Dunwoody Reporter - April 2024

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See our ad on page 9 The Sustainability Issue Communities, nonprofits,
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APRIL 2024 | 3 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM Editorial Collin Kelley Editor Beth McKibben Senior Editor, Food & Dining Sammie Purcell Associate Editor Staff Writers Dyana Bagby Cathy Cobbs Bob Pepalis Logan C. Ritchie Contributors Sally Bethea, Jacob Nguyen, Isadora Pennington, Laura Scholz CONTENTS APRIL 2024 ©2024 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Rough Draft Atlanta. Honored as a newspaper of General Excellence 2018 ABOUT THE COVER To mark our annual Sustainability Issue, our photographer Isadora Pennington captured this stunning spring image in Brookhaven. SANDY SPRINGS Morgan Falls Trail Project 4 Lowering Speed Limit 4 BUCKHEAD New MARTA Stations 6 Atlanta Girls’ School Closing 6 BROOKHAVEN Lavista Park Master Plan 7 New Roads & Sidewalks 7 City Hall Art Budget 7 DUNWOODY Bill Robinson Dies At 88 10 SUSTAINABILITY Above The Waterline 12 Sandy Springs Conservancy 13 Dunwoody Recycling 14 Georgia Organics 27 Wylde Center 28 SPECIAL SECTION Atlanta Dogwood Festival S1-12 SILVER STREAK Sketching With Seniors 29 DINING The Regulars 30 The Move 31 REAL ESTATE Record Home Sale 32 GET OUT OF TOWN A Weekend in Augusta 34 Mountain Fun 35 atlanta Reporter Newspapers Atlanta Intown A Publication Silver Streak By Advertising For information sales@roughdraftatlanta.com Deborah Davis Account Manager | Sales Operations deborah@roughdraftatlanta.com Jeff Kremer Sr. Account Manager jeff@roughdraftatlanta.com Suzanne Purcell Sr. Account Manager suzanne@roughdraftatlanta.com Operations Savannah Pierce savannah@roughdraftatlanta.com Published By Rough Draft Atlanta Keith Pepper Publisher keith@roughdraftatlanta.com Neal Maziar Chief Revenue Officer neal@roughdraftatlanta.com Rico Figliolini Creative Director Steve Levene Founder Circulation 58,000 copies of Reporter Newspapers are delivered to homes in ZIP codes 30305, 30319, 30326, 30327, 30328, 30338, 30342 and 30350 and to businesses/retail locations. To subscribe to home delivery, ($75 / year) email delivery@roughdraftatlanta.com 30 32 S1 SCAN TO SUBSCRIBE TO ROUGH DRAFT, OR, TEXT DRAFT TO 66866 FACEBOOK.COM/ ROUGHDRAFTATL X.COM/ ROUGHDRAFTATL INSTAGRAM.COM/ ROUGHDRAFTATL RoughDraftAtlanta.com

Drilling through rock adds cost to Morgan Falls Trail project

Unforeseen rock encountered during boardwalk construction over Orkin Lake for the Morgan Falls Connector Trail has added $549,618 to the project’s cost.

At its March 19 meeting, Sandy Springs City Council approved the fourth change order to the trail’s construction contract to continue boardwalk pier drilling operations, according to Recreation and Parks Director Brent Walker.

soil conditions are found as the project continues, the cost of drilling each pier will be reduced, he said.

The initial construction of the 2,933foot boardwalk over Orkin Lake began to encounter challenges in July 2023 when the contractor, JHC Corp., encountered rock in the drilling process. The council approved previous change orders totaling $527,604 to address these issues, Walker said. These conditions continue to slow the top-down construction of the boardwalk section of the 1.87-mile trail.

JHC deployed specialized drilling attachments and equipment and also used generators and pumps to lower the lake level until the boardwalk is no longer over water, Walker said.

The change order also covers the costs of constructing additional parking at the Morgan Falls River Park and unit pricing for unsuitable soil conditions where a retaining wall is planned. If more favorable

The additional work has moved the expected projection completion date to Dec. 31.

With the latest change order, the contract amount rose to $8.88 million. Sufficient funding is available in the Capital Project Budget for the change order, Walker said.

While the trail has not been completed and is not officially opened, many of the apartment residents in the area are using sections of the trail, he said.

Councilman Tibby DeJulio asked Walker if this section of the trail is the most difficult portion of the city’s entire trail master plan.

“From what I know, we’re not putting up a boardwalk over a lake again. So whatever condition we find will be easier to get to because it won’t be underwater,” Walker said.

City lowering speed limits on major roads

Sandy Springs plans speed limit reductions on three roads approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Public Works Director Marty Martin told the Sandy Springs City Council in March that the speed limit on Abernathy Road/Perimeter Center West, from Peachtree Dunwoody Road to the DeKalb County Line, will drop from 45 mph to 35 mph (Abernathy Road’s name changes to Perimeter Center West at its intersection with Mt. Vernon Highway).

He said Johnson Ferry Road from Roswell Road to Sandy Springs Circle will have a 5-mph reduction, moving its speed limit to 30 mph, as will Johnson Ferry Road from Sandy Springs Circle to Abernathy Road.

GDOT updates its list of roadways bi-annually and considers modifications requested by cities. The State Department of Public Safety uses the list to create its repository for all the roads in Georgia that have been approved for radar speed enforcement.

Martin said Sandy Springs is dropping its speed limit to be consistent with DeKalb’s speed limit on the roadway.

The city’s request also included name changes and corrections for seven roads, some of which changed many years ago but weren’t updated on the states’ lists.

■ Central Park West was renamed Central Parkway due to the realignment of an intersection.

■ Central Parkway was renamed Central Park Drive because Central Parkway now continues through former Central Park West to Peachtree Dunwoody Road.

■ The Heards Ferry Road entry was revised to remove Heards Ferry Elementary School, which moved to Powers Ferry Road.

■ Heards Road was renamed Raider Drive.

■ The Donellan School on Long Island Drive changed its name to Holy Spirit Prep School.

■ Brandon Mill Road was renamed Adair Lane between Grogans Ferry Road and Morgan Falls Road.

■ Colonel Drive was renamed Pride Place.

The road name changes and speed limit changes will become effective when certified by DPS.

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MARTA mum on location of promised new stations

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MARTA officials aren’t ready to announce where other new rail stations will be located after Mayor Andre Dickens revealed one of them on March 25 during his State of the City address.

Dickens said during his speech that the Murphy Crossing mixed-use project in south Atlanta would be getting a new MARTA station and teased that three others were also in the pipeline.

During the March 27 Atlanta City Council Transportation Committee meeting, MARTA officials were peppered with questions about the transit agency’s future plans, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood told the committee that five potential locations for the new stations were listed in the More MARTA transit program approved by voters in 2016. But he wouldn’t confirm which three might be on the table.

The other locations in the More MARTA plan are Armour Yards in Buckhead between Arts Center and Lindbergh; Boone in northwest Atlanta between Ashby and Bankhead; Hulsey/ Krog in northeast Atlanta between King Memorial and Inman Park/Reynoldstown; and Mechanicsville located off McDaniel Street between West End and Garnett.

According to the AJC, Greenwood emphasized that plans for infill MARTA

stations would not replace the plan to extend the Downtown streetcar to the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail.

Greenwood said work was progressing on both the Murphy Crossing station and streetcar extension, noting that “we’ve got a lot of work underway with streetcar east.”

The last time a MARTA rail station was built in the city was the Buckhead Station in 1996.

In other speech highlights:

■ The mayor said Atlanta’s population is nearing an alltime high of 500,000 residents and over 6 million living in metro Atlanta. That makes Atlanta the sixth largest in metro in America.

■ Redevelopment of Two Peachtree tower for affordable housing is on track and the city has identified 40 more pieces of property for affordable housing. Dickens said another version of The Melody – the Downtown development for transitional housing made of former shipping containers – is also in the works.

