By Patrick Adcock
As Thanksgiving draws near and we consider what we are thankful for from the past year, it’s important not to overlook another key aspect of the holiday – giving back. Creating social impact in our communities and the metro region is a goal that the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s ATLeaders Council continues to strive for every day.
Since ATLeaders’ inception in May this year, the council has made strides in making a difference on the issues of transit and food insecurities. ATLeaders is a council comprised solely of business professionals under 40 chaired by Fred Roselli, senior director of communications with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, for the purpose of providing a support network to other young professionals with communication channels reaching the larger business community of the region. Driving social change is a component of this mandate.
There are 35 food deserts inside the perimeter with more than two million Georgians residing within them, including more than 500 children. Coupled with issues concerning transit and access to public transport, whole segments of Atlanta’s population are living in need. As 2016 wraps up, ATLeaders can look back at the success of several initiatives aimed at serving these needs.
ATLeaders hosted a two-part series entitled “Impacting Social Change,” with part one covering transit and part two covering food insecurities. These presentations brought the discussion of the issues further to the forefront among business leaders. From the birth of ATLeaders, the council has sought to raise awareness of the referenda in the Nov. 8 elections. Their efforts in collaboration with multiple supporting organizations led to the passage of the MARTA and TSPLOST bills – turning the dream of MARTA expansion and $300 million worth of other projects over the next five years into a reality.
ATLeaders regularly reaches out and works with organizations committed to improving metro Atlanta. Among this year’s social impact partners are Advance Atlanta, MARTA, Relay Bike Share, WeCycle, Georgia Organics, Food Well Alliance, and Truly Living Well.
Capping off 2016, the ATLeaders Holiday Party raised a toast to progressive social impact. The council boarded buses to visit social partners, WeCycle Atlanta and Truly Living Well, while enjoying an organic and locally sourced dinner. Council members celebrated the passage of the transit bills, and by the end of the night, 200 pounds of food were donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank by the council and its guests.
These are only a few examples of ATLeaders’ work in combatting food deserts and transport issues in Atlanta. October’s MARTA Hackathon sought to find the next big thing in Atlanta transit. Initiatives like these drive public and corporate awareness in these topics.
ATLeaders highlights the need to engage corporations on the issues surrounding access to food in our community, while also prioritizing individual action in buying local goods to support Atlanta’s Food Movement. The council has also succeeded in lobbying for the need to expand and improve our local transportation. ATLeaders is thankful this holiday season for the amazing commitment of its council and the business community in their efforts to make Atlanta a great place to live for everyone, and the council will continue to work for the benefit of the region’s entire population.
Here’s to 2017!