Gravel > Thank you, Southface

( The Argon Award is a tremendous honor, but to appreciate what it means to me, you need to know the Southface Institute’s role in the Atlanta Beltline’s origin story. Back in the early aughts when it was just a pipedream that only a handful of people believed in, Cathy Woolard and I took the idea to a couple hundred friendly faces at the monthly Southface Sustainable Round Table. It was a truly crazy idea at that time – a huge, expensive, and audacious vision for a set of railroads we didn’t own, to be transformed with money we didn’t have, in a state that was hostile to everything we were doing. To many people, it sounded ridiculous – but not to the people at the roundtable that morning. We were among like minds and shared values – people working hard to make this world a better, greener, more resilient, safer, equitable, humane, and beautiful place. And coming out of that first big public meeting, and the hundreds of others that followed, the idea for the Beltline spread like wildfire. The people of Atlanta fell in love with the Beltline – that’s why we’re building it today.

So, my ask of you as I accept this award, is to not dismiss pipedream ideas. The next Beltline will also sound crazy at first. Trust people with ideas. Invest in the unknown and uncertain. And believe that with some love and hard work, those crazy ideas can deliver the future we need. >> Ryan

Southface is the Southeast’s nonprofit leader in the promotion of sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance. Its highest award is named after argon, the non-toxic, non-reactive, clear, and odorless gas that fills the space between the glass panes in high-performance windows. Recipients of the annual Argon Award include Ted Turner, Arthur Blank, and Southface founder and legend, Dennis Creech. Learn more about Southface Institute at

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