■ A new senior citizens-oriented recreation facility will feature golf, a restaurant, activities, art events, and more. Ground is expected to be broken this summer in southwest Atlanta.

■ A new performing arts space will open in West End named after awardwinning playwright Pearl Cleage and her husband Zaron Burnett.

Atlanta Girls’ School in Buckhead to close after 24 years

Atlanta Girls’ School is set to close at the end of May, nearly 24 years after it opened in Buckhead.

Reasons for shutting the school down include financial difficulties and declining enrollment, according to administrators.

“After careful consideration and extensive deliberation, Atlanta Girls’ School’s Board of

Trustees has made the very difficult decision to close Atlanta Girls’ School at the end of the current academic year in May 2024,” said Tracy Lott, spokesperson for the school, in an emailed statement.

“Our top priority continues to be our students and preparing them for their life ahead,” Lott said.

The statement is the same posted to the school’s website under the heading “State of

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A rendering of the Atlanta Streetcar outside Ponce City Market. (Courtesy ABI) Mayor Andre Dickens gives his 2024 State of the City address. (Courtesy City of Atlanta)

the School.”

The State of the School includes a FAQ for why the school is closing. The FAQ states declining enrollment and ongoing financial challenges were factors in deciding to shutter AGS. The school opened in 2000.

“Despite exploring various options, implementing cost-cutting measures, and intensifying our fundraising efforts, like other small, independent schools, AGS continues to face many economic challenges,” the FAQ says.

“Those challenges coupled with a diminishing demand for single-gender education have created an unsustainable financial path forward into the 2024-25 school year,” the statement says.

“This has resulted in the Board of Trustees making the very difficult decision to close the school at the end of this academic year in May 2024.”

The last day of classes for students is Tuesday, May 21. Upper School exams will take place Wednesday, May 22 through Friday, May 24.

AGS will close on May 24, 2024, the last

day of the academic year.

“AGS will finish the current academic year, remaining focused on students’ education,” according to the FAQ. “We are here to support students and parents as they determine their next right step.”

The AGS website says there are 199 girls enrolled at the school and 46 faculty members.

A 2021-2026 strategic plan for AGS issued in 2022 includes a goal to have a student body of 250-300 students.

The City of Dunwoody Economic Development department presents



|6 - 9 p.m.

Exhibit open through June 6

“Native Gardens”

Opening night | Stage Door Theatre

Earth Day Plant Sale

Dunwoody Nature Center

Lemonade Days

April 17 - 21

a fundraiser for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust Brook Run Park

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Courtesy Atlanta Girls’ School


Brookhaven to create Lavista Park master plan

Nearly five years after annexing the Lavista Park neighborhood, the city of Brookhaven is creating a master plan for a three-acre wooded park at Brookforest Drive near Lavista Road.

Lavista Park’s 2023 National Night Out celebration “got the ball rolling” with City Councilmember John Funny, who announced in November that up to $100,000 would be available to make a park master plan.

Lavista Park has a playground, walking trails, stone patio, picnic benches, and

a weathered observation boardwalk. A master plan will address runoff and erosion, a blocked culvert, excessive sediment entering the creek, and general creek health, confirmed Bill Dynan, Lavista Park Civic Association volunteer.

Dynan, who has served as the LVPC park coordinator for three years, organizes events to clean up invasive species. He said the park’s 750 Daffodil Project bulbs are now blooming. The Lavista Park Civic Association has maintained the park in partnership with Park Pride.

The city’s RFP states a contractor will address options “to restore, enhance,

modify, and/or better operate and maintain the creek system, which often carries significant offsite sediment loads as well as parkbased stream bank erosion and deposits both at the discharge side of the park.”

A master plan consultant will provide basic design guidelines for architectural and landscape design, operations and maintenance of the park, recreation facilities, and plant control.

Dynan said he’s hopeful for future connectivity to the Peachtree Creek Greenway and Atlanta BeltLine by the city’s planned pedestrian and vehicle bridges.

City approves spending on roads, sidewalks

The Brookhaven City Council met on March 26 to approve contracts for road and sidewalk improvements.

First, council members approved an ordinance to amend the 2024 General Fund and Capital Improvement Fund budgets to spend $50,000 on sidewalk infill projects.

Next, the council approved three contracts related to street paving: a three-year agreement for $20.4 million with C.W. Matthews to pave the roads; a three-year agreement for $120,000 with Geo-Hydro Engineers for construction inspection and material testing services;

and a three-year project management contract for $630,500 with Lowe Engineers.

In an update on the city’s stormwater projects, city staff said heavy rain has prevented work from being completed. An emergency project on Stratfield Drive will begin next week, and Ashford Trail project will soon be complete.

In other news, the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival and 5K race drew a record number of participants. About 58,000 people attended the weekend of music. The 5K attracted 600 runners and raised $18,000 – nearly $6,000 more than 2023.

Brookhaven reduces city hall art budget for new sidewalks

Brookhaven City Council has voted to redirect $400,000 from the new city hall’s art budget to pay for the construction and design of sidewalks.

Brookhaven Arts Commission members were told in February by Community Development Director Linda Abaray that the city hall arts budget was being reduced.

“Let me break the bad news to the ones who don’t know it. The budget for art at city hall has been cut from $450,000 to $50,000. That was a decision made by the council,” Abaray said, although the council didn’t vote on the change until March 12.

“My understanding is still that the Arts Commission will make recommendations for the artwork for the city council to

decide on,” Abaray said.

The commission has a 2024 budget of approximately $150,000. Chair Kimberly Landers did not respond for comment.   Abaray said there may be other sources of money for art at city hall, which is under construction adjacent to the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station.

Deputy City Manager Steve Chapman proposed an ordinance at the March 12 meeting to amend the Urban Redevelopment Agency budget to add a sidewalk at Chantilly Road, and to conduct an engineering study for a sidewalk at Osborne Road in Lynwood.

The Chantilly Road sidewalk was included in the Community Investment Agreement (CIA) with Emory University as part of the Executive Park rezoning effort. Emory had already agreed to pay

Lavista Park (Courtesy City of Brookhaven)
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$50,000 toward the completion of the sidewalk.

According to a city memo, additional funding was added to the Chantilly Road sidewalk project for right-of-way acquisition, which is currently underway.

“With this project nearing the construction phase, the council has expressed a desire to provide funding for the project to keep the project moving,” the memo states.

The memo states that a sidewalk on Osborne Road north of Windsor Parkway has been a community priority.

“The new district representative [Michael Diaz] has sought city council support to begin design and engineering activities. The $50,000 recommended in this attached ordinance will fund a portion of the sidewalk project,” according to the memo.

The city hall public art budget was established at 1% of the original construction cost of $45 million, or $450,000. The construction cost increased during the design process, but the public art budget remained at $450,000.

The motion to reduce the art budget for city hall passed unanimously without public comment or questions from city council members.

Asked how the decision was made, Mayor John Park said, “This decision was initiated by me with council support. We spent $25,000 for art at the Public Safety Building and rather than go for a ‘big name’ we wanted to focus on local artists. We also wanted to continue our focus on connectivity throughout Brookhaven. We will continue to work to reduce the overall cost as opportunities arise.”

Two months before the March 12 vote, Brookhaven Public Works Director Don Sherrill said plans were being reviewed for the Chantilly Road sidewalk project.

“Plans are in review, and in addition to that, we are in the process of doing rightof-way easement acquisition. We have extended offers on right-of-way,” Sherrill said on Jan. 9, answering Funny’s question about the status of the project. “If we can get these easements taken care of with the associations for the town homes and all that, that one will be ready to go out.”

