Sprawlanta Offers Stark Contrast of City’s Alarming Growth
and Development Model at Glenwood Park


ATLANTA, May 3, 2010—Atlanta’s suburban sprawl and a citizen’s entrepreneurial effort to address the crisis are featured in the premiere of a new Web series about the challenges facing America’s growing cities.

Titled Sprawlanta, the first episode of American Makeover sounds the alarm bell on Atlanta’s suburban sprawl, warning that America’s fastest expanding city has been on a pace that would extend the city from coast to coast by the year 2050.

The premiere will be featured at the 18th national conference of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) at the Hilton Atlanta, May 19-22. The conference will include international planners, designers, engineers, and other specialists on retrofitting corridors and neighborhoods for more pedestrian and transit-oriented mobility and for healthier living. There’s a particular accent on health at the 2010 conference, which has been organized with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“When it was founded in 1850, Atlanta was 3.14 square miles. Today metro Atlanta is approximately 8,379 square miles. If you extrapolate this exponential growth rate over the coming decades, Atlanta could cover the entire continental United States by mid-century!” explains Buffalo-based filmmaker John Paget.

Atlanta was a natural choice for the series’ first episode because of its infamous sprawl and because it is home to Glenwood Park, one of the success stories that is at the heart of the American Makeover series. The new online show spotlights the harmful effects of sprawl and the transformational possibilities of new urbanism and traditional neighborhood design—such as Glenwood Park–in cities across America.

“There’s been a lot of makeover television shows about kitchen remodels and plastic surgery; but what really needs an extreme makeover is the American landscape, which has been completely ‘uglified’ by sprawl,” says Paget, explaining the impetus for the series.

“It’s not just the aesthetic issue; severe sprawl is making American life dysfunctional for all of us,” adds Dr. Chris Elisara of First+Main Media, producer of the series. Recent books and news stories have led to a growing awareness of how suburban sprawl is bad for human health and the environment, but people remain largely unaware of any alternative to the suburbs. “We’re hoping to remind audiences of the harms of sprawl, but really focus on the solution, which comes down to how we design towns and communities.”

The unique series is partially sponsored by the Notre Dame School of Architecture and The Fund for the Environment and Urban Life ( The series can be viewed at

Glenwood Park, Atlanta

Recently built by Charles Brewer, founder and former CEO of the Internet service company Mindspring, Glenwood Park is a 28-acre development less than 2 miles from downtown Atlanta. In the episode, viewers experience a day in the life of Glenwood Park, a community that consists of diverse people, various housing types, retail, restaurants and office space. The smart, attractive design and the mix of residential and commercial buildings ultimately work to create a pleasant, walkable neighborhood that stands in stark contrast to Atlanta’s automobile-dependent suburbs. Brewer, interviewed in the episode, says, “It all comes down to walkability.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Howard Frumkin (also one of the episode’s featured interviewees), is enthusiastic about neighborhoods like Glenwood Park: “As public health workers, we want to see more physical activity; more social interaction, which is very good for health; and less driving which improves air quality and reduces the risk of being in car crashes; so Glenwood Park is an example of neighborhood design that incorporates many strategies that are really public health strategies.”

American Makeover Funding

American Makeover was launched as a project (, a unique funding platform that gives people the power to greenlight new projects by directly funding independent filmmakers with small donations. The producers of American Makeover are seeking additional viewer support to extend the series, with plans to produce future episodes in other major cities across America.
Watch the series pilot Sprawlanta and find out how you can support American Makeover.

First+Main and John Paget | Paget Films

Winner of the 2009 YouTube competition sponsored by the Congress For The New Urbanism (CNU) with its short film Built to Last, First+Main extends its campaign of promoting walkable, neighborhood-based urban development as a healthy alternative to the national epidemic of suburban sprawl. Director John Paget’s previous films include the award-winning documentaries Alcatraz Reunion (2008), Almost Elvis (2006) and a Route 66 series An American Odyssey and Return to the Road. More information here.

Media Notes:

For more information on Sprawlanta and the American Makeover series, or to interview American Makeover creators Chris Elisara or John Paget, contact Jim Jewell of Rooftop MediaWorks at (678) 458-9837 or

For more information on the Congress for the New Urbanism’s 18th national conference, in Atlanta, contact Steve Filmanowicz, (312) 551-7300, or



About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group ( Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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