V3 June 2019

Page 1


During FLAME FESTIVAL, flow arts performers open the door to curiosity and see what is on the other side.


The birth of your baby is one of life’s most important moments. It’s a time filled with hope and promise. At The Family Birth Center at Floyd, we understand. After all, we’ve been welcoming life’s first breath for almost 80 years. Today, our expert and caring team continues our commitment to provide the best experience possible, from family education to childbirth to newborn care and beyond. And, it’s all delivered in a safe, family-centered, state-of-the-art environment. Plus, you can take comfort in knowing the area’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit stands ready right here, 24/7. The Family Birth Center at Floyd, where mothers and babies always come first. • Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit • Expert medical team • Education and support classes • Lactation consultation


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As the weather warms, V3 columnist JIM ALRED recalls his love-hate relationship with one of his family’s All –American traditions.


From time to time, we meet someone who leaves our chins on the floor in amazement at their poise under fire and MONICA SHEPPARD says this amazing woman is certainly a jaw dropper.


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While many Christians in the United States interpret worship to mean singing songs or playing in a church band, there are some like ARTIST SANDRA AUGER who use other means of expression to give glory to God.


This month’s HARDY HOME is located minutes away from Downtown Rome and has the space for families who want to share their most treasured times with people they love.


Nestled in the hillside of Cherokee Farms is a gathering known as FLAME FESTIVAL that brings together motion, the arts and the goal of shattering limitations and setting them ablaze.

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Publisher's Note THE MERRY, MERRY MONTH OF MAY was intense

O W N E R & C E O Ian Griffin

this year and so I’m welcoming summer with open arms, hot weather included. Every so often you run into a year like 2019 has been for my family, a transition year to say the very least. My daughter graduated high school and will head off to college in August, my oldest son finished up sixth grade and makes the jump to middle school and my three-year-old informed me just the other day that the password to his dreams is slime and garbage. So yeah, my head is spinning from those first two examples. And do dreams really require passwords? Can other people view them? Can they be hacked?

I have so many questions about this subject. Seriously though, change can be tough. My daughter’s departure means one less plate at the dinner table, one less car in the driveway and the vacancy of an entire floor of our home. I’ll have to process her absence of course, but so will my wife and sons. So it is going to be a different dynamic with her off at school. Now, I can only imagine how we will handle her absence because it is hard to know how that will feel before it actually happens. When I left home, my sister and niece were living with my parents. They had been there since she was about three months old and she was two when I went off to school. I remember how badly I wanted to get out on my own and start my life, and while it was hard to say goodbye to all my friends and family, it was my little niece that tore my heart out to leave behind. Each day ushers in new developments when they are that young and I knew how much I would be missing out on between my visits home. I see that being the hardest goodbye for my daughter for those very reasons. She and our oldest son have grown up together. They will miss each other, but things are concrete in their relationship. She has watched him grow from a boy into a young man that is starting to get jokes you don’t expect him to. Carter, however, is changing by the second, and I remember how hard it was to leave knowing how much I would miss about the little important person in my life. So, I know those thoughts are going through her head as well. Luckily, the freedom from her mother and I’s constant nagging should help her through it. It also helps that she is calling Charleston, South Carolina home for the next four years, making the prospect of visiting often very desirable. Keeping those visits frequent and the offer to help her with her laundry over holidays from school should keep the band together, but inevitably this will be the end of one phase of our family and a start to the next. I don’t know if knowing the change is coming or the change itself is harder, but either way, it’s a parents cross to bear. I appreciate you all letting me share my trials and tribulations. Sometimes I wonder if I would maintain my sanity without this little outlet. If I can return the favor via insight into the passwords to our dreams I promise I will, but that coming to fruition depends on my three-year-old lab assistant so don’t hold your breath!

OWNER & CEO Ian Griffin


MAG DESIGN Laura Allshouse Ellie Borromeo

WRITERS Oliver Robbins, Jr., Jim Alred, Cassie LaJeunesse, McKenzie Todd, Rachel Reiff, Ian Griffin, DeMarcus Daniel, Monica Sheppard, Elizabeth Blount



AD SALES + CLIENT RELATIONS Chris Forino AD DESIGN Elizabeth Blount Ellie Borromeo

PUBLISHER V3 Publications, LLC

CONTACT 417 Broad Street Rome, Ga. 30161 Office Phone 706.235.0748 v3publications@gmail.com

CREATOR Neal Howard

Until next time.

