… the candidate who is most persuasive in arguing that he or she will ensure that Atlanta works as well as it can for everybody who lives here.
Rich, poor, and in-between.
Older and younger folks.
Black, White, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, American Indian, and multiracial individuals.
Property owners as well as people whose few possessions fit into a plastic bag with room to spare.
Political independents, Democrats, and Republicans.
Those whose families have been here for generations, and those who got here last week.
From Buckhead (geez, take a deep breath and calm down, Buckhead) to Mozley Park.
Tree lovers, tree skeptics, and the many people who rarely if ever think about our trees.
The city needs to work. Departments and offices should meet and exceed minimal thresholds for effectiveness and efficiency. Problems, especially basic problems, should be addressed in a timely manner: police officers or firefighters showing up when they’re summoned, trash and recycling picked up on schedule, streets promptly repaired, and so on.
Atlantans should have confidence in their local government, don’t you think? A level of trust? Even pride?
Over the span of the last two decades, there have been many, many occasions when I have sought the help of city employees in addressing some tree-related issue or concern.
Maybe our volunteers had pruned trees in Freedom Park or along streets, and we needed Sanitation or Parks to haul off the branches. Maybe we planned to plant trees on public property, and we needed someone to sign off on the proposal. Maybe a homeowner had asked for my help to get a city arborist to do an inspection. Maybe I was reporting an infraction of the Tree Protection Ordinance.
I’ve had a ton of good experiences. Jay Tribby in Kwanza Hall’s and now Amir Farokhi’s office has been awesome. The arborists in the Bureau of Buildings, the ones responsible for privately owned trees, have been really great.
Yet I offer this little story as a cautionary tale.
In early October 2019, I walked every street of Inman Park to identify street trees that might benefit from inspection by an arborist. I chose a dozen of the worst cases to report to the city: dead trees and possibly dangerous trees. Note the highlighted address in the list I submitted back in Fall 2019: 100 Waverly Way, on the Euclid side of the property, a large water oak.
Ultimately, just one of the twelve trees was inspected, and that one only after intervention by Jay Tribby. (That tree, opposite the home of Bill Dorn and Janet Sowers on Waverly Way, has been marked for removal but is still standing on July 13, 2021.)
Last week, the big water oak at the Euclid side of Eleanor Matthews’ house dropped a large limb into the intersection. Thankfully, no one was killed or injured.
The limb blocked the intersection, brought down telecom lines, and damaged a maple on the opposite side of Euclid.
Probably due to AT&T’s delay, the intersection remained blocked for five or more days.
No one is perfect: not me, not you, not anyone who works for the city. Not every hazard from trees can be eliminated, not even if an arborist were to inspect the same tree every day for years and years. There are always judgment calls to be made. Anything can happen.
But we gotta start by showing up, right? By thinking of ourselves as accountable, by acknowledging shortcomings, and by demonstrating an eagerness to improve.
Our trees would love to have a mayor who gets us a new tree protection ordinance, who adequately funds all municipal functions related to trees, and who walks the walk on preserving Atlanta’s reputation as the City in a Forest.
Let’s start by getting the little things done. Because little by little, a heavy branch over my head is weakening, and I’m gonna be really sad if it falls on me.