The Year of Boulevard

The Old Fourth Ward (O4W) is one of intown Atlanta's rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, and one of its most historic. The very seat of the American civil rights movement, the Old Fourth Ward boasts Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Nearby, many of the Old Fourth Ward's factories are becoming lofts, businesses, restaurants and bars.

But through the middle of O4W runs Boulevard, a corridor infamous for its Section 8 housing and street drug sales. More than 600 kids, 19 or younger, live along the Boulevard corridor, and almost half of them live below the poverty line. We often drive through the Old Fourth Ward oblivious to these children, but they represent the future of the Old Fourth Ward, its bordering neighborhoods and the entire city of Atlanta.

Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall has boldly declared 2012 the “Year of Boulevard.” His ambitious agenda for turning the Boulevard corridor around includes crime prevention, job training, education reform, economic development and summer youth programs. While some may wonder how much can be done in a year to solve problems that are a century in the making, Hall’s bold commitment has galvanized many prominent groups, including Atlanta Medical Center, Atlanta Police Department, and Atlanta’s zoning, public works, cultural affairs, and parks and rec departments, among others.

The goal? To turn Boulevard into a “living laboratory for innovation,” and even a model for other cities.

Read on: A Summer That Will Last a Lifetime

What is TEDxAtlanta?

TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design) began in 1984 as a forum devoted to the belief in “the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.” Annual TED conferences are comprised of 18-minute talks on a vast range of subjects.

TEDx conferences are local, independently organized TED-licensed events that follow the TED format. TEDxAtlanta holds two conferences per year. For more information, check out tedxatlanta.com.

The TED tag line, “Ideas Worth Spreading” has given rise to “Ideas Worth Doing.” For TEDxAtlanta, the Year of Boulevard Summer of Possibility is just that.

Student Story

Jalen Bodie

“I have also made some new friends since attending Operation PEACE.”

Ahkeem Simpson

“I can't wait till school is out and I am also looking forward to summer camp.”

Sidney Beecroft

“I’ve had a lot of fun on those trips and have learned so much about my heritage and culture!!”

Zazie Lumpkin

“Many teens do not get this opportunity and this made me very appreciative.”

Ciera English

“Operation PEACE is amazing. They do stuff other after schools don’t do.”

Raekwon Moffett

“Operation PEACE had been my home away from home.”

Dwayne Holton, Jr.

“We have gone on several interesting trips while I have been attending the program.”

Alexus Anderson

“This is something that I really look forward to during the summer time.”

Romello Pace

“I have been to Florida and Virginia Beach with Operation PEACE. We had an awesome time.”

Marcel Benoit

“I am ready for another year of fun and excitement, especially this year.”

Gracie Dunn

“The teachers are very helpful, and it is great having their support.”

Keena English

“I will be sure to make a donation to Operation P.E.A.C.E.!”

News

Apr 13

TEDxAtlanta Challenge in High Gear

Goal: Raise $100K for “Year of Boulevard” by May 15

Apr 1

A “Living Laboratory”

Can Kwanza Hall’s project transform intown Atlanta’s most notorious street?

Mar 28

Atlanta TEDx “Wish” Grant for the Boulevard Initiative

At the March 13 TEXxAtlanta event, the group presented its first-ever “Wish” Grant to Kwanza Hall and the Year of Boulevard initiative.