READV3.COM ReadV3.com: Where you can now find all the print content from this issue, our archives and exclusive ReadV3 digital features. 8





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&LONG For The Love of the Game with Jim Alred





he thought strikes me about 10 minutes into the event, as the humidity begins to wrap itself around me like an oversized, wet blanket. As far as family traditions go, the Firecracker 5K in Sebring, Florida ranks as one of our more interesting. As a life-long distance runner, waking up at the crack of dawn on July 4th to participate in a road race while battling stifling heat and humidity doesn’t faze me much. I’ve finished the famous Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta a few times, granted it’s a 10K, 6.2mile race known for brutal conditions. Several years back, my sister-in-law discovered a 5K race existed about 20 minutes from my in-laws lake place and floated the idea of including it in our annual weeklong July 4th family festivities. The race fit right in with our typical boating, corn hole and ping-pong tournaments, egg toss, sack race, trying to blow ourselves up with fireworks traditions. I’m not sure we greeted the idea with 100 percent approval, but we did it. And for the better part of the last seven or eight years, some grouping of our family has participated in the race. Let me get this out of the way first. It’s not Peachtree. The Firecracker 5K is only 3.1 miles. It also exists in South Central Florida where hills are about as common as snowflakes. The course winds around Highlands Hammock State Park where racers are given phenomenal views of hardwoods and pines, palm trees and scrub trees as they wind their way through sandy and paved paths. The typical race start temperature hovers around 78 to 82 degrees and is often accompanied by humidity of what seems to be about 2,000 percent. Roughly 100 to 150 participants tackle the event each year and over our run (pun intended) at the event we’ve sometimes supplied double-digit participants.

RCB_EquityLoan2_V3ad.indd 1

Over the years our core group of myself, my wife, Tara, brother-in-law, Matt, sister-in-laws, Lena and Luciana, has competed multiple times. And while none of us have set the course on fire, we’ve often had at least one or two of us bring home age group trophies or medals. The fun parts about the race aren’t the course or the conditions, but the camaraderie it builds. Like when one of us declares very loudly that, “I’m not going to run that darn race ever again. Why do we even run it?” This usually happens sometime on July 3rd and on July 4th at about 5:30 a.m. as we drag ourselves out of bed. No one is brave enough at the time to remind my sister-in-law that she started the tradition. One of the most enjoyable aspects has been having extra family members join us in the endeavor. Both of my daughters have run it, as has my niece, Mellu. My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law have also participated, as has a family member from Spain. All three of them brought home awards when they participated. Numerous cousins have run as well, although three male cousins, including one who played collegiate basketball, have been conspicuously absent. They participate in all other July 4th festivities but have yet to be part of the race. Perhaps the greatest feat of any of us at the race came from my wife’s cousin, Kenny. Kenny isn’t a runner and probably wasn’t in great shape at the time, but he and his youngest daughter decided to join us in the event one year. Before the mile mark his daughter had had enough. The problem was the course doesn’t allow an easy way out. Once you get past the mile mark it’s almost faster to finish the course than retrace your steps.

Undaunted Kenny, who was wearing a nontraditional running outfit of cotton t-shirt and blue jean shorts at the time, hefted his daughter on his shoulders and ran/walked the rest of the race, even outkicking a few people near the finish line. While he didn’t win an age group award that day, I feel like his effort should go down in race history as one of the most heroic. One year, I ran a decent time, grabbed an age group medal and had the race director congratulate me on my outstanding time. Too bad the time was almost two minutes slower than I recorded the previous year. Another key staple of the race is to make sure we dress up in as much red, white and blue, star-spangled goodness as possible. I’m talking sacs, shorts, tank tops, sweat bands, bandanas, face tattoos, etc… The idea is to get as many compliments as possible on our festive attire, because honestly, we may not get many comments on our times. And grabbing the post race photo with the family members, who braved the race, is a necessity. So each July 4th our Facebook pages are swamped with photos of our group dressed very patriotically while looking tired and sweaty. But the key aspect of those photos has to be the huge smiles on our faces. No matter how much we whine and complain leading up to the race or the morning of the race, we always come together and finish it. And although we may all say never again somewhere before, during or even after the race, we know we’ll be back the next year. Because that’s what you do with traditions, even the odd ones that not everyone fully embraces. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.


V3 5/21/18 MAGAZINE 13 9:28 AM

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Tiger Lily with Monica Sheppard Adlynn Keith is the most accomplished 20-something that I know, and I’m not kidding. Not because she has cured cancer or figured out how to put humans on Mars or anything that huge. It is because she has fearlessly jumped with both feet into everything she has tried and mastered things that it would take the average person years to achieve, seemingly overnight. Adlynn knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a wedding planner. She liked to watch wedding shows like “Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway?” all the time, and was fascinated by the process. I think it is so cute to imagine her, the fourth of six children, watching the show and assigning superhero status to the planners who saved the day in each episode. The real superhero woman in Adlynn’s life, her mother Kim Watson, homeschooled all six kids at their Taylorsville, Ga. home, and when Adlynn turned sixteen, she encouraged her to intern at a wedding venue to see if that was truly something she would like to pursue. She ended up volunteering with Emily Turner at Stonewall Manor in Cartersville, Ga. for a couple of months, eventually settling into a paid internship. Just one year after Adlynn had started working at the venue, Emily needed to take maternity leave and asked Adlynn if she would fill her position. Yep, at 17, Adlynn was a full on full-time wedding planner, managing the most important day of numerous couples’ lives, all on her own. This was on top of dual-enrollment at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, where she graduated with an associate’s degree just one year after graduating from high school. So, at 17, full-time job, full-time school... but that’s not all. Adlynn’s family split their activities between Rome and Cartersville, driving to soccer practice and other activities for all six kids. Adlynn’s extracurricular choice was to study dance at Rome Civic Ballet starting in the sixth grade. When she graduated high school in 2013 the school’s director, Meredith Thomas, asked her to stay on and teach, and she has been an instructor there ever since. Keeping score that means, full-time job, full-time school, part-time teaching… but there’s more. When Emily came back to Stonewall Manor, she asked Adlynn to split the job with her so that she could work part-time. A friend at Rome Civic Ballet told her about a new venue opening in the Armuchee area that was looking for some help,

