Atlanta Preservation Center to host discussion on APS historic properties

The Atlanta Preservation Center (APC) will host a discussion on Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) historic buildings in the wake of a new property-sale process that emphasizes preservation next week.

The new process has received praise from Atlanta Board of Education members and some residents while raising concerns from some in the Lakewood Heights community that could see a pilot redevelopment.

The “Conversation on Atlanta’s Historic Public Schools” is scheduled for Nov. 2, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the APC’s headquarters in the L.P. Grant Mansion at 327 St. Paul Ave. in Grant Park. 

Speakers will include Daniel Drake, APS’s senior executive director of Facilities Services; APC Executive Director David Yoakley Mitchell; and APC’s Benjamin Schmidt, who created a historic significance assessment system that APS is using in the property-sale process. A “short Q&A” will follow.

The discussion is free, but registration is required through Eventbrite.

— John Ruch

Kristel Valencia, founder of Cafexito and 2023 Goodwill of North Georgia’s Battle of the BIZ! Winner

Goodwill of North Georgia raises $419K to provide critical funds for local entrepreneurs and support essential training programs for Georgians

Goodwill of North Georgia — one of the largest retail operations and workforce training agencies in the state — held its annual Battle of the BIZ! competition at this year’s Gala celebration, Goodwill raised $419,035 to support its 14 career centers and provide funds for local entrepreneurs participating in the program. 

The top three 2023 GoodBIZ! graduates battled it out for the grand prize of $10,000. Kristel Valencia, founder of Cafexito Mexican Coffee Shop, was the winner and took home the grand prize. As the lead supporter of the program, Truist Foundation Head of Strategy & Community Affairs Meghan Pietrantonio announced this year’s winner and presented them with the grand prize check.

“Our purpose at Goodwill of North Georgia is not just about creating jobs but fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship…” said Keith Parker, CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia. “This gala isn’t just a celebration; it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of our community coming together to uplift one another and shine a spotlight on the landmark training programs Goodwill offers…” 

— Derek Prall

DeKalb County Commissioners express support for the Okefenokee Swamp

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution this week expressing support for the Okefenokee Swamp in the face of a threat posed by a proposed titanium strip mine.  

In a 7-0 vote, the commissioners noted the ecological and economic significance of the swamp, expressed solidarity with South Georgia government entities that have spoken out against Twin Pines Minerals’ proposed titanium mine along the swamp’s hydrologic boundary, and also stated their support for state legislative action to protect the Okefenokee.  

“The Okefenokee Swamp is Georgia’s greatest natural treasure and is beloved by DeKalb County citizens,” said Commissioner Ted Terry, who introduced the resolution. “Mining along the swamp’s boundary is simply incompatible with this priceless ecosystem. DeKalb County joins numerous South Georgia local governments in urging the state to deny the permits for the Twin Pines project and urges the state legislature to pass the Okefenokee Protection Act that would permanently prohibit mining along the swamp’s boundary.” 

DeKalb’s action follows similar resolutions passed by Ware, Clinch and Echols Counties and the cities of Valdosta, Waycross, Homeland and St. Mary’s that have expressed opposition to the mining proposal. Those resolutions, in turn, followed over 100,000 comments submitted by Georgia citizens to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division earlier this year in opposition to the project’s permit applications. 

— Derek Prall 

‘100 years of Girl Scout History in Atlanta’ installation debuts at Atlanta History Center on October 28

Vintage Girl Scout cookie boxes, unusual badges and Girl Scout Uniforms from long ago are just a few of the artifacts visitors will find in a new installation opening at Atlanta History Center on Oct. 28. Developed in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, “100 years of Girl Scout History in Atlanta” will be housed in the Rountree Visual Vault through Spring 2024.

