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Demystifying Grant Park’s Nonprofits

Part 2: The Grant Park Conservancy

By Ashley Zhu

The mission of the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) is to restore, maintain, and beautify historic Grant Park, the oldest surviving city park in Atlanta. According to GPC executive director Michelle Blackmon, the park is the heart of the neighborhood, the local community, and all of Metro Atlanta.

The Conservancy takes care of the landscape of the park, including taking care of and planting trees, making wildlife improvements and taking care of the gardens. They also handle general maintenance, including cleaning the sidewalks, clearing blocked drains, picking up trash, and generally keeping the park clean.

Finally, they do restoration of the special architectural and historical features of the park; previously, they restored the 1927 Milledge Fountain, the 1896 Erskine Fountain, and the 1885 Lion Bridge. They also installed and currently maintain the picnicking areas.

“There’s lots of data that shows access to green space is good for people’s physical health, mental health, and social aspects,” Blackmon added. “And so by us being able to help take care of the park, we provide all of those improvements for people who live here or who traveled to use the park.”

According to Blackmon, the Grant Park Conservancy has invested close to one million dollars in improvements and care of the park in the last seven or eight years.

The Conservancy relies on volunteer workdays, which occur twice a month, where people help plant foliage, pick up trash, and assist with general maintenance of the park.

Blackmon noted that a common misconception with the Grant Park Conservancy is that people misconstrue them as a neighborhood association, often asking them to take care of things that are outside of the park, which is beyond their purview. (The Grant Park Neighborhood Association, or GPNA, will be covered in a future article in this series.) GPC is also small and only staffed by one full-time worker and two part-time workers. On the other hand, the Piedmont Park Conservancy, a much larger conservancy in the area, is staffed by around 25 people.

This article is part two of six detailing the major nonprofits operating in Grant Park. Ashley Zhu is a current student at Emory University. 

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