so Adlynn met with Quincy Maples at Burk Farm and was hired to shadow her and begin to learn the operation. Oh yeah, and she was nannying in the midst of all of that, too. I think we should stop counting now. I asked Adlynn if she ever felt that she was in over her head for her age. How could she not feel underqualified to take on such tremendous responsibility as a teenager? “Yeah, there was a time in those two years when I was still a student that my mom started to worry about me,” Adlynn admits. “You’re going to burnout, she warned. “I was going from school three days a week, or nannying the other two, to teaching at Rome Civic Ballet. Then on Friday I would have a wedding rehearsal. Saturday I would have an all-day wedding and then on Sunday I would either crash or have another wedding.” “My mom was concerned, but I’ve always liked having my hands in a lot of different pots and I couldn’t decide what I liked best or what to give up,” she recalls. It is important to notice how she doesn’t talk about ever feeling intimidated, or feeling that she didn’t have the skills to do the job. When I asked point blank about those kinds of feelings, she said they could creep in occasionally, but that she always tries to focus on solving the problem in front of her and plow forward, leaving no room for such self-doubt. I don’t know about you, but I am getting confused and stressed just writing about her life. I can’t imagine living all of the responsibilities she was taking on at such a young age. When I was 17 I had a part-time job and sort of played basketball. When I talk to Adlynn about her teenage years, I feel like a real underachiever.

Did I forget to mention that, in the midst of all of that stuff, she long-distance dated and eventually married her husband Braden? They had known each other as children before Braden’s family moved away, and thanks to Facebook they had kept in touch over the years. He ended up moving to Rockmart, Ga., and a few months after she moved to Rome, he bought a house and they got engaged and married. Not long after they married, Braden was offered the opportunity to buy a web technology company, now called Romega Digital. Oh, and that was right about the time that she was having hip repair surgery and they were planning to travel across the country in an RV for a year while she recuperated. With the business investment, that trip became a couple of month-long stints on the road while he worked to develop the new project. They then decided to turn their house into an Airbnb knowing they could live in the RV when it was rented out. They quickly had the home rented most of the time, then bought the neighbor’s house to do the same. Are you tired yet? I know I am, but not Adlynn. While attending a web conference in Las Vegas in 2017, Braden mentioned to Taylor Otwell, a framework developer who was planning his own conference called Laracon, that Adlynn was an event planner and he should call her if he needed help with the event. She thought he was crazy for mentioning it; she had zero experience with that kind of event, and was sure nothing would come of it. But, about a month before the 2018 event, Taylor tweeted Braden and asked if she would be willing to coordinate the conference for him. “He had planned all of it, but needed someone to execute it, hosting 800 people in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, a 15-acre facility,

over several days,” she recalls. “All I could think was, how do I say no to that?” Adlynn jumped in (remember that is what she does) and pulled it off swimmingly. She and her parents had planned to go sightseeing during the conference, but instead, they became her staff and together they spent three days managing everything from meals, to speaker flights, to after-parties and more. This year she is helping from the beginning to plan the event in the Playstation Theater in Times Square in New York with 850 attendees. She’s still doing weddings, still teaching dance and calls this just another part-time job. Color me intimidated, but this 24-year-old dynamo is thrilled for the opportunity and the challenge of such a huge event. I asked if anything went wrong that first year (how could there not be problems in that scenario?) and she described a tense moment at the start of the event. “We started about two minutes late because some planned staff didn’t show up and we had to check in 800 guests while short-handed, but I decided that wasn’t too bad,” she said. I have to agree. One thing Adlynn has learned about herself is that she seems to thrive on the stress of others. There is rarely a wedding issue that she hasn’t already encountered, but for most brides it is the first time they have experienced any of it. “If somebody says, ‘My dress ripped!’ I can immediately say no big deal, I’ve sown seven brides or bridesmaids into their dresses,” she laughs. Starting at a young age, being willing to tackle anything and never looking back no matter how scary things may seem have made Adlynn a true Wonder Woman in my eyes. I can’t wait to see where the whirlwind will take her from here. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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reen South Irrigation is a locallyowned business with Cooper Evans currently at the helm. The operation was started in 1998 by his father, David Evans, who gave the business its current philosophy. The elder Mr. Evans was working on a golf course in Atlanta, Ga. and used what he learned to begin a landscaping business here in Rome. The Evans, being a mission-minded family, took a leave of absence for a short time to travel abroad and help those people in need. So, they chose to spread beauty around the world and not just for their Roman neighbors and friends.




