Gravel > You Deserve Better Infrastructure.

(ideas.work.videos) The kind of infrastructure we build matters to the way we live our lives. If we build single-purpose transportation infrastructure that only works for some people some of the time, for example, then we not only end up with an inadequate physical structure for the mobilization of our economy, we also get an unsatisfactory social and cultural environment. It’s not that the highways that we have obsessed over for the last sixty years are wrong, exactly. They’re just not enough. They’re not able to generate the rich experiences that we want for our lives on their own.

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A more life-affirming approach to infrastructure considers everyone and every aspect of our lives. If we’re serious about it, we don’t only build infrastructure for people who are able to drive cars and we don’t only build it for driving around. Instead, we take a holistic view of all our aspirations and then we put the tools in place to deliver those outcomes. We design a physical structure that can cultivate suitable conditions to create a business or raise a family in the way that meets our highest expectations. In the process, we make valuable cultural, social, and economic contributions to the broader community.

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This is why it is so rewarding to watch our progress on the Atlanta Beltline. Y’all are living it up out there. By opening a new shop, walking to the grocery store, or just going out on a date, you’re not only validating our early hopes about those outcomes, you’re making our city come to life. And when we look around the world, it’s not hard to find others who are doing the same. We can see similar ideas flourishing along the banks of the Los Angeles River, on the bayous in Houston, and with the celebrated opening of the 606 in Chicago last week. In just the last few months I’ve witnessed similar stories emerging in Singapore, Miami, and Milwaukee.

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Meanwhile, I’m watching my kids grow up and it’s cool to see their worldview being framed by the Atlanta Beltline. It’s even more exciting to realize that as much as this new infrastructure frames the way they see the world, their changing perspectives will also shape the infrastructure that we build. So as our cultural momentum swings in favor of a more holistic approach, it’s fun to imagine how much more my kids’ generation could achieve with better infrastructure. We all deserve that opportunity. And I’m more confident than ever that we are capable – politically and otherwise – to provide them a more equitable and prosperous foundation to build on.

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It’s this sense of opportunity that is driving me to start a new chapter in my professional life. I’ve been chasing the Atlanta Beltline for nearly sixteen years and with renewed urgency, I’m excited to announce the next chapter in that journey – a new small consultancy called Sixpitch. It will allow me to become more agile in my chase to unlock the project’s potential, explore related challenges like equity, politics, and regional vision, and then translate ideas from our story to a national audience. I’ll also be better positioned to explore a more human-centered approach to all the infrastructure in our lives. Beyond the adaptation of old railroads, degraded waterways, and gridlocked roadways, this will include infrastructure built around automated vehicles, mobile mode-share technology, global travel, and other new realities. These changes will undoubtedly revolutionize our way of life, and in the process, they will provide sufficient energy and opportunity to create places where we all want to live. I feel lucky just being a part of the dialog.

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So, thanks for your support, and thanks for reading. Check out updates to this website, including Sixpitch, and watch our 11-second launch video below.  >> Ryan Gravel

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4 replies

  1. beautifully written, ryan! joel and i wish you great success! btw, love the bike lane and distillery district photos from toronto. let’s talk ‘green’ infrastructure some time. look forward to running into you on the beltline and catching up. all the best!

  2. Ryan, congrats on your new venture. I’d love to hear more about it if you were up for grabbing a beer sometime. One comment in particular struck me. Your interest in infrastructure around autonomous autos. I made a comment to someone the other day that I thought the biggest risk to wide buildout of the Atlanta streetcar transit was the autonomous car. Wonder if you agree.

    David Tracht

    Sent from my iPhone

    • I would definitely like to talk about it sometime – I suspect we’ll see changes in the way we use cars just like we have seen dramatic changes in the way we use phones. The the impact on transit will be both significant and unexpected – my guess is that transit will be in even higher demand. Let’s connect soon.

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