Location: Wall Crawler Rock Club
Date taken: October 6, 2013
Intimidated by giant rock climbing walls? Don’t know where to put your hands and feet amid all the colorful holds? You like the sound of the word “belay” but have no idea what it means? Follow the smell of cookies baking (yes, there is a cookie factory just across the train tracks) to the Wall Crawler Rock Club on Dekalb Avenue, and you’ll find a intimate and laid back climbing gym. The walls are tall, but the learning curve feels a little smaller here. Of course, this is by no means a beginners only spot — there’s a crew of neighborhood regulars who call Wall Crawlers their home gym. Stop by, and you might become one of them.
Location: The Varsity
Date taken: December 17, 2012
No Atlanta blog or list of places to visit is complete without The Varsity. The restaurant has long been a favorite of visitors, Georgia Tech tailgaters and natives (yes, my grandparents used to head to The Varsity when they were dating). When you step up to the long row of registers, know you’ll be asked “What’ll ya have?”. And, I recommend placing an order for a Frosted Orange, onion rings and chili dog (the grilled pimento cheese is pretty good too). Opened in 1928, The Varsity has been a unique place for many reasons — the world’s largest drive-in, the addition of the “lunching pad” and rooms set up with televisions before they were commonplace in homes or businesses. If you dine at The Varsity, you’ll walk out with a little taste of Atlanta history and maybe your very own paper Varsity hat.
Location: Lake Clara Meer at Piedmont Park
Date taken: November 10, 2012
160 people in a Picnic Shelter
70 jets at Legacy Fountain
60-minute guided historic tour of the Park
30 vendors at the Saturday Green Market
12 tennis courts
8 items on the Scavenger Hunt
4 lap lanes at the Aquatic Center
3 fishing piers
2 bocce ball courts
Location: Atlanta Botanical Gardens‘ Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
Date taken: December 9, 2012
Holidays are all about traditions. Your Atlanta tradition might be seeing the lighting of Macy’s Great Tree, picking up a tree from the same lot each year, buying tickets to the Fox Theatre’s Nutcracker or touring Christmas at Callenwolde. Growing up in Atlanta, our family tradition was heading to the downtown Rich’s store to ride the Pink Pig. The Pink Pig is now a train ride in a tent at the Lenox Mall parking deck, but back then it was a monorail style ride located on top of the Rich’s store. We would climb the stairs up to the roof, hop aboard a small pig car and circle the base of Rich’s Great Tree, admiring its surrounding Christmas village. When the ride was over, we stuck our “I rode the Pink Pig” stickers on our coats and wore them proudly for the rest of the day. If you are looking for a new holiday tradition in the city, check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Holiday Nights event, which is now in its second year. There’s no sticker at the end of the tour, but the lights are bright and plentiful and the event is great for all ages.
Location: Edgewood Avenue
Date taken: December 15, 2012
Socks. Josh Woiderski recommends always having a pair of extra socks at your office. That’s the one thing that’s usually forgotten when packing for a long trip or in Josh’s case … a trip to work. Josh is a run commuter. He runs approximately five miles every morning (then again every evening) from his home in Kirkwood to his job downtown at the Department of Justice. The commute takes him about 40 minutes.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Josh, a Michigan native who has lived in Atlanta since 2004. “Being able to get to work without having to rely on an automobile or public transportation gives you a sense of accomplishment. At first, that’s the mental hurdle to overcome, knowing that you can do it. For me, it’s a way to exercise daily without sacrificing family time. And, running is the best way to explore Atlanta. You can stop and check things out, have conversations with people and stumble upon interesting things.”
Josh, who has two young sons, started running regularly while he was in the Army. Previously, a bike commuter, Josh saw run commuting as an opportunity to get a great cardio workout doing something he was going to do every day anyway — commute. “For awhile, my co-workers did think I was weird for doing this, but now they are used to it,” said Josh.
So how does the practical part of run commuting work? Josh irons and folds his clothes and packs them in the backpack he runs with. He recommends leaving shoes and belts at the office for less weight to carry. Once arriving at his office, Josh changes clothes and washes off (using a combination of soap, water and baby wipes) and starts his work day.
Josh estimates that there are around a dozen run commuters in Atlanta — people who might use some form of transportation (car, bike, MARTA, etc.) but make running a part of their way to get to work each day. Washington D.C., with it’s flat landscape and great public transportation, is the nation’s top city for run commuting. In Atlanta, Josh is working to help others figure out how to run commute effectively and easily. He started The Run Commuter blog, where 10 contributors from across North America offer tips, advice and stories. For example, listing the best waterproof backpacks and reminding people to pack socks.