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A scale-model of the new Brookhaven City Hall. (File)

Longtime community leader Bill Robinson dies at 88

Beloved volunteer Bill Robinson, whose behindthe-scenes work spanning more than 50 years touched almost every area of the Dunwoody community, died Mar. 8 in Carrollton, Virginia.  He was 88. Robinson received several prestigious awards for his service, including the Dunwoody Homeowners Association Citizen of the Year in 2015 and the organization’s first Dick Williams Citizenship Award in 2020. Robinson was one of DHA’s founding members and served on its executive board for decades.

Dunwoody Development Authority Board Member Susan Mitchell said Robinson had a talent for finding the potential in people and encouraging them to get involved in community service.

“Years before there was a city, there was Bill Robinson, serving tirelessly on a number of different boards and organizations, building a sense of community while envisioning a city with local control,” Mitchell said. “Bill was one of Dunwoody’s city shapers – smart, jovial and encouraging of everyone around him.”

Former city councilperson Pam Tallmadge, who worked alongside Robinson in various philanthropic ventures for many years, called him her mentor and “my Dunwoody Dad.”

“Dunwoody’s patriarch touched everything meaningful in Dunwoody – Dunwoody High School, Dunwoody Homeowners Association, Spruill Center for the Arts, Dunwoody Nature Center, Dunwoody Preservation Trust, Stage Door Players, Citizens for Dunwoody – Bill had his name on all of them and more,” Tallmadge said.

He, along with longtime Dunwoody friend and parade co-chair Nick Nicodemus, were named Fourth of July Parade grand marshals in 2006. Robinson was credited for revitalizing the parade in 1991 and served as its co-chair for 14 years. It is now the state’s largest July 4 parade, attracting 30,000 spectators and more than 2,000 participants.

“Bill was a wonderful gentleman who made friends easily,” DHA President Bob Fiscella said. “The DHA will forever be indebted to him for all the hard work in making Dunwoody a better place to live.”

At press time, a memorial service was scheduled for April 6 at 11 a.m. at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.

Tallmadge said she knew Robinson in many different arenas, including as a fellow parishioner at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.

“As a devoted member of DUMC, he volunteered on many committees,” she said. “I was honored to be a part of his unofficial Sunday school class, which he held in the choir suite.”

Robinson, an Army veteran, organized the first Veterans Day Ceremony that is now held annually at Brook Run Park. He and his wife, Barbara, were also prominent supporters of the Dunwoody Woman’s Club and its annual home tour.

“I’m guessing that even Bill can’t tell you all the things he’s done for Dunwoody,” then-Dunwoody mayor Mike Davis said at the 2015 DHA Citizen of the Year presentation. “He’s forgotten more of what he’s done than most people have even thought of doing.”

Tallmadge said while she is mourning Robinson’s passing, she is positive that she knows what he is doing now.

“Dunwoody’s parade was Bill’s passion. He shared that love with me, and I am forever grateful,” she said. “I am positive he is organizing a parade in heaven.”

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Pam Tallmadge and Bill Robinson (Supplied)

Celebrating and improving our city parks

Atlanta’s public parks have nourished me and my family for decades. When I need fresh air, sunshine, and a nature fix, I can choose from several city-owned and managed parks—each just a five-minute walk from my house. For four-plus decades, I’ve lived in the Ansley Park neighborhood in three different houses: the first near McClatchey Park where my sons hunted Easter eggs, played with friends, and rode Big Wheels.


Winn Park, once a fairly steep ravine with a flowing stream, was a quick walk across the street from our second home. Beloved by dog walkers and cared for by the city and Ansley Park Beautification Foundation, the park has a multi-purpose field and a playground. Both Charles and Rob say that Winn Park holds a special place in their childhood memories: playing with our family dog; practicing T-ball and baseball; biking the grassy slopes; attending neighborhood barbecues; and learning to sled (back when we had snow).

With friends, Charles made a Frisbee golf course in Winn Park and roller-bladed down a playground slide (“But, mom, I didn’t fall and break a bone the first time

for the past decade-plus—proudly notes that the city’s score is up from a ranking of 49th just three years ago. At the same time, he says there is more work to be accomplished. Residents in low-income and non-white neighborhoods have less access to park space per person than those in white neighborhoods.

Support groups for city parks—such as Piedmont Park Conservancy, Friends of Lionel Hampton Beecher Hills Nature Preserve, Olmstead Linear Park Alliance, Chastain Park Conservancy, and 100 similar park nonprofits—help restore natural areas and provide other services. Park Pride supports these initiatives with training, grants, and an annual conference.

I did it…”). For Rob, the park was a place to explore and play: “an intermediate zone between our backyard and the wider world.” His memories include fireflies, the big white oaks, and long summer evenings. They both rendezvoused with various girlfriends under the park’s impressive tree canopy. Although their homes are now a fifteen-minute drive from Winn Park, they often bring their dogs to play and reminisce.

For more than half of my years in Ansley Park, I’ve lived in the third house, my favorite, located between Winn Park and the city’s spectacular Piedmont Park. During COVID, I walked many miles on the park’s Active Oval, admiring the sycamores and oaks beside the sports fields that were often filled with teams playing soccer, volleyball, and softball. In the park’s natural areas, I continue to find solitude, native plant and tree species, and birdsong—all in the heart of the city. Like rivers and streams, parks help define our cultural and natural landscapes.

Parks for all

Atlanta’s first Parks Commission was established in 1882 to plan for and manage parks and playgrounds. Today, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation

(DPR) provides basic maintenance services for more than 3,000 acres of land in 445 public parks—from sports fields to pocket greenspaces, nature preserves, and formal gardens. DPR is also responsible for street trees on city rights-of-way.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, Park Pride was created to engage communities in enhancing parks and greenspace through advocacy, volunteerism, and capital improvements. As the voice for parks in the city of Atlanta (later expanded to DeKalb County), the organization is the primary nonprofit working with communities in the city and DeKalb to improve their parks.

Trust for Public Land—a national park and greenspace advocate—annually publishes a ParkScore index that compares park systems across the 100 most populous cities in the country in five categories: access, investment, acreage, amenities, and equity. Atlanta is currently 28th on this list with 78 percent of city residents living within a ten-minute walk from a public park.

Michael Halicki—Park Pride’s energetic and conservation-minded executive director

In 2022, Mayor Andre Dickens appointed Justin Cutler, formerly the director of recreation services in Seattle, to serve as Atlanta’s DPR commissioner. In Seattle, Cutler worked to improve parks and recreation opportunities for historically underserved communities. In addition to overseeing the Atlanta Parks Department, he is responsible for helping create longterm plans with input from elected officials, parks advocates, and residents. By all accounts, Cutler is an enthusiastic and competent park leader.

Natural areas need help

Now that Atlanta’s Tree Trust Fund can legally be used to purchase forested property—in addition to planting trees— the city has begun to invest more heavily in new parks. In the past four years, it purchased 580 acres, 80 percent of which is forested and/or considered a nature preserve requiring special maintenance skills.

While DPR is deeply appreciated by park groups, it has become clear that the department does not have the knowledge, expertise, or sufficient resources to manage the tree canopy and natural areas within the park system. Park Pride and partners are urging the city to create and fund a natural areas team within DPR; it would include a director of natural resources and additional maintenance workers with expertise in tree care and removal of invasive species: a serious problem.

In early March, the Atlanta City Council adopted a list of priorities for the fiscal year 2025 budget, including support for a new DPR natural areas team. A final budget will be approved in June after an interagency review and a public hearing.


Contact your council member and urge them to fund a natural areas team for the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation. Support Park Pride (www.parkpride.org) and Friends groups for specific parks. Get outside and enjoy our city’s parks this spring!

The city of Brookhaven bought the former Morrison Farms property on Osborne Road. A walk through the Kirkwood Urban Forest. (Photos courtesy Park Pride)

Sandy Springs Conservancy leverages funds for local projects

The Sandy Springs Conservancy has invested more than $1 million in the community to provide educational, technical, and financial support to create more than 100 acres of parks throughout the city.

