Ryan Gravel at North Florida Safe Streets Summit

Ryan GravelMore than infrastructure- it's our way of life!

Ryan Gravel, the prime mover behind the Atlanta Beltline, gave an inspiring and thought-provoking keynote at the  North Florida Safe Streets Summit on October 17 in St Augustine. The Summit theme was "Streets for the Ages" which reflects Ryan's philosophy, that infrastructure should be planned and developed for everyone from children to the aged, and for all aspects of life and modes of mobility.  Ryan says the partially complete Atlanta Beltline, a circular trail around Atlanta, is already changing the way people live in the city.  It’s “a corridor of humanity - built for people, not for cars”.  He talked about the inextricable relationship between infrastructure and culture and the importance of connecting people and integrating infrastructure into daily lives.  His point that "social isolation leads to political polarization" highlights a concern for all these days.  

One point he made that really resonates with us here at the St Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance (and with all small organizations fighting for a cause)  relates to the "siloed nature of expertise".  Like any business or  organization, small nonprofits require a vast array of skills, knowledge, expertise and technology to be successful.  No one has all these at their command.  At the Alliance we are skilled at writing, data management,  mapping/GIS, and we work hard at social media and working with elected officials.... but we need help with the finer points of all these and the many more areas of expertise needed to grow.   We look forward to talking more with Ryan, who is on the Alliance Advisory Board, about ways small nonprofits can pool and share expertise to the benefit of all.  He addressed this issue in several of his 8 Lessons Learned in the path to launching the Atlanta Beltline.       

  1. Have a Bold Vision
  2. Include Everyone - multidimensional projects
  3. Promote authenticity - have a unique sense of place
  4. Compel change by inspiring others
  5. Inspire Life through great design 
  6. Focus and share expertise
  7. Emphasize people and community
  8. Band together - form partnerships

For more about what it takes to change infrastructure and make our towns more bikeable, walkable and livable, I highly recommend Ryan's book Where We Want to Live - click on the image for more information.  

Ryan Gravel - Where We Want to Live