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MARCH 2022 • VOL. 16 — NO. 3
Kickin’ off Spring Local families devoted to youth soccer P.17
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Contents MARCH 2022
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Sandy Springs Morgan Falls trail
New Chamber CEO
Buckhead Park Pride grants
Buckhead Coalition chair
Buckhead City leadership
Dunwoody Spruill Center expansion
Brookhaven City Council priorities
Music festival acts
Commentary Worth Knowing
Sports AIS striving for state’s best
Devotion to youth soccer
Atlanta United supporter groups
Arts Brookhaven photographer
Dining Tal Baum
Education Blue Heron partnership
Business Pharmaceutical startup
Exit interview with Tim Keane 30
About the Cover Contributor Isadora Pennington photographed a February practice of SSA Northside. See page 17 for our story on youth soccer programs.
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The splendor of spring flowers I’m anxious for spring! There’s nothing like seeing our communities in full bloom. The purple pops of the redbud BY AMY WENK trees. The cute little snouts of the daffodils. The ruffles of the bearded iris. And perhaps my favorite, the flowers of the tulip poplar with their vibrant orange rings. In honor of the season, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite spots for flowers. The daffodils are already blooming at Dunwoody’s Brook Run Park. The plantings are part of The Daffodil Project, which aspires to build a worldwide living Holocaust Memorial in memory of the children who perished. There are also plantings at Brookhaven Park, Ashford Park and Blackburn Park in Brookhaven. What a beautiful symbol of remembrance. As of late February, the first stems of tulips were just starting to emerge from the ground at the Atlanta Botanical Gar-
ise hyssop (a favorite of pollinators). Also worth the drive is Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, opening in early March. They have millions of daffodils, covering 50 acres of hillsides. It’s a magical experience! And I love the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens. Admission is free, making it an excellent option for a day trip. And lastly, consider a spring trip to Arabia Mountain in Lithonia to see the diamorpha bloom (typically in late March or April). It’s a type of stonecrop that turns a beautiful crimson color with tiny white flowers. When it blankets the granite like a red carpet, it’s otherworldly!
den. This is the place to go if you love tulips as there are literally thousands! Also near home is the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. While it’s not a traditional garden, it’s fun to find native blooms along the trails. You can see trout lilies, serviceberry and redbuds bloom in early spring, followed by azaleas,
trillium and coreopsis. If you don’t mind driving a little, I recommend the Wylde Center in Oakhurst, near Agnes Scott College. It is such a cute, whimsical garden that’s great for young children. Plus, they typically have plant sales, and I’ve picked up some real gems there, such as Japanese anemone and an-
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Industry veteran joins Springs Publishing as CRO I’m excited to announce that one of Atlanta’s most respected media executives, Neal Maziar, has joined our team to lead BY KEITH PEPPER our advertising sales efforts. I’ve known Neal since I was an unpaid teenager running around the halls of WSB’s iconic White Columns building. Since then, Neal has been a friend and mentor, and he’s the person who introduced me to the Springs Publishing team in 2020. Neal’s positive attitude and stellar reputation in the market, combined with a passion for hyperlocal media, is going to accelerate our growth trajectory. Neal is a Sandy Springs native and resident, and he worked for Cox Radio for almost two decades, holding roles including national sales manager for WSBAM/FM. He later joined Big League Broadcasting as co-owner and general manager. In 2010, the Atlanta Broadcast Advertising Club honored Neal with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and he has spent 20 years volunteering with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. reporternewspapers.com BH
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Morgan Falls trail will be ‘model’ project
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BY BOB PEPALIS A trail connecting Morgan Falls Overlook Park to Roswell Road will be a model for future trails in the city, the leader of the PATH Foundation told Sandy Springs officials during a February retreat. The trail is part of a planned 5-mile Central Loop Trail, said Greta deMayo, executive director of the PATH Foundation, which partners with the city to help plan and develop its trails. The first segment, which will span 1.9 miles, will use a boardwalk to cross the southside of Orkin Lake – with a spur to Edgewater at Sandy Springs Apartments north of the lake – before continuing to Roswell Road. The trail section connects residents to the Chattahoochee River, Morgan Falls River Park/Dog Park, Morgan Falls Overlook Park, Big Trees Nature Preserve and Trowbridge Crossing Shopping Center. “The project will allow for the public to see the trail systems elements such as boardwalks, bridges, walls, railings and amenities,” deMayo said. Excluding land acquisition, this segment of the trail would cost approximately $8.65 million, she said. The two landown-
ers whose property is required for this trail segment will convey the necessary property to the city. All 18 property owners affected by the entire Central Loop Trail have expressed interest. Construction of all sections is estimated at $38.55 million. Some landowners may not want a trail in their backyards, Mayor Rusty Paul said. “We are getting pushback from Huntcliff about trail systems in that area,” he said. That’s why the Central Loop Trail was chosen as the first project as no property owner objected to it, deMayo said. The PATH Foundation would not bring another trail segment for City Council to fund and build until it had vetted the project and gotten support, she said. Sandy Springs adopted a Trail Master Plan in October 2019 that proposed 31 miles of trails connecting 4 existing trails, 12 schools, 15 parks and 3 transit stations. The goal was to build 7 miles of trails in the next 10 years. “The master plan really focused on connecting the community to desired destinations throughout the city. Those included shopping centers, parks, schools, transit stations and the Chattahoochee River,” deMayo said.
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Robb Dillon to lead Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber The Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber has appointed Robb Dillon as its president and chief executive officer, effective March 1. Dillon, 52, replaces outgoing president and CEO Tom Mahaffey, who announced his retirement in October after 11 years of leading the business organization. “Robb’s unique and diverse business experience brings a new perspective to the chamber,” said Tisha Rosamond, chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors. “We look forward to working with him to create a collaborative environment for promoting business and community within Sandy Springs.” Dillon is a native of Atlanta. He attended The Westminster Schools and holds a business degree from the University of Georgia. He formerly served as sales director for Flourish Software LLC, where he established a partnership with Oracle in Canada, opening new international opportunities for the firm. He also founded Step Up Development, a firm focused on development and investment opportunities in Georgia, and SMASHmouse LLC, creator of a one-piece universal music pedal. reporternewspapers.com BH
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Park Pride awards grants, Dickens creates ‘green cabinet’ BY COLLIN KELLEY
LOVE WHAT IS LEFT UNSPOKEN,
What Is Left Unspoken, Love will present contemporary artworks that address the different ways the most important thing in life—love—is expressed. As poet and painter Etel Adnan wrote, love is “not to be described, it is to be lived.” The exhibition will feature nearly seventy works, including paintings, sculpture, photography, video, and media art, by more than thirty-five international artists. MAR. 25–AUG. 14 | HIGH MUSEUM OF ART | HIGH.ORG What Is Left Unspoken, Love is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. F U N D I N G P R OV I D E D BY T H E
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Robin and Hilton Howell
Rashid Johnson (American, born 1977), The Hikers (detail), 2019, 16mm film transferred to digital video with sound, High Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 2021.171. © Rashid Johnson.
