NWGA'S PREMIER FEATURE MAGAZINE JANUARY 2016
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Are you disappointed with the New Year’s television programing around bowl game season? J. Bryant Steele says a new contest is the last thing on his Christmas list.
Holly Lynch is not wild about Pantone’s new color choices this year; however, she is hopeful that they blend into the year without muddying the water.
One of Rome’s oldest places of worship, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has received a gentle face lift. Let’s look at its little light shine.
Whoever says angels aren’t real should ask one of the lucky dogs rescued by three ladies with a passion for helping pets in distress.
When thinking of a vacay to start your new year, Ken Callaway and Bryan Blalock explain why you should try trading in your flip-flops and sunscreen for climbing shoes and harnesses.
Discover how Dr. Chip Reed found the preventive medicine for Mother Earth by forming the Georgia/Alabama Land Trust.
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I recently took my 8-year-old son to watch our favorite team, the Florida Gators, play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, Ga. The past four years, we have made a trip down to Gainesville, Fla., and I had strategically chosen a “cupcake” game so that my stress levels wouldn’t be pushed and I could just enjoy the game with my son. That strategy back fired on me three out of four of those trips. The first, against the mighty Furman Paladins, ended up in a blowout, but the Gators were down 19-7 at the end of the first quarter, so it wasn’t a walk in the park. The second required a blocked punt return for a touchdown
Owner&CEO Ian Griffin
Mag Art & Design Ellie Borromeo
Editorial Manager Oliver Robbins
against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. And the third resulted in an embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern. We did get an easy win against Eastern Kentucky last season, but with three out of four going down to the wire, I decided to trash my “cupcake” plan and take him to a big-time game. Before I pat myself on the back too much, the Gators had little to no chance of beating Alabama this year, and going to a game expecting to lose is a lot less stressful than expecting to win. While my prior strategy was put in place to ensure that my son had a good time at the game, it was also a selfish decision. I am a die-hard fan. My son just wants to Gator chomp, eat cotton candy, and get some over-priced souvenirs, while I want to watch and analyze every snap. If we lose the game, he is over it in seconds, while the heartbreak stays with me forever. That may change for him as he gets older; it may not. All I want is for him to look back and remember having a ball at the games. So in order to take him to a game like the SEC Championship, I had to let go a little bit and accept that if a No. 2 presented itself during the potential game-winning drive, I would have to remove myself from the game and escort my little prince to the lovely and “clean” facilities at the Georgia Dome. So, I went into the game mentally prepared for such a situation, and that, my friends, is about the most selfless act I can achieve. I know my child well … and this fear became reality. Luckily, it occurred during the second quarter instead of the fourth. And while the score was still close, it was obvious Bama was going to win, so that made it easier. It didn’t hurt that the Dome has a flat screen broadcasting the game in every bathroom and, in my opinion, the person who suggested that deserves a gold star. We flew our Gator flags on the ride there and back, we sang the fight song and we got our butts whipped by the better team. We enjoyed the experience and, in the end, the 35-year-old grew up a lot more than his 8-year-old counterpart. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year for you all.
Contributing Editor Tannika Wester
Writers J. Bryant Steele, Oliver Robbins, Erin deMesquita, Holly Lynch Corinna Underwood, Louis Spivak, Luke Chaffin
Executive Photographer Derek Bell, MFA 706.936.0407
Contributing Photographers Christian David Turner Cameron Flaisch
Ad Sales & Client Relations Chris Forino, Diana Davis Morgan
Ad Design & Marketing Concepts Ellie Borromeo, Christian David Turner
Publisher V3 Publications, LLC
Contact One West Fourth Avenue Rome, Ga. 30161 Office Phone 706.235.0748 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cents & Sensibility with J. Bryant Steele
s you read this, you may be feeling bowled over. It’s January, after all. There were 40 college bowl games this winter, packed into just two weeks. That’s 80 teams. Two teams from the same conference played each other in a bowl game. A number of teams barely had to travel to get to their bowl. Let that sink in as you digest your holiday leftovers and shake off the cobwebs of the New Year’s champagne. Chances are you never heard of the teams on the field. Chances are at least
one team didn’t even have a winning record in the regular season, but there was an over-caffeinated announcer selling the bowl game like a used-car salesman with a surplus of Ford Pintos. The reasons are plenty. One, there are sufficient morons in America looking for any excuse to sit around a TV, with beer cans and stale pretzels at hand, to watch the Bangor Mites take on the Juneau Whizzers in the Wally World Bowl. Two, any city with a football stadium and earnest civic boosters
would love to be known as Home of the Wally World Bowl. Three, there are scores of fifth-tier businesses with interns staffing the marketing department who want sponsoring a college bowl game on their resume. Finally, there are too many cable outlets with programming needs. After all, the Mites vs. the Whizzers is welcome relief from “Brother Bob’s Salvation Hour” and “Low-Cost Flood Insurance from Phoenix.” Bowl games used to have great names, and I don’t mean just the big four – the Rose,
Bowl Game Madness
Cotton, Sugar and Orange. Even the secondary bowls had great names, like Gator. The former Gator Bowl is now the TaxSlayer Bowl. I’ll grant that few fans went out and adopted an orphaned alligator after Pat Sullivan and Auburn defeated Archie Manning and Ole Miss in the 1971 Gator Bowl (a classic duel). But is anybody really going to turn to a business with “Slayer” as part of its name just because it overpaid for naming rights? But why pick on TaxSlayer when bowl games now carry such quirky corporate names as Battlefrog, Popeye’s, Royal Purple and GoDaddy? Motel 6 and Quick Lane sound like they should be one bowl, not two. What I’ve just described is known in Business 101 as overexposure and market saturation. Saturation is usually followed by a market correction. Except, in this case, there’s a wild card: The other elements might ordinarily fade from the picture, but “sufficient morons looking for any excuse to sit around a TV with beer cans and stale pretzels at hand” will be with us always. So, I predict within five years there will be 50 bowl games. And Bangor vs. Juneau might look rather good. Unless an authority with common sense, like the NCAA, steps in. Oops! Just used NCAA and common sense in the same sentence. My bad. The NCAA wants nothing to do with the matter, leaving it to the college football conferences and municipalities to sort out. So, it’s up to the colleges and to television – with their separate agendas but common self-interest (money) – to regulate bowl games. But give them credit: They’ve agreed on a task force to look into the number of bowl games or whether losing teams should be invited to one. Here’s where the irony comes in. The man heading the task force is named Bob Bowlsby. You can’t make this stuff up.
