Community Love: Eli Dickerson, Urban Hiking, and Commuting

Seven years ago, Eli Dickerson and his wife Elizabeth moved to intown Atlanta and are here to stay. As a naturalist, educator, tree enthusiast, and community advocate, Eli had a plan to get people into the great outdoors within our city. He started leading urban hikes across Atlanta, finding tucked away trails and forgotten pathways. Five years ago, he discovered the Atlanta BeltLine. He teamed up with volunteer Angel Poventud to lead walks of the corridor.

His love of greenspace and the outdoors makes Eli’s job as the Volunteer Manager for the Piedmont Park Conservancy a perfect fit. It also makes the Eastside Trail the perfect option for commuting to work. In Eli’s words:

Whenever I’m commuting to work or exploring the city on the weekends, I can now consider the Atlanta BeltLine trail as one of my options.  That is quite a liberating feeling to know I can get from point A to B without battling for space with cars and inhaling exhaust fumes.  I’ve used the trail a few times in my commute to work and plan to use it even more for both running and biking to work.

Eli Dickerson on the Eastside Trail at Streets Alive
Eli took to the Eastside Trail (and took people with him) during Atlanta Streets Alive in October 2012.

A healthy bicycle and pedestrian lifestyle is essential in every great city.  The BeltLine helps make that lifestyle a reality for Atlanta.  When I first moved to Atlanta, any talk I heard about the BeltLine was always quite jaded and the idea sounded very “pie in the sky.”  Upon educating myself more about the project, I realized that the BeltLine already exists and is, in fact, quite useful for Atlantans right now!

When asked to pick his favorite spot on the Atlanta BeltLine, Eli said:

I love the bridge over Ponce de Leon Avenue.  Crossing that bridge on foot or bike gives you a totally different view of the city than you’re accustomed to.  Because the BeltLine trail avoids crossing at grade with major roads, it allows users to slow down and see areas they frequent in a whole new way.  I also love gazing at the old Southern Magnolia tree behind Whole Foods that was in the outfield of the Atlanta Crackers baseball stadium- how cool is that?!

Magnolia tree on the Eastside Trail next to old Crackers' stadium
The magnolia trees that stood in the outfield of the Cracker’s baseball stadium in the early 1900’s are an inspiration to Eli – and the inspiration behind the stretch of magnolia trees now planted in this section of the Eastside Trail (which is on the hill behind the tree pictured here).

This blog series, titled Community Love, is all about how people have incorporated the Atlanta BeltLine into their every day lives, whether it’s through their classroom, their daily commute, or supporting the project through educational outreach. Read our other Community Love stories here and please share with us any amazing stories you know of where individuals or groups are embracing the Atlanta BeltLine!

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