The fat special section in this week's issue is a declaration. Fifteen, 10 or even five years ago, we couldn't have filled an Urban Explorer's Handbook with the same number of great restaurants, nightclubs, galleries and other attractions.
Many of the places didn't exist back then. And I'm not hyping them, either. There's just a lot more going on now inside the Perimeter than there had been for generations, and the quality of the goings-on matches the quantity. Whole neighborhoods – from the Old Fourth Ward to the Westside – weren't nearly as interesting then as now. And areas that already were cool have gotten cooler.
This is happening while Georgia tumbles backward. Whether it's health care or highways, education or the environment, our legislators are working to handicap the state and its people, usually in the service of special moneyed interests.
Atlanta is flowering. Georgia is going down the tubes.
So, read between the lines and you'll find that the 2007 Urban Explorer's Handbook really is a declaration that Atlanta – and by that, I basically mean inside the Perimeter – no longer is part of Georgia. We're not part of scraping the land to help our cronies get a quick profit at the expense of everyone else. We're not part of holding children's health care hostage to invent a budget crisis. We're not part of "solving" traffic and air pollution by creating more traffic and pollution. And we're not part of scapegoating gays, blacks and Hispanics whenever it's convenient.
This Georgia native knows plenty of wonderful people who live in places like Jesup, Lawrenceville and Columbus, and who work to make those communities better. For that matter, ITP ain't nirvana. There's plenty of flawed leadership, corruption and plain silliness in Atlanta and DeKalb County.
But we're a city that finds opportunities in the creativity and diversity of our neighbors. We're a city that generally works on our weaknesses and builds on our strengths. We're a city that creates our own destiny, despite the obstacles.
Georgia is heading in the wrong direction. We need to recognize that Atlanta is a different place, with different values, different needs and different dreams. We need to stay on the course that's constantly making our city a better place.
You'll find the Urban Explorer's Handbook incredibly useful. It's packed with information about places to go and things to do, as well as how to do them. But you also can view the handbook as a declaration: a declaration of independence.