Debuting in time for Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday on Oct. 31, the installation celebrates the organization’s origins in Savannah and 100 years of Girl Scouting in Atlanta while looking to the future. The installation highlights “District V,” the first Black Girl Scout troops in Atlanta, founded in 1943 and the century-old, yet still-operating, Camp Timber Ridge. 

“100 years of Girl Scout History in Atlanta tells the story of how an organization for girls, once considered radical by some, has grown and evolved with the city of Atlanta to provide every member the opportunity to make friends and enhance their skills,” said Tim Frilingos, Director of Exhibitions at Atlanta History Center. “The installation connects to Atlanta History Center’s aim to preserve history from multiple perspectives and share impactful stories of organizations like the Girl Scouts with all of our museum visitors.”

Visitors will learn the history of the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Sale and understand the rigorous standards for the highest honor in the movement, the Gold Award. The installation concludes with a look at Girl Scouting today, including STEM career development and leadership training.

— Derek Prall

Cox Enterprises Announces the 2023 Cox Conserves Heroes Winners

Cox Enterprises recently announced Shikha Bhattacharyya of Terre Haute, Ind., and Cash Daniels of Chattanooga, Tenn, are the 2023 Cox Conserves Heroes winners, along with the Atlanta nonprofit organization, Lifecycle Building Center (LBC). 

Cox Conserves Heroes is part of Cox Enterprises’ national sustainability initiative, designed to recognize youth and adult volunteers, as well as nonprofits, making a positive impact on our environment. 

The Jim Kennedy Conservation Award, named in honor of Cox Enterprises Chairman Emeritus and Chairman of the James M. Cox Foundation, went to Lifecycle Building Center for its key role in diverting thousands of tons of building materials from the waste stream. The core of LBC is the Reuse Center & Store in Southwest Atlanta, which accepts material donations and redirects them back into the community through deeply discounted public resale and nonprofit donations. 

Bhattacharyya was awarded the Groundbreaker Award for her commitment to raising awareness about waste and its effects on human health. Daniels, the Cox Conserves Heroes winner in the youth category, received the Planet Protector Award for his dedication to removing waste and cleaning the Tennessee River. Over the last seven years, the now 14-year-old worked to remove more than 30,000 pounds of trash from the river, helping improve the drinking water of more than 5 million people. 

The 2023 Cox Conserves Heroes winners earned $30,000 each from The James M. Cox Foundation for the environmental nonprofit of their choice. In total, The foundation has awarded more than $95 million to environmental and conservation causes.

“This year we saw more nominations than ever, and it’s inspiring to see so many individuals and organizations committed to making a positive impact in their communities,” said Maury Wolfe, vice president of corporate responsibility and social impact, Cox Enterprises. “All of these measurable actions add up and contribute to creating a more sustainable future for the next generation.”

— Derek Prall

Inaugural Westside Strut set for this weekend

The Upper Westside of Atlanta is set to come alive on Oct. 29 as the Westside Stride welcomes families, friends, and community members to take a stroll down Howell Mill Road.

This family-friendly open street festival will be filled with activities, entertainment, food and drink. From noon to 6 p.m. the Sunday before Halloween, Westside Stride will transform Howell Mill Road into a car-free area for all ages.

“We’re thrilled to introduce Westside Stride as the Upper Westside’s signature event,” said Elizabeth Hollister, Executive Director of the Upper Westside Community Improvement District, the organization responsible for putting on the event. “This is a new opportunity for Atlantans to explore Howell Mill Road and find their stride during a day of community celebration and collaboration.”

— Derek Prall

Georgia Council for the Arts awards grant funding to 87 organizations 

Georgia Council for the Arts, an arm of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, recently announced the recipients of fiscal year 2024 Vibrant Communities and Cultural Facilities grant awards. 

“Georgia’s arts organizations bring visitors to our downtowns, expand educational opportunities, and create experiences that feed the soul and inspire the mind,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “The grants announced by Georgia Council for the Arts today will help these organizations preserve and restore facilities and bolster the impactful work of arts programming.”

