HouseATL recommends 23 calls to action

Natallie Keiser of HouseATL.

In an effort to improve housing affordability in the five-county metro Atlanta area, HouseATL’s board has approved 23 recommendations that will be presented at the Nov. 29 convening of its members.  

That gathering will include a presentation on the state’s policy agenda and a panel focused on implementing the recommendations for households earning below 50 percent of the area median income.

“Amid the changing housing landscape with rising home prices, high mortgage rates and population growth, these recommendations offer positive actions that can be taken across sectors by developers, policymakers, civic leaders, nonprofit service providers, community members and funders,” said Margaret Stagmeier, a board co-chair of HouseATL and a partner in TriStar Real Estate Investments.

Janis Ware, also a HouseATL board co-chair and executive director of SUMMECH CDC, said increasing housing affordability required coordinated action across sectors.

“We are proud to be a cross-sector convenor. Our new strategic recommendations will foster collective action on regional housing affordability,” she said. 

Natallie Keiser, HouseATL executive director, said the new recommendations would guide the organization’s 378 coalition members to implement actions and policies to support affordable housing over the next three years.

“Our immediate next step is advancing a policy agenda for the upcoming state legislative session,” Keiser said.

HouseATL has voted to prioritize the following six recommendations:

  • Dedicating revenue sources for affordable housing development 
  • Enhancing and protecting renters’ rights 
  • Creating sustainable funding sources for housing under 50 percent of the area median income 
  • Prioritizing publicly owned assets for affordable housing
  • Providing resources to encourage affordable homes by home builders 
  • Securing property tax exemptions for affordable rental housing

— Maria Saporta

DeKalb County Schools launch IGNITE program for teacher residency

Yesterday, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) announced the launch of the IGNITE DeKalb Residency Program to address the critical need for quality educators in the school system.

Standing for “Inspiring Greatness and Normalizing Innovation in Teacher Education,” the IGNITE DeKalb Teacher Residency Program is the district’s new way of certifying teachers with a commitment to innovative strategies that address critical education challenges by developing the next generation of educators.

Candidates who enroll in the program will receive a free master’s degree and extensive training with no out-of-pocket expenses. They will also receive a $30,000 living stipend with a guaranteed starting salary of at least $57,000.

The first cohort of candidates will begin next year. To learn more, click here.

— Allison Joyner

Children’s Museum to honor Brenda Reid of Publix

Brenda Reid.

At its 2024 Imagination Ball, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta will honor Brenda Reid with its prestigious Power of Play Award.

Brenda Reid, community relations manager for Publix Super Markets’ Atlanta division, is being honored for leaving a mark on the lives of women and children through her extensive community roles, including serving on the board of Toys for Tots of Metro Atlanta. Reid previously served on the DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Advisory Council, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the Birmingham Business Alliance Board of Trustees and Africa’s Children’s Fund. 

The Power of Play Award is a tribute to individuals who exemplify the Museum’s mission of igniting the imaginations, sense of exploration and learning of every child through the transformative power of play. The 2024 Imagination Ball, an adults-only charity event, aims to make play-based learning accessible to children from all walks of life. The ball will be held on March 23, 2024, at the Eastern.

“It’s an honor to be selected as this year’s Power of Play award recipient,” Reid said. “I couldn’t be prouder to serve as part of a group dedicated to giving kids from different backgrounds and interests the chance to develop their creativity, curiosity and self-confidence through play and learning.”

— Maria Saporta

Georgia Power Foundation gives funding to support 12 Morehouse School of Medicine students

Last week, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) announced that they have received funding from the Georgia Power Foundation to support 12 of their students with full scholarships.

“These scholarships will be life-changing for our students, allowing them to focus completely on their studies without worrying about the financial costs of their education,” said Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and CEO of MSM. “Our learners are MSM’s most valuable asset – the next health and scientific workforce generation. This investment from the Georgia Power Foundation is an investment not only in our students but also in the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve.”

Students in the Doctor of Medicine (MD), Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies programs will benefit from the contribution.

— Allison Joyner

T. Dallas Smith to join Georgia Power board

T. Dallas Smith, a powerful figure in Atlanta real estate, will join Georgia Power’s board of directors in January.

Smith is the founder and CEO of T. Dallas Smith & Company, a national commercial real estate firm based in Atlanta. Georgia Power describes it as “the largest African American-owned pure tenant representation commercial real estate firm in the country.”

— John Ruch

Chamblee PD hosts anti-theft club giveaway for Kia and Hyundai owners

Flier via City of Chamblee.

To crack down on auto thefts, the Chamblee Police Department, in partnership with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, announced it is hosting a club giveaway for Kia or Hyundai car owners living in the community.

On Sat., Dec. 2, car owners can come to the Chamblee Police Department on Buford Hwy and receive a free anti-theft club device.

