Our Chattahoochee RiverLands project is transforming a river from endangered to exemplary—and improving access to nature for millions.
By Amy McCullough
Published February 28, 2022
Of course, to reap these critical benefits, residents have to know about and feel invested in the RiverLands, which is why TPL’s approach for this and all projects is participatory by design. “This is a big transformative project, and we need everybody on board,” explains Dusenbury.
Involving everyone is why Dusenbury believes “we’re going to be successful in this effort.” It’s that end game that gives TPL and Dusenbury purpose: “I’ve always wanted to make the world a little bit of a better place,” he says.
“The Chattahoochee RiverLands is not only going to change metropolitan Atlanta physically; it’s going to change it culturally. Suddenly people who were not even aware that we had a river in metro Atlanta will be saying, ‘Hey, I’ll meet you at the river.'”
A River Ramble conducted in November 2019 focused on designing accessible trails and outdoor spaces for individuals with disabilities. Another invited students from Agape Youth and Family Center to raft the river; most had only been there once or twice before.
Ray describes River Rambles as an opportunity to interact with a very broad base of people from all kinds of backgrounds, to “collect their thoughts and their impressions” about the river—information that sharpens the project’s focus and directs TPL’s work.
That intake and synthesis of community feedback is why TPL is the ideal organization to lead this project. As Ray puts it, “We’re not really interested in making decisions for the region. We’re interested in facilitating the dialogues that result in those decisions, building consensus, and then finding the funds and resources to make it a reality.”
Help us make the Chattahoochee River a powerful catalyst to transform metro Atlanta.
Amy McCullough is senior writer and editor for Trust for Public Land and managing editor of Land&People magazine.
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