Dinner parties were the original social network

Civil discourse can be hard these days. It seems like we’ve allowed ourselves to be defined more by our differences than the many interests or motivations we share. Those differences are enough to discourage many from engaging, but for those that do have a genuine interest in participating in the public discourse on issues that impact their lives, the limited opportunities to do so are often structured in a way that can feel intimidating. With no issue is this truer than with transportation. Most of us didn’t go to school for urban planning. We don’t necessarily know the intricacies of different modes of transit or how important transit oriented development is to boosting ridership in a system, but that type of knowledge shouldn’t be a prerequisite to participating in the conversation about our region’s mobility future. What we do know is that it can be hard to get around metro Atlanta and we’d like it to be easier. We know that most of us would like to have real options in how we move in our daily lives. Those are drivers that should be points we can all agree on and should therefore be the place we start.

These are some of the reasons we started Advance Atlanta– to make the discussion about transit and connectivity approachable and open to all who would like to engage. It’s also the reason we are so excited to partner with our friends at Civic Dinners to offer a new kind of transit conversation. Together we are bringing the conversation down to a scale that anyone can feel comfortable engaging in or leading.

The premise is that the people who call the Atlanta region home are our greatest strength. Civic Dinners provides a platform where we can tap into the collective knowledge of our citizenry and allow passionate individuals to bring people together and drive real progress by connecting with others on a personal level. The inherent flexibility of the model allows residents to participate in the dialogue on their own terms. How many people want to go to a transportation “open house” and look at some engineering plans? And if you are braver than most, stand up and share your reaction to the plans that you just looked at (If your hand is raised, that’s okay. We’re kind of nerds too).

This is about giving people the power to shape their own conversation and to engage in real, meaningful dialogue. Our hope is to take those conversations and to amplify them into a region-wide movement.

The format and ask are simple; we are asking you, your friends and your colleagues to host a dinner and invite a group of your peers (really- that’s it). You can make it an event that’s open for other residents to attend or you can define the invite list.


Guests will be asked three big questions over the course of the meal and each person is encouraged to share their thoughts with the group and publicly through social media using the hashtag #AdvanceATL. The one (and most important) condition of participating is that every guest has equal time and opportunity to share their personal stories, perspectives and ideas.


  1. Sign-up to host on
  2. Pick a date, time and location (Many choose a restaurant, but if you’d like to open your home to guests you are more than welcome to do so.)
  3. After you sign up you will receive a hosting toolkit with suggested questions and helpful hints.
  4. You can share your event with a diverse group of attendees or leave it open for guests to search and attend.
  5. At the dinner each attendee is responsible for their own meal and drinks
  6. And that’s it!!


Not sure about Hosting, but still would like to participate? No problem!

  1. Go to and search for events that are already scheduled. You can filter by location and date to find one that is convenient for you.
  2. Simply RSVP to one that suits you or sign up for updates.

We believe that some of the most meaningful conversations can take place around a dinner table and that channeling that passion and thoughtfulness into the broader conversation about increased transit access is the key to connecting this region. Let’s shape Atlanta’s future together, one meal at a time.