The week in local news.

This weekend, Atlantans will be rocking and rolling with the 10th Shaky Knees Festival. Hosted at Central Park, the annual music festival features 60-plus bands in the heart of the city. With headliners like The Killers, Muse and The Lumineers, this three-day event is sold out — although resale options are available. 

On to other local news:

It was a day of celebration for the King family and local community of changemakers. (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

King Center presents new monument dedicated to Coretta Scott King

Last week, a new monument was unveiled at The King Center, a dedication to its founder — the late Coretta Scott King. The artwork was showcased on April 27, which would have been her 96th birthday.

Installed in the new Coretta Scott King Peace and Meditation Garden, the space serves to honor her life and lasting legacy. The monument is an intricate, gold dome that covers a podium with golden microphones, which visitors can use. The new installation also features words like “freedom,” “justice,” and “change” — key components of the Beloved Community.

Members of the King family and local leaders gathered at the Center to celebrate the new monument and garden.

The piece was designed by visual artist Saya Woolfalk and commissioned by Hulu as part of its series, “Made By HER: Monuments.” Click here for more snapshots of the event, taken by Kelly Jordan. 

— Hannah E. Jones

Dr. Helene Gayle’s inauguration. (Photo courtesy of Spelman College.)

Spelman celebrates inauguration of new president

Last month, Spelman College installed Dr. Helene Gayle as the 11th president of the all-female institution.

The ceremony at the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College paid homage to the great leaders that came before her in their theme “Honoring Our Past, Claiming Our Future.”

“I am here to honor the vision and mission of the founders,” Gayle said in her inaugural address. “I am here to continue the legacy of all the past presidents who made it possible for me to inherit an institution with few problems and many possibilities. I am here for the same reason this institution has always been here: to ensure there is a special place – that there will always be a special place – where a young Black woman with a dream of making the world better will be nurtured and affirmed, educated wholly, and encouraged to be and become her best and authentic self. It is an amazing calling. And I am humbled to accept this mantle of leadership.”

Gayle began serving as president of Spelman College in July of last year following an extensive national search led by the Board of Trustees. She succeeded President Emerita Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, who served as president from 2015 to 2022.

— Allison Joyner

A still from “The Wintering Grounds,” one of the documentaries in the short film festival. (Photo courtesy of Southern Indie Short Docs Film Festival.)

Short documentary film festival focuses on Southern culture

The one-day Southern Indie Short Docs Film Festival will bring stories of the South’s people and culture to Waller’s Coffee Shop on May 12.

A presentation of the Decatur Short Docs Film Festival, the lineup is organized by filmmaker Hal Jacobs, whose latest work is about Atlanta’s Northside Tavern blues bar. The films include:

  • “The Last Last Hike,” about the oldest person to through-hike the Appalachian Trail
  • “Okefenokee Destiny,” about mining pressures on the Georgia swamp
  • “The Wintering Grounds,” about freestyle kayakers on the Chattahoochee River
  • “Young Kings,” about Atlanta bicycle culture
  • “Land Before Land,” about transformations to the Southeast’s landscape over the past 200 years
  • “Andy Warhol Films Jack Smith Filming Normal Love,” about the remake of a missing Warhol film

The filmmakers have been invited to attend and discuss their works.

The screenings will begin at 7 p.m. at the coffee shop at 240 DeKalb Industrial Way. Advance tickets are $12.51, with door tickets $10 if any are left. 

— John Ruch

APS Board tentatively adopts $1.66 billion budget for next school year

Earlier this week, the Atlanta Board of Education tentatively adopted its 2023/2024 school year budget.

The budget, totaling $1.66 billion, includes $59 million to support a compensation strategy and $27 million for schools. 

The budget also includes market salary scale increases for all eligible employees, retention stipends for special education, math, dual language immersion and English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers. 

Stipends are also available for principals and teachers at turnaround schools and hiring incentives for special education, world language, dual language immersion, art and career, technical and agricultural teachers.  

The board will make the adoption final on June 5. 

— Allison Joyner

Live Thrive works with local nonprofits and companies to reuse or recycle 96 percent of items brought to the facility. (Courtesy of Live Thrive.)

Local companies save 145,000-plus lbs of waste from landfills in CHaRM Corporate Challenge

For Earth Month, Live Thrive hosted its third-annual Corporate Challenge to encourage Atlanta-based corporations to join a 22-day recycling initiative. This year, corporate participants dropped off 145,764 pounds of materials for reuse, redistribution and recycling.

