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February 2011 “Creating a Vibrant Community” Volume 2 Issue 2 The Wren’s Nest is In the Tradition of... Preserving Our Oral Narrative Legacy By Amber Suitt In today’s society filled with tweeting, Facebook status updates, texting and email (just a few of our technological advances that of course have their advantages), where is the oral narrative? One may wonder, “Can it survive?”, while others may not wonder about it at all. But if we take a moment to reflect, perhaps we’ll remember that there is still something irreplaceable about hearing the human voice. There is something special in seeing a person’s facial expressions and the movement of their hands. There is something magical found in the act of sharing and listening. The oral narrative takes many forms. For instance, a grandmother may share with her grandchildren stories of candy costing just a nickel back in her day. It could be an oral record describing events of the past. It is folktales told with great excitement and animation to capture the imaginations of young and old. The oral narrative, one of the oldest means of communicating stories and ideas, is still alive and well. Every Saturday here at the Wren’s Nest, you can Continued on Page 7... StoryCorps Recordings at The Wrens Nest Museum Date: Monday, February 21, 2011 RSVP: To participate in this worthwhile oral narrative experience, call Amber Suitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.753.7735. Akbar, Wren’s Nest storyteller, telling Briar Rabbit Sto- ries to a captive audience. 8 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 On The Cover 1: Amber Suitt is the new program director of the Wren’s Nest Museum. Her favorite story teller is Mama Koku. (See Cover Story) 2: McDonalds is closing for renovations and Marshalls is opening at the Kroger City Center. 3: After a four year exhaustive search, new neighbors Kim and Calvin Parmer found their West End home at a down market price. It is true that patience is rewarded. 4: Once we have 100 paid members, I promise to remove the security patrol symbol from the masthed. 5: Ways to support the Wren’s Nest Museum: 1) Experience a storytelling performance on a Saturday at 1pm. 2) Tell your friends about the Wren’s Nest. 3) Donate online or via mail. 4) Buy a copy of Don’t Forget That Day. Alternate, in case one of those is no good, write a review of the Wren’s Nest online. 6: Save the Date for West Fest 2011: May 6-8. Volunteers are needed, contact Vonda Henry 404.374.3557.. Our West End Newsletter Photograph Courtesy of The Wren’s Nest Museum Make purchasing inquiries to WENDChat@yahoo.com Their Selling Fast so Pick Yours Up Quickly HISTORIC STREET TOPPERS Only $45 “Show Your Historic Pride” BANNER OF CULTURE Only $50 Make purchasing inquiries to WENDChat@yahoo.com Their Selling Fast, so Pick Yours Up Before West Fest. “Add Some Vibrant Color to Your Porch” 404.456.4118 email@example.com Real estate investment renovation and general contracting Serving the West End for 7 years All American Construction “Do - It - Yourself Or Ask John E. Pavlin for Help!” City Hall Information 404-330-6000 Sanitary Services 404-330-6333 Code Enforcement 404-330-6190 Housing Programs 404-330-6390 Sewer Operations 404-624-0750 Traffic & Transportation 404-330-6501 Crime Stoppers Tip Line 404-577-TIPS Narcotics 404-546-4245 Red Dog 404-546-6922 Drug Hotline 404-546-2650 Police Zone 1 404-799-4287 Police Zone 4 404-756-1903 Councilmember Cleta Winslow Presents: Important City Hall Numbers Life Management “making life manageable again” www.lifemanagementservice.com L. Danielle Carney PO Box 50086 Atlanta, GA 678 575-2523 The newsletter is published bi-monthly. 1000 copies were printed in February 2011. Copies are hand- delivered to all residents in the Historic West End neighborhood. Copies are also available at West End Library, West End Print Shop and Mutana Marketplace and Healthcare. Our volunteers: Brent Brewer, Handy Johnson, Beth McBee, Amber Suitt and Debbie Zimmerman and our many neighborhood distributors. To advertise, submit stories or distribute, contact Brent Brewer at 404.447.0282 or firstname.lastname@example.org. About The Newsletter 2 1 3 4 5 6 PUBLISHER’S CORNER Fill The Pages As promised, thanks to the support of our advertisers and WEND’s generous support, we have returned to our multi-page format. We need your help to fill the newsletter pages with your most interesting, provocative and entertaining stories. OWEN has a strong legacy (over 20 issues strong), so please share your best efforts. In this issue, we brought back one of your favorite columns from the past mortgage fraud series, and a new favorite column, the gardening page– just in time for spring. We’re also introducing a new column, What you missed at the Last WEND meeting (As if you never asked the question). If we reach our goal of 50 paid members, Vonda Henry, WEND’s president, promises to abandon this column forever. Joking aside, please come and join WEND on the first Tuesday of March at 7 pm at the West End library. The next issue will be published in March with a special preview of WEST FEST activities. Also look for a return of another favorite column that will satisfy your soul. – Brent Brewer, Managing Editor 2 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 StoryCorps Comes to West End see this tradition in action with the Wren’s Nest Ramblers performing Briar Rabbit tales and delighting the minds of many. In 2010, we also began collaborating with the students at KIPP STRIVE Academy. Working with professional writers, these amazing students learned to craft an important family story. In September 2010, this collection of stories was published as the book Don’t Forget That Day. Other organizations are also celebrating the importance of the oral narrative. Since 2003, StoryCorps has been recording, sharing and preserving the stories of everyday people’s lives. So far, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. The conversations, typically between two people (family members, friends, spouses, community members) lasts for 40 minutes and is recorded on a free CD. This CD may also be preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Additionally, there is a chance that participants’ conversation will be broadcast on local or national radio. With that said, you may be thinking to yourself, “That sounds pretty cool, I would love to do something like that.” Well, with StoryCorps recording at the Wren’s Nest this month, your big chance has arrived. On February 21, 2011, members of the West End community will have the opportunity to interview a loved one right here in the neighborhood. Knowing the power of recording stories first hand, we think working with StoryCorps is a natural fit. For more