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Reporter’s Notebook: BeltLine trail gets $30M donation, funding completion of trail

The $30 million donation is expected to fund the completion of the BeltLine trail. (Photo by Emilia Weinrobe)

Georgia voters — Early voting is underway for the state’s upcoming primaries on Tuesday, May 24. If you intend to cast your ballot, be aware of these key dates:

  • Saturday voting: May 7, 14
  • Sunday voting (varies by county): May 8, 15
  • Final day to submit an absentee ballot application: May 13
  • Final day to vote: May 24

To learn more about the candidates on the state ballot, click here to watch the Atlanta Press Club’s recent debates. Visit your Georgia My Voter Page for more information. 

On to other news from the metro area:

The BeltLine trail is now fully funded. (Photo by David Pendered)

BeltLine trail gets $30M Cox Foundation donation

A $30 million donation from the James M. Cox Foundation is the final funding planners expect to need to complete the trail portion of the Atlanta BeltLine. 

The BeltLine, a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails and light-rail transit around the city, is the work of Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI). Much of the trail is already built, while the transit element remains in a planning stage. ABI had fallen behind on a goal of completing the project by 2030 as funding from a tax allocation district fell far below expectations. A new property tax hike in the BeltLine area was approved last year by the City Council in a public funding boost. 

The Cox Foundation donation fulfills a philanthropic fundraising target, planners said in a May 3 press release. The money specifically targets northwestern trails that are in the planning stages.

“We are incredibly grateful to the James M. Cox Foundation for their support of the Atlanta BeltLine and knitting the City together through a trail network,” said Clyde Higgs, ABI’s president and CEO, in the press release. “The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the nation’s most ambitious redevelopment and transportation projects and is only possible with broad support across philanthropic, public and private sectors.”

“I’m so excited that this gift will let us finish constructing that big, beautiful circle around Atlanta,” said Mayor Andre Dickens in the press release.

City Council President Doug Shipman responded to the announcement on Twitter on May 3 by calling it “strong momentum” for the BeltLine’s completion but also nudging the project with concerns about the transit element lagging behind.

“Let’s remember the BeltLine won’t be complete without transit that moves people through our city and provides affordability and mobility,” Shipman wrote. 

The foundation is a philanthropy of Cox Enterprises, the company that owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. Cox is based in Sandy Springs, a suburb that is expected to connect to the BeltLine through an extension of Buckhead’s PATH400 multiuse trail. 

— John Ruch

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ visit to the Rotary Club of Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens spoke to the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday May 2. He shakes hands with Katharine Kelley, president of the Rotary Club. He gave Rotarians an update on his administration and he teased that big changes were coming at the Atlanta Housing authority board. Later that day, Dickens named four new members of the AH board and the resignation of four board members. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens spoke to the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday May 2, and then he joined Sharon Gay in a conversation about his first four months in office. Gay was one of the mayoral candidates during the last campaign, and Dickens ended up tapping her to co-chair his transition efforts once he was elected. The transition team recently released an extensive transition report with recommendations. Dickens wrote a guest column in SaportaReport about elements of those recommendations. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

High Museum’s lifelong learning program offers free admission, experiences for older visitors

On June 1, The High Museum’s new Creative Aging and Lifelong Learning initiative provide free experiences, workshops, tours and concerts for members and adults over 50 years old. 

The initiative aims to inspire lifelong learners to explore their creativity, find new social connections and continue learning and growing. 

Experiences like tours of the museums and Lichtenstein House, discussions on painting and paper art and performances by Franklin Pond Chamber Music, Starr’s Mill High School youth string quartet, Quartet le Petit will happen from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

All ages are welcome, but space is limited and COVID-19 guidelines will be enforced. To register or find out more visit The High’s website

— Allison Joyner

MARTA brings back Jazz Mondays, spoken word performances

This month, MARTA is bringing the arts to you. 

This week, the transit authority is kicking off its Jazz Mondays in partnership with the Atlanta Jazz Festival. 

The live jazz performances will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Here’s the schedule for the month: 

  • Monday, May 9: MILKAH will perform at the Five Points Station
  • Monday, May 16:  Kemba Cofield, Lindbergh Center Station
  • Monday, May 23: Brandon Boone, Midtown Station

MARTA has also joined forces with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, which will lead musical and spoken word performances from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the following days:

  • Thursday, May 12: The Atlanta Opera Company Players present Mash Up: Classical Voices Meet Words of Power at the West End Station.
  • Wednesday, May 25: Songs by composer and actor Christian Magby at the Five Points Station.
  • Thursday, June 2: “Fannie,” a one-woman show about civil rights and Black voting rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer at the West End Station.

If you live near a MARTA station, be sure to head over this month for a little entertainment. 

— Hannah E. Jones

The erosion calendar is placed at the headwaters of the South River. (Photo by Ethan Payne, film produced by the South Fulton Institute.)

“The erosion of time” installed at Habitat for Humanity’s Browns Mill Village

To celebrate Earth Day, artist and experimental philosopher Johnathon Keats installed the latest addition to his Atlanta River Time project, The Erosion of Time. The erosion calendar is located at Browns Mill Village, an affordable housing community by Atlanta Habitat for Humanity in Southeast Atlanta. The development sits by the headwaters of the South River, and the erosion calendar will track the passage of time using the pace of the river. 

The calendar includes a series of stones, each inscribed with a date in increments of 25 years. When a stone is worn smooth, that period has passed.

“Any habitat fit for humanity needs to consider the human relationship with the environment we inhabit alongside countless other life forms from songbirds to shade trees,” Keats said in a press release. “The erosion calendar invites residents and visitors to take time to observe the intermittent flow of the headwaters, the ever-changing dynamics of the environment, and the interconnectedness of all who are present, including themselves.”