Cooper resurrected the business back in 2017 and rebranded it with a focus on irrigation. He also changed the name to today’s Green South Irrigation. The company performs residential and commercial irrigation systems, providing their services to a wide range of areas in Northwest Georgia, even servicing areas of Alabama as well. Cooper also added landscape lighting to the company’s already long list of outside services to improve the look and feel of your backyard. Irrigation systems, also known as sprinkler systems, are underground tubing for turf and plants. An advancement from the old style of a hose connected to a sprayer head or holding the hose in your hand and watering yourself, irrigation systems

work consistently and automatically. The goal is to minimize the risk of over watering almost completely. Green South Irrigation installs smart irrigation systems. These systems are built for efficiency, meaning they are less expensive to run, have shorter run times and provide better coverage than many non-smart systems. They also save most customers 30 to 40 percent on their water bills. “We focus on the cost effectiveness side of things and our service is focused on maintenance of the system and your yard. We like to provide what we call ‘a higher grade of care,” explains Cooper. Oftentimes, people are not educated about irrigation or just how important it truly is.

"My goal was to offer a competitive alternative to businesses like mine in Rome. My goal is to really try to educate customers on what irrigation is and why it is so important. In order to do that, we had to learn to conduct ourselves with integrity, honesty and topnotch customer service. "

“Irrigation is used to maintain agriculture. For example, Rome usually has a sufficient amount of rain that comes seasonally. Also, because of the valley we are in, we also receive a ton of heat. It’s extremely humid and it can kill most vegetation. Our job is to water as necessary, not keeping your system on daily or for large amounts of time, but as necessary. Overwatering will kill the landscape. That is something people do not understand. People will go out, see brown grass and immediately think ‘I need to put more water on it.’ But a lot of times, it’s dying because it was overwatered. Yes, it’s true. You can and will kill your yard by overwatering it. Soil has perforation grades that change depending on what the composition of the soil is. If you can, visualize your soil as a flower vase, especially the soil in Rome. Now imagine you open up a fire hydrant to fill that vase. The vase will fall over, or it will fill up way too fast. Either way, it just can’t handle too much water. You can only fill that vase so much and all of the additional water is waste, and detrimental to the soil and what grows from it,” says Cooper. “We want our customers to know what’s going on. When you spend your hard-earned money on making your yard look great, you want it maintained properly. That is what we do.” Cooper further explains, “In a world where some contractors are out to rip you off in some form or




fashion, we strive to be totally open and honest. We always provide estimates, including communication about what you are being charged for, broken down clearly. There’s no mystery in what we are doing. It’s very open and very honest. My goal was to offer a competitive alternative to businesses like mine in Rome. My goal is to really try to educate customers on what irrigation is and why it is so important. In order to do that, we had to learn to conduct ourselves with integrity, honesty and top-notch customer service. “Educating customers about irrigation is a goal we are still striving towards,” Cooper continues. “We also want to continue building relationships with landscapers. Combining a landscaper with our services will equate to happier customers and betterlooking landscaping because we know how to water it and install it properly. Also, a lot of landscapers will not provide a warranty on a landscape job without an irrigation system. There will be less frustration and less having to go back and fix things. Educating our customer base is definitely something we want to expand in the future. When we started the company again two years ago, we had three customers. Now we have 200-plus customers. It’s a big deal to have a large number of returning customers. It proves that we are totally customer oriented and everything that we do is about our customers. With us being on your property two to three times a year, we want

to maintain and take care of the system and build a relationship with our customers.” With technology advancing, education is of the utmost importance. Cooper speaks on one of the more elaborate systems Green South Irrigation offers. “One of our most elaborate systems involves the use of MPRs (Matched Precipitation Rotators); that’s the head that we install. It is a highly efficient head. It has calculated percentages for water distribution to the soil and plants. It has WiFi, so I, from my computer in the office, can adjust the customer’s systems, including powering zones up or down. The system alerts me of breaks in the line and other issues that help with diagnosing problems early on. Our products have greatly changed in the last five years. Managing systems from the office has gotten better and keeps getting better. As we grow, our guys are making huge strides to become more knowledgeable.” The Green South Irrigation team has many different service talents among the group. “We are constantly developing the character of our employees. There are consequences for being disrespectful to customers, and there is an expectation to carry forth the honor and integrity of Green South Irrigation. That is how we do business. Every member of the team carries a different type of care to customers, different relationships, different humor and integrity. What we do is hard work; our bodies are always sore.