Speaking of college football, some key coaches weren’t with their old teams or their new teams for their bowl games, as the coaching carousel continues to prove college athletics are about money, not scholarship. Good (but not championship) coaches get fired. Top assistants flee for what look like more secure positions.
In more academic news, the U.S. Department of Education named Georgia Highlands College one of 45 two-year public colleges in America with the best ratio of tuition costs to graduates’ earnings. GHC’s nursing degree program has also been listed as the second most affordable in the nation. The online publication Newsmax placed Atlanta at No. 21 on a list of Top 50 destinations for Christmas in America, citing the lighting of the Great Tree at Lenox Square; ice skating at Centennial Park; the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Botanical Garden; and riding the Pink Pig at Macy’s, among others. Been there, done that. My personal memory of Christmas in Atlanta was when my children were little and I bundled them up for their first Christmas parade on Peachtree Street. We got there early. I staked out a choice spot on the street, in front of a bank. The temps were below freezing, and I was worried that my children would grow up hating me for the misery, rather than appreciating me for the excitement. Then, unexpectedly, the bank (I wish I could remember which one) quietly opened its doors and invited us in for shelter
from the cold – and hot chocolate! We got back out on the street in time to see Santa in his sleigh. Looking back on past Christmases, and thinking also of birthdays and other celebrations, I realized I should be grateful for how thoughtful friends have been over the years with gift-giving. I have never received a nose-shaped shower gel dispenser (there is such a thing). Except for the occasional boxer shorts festooned with Santa Claus or jack-o-lanterns or Cupids, I usually receive interesting books, handmade crafts, or peanut brittle… stuff that works for me. I hope I have been equally thoughtful (or will be going into this New Year) when choosing gifts for my friends.
J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.
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color me badd trends&traditions with holly lynch
and Serenity have officially been named the colors of the year. As you know, I’m normally full of excitement about the announcement of 16
Pantone’s color of the year. Pantone, the world leader of international color standardization, is usually right on the money with their color selections. The last two years featured colors like Emerald (2014) and Marsala (2015). Both colors became part of the events we created, reinforcing the popularity of Pantone’s prediction.
This year, I have my doubts. Pantone, apparently, had doubts as well, which might explain why they’ve chosen two colors. In their press release, they intend the colors to be a gradient of the two tones, blended together. They even state that the blended colors represent society’s acceptance of gender as a more fluid concept as well as
a younger generation that doesn’t require being typecast in a certain manner. So, why exactly did Pantone choose baby blue and pastel pink? If ever there were two colors that screamed traditional, it’s these two colors. When I first saw the colors, I was reminded of a sofa my parents had during my middle and high school years (late 80s, early 90s). It was a watercolor blend of pink, blue and a little teal green. After a few years, that sofa was outdated, much like “Miami Vice” and big hair. Those pastel watercolors came and went very quickly. My second thought on seeing the colors Pantone selected was of a very specific gender declaration – the pregnant couple’s much-anticipated (and newly invented) gender reveal party. If you aren’t aware of these little events, let me explain. When a couple discovers they are expecting a baby, after enough gestational months have passed, the couple asks the ultrasound technician or doctor to list the gender of the baby in some discreet way or only tell the mother or the father. Then, the knowing party invites friends and family to a designated location, and “reveals” the gender of the expected child in some grand way (think pink or blue balloons coming from a box, or cutting into a cake where the batter has been dyed one color of the other). In this way, everyone at the event can find out the gender of the baby at one time. Fabulous photos are then posted on all social media channels with a great big “It’s a ___!” as the headline. While I’m a huge fan of celebrating any occasion that can get the family together,
the gender reveal party still amuses me. I haven’t figured out if this event is a fad or something I’ll be planning as part of our repertoire of events in the future. Since I’m usually such a fan of Pantone’s color selection, I’m particular disappointed in this year’s choice. The fact that there are two colors, blended together, just frustrates me. Personally, I think the blend of these two colors looks like fog. While I do like gradients, I tend to like them better when they are a blend of similar colors (ombré). Like the much maligned red cup from Starbucks (it was a red gradient – not sure how many noticed that?), a gradient of two shades of the same tone can actually be soothing. Two diverse colors blended together can often yield poor results. I recall mixing my water color paints as a child and every color becoming a murky, muddy brown. In trying to find a kind thing to say about this whole situation, I thought I would try to discern how I feel about these colors individually. Rose Quartz is actually a pretty pink. It’s pale without being too babyish, and there’s a hint of peach and gold to it (in my opinion). I would almost call it blush, but rose quartz is darker than blush. This color is great for weddings as it’s very traditional. And roses are quite beautiful in this shade of pink (it’s called rose after all). Serenity, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything for me. Nothing. It’s periwinkle with a catchy new name. It’s not quite blue, not quite purple. It’s hazy. I am not serene when I see that color. I’m reminded of George Cos-
tanza’s father on “Seinfeld” yelling, “Serenity now!” as an antidote for daily frustrations. That’s how Serenity makes me feel. From all this discussion, I realize that looking forward to Pantone’s announcement of the color of the year is a hold-over from my previous career. I was a graphic designer and marketing executive for a consumer product company, where I enjoyed membership in an organization called Color Marketing Group. Literally, folks got together twice a year to predict color trends. I participated on a few occasions and the process was very interesting. Now, however, I just need to wait until a few brides come through the door and tell me what colors they want to use in their weddings; then, I can see what the trend will be. As a side note, Color Marketing Group’s December color of the month looks strikingly similar to Rose Quartz. For this past year, I did in fact see lots of Marsala. And often, it was paired with a pale pink. So, if Serenity starts showing up more than a few times this year, then maybe I’ll come around. In the meantime, I’ll stick with my favorite shade of green.
