From Our Library

Ghosting the News:

Our June 2024 book, Ghosting the News, is about the decline of local journalism and how this hurts democracy and good government. Others are focused on this issue, including the Pew Research Center. In a new study, Pew researchers found Americans worry about the decline of local news media but pay less attention to what is happening in their communities than they did six years ago. They also found few Americans pay for their news today. These are worrisome trends.

Love Our Cities:

Love Our Cities was our March 2024 book about how citizens who volunteer for community improvement projects can change a city. It’s also the name of the organization founded by the book’s authors to spread the idea nationally. One of the authors, Eric Jung, talked about the idea, the organization and the movement it inspired in this TED Talk in Modesto, California in 2017.


Streetfight was the subject of our November 2022 discussion. It’s a book about how New York reclaimed some of its streets for pedestrians, cyclists, transit and other uses. The author was the city’s crusading transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan. In a 2018 interview, Sadik-Khan talks about one of her efforts, building protected bike lanes. And she explains how she convinced a skeptical public to accept changes, by using data.

Golden Gates:

Golden Gates is a book about California’s housing affordability crisis that we discussed in March 2023. In our discussion, we looked for ways Urban Atlanta could avoid a similar fate. So what has California done since this 2020 book was published in dealing with its crisis? In April 2023 New York Times columnist Ezra Klein interviewed a California state senator at the center of efforts to make housing more abundant and affordable.

Right of Way:

A theme of Right of Way, our book for November 2023, was the influence that state transportation departments’ design manuals had on highways and roads, much of it wrongheaded. A study by Johns Hopkins University verifies this. It looked at car crashes on state roads with 12-foot lanes (the kinds recommended by the manuals) versus narrower lanes. Finding: Narrower lanes reduce speeds and make roads safer for all.

Paving Paradise:

For an overview of how parking shaped Los Angeles and other cities, including Atlanta, listen to this 99% Invisible podcast. It also has an interview with Paving Paradise author Henry Grabar. We discussed his book in January 2024.

Good Advocacy

What good advocates do:

For a look at how good advocacy works, read this article about how transit advocates in Los Angeles helped persuade local leaders to increase the number of bus lanes.

Local Sources

Knowing AND doing:

Atlanta Civic Circle is a nonprofit news organization that promises to focus on issues important to the Atlanta area. It is starting with housing affordability and democracy. Why should urbanists be interested? Because ACC’s aim is to “build a better educated, more involved” readers. In other words, not just citizens who know what is happening, but are civically engaged.

Data about Atlanta:

One thing we’ve learned in our reading is how important it is to measure problems and solutions. Neighborhood Nexus may be the single best source of data about issues facing the Atlanta area. It has hundreds of community indicators from a multitude of sources, down to the neighborhood level. The website and its data are free to users.

Livable Centers Initiative:

It’s important that urbanists know what has worked in Urban Atlanta in the past. For more than 20 years, one of the region’s most influential forces in creating lively, walkable places has been the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative. To learn how LCI has quietly shaped many of our most loved downtowns, commercial areas and mixed-use places, visit its website.

National Sources

Brookings Metro:

Brookings Metro is a research program of the Brookings Institution focused on innovation in cities. Its focus is wide, from economic development to infrastructure, placemaking to equity. The link below will take you to Brookings’ work on cities and how they could work better.

Financing infrastructure:

How can we pay for transit improvements and other forms of urban infrastructure? The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Boston does some of the best research on this topic. It has a report on how “land value capture” could help finance infrastructure and make cities stronger.

Our Partners

DeKalb County Public Library:

The DeKalb County Public Library has added to its collection every book we’ve discussed at the Atlanta Urbanist Book Group and all we plan to discuss in the months ahead. Some are in ebook format, but most are physical books. The library has created a special link that AUBG members can use to find past and future books. Click this link to see what’s available. The DeKalb County Public Library’s main website is below.

Virginia Highland Books:

The Atlanta Urbanist Book Group has a bookstore partner. It’s locally owned Virginia Highland Books at 1034 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta 30306. Virginia Highland Books has our current books in stock and many of our past books. For others, the store can order them for you. Not sure of the title? Booksellers have a list of AUBG books, including those we’ll be reading in the months ahead. So please ask for help, in person or by phone. The number is 470-819-4705.