As a kid-turned-young-adult growing up in New Orleans, Jasmine couldn’t quite put her finger on what was missing in her life. She migrated to Portland, Oregon, where she met her boyfriend, Edward Smith, and the two of them moved to Atlanta together. As someone who never had a driver’s license, Jasmine always relied on her bicycle, public transportation, or her own two feet. She soon found out that she had unwittingly moved just down the street from the Atlanta BeltLine. The more she found out about the project, the more she wanted to be involved. Realizing that volunteering can be a gateway to discovering a city and its people, Jasmine jumped right in. And that missing link in her life? Jasmine quickly found her answer: community.
There is no project like the Atlanta BeltLine that is engaged in every community, and placing a premium on being in every community. The Atlanta BeltLine is just as invested in Capitol View as is it is in Inman Park and that is truly astounding. The Atlanta BeltLine has addressed every concern I’ve had about transportation projects in the past — what about economic reinvestment? Affordable housing? Brownfield clean-up? Art? — and has actively engaged the people who live in those areas about their concerns, and their ideas about what the Atlanta BeltLine should be for them. This is truly a community project, for the community, and that drives me, even when I think I can’t possibly squeeze in another day!
The Atlanta BeltLine immediately became very important to Jasmine and how she gets around the city. Once she realized that it goes above and beyond transportation, she became even more convinced that this was a project to which she needed to give her time and support. Jasmine’s current role is Ambassador Team Leader for the southeast section of the Atlanta BeltLine. She distributes information (both electronically and physically) about the project to the neighborhoods in the southeast corridor through Ambassadors. Ambassadors are volunteers who are interested in the project, but maybe don’t have the time to man the booth at a festival, or train for the Speakers’ Bureau. They do everything from putting flyers in their library or hanging one up at their coffee shop, to sending out tweets or Facebook posts about upcoming Atlanta BeltLine events.
I meet people in Capitol View or Mechanicsville who don’t know what the Atlanta BeltLine is, or why they should be for it, or where it is. We’re here to get out the word, and draw people in to participate in their neighborhood and community, and in the Atlanta BeltLine. People are more receptive to things when they are getting the information from someone they know, someone who knows their neighborhood, instead of a stranger who maybe has never even been to Peoplestown before.
The Ambassador program is still pretty new – and growing – but dedicated super-volunteers like Jasmine are already doing a remarkable job in reaching people who might not have been reached through other traditional means like quarterly briefings, enewsletters, and festivals.
I think there is some hesitation in the neighborhoods I work in about the Atlanta BeltLine, because the assumption is that the project is only for some people and not others. I think it’s important that Ambassadors can tell their neighbors that the Atlanta BeltLine is for them as well, and engage people with Atlanta BeltLine parks or trails or community gardens that are right next door to them. It’s important that these neighborhoods aren’t overlooked and have their voices heard throughout the whole process, because the Atlanta BeltLine is about connecting all of Atlanta together, not just some parts.
When asked what her favorite aspect of the project is, after some consideration, Jasmine said Art on the Atlanta BeltLine. She loves taking a walk in the corridor and stumbling upon a sculpture or a painting that she hasn’t seen before. Her picks for this year’s exhibition? The Loss Prevention Collective’s mural on North Avenue underneath the Eastside Trail and Kyle Brook’s “Faces and Friends” mural on the Eastside Trail under N. Highland Avenue. The Evereman cube and Georgia State University’s Department of 3D Studies “BeltLine Bridge” in Reynoldstown are “pretty awesome, too.”
Thank you, Jasmine, for all you do for the Atlanta BeltLine! Every day, volunteers like her are helping to build this project, including her boyfriend, Edward Smith, who is the lead volunteer lead for the festival program. We would love YOUR help, too! Click here for more information about becoming an Atlanta BeltLine Ambassador for your neighborhood. You can also read more volunteer spotlights here.