The Conservancy was founded in 2001 before Sandy Springs’ incorporation as a city. Its purpose is sustaining and expanding greenspace amenities in the community to improve the quality of life for present and future generations, a spokesperson said.

The Conservancy’s mission is to create, conserve, and connect parks, trails, and green space in Sandy Springs. It supports opportunities to create, preserve, enhance, plan, and implement parks and usable green space amenities and make them

accessible to the community. Trails provide access to the amenities and encourage outdoor activity, which increases health and wellness.

By building partnerships, bringing stakeholders together, and providing funding for greenspace projects, the nonprofit organization achieves its mission, according to the spokesperson.

To encourage community involvement in neighborhood sustainability initiatives, the Conservancy’s Micro Project program provides grants to residents, Scouts, and other volunteer groups for green space improvement projects.

Restorations to the Sandy Springs Library Reading Garden have been among projects undertaken with collaborative partners. The Conservancy supports the city in creating a new park, Old Riverside Park in northern Sandy Springs along the

Chattahoochee River.

Joining with stakeholders, the conservancy is working to help implement the Sandy Springs Springway. This trail master plan calls for 31 miles of paved pedestrian and bicycle paths throughout the city, connecting neighborhoods, workplaces, parks, and river amenities to trail networks in other communities.

The conservancy creates educational and recreational opportunities with its Trail Blazers guided walk program. Participants explore parks in Sandy Springs and neighboring communities. Other educational opportunities include speaking engagements and the annual Thought Leaders Dinner.

For more information about the organization, visit sandyspringsconservancy.org.

Members of the Sandy Springs Conservancy. (Supplied)


Art lovers will have the chance to watch artists in action around our picturesque city with opportunities to purchase original art with hometown appeal, featuring locations such as Alpharetta City Center, parks, gardens and more.

SCAN HERE for more details and the schedule for this year’s events.


Mark your calendars! The Taste of Alpharetta boasts an unforgettable night of culinary magic throughout the city’s charming downtown. This annual event celebrates the vibrant food community of Alpharetta featuring OVER 60 RESTAURANTS through dining events, cooking demos, culinary collaborations, and tasting tents galore.

SCAN HERE for more information and a list of participating restaurants.

Dunwoody recycling program reaps rewards,

high participation

678-297-2811 awesomealpharetta.com

The Of ficial Destination Marketing Organization for Alpharett a, Georgia

Sustainability efforts within the city of Dunwoody have proven to be popular and successful, with several programs implemented and others on the calendar.

The second year of the partnership between Trees Atlanta and Dunwoody has concluded successfully with all 80 trees that were available for “adoption” claimed.

The Front Tree program provides free trees to homeowners to be planted within 35 feet of a right-ofway. In its first year, according to city officials, 54 trees were planted, and this year, requests for 80 trees were swiftly claimed.

“We had complete support for the program from the city council and immediate buy-in from residents, who rushed to fill out online applications,” Dunwoody Community Development Director Richard McLeod said. “This program furthers our goal of protecting and building up Dunwoody’s tree canopy.”

Trees Atlanta, a non-profit committed to the care and replenishment of metro Atlanta’s urban forest, manages the processing of tree requests and coordinate with each homeowner for the selection, placement, and installation of up to two front yard trees per yard through this program, according to a statement released by the city.

Dunwoody has been recognized for its urban forest management efforts for more than a decade. The city was recognized for the 12th consecutive year as a “Tree City USA” and in February celebrated the designation with a ceremonial tree planting at Windward Hollow Park on Georgia Arbor Day.

“We remain committed to protecting our tree canopy and finding new ways to enhance it,” Dunwoody Arborist Amy Bledsoe said. “Trees benefit our community by improving air quality, increasing property values, reducing stress levels, and providing wildlife with important habitats.”

Dunwoody achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: maintaining a tree board or department, having a tree care ordinance, dedicating an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and hosting an Arbor Day observance with a written proclamation.

“Tree City USA communities see the positive effects of an urban forest firsthand,” Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation, said. “The trees being planted and cared for by Dunwoody are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life.”

Since 2013, the city has worked with Trees Atlanta and community

volunteers to plant more than 2,000 trees in Dunwoody, including 125 during this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

The city has also scheduled another household hazardous waste recycling event on May 4, to be held in the parking lot of Dunwoody City Hall at 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Road.

This free event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is for Dunwoody residents only. Residents must register and select a drop-off time online at www. dunwoodyga.gov/waste.

During last year’s household hazardous waste recycling event, 415 residents participated, according to city officials. More than 17,060 pounds of latex paint, 3,395 pounds of pesticides, 531 pounds of antifreeze, 107 pounds of lithium batteries, and 12 fire extinguishers were dropped off.

Acceptable items include oil and latex paints, stains, paint thinner, automobile batteries, household batteries, motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline, diesel, household cleaners, pool chemicals, household chemicals, pesticides, flammables, and corrosives.

Items that will not be accepted include agricultural wastes, biohazardous/bio-medical waste, ammunition, explosives, radioactive materials, smoke detectors, cylinders of acetylene, oxygen, carbon dioxide, helium, and refrigerant gases.

Residents will need to bring proof of residency to the event.

Courtesy City of Dunwoody
atla nta

The 88th Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival

The Atlanta Dogwood Festival is back April 12-14 with hundreds of artists from around the country setting up their tents for the 88th-annual event in Piedmont Park. A wide variety of art across mediums and genres will be represented at the festival in the juried Fine Artist Market, which includes sculpture, painting, pottery, jewelry, photography, and much more. The festival also highlights and honors the art of young Atlanta artists at the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition.

For families, the festival includes the Kids Village presented by Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, featuring arts & crafts, interactive make-and-take projects, and face painting. Music has become an essential feature of the weekend’s festivities, and this year will be no different. Acts

and more.

booths selling funnel cakes, gyros, onion rings, and lots of other treats.

Be sure to visit dogwood.org for the latest news and updates on the weekend schedule and scan the QR code to see a map of the entire festival.

You won’t want to miss the Mimosa 5K, and take your weekend to the next level with the festival’s VIP experience. And when you get hungry, just follow the delicious smells to the food trucks or @dogwoodfestival atlantadogwoodfestival

See page S8 for the festival map or scan the QR code below.

performing on the Coca-Cola Main Stage include A1A Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show, Zach Person, The Muckers, Bird City Revolutionaries, Suzy Jones, Sailing to Denver,


Coca-Cola Main Stage

All weekend, you’ll find a variety of live music and entertainment on the CocaCola Main Stage.

This year, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is thrilled to welcome A1A: The Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show as the festival headliner on Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.  Following the laid-back performance on the Coca-Cola Main Stage, attendees will be wowed by a fantastic fireworks display above Piedmont Park (at approximately 9:00 p.m.).

The stage also welcomes local and well-known musical acts in genres from bluegrass to pop and from funk to Americana, as well as some that defy classification. Get ready to find your next favorite band — Main Stage performances are free to enjoy!

Attendees can upgrade their festival latitude by sipping a margarita or other frozen concoction at an “Atlantaville” experience with the purchase of a Saturday Night VIP Ticket. This tiki bar-themed area is the perfect spot to toast the musician who invented tropical rock and celebrated the art of relaxing.

And while the Coca-Cola Main Stage doesn’t stop all weekend, adults can take a break and kick back in the nearby Corona Beer Garden.

Friday, April 12

Coca-Cola Main Stage

6 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

Blue Talk

Zach Person

International Stage

6 p.m. Whole World Improv Theatre

Saturday, April 13

Coca-Cola Main Stage

2:30 p.m.

3:35 p.m.

4:40 p.m.

Guitar Shed

Parker Smith & The Bandwith

The Muckers presented by Georgia Public Broadcasting

6 p.m. Bird City Revolutionaries

7:30 p.m.

9:00 p.m.

