Atlanta, this is you
At the 2011 Maker Faire we conducted an experiment to see what you really think about Atlanta. The FEED created an oversized display board asking participants to write one word to describe Atlanta. The following reveals the words people posted and our thoughts on what they mean for our city.
Our People: the good
Words: diverse (2), friendly (2), adventurous, hardworking
Atlantans were mostly described as diverse and friendly. What a great combination! It is true that our city boasts a population made up of 56% White, 25% African America, 3% Asian, and 12% Hispanic according to 2010 census information. And of course we should be friendly given our regions reputation for Southern Hospitality! We were also described as adventurous. Being diverse means having many cultures and their various foods at your fingertips. With the growth of areas like Buford Highway it is easy to see that Atlantans are not afraid to experiment with food. In addition the areas outside the city offer everything from mountains to beaches within a few hours drive. We don’t always play. Sometimes we work. In fact, someone called us hard working and we agree. Whether creating art, designing airplanes or saving lives Atlantans are hard at work in a global economy.
Our People: the creative
Words: creative, artsy, epicurean, engineering, technocentric, hackers
Since these words were taken from the Maker Fair, a gathering of people interested in creative expression and technological advances, it isn’t surprising that Atlantans were noted for their craftyness. In addition to general creativity, participants noted that our people are artsy. The arts are definitely blossoming in Atlanta with new artists, dancers and musicians springing up daily. Things like FLUX, WonderRoot, Dashboard Co-Op and Dance Truck are gathering huge followings. We are also experiencing a growth in technologies and technology exploration, which is no longer just for Ga Tech students, although we are sure they are a big part of our growth. Groups like Freeside and MASS Collective are changing the perception and availability of technology for Atlanta. And don’t forget our creative food scene! It seems that every week there is a new restaurant or food truck popping up. The street food and food truck era is upon us and the city is really embracing this trend.
Our People: the bad
Words: racist, hungry, hobos, egoism
Not everyone in Atlanta can be a model citizen. Both our history and our current socio-economic situation are helping to shape our individuals and society. Racism once had a stronghold here. For most people it is a thing of the past, but bad habits die hard. If you look hard enough it is still haunting our city, and if you travel just ITP it appears to be more prevalent. In case you haven’t noticed, the economy both here and across the US, isn’t doing so well. In fact a recent study found that Atlanta has lost more jobs than most metropolitan areas. That isn’t good. Poor economic growth and its results- poverty, hunger, and homelessness – are on the rise and people are taking notice. (as a note, we don’t condone the use of “hobos” to describe anyone)
Our People: the divided
Words: conservative, progressive, tribes
Some of our participants noted the divisive or at least divided nature of Atlanta. While the state of Georgia is primarily conservative, the city of Atlanta is a mix of conservatives and progressives, democrats and republicans, red and blue. In addition to our political breakdown, Atlanta is made up of many global communities. This adds to our diversity but these communities are not always integrated into the greater social fabric. Large mono-ethnic pockets can be found around the city which can lead to these groups being left out of dialogue or decision making. Not just a concern for ethnic groups, insular activities can also be noted in areas like Atlanta’s primarily youthful East Side and the economically prosperous North Side/Buckhead communities.
Things Around Town
Words: traffic (4), coke (2), Paidea School, art, parks, kudzu, GaTech, Freedom Parkway, pavement, trees, leaf blowers, the museums, squirrels, pollen, dancing, music, cirque de soile, peaches, decatur where its greater, parties
Every city is made up of things- locations, activities and monuments that tell a story about the people and history that occupy the space. Top among our entries were Coke, that delicious hometown beverage and traffic, that sea of cars that wraps around 285 and slowly crawls down the connector from every morning and afternoon.
Our Temperatures: its hot, and we know it
Words: hot (3), blazin, burning, high average temperature, sunny, sweaty, nuclear!
Even if you have only lived here for a short while you still know Atlanta is a tad bit warm come summer time. High temperatures have shaped our city as it has much of the South.
Atlanta: the bad
Words: disconnected, overwhelming, overgrown, noisy, sprawl, sprawling, unplanned, far drive, not grid shaped surrounded, loud, scary, unpredictable
You can’t please everyone and it seems that our participants are no exception. Like any city we are not a quiet place to relax and commune with nature or even your thoughts. We are fast-paced and noisy. The words participants provided also reveal a point that many people know too well- Atlanta is very spread out, with its suburbs adding to its sprawling girth. Although it is not as large as New York, Chicago or other major metropolitan areas, it lacks a robust transportation system to help residence navigate its expanse. Groups like Forbes have named Atlanta as one of the worst commutes in the nation.
Atlanta: the not so bad
Words: growing, pretty, restoration, sustainable, lots of people, olympic, big, clean, temporary, architecture, green, city, lush, busy, intense, transforming, potential, opportunity, grassroots, love building
Our city has some (we would like to argue many) silver linings. Many of these can be summed up in our city symbol of a phoenix. Originally created to represent Atlanta rising from the literal ashes of the Civil War, the phoenix has come to represent our resounding spirit of growth and rebirth. In current and coming years that means looking towards longevity and sustainability and in recent years past that meant remaking ourselves as the host of the 1996 Olympics.
Words: terminus, hub, crossroads, airplanes
In years past Atlanta was a hub for rail transportation. Our original moniker, Terminus, was quite fitting and perhaps it still is. We currently boast the intersection of two major interstates and one of the worlds busiest airports. With its airport and proximity to Latin America and major ports like Savanna, Atlanta is rapidly becoming the hub of international trade and transportation.
Words: awesome (3), amazing (3), awesometastic, fabulous, outstanding, electric, legendary, happening, epic, cool, fun, sexy, nifty, peachy, bright, found, fresh, different, trendy, crazy, wired
It seems that participants couldn’t find enough ways to express how awesome they think Atlanta is. They even resorted to making up their own words (awesometastic) and relying on trendy hollywood produced quips (winning, legendary). We are glad you like it here.
Atlanta: we call it home
Words: home (5), Atlanta (2), here, 33°45’18” N/83°23’24″W
These answers were not the most original, but they say a lot. Atlanta, no matter the good, bad or ugly, is a place we all call home. And yes, we are really located at those coordinates.