Live Thrive is a nonprofit that operates the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), a permanent drop-off facility that takes household hazardous waste and other hard-to-recycle items. In 2022, CHaRM diverted 5.7 million pounds of materials from local landfills and waterways.

The 2023 corporate contributors included Accenture, Alston & Bird, Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, EY, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Interface, Monarch Private Capital, Novelis Inc., Oldcastle Infrastructure, CRH Company and The Home Depot Foundation.

Over the past three years, the Corporate Challenge has continued to grow. In 2021, the program generated 100,000 pounds of materials to reuse or recycle and, in 2022, that number increased to 120,000 pounds. Overall, the Corporate Challenge has kept more than 365,000 pounds of materials from meeting an untimely, non-eco-friendly end.

“We have been thrilled to see the Corporate Challenge grow each year,” Executive Director Peggy Whitlow Ratcliffe wrote in a recent release. “This challenge is a collaborative competition where everyone truly wins, especially the community and the planet.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Free skin cancer screenings on May 6

On Saturday, May 6, Olansky Dermatology & Aesthetics is hosting its annual free skin cancer screenings for Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Screenings will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at Peachtree Road Farmers Market — 2744 Peachtree Road N.W.

The examinations will be provided by board-certified dermatologists who will check “hot spots” for skin cancer, including the neck, face, hands and arms. Each patient will receive a write-up and, if something serious is detected, the doctors will provide personalized recommendations and referrals. Anyone can receive a skin exam for free and without proof of insurance.

Olansky Dermatology & Aesthetics organized this event in partnership with the Atlanta Association for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery and is sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology.

“This year marks the 16th year that we have had the privilege of coordinating this free skin screening event,” wrote Dr. Jodi Ganz of Olansky Dermatology & Aesthetics. “We are so fortunate to have an amazing team of physicians and partners who are eager to educate their community on skin cancer and its prevention. We invite all to come and join us and take advantage of this opportunity.”

— Hannah E. Jones

ARC launches survey on metro transportation plan update

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has launched an online survey for an update on its long-range transportation plan, which is expected early next year.

The ARC is a planning organization for 11 metro-area counties and 75 cities within them, including Atlanta. It administers the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), which programs about $173 billion in federal, state and local funding through 2050. 

According to ARC, the survey seeks input on such issues as prioritizing transportation investments, the metro area’s biggest issues, long-term solutions to traffic challenges, and how local governments can provide more affordable housing. 

Transportation planning is in a revolutionary period as it adjusts to such COVID-19 pandemic changes as greatly increased working from home. At the same time, the region is expected to continue a population boom. ARC estimates an additional 1.8 million people are coming to the metro area by 2050. 

The survey is available on the MTP webpage along with more information.

— John Ruch

Koyo Kouoh (left) visited Spelman College to discuss her residency and her recent exhibition, “When We See Us.” (Photo by Hannah E. Jones.)

South African art expert visits Atlanta to explore the South

South African Art Curator Koyo Kouoh is in town to explore a different kind of South — in the U.S. — and draw links between the two. Last week, the French cultural institution Villa Albertine hosted Kouoh at Spelman College to discuss her new residency exploring art-based resistance and liberation in the South, particularly rural areas. 

Tapped for Villa Albertine’s 2023 residency program, Kouoh (executive director and chief curator of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town) and Siddhartha Mitter (a journalist based in New York City) started their research project in Atlanta and will duo will go on two road trips along the coast — between Richmond, Va. and Brunswick, Ga. — and another from Atlanta to New Orleans.

“One of my main obsessions is the continuity of Blackness, wherever Blackness finds itself,” Kouoh said during the program. “I’ve been quite fascinated, loving and, of course, also troubled by the South of the U.S., but I’ve always wanted to come back. I’ve spent a lot of time here.”

She continued: “We’ll also look at the migration of African foods and African recipes into the Black [cuisine] in the South. It’s looking at how small, rural cultural organizations also participate in shaping our understanding of the Black experience.”

The program was hosted in partnership with Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective, the African Diaspora Art Museum of Atlanta and l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales.

To learn more about the 2023 residency program, click here.

— Hannah E. Jones

MARTA, DeKalb seek input on Indian Creek Station transit-oriented development

MARTA and DeKalb County will hold a May 11 public input meeting about a transit-oriented development (TOD) vision for Indian Creek Station. 