It is hard to find employees to dedicate themselves to this type of labor and respect that integrity. We make mistakes, we do things wrong, it happens in this line of business. We fix it and we maintain our relationships with our customers,” says Evans. “We were missionaries, so we love people; people are our heart. Loving people, listening to people and creating relationships is what we do best. When I came back from the mission work, I wanted to figure out a way to be around people. I had a few options, like being a worship leader, playing music in church or serving in soup kitchens. With me being a man with a family, I came up with a way to build relationships and serve people while making money and taking care of my family,” Cooper says with a satisfied smile. He also speaks highly of Green South Irrigation’s, Manager Richie Heyward. “Richie is my main man. He has a certification with the IA (Irrigation Association of America) which is a really big deal. The certification is a 60-hour course. Richie is one of only a few people to have this certification in our immediate area. Richie’s impact on everything is tremendous. The customers love Richie. The other guys love Richie and he trains all of our employees and staff. He keeps everyone’s morale up,” says Cooper. Cooper speaks on the expansion of the company. “Another service we provide is landscape lighting. We use LED lighting, not the older style halogen light systems. Halogen lighting is extremely expensive to run with average daily costs being approximately $1.50 and adds up to around $500 or $600 a year. The LED lighting that we use is thirty-five cents per year, per bulb and about $50 per year. That is a noticeable and incredible financial saving, as well as a significant increase in energy savings. The LED is 26



extremely efficient and safer. If a line were to get cut, there is less of a fire hazard and less of a shock hazard than the older halogen systems. Landscape lighting systems can also add equity value to your home.” Green South Irrigation performs free demos

and CAD (Computer-Aided Design) designs of your lighting system. “Landscape lighting provides beauty, safety and security to your home. We have over 20,000 light fixtures to pick from. The systems can be operated from a tablet or your phone, including dimming and brightening of the lights. You can also control the lights by zones and by areas,” Cooper explains. He also says that, “the landscape lighting allows us to experiment with our artistic side. We are all musicians and we can release that artistic urge in our souls on the landscape lighting layout. I mean, the irrigation systems can be artistic in its designs and coverage but the landscape lighting can give immediate gratification in in effectiveness and beauty. We really love to show out with it when we can.”

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Sandra Auger shares her passion for art as a means to worship God. TEXT RACHEL REIFF PHOTOS CAMERON FLAISCH





t is a crisp, spring morning and every single WinShape Foundation employee fills the dimly lit gymnasium on the Berry College mountain campus for the annual employee event called One Conference. The Christian non-profit, which aims to shape winners in life, is comprised of six different ministries and serves the community through camps for kids, marriage retreats for couples, loving homes for children in Foster Care, team building programs for companies and more. This morning, a crowd of almost 1,000 rises to their feet. As the colored lights begin to spin, the worship band takes the stage and soon the praise music begins to swell. Another woman takes the stage with the band, but instead of picking up an instrument, she does something surprisingly different. She picks up a paintbrush. Sandra Auger, who serves on the hospitality team at WinShape, is an artist and worship painter who uses her paintings during church services to showcase God’s love. “People are under the false impression that there are only a few certain ways to worship,” explains Auger. “Really, if you’re working in the gifting that God gave you and sharing it with the world to show people that God loves them, then you are worshipping.” Auger has been an artist all of her life and credits her early training and inspiration to her grandfather. “I was born and raised in France. And my grandfather was painter. Out of six grandkids, I was the only one who showed an interest in [art]. So while he would paint, and everyone else would be playing...I would just sit and watch [him]. I was just fascinated by the process,” she says. “And so he would give me things to do. Like he would give me a little easel, a little




canvas and show me how to do something and ask me to replicate it. And at age five, I could; whereas my sisters who were age 15 and 16 couldn’t. So he realized there was something there to nurture.” But using her art as a means of worshipping God never occurred to Auger until about 20 years ago when she, her husband and their daughter were living in and attending a church in San Diego, Calif. “We started to do a worship night about every three months or so; it was called Beyond the Veil. People came and went as they pleased. It wasn’t a sermon or anything. It was just about an hour and half of worship. And [the worship leader] really did value the different venues that people use to worship. And he said to me, ‘would you be willing to paint?’ I was like, ‘I’ve never done it before, in that context. But sure, I’ll give it a try.’ I did it, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s one of the most freeing things I could do...to be able to express myself to God in a way I knew how.” After moving around the states during her husband’s almost 30-year military career, Sandra and her husband, Chris, finally settled in Rome, Ga. last year and they both began working for WinShape. Every year, the non-profit gives every employee three days off to attend the company-wide conference designed to build unity. One Conference features inspirational speakers, delicious food and Christian worship. Auger says that when she was asked to be a surprise addition to the worship experience, she was elated. Yet Auger takes the process of worship painting seriously, and she diligently prepared before the actual event. “I do research. I’m not a prophetic painter who just gets up there and puts whatever on a canvas that they feel the Holy Spirit is showing

