1 of the USA’s newest cities turns 9 today

PICT0002Today is the ninth anniversary of the first day of operations for one of the newest cities in the USA — the City of Dunwoody, Georgia, which is an easy 15-minute transit ride from the City of Atlanta and is where I have lived for more than 20 years. Having a front-row seat to witness how citizens choose to govern themselves and create their own little world as part of a larger universe has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life, and I am grateful for what I have learned not just about others but about myself.

Within two weeks of the city’s launch on December 1, 2008, I was appointed by the mayor as the chair of its first commission, the Sustainability Commission. My 20-year vision at that time was grand but achievable, and significant policies (specifically involving government decisions, actions, and purchases) were put in place during that first year and a half (after which I left to start community, food pantry, and school gardens around metro Atlanta).

I am proud to say that the city and its volunteer citizens did achieve Gold-level certification as an Atlanta Regional Commission Green Community within its first five years of operations (you can see their impressive accomplishments here). The rest of the bullet points have not been achieved and most are not being pursued, although there is a group purchasing movement for solar power happening right now (which is terrific). You can read more about this city (specifically in relation to bike riding) in my book. See Chapter 3: Pedaling as Fast as I Can, and Chapter 6: Noodle Lady. (Or, if you like, start with the free Epilogue.)

The League of American Bicyclists (for which I am League Cycling Instructor #5382) released its list of newly-certified Bicycle Friendly Communities yesterday. My city was not among them, nor is it currently pursuing this designation. (See all rankings here, on this fun, clickable map.) Despite significant investment in bike infrastructure planning and initial construction, its recently-adopted 20-year Comprehensive Transportation Plan Update does not include a safe, complete network accessible by all. (This is the media release I’d prefer to see.) It is no surprise that you see very few citizens simply running errands or non-Lyrcra-clad employees commuting as #OneLessCar on our traffic-packed streets (in the part of metro-Atlanta that serves as home to the largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the southeastern United States) .

Bottom line: You are needed, in my city and yours, to more clearly define and protect the commons and encourage more robust and intentional triple-bottom-line sustainability.

2020 Vision for the City of Dunwoody, GA (and perhaps your city):

* The City of Dunwoody will be carbon neutral, and will have the largest Zero Waste Zone in the United States.

* The City of Dunwoody will have a LEED Platinum (or comparable)-certified City Hall, and the highest number of LEED (or comparable)-certified buildings in the Southeastern United States.

* Every major artery in the City of Dunwoody will be a Complete Street.

* Every neighborhood in the City of Dunwoody will have a WalkScore of at least 75.

* The City of Dunwoody will have food-producing, usable green space within a half mile of every residence and business.

* The City of Dunwoody will have the largest number of locally-owned-and-operated businesses in the southeastern United States.

* Every neighborhood lake in the City of Dunwoody will be a toxin-free, food-producing wildlife habitat.

* Every school in the City of Dunwoody, from preschool to college, will have a school garden, a Safe Routes to School program, and a No Idling program.

* No citizen in the City of Dunwoody will be food-insecure.

* The City of Dunwoody will be a designated Tree City USA, Bicycle-Friendly Community, and Atlanta Regional Commission Gold-Level Green Community.