The city at night. (Photo by Adrian Schwarz, Unsplash)

Happy Earth Week, Atlanta! The 52nd annual Earth Day is Thursday, April 22, so it’s time to show the natural world some love. To make the most of the day, be sure to head outside and soak up some sunshine, pick up litter or transport into the Amazon Rainforest or the Sahara Desert by tuning into your favorite nature show. Click here if you’re looking for local events and volunteer opportunities on Earth Day.

On to other news from the week:

City to launch safety seminars for nightlife businesses

The City of Atlanta is launching a quarterly safety seminar for nightlife businesses, with the first “Training Day” scheduled for April 23.

Mayor Andre Dickens took office this year after a campaign that aimed to balance Atlanta’s trademark nightlife with crime issues and concerns about improperly licensed clubs. Training Day is pitched as a proactive step in that direction.

The seminar topics include some emergency situation basics, the bureaucratic world of permits and inspections, and ways to engage with neighborhoods and communities.

The Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment is acting as a host. For more details, see its website

— John Ruch

Grab your binoculars because Bird Fest 2022 is almost here! (Photo by Patrice Bouchard, Unsplash.)

Georgia Audubon’s three-week extravaganza for bird lovers

Grab your binoculars because Georgia Bird Fest 2022 is almost here. The three-week event is hosted by Georgia Audubon, a local nonprofit that champions health and prosperity for birds and their habitats.

From April 23 to May 15, outdoor lovers can join in on over 40 events, including tours along the Georgia coast, a sightseeing bike ride on the BeltLine, a sunset kayak trip and guided walks through many of Atlanta’s pocket parks.

Folks can also join in virtually for tips on gardening for birds, creating backyard sanctuaries and drawing feathery friends.

The festival will feature two keynote speakers, with science author and artist Rosemary Mosco as the opening presenter in April and ​author and filmmaker Dudley Edmondson closing out the festivities in May.

Click here for Georgia bird Fest’s complete event schedule and here to register.

— Hannah E. Jones

After a two year hiatus, MomoCon is back. (Photo courtesy of MomoCon.)

MomoCon ‘geek culture’ convention makes pandemic comeback

MomoCon, a major “geek culture” convention, is making its pandemic comeback to Atlanta on Memorial Day weekend.

Organizers say they expect more than 40,000 fans to attend the Georgia World Congress Center from May 26 to 29, where MomoCon will run 24 hours a day.

Founded in 2004, MomoCon celebrates Japanese anime, American animation, comics and gaming. In a nod to anime and its home state, the convention’s name is borrowed from the Japanese word for “peach.” 

MomoCon went on hold for the pandemic. A two-day mini version called “Winterfest” was held in December 2021, but this will be the comeback for the main event. MomoCon will have a wide variety of events, from cosplay contests and e-sports competitions to concerts and celebrity guests. Besides the fun, MomoCon is also a showcase for small businesses and holds a career expo for those interested in joining the entertainment and media fields. 

With the pandemic far from over, MomoCon will require mask-wearing – meaning COVID-blocking versions; superhero and anime masks remain your choice. Weekend and single-day passes are available. For full details, see

— John Ruch

Former Atlanta Black Lives Matter activist, Cox scion heads to Ukraine as pro-Russia reporter

Jim “Fergie” Chambers in Moscow. (Image via Twitter with permission from Chambers.)

A Cox family scion turned anti-imperialist activist in some notable Atlanta protest movements is heading to Ukraine’s Donbas region as a pro-Russian citizen journalist of the war.

Jim “Fergie” Chambers was a prominent funder and participant in metro Atlanta’s major rounds of Black Lives Matter protests from 2014 to 2016. In 2017, he made the news for banning police officers and active military service members from an East Atlanta gym he operated. He ran a collective farm in Morgan County but left in recent years after what he calls a “hostile” response from local law enforcement. He most recently has been living in New York and Sicily. 

With the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February, Chambers dropped everything to begin a weeks-long journey across Europe, with the goal of covering events in the Donbas, a region of eastern Ukraine with areas long held by Russian separatists. A Marxist-Leninist communist, Chambers has cultural ties to Russia, including membership in the Russian Orthodox Church and a previous marriage to a woman from Russia. Speaking in late March, about a month into the war, Chambers said he was driven to report from a critical perspective, with no intent to go to the front lines or “take up arms” himself.

