Civil rights icon and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives John Lewis was born 83 years ago this week. Lewis was a key activist throughout the Civil Rights Movement and went on to serve 17 terms in the House. In 2011, Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Obama. Lewis passed away in 2020, but his legacy still looms large around the city and nation.
On to other local news:
‘Save Your Spaces’ historic preservation festival returns
The “Save Your Spaces” historic preservation festival returns on March 4.
The festival, which debuted last year, is a “skill-sharing” event where participants learn do-it-yourself historic preservation techniques, particularly focused on Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities.
The lineup includes discussions, workshops, a dance party, poetry and storytelling. Attorney Natalyn Archibong, a former Atlanta City Council member, will discuss preservation law. Street photography and DIY historic marker-making are among the workshops. A community banner-making session for such slogans and movements as “Preserve Black Space,” “Stop Cop City” and “Defend the Forest.”
The festival is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Create ATL, 900 Murphy Ave. in Adair Park. Admission is free via Eventbrite registration, and a $50 VIP ticket includes drinks and a gift. For a full schedule and more information, see saveyourspaces.org.
— John Ruch
Southface Institute helps green-ify Friends of Refugees’ Hospitality House
Friends of Refugees is a Clarkston-based organization that offers holistic support for refugees and New Americans living in the area. Southface Institute is a sustainable building nonprofit that transforms residential and commercial structures at every stage of the building’s life cycle.
In Clarkston — nicknamed the “Ellis Island of the South” — nearly half of Clarkston’s 13,000 residents were born in a different country. After the U.S. pulled from Afghanistan in 2021, the metro area saw an influx of roughly 1,700 Afghans within six months. To welcome the new residents, Friends of Refugees purchased a 1950s home, nicknamed the Hospitality House, for families to host activities like baby showers, birthdays, graduation parties and playdates.
Friends of Refugees later received a GoodUse grant from Southface, whose team provided technical assistance to improve the house with insulation and ENERGY STAR doors and windows. Once the project was completed, the house’s air leakage was reduced by ninety-three percent — making the space more comfortable and lightening the load of long-term utility costs. The Hospitality House is now officially open.
“We’re deeply grateful for the significant ways Southface has invested in making our program spaces more energy efficient and hospitable for the New Americans we serve,” Friends of Refugees Executive Director Kendra Jeffreys wrote. “They helped us think bigger and come up with solutions that never would’ve occurred to us. Now, we can provide even better spaces for refugees to flourish in Clarkston!”
— Hannah E. Jones
East Point, CompostNow receives grant for municipal compost pilot program
Earlier this month, the city of East Point, along with the Food Well Alliance and recycling company CompostNow announced a partnership through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin a two-year pilot program to help farmers of color in the community.
The grant, funded by the USDA’s Composting and Food Waste Reduction program, will provide a municipal compost drop-off program for the city.
The program will help East Point residents divert food waste from landfills and deliver high-quality compost to nearby BIPOC farmers and gardeners.
“The Compost Pilot Program will enhance our support of Black, Indigenous and People of Color farmers in East Point who are dedicated to improving and strengthening our quality of life and relationships with food,” said Deana Holiday, mayor of East Point.
“Our vision for this work has always included composting becoming more widely available in communities,” said David Paul, Chief Impact Officer for CompostNow. “This USDA grant and the partnerships we have formed with the City of East Point and Food Well Alliance are getting us one step closer to realizing that vision.”
CompostNow’s collection services compost millions of pounds of pre-consumer and post-consumer organic waste each month.
— Allison Joyner
ArtsBridge hosts donor luncheon, gears up for Shuler Awards
The ArtsBridge Foundation, an organization providing arts education programs and experiences for Georgia youth, hosted a donor luncheon earlier this week to show appreciation to its supporters and provide updates for its upcoming Shuler Awards. Guests also enjoyed song and dance performances by local high schoolers.
ArtsBridge was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Since 2007, the organization has engaged over 412,000 students and educators through field trips, professional development opportunities and the annual Georgia High School Musical Theatre Shuler Hensley Awards.
This year’s Shuler Awards is slated for Thursday, April 20, which will be held live at the Cobb Energy Centre and aired on GPB. This is an annual program, fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, that recognizes excellence in high school musical theater. Last fall, 52 Georgia schools registered for the 15th annual awards and the nominees will be announced next month.
“The fact that my students at Greater Atlanta Christian have an opportunity to come here to celebrate with other schools, to celebrate this art form that they love and to be recognized beyond their own school community is so priceless,” Kristy Winkes, Greater Atlanta Christian School theater director, said during the event. The school has participated since the competition’s inception. “It’s also a valuable professional-level experience that they’re getting. [The program] opens doors that some of my students didn’t realize were open to them.”
To learn more about ArtsBridge and the upcoming Shuler Awards, click here.
— Hannah E. Jones
One Atlanta Streetcar vehicle may return next month
One of the Atlanta Streetcar vehicles may return to service on March 2 after a safety issue halted the line late last year.
MARTA pulled all streetcars from the Downtown loop on Nov. 29 after discovering wheel damage. The vehicles have been sent to out-of-state facilities for maintenance. Shuttle vans have replaced the service.
The first repaired vehicle will be tested on the streets on Feb. 28, according to a MARTA press release. If all goes well, March 2 is the target date for a return to service. Other vehicles will return as they are repaired, and the shuttle vans will continue running in the meantime.
MARTA is in the planning stage of extending Streetcar service onto the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail.
