most incredible and fascinating government experience by working as an intern at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a great honor for me to be part of a learning process that allows me to get a different perspective and a professional experience from the so-called public sector. During my internship program, I primarily assisted two departments and their corresponding green initiatives in addressing Atlanta’s sustainability efforts. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in two internships during this fall semester with different focus areas but with very interlinked domains.
The Urban Agriculture Department
The goal of urban agriculture in Atlanta is to support and strengthen an equitable and healthy local food economy. To achieve this, the following are some of the actions and activities performed so far by Dr. Mario Cambadella, the Urban Agriculture Director, and his incredible team:
- The city has provided technical and conceptual drawings for design and construction of the Capital View Community Garden Landscape Plan as well as supervised community work days.
- The department has streamlined the permitting process for urban and community gardens to make it easier for farmers to do what they love to do best, grow, distribute and sell food.
- The Department has also secured dozens of grants to strengthen Atlanta’s Urban Agriculture (UA) Network and increase access to local, healthy, and fresh produce. The awards include the GRO1000 grant to give social entrepreneurs an opportunity to grow and sell edible plants and a U.S. Forest Service grant to establish a food forest in Southwest part of Atlanta.
- Thanks to the assistance and strategic partnership with Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, the Department of UA has completed the Customized Food Hub Assessment Tool Kit for the City of Atlanta.
- Additionally, The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has established a Community Supported Agriculture drop-off location at the City Hall with the local farming cooperative, Global Growers.
I participated and assisted the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Urban Agriculture Legal Internship program. This program allowed me to acquire significant learning experience to seek for career options and develop professional skills in a diversity of leadership disciplines such as community engagement, urban agriculture development, and management, sustainability, urban planning, water conservation programs and many other related fields. By participating in programs such as the first Food Forest of the City, I understood and unleashed an interest in learning how urban agriculture can help to achieve the goal of making Atlanta a top-tier city for sustainability by the year 2025. The purpose of this position in the Internship Program was to develop a passionate and skilled leader in me, committed to urban agriculture as one of the critical components of sustainability progress in the city.
Working closing with the Urban Agriculture Director Dr. Mario Cambardella and Elizabeth Beak, his fellow, my primary responsibilities were: UA policy research, grant writing and editing, legal research, and analysis and the placemaking of the first Food Forest in the City. I actively participated in projects such as the opening of a fresh farmers’ market at the Five Points, one of the Marta Train Stations in the City. I also participated in the Food Forest Workshops and the site-visit and celebration of the Food Forest in the Browns Mills Farm.
The Climate Resilience and Renewable Department
Atlanta has been one of the first cities in Georgia to pass a Climate Action Plan and has been a leader in solar energy programs.
The director, Dr. Jairo Garcia has been on the most dedicated sustainability practitioner in achieving new milestones on transition initiatives that act upon turning Atlanta as one of the most sustainable low-carbon Cities. The actions performed by this department are the following:
- In 2016, the City began installing solar panels at more than 25 facilities across the city, half of wich are located in the low-income neighborhoods and minority communities.
- The City of Atlanta was one of the major cities in the Southeast to participate in the COP21 Climate talks held in Paris. Also, the City was recognized by the Atlanta Regional Commission for the Climate Action Plan developed for the city.
- Atlanta has been recently honored as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities” in strengthening its ability to face the impacts of climate change such as flooding and heat islands.
- Finally, the City of Atlanta has been recognized by the Center for Disease Control as a top ten worldwide Greenhouse Gas emissions reporter.
My internship experience in this department was to work in close collaboration with doctor Jairo in the Climate & Renewables policy research, GH Gases Inventories, updating, writing and editing the 2016 GRI-G4 Sustainability Report, and contributing to the update of the Atlanta Climate Action Plan. This role offered me a broad range of experience on Climate & Renewables Master Plans, GHG Emissions Inventories, GRI Sustainability Reporting, and Solar Atlanta. This position also gave me the opportunity to explore and develop a passionate and skilled leadership in public engagement, policy research, conceptual master plan designs, and working with great partners across the city.
1-2 “The City of Atlanta, Georgia, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report For the Year Ended June 30, 2015”. http://www.atlantaga.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=20459
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