With a mission of uniting communities from all over the world, Twanna Harris is the voice behind the Atlanta BeltLine, a 22-mile transit corridor designed to function as a transformational urban redevelopment piece in Georgia’s capital and beyond.
The Atlanta BeltLine is an ongoing revitalization project designed to connect 45 distinctly unique Atlanta neighborhoods thanks to a loop of multiuse trails, streetcars and parks. “Many of these communities have been severely marginalized,” Harris says. “This project was designed to connect these neighborhoods in a way that fosters connectivity, inclusivity and economic prosperity.”
Harris is the vice president of brand content and strategic initiatives for the Atlanta BeltLine Inc. Keeping the multilayered project on track relies on the efforts of many stakeholders throughout the city. In addition to serving as a global model for physical revitalization, the new trails and walking paths not only provide safe and efficient options for people to access job centers, but also provide safety for children. “We have kids who have to cross active railways to get home,” Harris says. “The BeltLine will give a lot of students either limited interaction or no interaction with traffic during their travels to and from school.”
The project has enabled Harris, a Live Oak native, to discuss best practices with many peers in other cities. “Sometimes, it’s about getting on the phone or going to a conference and asking questions,” Harris says. “It could be talking with someone in the Northeast or Silicon Valley.”
Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in criminology with a minor in social work. A first-generation African-American college student, Harris experienced both an acclimation process during her first year at FSU and eye-opening experiences while at the university. “FSU not only shaped my perspectives on dealing with adversity, but also piqued my interest to explore the rest of the world.”