Posts

Run Oprah run? Don’t count on it

Oprah Winfrey delivered the commencement address for Agnes Scott College in Decatur. Those expecting a life-affirming message from the media icon got their wish. But those hoping the billionaire guru would offer a glimmer of hope for a future White House bid were sorely disappointed.

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.

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Incorporation pushes unwanted marriages on DeKalb neighborhoods

In north-central DeKalb County, my home is among thousands in the crosshairs of cityhood movements and proposed annexations. Count me among the otherwise sensible DeKalb County residents who rightly worry that a new city we’ve never heard of is going to take us over, or even worse, ignore us.

No one wants to be an unincorporated island surrounded by cities. But lots of us are in a pickle. Our zip code (30033) is Decatur, but we’re not in the city proper, and it doesn’t want us anyway.

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Atlanta men, man up for girls. Period.

Without men, you can’t spell menstruation. And that’s as far as most men want to read about this subject. But local men like Nathan Hilkert are manning up to encourage other men to pitch in for Days for Girls, a volunteer effort that targets a big barrier to educating girls in developing countries. When they have their periods, they miss school. Days for Girls prepares and delivers reusable feminine hygiene kits.

Men and boys play an incredibly important role in tackling the taboos around menstruation that isolate and weaken girls and help lead to sexual exploitation and violence.

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What to do with a rabid cat

Until you’ve been chased by an animal that’s foaming at the mouth, you haven’t really experienced the terror of rabies. 

Recent reports of potentially rabid animals threatening humans have reminded me of my own encounter with a rabid cat that I trapped with a recycling bin in my DeKalb County backyard just as it leapt to attack me. While it sounds like a freak occurrence, it’s surprisingly common especially during our warmest months, and it’s dead serious.

Last Thursday, a 13-year-old boy strangled a fox that had bit him. He’s receiving precautionary anti-rabies treatment pending the outcome of tests to determine if the animal was rabid.

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With love to Garcia Marquez, one word at a time

On a day that seemed so damp that fish could have come in through the door and floated out the windows, lovers of the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) gathered at Kavarna coffeehouse in Decatur to pay their respects by reading from his timeless stories of families, war, death, and above all, the magic of love.

They came to 100 Readers of Solitude, named in homage to the author’s greatest novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien Anos de Soledad).” One by one they read vigorously, declaratively, and with humor, like Garcia Marquez wrote.

Local mandala expert advises: Wait to make resolutions

Let me guess. It’s barely two weeks into 2014 and you’re already wavering on your New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve blown them altogether. Or if you’re like me, you haven’t even started them yet. What was supposed to be a fresh start is already a dead end.

Maybe we’ve got this all wrong. Susanne Fincher says the dead of winter is precisely the wrong time to setting out to change ourselves. She’s a Jungian psychotherapist, a licensed counselor, registered art therapist and a leading international expert on mandalas—sacred circles found throughout centuries and cultures. At the core of her work is the study and understanding of cycles and patterns that are universal.

Longtime Atlanta protester targets Walmart and more

Even though Walmart will likely take over Suburban Plaza shopping center in Decatur, Brian Sherman still isn’t giving up. Late last week, he stood among a couple of dozen placard-waving protesters from Good Growth DeKalb insisting Walmart can still be stopped.

Their unflagging commitment intrigued me. I stopped at their protest, feeling cynical in the wake of news that the Atlanta Braves will move to Cobb County. Why continue to fight Big Money, the Power, the Man, or whatever you call It when It always seems to get Its way? That was my question to Sherman, who at 70 has been fighting the fight since the 1960s.

“Because,” said Sherman rather defiantly, “We eventually win.”

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Photo of Leila Wright, 52, wraps the shredded remains of an old lacy dress to be woven into a handbag. Just as the weavers transform scraps of old used up material into new creations, so too have they transformed their lives.

For warped lives, re:loom and Spanx weave new hope

When Fred Brown’s ex-girlfriend went to prison in 2011 and left their son in his care, he knew he had to change the pattern of his life. Brown was homeless and didn’t want Damari, then only 9 months old, to grow up like he did—seeing his first dead body on the street at six years old and getting so used to the sight that it “was no big deal” by the time he was an adult.

Last week, Brown told his story from the headquarters of re:loom, where he turns recycled clothing and textiles into rugs and other items. Re:loom is nonprofit that helped him find his way back by teaching him the ancient art of weaving, and it got a big boost when another grassroots Atlanta business—Spanx—began globally promoting re:loom.

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Looking in plain sight for Atlanta’s random signs of optimism

A random shoe track on a downtown Atlanta sidewalk turned into a  “spontaneous smiley”—a feat akin to finding the face of Elvis in a piece of toast, but a whole lot easier.

People all over the world (like me) discover, photograph and post spontaneous smileys to social media as a creative challenge to others. It is tailor made for creative thinkers and distracted people in our crowded and gridlocked city. This fun scavenger hunt can be done anywhere, and a handy time-killer when you’re stuck waiting.

Looking for the most basic sign of happiness in ordinary circumstances will shift your mood and mindset. Looking for a smiling face can release positive brain chemicals like dopamine. The scientific term for this pursuit is pareidolia, when a vague and random stimulus is perceived as significant (after all, it was just a footprint…). It is an example of how mindfulness identifies the extraordinary in ordinary life.