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Twenty-four communities across the City of Atlanta and unincorporated DeKalb County will share $2.3 million for improvements to neighborhood parks thanks to grant awards from Park Pride. It’s Park Pride’s largest grant cycle in history, exceeding the prior year’s awards by nearly $1 million. The City of Atlanta is the program’s most recent funder, with the Atlanta City Council approving $700,000 for park improvement projects in low-income communities. “Every neighborhood in our city deserves access to quality greenspace, regardless of income or zip code. With this historic slate of grant awards from Park Pride, we will make progress on that goal,” Mayor Andre Dickens said. “I believe our parks have the ability to establish community connection and the power to shape and define the character of our neighborhoods.” Buckhead parks receiving grants include: Atlanta Memorial Park, Chastain
Memorial Park, Lenox-Wildwood Park, and Sara J. Gonzalez Park. Dickens also announced in February the creation of a new advisory council he’s dubbed the “green cabinet.” The council has representatives from 13 local environmental groups who will advise the mayor on the city’s long-range parks and recreation plan adopted last year. The cabinet will also advise the city on a parks and recreation infrastructure bond that will be put to voters in May and on how to use the South River Forest greenspace adjacent to the controversial Public Safety Training Center approved by the city last year.
Juanita Baranco to chair Buckhead Coalition BY AMY WENK Influential businesswoman Juanita Powell Baranco is serving as the 2022 chair for the Buckhead Coalition. “Juanita is a recognized executive and trailblazer,” Jim Durrett, president and CEO of the Buckhead Coalition, said in an announcement. “She will be an effective leader to help make Buckhead a vibrant, welcoming and safe intown community.” The Buckhead Coalition was founded in 1988 to advocate for the Atlanta neighborhood. Today, it consists of 120 members. Baranco said that her priorities include “partnering with Mayor Andre Dickens and the City Council to ensure a smooth transition of governing; working with the Atlanta Police Department and civic leaders to make Buckhead safer and more secure; promoting economic development, infrastructure, transportation, and effective local policies; and helping to bring our city together.” Baranco is the executive vice presi-
dent and chief operating officer of automotive company The Baran Company LLC, which includes Mercedes Benz of Buckhead and Mercedes Benz of Covington, La.In her career, she has served as assistant attorney general for the state of Georgia. She also was a former chair of the Georgia Board of Regents.
Buckhead City advocates say movement will ‘never end’ BY AMY WENK Despite a defeat in the state legislature, Buckhead City proponents said Feb. 16 they will press forward with their controversial leader, Bill White. “This movement, Buckhead City, will never end,” White said at a press conference, which drew a small crowd to the headquarters of the Buckhead City Committee on Peachtree Road. “It is not going to end. We will never give up. We will never give into the city of Atlanta and their coordinated effort to deny our vote for cityhood.” Buckhead City advocates had hoped to get legislation passed this year to place a referendum on the 2022 ballot. That would have given Buckhead residents a chance to vote on whether to form a new city. But in early February, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston essentially blocked any cityhood bills from moving forward in the Georgia General Assembly this year. White, who will continue to serve as CEO and chairman of the Buckhead City Committee, on Feb. 16 gave few details about the group’s strategy or political
Bill White. path forward. White did say the group has raised $2 million and planned to do more fundraising. He also mentioned receiving a $25,000 donation that day. “We believe this delay in allowing our vote will put lives, property, businesses, commerce and the already vastly diminished quality of life in Buckhead at severe
risk,” White said. “Any delay.” Pro-cityhood speakers at the event included Niko Karatassos of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group; 95.5 WSB radio personality MalaniKai; former state Rep. Beth Beskin; and state Sen. Randy Robertson. “The citizens have a right to vote,” said
Robertson, R-Cataula, who represents a western Georgia district that includes LaGrange. “Do not surrender your right to vote.” In January, White had been widely criticized in the media for retweeting and then deleting a post from VDARE. com, a website associated with white nationalists. He caught backlash again in February for tweeting about former MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker, who died by suicide in January. White was asked to address that tweet by a reporter at the press conference, but he claimed not to hear the question and moved on. White has also declined to show up at recent debates, telling Reporter Newspapers that he refused to sit opposite former Rep. Edward Lindsey, co-founder of cityhood opposition group Committee for A United Atlanta. White, at the press conference, took limited questions from reporters. Thomas Wheatley of Axios Atlanta tried to ask why the group is keeping White as CEO as he walked off, hearing back from the crowd “Why not?”
MARCH 2022 | 9
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Spruill Center proposes $2.3 million expansion
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The Spruill Center for the Arts wants to expand its facility due to capacity and space issues. Spruill CEO Alan Mothner spoke before the Dunwoody Public Facilities Authority about the expansion. The Public Facilities Authority is made up of members of the Dunwoody City Council. As the owner of the building that houses the Spruill Center, the authority is responsible for approving any alterations to the building. “We’re at the point now where we’re really just beyond capacity and are unable to continue to develop further programs based on those capacity issues,” Mothner said. “Spruill has been around, as you guys know, for a long time and helped in the formation of the city … and any successful city needs to continue to invest in those partners.” The proposed expansion of the center at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road would cost $2.3 million, with a $1.3 million donation from Spruill to go towards the project. Mothner said the project would add seven additional classroom spaces. “This project is shovel ready,” Mothner said. “We are ready to go with your permission tomorrow to start moving this forward.” According to Mothner, Spruill’s enrollment numbers have recovered to pre-pandemic levels of enrollment. In 2021, Mothner said the center offered 764 classes serving 8,147 students. Almost 450 potential students remained on Spruill’s waitlist in 2021 and were unable to enroll. Mothner said that the center is limited to 10 full-time and one part-time studio, many of which are medium-specific. “We can’t teach a darkroom class in the jewelry studio,” Mothner said. “We can’t teach a jewelry class in a mixed media studio. We can only teach ceramics in the ceramics studio. So those classes can only be taught in their respective spaces.” Mothner said that COVID-19 safety protocols have exacerbated the lack of space, but also said that the center may never go back to larger classes, preferring more in-
timate instruction in a smaller class. “It’s a better experience for our students to have smaller class sizes,” Mothner said. “They get better instruction. What we can do with the expansion is instead of having one ceramics class at a time, is having two at a time.” The new classrooms would include two additional ceramics studios, a glass and stained glass studio, a dedicated space for the center’s blacksmithing program, a wood turning space, and an open studio, which Mothner said could be used for mixed media or any other overflow classes. The plan also calls for an expansion of Spruill’s kiln room building, which Mothner said holds eight kilns and nearly 500 students work. He asked the authority to consider letting the center expand the kiln building immediately in addition to considering funding the Spruill expansion. “We are ready to expand this kiln room now,” Mothner said. “We’d like your permission to begin the process of that, and that would be something that would be fully funded by Spruill.” Councilmember Tom Lambert said he was in favor of supporting Spruill, but didn’t know if the authority could commit to anything before defining where the funding would come from. He didn’t know if two weeks, the amount of time until the project comes back before the authority, would be enough time to nail that down. “Before any decision is made, we would have to know specifically the source of that funding, where it’s coming from,” Lambert said. “We wouldn’t be prepared to make that decision probably at least until our retreat, which is the latter part of March.” One of the options that Mothner brought forward for funding would be to waive Spruill’s rent, which is paid to the city. “Our ideal situation would be a combination of funding from the city and rent waiving,” Mothner said. Councilmember Stacey Harris asked that Spruill take into account the amount of electricity that kilns use when considering the expansion of that room, and asked that there be a sustainability component of the expansion. The authority decided to review the kiln room expansion at a meeting on Feb. 28, but will take longer to review the full proposed expansion.