A1A Jimmy Buffett Tribute

Fireworks over Piedmont Park

International Stage

11 a.m. After-School All-Stars

11:30 a.m.

11:55 a.m.

12:25 p.m.

1 p.m.

1:45 p.m.

2:30 p.m.

International Stage

This year, the International Stage is back on the Lake Clara Meer dock, offering performances honoring the many global communities that call Atlanta home. This dedicated stage has been a festival favorite for more than a decade and provides a virtual world tour, including music from China to the Caribbean, dance from Ireland to India, and much more.

Taiwanese Drum Team

Alma Mexicana Atlanta

Soorya Foundation Ensemble

Atlanta Fusion

Belly Dance

Calo Gitano Flamenco Dance Company

Atlanta Junkanoo Group

3:40 pm. Bulgarian American Cultural Association

ROSA Atlanta

4:25 p.m. Alliance Theatre

5:10 p.m. Atlanta Irish Dance

5:55 p.m. Nachlanta

6:20 p.m. SALSAtlanta

Sunday, April 14

Coca-Cola Main Stage

1:15 p.m. Geoff Wood

2:20 p.m. DejaBlue Grass Band

3:30 p.m. Suzy Jones

5 p.m. Sailing to Denver

International Stage

11 a.m. Magic Eastern Ensemble

11: 45 a.m. Munting Tinig “Small Voices”

12:30 p.m. Mahealani’s Polynesian Entertainment

1 p.m. Chinese American Cultural Performing Group

1:45 p.m. Laotian American Society

2:30 p.m. Jievaras

3:15 p.m. Athens Tango Project

4:15 p.m. Turkish Music Group

5:00 p.m. Ballet Mexicano de Lupita Sosa


Artist Market

At its core, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is an arts festival, and the juried Artist Market welcomes 250+ fine artists from throughout the country each spring. Selected from more than 1,000 entries, participating artists working in metal, oil, mixed media, photography, sculpture, and more bring their best new work to the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, nationally, one of the first in the annual art festival season.

Among this year’s booths, you’ll find fine artists working in a variety of mediums, styles, and price ranges. Take your time, peruse, and enjoy this opportunity to browse, talk with the artists, admire their creativity, and purchase one-of-a-kind works of art.

Please stop by the Coca-Cola booth at the corner of 14th Street and Piedmont Avenue to sample some of our refreshing beverages. Job No: 403207927_01c Atlanta Dogwood Festival - 4.94”W x 6.185”H
the QR code for more information
©2024 The Coca-Cola Company. Proud Sponsor of the 88TH ANNUAL

Know When You Go

About the Atlanta Dogwood Festival

The city’s longest-running festival and the third-oldest fine arts festival in the country, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the arts and presenting the popular annual springtime event. Through its community programs, including the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition, the festival provides art supplies and scholarships to high school art teachers and students in the metro area.


Did you know the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization? For more than eight decades, the festival has offered free admission. In addition to welcoming thousands of attendees to the park each spring, the festival supports youth art programs throughout the year. To keep this beloved springtime tradition open and accessible to everyone, we’re asking for your support in the form of a $5 donation at the entrance or online through our website. Thank you!

Getting Here

The best way to get to the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is by taking MARTA! Exit at the Arts Center or Midtown station and walk a few blocks to Piedmont Park.

City Ordinances

Piedmont Park and City of Atlanta ordinances require a few reminders for attendees:

• No Smoking

The City of Atlanta’s ban on smoking at outdoor facilities includes Piedmont Park. No tobacco products of any type are permitted anywhere in the park during the festival.

• No Dogs/Pets

As per a city ordinance, no dogs (or other pets) are permitted in Piedmont Park during the festival. The off-leash Piedmont Dog Park will be open during the event with access via the Park Drive entrance only.

• No Outside Food/Beverages/ Tents/Coolers

No outside food or beverages may be brought into Piedmont Park during the festival. Small chairs are allowed. No tents or coolers are allowed.

• Dates and Hours

April 12-14, 2024

Friday: noon to 9 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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More Things To See & Do

Mimosa 5K

The Atlanta Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K welcomes participants on festival Saturday morning to enjoy a scenic course through Midtown’s historic streets. The finish line brings runners back to Piedmont Park to toast their success with a chilled mimosa featuring Cupcake Vineyards bubbly (participants

Kids Village & Attractions

There is so much for kids to enjoy at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival! Young visitors will find plenty to do in our Kids Village presented by Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Families, be sure to head to Oak Hill inside the 12th Street entrance, adjacent to the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition. Stop by and enjoy creative hands-on arts and crafts projects. Kids can also kick back and relax with a bit of face painting or a Little Princess glam manicure before taking in a puppet show from Peter Hart, engaging in bubble fun, thrilling on the spider jump or just jumping around on the inflatables. The youngest visitors won’t want to miss Atlanta Parent’s play area with Teddy Bear Hospital, mask making, and fun with Circus Camp! In the Meadow, the whole family can enjoy this year’s range of amusement park rides from the tame to the breathtaking. Ticket booths near the rides will offer a variety of packages.

Art Throwdown

You’ll also want to put the Art Throwdown on your schedule. Held on

21+ only). This race is an AJC Peachtree Road Race Qualifier, and top finishers will be awarded in a variety of age groups.

Party in the Park
in the Park takes place on festival Saturday and Sunday afternoon Discover the morning newsletter Atlanta is waking up to. Text DRAFT to 66866


Atlanta High School Art Exhibition


Don’t miss the chance to celebrate the creativity of young Atlanta artists — head to the award-winning Atlanta High School Art Exhibition in the Community Center near the 12th Street park entrance. You’ll see more than 100 pieces selected for inclusion by a jury of arts professionals from more than 700 entries. Sponsored and supported by the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition provides prizes and scholarships for top submissions. While you are visiting the exhibition, make your voice heard and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award! The winner will be announced Sunday afternoon.



Nicole Chen “Concealment” Cambridge High School


Scan the QR code for more information


Eileen Lipan “Apricity” Brookwood High School Kylie Boyd “Waiting for Service” Discovery High School

No one is more Atlanta than Monica .


A J C. c o m /m oni c a p earso n


MAY 2, 2024

7:30 – 10 PM

The Tasting Experience is an expanded event now supporting the entire nonsectarian Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services of JF&CS. Through these incredible programs, clients learn new life skills, gain more confidence, become more independent, and most importantly, build community. Programs include the Zimmerman-Horowitz Independent Living Program, Community Access Group, and Supported Employment, providing support to clients, families, and caregivers.




Georgia Organics new leader

Georgia Organics, a nonprofit that supports organic farmers and local food systems, bids farewell to President & CEO Alice Rolls after her remarkable two-decade tenure and welcomes Alexis Chase, a leader with 18 years of nonprofit experience, as the new executive director.

Under Rolls’ leadership, Georgia Organics grew annual conference attendees tenfold, launched Georgia’s first farm-to-school program, seeded the Atlanta Local Food Initiative, and more.

“Since I started farming in 1998, the local farm scene in Georgia has transformed... for which I would credit no one person above Alice Rolls,” said Daniel Parson, a farmer/ educator at Oxford College Farm. “She has a knack for working with people – grant agencies, national super-stars, and local farmers – and capitalizing on opportunities.”

As the nonprofit’s first staff member in 2004, Rolls seized on the growing public interest in organic food.

“Suddenly, we were thinking about local connectivity from the farm back into a farmer’s market, retail outlet, household or school,” Rolls said.

To facilitate local, healthy food in school cafeterias and classrooms, Rolls and her team tapped school nutrition directors to champion a farm-to-school and early care program.

“We knew school nutrition directors cared deeply about kids but didn’t have large budgets,” Rolls recalled. “So, we created easy ways to do good and recognized their efforts – meals served, gardens cultivated, and instruction provided. In six years, half of Georgia school districts participated.”

