Atlanta Opera among international awards shortlist 

Harry Hyman, Founder of the International Opera Awards. (Photo by Elena del Real.)

The International Opera Awards has recently announced the shortlist for this year’s Awards, which will be held at Teatr Wielki, Polish National Opera, Warsaw on Nov 9. The Atlanta Opera is on the “shortlist” for an International Opera Award in the category of “Equal Opportunities Impact.”

The shortlisted nominees come from over 26 countries, reflecting once again the true collaborative and international nature of opera and the Awards. Artists, productions and companies from across Europe and North America are joined by those from Australia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Korea, Mexico and South Africa.  

The International Opera Awards celebrate operatic talent from around the world, as well as raising funds and awareness for the Opera Awards Foundation, which supports aspiring operatic artists.  

Voting is also open for the Opera Magazine Readers’ Award, the only award to be decided by the public. This year’s nominees are Piotr Beczała, Nicholas Brownlee, Freddie De Tommaso, Michael Fabiano, Sally Matthews, Lisette Oropesa, Sondra Radvanovsky and Nadine Sierra. Voting is open until Oct. 16 and votes can be cast on the International Opera Awards website.  

Special Awards, including Leadership, Philanthropy and Lifetime Achievement, will also be announced at the Awards ceremony. 

— Derek Prall

Decatur’s Madison Avenue Derby returns

Decatur’s Madison Avenue Derby returns Oct. 21 with a race of soapbox-derby-style cars.

The 12th annual derby will benefit Urban Recipe, a nonprofit that addresses food insecurity.

Held on Madison Avenue, the event is free and open to the public to watch from the sidelines. 

Derby cars will be on display starting at noon, followed by racing “heats” starting at 1 p.m. Food and beverage vendors open at 11:30 a.m.

For details, see the derby website.

— John Ruch

YMCA of Metro Atlanta, Mayor Dickens and Atlanta leaders celebrate the 100th anniversary of E.A. Ware Elementary School

YMCA of Metro Atlanta Board of Directors Chair Jeffrey Beckham, YMCA of Metro Atlanta President and CEO Lauren Koontz and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. (Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta.)

The YMCA of Metro Atlanta hosted a “Century of Impact” on Thursday, Oct. 5. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and other leaders from Metro Atlanta joined together at the YMCA Leadership and Learning Center to honor the 100th anniversary of E.A. Ware Elementary School, one of the first elementary schools for African American children in Atlanta.

“The Y is committed to continuing to be a catalyst for education and positive youth development and is honored to use this historic site to champion learning,” said Lauren Koontz, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. “With help from community leaders, partners and friends, we are able to continue our legacy while inspiring a bright future to positively impact students.”

During the event, attendees learned about the Y’s variety of programs, including early learning, youth achievement and health equity, and honored the organization’s collective commitment to advancing education and economic mobility for all people. The Y’s event also served as the inaugural opening of The Ruth Hall Hodges Art Gallery, a tribute to the art educator and visionary who taught on the elementary school site. 

— Derek Prall

Easements Atlanta names new board members

The preservation nonprofit Easements Atlanta has named four new board members:

  • Daniel Bradfield, partner at the law firm Arnall, Golden, Gregory
  • C. Chika, preservation chair of the Oakland City Community Organization
  • Alena Green, Central Atlanta Progress’s director of economic development
  • James Reap, professor in the master of historic preservation program at the University of Georgia

The nonprofit holds easements on historic properties to ensure their preservation, with property owners receiving its expert advice and potential eligibility for tax incentives.

— John Ruch

True Colors Theatre receives grant from Bank of America

Yesterday, True Colors Theatre Company announced that they received a $15,000 grant from Bank of America to support its “True Talks” community event series that amplifies theater productions. 

“True Talks bring diverse groups of community subject matter experts, leaders and influencers together to discuss the themes of our plays and their relevance in today’s society,” said Chandra Stephens-Albright, True Colors Managing Director. “The Bank of America funds will help us continue bringing meaningful conversations to the community.”

The series is an evolution of the theater’s events, expanding beyond the traditional panel discussions with audience Q&A to include performances by local artists who often create original content for the events. 

— Allison Joyner

Oceana finds most boats speeding in slow zones designed to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales

Photo by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA permit #20556.

Oceana recently released a new report finding that most boats are speeding through slow zones designed to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, of which only around 340 remain. 

“Boats are speeding, and whales are dying — it’s just that simple,” said Oceana Campaign Director Gib Brogan. “It’s clear that boats are still not abiding by the speed limits and are continuing to make the ocean a dangerous place for North Atlantic right whales. Time and time again, we see what happens when speeding boats and right whales collide. Even one human-caused death is too many for this population to sustain.”

