As APS faces trust gap, Carver valedictorian praises her giants

As APS rebuilds trust after the test cheating scandal, it needs more voices like Carver School of the Arts valedictorian Vanessa Badillo-Rodriguez. Her success (including a full scholarship to Georgia Tech) was made possible by her “giants”–the many people who believed in her even when she wasn’t sure of herself. Her giants show what a difference one person can make by going beyond mere duty.

GSU art professor helps resculpt Alaska’s plastic ocean trash for CDC museum art

Beach season alert: The persistence of marine debris, carried by enormous ocean currents, inspired the provocative sculptures and assemblages at the odd museum in CDC headquarters. If you swim in the ocean or admire its immense power, seek out “Gyre: The Plastic Ocean” before it closes June 16 at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum. GSU distinguished art professor Pam Longobardi fashioned a giant cornucopia titled “Dark and Plentiful Bounty,” the largest and most complex sculpture of her career. It features only a fraction of the tons of trash gathered from remote inlets in Alaska—garbage that became the palette for the 25 artists in this exhibit.

After 25 Years of ADA, our sense of service dogs isn’t fixed 

Service dogs like Chevy and Bobby, who live in Tucker and help their owner with PTSD, are a topic of great interest this week in Atlanta at the National ADA Symposium, which marks the 25th anniversary of the nation’s landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. More people are taking animals of all kinds on planes and into public spaces—for comfort more than service—because the accessibility laws can be confusing.

Atlanta’s roller derby moms lean in for real

Maisha “Queen Loseyateefa” Polite of Dunwoody, Shannon “Deathskull” Nowlan and Michelle “Hate Ashbury” Brattain were moms who felt like something was missing in their lives. Each woman discovered her alter ego on wheels, relying on core strength, teamwork and assertiveness. They will celebrate Mother’s Day by competing in roller derby with the Atlanta Rollergirls as their daughters (who are learning the sport) and moms cheer on their fearlessness and drive. For these women, the only way to circle the track is to lean in.

Bow-tied Alpha Derby Party bucks odds to benefit young black men

The odds weren’t great last year when local Alpha Phi Alpha chapters brainstormed to raise money for educating young black men. They wanted an event that had style, substance and would capture the imagination of donors, and the cause was timely because of police shootings in Ferguson and elsewhere.

This week they are turning people away from Saturday’s first Alpha Derby Party, which sold out so quickly that they moved to the City Club of Buckhead, which also sold out. More than 750 guests, about a third from out of state, and national sponsors have stepped up.

The underdog’s bittersweet aftermath from Atlanta teacher cheating trial

When 11 Atlanta teachers are sentenced in the cheating scandal, local defense attorney Sandy Wallack will observe with bitter sweetness. Fewer than 5 percent of criminal defendants who go to trial get acquitted; his client walked away. Dessa Curb, a special education teacher at Dobbs Elementary School, was the only one; her 11 fellow courtroom underdogs failed.

“Class of ‘65”: The moral guts of a bullied middle child

On March 31 at the Carter Center, Greg Wittkamper will recount the reconciliation with his high school classmates in Americus who bullied and nearly killed him for living in a mixed-race community that gave rise to Habitat for Humanity.

The story forms “Class of ’65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness” by noted Atlanta author Jim Auchmutey, scheduled for release next month.

Crushed car windows beautify C Glass Jewelry

Corinne Adams’ artistic vision saw past the shattered window of her VW Touareg and admired the nuggets of safety glass scattered like diamonds on the ground. Today the Buckhead photographer and mixed media artist creates cuffs, earrings, belt buckles and more from the glass remnants of car crimes and misadventures. C Glass accessories convey a message of hope and redemption, and often are given to mark a loss or difficult life event, as a message that what is broken can become something beautiful.

For greater inner peace, sanctify your living space

When Lent begins Wednesday, so does six weeks of sacrifice that is supposed to help a person get closer to God. Another way there is to move your furniture. That’s what some Atlantans have learned through the course “Creating a Sacred Space in Your Home” at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. Furniture, décor, lighting or atmosphere can serve as a portal to the individual’s peace, contentment, or positivity. “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again,” said comparative religions scholar Joseph Campbell.

Simply abundant paper valentines and a bestselling author’s broken heart

Sending happiness and love on Feb. 14 begins for many of us in elementary school with decorated shoeboxes and signed valentines—sometimes handmade. Early this month, at a modest ranch house in Tucker, adult friends gathered —as they have many times since 1998—to make fun, one-of-a-kind valentines from sparkles and scraps. Inspired by the 1995 book, “Simple Abundance” (whose author had her own bad romance), the party is a throwback to turning paper and glue into a little something special, especially in the digital age.

Same-sex wedding planning tricky now in Georgia

Wedding planning is never easy, and picking a date and location is particularly tricky right now for same-sex couples in Georgia, one of 14 states where gay marriage remains illegal. The closest possibility is Florida or one of the Carolinas. Alabama may be the next state to legalize. On this cusp of historic change are stakeholders like Kristen Ott Palladino, who with her wife Maria Palladino publishes Equally Wed magazine from Atlanta, and local couples like Dan Treadaway and Eric Still, who married in 2014 for romantic and legal reasons, not wanting to stay unwed any longer.

Between faith and facts, ‘Zealot’ author Reza Aslan zeroes in

What do you most ardently believe in, and what discoveries might change your mind? Reza Aslan’s strong clear voice at the intersection of belief and facts came to metro Atlanta last week, drawing more than 470 people to the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

The author of the bestseller “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” Aslan drew my attention after his July 2013 viral Fox News interview. You may have seen how the interviewer repeatedly questioned why Aslan, a Muslim who serves as a scholar of religions and professor of creative writing at the University of California Riverside, would write a book about Jesus.

With 18,000 films and corner storefront, Videodrome survives era of movie streaming

Year after year, Videodrome won Creative Loafing’s top rating as the best video store in Atlanta. Its deep stock of movie titles was matched by the staff’s deep appreciation for film history and genres. Then came online streaming and a recession that erased the competition—and the video store category from the Best of Atlanta competition. Now Videodrome is alone.

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Redbox have not killed this video store at the corner of North and Highland Avenues, which continues to rent its 18,000 DVD titles to customers who want an experience not offered by the grocery store movie box and the online streaming service.

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To journalists on front line, Atlanta chaplain offers lifeline

The beheading of James Foley troubled Dorie Griggs of Roswell on a level that most of us cannot relate to. For the last 12 years she has followed an unpaid calling as a chaplain to journalists, especially those in combat zones.

It would be hard to find anyone in metro Atlanta who understands and supports the news gatherers who rush to danger without the benefit of trauma training. And sometimes don’t come back.

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Obscure inventor, quirky museum plow roots of television

Rigby, Idaho—Life before television lies in stark relief here in this small high desert town (pop. 4000) in southeastern Idaho. Its claim to fame is the birthplace of TV, where a teenaged farm boy first thought up the technology to carry images through the air into our homes.

The story is told at the quirky Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum, which itself could be a destination for the Travel Channel. In this converted hotel, amid the animal trophies, retro beauty shop mannequins and collections of barbed wire, you can find his quintessentially American hard-luck inventor story. Philo Farnsworth believed he could invent a device to transmit pictures and sound over long distance, and he did it without getting much credit or fortune.