The grant supports a variety of arts programming opportunities throughout the state, and the Cultural Facilities grant supports capital improvements to or construction of buildings to be used for arts programming. As part of this year’s awards, 87 entities in 59 counties will receive more than $1.45 million in funding. For a complete list of recipients of fiscal year 2024 Vibrant Communities and Cultural Facilities grants, click here.

— Derek Prall

Local Nonprofit Awarded Grant from Bank of America

Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund, has been honored with the Neighborhood Builder Social Equality Award by Bank of America for her leadership in increasing access to capital for underinvested small businesses.  

Bank of America provided Urrutia a $200,000 grant to direct to a nonprofit of her choice. She has chosen the Latin American Association (LAA). Based in Atlanta, LAA is Georgia’s leading nonprofit empowering Latinos to adapt, integrate and thrive.

Urrutia is one of only six individuals in the United States to receive that honor, which recognizes individuals across the country who serve as catalysts in advancing social equality and economic opportunity. 

“Being recognized with this award from Bank of America is an honor of a lifetime,” Urrutia said. “I came across the LAA back when I used their services when I first came to the U.S. as an immigrant student. Subsequently, 10 years later, I was asked to join their Board where I served for six years. I realized that the work the LAA did then, and the work they do now, is so important and very much needed in the community.”

— Derek Prall

Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District receives sixth EPA Sustained Excellence Award

The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District recently received its sixth Sustained Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense program for its long-standing dedication to water conservation, collaboration, outreach, and water resources education. 

This is the ninth consecutive year the District has been recognized for its partnership efforts by the EPA. The District was honored in October during the annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, alongside organizations from across the U.S., for their commitment to promoting WaterSense and water efficiency in 2022.

“We are pleased to once again be recognized by the EPA for our regional outreach to promote water efficiency,” said Danny Johnson, Director of the Metro Water District. “Our goal is to continue building on our past success to inform consumers about the little changes we can all make that add up to big savings to conserve our water supplies and help reduce monthly water bills.”

— Derek Prall

The Rome International Film Festival celebrates 20 years, screening 125+ films, highlighting initiatives to build the film industry in the region

The 2023 Rome International Film Festival (RIFF) will run from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5, including more than 125 film screenings and bringing thousands of visitors to Rome, Ga. A highlight will be a special appearance on Nov. 3 by actor and director Ethan Hawke for the Southeast premiere of “Wildcat,” a new film about Georgia’s own Flannery O’Connor.

RIFF is well-known for showcasing breakthrough artists — from local Georgians to international filmmakers like Burt Reynolds, Danielle Deadwyler and Billy Bob Thorton. The festival has a full schedule of highly anticipated events hosted by multiple venues in Rome.

“Our 20th Anniversary provided an opportunity to contemplate RIFF’s future, and we are committing even more strongly to being an uplifting presence in the community for discussing important issues and furthering the cause of education, both through the lens of film, which can be a lever for open conversation and potentially a more stable economic future due to higher-paying jobs,” says Leanne Cook, Executive Director of the Rome International Film Festival.

— Derek Prall

PATH400 Scores $400,000 in City of Atlanta Funding to Complete Link to Sandy Springs

Two City of Atlanta departments and an Atlanta City Councilmember have pooled resources to provide $400,000 for PATH400.

The Atlanta Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook are providing the funds, which are critical to complete construction of the multi-use trail between Buckhead and Sandy Springs. When complete, PATH400 will create a bike and pedestrian-friendly connection from Atlanta’s northern suburbs to the Beltline and other regional trails.

 “We’re thrilled to get this funding,” said Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead. “Thanks to Parks Commissioner Justin Cutler, Atlanta DOT Commissioner Solomon Caviness and Councilmember Howard Shook we can begin construction on the link to Sandy Springs early next year. Their ongoing support of PATH400 has been invaluable, and we are truly grateful.”

— Derek Prall

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