Brookhaven CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL March 26 – 27, 2022
Live your best fest with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Brookhaven’s signature event March 26th and 27th. Dig into a weekend of music from your favorite bands, curated artist market, the best neighborhood food and drinks, activities for kids, car show, and more. Visit brookcherryfest.org for full schedule of events.
22BCVV007_Cherry Blossom_Full Page_Reporter News.indd 1
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MARCH 2022 | 11
Fun for Celebrations
Brookhaven council discusses 2022 priorities
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BY SAMMIE PURCELL Greenspace and connectivity were discussed as major priorities for the upcoming year during a Brookhaven City Council panel discussion at the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce. Mayor John Ernst and three other council members discussed what they plan to prioritize in their districts during the panel, which took place on Feb. 17. District 2 Councilmember John Park was not present due to a work conflict. Mayor John Ernst
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Ernst said in 2022 there will be a focus on the city’s new Special Services District. The council voted to create the special tax district in December. The district would have certain business owners pay more property taxes to fund infrastructure improvements in the city, and the council reviewed a draft list of projects in February. The next steps involve a public engagement process to help decide which projects might be funded through the special district. “That’s going to be a big, major push this next year, picking projects and moving them forward,” Ernst said. He also discussed the city’s handling of the pandemic, including the decision to allow expanded outdoor dining after the state lifted some COVID-19 restrictions in April of 2020, and the designation of $725,000 of federal funding to help residents who had fallen behind on rent. Councilmember Linley Jones, District 1 Councilmember Linley Jones said that during 2022, she wanted to prioritize greenspace and connectivity, particularly a multi-use along Ashford Dunwoody Road. “We are going to be filling in the gaps in the path … that is going to run all the way from Peachtree all the way up to I-285,” Jones said. Jones also said the city would be looking to acquire more greenspace for District 1. “We are continuing to put in additional pieces of path, additional pieces of sidewalk, additional pieces of trail, in various locations so you can get from point A to point B,” Jones said. Jones also briefly discussed the location for the city’s new City Hall building, but said no decisions have yet been made. Councilmember Madeleine Simmons, District 3 Councilmember Madeleine Simmons
said she would like to focus on two parks, Brookhaven Park and Langford Park. Brookhaven passed a $40 million park bond in 2018, which included improvements for Brookhaven Park. However, work was delayed due to a dispute between the city and county. The western portion of the park is owned by the city, while DeKalb County owns the eastern part. The city has been trying to purchase the county’s half of the park for years, and sued the county in January of 2021 to try and force it to transfer ownership. “We’re hopeful that the case is going to resolve and we’re able to beautify the park this year,” Simmons said. The city purchased the property at 1174 Pine Grove Ave., now known as Langford Park, in April of 2020 and began the planning process for the park in June of 2021. “We’ve been working very diligently with the city administration to identify funding to be able to develop that park into a pavilion and a playground and a place where people can gather,” Simmons said. She also discussed Brookhaven’s City Centre project, which is expected to go for approval on March 22 and aims to create a framework for a downtown area and guide future developments along Peachtree Road. Councilmember John Funny, District 4 Councilmember John Funny talked about preserving the cultural identity of the Buford Highway area. Brookhaven adopted a resolution to designate Buford Highway as a cultural hub of the city at a Jan. 11 council meeting. “We want to make certain that Buford Highway receives the appropriate development or redevelopment of areas that can retain our international brothers and sisters,” Funny said. Funny also said that the city is looking to increase connectivity and park space in District 4. The first mile of the Peachtree Creek Greenway opened in December of 2019, and Funny said the second phase is currently in design. The third phase of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, which would extend the trail from Briarwood Road to the Chamblee city line, is one of the projects that could receive funding from the Special Services District. Funny also said that the city’s new public safety building is expected to be completed on June 30. The new building will be located at 1793 Briarwood Road and will house the city’s police department and municipal court. reporternewspapers.com BH
City designates ‘Buford Highway Cultural Corridor’ Brookhaven officials are celebrating Buford Highway. The Brookhaven City Council voted to name the area of Buford Highway the “Buford Highway Cultural Corridor” at a Jan. 11 meeting, officially designating the area as a cultural hub of the city. Multiple city officials gathered at the Northeast Plaza Shopping Center at 3307 Buford Highway on Feb. 18 to officially introduce the resolution to the public. The designation will serve as the first step in an attempt to revamp the area and celebrate its multi-cultural aspects. “It gives us the opportunity to honor and celebrate the heritage and contributions of the cultural and ethnically di-
verse community of this vibrant area,” said Councilmember John Funny. “As a vision document, it sets the foundation to bring about the improvements in the quality of life that every community wants.” The resolution calls for the city and the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce to collaborate more with the cities of Chamblee and Doraville to coordinate arts and cultural events in the corridor. It also calls for the city to work with the ChambleeDoraville Community Improvement District to advance capital improvement projects for Buford Highway. The resolution includes a focus on the incorporation of public art into Buford Highway’s streetscapes as well as the development of an annual international festival. The plan would also have the city collaborate with local nonprofits, such as We Love Buford Highway and the Latin American Association, to foster educational opportunities that support local arts in the area.
