Community in the ATL

On my personal blog I’ve lately been in a pessimistic mood regarding the state of the city.  There are lots of reasons to be down on Atlanta these days, so I won’t reiterate them now.  Instead, I want to focus on what I like about Atlanta.

I didn’t always plan on being in Atlanta.  When I got done with high school, all I wanted to do was to GTFO. I ended up in the great white north, in Michigan.  For a while, I thought I’d stay in Ann Arbor.  It’s a cool little town, with a lot of neat stuff going on.  It isn’t that far from Chicago, either.  When I came back to Atlanta, it wasn’t entirely by choice or plan – things just happen sometimes, y’know?  Anyway, I found my self back here at 21, once again not really planning to stay but not really having any better ideas at the time.

More than six years later, I am still in Atlanta – so there must be a reason. The truth is, I really fell in love with the town once I moved back.  I remembered how really incredible the sense of community is here, and how great all the people are.  It was one thing to grow up here and have all your friends that you’ve known forever – they have to like you, y’know?  Once I started making new friends, I was completely amazed by how open and welcoming the people here were.  Maybe I lucked out – but I’ve met a lot of folks who moved here that feel the same way.

I also really love all the little neighborhoods.  I’m a real estate junkie, and Atlanta is so ripe with possibilities – there are so many undeveloped pieces of land, or underutilized properties.  The city was originally built on a solid urban framework, where people got around on trolleys and worked Downtown.  Despite the mass of demolitions in the last half of the 20th century, there is also a lot of history still standing, especially in parts of Downtown and intown Atlanta.

It isn’t just about the opportunity to make money doing what I enjoy – it is about the possibility to be part of making something very special happen.  While lately it has been hard to see it, I still believe that Atlanta has all the building blocks to be a world-class city.  Atlanta still feels like a small enough town that it is very possible to be a part of important things without having to be a part of some blue-blood aristocracy.

So I’ve stayed.  For the most part, I’ve been very happy about it.  I’m not as sure as I used to be that I’ll continue to be here – a lot of that will depend on the job market once I’m out of grad school.  I can say that it will take a damn good opportunity to get me to leave the people here.

8 Comments so far

  1. HistoryJoe (unregistered) on January 15th, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

    Yeah, I moved here (really the suburbs) in 1992 just in time to have a baseball team way better the the Cubs. Enjoyed things for a while then was on the road for 5 years living in the northend of Boston, downtown Chicago and Manhattan while I was in storage. Realized by 1998 that Atlanta was my favorite city so I moved to Grant Park. Now I’m right by Little 5 Points. History-wise, fun-wise, people-wise and food-wise this is the place for me. Loving it, even with the crappy weather this month!

  2. james hervey (jeherv) on January 16th, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    i’m with you. i love it here. can’t put my finger on exactly why but this city just feels like home to me.

  3. Stephanie (locaboca) on January 16th, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    It’s always felt like a really big small town to me but then again I’ve lived here all my life. But I like that feeling…it’s comforting. I wanted to GTFO immediately after high school as well but only made it as far as Athens (LOL). As much as I think I’d like to live somewhere else some day, I know I’d miss Atlanta as much as I hope it would miss me.

  4. Atlanta Blogs Today: Baubles and politics | Fresh Loaf (pingback) on January 18th, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

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  5. jam (unregistered) on January 19th, 2010 @ 8:25 am

    I don’t like this city much at all. It feels like “Hotel California” to me, ya know, “You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.” The weather is absolutely dreadful and depressing. The traffic and drivers are retarded. Everything is all sprawled out and you have to drive everywhere. On the other hand, I have great friendships here and the cost of living is somewhat affordable. However, Atlanta is an outsider. Atlanta wants to be like LA, NYC or Chicago but the cool kids will never let it in. Atlanta will always be on the other side of the chain link fence watching the cool kids play ball and get all the fame.

  6. james hervey (jeherv) on January 19th, 2010 @ 9:17 am

    james, i think your last point is part of why i love atlanta so much. it isn’t cool like the cool kids, and that is a huge part of it’s charm.

    btw, you should try l.a.’s rush hour sometime.

  7. Ben K (unregistered) on January 19th, 2010 @ 10:10 am

    I rarely have to spend more than 20 minutes getting anywhere because I live inside the Perimeter – where traffic is really not that bad, and things aren’t that sprawled out.

    And the weather? dude, have you spent a winter up north?? Atlanta’s weather is fantastic for most of the year (except in like July and August). I’ve had to scrape my car out of the snow all of two times in the last three or four years, I think. When I was in Michigan, it was like every freaking day.

    There is an idea in finance and economics, called a constrained equilibrium. In a perfect market, people will make decisions that will give them the best, most efficient outcome. In the real world, the cost of changing to a more efficient situation may outweigh the benefit. So you end up with what is called a constrained equilibrium. I’d suggest that if you haven’t left Atlanta yet, it is because you aren’t willing to give up something that is here – i.e. despite your loathing, on a real and practical level there are enough good things here to make it worth staying.

    Otherwise you’d be gone already.

  8. jam (unregistered) on January 19th, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

    @jeherv I’ve been through LA’s rush hour. It’s bad I know it.
    @ben I haven’t left Atlanta b/c I haven’t been able to sell the property I have here. I don’t want to have to deal with it. I work in Buckhead and live in East ATL. Sometimes in rush hour it takes an hour to go 15 miles. No I haven’t spent a winter up north and I don’t plan to. Atlanta’s winters are bad enough, I don’t want anymore pain. I LOVE Atlanta’s weather in July and August and I wish the weather were like that year round.

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