Holly Lynch is the owner of The Season Events, a full service catering, event planning and design company located at 300 Glenn Milner Blvd. in Rome. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.
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Women don’t always have the same classic heart attack symptoms as men. Many women may have a feeling that “something isn’t right.” Karen didn’t think she was having a heart attack because she just felt “tired and irritable.” But when she started having pains in her arm and back, thankfully she called 911. The Redmond team was able to resuscitate Karen and provide her with a cardiac stent. Karen says she would not have survived without the emergency heart team at Redmond. She tells everyone to “go immediately” when they have heart symptoms.
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TEX T J . B RYAN T S TEEL E | PH OTOS C URT YARB RO U G H
Here is the church; here is the steeple. Have you ever wondered why the stones are different colors?
Churches endure. Mortar doesn’t. But the fact the bell tower at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rome began to crumble – and sidewalks along the church were conspicuously closed for public safety – wasn’t the reason for the prolonged renovation the church recently completed. “Accessibility was the main driver behind the renovations,” says the Rev. John Foster Herring, rector of St. Peter’s. “Without that, we probably never would have done the rest of the renovations, except repairing the bell tower. [The tower restoration] was really a deferred maintenance issue that we wrapped into the renovation construction so we could do it all at once.”
The church (but not the current building) is antebellum. St. Peter’s was established in 1844; the original chapel (on First Street) was used as a hospital during the Civil War and was torn down in 1893. What now serves as St. Peter’s chapel was built in 1892, with the first service held there on Christmas Day that year. Construction began on the current church in 1895; the first service was a baptism on June 14, 1898. “It was a very humble beginning with many people giving and raising money,” Herring says. And handicapped access wasn’t in general mindset back then. But now, “The access point into the chapel v3 magazine
now has a low-grade ramp,” Herring says. Stairs and corridors have also been widened and brightened. “We added an accessible bathroom between the chapel and the church, rather than forcing those with mobility issues to go all the way through (the parish hall) to use a restroom,” he continues. “We added a lift for those who cannot use stairs to get from the chapel to [the parish hall]. We added an elevator, which accesses all three floors of the Hight Building and the Memorial Garden. We also added a ramp for accessibility (to the church offices), and we repaved the driveway, making it safer to walk.” In addition to accessibility improvements, St. Peter’s has removed the carpet from the church and refinished the original wood flooring in the nave; replaced the wood 22
coloring in the center aisle of the nave and in the chancel, using a herringbone pattern; refinished the pews; removed the plaster narthex and replaced it with a wood/glass narthex (for better lighting and a more open feel); added uplighting to the wood ceilings as well as new lights to highlight the baptismal font and the altar; put in a new altar rail; reshaped the sanctuary space; put in a new altar (to match the original high altar); installed new travertine flooring under the font and in the sanctuary; remodeled the sacristy; added a new wood-and-glass
chapel screen; raised the pulpit; and added three new stained glass windows and a triple window of leaded glass. “We also gently washed the exterior of the building, repointed the stone on the tower, repaired much of the stone on the tower, repaired the floors inside the tower, and replaced the wood beams that were holding the bells,” Herring adds.
“We also gently washed the exterior of the building, repointed the stone on the tower, repaired much of the stone on the tower, repaired the floors inside the tower and replaced the wood beams that were holding the bells.”