— John Ruch
American Jewish Committee Atlanta hosts unity seder in Midtown, Marietta
On March 29, the American Jewish Committee Atlanta (AJC) will be hosting a unity seder that is open to the public.
The organization, which has been connecting people and building relationships throughout the world, our country and the Atlanta community, will host two seatings at The Temple on Peachtree Road in Midtown and the Temple Kol Emeth on Old Canton Road in Marietta.
The seder will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover, which tells the story of the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt from slavery and into freedom. The story talks about oppression, freedom and the responsibility of all faith and ethnic traditions.
General admission tickets will cost $50 and $36 for young professionals. Register here to purchase tickets.
— Allison Joyner
New Disabled South launches political advocacy nonprofit
The recently launched disability rights and justice group New Disabled South (NDS) has spun off a nonprofit for political advocacy.
New Disabled South Rising (NDSR), a 501(c)4 nonprofit, was announced on Feb. 18 by Dom Kelly, the founder of both organizations.
NDS, which launched in January, aims to unite advocates in 14 Southern states. It is already busy at the Georgia General Assembly on the issue of a long waitlist for Medicaid waivers for home and community-based services and the underlying shortage of care workers. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, NDS can perform such nonpartisan advocacy.
NDSR could also do more direct political activity. “I want to build political power for disabled folks in the South,” said Kelly in a Twitter post about the nonprofit’s launch. “I want to hold our electeds accountable for continually harming our community. I want progress for our people.”
“NDSR will be fighting for a progressive future that includes disabled people,” he continued. “We’ll be working toward the same vision of justice and liberation for all disabled folks in the South, but we’ll be creating a political movement that will demand more from our leaders.”
— John Ruch
DeKalb County Schools hosts job fair that offers sign-on bonuses, ongoing incentives
On Saturday, Feb. 25 the DeKalb County School District is hosting a job fair from 9 a.m. to noon at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Stonecrest.
Certified and classified positions like custodians, food services assistants, secretaries and nurses are among some of the positions available to apply for.
Those hired will qualify for sign-bonuses and retention incentives up to $2,000 for full-time employees.
Click here to see the complete list of open positions.
— Allison Joyner
CareSource teams up with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation to improve member housing conditions
CareSource, a Medicaid plan serving more than 500,000 Georgians, recently donated $100,000 to the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF), the largest provider of pro bono legal services in Atlanta.
Through this program, community legal health workers will connect CareSource members to legal support via home, mobile unit and courthouse visits for members experiencing intimate partner abuse, and courthouse visits. The partnership will allow the team to better address social determinants of health and provide a comprehensive plan for improving member health.
AVLF serves more than 5,000 low-income Atlantans every year and CareSource’s investment will also support AVLF staff in continuing to advocate for safe and stable housing. This includes AVLF’s Housing Court Assistance Center for tenants whose landlords are taking them to court, along with the eviction defense program that provides lawyers for residents facing eviction.
“This unprecedented partnership between CareSource and AVLF is one way CareSource works to address the whole health of Georgians and provide wrap-around services to our members,” wrote Jason Anavitarte, CareSource Georgia’s director of life services and health equity. “We often hear from members about poor living conditions that adversely affect their health. For example, a member may contact us about mold in their home that triggers asthma and a landlord who refuses to rectify the situation. Through this partnership with AVLF, we are now able to directly connect members to legal services to fight on their behalf for safe and healthy housing.”
— Hannah E. Jones
Morehouse School of Medicine announce cardiovascular study with Association of Black Cardiologists, Amgen
On Wednesday, the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) and medical company Amgen announced an African American Heart Study that will measure the cholesterol levels of patients.
The study will enroll 2,500 African Americans with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and 2,500 without. The Historically Black Medical School and ABC will monitor through community outreach and identify sites through the Health 360x Clinical Trail Network and Registry.
“The African American Heart Study is a unique collaborative study including community outreach in partnership with trusted organizations to help improve our understanding of the disproportionate higher incidence of cardiovascular disease progression in African Americans and hopefully provide insights of ways to address barriers in clinical trial access,” said Ponda Motespe-Ditshego, vice president, global medical and head of Amgen’s Representation in Clinical Research team.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans and the risks for Black are greater. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites.
“The results of this study will potentially provide insights that will help determine which types of patients would benefit most from future therapy,” said Elizabeth Ofili, professor of medicine at MSM.
— Allison Joyner
Seed & Feed Marching Abominable celebrates L5P Mardi Gras
The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable celebrated Mardi Gras in Little Five Points on Feb. 21 with a “pub crawl” of performances outside bars.
The iconic countercultural marching band is known for guerilla performances. Its L5P pub crawl concluded by delighting passers-by with a stop at the mural depicting hip-hop legends Outkast and cases of beer at the Star Community Bar.
— John Ruch
Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta gives grant to Repair the World Atlanta, supporting community service and engagement
Repair the World Atlanta recently received a $95,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to expand their local work. A chapter of the national organization, Repair the World Atlanta is a Jewish service movement that mobilizes young adults to pursue social change through community service and engagement.
The organization offers volunteer opportunities, community education events, a part-time service corps and a two-year full-time fellowship.
“The generosity of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta will fuel essential efforts to further ignite and inspire young adults to serve, take action to pursue a just world, and build bridges across lines of difference,” City Director Samantha Berinsky said in a press release.
Emma Burns, a 2021/22 fellow with Atlanta Repair, added: “I serve because it honors and celebrates our innate interconnectedness. I think without Repair I wouldn’t have the resources or people to really delve into the communities I’m in and learn as much as I have learned.”
— Hannah E. Jones