Musical acts announced for festival Brookhaven has added more music acts to the lineup for this year’s 2022 Cherry Blossom Festival. The music and arts festival will take
place March 26-27 at Blackburn Park at 3493 Ashford Dunwoody Road. Americana artist Anderson East will headline on March 27, according to a press release. The city previously announced Joan Jett and the Blackhearts as the March 26 headliner. Other artists set to play on March 26 include singer-songwriter Howie Day, a jam band called Dumpstaphunk, singer-songwriter Mike Kinnebrew, and singer Kaylin Amaro. On March 27, artists include the southern rock band Drivin N Cryin, country singer Morgan Wade, and singer-songwriter Brendan Abernathy. “What better way to kick off the 2022 festival season,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. “We continue to be grateful for our partnership with Live Nation in bringing these A+ acts to Brookhaven.” — BRIEFS BY SAMMIE PURCELL
Photo by Zhong Lin
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If you really care about recyling, there’s a solution If your coating and their lids, polystyrene foam neighborhood and plastic to-go containers and cups, has curbside food and beverage containers made of trash pick-up, wax or plastic coated paper, electronics, you probably batteries, anything containing hazardCarol a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line haveNiemi a issepaousand waste, appliances, furniture, books, writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at email@example.com. rate bin with bicycles, clothing and textiles and almost a yellow lid anything else you’d like to get rid of. just for recyTo make things even more confuscling. All your ing, you can’t trust the Mobius Loop (that recyclables go ubiquitous little triangle of three chasing into the same green arrows) because it means only that bin in a “single an item “might” be recyclable depending stream.” In my on where you live. Some recyclable items, BY CAROL NIEMI neighborhood, such as paper and cardboard don’t bear on trash day, the symbol at all. And on plastic items, almost every yellow-topped bin is packed the Mobius Loop may contain a number so full the lids don’t close. Unfortunately, from 1 to 7 indicating the type of plastic much of what’s in those Carol binsNiemi will probaan item is made from. You will have to do is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoodybly end up in a landfill. some research to find out if your curbSandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire Cynics say waste haulers others. don’tContact real- her at firstname.lastname@example.org. side service accepts that particular plasly recycle any of it. Though that may be tic. Sandy Springs Recycling Center Executive happening in some neighborhoods today So why not just throw everything into Director Kathy Reed. (Peden Two Elk) because of a temporary labor shortage, your curbside recycling bin and let the the real reason is that the local policies pros figure it out? Your waste hauler will arated from bottles, plastic lids to cans, governing what is and isn’t recyclable are take everything to a MRF (municipal rewet or soiled paper, plastic bags, plasso complicated most of us have no clue. covery facility) where it’s sorted by hand tic wrap, bubble wrap, plastic sandwich The list of universally recyclable items and machine. Some materials like glass bags, freezer bags, flexible packaging like is simple: bottles, cans, paper and cardcan be hazardous to humans and damchip bags and juice or soup pouches, garboard. Easy? Not so fast. aging to the equipment. A bag that gets den hoses, rope, leashes, wire and string, The list of what is not recyclable is alstuck can shut the whole MRF down. And dirty diapers, cups with plastic or wax most endless: glass, plastic bottle lids sepif you put a dirty pizza box in your bin and it contaminates other items, all of it will end up in a landfill. Luckily, if you really care about recycling, there’s a solution. Just off Roswell Road on Morgan Falls Road, nestled against the rolling hills of the Steel Canyon Golf Club, formerly a Fulton County landfill, is the Sandy Springs Recycling Center, a joint project of Keep North Fulton Beautiful and the City of Sandy Springs. The SSRC accepts many items you would never consider putting in your recycling bin.
Managed by Executive Director Kathy Reed, the facility operates with only four employees plus volunteers and others performing court-ordered community service. On my two visits there, I found it to be a clean, happy place. It also redefined what I thought was recyclable. At the SSRC, recyclable also means reusable. Besides for taking the usual, it also accepts glass, Christmas trees chipped into mulch, large household appliances, anything containing metal that can be used for scrap, batteries and electronics (some for a fee and some only from Sandy Springs residents). It also has partnerships with other non-profits that clean, refurbish and distribute to those in need other items that might otherwise end up in the trash. For example, an on-site American Kidney Fund truck collects clothing, shoes and small household goods. Free Bikes 4 Kidz refurbishes old bicycles. Better World Books finds new homes for old books. The Sandy Springs Rotary Club collects used home medical equipment for FODAC (Friends of Disabled Adults and Children) to refurbish for reuse. And fats, oils and grease are sent to a company that turns them into biodiesel fuel and glycerin. Certain plastics and papers are sold, funding 30 percent of the center’s operating expenses. And not everything is acceptable. To find out what is, visit https:// keepnorthfultonbeautiful.org. The Sandy Springs Recycling Center is open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily except Wednesday and Sunday. Someone is always there to help you. The address is 470 Morgan Falls Road. A fringe benefit of taking your recyclables there is that if you keep driving, you can visit the beautiful park at Morgan Falls.
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Top-ranked AIS sharpening skills against state’s best
The Varsity soccer team at Atlanta International School. Bottom left, AIS head coach Jonn Warde. (Photos by Louie Chiappetta) BY ALEX EWALT Athletics powerhouses come in all shapes and sizes. At Atlanta International School, which competes at the Class A-Private level, there’s no giant field house to accommodate dozens and dozens of football players. The most prominent athletics field, in an attractive setting in the Garden Hills neighborhood of Buckhead, is a soccer pitch. Soccer is the marquee sport at Atlanta International School, and the boys team is one of the stories of the state so far, going undefeated through the first seven games of the season with five wins and two draws. The wins have come against the likes of Marist, Midtown and Riverwood, strong programs from much larger classifications. And one of the draws came 3-3 at Dalton, a national powerhouse that competes in Class 6A. It’s an early-season slate that would be daunting for any single-A school, but AIS head coach Jonn Warde seeks out the most challenging competition he can schedule. “What I try to do early on in the season, you try to look for a lot of bigger schools,” Warde said. “Those are the types of teams we want to play against.” Both soccer programs at AIS have been successful for years (the girls team tied its best-ever state finish with a semifinals appearance last spring). The boys team won its first and only state title in 2015 under previous coach Danny Cox. But Warde has an especially explosive group of players this season that is the consensus No. 1 in the state for Class A-
16 MARCH 2022 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS
Private. And the Eagles are playing with extra fire this spring after bitter disappointments in 2020 and 2021. The 2020 team had 14 seniors who saw their final season canceled due to Covid-19. “We felt like that team had a good chance to make a run for the state championship,” Warde said. And last spring, AIS lost the state-title match in gutwrenching fashion to region rival Wesleyan, on penalties. The Eagles had defeated Wesleyan 4-0 in the regular season but found themselves at a two-man disadvantage in the final after two red cards. “That definitely was motivation for us going into this season,” Warde said. “We have that burning memory in our minds and hearts. So that definitely is fuel for
us to finish the job. As we say to the boys here, ‘Job not done.’” What Warde brings to his job is a wealth of experience at many different levels of the sport. A native of Barbados, Warde developed as a player with the Barbados youth national teams and competed in several matches for his country at the senior level while he was also playing for Monroe College in New York state. Warde transferred to Oglethorpe University to finish his college career and has been a fixture in the Atlanta coaching scene for years. In addition to his duties with AIS, he also coaches elite girls teams with the Concorde Fire program, where many of his AIS players also play (the GHSA has a rule prohibiting soccer coaches from coaching players at both the high school and club levels). “I live by the mantra ‘connection before correction,’” Warde said. “One of the things I like to do as a coach is put myself in their shoes as well.” Along with a solid core of players who came up through the AIS feeder program, the Eagles have also benefited from several recent newcomers. One of those is Mateo Bargagna, who joins the AIS varsity program for his senior year after playing with the Atlanta United Academy teams. Bargagna is one of several AIS varsity players who have developed in the academy of Atlanta’s MLS team. But rather than compete at the U-19 level for Atlanta United this upcoming season, he decided to play his final year of high school soccer at the school he has attended since first grade. “A lot of us have played together be-
fore at local clubs, so obviously we have that chemistry,” Bargagna said. “We’ve all been friends for [many years]. So we know each other really well and have a good team bond already.” Bargagna, a striker, combines well with forwards Noah Kristensen and Leo Zaller in the AIS attack, and was leading the Eagles with six goals through seven games. He is currently committed to Tufts University, and Warde estimates nearly all of his current juniors and seniors will play at some level of college, which would be no small feat for a single-A school. The team’s junior captain, Wesley Bruner, loves the tests against top competition. “We’ve got to go out and show them that we’re not some 1A school,” he said on a night that his team dispatched Class 6A Riverwood, 4-2. “We can play with the big boys.” Josh Grand, a senior team captain, joined the program before his junior year after living in the Netherlands for three years and getting a taste of that country’s intense youth-development culture. Grand was sidelined for last year’s playoffs after undergoing ACL surgery, relegated to watching the heartbreaking final loss from the sidelines. He, along with his teammates, says it’s “championship or bust” this spring. “I think there’s the whole mentality for this year’s team of, we’re not going to lose this year,” Grand said. “We have the players. And we know what it feels like to lose, and we don’t want to do that again.”