The church had to raise more than $2 million in pledges to cover the renovation, a project that had its roots under the previous rector at St. Peter’s, Roger Ard. “Roger dreamed the dream, so to speak, and got the ball rolling,” Herring says. “I made some changes to the original plan, but none of it would have happened without Roger.” A question parishioners are often asked is why the historic bell tower is built of two different-colored stone. The original tower was supposed to be its current height, but the church ran out of money. Several years later, money in hand, the church contacted the supplier about finishing the tower. The stone was supposed to match, but apparently came from a different quarry and didn’t. In initial discussions, the architect for the renovation proposed staining the upper stone to match, but the idea was rejected. So the bell tower, no longer falling down, retains its distinctive, unmatched hues. VVV
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For these three women, the sacrifice is worth the wagging tails and sloppy kisses that follow helping animals in need.
he time of year has come to start anew. Promises have been made to lose the extra holiday pounds, pick up the hobby that has been stowed away in the garage or to cross that island getaway off your bucket list. All of these things are wonderful additions to living the life we all deserve, but sometimes our resolutions come in the form of lending a hand to a portion of our community that might not have the ability to help themselves. Imagine the pains of hunger chipping away at you until it becomes hard to stand unassisted. The cold winter air strangles you as you take refuge on a bare spot of the ground that is wet from yesterday’s rain. No one stops to say hello, and the setting sun is the only thing to say goodbye. Life is desolate, loveless and cruel. And just as you think it can’t get worse, you are tossed
into the corner of a pick-up truck, stricken by the fear of what’s to come and left to find your place in a world that passes without knowing you are there. Thankfully, some of our friends and neighbors have heard the cries of these displaced family members and given a voice to the voiceless. As dogs, cats, and other pets are dealt a bad hand due to irresponsible owners who refuse to see them as living creatures, fellow northwest Georgians are cashing in their chips to change the luck of abandoned, neglected, and abused animals. To creatures with paws and tails, they are heroes. But they don’t wear capes or masks, lift cars from stranded victims or save the world from disaster. They do, though, wear high heels and lipstick, lift animals in need from nightmares, and save them in the nick of time. Brandy Walker
Monika Wesolowski has always been smitten by fur babies. Growing up with dogs in her home helped to develop her sensitivity to the needs of pets. However, her extreme sense of awareness came with a price. “I realized early on, how evil people can really be when it comes to stray animals,” she says. “One day, after my dad had picked me up from school at St. Mary’s, I watched a man accelerate in a car to hit a dog crossing the road. I watched a Golden Retriever fly into the air, hit the top of the car, and roll off, and several other cars hit him again. My ill feelings toward people who were mean to animals started then.” At 10 years old, feeling the emotional blow equal to the pain the pup must have felt physically led Wesolowski to have many conversations with her parents about why people would ever think of mistreating something as loyal as a dog. And as she would ride to and from school with her folks, she began to notice the deplorable conditions that many animals were living in along the way. Chains and trees were the norm, and looking into eyes pleading for help made her want to get involved. “I decided that I wanted to be a veterinarian, and my mom talked me out of it,” Wesolowski says. “She told me that I cry too much about animals as it is, and she was probably right about suggesting I look at a different career.” In 2007, she found a workplace home at Citizens First Bank, where she currently serves as a senior personal banker. Ironically, her savviness with a budget would
soon come into play when she made some important connections to local Romans with hearts for helping. “The need to help animals just kind of stuck with me. From worrying about my college roommate’s dog being outside without hay, to assisting dogs whose docked tails had become infected from not being sutured, I just really felt a strong connection to animals,” Wesolowski says. “Dogs are not lawn ornaments. They are living creatures who get hungry, cold and sick. They want to be a part of your family, not left outside on a chain in the elements. Eventually, it led to me taking money from my budget and packing a zombie apocalypse kit for animals in the back of my car. I had food, medicine, scissors, new collars and just about anything else I could think of to rescue a pet.” Two cats started her collection of rescued pets. When her purse began to feel the strain from every extra cent she earned being poured into dog bowls and vet bills, she knew she had to rely on her connections to the community. Rachel Meier (her monthly fundraising partner) and Amy Robitshek with Good Shepherd Animal Refuge Inc. have been by her side in the mission of animal welfare awareness. She adds that she is eternally grateful for the help from Dave and Molly Caldwell of Culbreth-Carr-Watson Animal Clinic for their early and continuous support during emergency cases she has with animals in crisis. Many of the rescue organizations Wesolowski worked for led her to open her home to foster pets that were waiting for
families to adopt them. Most of her work has been done through Animal Rescue League of Northwest Georgia. Now, Wesolowski has created a network of people who are as passionate about helping animals find loving homes, and sometimes that home is hers. Four dogs now also share her address and have their own comfy couch inside for relaxing. One of her canine family members drew newsworthy attention after she saved him from one of the most vicious injuries imaginable. Braveheart, a coco-colored pit bull terrier, had his throat cut by an unknown culprit. He was located in Murray County, and because of the severity of his injury, the local animal control center had decided to euthanize him. With a gaping slash denying him food and letting just enough air into his body to sustain
ended up taking him home. His name was Neiman and his brothers were Marcus and Saks. There was a whole litter of puppies I wanted to take with me, but I only had space for one. So, we brought him home.” During her work with animal shelters, rescues and pounds, Crumley constantly found animals needing temporary refuge. Of course, they all ended up in the back seat of her car instead of on the waiting list for certain death. “One Sunday after working an adoption event at Tractor Supply, I finished my day by dropping in at animal control. A lady walked in with a silver lab that barely had its eyes open and it was missing an eye,” Crumley recalls. “I asked her what she was doing with the dog and where was the rest of the litter. She explained that she was leaving it at the pound because she couldn’t sell a dog that was missing an eye. Needless to say, that dog never entered animal control. She went into my car and home with me. Her name is
Dayna Crumley 48 hours of life, it seemed the humane thing to do. But before they closed the door on Braveheart, a Facebook post seeking help went out to all rescue centers in the area. Animal Rescue League and Wesolowski answered his call. The scar of a painful past is the only evidence left of what must have been a terrifying time in Braveheart’s life. His warm eyes tell his new story, while a tender touch of his wet nose lets you know he trusts again. Braveheart has his angel who mended all of his wounds. The animal rescue business builds tight bonds between animals and new homes, but it also inspires lasting friendships between the people with a common passion. Dayna Crumley, a mortgage lender with Movement Mortgage who lived and worked in Rome for 16 years, crossed paths with Wesolowski through pet rescue operations.
