Tag Archives: Michelle Hiskey

In Decatur, a peek into the mind of Temple Grandin

Autistic author and professor of animal science Temple Grandin, the hero of the eponymous Emmy award-winning HBO movie, wowed a recent crowd of more than 800 who packed into the pews, the balcony, the choir seats behind the pulpit and even snuck in guarded doors at First Baptist Church of Decatur.

They flocked to this famous face of high-functioning autism, drawn to her gift of describing and communicating her inner life and her willingness to advocate for those with learning disabilities. Appearing in customary western wear—a turquoise cowgirl shirt with floral yoke and cuffs and neck scarf tied bandanna style—Grandin spoke for more than 75 minutes, and resourcefulness was a big part of her message. Continue reading

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Cicadas to pervade eastern U.S., but not Atlanta

All that buzz about locusts descending soon is just that.

The Brood II cicada infestation is starting to emerge as billions of the creatures make their every-17-year appearance. What USA Today and others call “Swarmageddon” is reminiscent of the Biblical plague of locusts.

They aren’t coming here, the experts say, because Atlanta has cut down too many trees and laid down too many parking lots. Our city’s growth has further separated us from what some entomologists call an “amazing natural phenomenon.”

“We’re having a lot of cicada envy right now. A lot of people want to see them again, but here in Georgia, I’m afraid it’s not to going to happen,” said Nancy Hinkle, a professor of entomology at the University of Georgia. “At least not in the vast majority of the state.” Continue reading

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Standing up for DeKalb’s homeless animals, they wear and see red

Fritz the rescue dog got shooed from last week’s DeKalb County Board of Commissioners meeting, marking yet another bad day for homeless animals in DeKalb and the humans who are rabid for an $8 million new county shelter.

Fritz was rescued by a group that helps find homes for animals from the existing shelter near I-285 and Memorial Drive.  A citizens task force in early 2012 called the facility a filthy, smelly, bug- and rat-infested, understaffed “chamber of horrors.” Out of every ten animals that go there, seven die. It has the highest “kill rate” of any animal shelter in metro Atlanta, the task force reported.

“Animals are suffering and dying in a horrible, horrible condition in our shelter,” said activist Heidi Pollyea to the board. “If you have a minute to go down there I think you’d say, ‘Let’s get busy. Let’s get this approved.” We have the opportunity today to make a difference. Please do not delay. This cannot wait.”
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In pollen season, Kirkwood’s old-school carwash hums

Monday marked nine straight days in Atlanta of extremely high (over 1500) pollen counts. You can’t avoid the blanket of yellow green dust covering the city.

For Stuart Brady, the plague of pollen on our cars is almost a biblical call to atone through what his business serves: lots of water and your own elbow grease. At his Kirkwood Car Wash, three words preach from the shingled roof: “Honor Thy Auto.”

These days, the ka-ching of tokens in the self-serve machines is the reason Brady calls pollen “gold dust.” It also gives him hope that his slice of Americana might survive the relentless redevelopment that Atlanta is known for. Continue reading

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With guts and WordPress, Judi Knight reinvents herself and others

Judi Knight saw it coming.

Atlanta property owners were falling into quick defaults over what she saw as “crazy loans.” Her loft conversions stopped “flying off the shelves.” She had to get out of the real estate business before the bubble burst.

On top of that, she’d gotten a divorce and had even let her license to practice psychology in the state of Georgia lapse, something her friends had urged her to maintain for job security. “I knew I wanted a different life,” Knight said. “It was like Cortez burning the ships. I didn’t want something to fall back on but I didn’t know what I wanted.”
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For 15 years, the mark of an Atlanta newcomer: a 678 phone number

Fifteen years ago this month, 678 became Atlanta’s third telephone prefix, and every call became a 10-digit dial. Today, when smartphones let us tap to connect, it’s easy to forget past milestones in how Atlantans connect – and what those turning points meant in the perception of the city’s growth and who we are.

For many native Atlantans inside I-285, there’s 404 and everything else. That’s what they grew up with. The 770, 678 and 470 will always belong to the Johnny-come-latelys and suburbanites.

The 404 prefix is dialed into their identity, a shared jersey number for the veterans on Atlanta’s home team. It is a holdover from a simpler time, before the rest of us got here and made life a whole lot more complicated.
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Counting squirrels adds quirk to Inman Park

By Michelle Hiskey

In the 1880s, a dreamy question created the east Atlanta neighborhood of Inman Park: “What if… the streetcar connected downtown with a posh suburb?”

Today, a funky obsession has connected neighbors there: “What if all the squirrels came down from the trees and attacked us in an apocalyptic nightmare?”

From the imagination of local writer Jamie Allen came the acorn that grew into the Inman Park Squirrel Census. From this nutty (to some) idea unfolded a modern fable, a tale of harnessing curiosity and technology to transform how we see our surroundings.

Grounding their wildlife watch is some hard cash: through the social media incubator Kickstarter, the squirrel census recently raised $9,000 to form an LLC and print and sell vintage-style posters of where the squirrels are. Continue reading

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Behind 100 miles and $10K, an endurance to care for men on foot

Someone ran 100 miles and showed up last week at the Central Night Shelter downtown with a pocketful of checks totaling $10,000, an eye-popping climax to a story of one man trying to help the many homeless men who had shown him how to better appreciate his own life.

His donation shone light on the endurance of the shelter, which has for 32 years housed and fed about 100 men a night at Central Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Between November and March, this shelter has never missed a night.
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Urban Atlanta youth use muscle, risk to master complexities of the harp

Of all the instruments, one of the biggest and heaviest, most expensive and most exotic is the harp. A performer must play each foot and hand separately, using everything but pinkies to create the ethereal notes.

That is the muscle behind the dreamy soundtrack of the Atlanta Urban Youth Harp Ensemble. Most of these young musicians have overcome major disadvantages to master the instrument’s complexity, earn gigs at local weddings and events, qualify for college scholarships and position themselves for professional music careers.
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At Atlanta synagogue, teens film memories of adolescence during Holocaust

High school sophomore Mollie Simon is used to boiling down history to dates, places, names and civilizations. On paper, the people affected by all those events, even those who survived wars and atrocities, were virtually faceless.

This year, her own history changed when she joined 15 other teenagers from her synagogue set out to interview their congregation’s seven Holocaust survivors. Most of them were teenagers themselves when, without warning, their world turned upside down – all because of their identity as Jews.

The connection between teens and elders turned into “Edim L’Shoah: Witnesses to the Holocaust,” which will be screened free to the public at 4 pm Sunday at Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI).
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