“Sprawlanta” Video Sets Stage for Game-Changing Atlanta Conference

Experts across disciplines to explore sprawl solutions

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ATLANTA, May 12, 2010 – It’s the ‘burbs on steroids. If Atlanta kept sprawling at its historic rate, it just might fill the USA border to border by 2050. That’s the provocative image in the first episode of a video series intended to dramatize the effects of auto-centric development patterns and to propose an American Makeover.

The “Sprawlanta” episode, just under 10 minutes in length, hit the Web less than a week ago and is already producing major buzz.

Produced by award-winning First+Main Media, the American Makeover series will feature other cities, as well. But starting the search for sprawl solutions in Atlanta has a double advantage. First of all, Atlanta, with three interstate highways slicing through its core and suburbs multiplying in all directions, is a favorite case study for sprawl and its complications. Second, and just as important, Atlanta and its metro area governments and non-profits are pioneering approaches to those problems and are hosting the 2010 gathering of the group — the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) — most connected with fighting sprawl with comprehensive planning tools. In Sprawlanta, American Makeover explores the benefits of a real-life implementation of CNU’s, Atlanta’s Glenwood Park, a walkable neighborhood of homes, offices, shops and restaurants built on a post-industrial brownfield.

See it here .

The 18th conference of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) takes place in Downtown Atlanta May 19-22, bringing international planners, designers, engineers, and other specialists to town to talk about “retrofitting” corridors and neighborhoods for more pedestrian and transit-oriented mobility and for healthier living for people of all ages, incomes, and physical abilities. There’s a particular accent on health, because this year’s CNU conference is organized with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participants include U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, author and musician David Byrne, CDC officials Dr. Howard Frumkin and Dr. Andrew Dannenberg, renowned planners Peter Calthorpe, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Andrés Duany, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, former Mayor Shirley Franklin and others. CNU 18 speakers including Dr. Frumkin, Retrofitting Suburbia author Ellen Dunham-Jones and Glenwood Park developer Charles Brewer are featured prominently in Sprawlanta. Media are welcome: learn more about media registration .

The opening "Sprawlanta" episode of American Makeover drives home the theme of the conference with footage dramatizing the life-saving differences in health and safety that result from how communities are designed.Dr. Rusty Pritchard, co-founder of Atlanta-based non-profit Fluorish, narrates footage of pedestrians dashing across wide highways in "a morbid version of the video game Frogger," explaining that "one Atlantan per week dies because of the way we've built the city." By contrast, says Dr. Frumkin, "Neighborhoods like Glenwood incorporate many of the features that we increasingly recognize promote good health -- more physical activity. More social interaction, helping to build community -- that is something that is very good for health. Less driving, which improves the air quality. Less driving, which reduces the risk of being in car crashes. So this is an example of a neighborhood design that incorporates many strategies that are really public health strategies.

"Sprawlanta" introduces people, places, and ideas that are part of the story of Atlanta's sprawl solutions and part of the focus of the CNU event. "We picked Atlanta to begin our series," says American Makeover producer Dr. Chris Elisara, "because it's not only thought of as 'the poster child of sprawl,' but also because people and institutions in Atlanta offer some of the best examples of ways to turn around sprawl's worst effects."

Read about the CNU 18 event, May 19-22, here.
Contact: Steve Filmanowicz, CNU, sfilmanowicz@cnu.org

For more information about the American Makeover series:

Jim Jewell, jjewell03@msn.com; (678) 458-9837