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Reporter’s Notebook: Climate pledges made on Earth Week

Thousands of tulips bloom at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. (Credit: Hannah E Jones)

Happy Earth Day, Atlanta! Show Mother Nature some love today. Here’s a few ideas for how to celebrate: 

Get some fresh air: Arabia Mountain, Sweetwater Creek, Cochran Shoals Trail, Piedmont Park, Freedom Park

Get involved: 

Earth Day at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Constitution Lakes Clean-up, live-stream some scaly friends at the Georgia Aquarium, take a conservation quiz

The Earth as seen from space. (Credit: Unsplash)

Climate pledges made on Earth Week

As a candidate, now-President Joe Biden promised to work for sustainability and against climate change.

Within his first few days in office, Biden reinstated the U.S. into the Paris Agreement and invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate.

The summit is on April 22 and 23 and will be available for public viewing

The agenda is to discuss ways to keep global warming at a minimum, as scientists have estimated that the planet’s temperature must stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

Rumor has it that Biden will announce his plan to cut the country’s CO2 emissions in half by 2030, according to the Washington Post.

Just a day before the summit, the European Union crafted a plan to become carbon neutral by 2050

“The U.S. is not our big brother on climate. We are the big brother or the big sister,” EU Parliament Member Jytte Guteland said. “So they will be actually encouraged by this. They will be pressed by this.”

So far, 20.2% of Georgia residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Credit: Unsplash)

Atlanta University Center and others require COVID-19 vaccine for fall classes 

Atlanta University Center schools will require all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the fall semester.

The just-announced requirement applies to students, faculty and staff of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College. 

Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves has also announced that the university will require its students to be vaccinated by the fall. The school will have a vaccine supply for students who were unable to access it earlier.

The vaccine is currently only recommended for faculty and staff. 

Other universities in Georgia will likely follow suit as the fall semester approaches and vaccines become increasingly accessible. 

East Point: Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair

The City of East Point is one step closer to ensuring an equitable and inclusive community, with the city’s CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” 

The act aims to ensure city residents and employees are protected against discrimination  while applying for jobs, entering businesses or looking at homes on the basis of hairstyles historically associated with race.

The press release references hairstyles like braids, cornrows, locs, Bantu knots, Afros, twists and extensions.

“Your hair should not subject you to separate and unequal treatment,” Councilwoman Sharon Shropshire said of the act which passed unanimously on April 19.

The national Crown Act Coalition is promoting similar legislation in jurisdictions all over the country. A Georgia Senate version of the CROWN Act from 2020 did not get a hearing. 

This summer, Atlantans can run with the lions. (Credit: PRNewsfoto/Panasonic Corporation of North America)

Experts in “Immersive entertainment spectacles” come to ATL

This summer, Atlanta will turn into the African savanna with Illuminarium Experiences

The exhibit in a venue called an “illuminarium” will focus on each sense to give people a look into the lives of African wildlife and views that would otherwise require a flight to the other side of the world, according to the company.

The company will debut with exhibitions in Las Vegas, Miami and its headquarters in Atlanta, at an unnamed 30,000-square foot location.

Next year, according to Atlanta Intown, visitors will be able to visit the moon and beyond. CEO Alan Greenberg, former publisher of Esquire, said a new exhibit will debut every six months. 

“There needs to be more to do in Atlanta, and we’re going to bring people the world and beyond,” Greenberg said.

SNAP recipients can check the Wholesome Wave Georgia and Food Well Alliance websites to find the next Plant 2 Plate event. (Credit: Wholesome Wave Georgia)

Fill your plate

Georgia Plant 2 Plate, a partnership between Wholesome Wave Georgia and Food Well Alliance, offers 50% off fruit and vegetable seedlings, along with free gardening kits for SNAP recipients. 

The gardening kit includes gloves, containers, soil and plant care guides. 

The program gives residents the opportunity to supply their own kitchens. In Georgia, one in eight adults are struggling with hunger, according to Feeding America

About 47% of SNAP recipients have children, and initiatives like this can help support families, especially during a pandemic. 

“I saw the behavior change in my kids,” said Tara, a SNAP recipient interviewed on Wholesome Wave Georgia’s website. “I just want them to be able to have continuously nutrient-dense food that’s good for their growing bodies, that’s filling for them and can carry them through the day.” 

Learn more about the Georgia Plant 2 Plate program here.

Highest honor in Georgia will be granted virtually

This year, the Georgia Historical Society will broadcast its 2021 Trustees Gala statewide.

Gov. Brian Kemp will induct David Abney and Juanita Powell Baranco as Georgia Trustees, the highest honor given to a Georgia resident.

Abney is a former CEO of UPS and philanthropist, and Baranco is the executive vice president and COO of Baranco Automotive Group.

The event will be held on June 5 at 8:00 p.m.

The original Georgia Trustees, who established Georgia as a colony, went by a motto that translates to, “Not for self, but for others.”

Wesley Woods Foundation announces 2021 honorees

The Wesley Woods Foundation, an organization that celebrates and supports older generations, has announced its 2021 Heroes, Saints & Legends honorees for its annual gala. 

The Atlantans being honored are:

  • Phil Jacobs, founding partner in the Pendleton Consulting Group, pro bono senior consultant for Coxe Curry & Associates, retired president of BellSouth’s Georgia Operations and president of Business Communications Services of AT&T-Southeast
  • Bishop Woodie White, Bishop of the United Methodist Church and former Bishop-in-Residence at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University 
  • Dr. Allen Ecker, retired executive vice president of Scientific Atlanta 

The three were selected for their commitment to leadership and service within the city. Proceeds from the Aug. 19 gala will help fund meals and housing assistance for older residents.

Left to right: Phil Jacobs, Bishop Woodie White and Dr. Allen Ecker (Special: Foundation of Wesley Woods)

“These honorees reflect a breadth of contribution from trailblazing innovation, extensive community leadership, and lifelong dedication to racial justice and reconciliation, said Lillian Budd Darden, event chair of Heroes, Saints & Legends.

“My father, the founder of Wesley Woods, would be very proud of these three role models who are helping older adults be celebrated for the lives they live, the wisdom they share, and everything they have yet to teach us.”

Since the event’s inception in 1990, 106 of Atlanta’s most exemplary leaders have been recognized, and more than $6.8 million has been raised for charitable care, pastoral care, and wellness.

The 32nd annual Heroes, Saints & Legends will be held on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Flourish by Legendary Events, 3143 Maple Drive in Buckhead.

  • By Maria Saporta

Musician Usher aims to turn potential into purpose

“Oprah, Steve Jobs and many other pioneers challenged the status quo because they wanted to change the world that we live in by way of their perspectives. You have that same opportunity,” Usher said. (Credit: Hannah E. Jones)

Usher’s New Look is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps students in underserved communities achieve success. 

The organization is founded by musician Usher who decided that he wanted to help the city’s youth after visiting a local courtroom.

About 1.2 million U.S. high schoolers drop out every year and account for 75% of crimes committed.

The 10-year program helps students find their passion and change the trajectory of their lives. 

President and CEO Careshia Moore said that “access, opportunity and exposure” is key to evening the playing field. 

She said that the organization has two “north stars.” One is to address the student’s social and emotional needs. UNL primarily serves young people of color and emotional well-being, particularly amid a pandemic and racial tensions. Secondly, they aim to instill principles that will help students lead future generations in a positive direction.

The program has reached 50,000 students since its founding.

“UNL constantly reminds me that there are no limits unless I limit myself,” alumnus Tashema Lee said.

The 2021 Disruptivate Summit will be held this summer.

Learn more about Usher’s New Look program here.

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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 [email protected]

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