"Really, if you’re working in the gifting that God gave you and sharing it with the world to show people that God loves them, then you are "


them. While people do that, and they do it very well, it’s not me,” shares Auger. To her, the process begins first by praying and then spending time reading the Bible. Then she looks up techniques and other artists, following blogs and watching videos on YouTube. “I follow this one lady who does painting on glass with a sandblaster. I follow another artist who is from China and she takes bubble paper...she injects color and paint into each little bubble, so it’s like a pixel. And when you stand away from it you can see the whole picture. I get ideas from everywhere and everyone. I don’t just follow one artist, one type. I really try to learn from everything,” she says. Abstract styles are Auger’s favorite medium though, and she feels that is the style in which she is most gifted. But that doesn’t stop her from challenging herself. For the One Conference, she decided to paint with palette knives, a technique that she is not entirely comfortable with. “I had tried it a couple of times a few years ago [with a small canvas], and it didn’t go very well. I was a little discouraged, so I put it down for a while,” she says. “But watching people on YouTube...it kept fascinating me, and I could not let it go. So to me, that is the Holy Spirit saying, ‘You really need to pursue this.’ When something




keeps coming up over and over and over again, you probably need to pay attention. “So I thought to myself, okay, God, I’m in,” she continues. “Teach me how to do this.” After weeks of working up the courage, Auger bought a couple of palette knives and throwaway canvases and started practicing. “There were a couple of times when I felt like throwing the canvas across the room,” she laughs. “But at the end of day, I knew if I didn’t do it this way, I wasn’t going to be happy with myself. So I decided to go all in; whether people liked it or not. That is not mine to worry about. Mine is to be obedient to the vision that God gave me.” On the morning of the One Conference worship, Auger’s nerves threaten to get a hold of her. “Even though I know it’s [only for God], the nerves can still take over. The worship team that was up there was in the green room with me. And we were talking…I told them I hadn’t done it in a while and that I was nervous. And they said they were nervous, too. Their vulnerability made it so much more doable. Something clicked,” she says. “So we get on stage. They start playing, and my hands are shaking. And all of a sudden, all I could hear in my head is, ‘Just Worship.’ So I actually started singing before I started painting. I was just worshipping. Then all of a sudden, my hands stopped shaking, I felt peace completely come over me. And it was just me and God.” During this special experience, Auger heard another message from God, she says. “God reminded me that he’s an artist as well. The very first thing in Genesis talks about it. The first thing that God did is he created. So, I just asked the ultimate artist what to do. He showed me that I wasn’t the artist; I was the canvas because the canvas doesn’t paint itself. So I asked him, ‘what’s the point of all this?’ And I remember hearing this clearly in my head. The purpose of a canvas is to reflect the will of the artist. Period. This message rings true not only for Auger, but she hopes for every audience that witnesses her worship painting. She explains: “My hope for the [audience] is they become fully alive in the gifting that God has given them to show the world that he loves them. People think worshipping has to be done on stage. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. Use your gifting to worship God every day. Your gifting could be cooking; [you can] take a meal to a friend. Your gifting could be ministry of presence, when someone’s going through a hard time and they just need somebody to listen, and you’re a good listener. That is a gift.” She smiles. “Whatever your gift is that God has blessed you with, use it to bless others so your canvas will reflect who he is.”




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top a hill in a quiet neighborhood just behind Shorter University stands a two-story brick Georgian home. As you approach the property from the bottom of the half-circle driveway, it is easy to notice the beauty of the structure and the lush, green yard in which it is situated. The marble floors, high ceiling and pale-blue patterned wallpaper of the entryway provide a light and welcoming environment as soon as the front door is opened. The curved staircase, its dark wood bannister and steps contrasting with the white of the trim, catches the eye. The beauty of the house is evident from the moment you crack the front door, but this home is more than just four walls to Gin Gunther, who grew up there with her two siblings, Marchant and Harlan, and their parents. Gin hopes that this home will become a place where a future family can create the same happy memories she cherishes. Now on the market, 3 Ridgewood Road, Rome became the home for this property in 1961. Dr. Harlan Starr and his wife Nancy had a hand in every aspect of the house’s creation, working closely with architect James Godwin from Atlanta. According to Gin, everything from the width and wood of the hardwood floors to the marble and brass door fixtures throughout the house was handpicked by the Starrs during the design process. Across the entryway from the front door is a short hallway leading to a patio and garden out back. Dr. Starr was an avid gardener and took great pride in the landscaping of the property, which backs up to the Shorter University campus. The patio features a brick wall with a fountain and a small parterre garden to the left side. Gin fondly remembers cookouts, parties, Easter egg hunts and



even her own wedding reception celebrated on this back patio. Also, in the back of the house is a separate structure, added in 1965. Gin refers to this as the playroom: an open, carpeted room with paneled walls where the family kept a pool table and a ping-pong table. A vaulted ceiling and ample lighting from a large window at the back gives the room a cozy feel. The building also features a bedroom, bathroom and a corner kitchenette area perfect for entertaining. “My friends were always welcome here,” Gin says. “I had to be home at 11 p.m., but I could have my friends over. We made a space for relaxing and bonding right here at my home.” When the addition was being planned, the family also added a greenhouse in the back for Dr. Starr’s plant collection. Each room inside the main house features elegant, classic details. From the walls of the library, to the left of the entryway, the Starrs chose heart of red gum wood, lined at the top with intricate, hand-carved dentil molding. The library features built-in shelves, a fireplace and even a secret bar in the paneling, making it a cozy room in the wintertime and year-round. The suite behind the library includes a spacious bedroom, bathroom and ample closet space. On either side of the back hall, open living areas with large windows offer stunning views of the yard. Fireplaces in both living rooms contribute even further to the classic feel of the house. Some of Gin’s fondest memories took place in the “blue room,” including every Christmas day celebration since she was nine years old. Once she had a family of her own, they would head to “Grandmere” and “Haha’s” house every Christmas for presents, family time and a big Christmas dinner.