“From the time I was able to breathe, I have always loved dogs,” Crumley says with a genuine smile, “and I actually left Rome and purchased a property in Canton, Ga., to facilitate having foster dogs there. I have three acres we use for them. “But it wasn’t until I rescued a dog from North Carolina that I really got into fostering,” she continues. “I always worked in Floyd County with rescues, took treats out to animal control, and I would sometimes assist with rescues locally by fostering here and there. But on the way home from a trip, I saw a Facebook post with a picture of a dog that needed a home. I stopped by and
Lexi. We nursed her back to health and we have her still.” In 2011 alone, Crumley added three new pets to her home, which was already occupied by several dogs of her own. She couldn’t bear to see an animal reach the end of its life in a pound, so she made the move to help all of them that she could. “The number of dogs that are euthanized on a daily basis is staggering,” she says. “I felt very strongly about helping a living creature who was given a death sentence, and never was able to make a choice to change their outcome.” Working in the same circles led Crumv3 magazine
that anything major was wrong. But after I woke up from surgery, the doctor told me that I had cancer.” A rare cancer that only one in 1 million people are diagnosed with was attacking her abdominal region and all of her organs. The hernia from lifting the dogs led to the early detection of pseudomyxoma paracentesis, likely saving her life. With 28 dogs at Crumley’s residence in Canton, Wesolowski and the rest of the rescue teams chipped in to see that kennels were clean and bowls were filled while Crumley recovered. And as soon as her strength returned, she was back on the road to help the furry friends who gave her a second chance to serve.
ley and Wesolowski to midnight stakeouts to find a stray dog that was getting by on scraps from the staff at our local Goodwill Thrift Store. Another mission included prying a scared canine from between the pallets behind a secluded warehouse. One fateful day, it was the dog’s turn to save Crumley. While working with Inspire Rescue out of Kennesaw, Ga., she was injured lifting a dog into her SUV. What should have been a routine doctor’s visit led to a life-saving diagnosis. “I was diagnosed with a hernia from lifting one of the many dogs we worked with that weekend in 2014,” Crumley explains. “I came to Rome for hernia surgery in July. I had no symptoms that would cause me to think
“Dogs are not lawn ornaments. They are living creatures who get hungry, cold and sick. They want to be a part of your family, not left outside on a chain in the elements.” Now, Crumley doesn’t keep nearly as many animals in her home but she still fosters when she can. It may be because one lady with an enormous affection for animals is picking them all up before they can wander south to Canton. Brandy Walker is another friend of Wesolowski who has affectionately named them “The Crazy Dog Ladies.” Like the others, Walker provides shelter to animals who just
need a loving home, often at the expense of her own needs. “I rescued my first dog when I was about 17. I saw him on the side of the road, sitting underneath a big tree,” she recalls. “It was late at night and I was just compelled to try and help him. Before I knew it, I was out of my car picking him up and putting him into my car. He was a little black lab.” When she held him in her arms, she could tell he was not well. The next morning, she discovered that his skin was covered with mange. “Everyone told me that I needed to put the dog out of his misery and I told them all that they were crazy!” she says. “I doctored him up, got him neutered, and he ended up being the best dog I ever had. His name was Oskar.” Walker is a Florida native who moved to Georgia when she was 12. She currently mans the bar at La Scala’s 400 Block Bar, and every spare nickel she can afford goes to caring for the 13 dogs she currently resides with off Big Texas Valley Road. All of her pets were abandoned when she found them. “When I was 3 years old, I got a dog, a pony and a swing set as a gift,” Walker says. “I was always in love with all animals and I just hate to see them suffer. My mom always said that she hoped that I never saw an elephant walking on the side of the road because I would do my best to give it a home. “I live out in the country and there are far too many animals being dropped off in places where they have no resources,” she continues. “There is not a house they can walk up to for food or water; coyotes can
attack them and they are just left to die. It really makes me sad to think about it.” There are some things that all three ladies agree would help with the problem of stray pets. Walker says there is one needed service that would have an immediate effect on the number of cases she sees. “An easy and affordable way for people to get their animals spayed and neutered would really help,” she says. “There are programs out there, but you have to qualify for them. Sometimes you have to show that you are receiving government assistance before you qualify, and not everyone who could benefit from this service does. The first step in helping most rescue efforts is decreasing the number of unwanted animals being born.” Walker, Wesolowski and Crumley also agree that having a larger population of foster parents would help keep animals from being killed in pounds or dying in the woods alone. However, if you are not a pet person, or you have an allergy, or you simply want to get involved indirectly, there is always the option of donating to local animal charities and rescues. These three women selflessly give of their time, money, and often their homes to keep animals safe from harm and neglectful owners. Maybe Northwest Georgians can do just a little more than they have before, becoming the difference in life and death for these pets. Walker currently houses a German Shepard named Daisy who lost the use of her back legs. Happy as ever, Daisy lies out in the sun of Walker’s front yard inching forward on her front paws for attention from whomever walks into the yard. Walker has fashioned a “doggy wheelchair” out of a wheelchair used for humans. Straps hold her in place as she pulls herself along the front of the house to pose for pictures. Doing what they can is what these ladies do best. V VV
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To find out how you can get involved, contact Monika Wesolowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook, Dayna Crumley at inspirepetrescue.org and Brandy Walker at Brandyawalker@yahoo.com or also find her on Facebook. v3 magazine
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TEXT ER IN D EM ESQ UI TA P HOTOS D EREK B EL L
Sometimes the hardest tasks in life are the most rewarding, so scaling the face of a rock standing in the way of your path could be the most satisfying of all.