Onsite installation demonstrations will be held and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

— Allison Joyner

Atlanta Mushroom Festival comes to West End

The Atlanta Mushroom Festival will bring its final show of the year to the West End on Nov. 25.

The day-long, family-friendly event will include 30 vendors and various speakers and presentations about mushrooms and fungi. They include purveyors of mushroom cultivation, handmade goods, pet products, health and wellness products and more.

The event will include live music by several bands from 1 to 7 p.m. It will be held at the Wild Heaven West End Brewery at 1010 White Street. For details, see the festival website.

— John Ruch

Buckhead Community Improvement District Executive Director Receives Leadership Award

On Nov. 15, the Council for Quality Growth presented Jim Durrett, executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District, with the CID Professional Excellence Award during its 14th annual CID Recognition Reception. 

The CID Professional Excellence Award is given annually to a CID executive director, staff member or contractor recognizing an individual’s commitment to professional excellence through leadership in successfully investing in critical transportation infrastructure and quality of life improvement projects to enhance the district’s economic vitality.

“Through all the challenges Buckhead has faced in recent years, Jim has remained a resolved and impactful leader among our region’s CIDs,” said Michael Paris, President & CEO of the Council for Quality Growth. “We’re proud to honor his accomplishments this year as he continues to push for transformative projects that enhance the quality of life not just in Buckhead, but all of metro Atlanta.” 

In his 14 years serving the Buckhead CID, Durrett has been a part of countless beautification, accessibility and safety projects for the residents and businesses of Buckhead. Durrett oversaw the completion of a 10-year project to make Peachtree Road the signature and pedestrian-friendly boulevard that it is today. 

Durrett has also been an integral part of HUB404, one of the Atlanta region’s highway capping parks with the goal of reconnecting communities divided by GA 400. He serves as treasurer of the HUB404 Conservancy and recently secured a $750,000 federal grant to advance the project.

— Derek Prall

Atlanta’s downtown storefronts come alive with artistic expression

Photo by Erin Sintos.

Arts & Entertainment Atlanta recently announced the launch of Downtown Windows, an original community art initiative turning vacant storefronts in Downtown Atlanta into artistic displays. 

This placemaking exhibition showcases the ingenuity of Atlanta’s local artists as well as internationally acclaimed cultural partners, bringing an imaginative touch to the heart of the city from original photography to whimsical balloon magic.

This exhibition will transform the streets of Atlanta into an interactive gallery, inviting the community and visitors alike to engage with their surroundings through innovative art installations. This journey of creativity and expression honors the city’s vibrant culture, turning vacant storefronts into a celebration of local artists who bring color and life to our urban landscape.

Locations and artists include: 

  • Mike Stasny: Playful Whimsy with PINK BALLOOON (42 Walton St NW)
  • Karo Duro: Interactive Windows of Wonder (130 Cone St NW)
  • Almost Gaia: Mystical Forest (82 Peachtree St SW)Floyd Hall & Elodie Le Breut: Photographic Narratives (223-225 Mitchell Street)

For more information, visit

— Derek Prall

Georgia Festival of Trees returns this week

The Georgia Festival of Trees returns to the Georgia World Congress Center this week.

The festival features a display of Christmas trees and other decorations, along with gift shops, vendors, live music, Santa visits and more. The festival is a fundraiser for programs that combat sex trafficking. Beneficiaries this year of a tree and decoration auction are Street Grace and Atlanta Redemption Ink.

The festival runs from Nov. 18 through Nov. 26, with closures on Nov. 22 and 23 for Thanksgiving. For details, see the festival website.

— John Ruch

Issues of homelessness explored at Atlanta Rotary

Atlanta Rotary meeting on Nov. 13 (left to right) Bill Bolling, Terence Lester, Jack Hardin and Cathryn Marchman Vassell talk about homelessness in Atlanta. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

As a high school senior, Dr. Terence Lester lived in a park a couple of blocks from where the Rotary Club of Atlanta meets in downtown Atlanta. Thanks to his determination and the people he met along the way, Lester is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Love Beyond Walls.

“Home is more than four walls and a roof,” Lester said at the Nov. 13 luncheon meeting. “You have two types of homelessness – the lack of a place to live and then a lack of belonging to a community.”

A panel discussion moderated by long-time civic leader Bill Bolling focused on homelessness in Atlanta.

Jack Hardin, an attorney who is co-chair of the Regional Commission on Homelessness, said it’s “a problem we can solve” if the community works together.

“We have solutions that work,” Hardin said. “What we need is support and understanding.”

Cathryn Marchman Vassell, CEO of Atlanta’s Partners for HOME, said the city has a “housing first” approach.

“We really believe housing is the most dignified solution we can offer,” she said. “We try to be client-driven. We try to tailor solutions based on needs.”

They also said affordable housing is an economic development issue.

“You can’t build a battery plant that’s going to employ 5,000 people and not address housing those people,” Hardin said.

