This is the eighth and final op-ed in our series of op-eds by members of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Millennial Advisory Panel. This panel of 135 young leaders was selected from 400 applicants and worked for the past six months to generate solutions to some of the Atlanta region’s thorniest issues. This editorial is by Joel Mendelson, Mike Davis, Michael Leithead, and Anita Foster, who are representing ARC Millennial Advisory Panel Action Team #8, on the issue of “encouraging leaders throughout the Atlanta region to coalesce around a plan for the future of the region.”
It was impossible to miss. People from across metro Atlanta waved towels, wore “A-Town Stay Down” foam fingers and donned shirts that read “True to Atlanta.” As the Atlanta Hawks made their way through the 2015 season and deep into the NBA playoffs, their success united Atlantans throughout the region. Whether you were from Clayton County, Henry County, Lithonia, Suwanee, Marietta or downtown Atlanta, a common desire was shared—we all wanted our home team to win.
Our local sports teams have a unique ability to unite us as a region and rally us under one banner: Atlanta.
The sense of home-town pride we feel while cheering on our Hawks is fleeting, however. When the buzzer sounds, we all remove our foam fingers and towels and retreat to our own communities.
Just as we come together with a common goal during a Hawks game, the time has come for communities across metro Atlanta to take the longer view and coalesce around a plan for the future of our diverse, complex region.
That is why, as the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Millennial Action Team #8, we are calling on metro Atlanta’s local governments and ARC’s many government and non-profit partners to sign our Pledge to Win the Future, an agreement that encourages us all to collaborate for a better region.
The Pledge to Win the Future was crafted to unite our region’s leadership around three core drivers that will dictate the trajectory of our region. The Atlanta Region’s Plan, to be considered for adoption by the ARC board later this month, was drafted with robust public input. The plan identifies these drivers as: world-class infrastructure, healthy livable communities and a competitive economy. Achieving the plan’s goals in each of these areas will require regional leaders to work together for the well-being of the entire region.
Millennials want metro Atlanta to continue to grow, remain vibrant and attract the best and brightest from our region and beyond. Previous articles from Millennial Advisory Panel Action Teams in this space have demonstrated that we are committed to taking the steps that are needed to move forward in unison. We are also committed to supporting the leaders of our region who support the principles detailed in our pledge.
It will not come easy, nor will we always agree. But this pledge, and the collaboration it requires, can be our bridge to the future. Our hope is that our Pledge to Win the Future will equip our Millennial partners and regional-minded leaders with the support and resources necessary to continue developing creative solutions for our region’s biggest issues. By signing the pledge, our growing, diverse region can embark on a shared pathway toward cooperation, collaboration and success.
Right now, the city is buzzing and the region is on the upswing, but victory is far from assured. If we cannot work together, the consequences will be serious. We don’t want to fall behind our competitors – cities and regions throughout the United States and abroad that Millennials now flock to and call home. We must continue to grow as one of those regions.
We want to transform the region into a world-class metro that excels in the 21st century and into the future. We have the tools we need, but now it is time for us to lay the groundwork necessary to make it happen.
We can still be passionate about our homes and communities in Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties. What we cannot do is miss this opportunity to link our passions with one another and build something greater.
Signing the Pledge to Win The Future is the first step toward the realization of this generational opportunity.
Together is the only way that we can Win the Future!
Watch Action Team 8 make their pitch for a Pledge to Win the Future.
Learn more about ARC’s Millennial Advisory Panel at: newvoices.atlantaregional.com.
Michael Leithead, Saba Long and Anita Foster contributed to this op-ed.
Mike Davis, Anita Foster, Abby Hall, KC Honeyman, Austin Lee, Arthur Michael Leithead, Saba Long, Joel Mendelson, Drew Stevens, Ansley Tuten and Matthew Weiss represent Millennial Action Team #8.