For the love of soccer: Local families devoted to youth programs BY AMY WENK On a crisp but sunny February afternoon, Buckhead resident Massee Shula was working on footwork drills with his nephew, Anton Hundley. It was the first day of spring soccer practice for the Boys U8 team of SSA Northside, the Buckhead-based branch of the Southern Soccer Academy. Parents and relatives were invited to participate in the practice held at the Galloway Athletic Complex off Defoors Ferry Road. “My sister has three boys, so we have to split up the time,” Massee said. “I’ve got the Tuesdays.” In addition to practices twice a week, Massee said players have weekend tournaments that can take four to six hours depending on the location, such as Kennesaw, Alpharetta or even Buford. “We’ve driven as far as 45 minutes to get to some of these tournaments,” he said. But, Massee said, it’s worth it. “It really is a family affair. We all just take a lot of great joy from it.” His comments underscore the commitment many local families make to youth soccer. The average player spends 10.8 hours a week playing the sport, according to a 2019 study from Project Play, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program. And parents shell out an average $537 per year for youth soccer programs, said the study. “It can be a little tricky with trying to juggle other children’s schedules, work schedules,” said Buckhead resident Lawren Hutchison, whose son Jackson, 7, attends Morris Brandon Elementary School and plays soccer at SSA. She has two other children who play sports, too. “It’s a lot, but he loves it so much.” Buckhead resident Christian Khalil said he and his 6-year-old son, Kayan, may spend 15 to 20 hours a week on soccer. “He loves it,” Khalil said during the recent SSA practice. “I love it. I want him to do well. It’s our thing as a father and son.” In addition to SSA Northside, there
are a variety of clubs in metro Atlanta. That includes Buckhead’s popular Tophat Soccer Club. It offers girls soccer programs, with practice fields off Fairfield Road in Buckhead. There’s also NASA Tophat, where the competitive high-level players graduate to, said Executive Director Dave Smith. It offers both boys and girls programs, recreational and competitive. Inter Atlanta FC offers programs spanning U4 to U19. Its practice fields are off Arizona Ave near Kirkwood. And the Atlanta Concorde Fire Soccer Club fields more than 1,000 players in age groups from U6 to U19. Its home fields are on Ashford-Dunwoody Road, next to Marist School. Families shared the many benefits that soccer offers their kids. “It provides discipline, and it provides an outlet for lots of energy,” Hutchinson said. Massee said the young soccer players learn about teamwork and collaboration. And for both parents and kids, it provides a network of friends. “It’s a way to make friends, especially for us having moved into the country,” said Khalil, who moved his family to Atlanta from Lebanon about a year and a half ago. “It’s an immediate community,” added Buckhead resident Lawton Bloom, whose 12-year-old daughter Anna plays at Concorde and 15-year-old daughter Eloisa plays at Tophat. The family had moved from Manhattan two years ago. “My kids love it,” Bloom said, adding they’ve traveled as far as Raleigh and Charleston for tournaments. “It is a lot, but it’s quality time with them.”
Buckhead resident Massee Shula with his nephew, Anton Hundley, during a practice of SSA Northside.
Top, a February practice of SSA Northside, held at the Galloway Athletic Complex off Defoors Ferry Road. Right, Buckhead resident Christian Khalil and his son, Kayan. (Photos by Isadora Pennington)
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Atlanta United supporter groups cheer on the team Members of Terminus Legion. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)
BY COLLIN KELLEY AND ISADORA PENNINGTON Don’t call it a fan club! That’s what you’ll likely hear from a member of one of Atlanta United’s four designated supporter groups – Terminus Legion, Footie Mob, Resurgence, and The Faction – upon using the wrong nomenclature. So, supporter groups it is. And it’s pretty easy to see that members are much more than just casual fans. During home games, supporter group members are found outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium tailgating and getting fired up for the match. Then, they parade into the stadium carrying the giant golden spike, a callback to Atlanta’s railroad beginnings and a symbol of unity and strength. The golden spike sits in front of the bois-
18 MARCH 2022 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS
terous supporter section just behind the home goal, and it’s from this section that the chants, cheers, and singing begins and echoes around The Benz. Current Terminus Legion President Lisa Wilder didn’t really care for the sport while growing up. After marrying her Portuguese husband, a diehard fan, and watching World Cup matches with him, she began to see the appeal. Still, when he bought them Atlanta United season tickets as a Valentine’s Day present, she rolled her eyes and went along. After her first match, she was hooked. “We joined all the supporter groups in the beginning, but we fell in with Terminus Legion because we liked the community service aspect of it,” Wilder said. She also loved the ritual before each home game and admits she’s addicted to the surge of being ‘part of something bigger than yourself.” She’s only missed a handful of home games since joining in 2017.
Both on and off-season, Terminus Legion members can be found giving back to the community through volunteering and working with charities. Wilder said that beyond the rowdy support at each game, the group actually “does more in the community than we do in the stands.” Some of the organizations Terminus Legion supports include Soccer in the Streets, Mostly Mutts, Chattahoochee River Keeper, and the Clean Sheet project to assist victims of domestic violence. Members also donated funds to the fire department and helped with pandemic relief efforts. Terminus Legion member Amy Jurden said she’s been a life-long sports fan, but never realized how much fun it could be. “The vibe of the group – it’s just a big family, you know. I immediately felt welcomed,” she said. Jurden said one of her favorite memories as a member occurred in 2018 when Terminus Legion partnered with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for Kick Childhood Cancer Month. “All the supporter groups came together, and Terminus Legion did a gigantic children’s tailgate event. So, you had all these kids out there that had never gotten to go to a sporting event like this, that were fighting things you’d never want someone their age to deal with, and it was just pure euphoria.”
Aaron Nobles joined Terminus Legion in its first year, 2014, and said it was the friendships he’s made that will stick with him forever. He said a recent member’s wedding was cause for celebration. “Terminus Legion comes with friendships,” Nobles said. “Michael recently got married and we got to rekindle friendships and relationships with people we had not seen in several years due to COVID. It was so good to see all of the people who had been with us since 2014. It honestly was something I will never forget.” Ashley “A-Ro” Robinson, a board member at large for Footie Mob, can often be found DJing during pre-game tailgating. She’s been a member since Atlanta United played its first game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and even travelled to some away games as far away as Costa Rica. Robinson said she arrives at the tailgate area four or five hours before a match starts to set up her decks, adding that she thrives on the “controlled chaos” of game day. She said one of her favorite memories was during the MLS cup final, when Footie Mob held one of its biggest tailgates ever. “It was cold and raining, but everybody was happy and dancing,” she recalled. “We like to make a big production out of the tailgate and bring the noise from the lot to get everyone ready.”