It’s also important for the general public to empathize with those who are homeless and not simply look away.

As Lester said: “When you see someone on the street corner, that person has a story.”

— Maria Saporta

Morehouse College fires football coach after one win season

Earlier this month, the Morehouse College Athletic Department announced the termination of head football coach Gerard Wilcher and others after a losing season.

“Today, we are sharing that after careful consideration and extensive evaluation, we have decided to release head football coach Gerard Wilcher, offensive coordinator Stan Clayton and defensive coordinator Charles Alexander from their roles within the Morehouse College Athletic Department,” the school said in a statement.

The Maroon Tiger football team completed the season with a 1-9 record.

There are no updates on whether the selection process to find replacement coaches has begun.

— Allison Joyner

Grammy Award-Winner Dallas Austin to produce original song and soundtrack for ‘The Games in Black & White’ documentary

Atlanta Story Partners confirmed on Nov. 15 that they recruited Grammy-winning, Atlanta-based songwriter and producer Dallas Austin power to create the soundtrack for the feature documentary “The Games in Black & White.”

Austin joins the ASP team as music director for the film, the first comprehensive look at the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games. As music director, Austin will produce an original theme song, recruit talent and direct “The Games in Black & White” soundtrack.

Austin joins the film team with an array of music and film experience as a Grammy winner and film producer, most prominently including work on Atlanta-centric films “Drumline” and “ATL.” During his career spanning more than three decades, Austin collaborated with or produced hit recordings with Michael Jackson, P!nk, Monica, TLC, Duran Duran, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Bjork and Lionel Richie. Austin was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.

 “The Games in Black & White” is scheduled to debut in spring 2024.

— Derek Prall

Atlanta History Center rings in the 2023 winter season with second annual holiday tree lighting

Image via Atlanta History Center.

On Nov. 17,  The Atlanta History Center will kick off the holiday season with its second annual tree lighting ceremony. The majestic 50-ft tree will come to life in a display of lights and an array of musical performances.

The celebration starts early for members with an exclusive pre-event from 5 to 7 p.m. Members can revel in festive delights, including taking pictures with Santa, an exclusive photo-op with the Pink Pigs, craft activities for kids, a credit card bar, and more.

At 7:30 p.m. the tree lighting ceremony will commence. The event will be followed by a holiday celebration that lasts until 9 p.m., featuring music, a credit card bar, pictures with Santa in front of the Locomotive, and other festive activities in the museum. Guests are encouraged to arrive early and enjoy a dinner provided by Souper Jenny, serving a special limited menu or a warm holiday beverage from BRASH exclusively for this event from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Pre-purchased tickets are available at $25 for adults and children, $20 for members, and $15 for insiders. Onsite ticket purchases at the event will be $30 for adults and children, $25 for members, and $20 for insiders. Members are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance as limited onsite tickets will be available for the member pre-event. Children aged three and under can join for free.

For more information about this event, click here.

— Derek Prall

TAG to honor mayor, others at inaugural gala

The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), the state’s largest tech-focused industry association, will honor Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, John Yates with Morris, Manning & Martin and Jeff Buzzelli with Comcast at its inaugural TAG Chairs’ Gala on Nov 29. This exclusive black-tie event will be the place for the who’s who in Georgia technology leadership to gather for an extraordinary night of elegance and celebration. 

The Mayor will be honored for his innovative leadership with the city and his work with TechBridge, supporting nonprofits. Yates, who chairs Morris, Manning & Martin’s Corporate Technology Group, will be the first-ever recipient of TAG’s Georgia Technology Lifetime Achievement Award. Jeff Buzzelli will be honored with the first-ever Outstanding Board Leadership Award.

“These three honorees have been instrumental in bringing together leaders in support of our city and state’s technology community,” said TAG President & CEO Larry K. Williams. “Their tremendous reach and influence connects large corporations to tech startups and our country’s leading tech investors. Their leadership in the tech, business and nonprofit communities has helped put Atlanta and Georgia on the technology map in the U.S. and globally.” 

— Derek Prall

Georgia conservationists meet in Waycross to protect the Okefenokee from risky mining operations

The Georgia Water Coalition hosted its fall member meeting in Waycross, Ga., from Nov. 8 to 10. Conservationists from around the state learned more about the Okefenokee and how to protect it from risky mining operations.

Attendees toured the Okefenokee Swamp Park, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the St. Marys River. During the member meeting at South Georgia State  College, Georgia Water Coalition members learned about how mining proposals along Trail Ridge threaten the Okefenokee.

“The Okefenokee touches everyone that touches its dark waters,” said Mike Worley,  CEO of Georgia Wildlife Federation. “For decades, Georgia Wildlife Federation has  helped introduce folks to the Okefenokee. We have worked to protect the Okefenokee  from one of the most serious threats to its continued existence, mining along the  adjacent Trail Ridge.”

— Derek Prall

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