Blaming the war on tensions created by the “predatory war machine” of NATO, Chambers said Western reporters often interview only English-speaking, Western-affiliated elites and fail to understand that war really began in 2014, when a pro-Russian government was overthrown in a revolution, leading to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He made several claims widely presented as propaganda by the U.S. government and mainstream media, including the involvement of “large, rogue Nazi elements” in Ukraine’s military and administration. 

By this month, Chambers had made it as far as Moscow, reporting along the way. A major issue for his travels, he said, was getting media credentials. He says he had no intention of trying to report for his family’s newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but floated the idea of getting Cox credentials. “I couldn’t get credentials from a company I technically own 8 percent of, Cox Enterprises,” he said. Instead, he got them from a left-wing publication called Toward Freedom. He’s now writing for that outlet and on his own Substack

— John Ruch

Are you in the market for a furry friend? (Photo courtesy of the BISSELL Pet Foundation.)

Upcoming ‘Empty the Shelters’ initiative to find animals a forever home

About 6.3 million animals go to shelters in the U.S. every year, according to 2019 estimates from Shelter Animals Count, with around 920,000 shelter animals euthanized annually. 

Many of these animals are healthy and would happily live as pets, but shelters nationwide are overcrowded, leading to their deaths. 

To turn this around, the BISSELL Pet Foundation is holding its Empty the Shelters initiative to help shelter animals find a new life. More than 275 shelters in 45 states and Canada will join the campaign.

From May 2 to 8, the participating shelters will lower the adoption fees to $25 or less. 

Local participating shelters include Paws Humane Society, Humane Society Northeast Georgia, Animal Ark Rescue, Inc, Hall County Animal Shelter, Athens-Clarke County Animal Services, Furkids, Inc. and PAWS Atlanta.

“Shelters across the country are over capacity, and highly adoptable pets are at risk as we face one of the largest crises in recent years,” said Founder Cathy Bissell. “BISSELL Pet Foundation is calling on people to visit their community shelters during ‘Empty the Shelters’ to save a life through adoption. Without you, there is no tomorrow for these deserving pets.”

Since its inception in 2016, the Empty the Shelters initiative has helped house 83,055 animals in the U.S. and Canada.

Click here to find more information about Empty the Shelters and an interactive map with participating locations.

— Hannah E. Jones

Georgia Trust seeks patrons for 50th-anniversary book

The Atlanta-based Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is seeking patrons for a book on notable buildings and sites scheduled to be issued next year for the nonprofit’s 50th anniversary.

“Architecture of the Last Colony” is in the works in partnership with the University of Georgia Press. Mark C. McDonald, the Georgia Trust’s president and CEO, is serving as editor as well as one of the writers. It is intended as a fundraiser for preservation programs.

“This volume will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Georgia Trust and also fulfill an important aspect of our mission, which is to educate Georgians of the importance of the appreciation, protection and use of historic places in Georgia,” said McDonald in a press release.

But first, the book itself has to be funded. The Georgia Trust says it has $60,000 from grants and foundations but is seeking more. A fundraising webpage is seeking patrons in various levels from $500 to $10,000, with some having the opportunity to be named in the book. For full details, see the Georgia Trust website

— John Ruch

Local nonprofit serving homeless youth opens new 30-unit building

On Friday, April 22, local nonprofit Covenant House Georgia will celebrate the grand opening of its new 30-unit apartment building, the Gift of Hope Apartments.

The apartment building, located on the nonprofit’s seven-acre campus near the new Westside Park, will house youth experiencing homelessness. For over 20 years, the Covenant House has offered comprehensive support beyond the basics of food and shelter by providing stability and refuge for local youth without stable housing.

The Gift of Hope APartments is the last step in the organization’s Building on a Promise $9.7 million capital campaign, including crisis shelter expansions and renovations and additional professionals to join the team.

Click here to learn more about the Covenant House Georgia.

— Hannah E. Jones

50th annual Inman Park Festival: This Saturday and Sunday, head over to Inman Park for its annual spring festival with a parade, live music and a market with hundreds of artists and vendors — all free to the public. Folks can also purchase tickets for the Tour of Homes, a self-guided tour of homes, gardens and key sites in the historic neighborhood. Click here for more information on the festival this weekend.

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is a Georgia State University graduate, 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...

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