Gardening during a recent torrential downpour with my very driven father—a 78-year-old golf pro and lay minister— brought back old lessons in resiliency and competition. In families like ours, standing up for your beliefs requires communicating across generations.
Practicing yoga created an awareness in Eric Jennings’ life that led him to establishing Bikram Yoga Decatur, or BYD, in 2002. As he became more aware of sex abuse claims against his mentor Bikram Choudhury, Jennings wrestled with distancing himself from his guru. For successful businesses, a name change can be a kiss of death.
Raised by parents who started Central Night Shelter as volunteers, Ryan Bashor met men who coped with personal darkness, such as mental illness. Some carried secrets from their families; they feared the stigma. Ryan started working at the shelter in high school because he enjoyed helping people too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the Atlanta Braves open the 2015 season this week, 11-year-old Cole Deschenes-Worboy of Decatur was driven by curiosity in the history of his favorite sport. He followed his passion back to the Negro Leagues and ended up with a surprise message from major league manager Lloyd McClendon about minorities in baseball.
Maria is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.