“Food was always a big part of this house,” Gin recalls. “Mama was a great cook.” Anyone who shares the Starr’s love of cooking is sure to appreciate the kitchen in this home; it is both spacious and comfortable. Gin has fond memories of dinner parties held in the house, a scene that’s easy to picture when walking through the elegant dining room. Connecting the entryway to the kitchen, this dining room offers dinner guests a spectacular view of the property, which blooms in every season with dogwood, azalea, peonies, crepe myrtles, camellias and more. The open and easy floor plan design makes this room and the rest of downstairs level ideal for entertaining. “I remember I would sit at the top of the steps and listen to the voices and laughter at the parties,” Gin smiles. The aforementioned curved staircase leads to the second floor, a half circle landing with four doors situated around it. The second floor has four bedrooms: a master suite that opens up to the balcony overlooking the patio, with two dressing rooms and a bathroom; two bedrooms with connecting dressing rooms and a shared bathroom; and an additional bedroom. Each room features built-in shelving and cabinets, providing ample storage space. Of the two connecting bedrooms, one faces out over the front lawn and one over the back garden. The master suite and one other bedroom upstairs have a door leading to a balcony, off of which both Gin and her sister tossed their bouquets during their wedding receptions. Other features of the house include two garages, a basement and a more recently installed elevator with access to all three floors. Though she admits that the process of selling the house she grew up in has been an emotional one, Gin is hopeful that this house will be as special to its new owners as it has been to her and her family. “It was a wonderful place to grow up,” she says. “I would love for a family to live here. It’s a very livable house and it is perfect for creating life-long memories.” For additional information about the property or to schedule a showing, please contact Hardy Realty at 706-291-4321.



Flame If diving deeper into flow arts is something you desire, FLAME festival is a retreat where organizers aim to make you feel right at home. TEXT OLIVER ROBBINS, JR. PHOTOS CAMERON FLAISCH







since the beginning of mankind’s quest to survive and define what their role is in nature, there has been an insatiable need to discover the world around them. Through trial and error, animals that walked upright used their curious minds to pull back the edges of the unknown and conquer the elements. They learned to expand their reach by harnessing the beauty around them. Soon, the will to create art to please the spirit sprang forth ushering in a new goal, a new direction and a new level of discovery. Nature would not only be a means for nourishment, transportation and basic necessities, it would become the vehicle for finding inner peace and inspiration. Today, that journey continues. From the majestic mountains created by the crust of the earth grinding together and climbing to the heavens, to river waters that tumble over each other as they burrow through the valleys, the blueprint to combine human ingenuity with gifts from the land opened the door for purpose beyond functionality.

Primitive cave drawings and cathedrals cast from the visions of masters all paved the way for people to push the boundaries for what is possible, and those limits continue to be fluid; they are never clearly defined. Nestled deep in the foothills of Appalachia is proof that art, motion and sharing the experience with the world is alive and well, along with the people who keep the wheels of art evolution in motion. What started as a group of performers who wanted to lean on impossible and push the peak to the side with hopes of making it attainable to others has grown into the largest gathering of flow arts performers on the east coast. And just what are flow arts, you may ask? Well, it is the perfect example of ignoring comfortable limits, with the goal to fill the world with beautiful people doing beautiful things. FLAME Festival is an annual gathering of aspiring flow artists, fire performers and instructional specialists who find a home at Cherokee Farms in Lafayette, Ga. every spring. This year, the FLAME

Festival family settled in during the month of April. Organized by the Flow Arts Institute, FLAME Festival is just one of the many retreats and workshops the organization offers throughout the year centered on movement-based disciplines. Those disciplines include, but are not limited to belly dancing, circus performance skills, fan dancing, hula hoop or hooping, juggling, sphere manipulation, staff spinning and a unique skill that those in the know call Poi. Before getting into the characteristics of each discipline, it helps to know how this movement has grown and to understand the overall goal of the Flow Arts Institute. For the back story, Nick Garcia who serves as the General Manager for FLAME Festival, talks about how he was introduced to flow arts. “I am from Marietta, Ga. I was not born here in Georgia, but this is where many of my memories originate,” says Garcia. “I now live in Florida, so coming back for this event is always nice for me. I started learning about flow arts through my work with Poi, and that sort of started my journey.”