Check out Josh’s The Run Commuter blog for tips and ideas on run commuting.
Date taken: December 2, 2012
Concerts. Bed races. Beach volleyball. Beer festivals. Food festivals. Cirque du Soleil. The 138 acres now occupied by Atlantic Station have seen a lot of changes in the past 100 years. Opened as the Atlantic Steel Mill in 1901, this Westside neighborhood is now a tourist destination for shopping (only IKEA for hundreds of miles) and dining. And, for locals, it’s a space to live (buy or rent) and work (Creative Loafing’s offices are here) and attend a variety of events. If you can navigate your way in and out of the massive parking deck, it’s a great place to spend an evening.
Location: Castleberry Hill
Date taken: December 14, 2012
Cameron Adams looks for things he hasn’t seen before and might not see again. The Atlanta fashion blogger and creator of Atlanta Street Fashion strolls the sidewalks of Atlanta looking for surprising pops of color, a good old fashion sense of taste, outfits carefully coordinated from head to toe and elements of a person’s wardrobe that show a unique sense of style. Most days of the week, Cameron heads to Atlanta’s most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in search of fashion — Little Five Points, Fairlie-Poplar, Virginia-Highlands (weekend afternoons), Midtown (weekday lunch hours) and even Oakland Cemetery.
“I’m really interested in people’s individual style, so I don’t know that I can place a value on Atlantans’ overall style,” said Cameron, who describes his own style as old fashion and full of layers. “But I have noticed that interesting patterns emerge. For example, on rainy days, I see lots of monochromatic. People seem to wear shades of grey because that’s what they saw outside.”
A full-time photojournalist for the past 13 years and an Atlanta resident for 15 years, the Richmond, Va., native says he has always had an appreciation for fashion. His family often notes one memorable childhood photo of Cameron where his hair is combed perfectly, a pair of sunglasses are tuck in his pocket and there’s a camera around his neck. Things have not changed all that much. He still loves fashion and photography.
“Fashion has a human element,” Cameron said. “People are practicing a creative art form when they leave their homes each day. They are well aware of what they are doing and that people might take notice of them. Through photographing fashion, I have the opportunity to get under the skins of people just for a few minutes and figure out their best selves. Then, I present that best self to the world.”
Check out Cameron’s Atlanta fashion blog Atlanta Street Fashion at http://www.atlantastreetfashion.blogspot.com.
Location: High Museum of Art
Date taken: November 20, 2012
Touring the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles earlier this year, I kept thinking to myself, “This looks familiar. This looks like MY art museum.” Of course, my art museum is the High Museum here in Atlanta. I grew up going on regular field trips to the High and exploring the children’s part of the museum, which back then featured a giant tongue, giant nose and giant ear for exploring. The Getty did not appear to have any of these giant body parts or a children’s area, but it turns out that the Getty and the High were designed by the same person — Richard Meier. Meier is know for his white buildings and rationalist style. Except the Getty is cream not white. People were afraid the California sun bouncing off the white walls of the museum might create a blinding sight for motorists on the nearby highway or people in nearby homes. While Atlanta’s sun might be hot it’s rarely blinding, so we got the real deal — classic Meier white.
Location: Festival on Ponce
Date taken: September 15, 2012
Along the path in Atlanta’s Olmsted Linear Park, there’s a stone that reads: “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. – Benjamin Franklin”. Parks, of course, are designed for play. They are designed for throwing a ball or throwing a frisbee, for swinging on a swing and hanging upside down from monkey bars, for playing tag or playing hopscotch, for running a race or jumping rope. And sometimes, when you stumble upon an arts festival, you might get to play awhile layering colors of sand in a small, plastic bottle. Play is simple. Simply play.
Location: Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark
Date taken: November 4, 2012
The veterans gather on Sunday mornings at the skate park in the Old Fourth Ward. There are some newbies too … and kids on scooters and tourists and general onlookers. It’s part performance, part competition, part social club and mainly a great way to spend a warm fall morning. I recently fell down a set of stairs (yes, just walking normally), so placing a board on wheels beneath my feet and propelling myself down a sloped concrete wall does seems like a death wish. It also makes me more impressed with those who do skateboard … who gather early to share a few dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and a love of their sport.
