Yes, the Digital Atlanta Conference has been filled with learning awesome things about the tech and digital world from interesting people in cool jobs. But there’s also just a lot of ATL Love… folks who love their city and want to see it succeed, prosper, and define what’s on the horizon for technology, creativity, and well, living well.
I was a little afraid all this ATL Love Talk was going to make me want to move to Atlanta (which has long been my nagging, irrational fear.) And while I do LOVE the people and the food and the creativity that makes up that city… I’m not yet convinced it’s the place for me. In a way, it made me more passionate about living in Athens.
Athens, if you’ve ever been here you’ll know, is this wonderful little micro-city that breathes and synthesizes a unique culture flavor. It’s at one moment this robust, yuppy, scholastic enclave and the next it’s a teeming, swirling hotbed of music, art, and entertainment. The food, outstanding. The people, so strange and smart. The architecture, southern hospitality and walkable streets make it a beauty to behold.
Despite all that, Athens lacks a lot of what could make it into a world-class city where people want to live forever and not just an amazing college town where people stay for a few years before moving on to something more permanent.
Athens is a transient place. As a permanent resident, this is something that aches my heart continually. I meet new people often knowing that they are only here for a season… mostly because of being in school or the lack of diverse career options. Athens is a training ground because of the University… and one that often feeds our talented residents to the nearest Big City when the pickin’s get slim.
Don’t get me wrong: people love Athens. Anyone who has ever lived here will forever save a small part of their heart that is the shape of The Classic City. But how do we build a community here that people want to invest in before they leave for something Bigger and Greater just down the road? I don’t have the answers but I’m excited to think about them and what it could mean for my beloved Pretty Little City.