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In conversation with Brookhaven photographer Branden May Reporter Newspapers talked to May about his work and where his interest in photography stems from. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
BY SAMMIE PURCELL Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people have quit their jobs and changed careers – including Branden May. May worked at a small tech company up until August of last year. He quit in part to better spend time with his family and take care of his son, who was diagnosed with autism, but also to focus on his real passion – photography. While the Brookhaven artist had over 15 years of experience and had been interested in photography since he was a kid, this change meant taking on photography as a fulltime gig. May’s work focuses on architecture, taking in the way light and shadows interact with the spaces around them. His work has been featured at several galleries internationally, according to his website, including the Agora Gallery in New York City; the BBA Gallery in Berlin, Germany; and the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece.
Where in Atlanta did you grow up? Branden May: I actually grew up in Stone Mountain. How did you become interested in photography? BM: My dad was actually into photography, and he got me into it when I was 12 – maybe a little bit younger than that. I do remember him showing me a camera and I kind of just fell in love with it from there. As far as your own career with photography, when did you decide that you wanted to make it a career? Branden May’s photography focuses on architecture, taking in the way light and shadows interact with the spaces around them. (Images courtesy of Branden May)
BM: I quit my job last August … it’s always been kind of in process, the photography thing and trying to go full time. But I think over the pandemic, and having all my kids at home, and the job that I was working at the wasn’t really understanding that I had a son with autism … That kind of pushed me over there towards photography – my last job and having no freedom to be a dad, or be a good husband, or a photographer. What do you photograph the most?
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BM: Right now, I’m currently doing street photography, but architecture photography is probably my favorite. Especially here in Atlanta, growing up here, I kind of feel like I have a personal relationship with the buildings … I just feel like I connect to them in a different way than other people. I know where the sun is going to be, where the reflections and shadows will fall. What is it about the combination of shadow and structure that interests you? BM: It’s the silhouettes. I kind of try to capture people interacting with the building in different ways, whether it’s just walking by [or] going to the actual building. It’s really just the combination of the structure of the buildings and the person walking through a shadow or walking through a pocket of light that kind of completes the scene for me. Who are some artists that inspire you? BM: Gordon Parks… I was just taken aback
20 MARCH 2022 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS
by how he captured scenes and how some of them were portraits, some of them were just scenes that he’d been assigned to for Time Magazine. But the way that he shot and the way that he draws you in, maybe even think about whatever the subject is thinking about in the picture, kind of led me to photography even more. Berenice Abbott is another photographer whose work I’ve been told is similar to mine. We kind of share a relationship between shadows and people. She’s really great. Louis Mendes. He’s another shoot photographer in New York, like years ago. He is also one of the main influences of my work.
Tal Baum continues expansion of Oliva Restaurant Group with opening of Atrium
Tal Baum has opened her latest restaurant Atrium (pictures at right) at Ponce City Market.
BY KATHY DEAN Oliva Restaurant Group opened its newest restaurant at the end of January. Located on the first floor of Ponce City Market’s Central Food Hall, Atrium features a modern American menu with European influence and bright, whimsical decor. The team behind Atrium includes Tal Baum, Founder & Proprietor of Oliva Restaurant Group, Executive Culinary Director Brandon Hughes and Director of Operations Josh Riddle. Baum is building on Oliva Group’s stream of success with other Atlanta restaurants – Aziza, Falafel Nation, Bellina Alimentari and Rina. Oliva’s forthcoming restaurant, Carmel, is slated to open late 2022 in Buckhead Village and will offer diners a taste of coastal life. The focus at Atrium, Baum said, is “cooking what we love. We also wanted to create dishes that would enchant our guests, just as the ambiance does.” That ambiance is boosted by Smith Hanes Studio’s designs; interior elements include bold florals and works by local artisans and craftsmen. The spacious cocktail lounge, The Parlor, contains a hand-painted tile bar and mural, and the 4,000 square foot main dining room, The Bistro, features massive factory windows @reporter_newspapers BH
and large pink banquettes. Enchantment is the idea behind all the Oliva restaurants, Baum said. “We’re trying to transport our guests into a different world and reality, and for a couple of hours, take them on a journey to another place. With Atrium, we want to give guests a respite from the hustle and bustle of Ponce City Market,” she said. Baum explained that all of Oliva’s restaurants represents chapters of her life. Born and raised in Haifa, Israel, she moved to Florence, Italy, at the age of 21. During her seven years in Italy, she studied architecture and developed an intimate knowledge of Italian cuisine. “Rina, Aziza and Falafel Nation symbolize my early life and growing up in Israel,” Baum said. “Bellina Alimentari is an ode to my years living in Italy, and Atrium is a manifestation of a current chapter experiencing the evolution of dining in America.” She suggested that Atrium visitors start with drinks in The Parlor, then move to The Bistro for a meal. She said that while it’s hard to recommend just one dish, diners should try Chef Cole
Pate’s chicken entree. “Chicken is one of those dishes that is so hard to be creative and innovative with, but Cole was really trying to elevate the chicken experience and turn it into something different,” Baum said. “We make chicken sausage in-house, then we wrap the sausage in the chicken, sous vide it and crisp it up before serving so the skin is super crispy and browned. It comes out in the perfect texture, and there are so many different layers — from the crispy skin to the sausage to the sauce.” All those elements take the chicken into a completely different level, one that’s restaurant worthy, she added. While the pandemic and recent lockdowns affected all the restaurants in the city, Baum said they stayed busy with
to-go orders, catered meals to-go, virtual cooking classes and more. “I’m excited to look to the future,” she said. “That’s where our focus is now – making sure people have a fabulous experience, where they have a good time and forget about their day-to-day for a few hours.” For more on Atrium and the Oliva Restaurant Group, visit atriumatl.com and olivarestaurants.com.
