Atlanta BeltLine creator Ryan Gravel to receive inaugural Judy Turner Prize at 2016 AJC Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical

Aug 10, 2016

Urban Planner, who will present Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities at the festival, receives prize named in honor of long-time board president

Ryan Gravel, who created the concept for Atlanta’s BeltLine when he was a graduate student at Georgia Tech, will be the inaugural recipient of the Judy Turner Prize at the 2016 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (DBF).

Gravel will receive the prize during a ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 3:45 p.m. at the Decatur Marriott Conference Center before he presents his book, Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities. The prize is named in honor of the DBF founding board member who has continued to serve as the president of what is now the largest independent book festival in the country. Turner retired earlier this year from Private Bank of Decatur after a 51-year career in banking. In recognition of her stellar community service resume, Private Bank of Buckhead, which includes Private Bank of Decatur, contributed $10,000 in seed money to establish the prize.

There are no specific criteria for the prize other than the focus of the book must be on community and published in the current year. The festival’s programming team determined the winner.

“I can think of no better choice for the inaugural winner of the Judy Turner Prize than Ryan Gravel,” DBF Founding Executive Director Daren Wang said. “Judy has dedicated her career and volunteerism to the communities in which she has lived and worked and the BeltLine is helping to redefine community in Atlanta, bringing a vibrancy to the urban core. That would not be possible without Ryan’s vision.”

Gravel is the founding principal of Sixpitch, a consulting firm, and a designer, planner and writer. The BeltLine is a 22-mile circle of railroads around Atlanta that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit that will connect many neighborhoods directly to each other. It is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development project undertaken in the City of Atlanta’s history and one of the most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs in progress in the United States.

Increasingly, Gravel has been called to speak to international audiences on topics as wide-ranging as brownfield remediation, transportation, public health, affordable housing and urban regeneration.

“The Atlanta BeltLine is truly a story about community — it’s about people pulling together and working hard to improve the physical, economic and cultural conditions of this region,” Gravel said, “so it’s really special to receive this prize in honor of a fellow change-maker like Judy Turner, whose commitment to Decatur has been a powerful catalyst that is improving the life of our communities.”

Anyone wishing to support the AJC Decatur Book Festival’s Judy Turner Prize can send tax-deductible donations to the Decatur Book Festival, Attn: Judy Turner Fund, at P.O. Box 337 Decatur, Ga. 30031. Questions may be directed to Wang at

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (DBF) is the largest independent book festival in the country. Over Labor Day weekend tens of thousands from metro Atlanta and beyond share the historic Decatur Square with world-class authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and booksellers for a weekend filled with literature, music, food and fun. For more information, visit,“like” Decatur Book Festival on Facebook or follow @DBookFestival on Twitter.