Atlanta's New Way: 60 voices on the city's past, present, and future
The editorial team immediately loved the idea of “60 Voices” for this May issue, which marks Atlanta magazine’s 60th year. Talking with people from all over the metro area seemed like a good way to take stock of our city. Needless to say, all of us Atlantans have done a lot of soul-searching over the last 12 months, whether we were holed up at home or suiting up for yet another 12-hour shift. However, as this issue went to press in March, Governor Brian Kemp just had announced that any adult over age 16 can be vaccinated. So, we may not have emerged from a year of malaise quite yet, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Before things get back to “normal,” let’s take a moment to ask each other how we’re doing. Last May, just a week before we went to press, we decided to produce a new cover story that documented the early days of the pandemic. In one week, we interviewed dozens of Atlantans to chronicle what we knew would be a historic event. Now, 12 months later, we’re talking with y’all again. How have you survived? What did you learn? Where do we go from here? Mostly, we don’t want to pick up where we left off. Our first idea was to set up a series of conversations between generations. As the magazine has been around for 60 years, we’ve served three generations of readers. (Yes, that’s why this issue has three covers, too.) And we wanted to hear from every age group—not their thoughts about the magazine, but their outlook on the city. Then, we added some other groups who would have special insight into where we are today—entrepreneurs, creatives, new graduates, essential workers, and rising leaders.
When we do a project like this, our staff comes up with a game plan; then, we all go our different ways—talking with Atlantans of all ages, races, orientations, and locations around the metro. We don’t really know what we have until our design director, Matt Love, assembles it like a giant puzzle.
When we wove it all together, two words seemed to come up in almost every interview: “community” and “diversity.” From the mail carrier encouraged by her customers to the nonprofit leaders inspired by farmers to the movie producer who decided to raise his kids here, what people value about Atlanta is its people. On the neighborhood level or citywide, this is still a place where you can connect. And whether that’s the cause or the effect, this city is uniquely diverse—not just because of evolving demographics but because new voices are starting to be heard. Creatives, entrepreneurs, politicians, and leaders are emerging from every corner. The New Atlanta Way must embrace us all.
Heather Buckner, Felicia Feaster, Floyd Hall, Mike Jordan, Sean Keenan, Michele Cohen Marill, Betsy Riley, Thomas Wheatley, Kamille Whittaker, Jewel Wicker, DeMarco Williams, Sam Worley
Alex Martinez and Audra Melton
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.