Once the stone is worn smooth that time period has passed, according to the flow of the river. (Photo by Ethan Payne, film produced by the South Fulton Institute)

Keats intends to create a similar erosion calendar along Floatway Creek at Zonolite Park.

He also plans to create an intricate clock to tell time based on the flow of the city’s rivers — including the Chattahoochee, South and Flint Rivers — allowing the passage of time to ebb and flow as the water does. 

This is an ongoing project in partnership with FLUX Projects, highlighting the intersection of science, nature and art in metro Atlanta.

Click here to learn more about the Atlanta River Time project.

— Hannah E. Jones

Atlanta Metropolitan State College’s president is formally installed

Georj L. Lewis was formally installed as president of Atlanta Metropolitan State College (AMSC) on May 5 in a long-delayed ceremony after serving in the role for over two years. 

Located at 1630 Metropolitan Parkway in Southwest Atlanta, AMSC is part of the University System of Georgia (USG). 

Lewis was named interim president by the Board of Regents in May 2019 and took on the role permanently in November 2019. The pandemic delayed his investiture, or ceremonial installation, until this year’s graduation week when he was invested by USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue.

AMSC was founded in 1974 as Atlanta Junior College. A decade ago, it became a four-year state college and adopted its current name. Lewis is AMSC’s fourth president. He previously worked as a diversity professional and as an administrator at several universities, including as dean of students and vice president for student affairs at Georgia Southern University. 

At AMSC, according to a press release, Lewis has established a partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation to provide $850,000 in scholarships. He also arranged for the campus to serve as a temporary headquarters for the Atlanta Police Department academy, which is scheduled to have a permanent home at a new public safety training center controversially planned in DeKalb County. 

— John Ruch

Mark Banta presents John Izard, Jr. with the Legacy Award. (Photo courtesy of the Piedmont Park Conservancy)

Championing Piedmont Park at the 2022 Landmark luncheon

On Thursday, April 27, local leaders and the Piedmont Park Conservancy team gathered to celebrate 135 years of Piedmont Park at its 25th annual Landmark Luncheon fundraising event. 

Piedmont Park has been a staple in the Atlanta community since 1887 — and was the city’s biggest park until 2021 — with walking trails, vast greenspaces and host to countless festivals. 

Visitors gathered at the park’s Promenade, decked out in colorful outfits and floral attire, and with the park in full bloom in the background, it feels like spring has sprung.

President and CEO Mark Banta took the stage to celebrate the park’s history and what the future holds for parks in the city. 

He gave a nod to the city’s new leadership, saying, “I don’t know if you all noticed, but our new mayor is on fire.”

The Conservancy team also celebrated John Izard, Jr. with its Legacy Award and selected Northside Hospital for the Green Giant Award.

Izard, described as “one of the Conservancy’s most influential individuals who transformed Piedmont Park,” has spent decades raising funding and invigorating the park. He crafted plans for Piedmont’s first Green Concert with the Dave Matthews Band and Allman Brothers, which contributed to Piedmont’s current success as a shining star in the city.

“Today, business communities, residential areas, schools, retail, it’s all tied together with Piedmont Park as its green heart,” Izard said. “Everyone comes together here. I think it validates the original vision and the hard work that went into it. It’s my hope for the park in the future is that it remains a safe and inviting place for all Atlantans.”

Click here to find ways to get involved with the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

— Hannah E. Jones

Mary Schmidt Campbell

Mary Schmidt Campbell, 10th president of Spelman College. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Spelman’s new Center for Innovation and the Arts named in outgoing president’s honor

Last month, Spelman College announced the name of their new Center for Innovation and the Arts would honor their 10th president Mary Schmidt Campbell.

“This new facility will be a dynamic state-of-the-art learning environment that encourages disciplinary mastery in the arts and helps spur investments and foster growth in the local economy,” Campbell said. 

The 84,000-square-foot facility will house the school’s dance, documentary filmmaking, photography and music music programs. Also located there will be the Atlanta University Center Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective and The Arthur Blank Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, which crosses creative projects with an incubator of exciting new entrepreneurial ventures. 

The $86 million development will be completed in 2024. For more information, visit their website

— Allison Joyner

Mildred Thompson. (Photo courtesy of ART PAPERS.)

Atlanta-based Art Papers debuts new two-year writing and editorial fellowship

ART PAPERS recently announced its new Mildred Thompson Arts Writing and Editorial Fellowship, provided in partnership with the Newcomb Art Museum (NAM) of Tulane University. This is a two-year editorial position for a Black arts writer or editor in training.

ART PAPERS is an Atlanta-based bimonthly art magazine and nonprofit examining art and culture. 

The Fellow will produce public programming and art historical writing for NAM and create and publish an issue of ART PAPERS magazine.

The fellowship is named after Mildred Thompson, the associate editor of ART PAPERS from 1989 to 1997. Thompson used the publication as a platform to interview leading Black artists and thought leaders while challenging the art world for its lack of diversity. 

If you’re interested in applying for the fellowship, click here for additional information.

— Hannah E. Jones

Atlanta Design Awards ceremony scheduled for May 17

Atlanta’s 2022 Design Awards ceremony is scheduled for May 17 at City Hall. 

Presented by the Department of City Planning and the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, the awards honor achievements in new construction, historic preservation, public art and landscape design.

The free event is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Atrium of City Hall at 55 Trinity Ave. For details and registration, click here.

— John Ruch

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native who recently graduated from Georgia State University, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah is excited about the opportunity to serve the City of Atlanta and its people. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.

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  1. aaa May 7, 2022 2:30 am
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