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Grant Park Conservancy’s 2011 Year in Review

By Alisa Chambers
As the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) prepares for 2012, it’s time to take a look back at what was accomplished in the past year. This was a very exciting year for the GPC as it continued on a new path of success and improvements for Grant Park. The Conservancy expanded the board, adding seven new board members who bring fresh vision and skills to the organization.
A few favorite accomplishments include planting over 100 new trees to offset the continued loss of tree canopy in the park, adding green space by removing the unsightly dive well with the help of Friends of Grant Park Pool (FGPP) and the Grant Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA), beginning work on the public restrooms in the park, sponsoring the Grant Park Ambassadors program, sponsoring the Summer Shade Festival, and the debut of the Grant Park Farmers Market (GPFM).
The GPFM, a pilot program of the Grant Park Conservancy in 2011, was open every Sunday from May 15 until November 20. The development of the GPFM was led by the Grant Park Farmers Market Advisory Committee, a sub-committee of the Conservancy, and managed by an experienced urban farmers market team. The mission of the GPFM is to create a vibrant and healthy community space while providing access to and education about nutritious food and wellness. The GPFM was a huge success and will reopen in spring 2012.
Many readers may have noticed the new patch of green space connected to the Grant Park Pool. Formerly, it served as the pool’s dive well, but was shut down by the City of Atlanta more than ten years ago. It quickly turned into a safety hazard and an eyesore. In the spring of 2011, over the course of a two-week “Ditch the Dive Well” campaign, the neighborhood joined forces and the FGPP, the GPC, and the GPNA helped to raise the funds required to convert the empty well to green space. The City of Atlanta contributed $19,500 and the project was funded in its entirety thanks to the campaign. The project was completed before the pool opened in May.
Over the course of the year, the GPC has accrued almost 3,500 volunteer hours and completed numerous beautification and maintenance projects with partners from Hands On Atlanta, Turner Broadcasting, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Tech, and small volunteer groups from in and around Grant Park and Atlanta. Most of our volunteer workday projects included mulching and volunteers spread an estimated three and a half tons of mulch throughout the park.
One of the largest volunteer events was the ninth annual Summer Shade Festival, the GPC’s largest fundraiser, held in Grant Park during the last weekend in August. Almost 150 volunteers pitched in to make the festival a success, not including the committee hours it took to plan the festival. GPC friends at Adams Realtors hosted the Run for the Park 5K as a kick off to the festival weekend and had 475 race participants. This year’s Summer Shade Festival featured a variety of artists, food vendors, and musicians to keep everyone in the family entertained. GPC was blessed with beautiful weather, and are most appreciative of Councilmember Carla Smith’s sponsorship of the fun and interactive children’s area.
2011 brought many opportunities to partner with other organizations in and around Grant Park.  GPC could not have accomplished so many of the things they did this year without the help of friends from the neighborhood organizations, businesses, establishments, and attractions; as well as vibrant and passionate neighborhood residents. GPC owes a big thank you to the City of Atlanta, the park maintenance team, and to the park supervisor, Matthew Lynum, for working hard to keep Grant Park attractive and safe.
GPC has big plans for the park and wants to maintain this momentum in 2012. They need your help! The bathroom work needs to be completed, more trees need to be planted, they need to beautify the new green space by the pool, the Summer Shade Festival needs planning, and so much more. How can you help? Let us count the ways!

  1. Join the Conservancy and show your support for Grant Park to Atlanta’s foundation and corporate giving community! Members are important and make the organization stronger. If you were a member in the past, please renew. If you have never been a Conservancy member, you are urged to join today.
  2. Purchase an engraved brick for a friend or loved one.
  3. Make a tax-deductible donation.
  4. Sponsor the planting of a new tree in the park.
  5. Volunteer – for a workday, with the Conservancy, for the Summer Shade Festival, for the Grant Park Ambassadors Program, for the Grant Park Farmers Market or the Adams Realtors 5k – help is needed! 
  6. Be on the lookout for a limited edition holiday gift offering specifically designed with Grant Park lovers in mind….

You can visit the website at www.gpconservancy.org to become a member or purchase a brick; or mail a check to Grant Park Conservancy, PO Box 89189, Atlanta, GA 30312.
In addition to supporting efforts to make Grant Park a better place, please consider all the other ways to enjoy and support Grant Park-shop at the Grant Park Farmers Market, take a dip in the Grant Park pool, play basketball at the recreation center or tennis on the courts, pick up after your (on-leash) dog, help keep the park litter free, photograph the park and post your images online, “like” us on Facebook.
The list could go on, but you get the idea. So, what are you going to do to make Grant Park better in 2012? Everyone hopes to see you out there and that you’ll say hello, support the Conservancy’s efforts, and love your neighborhood park!
The Grant Park Conservancy is committed to the preservation, restoration, beautification and maintenance of Atlanta’s oldest public park. For more information or to become a member, visit www.gpconservancy.org.

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