Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Environmental Health Sciences

First Advisor

David Kneas

Abstract

In their efforts to revitalize and reimagine Atlanta, local government, private-public entities, and environmental organizations infuse green projects with the rhetoric of community engagement and local participation. The Atlanta Beltline, a circular greenway system of interconnected parks and trails that adaptably reuses abandoned rail lines surrounding the city, is Atlanta’s latest multi-scaled and controversial sustainability project. One of the Beltline’s primary goals is to act as a transformative force to create an equitable and unified city, which is evident in the Beltline’s promotional slogan, Where Atlanta Comes Together. Narratives of community engagement and decisions involved in constructing the Beltline’s built environment, however, advance processes of exclusion in salient ways under the illusion of equality that has hindered the Beltline’s initial intent of reconciling racial tensions and connect Atlantans. As one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S and city with the highest income inequality, Atlanta’s histories of racial segregation continue to haunt revitalized areas. These forces remain normalized and unchallenged, threatening to displace historically marginalized residents, erase existing narratives of place/ neighborhood identity, and exacerbate inequality. I will attempt to disentangle racialized histories, the power to erase/replace meanings of place, justifications of exclusion, and spaces of resistance that are hidden within urban sustainability’s rhetoric.

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