"A staggeringly ambitious engine of urban revitalization." That’s how the New York Times described the Atlanta BeltLine, a twenty-two-mile loop around Atlanta’s downtown that is revitalizing abandoned railways into a series of parks connected by trails and streetcars. It’s planned to join forty-five Atlanta neighborhoods, including Historic South Atlanta where we live and work.
Mark Pendergrast grew up inside the city limits of Atlanta, in what he refers to as the “Buckhead bubble.” Now, he lives in Vermont. So when he decided to write a book exploring the Atlanta BeltLine, he had a unique vantagepoint as an “outsider insider.” Familiar with some sections of the city and completely unfamiliar with others, he set out to “get to know the city for the first time.”
He set out to visit many of the communities impacted by the BeltLine’s development, and he asked to stay with residents who could introduce him to the neighborhood. In South Atlanta, Pendergrast stayed with Katie and Jeff Delp, FCS’ Executive Director and Director of Economic Development respectively, and interviewed several South Atlanta residents. These overnight visits to neighborhoods gave him a fresh picture of Atlanta, allowing him to see different sides of the city than just where he grew up.
In City on the Verge: Atlanta and the Fight for America’s Urban Future, you’ll find Pendergast’s experience and perspectives on the city. “I am present in this book more than ever before,” he says. “It’s a very personal book for me.” But the book is also deeply researched. Pendergast allows the story of the BeltLine to unfold into topics affecting urban areas throughout the country: race, education, public health, transportation, business, philanthropy, urban planning, religion, politics, and community.
Pedergrast discovered FCS after he read Bob Lupton’s Toxic Charity, which he quotes in his book. He also tackles affordability issues in City on the Verge, which is an important aspect of BeltLine development that is being felt all over Atlanta. When asked what he hopes readers will take away from the book, Pendergrast says, “I hope when people read any of my books that they will see the world a different way. My books are a way of connecting with people to make an impact. And I hope they come away with a more nuanced view of the inequities in Atlanta.”
We are excited about City on the Verge, and we are equally thrilled to host author Mark Pendergrast for a book discussion on August 29th at 7:00 pm at Community Grounds . This event is free and open to the public, and we’d love to have you join us to talk about the realities and the hopes for Atlanta’s future. Please register for this event here.