Location: Adair Park
Date taken: November 9, 2012
As a native of Atlanta, I grew up frequenting the playground at Hammond Park and played in the first softball league at Chastain Park. I have taken tennis lessons at Mason Mill Park, and there’s a brick that bears my name in Centennial Olympic Park. I helped teach my nephew how to swim at the Candler Park pool, and you can frequently find me jogging along the trails of Olmsted Linear Park. People often say that Atlanta is a “city among the trees.” Thank goodness it’s also a city among the parks.
Date taken: September 16, 2012
Floating down the Chattahoochee River in a giant intertube has always been one of the traditional summer activities for Atlantans. But, the river is not just for leisurely trips downstream. If you feel like more active water sports, rent a canoe or kayak, join a stand-up board group, or test your skills with the Atlanta Rowing Club. And, for those Atlantans more inclined to stay on dry land, there’s also plenty to do — take a tour of the Nature Center, plan an afternoon at a park’s picnic tables, grills and playgrounds, join the annual Run the River 5k/10k, or eat at Ray’s on the River or Canoe.
Location: 2012 Chomp and Stomp in Cabbagetown
Date taken: November 3, 2012
Bring your appetite. Bring an extra hand or two. Bring a water bottle and maybe some cornbread. And, of course, bring a friend. The annual chili cook-off in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta features booth upon booth of chili for tasting. Wander down two streets filled with everyday Atlantans who are eager to serve up their homemade chili (and maybe win a trophy for their efforts) and a third street featuring local restaurants. With a spoon in hand, you can spend an hour or more sampling chili (for veggie options, look for the green balloons). Your sample cup might be filled with pumpkin inspired chili, chili so spicy you’ll need that water bottle and cornbread, curry infused chili, chili served with popcorn (see the Plaza Theatre tent) or good old fashion chili that’s perfect for a fall Saturday in Atlanta. Hungry yet?
Location: Stone Summit
Date taken: November 5, 2012
Barry Clement’s family tells him they would like to see a few nice pictures from his trips, but the less they know the better. Barry, a Decatur native and resident, has been rock climbing for more than a decade, and the sport has taken him to some breathtaking and precarious places.
“I remember one trip to climb a route named Remember Appomattox when I became dehydrated and had low blood sugar … and then a storm came in,” said Barry. “With the steepness of the cliff, the only way out was up. We slept on the side of the cliff wall, rationed out our food and waited out the storm and eventually moved out. For a while there, it seemed like the world was bearing down on me.”
Barry got his first taste of rock climbing at age 14 at a summer camp. Later, he received training from the National Outdoor Leadership School to become a adventure ropes course instructor and started leading climbing activities. By the time he got to Georgia Tech for college, Barry was hooked on the sport. During every school break and most weekends, he and a group of friends would head off on climbing trips.
“There’s a sense of accomplishment with climbing and an adrenaline rush,” said Barry, who majored in industrial design. “It’s a certain amount of scariness and excitement at the same time. And, it’s addictive because when you start, you can see yourself progressing in the sport really quickly.”
For the past two years, Barry has served as general manager of Unique Outfitters, a specialty sporting goods store located in the country’s largest indoor climbing gym – Stone Summit. With several new climbing gyms in Atlanta and some of the country’s best natural climbing located just two hours away in the Lower Appalachians, Barry says the climbing community in Atlanta has exploded in the past five years.
Unique Outfitters seeks to outfit Atlanta climbers with the needed gear and apparel. The store’s employees are all expert climbers like Barry, who has traveled all over the world climbing – from Hidalgo, Mexico to Fontainebleau, France.
“The longer I have been climbing, the more I’m drawn toward the aesthetics of the sport,” said Barry. “Now, I’m looking to climb something aesthetically pleasing to me. Imagine looking an Ansel Adams photo and thinking ‘I want to be a part of that.’ That’s what I think when I go climb. I want to be a part of it.”
Unique Outfitters is an online and retail location, located in Stone Summit. The store features more than 60 pairs of climbing shoes, extreme hammocks, hangboards and other items for climbers. Side note: Barry is also a co-inventor and co-founder of Superhooper, lighted hulu hoops.
Date taken: November 9, 2012
When Angel Poventud moved to Atlanta in April of 1998, he went in search of a community similar to what he had experienced living in Miami – friendships built around social activities, such as his favorite hobby of rollerblading. But Angel soon found that Atlanta was different and community was a little harder to find. One day, on a whim, Angel followed a friend to a Trees Atlanta tree sale and signed up to volunteer. His first assignment – removing exotic and evasive plants from a patch of land in Kirkwood.