Oceana analyzed boat speeds from November 2020 through July 2022 in slow zones established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along the U.S. East Coast and found that 84 percent of boats sped through mandatory slow zones, and 82 percent of boats sped through voluntary slow zones. This report, which provides an update from Oceana’s 2021 analysis, shows that stronger safeguards and increased enforcement are needed to save North Atlantic right whales.

— Derek Prall

City schedules’ Historic Preservation Week’ events

The Atlanta Department of City Planning is holding its annual “Historic Preservation Week” educational events from Oct. 23 through Oct. 26. 

The theme is “Equity & Inclusion: The Narrative of Knowing.” Events include:

  • Oct. 23: “Preservation Talk: What Does Cultural Historic Preservation Mean for Atlanta?” with Georgia State University professor Marni Davis at Atlanta Preservation Center.
  • Oct. 24: Parks Tour in partnership with NPU University (limited space).
  • Oct. 25: “Preservation in Action: Workshop on Personal Discovery of Self through Oral History,” at Atlanta Preservation Center.
  • Oct. 26: “Eternal Community: Exploring the Diverse History of Greenwood Cemetery in partnership with the Atlanta Cemetery Network,” a Zoom presentation.

For full details, see the City Planning website.

— John Ruch

Chamblee announces City Manager resignation

Jon Walker. (Photo via City of Chamblee.)

The City of Chamblee announced that their City Manager, Jon Walker, resigned effective at the end of November. 

Walker has held this position since 2016, where he has built a new City Hall, Public Safety Complex, Peachtree Road Streetscape and expansion of the Rail Trail through the mid-city district. 

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chamblee and am so impressed with the strong, dedicated and innovative people who work here,” Walker said. “Chamblee has always been a dream for me, to create a more walkable and active community. I look forward to embarking on a new opportunity that continues to serve people.”

— Allison Joyner

AI-driven grocery store opens in Chamblee

Green Picks Market, a fully AI-automated healthy foods market, opened on Oct. 17. Located in Chamblee, the store is designed for convenience and health-conscious customers.

Between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., customers will access the store using a dedicated smartphone app, scanning a unique QR code to begin their transaction. The technology autonomously tracks each product’s placement, movement and location, offering customers a shopping experience with no lines or checkout process. 

— Derek Prall 

Celebrating 50 years of people loving nature

Jim and Sally Morgens honored as TPL’s Conservation Trailblazers at event Oct. 15 (Photo by AnMarie Smith, courtesy of the Trust for Public Land.)

The Trust for Public Land held its Georgia’s Celebration of Land on Oct. 15 in a public plaza that’s part of Jim Irwin’s Fourth Ward development near the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine.

The outdoor reception, “An O4W Night Under City Lights,” included music, cocktails and food stations on a night that was especially cool for October in Atlanta.

The Trust for Public Land honored “Conservation Trail Blazers” Sally and Jim Morgens, who have lived in Atlanta since 1981 and have been strong environmentalists in the city for decades.

TPL is known for connecting people to the outdoors, and it has been instrumental in securing park land for the Atlanta BeltLine, the Chattahoochee River and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Park in Atlanta.

— Maria Saporta

Registration open for Creative Placemaking Summit 

Registration is officially open for the South and Appalachia Creative Placemaking Summit to take place in Atlanta from March 5 to 8, produced in partnership with Atlanta-based nonprofit South Arts and the national Creative Placemaking Communities.

“The utilization of the arts to explore solutions-based, community building is at the core of creative placemaking,” said Jessyca Holland, Director of Organization and Community Initiatives for South Arts. “Creative Placemaking connects people to the built and natural environment. The outcomes may be economic or social. In 2024, we will explore creative placemaking through the lens of sustainability, or the intersections of People, Planet, and Prosperity.”

Early-bird pricing is available beginning Oct. 16 through Dec.16. Limited tickets are available at the early-bird price of $325. Summit registration includes access to all sessions, workshops, performances, tours, and networking events.

— Derek Prall

French and German ambassadors visit Atlanta’s Franco-German center

Touring Atlanta’s Franco-German Cultural Center (Left to right) Anne-Laure Desjonqueres, the French consul general in Atlanta; German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis; Melanie Moltmann, the German consul general in Atlanta; and French Ambassador Laurent Bill. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

The Franco-German Cultural Center in downtown Atlanta welcomed Laurent Bili, the French Ambassador to the United States, and Andreas Michaelis, the German Ambassador to the United States on Oct. 19. 

The unique Franco-German institute is located on the plaza level of Peachtree Center, and it includes the offices and language schools of the Alliance Française d’Atlanta and the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta.

The two ambassadors toured the center, its classrooms, its gathering spaces and its auditorium.

At the end of the tour, Michaelis celebrated the cooperative spirit between the French and German organizations in Atlanta. He said the spirit between the two countries is serving as the foundation of European relations with the United States.

