Q: What the hell are you doing these days? Seems like you’re spread pretty thin.
(faq.) When people ask me what I’m doing, I usually narrow my answer based on context because if I tell them everything, it sounds like too much. NO – I’m not formally involved with the Atlanta Beltline, and YES, I’m enormously proud of the progress we have made. Despite the very real challenges, I’m still optimistic about our opportunity to deliver its promise – I believe in it because I live on it, work on it, run into my kids coming home from school on it – YES, it’s a ridiculously-beautiful dream. And YES – I’m still planning to open a restaurant on the Beltline – you can help by donating to Generator, the nonprofit I started to generate and support people with ideas about the future of cities. And YES, we just kicked off an ideas competition for the future of Atlanta’s larger loop, Interstate-285. YES, we know reality is more complicated than your dream for a 64-mile loop lazy river or sushi carousel, and NO, we’re not going to build your idea for you. I am working on building ideas, however – YES, I’m a co-founder of Elevator, which is proposing to redevelop Atlanta’s iconic West End Mall. YES, it’s a massive undertaking with a beautiful vision, and NO, I am not naïve about the cultural importance of what’s at stake. And on top of all that, YES – I still have my consulting practice, Sixpitch – I’m working right now with The Nature Conservancy on an incredible opportunity for metro Atlanta, and YES, still I still travel a lot for speaking engagements – I love getting out to see the world.
If that sounds like a lot, you are right. In every case, however, I have incredible partners. That’s just how I work. Whether through design, planning, analysis, workshops, talks, shared meals, handholding, strategy, site evaluations, or real estate development, my role is to help people navigate and shape the changes that are coming to cities – to help protect the people and places we love from the forces that will otherwise overwhelm them. Thanks for your interest in my journey! >> Ryan Gravel