“There was something about that day of removing plants that clicked for me,” said Angel. “By the end of the day, I was covered in dirt, but the experience felt like a metaphor for my life. I was a part of bringing the field back to its original state.”
As a kid, Angel watched one of his childhood neighborhoods returned to its original state. His parents had built a house in the Everglades of Florida, and his family lived there for a while. A few years after Angel’s family left, the government decided the area was not safe for people to live permanently and removed all houses and traces of people.
“How many people can say that they’ve seen a place they have lived returned to its natural habitat,” Angel said. “That made a positive impact on me. It’s a unique part of my story. I see the beauty in it. Creating beauty and caring for the places we live make our communities better for everyone. ”
Since that first day with Trees Atlanta, improving and building community has been a passion for Angel. He’s known around town for his green dress, rollerblades and commitment to volunteerism. He’s served endless hours with Trees Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Atlanta Preservation Center, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and WonderRoot. He’s been honored with a Cox Conserves Heroes award. His Twitter name is “angelformayor,” and on the day of this interview, he was organizing people to remove vandalism from a Living Walls mural.
Now, Angel’s newly purchased home is his most recent project focused on building community and restoring something to its original state. Located on the Atlanta BeltLine, the historic bungalow in Adair Park was more a skeleton of a house than a livable structure when Angel purchased it in October 2011. For the past year, he has been working to raise funds and get necessary permits to start construction. The renovations start this month, and Angel quickly envisions the home becoming a gathering place for the neighborhood, larger community and those seeking to make a positive impact in Atlanta.
“As Atlantans, we need to be part of improving our city” Angel said. “We do that by participating. I want to show people how easy and how rewarding it is to participate.”
Learn more about Angel Poventud’s work to build community and a home on his website. You can contribute to the project online.
Location: Silver Skillet
Date taken: October 28, 2012
You can read about the history of the Silver Skillet on the restaurant’s menu, website or even walls. From the horse prints, good luck charms carried over from the first owner, to the autographed poster from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the stories and praise for the Silver Skillet are numerous. But, if you really want to know what to expect at this 14th street Southern diner, check out the menu. When the menu categories include “Syrupy Things” and “Biscuit Specialities,” you know the meal will satisfy Southern tastebuds. Don’t be discouraged by the line out the door on weekends. It moves fast. This is not your leisurely brunch place. Eat, enjoy and let the next person have your booth.
Location: CBS Atlanta News studio
Date taken: October, 27, 2012
Dead air. It’s a broadcast journalist’s worst nightmare. As a 16-year-old volunteer at her local radio station in Anniston, Ala., Jocelyn Connell found herself with dead air. Something had gone wrong with the sound board, so Jocelyn quickly grabbed the nearest news copy she could find and started reading it. A few minutes in, she realized it was the previous week’s news. She never made that mistake again.
Since then, Jocelyn has been filling the radio and TV air waves with news and information that impacts people’s lives. The two-time Emmy winner is currently a reporter and weekend morning anchor for CBS Atlanta News.
“I’ve always been curious about current events,” said Jocelyn. “I’m interested in how events impact people and directly impact the decisions they make tomorrow. I love being the first person to know something, and then being able to break it down for people. You never know what the day will hold, so you have to be adventurous and up for anything. But it can be so much fun.”
Through the course of her career, Jocelyn has covered serious events, such as the capture of Eric Robert Rudolph in 2003. It was her first national news event, and Jocelyn says being in the midst of such a big event was both nerve-wracking and an adrenaline rush. In Atlanta, Jocelyn covers breaking news, but she also gets to introduce Atlantans to fun and interesting happenings. She goes behind the scenes of Atlanta attractions, has stood atop a cheerleader pyramid during a fitness convention and raced a bed on wheels as part of a local non-profit’s fundraiser.
“I feel very content where I am,” Jocelyn said. “It had been a goal of mine for such a long time to be in the Atlanta market, one of the country’s largest markets and near family, and I feel blessed to be here. The launch of our new weekend morning show is a dream come true.”
You can see Jocelyn Connell on CBS Atlanta News every Saturday from 9-10 a.m., Sunday from 8:30-9:00 a.m. and during the week from 5-7 a.m. and again from 9-10 a.m.
Date taken: October 28, 2012
Scott Dupree has discovered that if you work hard and are lucky, there’s a point in your life when it all comes together. As a child, Scott knew he would grow up to be an artist. But as an adult, he struggled to figure out what that looked like. He tried anything and everything related to art – sculpture and metal working, abstract and classic styles.
