It has been almost two months since I concluded my internship at Livable Buckhead (LBI), and I learned more in my time here than I have in entire semesters. As a student of economics and political science, I have always been interested in the non-profit sector and sustainability, but I had no idea what each field entailed. Through this internship, I have learned the intricacies of what it means to be a non-profit and witnessed the intense legwork required to implement sustainability programs.
Going in I had very few expectations. Despite my lack of experience, I was overly-confident that I could handle anything thrown at me. To my surprise, I immediately found myself out of my depth. It did not take long for me to realize that I had entered a completely unfamiliar world. Every day I would encounter mysterious acronyms that coincided with my projects. Words like ABBC (Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge) and CID (Community Improvement District) suddenly meant something and were part of everyday speech. With each new project, I was able to understand a little more of their code and eventually apply it myself.
During my time at LBI, one of the first big projects I helped work on was LBI’s commercial recycling program, Buckhead Recycles. I conducted in-depth research on commercial recycling programs around the country. Through careful research, I analyzed different programs from states, cities, and non-profits to find the best tactics and practices. I primarily focused on how education and community involvement were promoted in successful programs. This research will help augment the Buckhead Recycles Program as it continues to provide sustainable service to the Buckhead community.
My final major project focused on our new bike share program, Relay BikeShare. To write a review for the Livable Buckhead newsletter, I got a chance to test out the new Bikeshare amenity. This entailed very extensive research like riding a bike and photographing it – internships can be fun! In addition to realizing that I had forgotten how to ride a bike, I also saw the impact that this program could have for so many people in Buckhead. By providing quick, convenient, and sustainable transportation people can now be more mobile than ever. Plus, once PATH400 and the Atlanta Beltline are connected people will easily be able to ride from Buckhead to downtown Atlanta.
A highlight of this internship was the ABBC (Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge) awards event. Held in the new Three Alliance Center, it was filled with LBI’s partners and colleagues. Our very own Executive Director, Denise Starling gave a speech to start off the luncheon. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, was the keynote speaker and awards were handed out by the WSB news anchor, Jovita Moore. The luncheon was held in honor of the ABBC participants who have put Atlanta on the map for sustainable commercial practices. It was a special event to witness and made me proud of my fellow Atlantians for all the work that has been done to improve this city.
This internship also granted me a whole new perspective on non-profits. Before working at LBI when I heard the word non-profit, the images of BikeShare programs or solar panels never crossed my mind. But, after my experience here I now see the diversity in sustainability projects that can be represented in the non-profit sector. Because of its varying range of options and desire to do good in the world I would seriously consider working for a non-profit in the future.
Interning at Livable Buckhead has been one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. With each different task I was introduced to new concepts and ideas that I had previously never heard of. Most of all, it has truly opened my eyes to see how sustainable practices and programs can be implemented everywhere. Whether it be taking MARTA, starting a recycling program at work, or adding solar panels to your house, everyone is able to take simple steps that can make the world a better place to live.
Abby was our 2017 summer intern for Livable Buckhead. She attends Texas Christian University and studies economics and political science. All of us at Livable Buckhead appreciate the amazing work Abby did and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.