ropes have been secured, the harness fastened. Chalk-dusted hands await algid grooves of solid mineral earth as the vertical journey towers above. Pulling in the crisp air with one last intrepid breath, the climber ascends. We all brave the trails and trials of our own metaphorical mountains. And with the new year at hand, the dreamers, achievers, and lovers alike are putting wheels into motion, carefully constructing the perfect resolution to raise personal bars to newly developed standards – looking for the perfect high. It’s all about perspective, we’ve been told; stepping back and taking a look from another angle. And then there are those who choose to step up and take that look from another altitude. From his anchored position at the base of Lost Wall on Pigeon Mountain (just outside Lafayette, Ga.), Bryan Blalock uses an auto-locking belay device to support the weight of his friend, Ken Callaway, as he scales the rock surface; two dudes that definitely find their sense of fulfillment at the summit.
Mountaineers at heart, Blalock, owner of Stonehaven (516 Broad St.), and Callaway, owner of Summit Mist Vapors (522 Broad St.), have been climbing together for roughly five years and can’t seem to imagine a better way to raise their own bars than to brave the peaks and pinnacles of this great earth. At the age of 13, Blalock completed his first 14,000-foot climb (known as a fourteener) up Mount Elbert in Colorado and hasn’t stopped yet; alongside him on most treks is his wife, Wiyanna (owner of Wiyanna’s Salon at 4 E. 3rd Ave., Rome), braving the elevation and the elements just as well. Blalock was the connection needed to fuse Callaway’s love for nature with his impending devotion to climbing and mountaineering. With horizons wide and vast, these adventurers have tackled the terrain of many a mountainscape, including Longs Peak in Colorado, the northernmost fourteener in the Rocky Mountains, and northern California’s Mount Shasta, the 14,179-foot dormant volcano in the southern end of the Cascade Range. A bit of distinction, if you will, for the sake of climbing trivia: rock climbing and mountaineering are different endeavors, sort of. “Until you break out a rope,” Blalock says, “it’s not quite rock climbing.” While rock climbing is more of a vertical venture, requiring anchored ropes, secure harnesses, and climbing shoes to scale a rock wall or formation, mountaineering is a bit of a bigger concept, involving ice climbing, hiking, and trekking. Sometimes mountaineering is carried out expedition style with large groups on longer journeys, at times, requiring rock climbing, depending on the route.
at 22,841 feet, it is the highest mountain in South America and the second-most-prominent mountain in the world. ”I trained for eight months, paid $10,000, and traveled halfway around the world alone,” he says. “I was on the mountain for 24 days and was turned around by a four-day storm … one day below the summit.” While the experience may sound grim or disappointing, Blalock feels quite the opposite. “It was amazing,” he smiles. “It was 24 days on the mountain. I met a lot of cool people, got to see how a real exhibition works and I met a lot of world-famous climbers.” For Blalock and Callaway, it seems apparent that no matter what obstacles or austerity the mountain may dish, they never resent it or regret it; what is gained is far greater than what was endured. Callaway raises his hands. With his index fingers, he
“You have to plan these trips,” Callaway smiles. “You don’t just go on a whim.” Even when the plans are structured and set, they remain at the mercy of the weather. Mountain weather can be very erratic; conditions vary with altitude and exposure to atmospheric winds. To put the variance from base to peak into perspective, Callaway recalls their ascent of Mount Shasta in late June/early July, the year before last. “When we started the climb, it was probably 90 degrees, and then at the summit, it was -14,” he pauses. “It was like a different planet up there.” It is a known fact among climbers and mountaineers that storms in the big hills begin building by early afternoon, after the morning sun heats the air. It is best to get an early start and begin descent before the storm gathers and introduces the threat of lightning. At the request of unpredictable elements, hikers must be prepared to change or abandon carefully laid plans. Blalock recalls his nearly month-long affair with Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina;
Ken Callaway and Bryan Blalock
suggests a measurement that seems to be a small amount of inches and tells me that they have trekked along ledges like that for four hours at a time with an open 2,500-foot space on the outside. A journey is not a journey without obstruction. “The pictures you see afterward are beautiful, and what’s downloaded into you both consciously and subconsciously afterward is equally beautiful,” he says. “But during … it tests me so much.” The inclement weather, the occasional altitude sickness and whatever danger
“The pictures you see afterward are beautiful, and what’s downloaded into you both consciously and subconsciously afterward is equally beautiful. But during … it tests me so much.”
may have reared its head; through it all, the respect for the mountain is never lost. “I think for anyone that just pushes themselves beyond fear, through perseverance and through pain, good things come. It makes you appreciative,” Callaway nods, feeling his own affirmation. “For me, it’s been a life-changer for sure.” So, if the desire should arise to explore the cliffs and crags of earth’s finest formations, there are some options close to home that wouldn’t require much travel or extensive skill.