MARCH 2022 | 21
Partnership at Blue Heron inspires students to create art BY COLLIN KELLEY The mythical Sankofa bird – depicted in art with its feet facing forward and its head turned to look back from where it came – has become the symbolic force behind a new partnership between Blue Heron Nature Preserve, ZuCot Gallery, and Atlanta Public Schools to show students and educators the strong connection between nature and art. “Fertile Ground: From Sankofa to Blue Heron” is now on exhibition at Blue Heron, showcasing nature-inspired work from Black artists curated by ZuCot Gallery. During March, APS art educators will come to Blue Heron to see the exhibit, hear from artists, and get inspiration to take back to their students. APS students will be encouraged to create their own nature-inspired art in local nature preserves, parks, and greenspaces for a competition. In April, the winning students’ artwork will be on exhibition at Blue Heron, while prizes will be provided by Sam Flax art store. “Parks, greenspaces, and nature preserves, like Blue Heron, can inspire, educate, and empower children and adults in Atlanta and beyond to reflect on the stories of Black people in America and to develop their own stories in nature through the creation of art,” said Blue Heron’s exec-
Above, “Sunday Morning” by Jerry Lynn Clockwise from top left: Sarah Erickson, Sara Womack, Melody Harclerode and Omari Henderson at Blue Heron Nature Preserve. (Photo by Isadora Pennington) utive director Melody Harclerode. Harclerode, who has led the Buckhead nature preserve for two years, said she was inspired to create the partnership after visiting ZuCot Gallery in Downtown. “I was blown away by the landscape art I saw at ZuCot and thought how nice it would be for kids to be out in greenspac-
es and be inspired by nature to create their own art,” Harclerode said. “Blue Heron was founded by an APS arts educator, Nancy Jones, so it’s poetic to me that we continue to connect students with art and nature.” ZuCot partner and curator Omari Henderson said he saw the partnership as an opportunity to teach Black students not only about art but how to become “custodians of culture.” “You don’t necessarily see a lot of African American artists who do landscapes, you don’t see it highlighted,” Henderson said. “This partnership will give us the chance to highlight these natural scenes and provide teachers and students an opportunity to infuse art with nature.” Sara Womack, fine and performing arts coordinator for APS, said the partnership was a chance to bring equity to art classrooms.
“Typically, dead white guys is where you start with the history of art, so exposing students to African American artists and their landscape work is a big push for equity,” Womack said. Sarah Erickson, fine and performing arts support teacher for APS, said she was excited that art teachers would be going to Blue Heron for a day of learning. “We’re going to have teachers go out into the nature preserve, so they can have an experience to bring back to the students,” she said. Erickson said the cash prizes going to students would also be a boost for budding artists at APS. “Becoming a paid artist at 12 years old and having their art showcased is an empowering moment for a kid,” she said. For more about the exhibit, visit bhnp. org.
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SUMMER EXCITING SUMMER ADVENTURES June 6–July 1, 2022 Preschool Camp (2s–PK must be two by June 1) Adventure Camp (K–6th) and CIT (7th–8th) • Returning favorites include Art, Circus Camp, Drama, Sports, Coding & STEAM, Musical Theater, Challenge Island, Mad Science, and More! • Weekly themes for Preschool include special visits from Horses, Puppets, and more! • Half & Full Day Camps
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• Before and After Care available • Lunches available for purchase • Multi-Week Discount * Some photos taken at ESA Camp prior to COVID.
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MARCH 2022 | 25
SPREAD YOUR WINGS THIS SUMMER MAY 30-JULY 29
our full camp offerings and sign up! Main Campus, College Park Woodward North, Johns Creek woodward.edu/camps
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To register, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Call (404) 636-5628, or sign up online at www.agapetennisacademy.com
26 MARCH 2022 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS
Songs for Kids Center makes everyone a rock star
Photo by Mary Caroline Russell BY CLARE S. RICHIE Located behind the Skyview Ferris wheel in Downtown, the Songs for Kids Center provides free interactive music programming to qualified children and young adults. “If you or someone you know has an injury, illness or disability – we’re here to perform with you, teach you an instrument or skill, or invite you to have a sensory experience,” said Josh Rifkind, founder of Songs for Kids (SFK). The center houses a professional performance area, recording studio, and a DJ station. “It’s an extension of everything we’ve learned and do,” Rifkind said. “We have SFK mentors here six days a week. Families come in at all times. We just had a 22-yearold who was working on singing and drumming and now we have a 6-year-old who’s been coming here since she was 3.” Allison Russell, mom of the 6-year-old, learned of SFK when they performed at Camp Krazy Legs, a camp for children with spina bifida hosted at Camp Twin Lakes. Her daughter’s friends are starting extracurriculars, and Russell likes that her daughter has a low-pressure activity that gives her a creative outlet, too. “She loves to explore everything here and is slowly starting to focus on trying to learn the keyboard,” Russell said. “Her fine motor is significantly delayed, but it’s been great for her to practice and have fun.” For 16 years, SFK musicians have performed mini concerts and bedside visits in hospitals across the U.S. It’s a passion that grew from Rifkind’s musician/producer background and idolizing his father who worked as a doctor. In 2013, Rifkind and founding board member Sanjay Kothari went on a roadtrip and performed at nearly every children’s hospital in the U.S. “We went to some hospitals that were over 1,000 miles out of the way in the wrong direction and played for an hour,” Rifkind said. “We did 350 performances in 250 days at 249 children’s hospitals. We didn’t cancel a single show.” @reporter_newspapers BH
As Rifkind interacted with young patients, he saw how much they enjoyed singing along, writing songs, or trying instruments. “It really grew into a mentorship situation,” Rifkind said. “In 2015, we began the journey to open a center, which ultimately opened in 2018.” Right before the pandemic, SFK was doing 1,000 performances a year and was on track to do several thousand mentorship sessions. “And now we’re back,” Rifkind said. “It’s a lot of N95 [mask] wearing. We practice a lot of safety protocols.” SFK works to pair new participants with a mentor who could be a drummer, guitar player, singer or songwriter – depending on what the participant wants to explore. Manager of the music mentorship program, Weston Taylor, has mentored hundreds of young people at SFK - including 22-year-old Bennett. “He liked to cover songs,” Taylor said. “He had tons of his own lyrics sitting around, but he didn’t know how to make a song out of them. We spent several weeks creating melodies, really plotting it out. Within a month of finishing that song we were able to perform it at Shaky Knees on the main stage [last October]. That was awesome.” There are no expectations at the center except for having fun. “We’re sneaky. Our fun can lead to learning something,” Rifkind said. Thanks to individual contributors, SFK is completely free, a fact that continues to pleasantly surprise families. Fundraisers like the June 500 Songs for Kids (dates TBD), which features a couple hundred bands spread out over a few weekends, also help make SFK possible. “Before we opened, I dreamed of people working with their mentors in the space and of the energy of activity and creativity,” Rifkind said. “And when we get really busy, it’s exactly like that picture in my head.”