Rolls was also at the table when communities, nonprofits, universities, government agencies, individuals, and corporations formed the Atlanta Local Food Initiative, dedicated to ensuring every resident has access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food from sustainable farms and gardens.

“ [In 2008] we created A Plan for Atlanta’s Sustainable Food Future with eight goals around access, supply, and consumption,” she said. “That work led the City of Atlanta to codify urban farming and hire a Director of Urban Agriculture.”

Rolls deeply respects farmers; their character, commitment, hard work, and willingness to support one another.

“My hope is that our society continues to support and invest in organic farmers so we can have this delicious food that supports health, wellness, environmental renewal, and equity,” Rolls said.

That’s why Rolls’ advice to Chase is to “think big and center everything on farmer prosperity.”

Chase joined Georgia Organics in January, after serving as executive director for Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, a faith-based response to climate change.

“I predict that Alexis will do great things in this role,” Parson said. “Coming from a farm family, she has a rooted understanding of its challenges. Her professional nonprofit background, easy-going nature and tenacious drive to support organic and sustainable

farmers have clearly prepared her for the tasks ahead.”

Following her dairy farmer grandfather’s motto, “You can do it, but I’ll help,” Chase jumped right in.

“I have met a lot of people,” Chase said. “Alice built a smart, thoughtful, passionate staff and support network.”

For 2024, Chase is prioritizing implementing recommendations from the organization’s recent racial equity audit to fulfill its commitment to anti-racism.

“It’s important to talk about our past and how we can embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Chase said.

She’s also planning large events, like the Georgia Organics’ 2024 Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival on July 28 and the nonprofit’s first regional conference in 2025.

“The festival is amazing because Atlanta restaurants and mixologists compete to make the best tomato-based dish and drink,” Chase said.

Alongside 100 partners, Georgia Organics is planning the 2025 SOWTH Conference at the Georgia World Congress Center, Feb 4-6, 2025. Convening farmers and leaders from 13 southeastern states, it will focus on equity, farmer prosperity, environmental renewal and more.

“I feel incredibly confident about our future as we focus more deeply on direct support for farmers,” Chase said.

“What a time to celebrate how far we have come in 20 years and look forward to the next chapter,” Parsons said. “Sustainable farming is all about creating resilience in terms of land, plants, animals, markets, and the environment. Focusing on farmer prosperity is key to that resilience.”

Check out georgiaorganics.org to join the newsletter and/or the “Honoring Alice” campaign to leave a message or to make a donation.

On The Town

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Georgia Organics’ President Emeritus Alice Rolls. (Photo by Jenna Shea Photojournalism) New Executive Director Alexis Chase. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Chase)

Going Wylde!

Meet the Wylde Center’s new executive director Dr. Jennifer Gerndt

Wylde Center – the organization known for its five greenspaces, environmental education, and connecting communities to nature – has a new executive director.

Dr. Jennifer Gerndt joined the nonprofit in January when Stephanie Van Parrys retired after 18 years as executive director. Gerndt inherited a $2.8 million capital fundraising campaign, which is about to be put to use at the main Oakhurst campus of Wylde Center.

Beginning April 1, the Oakhurst campus will be partially closed as major renovations begin on the headquarters building and to the property itself.

Gerndt said new rain gardens and drainage would be added, but the biggest part of the project is making the building ADA-compliant and adding a 30-student classroom. While the plant market, composting and other parts of the garden will remain open, there will be limits and field trips are on hold. The work is expected to take eight months.

In the meantime, Gerndt said to expect more activation at the other gardens that make up the Wylde Center. She said many visitors to the Oakhurst garden, a staple in the Decatur neighborhood for 27 years, don’t realize there are four other unique properties to explore: the nearby Hawk Hollow, Edgewood Community Learning Garden, Sugar Creek Garden in Decatur, and Mulberry Fields in Candler Park.

“We hope people will take the time to explore these other gardens,” Gerndt said. “Each one has its own identity, and we’re hoping to host more events at those gardens.”

Gerndt said one of the biggest – and happiest – surprises on joining the Wylde Center is how each of the communities is

invested in their own garden.

“I’ve heard so many stories from parents who were brought to the Oakhurst garden when they were kids and are now bringing their own,” she said. “It’s incredibly exciting to see how communities have embraced the gardens.”

Gerndt brings with her 12 years of nonprofit leadership with almost three years as the executive director of the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta where she rejuvenated the language program and expanded cultural offerings, including the genesis of the now annual arts festival, Frühlingsfest, in Avondale Estates.

Most recently, Gerndt served as director of member services at the International Society of Arboriculture where she grew the membership and strengthened relationships with key stakeholders.

Holding a Ph.D. from Purdue University in German Linguistics, Gerndt has more than 20 years of experience working in education. Three years ago, she became a certified docent with Trees Atlanta and gives tours on the Atlanta BeltLine in her free time.

She said her love of nature actually began with her love of animals.

“My gateway into loving nature was my love for animals. Whenever I travel, I need to see what the native wildlife looks like. When you care about animals and their habitats, you care about the native plants and you see how everything is connected. That originated from childhood.”

Since part of Wylde Center’s mission is to teach people how to grow food, Gerndt’s other interest has also come into play.

“After moving to Atlanta, I began to really understand food deserts and food insecurity,” she said. “Where I live in East Atlanta is on the edge of a food desert, so

that has become something I’m eager to address at Wylde Center.”

Gerndt said her history with leadership and consulting in the nonprofit world made her transitions to Wylde Center easier.

“Nonprofits are very similar; they have similar stressors and problems to navigate,” she said. “The capital campaign adds an extra level of challenge, but I’m ready for the challenge.”

Gerndt described Wylde Center’s next

chapter as “very exciting,”and she’s eager to grow the number of people the nonprofit reaches and provides services to.

“The result of the changes will be more opportunities for the communities to engage with nature, learn about ways to help our environment, and grow their own gardens. I am so happy to come on board at this time in the organization’s history and be a part of this incredible step forward.”

Wylde Center Executive Dr. Jennifer Gerndt and views of the Oakhurst garden. (Photos by Isadora Pennington)

Sketching with Seniors connects generations through art

All it took was art supplies.

An effort to help seniors to combat isolation during the pandemic has evolved into an organization that has helped forge a lasting bond between generations.

When Campbell High School student Akanksha Manna witnessed her grandfather’s mental health struggles during the pandemic, she decided that art could be a great way to brighten his and other seniors’ lives during the long days of isolation.

She partnered with Pace High School student and artist Claire Jiang, and the non-profit group Sketching with Seniors was created, a youth-driven volunteer group that visits senior living centers and holds free arts enrichment classes.

“Our unique approach to using art as a way to reduce isolation and make connections is the fun and self-reflective part of it,” the Sketching with Seniors website said. “Volunteers and elders both benefit through this initiative as volunteers can learn skills on how to operate certain jobs in our organization, teach art and spread their passion for art while elders can make meaningful connections with younger people, interact with other elders and find peace in art while having fun.”

Jiang said the organization’s humble beginnings have now expanded to partnerships with 25 high school organizations serving about 15 senior living facilities.

“We started with sketching and then moved to incorporating crafts, watercolor drawings, card-making, guided drawing, and clay art,” Jiang said. “We’ve also started doing crocheting, which is an activity that is very familiar to many of our seniors.”

Sessions are generally about an hour or more, with the groups visiting facilities either every week or bi-monthly, she said. As the visits increase, so does the comfort level between the two generations.

“I feel like with the smaller senior centers we are really making a lot of connections,” Jiang said. “They are excited to see us come, and they know our names.”

She recalled a recent visit with a senior center resident who brought out an album containing copies of cartoons he created, many of which had been published in national newspapers. It evolved into a drawing class wherein he taught the youth how to draw cartoons.

“There are so many seniors who are super talented, and we are learning from them,” Jiang said.

The group has also reached out to partner with other like-minded organizations, like Fine Arts for All and the Hope and Dignity Community Center to create events that increase awareness and funding.