Further up Pigeon Mountain, the fallen brown leaves crunch beneath rubber soles along the one-mile trail leading to a sandstone labyrinth known as Rocktown. Intricate rock formations with endless holds and routes offer constant challenge to avid climbers and plenty of earthly beauty to be explored by beginners. Even our seasoned mountaineers can deny neither the grace nor the gamut that Rocktown provides for adventure-seekers. This area has been scaled, hiked, and scrambled by climbing enthusiasts and outdoorsmen from across the nation; by folks like Gabi Enos, 24, and Brandon Fox, 26, a Texas-bound couple, by way of Massachusetts, who made a special stop at Rocktown to test their skills on the magnificent sandstone boulders. With them, they carried three pieces of equipment: chalk, climbing shoes and crash pads (to break possible falls). For the swirling, sedimentary sculptures that give Rocktown its majesty, those three tools will go a long way. For novice mountaineers, Blalock recommends one of his favorite mountains on the entire East Coast as a great start. At 6,593 feet, Mount LeConte is the third-highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is known for the LeConte Lodge just below the summit, where hikers have access to home-cooked meals and lodging. Five trails service the summit and, aside from requiring a little endurance, this mountain is definitely beginner friendly. For those with the urge to ascend higher altitudes, let’s talk gear. First and foremost,
Wiyanna good shoes cannot be stressed enough. For rock climbing, it is essential that the shoe is specifically a rock-climbing shoe with a rubber outsole for grip. For mountaineering, the shoe must fit well, slightly snug and should already be broken in. Callaway recommends good quality, lightweight apparel in layers along with rain gear and gloves. “Don’t just grab clothes out of your drawer that you would wear to go on a simple hike,” he advises. Callaway says that towns surrounding well-known mountains typically have gear shops with the means and capacity to rent out most everything a climber or mountaineer may need. Blalock adds that there is such a shop at the base of Mount Shasta. “You can just travel out there in your shorts and your T-shirt and rent everything you need at the shop, and it’s probably going to cost you about $250 to $300,” he says. “If you were to buy that stuff, for everything you’d need, you’re looking at
$2,500; that’s jackets, ice axes, crampons (for traction on ice), base layers, rain/wind proof pants, boots, a helmet, headlamps, trekking poles, backpacks, a tent, and a sleeping bag … you can rent all of it.” The gear for such adventures can burn a hole in the proverbial pocket, but Callaway insists that if you so choose to purchase your own equipment, the return on investment is definitely worth the stacks. “Clothes and gear within the climbing market can be very expensive,” he says, “but it’s free to go climb a mountain. So, the gear will last a long time and the quality is good. It’s kind of a onetime investment or, at least, it’ll be a long time before you have to replace anything.” As far as ROI for the soul, “It’s definitely something everyone should try,” Blalock says. “I hear from a lot of people, ‘I’m just not a big outdoor person’ or ‘I’m not a mountain climber.’ It’s just because they’ve never done it and they haven’t felt what it gives back to you.” he smiles, “The saying, ‘Climb the mountains and receive their good tidings,’ it’s so true.” The mountain can be unyielding, unforgiving, and unpredictable, but the spiritual introspection that it evokes culminates in an awareness of the body, a placidity of the mind, and an indomitability of the soul that cannot be undermined. ”When I finally summited Longs Peak, that was the first place that I realized, as a human being, that I was actually capable of doing something that demanding and tough, and pulling it off,” he says. “Every time you go, it’s like you’re measuring yourself as a person, and you set the bar higher each time.” “It’s a beautiful, amazing, wonderful thing, and I recommend anyone who aspires to do it, to do it,” Callaway smiles. “Go with someone who has a little bit of experience and see what’s out there because life is beautiful. We aspire to do more; we have big plans … all in due time.” Ecstatic about what lies on the horizon, Blalock says that his sister is moving to India in January. His eyes widen as he adds, “… 400 miles from Mount Everest.” “If the spirit is willing, the spirit can,” Callaway smiles. Whether you choose to explore for recreation, for sport, or for spiritual awakening, whatever the reason, you’ll find something within yourself you may not have realized, and yet it’s been there all along. How's that for a resolution? Here's to your new year; may you never stop challenging yourself. VVV
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Preserving the natural beauty of the Deep South is promising for generations to come because this group of concerned citizens is helping to keep development at bay.
is not a society of tree huggers devoted to overthrowing humanityâ€™s hold on the earth. It is not a government conspiracy to swindle property away from citizens for unknown but obviously nefarious purposes. It is not a conglomerate of corporations planning the next expansion of consumerism by secretly buying up acreage from unsuspecting land-
owners. The concept of a land trust may be unfamiliar to most, a source of concern for the suspicious, but for those in the know, it represents a private conservation initiative mutually beneficial for the property holders and for the environment. In northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama, the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is the principal advocate for this approach to
land preservation. Instead of struggling to establish unofficial state parks by directly purchasing property, an expensive and unrealistic tactic, this non-profit 501(c)(3) involves the public in the conservation process. As a result, biological jewels such waterfront on the picturesque Cahaba River in Alabama, home to 13 endemic species and debatably the loveliest waterway in the Southeast, re-
main in private possession but also continue to be a public treasure. To make this ideal a reality, an organizing body with administrative power is necessary, and for these land trusts, the key words are conservation easement. Explaining this terminology, according to Georgia-Alabama Land Trust founder and doctor of endocrinology Chip Reed, is essential to any conversation about the mission of a land trust. “People, at first, think we are trying to get them to give away the farm or the estate that has been in the family for generations. Quite the contrary; these easements are for the people who do not want their land to end up as the next tennis and golf community,” Reed explains. “In this arrangement, people keep their land, agree to certain environmental provisions, but they also can receive income tax benefits, property tax benefits, and even state tax benefits.” More technically, a conservation easement is a legal agreement between a private individual and a governing organization to restrict certain forms of development on property in exchange for tax cuts and other financial incentives. The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust never assumes ownership but instead facilitates the creation of these
easements and also ensures land owners are abiding by the limitations. “Private property remains private, but we all need fresh water to drink, we all need clean air to breathe and we all need land to grow crops,” Reed adds. “Conservation easements ensure these resources remain intact and that unique environments are not buried underneath a golf course.”