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: WWW.WESLEYANSCHOOL.ORG/SUMMERCAMPS MARCH 2022 | 27
Q&A with David Johnson, co-founder of pharmaceutical startup Genexa
BY COLLIN KELLEY If you’ve been shopping for a feverreducer for your kids or something to help you sleep on the shelves of your local pharmacy, supermarket, or Walmart, then you’ve likely come across Genexa. Billed as the first “clean medicine,” the startup makes pharmaceuticals with the same active ingredients as the household name brands – like acetaminophen – but without all the artificial, inactive ingredients that usually come with them. Founded on the West Coast by David Johnson and Max Spielberg, Genexa is now based in Atlanta. We caught up
28 MARCH 2022 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS
with Johnson to talk about the creation of the brand and his favorite local hangouts. With people concerned about what’s going in their bodies in the age of COVID, how has Genexa embraced/pivoted to meet those concerns? Genexa medicines were created with ingredient transparency at their core. We started this company five years ago because we were concerned about the inactive ingredients in our kids’ medicines after realizing that as much as 93% of all drugs contain potential allergens. More and more people are realizing that their health products don’t just consist
of the important ingredients that are supposed to help them feel better. We found a way to make medicine with the same active ingredients that address acute symptoms like colds, allergies, fever, etc. but without any artificial fillers or common allergens. We are bringing awareness to the inactive ingredients in over-the-counter medicines and put our list directly on the side of the box so it’s easy for people to see what’s in the product (and what’s not in there). How has the move from the West Coast to Atlanta been beneficial for Genexa’s growth? We love our new headquarters in Atlanta! This is such a vibrant city full of talent, diverse experiences, and a unique culture that has been very beneficial for our team. We’ve grown an incredible team of employees with diverse backgrounds and are hiring even more this year. Atlanta offers both the appeal of a large urban city with a small-town community feel and we’re excited to get out and about in the community even more this year. How has social media and influencers aided in the growth of the company? Our driving philosophy at Genexa is “people over everything,” meaning we put people at the center of everything we do. Our core customer lives on social
media so we’ve made it our goal to deepen our connection with them through our online communities. Buying medicine is a deeply personal experience and many people lean on those they trust within their own circle of influence, often a parent, friend, or healthcare professional. So we’ve worked with a number of different “influencers” to help spread the word – everyone from our superfan customers, medical advisors, our celebrity investors, and more. What are some local spots you visit to unwind or recharge from running a busy company? I love being outdoors and try to stay active, so I spend a lot of time walking the BeltLine and at Chastain Park with my family. Atlanta has a lot of great hiking trails so we’re always looking for new ones to explore. What’s some of your favorite restaurants, pubs, or hangout spots in Atlanta? My wife and I are foodies and love sushi, so we are fascinated by the fact the best sushi in the country is found right in our backyard at Sushi Hayakawa. We also love all the vendors at Ponce City and Krog Street Markets. There are so many amazing chefs and restaurants in Atlanta, our list of favorites is a mile long!
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Planner Tim Keane: ‘Atlanta needs to change a lot’ BY MARIA SAPORTA After six-and-a-half years in Atlanta, Tim Keane is moving on to greener pastures — Boise, Idaho. Keane’s final day as the City of Atlanta’s planning commissioner was Friday, Feb. 18, and his presence in Atlanta will certainly be missed. Before leaving town, Keane agreed to sit down for an exit interview — picking a spot in front of the Dancing Goats coffee shop across from the Midtown MARTA Station. Thanks to Keane, there is now outdoor seating in a space that used to be on-street parking. It is one of 18 such transformations Keane was able to do throughout the city. The theme was on target. One of Keane’s messages as he is leaving is that Atlanta will need to shift some of the public space now devoted to cars to people-oriented spaces. “I have a perspective about Atlanta that the city needs to change a lot,” Keane said. “There’s a lot of work to do around affordability and mobility.” During his time here, Keane provided a mindset of how Atlanta should grow.
Maria Saporta and former Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane. (Courtesy of Maria Saporta)
It’s not a question of whether Atlanta will grow. In his mind, that’s a given. “It’s not just that you invest and build something. It’s what you build that mat-
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30 MARCH 2022 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS
ters,” Keane said. “The city should be leading on creating the highest quality public realm — streets or parks or architecture.” Among Keane’s proudest achievements were creating the Atlanta City Studio, which invited citizens to become more involved in the way the city would grow, and the Atlanta City Design — a conceptual plan that offered a roadmap on how the city should grow. Central to the Atlanta City Design’s framework was to conserve Atlanta’s natural spaces and to encourage denser development along its commercial corridors. “We wrote the book, literally,” said Keane, referring to the Atlanta City Design, a work of art in planning circles. “Why we did Atlanta City Design was to avoid the traps other cities have faced. Atlanta City Design is not a vision. It is a specific proposal for the city’s growth that’s representative of the physical design of the city. It is a practical proposal.” In Keane’s mind, few people in Atlanta appreciate how dramatically the city will have to change if it wants to preserve and increase affordability and if it wants to become a more livable city in terms of mobility and design. “There’s a relationship between the physical city and the prosperity of its people. We don’t in my opinion as a city even acknowledge that,” Keane said. “We need to address every single day that the building of the city requires engagement of the planning department — be it parks, streets, protection of land or investment in infrastructure.” From his perspective, Keane said people often just view the planning department as the place to issue building permits. “For Atlanta to reach its full potential as a city, the planning department should
Reporter Newspapers has partnered with Saporta Report to provide local business news from one of Atlanta’s most respected journalists, Maria Saporta. saportareport.com
not be on the sidelines. It should be in the huddle if not the quarterback.” By the way, Keane also is proud of how he improved the permitting process, which he described as a mess when he came here from Charleston, S.C. During his tenure, his department has issued 50,000 permits that translated into $30 billion in construction in developments throughout the city. During his tenure, Keane and his department attempted to pass a new tree ordinance and a new zoning ordinance, but both efforts became mired in controversy and differences of opinions. “There will never be a day in any city where that process is not controversial and full of many different opinions,” Keane said. “But the reason we did Atlanta City Design was to put Atlanta in a better place when it comes to those debates. Why can’t Atlanta be excellent?” Keane also said there was a great deal of misinformation during the debates over a new tree ordinance and new zoning ordinance. The process to correct erroneous information and to reach a greater consensus was hampered by the COVID pandemic, which he said was unfortunate. Keane also realized he had become a target in the community. For example, the proposed zoning ordinance never intended to do away with singlefamily zoning, he said. But Keane realized his leadership had been compromised, and that’s when he started exploring opportunities to leave Atlanta. “It was a very hard decision to leave,” Keane said. “During the run-off and even after, I knew some neighbors were asking Andre Dickens to have me fired.” He spoke to Dickens about two weeks before making the decision to take the Boise job, and he believed Dickens would have wanted him to stay in Atlanta. “The timing of this is kind of good. It’s a new administration,” Keane said. “The last six to nine months, with the discussion around housing, my relationship with the community changed. That was not beneficial to the city. It was a good time to leave.” Keane decided to go to Boise because it is a totally different place (physically, historically and culturally) where he can have a fresh start. “No. 1, it is a beautiful place,” Keane said. “The mayor and the city are really interested in city design. They want to do that exceptionally well.” For Keane it will be another adventure and an opportunity to influence the development of a city. At the end of our conversation, Keane summed it up this way: “My greatest interest is to have a big impact and shape a city in the best way possible.”
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Americold Logistics, LLC, Atlanta, GA & any unanticipated locations T/O the U.S. has an opening for an Automation Architect (Job Code VK0207) to drive the main knowledge of the WMS & functionality of the WES system & design/ define their respective functionality & tech. touch points. Reqs: BS or FDE in CS, CA, or related field & five yrs. of exp. (can be combined) in the job or related in WMS & automation. Approx.. 40% travel W/possibility of remote & occ. business travel. Mail resume to Christine Graessle, 10 Glenlake Pkwy NE, South Tower, Ste. 600, Atlanta, GA 30328. Hiring Catering Cashiers and Servers @ $18.00 / hour, Asian Fusion Cafe, call 678-691-4986 or a.fusioncafe@gmail. com
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