The station at 3901 Durham Park Road is the eastern terminus of the transit agency’s Blue Line rail service. MARTA and the County aim to create guidelines that encourage TOD, with the idea that would boost ridership and support station improvements. MARTA has similar visions for other rail stations in the works or already built by private developers.

The May 11 workshop is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the station. It kicks off an input process expected to continue into the fall, which follows studies that MARTA began last year. For registration and more details, see the project website.

— John Ruch

Stacy Funderburke at the former Chattahoochee Brick Company site. (Photo by Hannah E. Jones.)

Conservation Fund promotes Stacy Funderburke to Georgia State Director

The Conservation Fund recently announced that Stacy Funderburke, who has worked with the organization since 2009, has been promoted to Georgia State Director. In nearly a decade and a half, Funderburke has spearheaded nearly 200 conservation projects across Georgia and Alabama in his capacity as regional counsel and a real estate manager.

Funderburke has been instrumental in several high-profile projects in the city, including the acquisition of the former Chattahoochee Brick Company site, the Atlanta Beltline, Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve and the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mills.

“I’m honored to continue serving the incredible state of Georgia and look forward to expanding our partnerships and impact on conservation and communities here,” he wrote in a new press release.

Outside of his role with the Conservation Fund, Funderburke champions other local greenspace initiatives, including his work as a founding member of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ Greenspace Advisory Council and the Board of Directors of Candler Park Conservancy.

“Stacy Funderburke is a proven leader. With his vision and natural ability to bring people together, he already has established a remarkable legacy of conservation in Georgia,” wrote Conservation Fund President and CEO Lawrence Selzer. “From urban parks to working forests and productive farms, Stacy has a bold vision for conservation, and I am excited to see what he will accomplish.”

Since its inception in 1985, the Conservation Fund has protected over 8.8 million acres of land, including 187,000 acres in Georgia.

— Hannah E. Jones

Integral’s Egbert Perry and Truist’s Bill Rogers at Christian City’s 2023 Community Champions Awards at the Georgia Aquarium. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Truist’s Bill Rogers honored at Christian City event

The Christian City’s Community Champion Awards featured Bill Rogers, CEO of Charlotte-based Truist Financial Corp. Before moving to Charlotte, Rogers was CEO of Atlanta-based SunTrust, which merged with BB&T to become Truist.

But Rogers felt right at home in Atlanta at the Georgia Aquarium on April 27 for the Christian City Awards.

Introducing Bill Rogers was Egbert Perry, CEO of the Integral Group, who received the honor in 2022 when he challenged the audience to address the core issues of education and equity facing our region.

The event co-chairs were civic leaders Bob Hope and Jay Mannelly Jr., who led a who’s who host committee.

Other award winners were Peach Bowl Inc., headed by Gary Stokan, and the Atlanta Braves, accepted by Derek Schiller the team’s president and CEO.

All spoke of Christian City’s mission to support young people and families in times of need. The nonprofit, led by CEO Keith Horton, serves its mission out of a 500-acre campus in Union City – serving foster families, children, senior citizens and families. 

— Maria Saporta

Natalie King.

Georgia State Associate Professor receives esteemed award from National Science Foundation

Georgia State University (GSU) Associate Professor Natalie King was recently named a 2023 recipient of the Alan T. Waterman Award, presented by the National Science Foundation (NSF). With only three recipients tapped for the award, it recognizes outstanding early-career science or engineering researchers in the U.S.

A faculty member in GSU’s College of Education & Human Development, King’s research focuses on advancing Black girls’ achievements in STEM, community-based STEM programs and fostering equity in science education.

For over a decade, King has served as founder and executive director of I AM STEM, which offers comprehensive summer enrichment camps while aiming to increase access, equity and diversity. The goal is to help students learn more within the STEM fields and prevent summer learning loss.

“My laboratory is in the community. The problems that I seek to solve are societal, practical, systemic, structural and complex,” King said. “My research challenges the capitalist and workforce development agendas for encouraging Black girls’ engagement in STEM education and reframes the STEM disciplines as a mechanism to promote personal development, academic growth and social justice.”

Each recipient will receive $1 million over five years for research within their chosen field. The three awardees are invited to a ceremony on May 9 in Washington, D.C.

— 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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