"I saw a lot of the things I was trying to learn, and the environment was safe and really geared towards educating people who want to know more about flow arts."




Poi is a flow art that uses a technique involving two ropes, and on the ends of the ropes there are two weighted spheres. Much like the pendulum of a clock, the artist uses the weight of the spheres to swing the ropes from side to side and in circles. More advanced artists add fire to the spheres, creating trails of brightly colored flames as the ropes spin in rhythm. “So, I started going to gatherings where people were really practicing intentionally,” Garcia continues. “Then they started talking about the cool new idea that was coming together and it was still pretty new back in 2010. I was invited by some friends, friends who shared by passion, to an event where they were going to take a few classes in flow arts. It was at that flow arts festival where I experienced a huge personal pivot in my life. I saw a lot of the things I was trying to learn, and the environment was safe and really geared towards educating people who want to know more about flow arts.” Garcia has a background in sales and marketing. He said that the combination of flow arts and the event management side of hosting the festivals was what eventually drew him in to what he has called a career for the past nine years. “My introduction to flow arts was mainly through the Burning Man community,” Garcia recalls. Burning Man is similar to FLAME in that the time spent there is about self-discovery through the arts. However, the intent of FLAME Festival is strictly focused on movement and learning how to grow as an artist. The winding gravel road that slithers through the countryside of Cherokee Farms eventually opens to a field of bodies in motion. Twirling staffs, juggling batons and hoops fitted with torches not yet on fire flip and fly through the space; all senses are stimulated. Around the circle of performers, who are novice and professional, are tents displaying their wares. Art is everywhere and everyone is art. Lean ladies dangle from ribbons tied to supports and spin like slender spiders caught in the wind. Their legs paint pictures of power and control. Jugglers toss torches to one another as a hooping artist rolls a hula hoop across her back as if it is attached to her shoulder blades. Poi spin round and round in the hands of performers as their bodies bend and move in the space allowed by their tools. The staffs whip around the necks and arms of their wielders as if they are taking center stage for a forbidden dance. There is danger, there is beauty. There is skill and there is curiosity. The sights set the scene for FLAME Festival and observing is not an option. If you bought a ticket you are here to learn and to become fully immersed in the culture of flow arts. “In 2012 I attended my first FLAME Festival and I wanted to make sure I was absorbing as much as I possibly could. This gathering started in 2011 by a gentleman named Ky Lee. He was also a mentor to me,” says Garcia. “He really opened me up to advance dPoi moves and we always had really intentional conversations.” 48



Garcia says that production for the retreat starts about six months out. Since the goal is to provide a better learning environment for flow artists, Garcia and his crew focus on ways to bring in more instructors and offer more to eager guests. Just adjacent to the center of the festival grounds is the camping area reserved for those who are planted in the field from Thursday until Sunday. On Sunday, the festival goers pack up and head back to their homes located across our nation and beyond. Woven throughout the campground are workshops and learning opportunities. There is also a space where chow is served. Security is tight, because this is not a place focused on a party. Attendees are strongly encouraged to participate. From fire walking to yoga, there is something for people who want to expand their understanding of the arts. “Our classes during the day focus on skill development. We use this time to teach the technical manipulation of a prop. We also talk about performance and persona management. We tackle topics like gaining the confidence to go out and do these things in front of an audience. These are the parts of this festival that are easy to see. What is harder

to quantify is the internal growth we hope to inspire in others. They are out here learning, and since we are a very close group who stays in touch with each other, we build relationships within our community of artists. We want our guests to look inward and decide what this all means to them,” Garcia says. From the popular traveling non-conventional circus act, Cirque du Soleil, to professionals who travel the world and teach flow arts, everyone at FLAME Festival is there to teach and to learn. At the end of each day of instruction and just after the sun sets, there are galas and what they have named, “Flowcases” where more skilled performers dip their tools in fuel and light the fire. Crowds gather to watch and to be inspired and they work with tools of their own. Since safety is priority, no one under the influence of alcohol is allowed inside of the fire circle, and all wishing to participate with live fire must take the safety class and be certified. All around, specially trained fire handlers are watching with a careful eye to ensure that no flame gets out of control. “From the hospitality staff to our leadership, this is all about forming relationships with others

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who enjoy the flow arts. We have friends from around the world, and guests from 20 to 70 years old who join us and have become a part of our family. We try to keep the festival small so that we can be sure to maintain those close relationships,” smiles Garcia. “We know that each person here wants to learn, and this philosophy has been what has made this one of our most successful events. In the end, it is all about the people who are involved. We are always looking for people who have that spark and who are really impacted by flow arts. So, we want to keep uplifting that feeling. This is a family and they are always included in our family.”




See V3's summer 2019 issue of GRAND magazine for columnist Nina Lovel’s firsthand experience at FLAME Festival. For more information about flow arts and Flame Festival find them on Facebook (FLAME Festival 2019), on Instagram @flame. festival, or on the web at FLAMEfestival.com.

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