Can a Snow Day Show Us Atlanta's Future?

 (Photo: Lianne Epstein)

"Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people."  - Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogota, Colombia

As I write this real snow is falling in Atlanta. Really! A snow day! I can still remember as a child hanging off the edge of my bed listening to Gary McKee on WQXI Radio ("Quicksie in Dixie") as he read the school closings. MAGIC! My school began with a W so we had to wait f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

If you go outside on a snow day in Atlanta you will experience the #1 time when we are actually a Child Friendly City (well, let's not talk about the bus episode of 2015). 

There is no denying that Atlanta is on a roll. The powerful backlash against turning the City into a land of the "haves" to the exclusion of the "have nots" has given us hope of becoming the Beloved Community as dreamt of by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. We're apparently on the shortlist for AmazonLand. People are even appreciating the intrigue of Buford Highway!

But, how much thought do we actually give to our children? Those little creatures who experience 90% of all brain development in the first five years of life? Do we actually think, much less DESIGN, for them aside from the occasional playground?

Today, ARUP, the international planning and design firm has released Cities Alive: Designing for urban childhoods, an important report that goes into the importance of understanding that an urban environment that is good for children is good for all of us.

Here are the key findings from the Executive Summary (but I highly recommend you read the whole report):

Let's build a City that is Child Friendly 365 days out of the year. Now, I'm making some hot chocolate and curling up to read this report. 

(Photos l-r: Cynthia Gentry, Lianne Epstein, unknown)


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Tags: ARUP, Atlanta, Child, City, Friendly, play


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