“It’s like learning how to walk,” said Scott, a graduate of the University of Georgia’s art school. “It’s a difficult part of the journey, but once I discovered what was personal to me, I realized it was what I had been doing my whole life without realizing it.”
Eight years ago, Scott finally hit his stride and found that his artwork was repeating certain elements, that each piece was continuing a larger dialogue. The foundation of Scott’s artwork is his drawings — drawings of himself in costumes. He adds paint, and suddenly they become still life theatre, examining the historical, social and political influences of our time.
Scott credits his unusual childhood for his curious nature and awareness of culture’s impact. His family lived in Marietta, Ga., for the early part of his childhood. But when Scott was 7, his parents quit their corporate jobs, sold their house, moved their sailboat to Florida and the family spent a year and half sailing up and down the coast. After that, they traveled around the country, living out of their car.
“Being so young and not having preconceived notions about the people I met was important ,” Scott said. “Those travels as a child have played such a big, big part in my work the past eight years. It gave me a solid backbone and avenues to work from.”
Scott’s artwork, which he describes as often “revealing and personal,” hangs in galleries, homes, restaurants and places of business. The new owners of his paintings frequently report back to Scott that his artwork generates conversation and questions.
“To hear that, it affirms what I’m doing,” Scott said.
Date taken: September 22, 2012
As a kid, I never dreamed of running off and joining the circus (the cliché dream/threat of adolescence), but I’d like to think I could have. My grandfather loved taking us to the circus. He would come visit, and we would head downtown to the Omni Coliseum to see the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. The circus had the normal attractions — tight rope walking, tigers, elephants, clown cars, cotton candy and a ringmaster in a top hat — but my favorite part occurred before the circus lights came on. We would park down on the lowest level of the parking deck next to the Omni … right next to the train tracks. And as we found our way into the coliseum, we would pass by the circus train and try to catch a glimpse of an elephant grazing on dinner or a clown out of costume. It was tempting to try and sneak aboard and become a part of the circus.
Location: StoryCorps Atlanta booth
Date taken: October 19, 2012
Give Amanda Plumb two minutes, and she’ll discover your story. The questions she asks usually go something like this: “What’s the relationship between the two of you? How did you first meet? What was your first impression of each other? What was the point when your relationship changed?”
As the Atlanta Site Supervisor for StoryCorps, Amanda helps Atlantans record the stories of their lives. At the StoryCorps booth, located at WABE, Amanda facilitates interviews between family members, friends, co-workers and others. Often children and grandchildren interview grandparents or engaged couples record the story of how they met during the week of their weddings. And sometimes the relationships between people are more unique, such as the man who interviewed his psychic advisor.
“It’s fun because you never know what people are going to say and what stories they are going to tell,” said Amanda, a native of Rock Hill, S.C. “And, it’s a privilege to share in people’s lives. More often than not, people come to talk about big topics … death, divorce, falling in love, people who have impacted them. In a way, StoryCorps gives them the space and permission to talk about those important events in their lives. And people tell me that the conversations continue long after they leave the studio.”
Before working at StoryCorps, Amanda served as a union organizer, a job that frequently took her into people’s homes to ask them about their work life — the good aspects and the not so favorable ones. Community involvement and social justice have been an important part of Amanda’s life since she was young, and she sees her role with StoryCorps as a continuation of that passion.
“It’s so important to let people know that their stories matter,” Amanda said. “It’s a validating experience to tell your story or hear a relative tell the story of where your family came from. Through StoryCorps I have helped foster children and undocumented workers and others who normally might not have a strong voice in society tell their stories. And, in this way, we communicate that everyone matters.”
Atlanta StoryCorps is open by appointment on Thursdays and Saturdays for Atlantans to come in and record their stories. Listen to the stories of fellow Atlantans every Tuesday during WABE’s Morning Edition and City Cafe. Learn more about StoryCorps and view animated shorts online.
Location: Candler Park Fall Fest
Date taken: October 13, 2012
Date taken: October 13, 2012
If you are working on a “bucket list” or “things to do before I die” list, then I suggest going ahead and adding to it “race a bed.” Each fall, the Furniture Bank’s fundraising event gives Atlantans a chance to do something unique. Jump on a bed. Sure, that’s easy. Make a bed. You probably do that every day. But racing a bed through the streets … that’s one of those things you have to do at least once. So, sign up your team of 5 people (one rider, four racers). Come up with a theme (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Bed Thieves, Breakfast in Bed, Bed Bugs, etc.). Then put on your helmets and start running. Yes, helmets are required — beds on wheels move fast. People fall down. People fall off.