In early January, about 50 Sketching with Seniors volunteers held an event in conjunction with Hope and Dignity, providing food, clothing and art supplies to hundreds of families experiencing homelessness.

The group, whose executive board consists of high school students, has now expanded to include a parent and teacher advisory board. And since they have been granted 501c-3 status, the students have been able to attain several grants that will help them purchase more art supplies and expand their reach.

Visit sketchingwithseniors.com to learn more about volunteering or making a donation.

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Seniors and youth display art created during a recent Sketching with Seniors session. (Supplied)

The Regulars: Andre Blanchard makes Lucian his ‘third space’

Welcome to The Regulars, where we explore what it means to be a frequent restaurant patron. In this series, we’ll introduce you to everyday Atlantans and local characters who have found a sense of belonging and community at restaurants and bars around town and what keeps these regulars coming back week after week.

For restaurant regular Andre Blanchard, dining out is about more than the food.

“I go back to the same restaurants over and over again because of relationships I have with the people who work there,” he says while sipping a glass of champagne at the corner barstool he always occupies at Lucian. The Buckhead wine bar, owned by friends and neighbors Katie Barringer and Jordan Smelt, also features a small bookshop.

Blanchard visits the restaurant several times a month, sometimes for a meal or a glass of Cabernet Franc or Chenin Blanc. He peruses Barringer’s curated selection of books by some of his favorite authors, like chef and food activist Bryant Terry. Lunch might include briny oysters, whipped ricotta with chestnuts and bright citrus fruits, and a confit-style duck leg with borlotti beans and sugarloaf endive.

For Blanchard, Lucian operates as a third space because it’s open for lunch and dinner. It’s calm and bathed in natural light. Large windows frame the dining room at the corner of Peachtree and Pharr, with accents of dusty pink and plum and a 14-foot walnut bookshelf lining the back wall aglow with custom lighting.

On a sunny, 70-degree day in March, Blanchard sits at the bar dressed casually in a short-sleeved yellow button-up, olive

shorts, sandals, and a well-worn, Lucianbranded baseball cap. He took the bus from his home in Peachtree Hills and walked the additional six blocks to the restaurant, something he frequently does after long days working remotely from home in the utilities industry.

“We live in a city, and people forget so many of our best restaurants are easily accessible via public transportation, like Bread and Butterfly and BoccaLupo and all of those great spots in Inman Park,” says Blanchard.

He’s been a regular at Lucian since the friends and family night before the restaurant officially opened to the public in June 2021, but his friendship with Smelt spans more than a decade.

“I had just gone through a difficult breakup and walked into the old location of Holeman and Finch right by my house where Jordan was the general manager,” Blanchard recalls. “We started talking and have been friends ever since. Now we live a block apart, and I see him walking his dog in the neighborhood.”

Blanchard and Barringer cemented their friendship over drinks at the bar at the now-defunct Cakes & Ale in Decatur when Smelt was working there as the beverage manager.

While Blanchard will often dine solo, it’s not unusual to see him surrounded by people—either other regulars or restaurant staff. That’s the way he likes it, too.

“Andre is primarily a bar patron and loves the seat closest to the kitchen,” says Barringer. “Because he is friends with both the service and kitchen teams, this seat puts him at the center of everything and everyone.”

When she and Smelt showed Blanchard renderings of Lucian before it opened, they pointed to his now-favorite corner stool

telling him, “That’s where you’ll be sitting.”

But there’s another reason Blanchard posts up at the bar at Lucian and some of his other favorite Atlanta restaurants. It simply comes down to visibility.

“You don’t see a lot of Black men in these spaces, and people dining out are often looking for validation that they chose the right place, and seeing people who look like you can be a form of validation,” he says.

Blanchard has become an icebreaker at Lucian and other restaurants around Atlanta that he frequents, introducing newcomers to staff, recommending his favorite dishes, and striking up conversations with strangers. People want to connect after feeling so isolated during the pandemic. He considers himself the “man on the street” when it comes to Atlanta’s restaurant scene, quick to recommend his favorite spots, foods, and dining hacks to family and friends.

He wants to remind people that many times those hot and hard-to-get-into Atlanta restaurants have open bar seats and are great for lunch or an early dinner right around the 5 o’clock hour.

People will likely spy Blanchard having a weekend lunch at Staplehouse on Edgewood, drinks in the evening at Whoopsie’s on Moreland, and enjoying an early dinner or dining at the weekly pop-up at Aria in Buckhead, often with Barringer as his dining companion.

Rather than restaurant-hopping, dropping half a paycheck on a fancy meal, or chasing reservations at the trendiest new places, Blanchard prefers being a regular for its consistency.

“Just pick one place, whether that’s a farmers’ market or a coffee shop or a casual neighborhood restaurant, and keep showing up. It’s not that you’ll

get preferential treatment, but you’ll be invested in the restaurant and they’ll be invested in you.”

It’s more important than ever before, Blanchard says, that people dine out and support Atlanta restaurants, especially as beloved spots close or continue to struggle under the weight of rising rents and higher food costs.

In the early days of the pandemic, when restaurants were closed to diners, he did just that.

“It’s easy to complain when one of your favorite restaurants closes, but when was the last time you went there and showed up for them? [During the pandemic,] I was often the first person in line for takeout. These were places I wanted to still be around when we got to the other side of it.”

Nearly every week for months, Blanchard ordered the family meal of catfish, grits, and collard greens from Miller Union to enjoy a socially distanced picnic on a friend’s West End patio.

Barringer says that for small businesses like hers, “patronage is everything.”

Blanchard has not only been a regular diner and “gets” what they’re doing at Lucian but he’s been an active supporter of the wine bar and bookshop business since the beginning.

Blanchard revels in his longtime friends and Atlanta hospitality veterans finally fulfilling their dreams with Lucian Books and Wine in Buckhead.

“I’ve known Katie and Jordan for over a decade, and they stayed true to their vision,” he says. “I love that they were able to make this bookstore and wine bar and restaurant combination work and brought something new and raising the dining bar here in Atlanta.”

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Andre Blanchard is a regular at Lucian Books and Wine in Buckhead (Photo by Isadora Pennington). Lucian, a wine bar and bookshop combination in Buckhead (Photo by Isadora Pennington).

The Move: This month’s top food finds

ATL Chop at Frazie’s Meat and Market

2030 Main Street, Riverside, Atlanta

Think of the chopped cheese as the best parts of a griddled hamburger and Philly cheesesteak mashed together with melty American cheese, onions, peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes. I prefer this New York City bodega staple to a hamburger. Try the ATL Chop at Frazie’s Meat and Market in Riverside. It’s super juicy and comes with most of the traditional ingredients, including lettuce, sauteed onions and peppers, and tomatoes. Frazie’s uses Tillamook cheddar cheese and adds a savory sauce to the meat mixture, which gives the sandwich extra tang and a flavor boost. Opt for the potato salad as your side. Instagram: @fraziesmeatandmarket.


Monday night supper club at Wick and Nick’s

Mattress Factory Lofts, 300 MLK Jr. Dr.

I recently dined with two fellow food journalists at an intimate supper club on the edge of Grant Park. As with my discovery of Bovino After Dark last summer, I stumbled upon Wick and Nick’s on Instagram. Chefs Jared Warwick of Octopus Bar and Ben Skolnick of BoccaLupo launched Wick and Nick’s in 2021. There have been different iterations of Wick and Nick’s at restaurants like 8ARM (RIP), Whoopsie’s, and Octopus Bar. But the six-course Blueblood dinners held monthly at the Mattress Factory Lofts on Monday nights are where these two talented chefs shine. (Think bright pops of citrus flavoring live scallop ceviche served in its shell, a rich mousse of foie gras amping up the earthiness of

romanesco, and playful takes on classics like Duck A L’Orange.) Lit by the neon glow of red and purple lights, people mingle at tables scattered in the living room. Warwick and Skolnick work beyond their guests in the small kitchen, combining a dinner party vibe with a chef’s table experience for just 16 people. Instagram: @wickandnicks.