“The geographic region of northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama is a hotspot of biodiversity, but also a hub of seemingly constant development encroaching on this biodiversity.” More than a deterrent against an oversaturation of McMansion-populated country club communities, Reed’s original vision for conservation in North Fulton County has become a regional powerhouse for land preservation, protecting over 268,000 acres in the Southeast. However, the Georgia-Al-
abama Land Trust, now with 20 full-time employees on payroll, has been a lesson in the value of perseverance, according to Reed. “My wife and I used to go to land zoning meetings, but soon realized our attendance wasn’t making any difference,” he explains. Reed had heard of the land trust concept but had little knowledge of the topic. After a preliminary investigation of the process, he recognized the merit of this method. “We didn’t waste any time,” he says. “Our first course of action was raising awareness, and so my wife and I, we stuffed mailboxes with flyers inviting people to attend a land trust interest meeting. Quite surprisingly, at our first event, we had over 150 people attend. Everyone was just as curious as we were about this whole notion of land trusts.” With the hype generated from their initial efforts, Reed and his wife, Roberta, went to Chattanooga, Tenn., to attend a Land Trust Alliance conference. The information they acquired during the seminars and the contacts they developed further fueled their passion for the project. However, success rarely comes overnight. “When we came back, we hosted a second meeting,” Reed says, “but this time, we only had three people in attendance, and two of those were my wife and me. I’m not sure people recognized at the first meeting how serious we were about making this happen.” For some, this apparent setback might have dissuaded any future effort, but not for Reed. “We weren’t discouraged,” he says. “We obtained 501(c)(3) status. We secured grant funding. We started fundraising. And, most importantly, we began talking to everybody about conservation easements.” Reed’s persistence was not futile, and as the legal and social structure of the organization developed, conversation became conservation. In Hiawassee, Ga., the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust secured its first easement with Martin and Jennie Burrell, caretakers of a family-owned wildflower cover dating back to the 1840s. “Thanks to their decision, we had the credibility for obtaining the second and third and hundredth easements,” Reed says. Despite his tireless work to launch the land trust, Reed’s full-time practice as an endocrinologist limited his ability to dedicate the hours the project was quickly demanding. “Originally, I was chief cook and bottle washer,” he jokes, “but the board was strongly encouraging me to hire a full-time director, someone who could oversee the continued v3 magazine
conservation easements signed. And this includes everything from woodlands to waterways. We have easements in the middle of nowhere and easements in suburbia. To look back at the end of a year and see this farm or that hunting preserve, to know why it’s an environmentally unique property and to know it’s now safe, it’s a really rewarding experience.”
growth of the land trust, and someone not limited to weekends and late nights like myself. Katherine Eddins was our solution.” Hiring Eddins, in Reed’s opinion, was a catalytic moment for the organization. The first and still current executive director of the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, Eddins has matured the moonlighting activism of a doctor into regional leadership in the conservation movement. Not one to boast, she returns the credit to Reed. “The first thing I did as the director was to begin following up on Chip’s leads,” she says. “It was his persistant effort to raise awareness that gave me a base to develop the land trust into the organization you see today.” While Reed and Eddins might disagree on who is responsible for the organization’s success, there is no denying the influence and impact of the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust. “When you fast forward from our starting place to now, it really is quite inspiring,” Eddins says. “Over 250,000 acres, over 750 44
outdoors, and support both the agricultural and forestry industries,” she adds. Reed also recognizes the social significance of the land trust and dreams out loud, “I hope to see our scope explain to include urban and suburban projects. Land conservation is an opportunity to help the community engage with nature, encouraging the youth to get off their phones and to step outside.” Since its establishment in 1994, the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust has grown from a seed of conservation conversation into an oak, safeguarding thousands of unadulterated acres for future generations. Perhaps even more significant than this tangible win, the organization has empowered individuals to be environmentally active citizens, teaching us anyone can be a conservationist whether you own 25 acres or 25,000. The icy, cold creek you “fell” into over and over again as a child, the mountain cove you visited every summer and dreamed about every day in class, the next-door neighbors’ field where you encountered chiggers for the first time … all of the locations associated with those treasured memories will long outlive your memory of them. Isn’t that truly wonderful? V VV
Even with the current success of the organization, there are always additional opportunities for conservation. “The geographic region of northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama is a hotspot of biodiversity, but also a hub of seemingly constant development encroaching on this biodiversity,” Eddins explains. For her, the preservation efforts are also acts of public service, investments toward the future of planet earth. “These easements ensure the availability of clean water, guarantee continued access to the undisturbed
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