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.