Rockefeller Foundation to help Atlanta see its future

Atlanta is getting some high-profile help in planning its future.

The Rockefeller Foundation has added Georgia’s capitol to its 100 Resilient Cities network, which offers financial and logistical support to metro areas trying to take a long view of what they will look like in the 21st Century.

The city landed the designation based on its push to improve the quality of life of residents, including turning abandoned railroad tracks into Atlanta Beltline, encouraging sustainable building practices and creating a new reservoir to give the city a 30-day supply of drinking water.

“They will help us be better at the initiatives that we’re already working on today and they will also help bring all of the disparate efforts that are occurring in the city of Atlanta into a more unified concrete plan,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said at workshop for the group Monday at the Carter Presidential Center & Museum.

Atlanta’s joins such cities as New York, Melbourne, Barcelona and Milan in the group. About 350 cities apply each year with just over 30 chosen annually.

Admission comes with funding for two years for a chief resilience officer, who will report to and help coordinate the efforts for the mayor.

Michael Berkowitz, 100 Resilient Cities president, said the New York-based organization helps city leaders think beyond day-to-day routines or the latest crisis. It also connects the dots between organizations that are working on projects whose goals are to help a city — think tax improvement districts or neighborhood development councils — but don’t always communicate clearly with each other.

“I come from city government and I can tell you everyday you wake up with an email box full of fire,” Berkowitz said. “Mayor Reed was so convincing that he got what we were talking about.”