The French ambassador is in Atlanta to attend the national convention of the Federation of Alliance Française USA, which is gathering in town for several days.

In the interest of full disclosure, Maria Saporta is vice president of the Alliance Française d’Atlanta; and her late mother, Nora Saporta, co-founded the French school in Atlanta in 1963.

— Maria Saporta

Kaiser Permanente supports work to address health inequities in maternal care

Kaiser Permanente has given a $1.75M grant to two organizations to support their work in providing equitable maternal care.

The Morehouse School of Medicine will use funds to educate the public on the complications that can occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy through their “maternal near-miss study.” The study is a collection of stories from U.S. birthing persons of color who experienced a maternal near death and explores impacts among support persons, health care providers, families, and communities. 

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia will work to address maternal and infant health resource and care gaps in Georgia through the expansion of its Building Perinatal Professionals program and Perinatal Care Package project. Each program is designed to expand free, accessible perinatal support and/or resources to low-income, racial minorities, and other populations experiencing the most significant health inequities during the pregnancy and postpartum period. 

“The profound impact of maternal near-miss events on families, healthcare providers and the larger community underscores a critical area demanding urgent attention.” said Natalie Hernandez-Green, executive director of Morehouse School of Medicine’s Center for Maternal Health Equity. “Our collaboration with Kaiser Permanente signifies our commitment to amplifying the voices of the community, fostering community education on maternal near misses and severe maternal morbidity, developing and implementing insightful case studies for healthcare professionals, launching impactful public health awareness campaigns, and influencing policy strategies.”

— Derek Prall

Michael Halicki honored for his 10 years leading Park Pride

 Michael Halicki thanks the dozens of people gathered at the home of Jim and Esther Stokes for his 10 years leading Park Pride. (Left to right) Anthony Houston, Mark Banta and Carla Smith and others listen as Halicki makes his remarks. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Esther and Jim Stokes opened up their home on Oct. 17 to thank Michael Halicki for the past 10 years of leading the Park Pride, a nonprofit that supports grassroots efforts to improve public parks in Atlanta and beyond.

Halicki was celebrated for his collaborative spirit in working with other environmental organizations and for being instrumental in creating the “Green Cabinet” that advises Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

Justin Cutler, Atlanta’s commissioner for parks and recreation, thanked Halicki for helping foster a constructive relationship between the city and parks organizations.

During his remarks, Halicki made it clear he’s not going anywhere as Park Pride’s executive director — stating there’s much more work to do to strengthen Atlanta’s parks and green space.

Interestingly enough, the occasion also marked 10 years that Mark Banta has served as president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. Banta, who came to the evening celebration, had just finished his last day at the Conservancy.

— Maria Saporta

CAU begins constructing three buildings simultaneously to enhance student experience

On Saturday, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) announced plans to construct three new campus facilities simultaneously. 

To enhance the student experience, the HBCU will construct a new freshman residence hall, a second dining hall and a student success center to focus on fostering collaborative efforts and accelerating initiatives to enhance student completion.

The second dining hall will be located at the Ware/Bumstead building, expanding student’s options for students and providing a modern and diverse range of culinary choices.

“Today’s decision is a testament to our unwavering commitment to our scholars’ success and is a direct response to the increasing enrollment and the need for on-campus student housing,” said Dr. George French, President of CAU. 

No word was given on the beginning of construction and date of completion. 

— Allison Joyner

Covenant House Georgia announces new corporate leaders to Board of Directors

Earlier this week, The Board of Directors of Covenant House Georgia (CHGA) recently announced the election of six new members. 

The new members will help provide residential and support services for youth overcoming homelessness and escaping trafficking in Metro Atlanta. 

For over 20 years, the CHGA has served over 19,000 young people locally and offered a safe place to sleep at night. 

“During any given month, more than 3,300 young people experience homelessness and are at risk of trafficking on the streets of metro Atlanta; our youth need us now more than ever. I am looking forward to partnering with our new board members and using their expertise to further our mission of offering unconditional love, absolute respect and relentless support to the young people of Atlanta,” said Alieizoria Redd, CEO of Covenant House Georgia.

The new members are:

  • Rick Davis: Retired, Executive Vice President of News Standards and Practices, CNN
  • Kimberley Euston: Senior Client Partner, Korn Ferry
  • Angela Frazier: Assistant Vice President, Cox Communications
  • Brigitte Killings: Managing Director, Head of Community & Business Development for South Division, JPMorgan Chase
  • Lillie Louis-Fils: Georgia-Tennessee Region & National Small Business Retirement Executive for Consumer Investments, Bank of America
  • Hugh Rowden: Director, Mortgage Originations Community and Affordable Lending, Truist Bank

— Allison Joyner

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