Cathead biscuits and breakfast at Pastries A Go Go

235 Ponce De Leon Place, Decatur

Shout out to Decaturish for reminding me to visit Pastries A Go Go again. The breakfast and brunch spot sports a similar vibe to that of Java Jive on the Atlanta side of Ponce. A cathead biscuit here is an absolute must, and you can’t go wrong with any of the generously portioned omelets. I enjoyed the vegetable omelet stuffed with peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and cheese

during a recent visit.

If you love an eggy breakfast sandwich, order a BEC topped with gouda cheese and thickcut smoked bacon served on a cathead biscuit. Pastry chef Bob Light and his wife opened Pastries A Go Go as a bakery in 1995 where they served baked goods, pastries, and coffee. It appears Light will turn the business over to Adriana Park and Narit McCrary soon, whom he’s been mentoring. They don’t plan to change Light’s menu, other than to add a few new items, including mimosas.

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$19.8 million Buckhead home sale makes Atlanta real estate history

A Buckhead home has made Atlanta real estate history with its sale price of $19.8 million.

Real estate broker Ben Hirsh represented the seller of 3391 Tuxedo Road in an all-cash, private transaction. Harvin Greene with Dorsey Alston Realtors

represented the buyers. The off-market deal, which closed March 12, sets the record as the highest recorded home sale price in Atlanta history, Hirsh said.

The prior two record holders were Tyler Perry’s home on Paces Ferry Road, selling for $17.5 million in 2016, and a home on Valley Road which sold for $18.1 million in 2021.

The 17,000 square foot home –described as “Scandinavian in style with a Japanese vibe in its flow” – was designed with minimalism in mind and plenty of space for a selection of art.

One of the striking elements of the three-level home is a sculptural, floating staircase that features an 18th-century Japanese charring technique called Shou Sugi Ban used to finish the wood cladding of the monolithic wall supporting the steps.

The sellers designed the home in collaboration with local design/build firm Siegel Construction and Design with interior design by Sherry Shirah from New Orleans.

Jackson Fine Art assisted in curating an extensive fine art photography collection for the home. Owner and curator Anna Walker Skillman commented, “The art collection becomes an integral part of a home when curated and placed correctly.”  So integral, in fact, that much of that collection is going to stay.

The 3+ acres of land surrounding the home were landscaped by garden designer Thibault Devillard of Terre Gardens.

“The home itself is a work of art and upon walking in, I knew it was exactly what my buyers were looking for,” Greene said, noting that the new owners sought privacy, manageable space, and a unique design transcending the ordinary.

This sale was also a milestone for Hirsh, who has surpassed the $1 billion mark in homes he has sold in his 20-year career.

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3391 Tuxedo Road in Buckhead set an Atlanta real estate record for its $19.8 million sale price. (Photos by Rob Knight courtesy of Hirsh Real Estate-Buckhead.com)

SATURDAY, APRIL 27 10 A.M. – 3 P.M.





A Weekend in Augusta

Beyond golf, Georgia’s second oldest city has its charms

Whether you’re going for the day or a weekend, Augusta makes for an easy drive from Downtown Atlanta, clocking in at just 2.5 hours.

However, unless you’re specifically going for the famed Masters Golf Tournament, which runs April 11-14 this year, you’ll want to pick another weekend. Masters Week is notorious for filling up every hotel and Airbnb in the vicinity of the city as golf fans converge on the Augusta National Golf Course. Many residents flee the city to avoid the crowds, so be warned as you’re making plans.

With the Masters out of the way, Augusta is a charming Southern city, which has a vibrant downtown and the promenade along the Savannah River is always busy with art and events.

Speaking of the Riverwalk, a great place to start your weekend is the Augusta Market on the River (theaugustamarket. com) – or the Saturday Market as the locals call it. You’ll find fresh food from local farmers and chefs, baked goods, artisans, and other goods. The market stretches from 8th Street down to the river.

One you’re done at the market, it’s the perfect time to take a stroll along the river enjoying the flowers and views of

the city. There are gardens, fountains and playgrounds for children, and restaurants to try as you explore.

Depending on what time of year you go, you might find other events happening on the river or a concert at Jessye Norman Amphitheater, which is named in honor of the opera diva and Augusta native.

If you want to learn more about the city’s history, visit the Augusta History Museum in downtown. Along with a timeline of the city and region’s history, you’ll also find exhibits about another music icon, James Brown, who called Augusta Home. There are also exhibits about the city’s history with golf and the railroad industry.

Another famous resident of Augusta was U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (wilsonboyhoodhome.org), who lived in the city from 1860 to 1870 while his father was pastor at the First Presbyterian Church. Tours of the childhood home are offered on the hour.

If you’re looking for fine art, The Morris Museum (themorris.org) holds a permanent collection of pieces dating from the early nineteenth century to the present. It also offers special exhibitions and special events throughout the year.

No trip is complete without checking out some of the local food. The southern-

style home cooking at Café 209 (cafe209aug.com) will fill you up for the day, while New Moon Cafe (newmoondowntown.com) roasts its own coffee and has good pastries to start your morning. The Pizza Joint (thepizzajoint.net) has been a staple of downtown for nearly 30 years offering pies, strombolis and calzones.

For something different, grab a cold beer at StillWater Taproom (facebook.com/ StillwaterTaproomAugusta), which also offers regular live music events.

Close out your weekend with a boat tour of the Augusta Canal in a Petersburg Boat (augustacanal.com). Well-informed guides narrate the open-air trips, highlighting the 19th-century textile mills, the Confederate Powder Works and two of Georgia's only remaining 18th Century houses as you float by.

Find out more at visitaugusta.com.

A tour of the Augusta Canal (Courtesy Explore Georgia) Downtown Augusta from the Riverwalk (Courtesy Destination Augusta)
Read more travel stories at RoughDraftAtlanta.com
The Saturday Market on the River (Courtesy Destination Augusta)
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Mountain Fun

Check out these events happening in North Georgia in April

Rhododendron Festival (Courtesy Hamilton Gardens)

Georgia Mountain

Storytelling Festival

Rutherford – will be on for a weekend of performances. Get more details at gamountainstoryfest.org.

The 10th annual event returns to the Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuga in Hiawassee, GA April 12-13. More than a dozen storytellers – including Len Cabral, Nestor Gomez, Michael Reno Harrell, Megan Hicks, and Anne Visit georgiamountainfairgrounds.com for more details.

Rhododendron Festival at Hamilton Gardens

While you’re in Hiawassee, be sure to check out the annual festival, which runs from April 12 to May 17 at the Hamilton Rhododendron Garden. More than 400 varieties of the flower will be in bloom.

BaconQue 24

A fun-filled day of food, vendors, and music awaits along Hamilton Street in downtown Dalton, GA. The event is set for April 20 starting at 10 a.m. As the name implies, there will be plenty of barbecue and bacon to sample. Find more details by searching for the event on Facebook.

Blue Ridge City Park. There will be fishing demonstrations, biking, kayaking, music, art, food and more. Visit blueridgemountains.com for more details.

Sassafras Artisan Market

Clayton, GA hosts this weekend of art and artisans from around the region on April 27-28. There are also art demonstrations, food, and more. Find out more at sassafrasartisanmarket.com.

Nicholson Daisy Festival

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Nicholson, located north of Athens, is known for its annual Daisy Festival, which is May 3-4 this year. The festival runs on Friday and Saturday. There is plenty of food, entertainment, games, auctions, raffle, cakewalks, pony rides, live music and more. Craft vendors are located throughout the park with all kinds of homemade items. The parade starts at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. When it can be worked out, there are ball tournaments all weekend at the ball fields.

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