details, be sure to contact Amber Suitt at The Wren's Nest by emailing her at email@example.com, or give her a buzz at 404-753-7735. For more information about StoryCorps, visit www.storycorps.org. 7 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 continued from cover page ... During the summer of 2010, WEND’s Preservation & Urban Design Committee began an effort to update the West End Historic District (WEHD) Regulations. This effort grew out of the need to strengthen and clarify the intent of both general and specific regulations pertaining to all proposed rehabilitations, new construction, alterations and other structural changes within the historic district. Through the urging of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, primarily for the sake of efficiency and economy of effort, all of the City’s historic and landmark districts have joined in the process of updating their respective regulations. On September 7, 2010, WEND voted unanimously to move forward with all changes recommended by the Committee. Once approved by the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Reed, the proposed changes would: 1. Add staff-level “administrative” reviews for all Districts that currently do not have this type of review. West End and five other Districts are included in this group. 2. Amend existing language to clarify the intent of the regulations; and address shortcomings/ ambiguities/ oversights in individual districts regulations. For the WEHD Regulations (Chapter 20G Atlanta Land Development Code), revisions are being proposed in two areas of concern in the “General Regulations” section. These are: (a) determining the required Type of Certificate of Appropriateness, and (b) clarifying the definition of the Compatibility Rule. Revisions proposed for the “Specific Regulations” section pertain to: siding repair and replacement; 1st floor height for new construction; replacement of windows, doors, and roofing materials; the placement of decks, chimneys and paved surfaces; and, the height and choice of materials for front yard fencing and retaining walls. The changes proposed under this effort would not: Add more requirements to the WEHD regulations; Expand the scope of the regulations; nor Add or delete any geography to the District. Based on the tentative schedule outlined by the Urban Design Commission this effort should reach fruition sometime between mid-May to mid-June 2011. In case you missed the February WEND meeting ... Preservation & Urban Design Committee Report www.404-house.com Beautifully Restored West End Bungalows Owned by active WEND member. Properties For Rent Your Neighborhood Mortgage Banker Specializes in first time homebuyers. Vonda Henry Guaranty Mortgage Services 404-374-3557 Cell NMLS License #: 170855 GA License #: 6521 5072 Bristol Industrial Way Suite F Buford, GA 30518 6 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 Winter Gardening Tips By Debbie Zimmerman Winter can be a tough time for gardeners. We love to be outside, but bitterly cold temperatures, snow, and icy rain keep us indoors. We want to nurture new life, bring beautiful flowers into our homes, and share bountiful vegetables with our friends, but in winter most plants are resting. There are satisfying winter gardening activities here in the South. Leafy greens like kale and cabbage love cold weather and can be eaten fresh from the garden all winter. Winter is a good time to assess the structure of your yard and garden, to evaluate how well the landscaping plan “works” when plants are actively growing. In winter, soil that has been through cycles of freezing and thawing is open and porous. The roots of dormant plants seem to have contracted, making them easy to move to more favorable locations. Invasive plants like kudzu and honeysuckle can be totally and easily removed in cold winter months, whereas during active growth they seem impossible to dig up. Because the soil is much easier to dig now, whenever the weather is dry a new garden bed can be easily dug in much less time than in the spring. But a gardener’s favorite winter task may be planning for the spring garden. Seed catalogs arrive in the mail each winter. Most catalogs are free. Some have helpful information about planting the garden and caring for vegetables and flowers. Reading them is like reading a good gardening book. Others have beautiful photographs that inspire even the novice gardener to try new and unusual plants. One particularly lovely catalog is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com). Richters Herb Specialists (www.richters.com) offers a nice selection of herb, vegetable and flower seeds and tells how to grow and use each plant. Fedco Co-Op Seeds (www.fedcoseeds.com) publishes the “encyclopedia” of seed catalogs. No photos, but a wealth of information. Fedco’s prices are very good for seed purchased in bulk, which makes it tempting to plant a larger garden or to share a seed order with friends and neighbors. Often we have found that for the same price charged by other seed companies, we could buy as much as four times the seed from Fedco. Growing garden plants from seed is easy and cheap, and everyone should try it. Packets of seed can cost as little as one or two dollars, and most home vegetable and flower gardens can be planted entirely from seed. If you don’t have much time for gardening, try planting just a few flowers, or one or two plants of your favorite vegetable, in a pot on your front porch or in your driveway. They will welcome you home each day. If you want to grow more but garden space is limited at home, join - or start - a community garden. Don’t let cold winter weather stifle the gardener inside you. Tackle that kudzu growing over your back fence; build a new garden bed; and order seeds for flowers that bloom in your favorite color. Happy West End Gardening! Debbie Zimmerman, who has lived in the West End for 10 years and founded the Rose Circle Community Garden, will edit our new gardening page. Submit articles to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 Gardening Page presents helpful ... Garden Hood, our newest independent garden center, reminds us that spring is less than 2 weeks away. Start planning for it today!! Ribbon Cutting Ceremony By The Kindezi School Board The Honorable Shirley Franklin, 2010 William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professor at Spelman College and former mayor of Atlanta was the guest speaker at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, December 4, 2010 to mark the official grand opening of The Kindezi School. Located in the former Turner Middle School facility, 98 Anderson Ave, NW, Atlanta GA 30314, the Kindezi School grand opening ceremony also featured remarks by Khaatim Sherrer El, the Atlanta Board of Education representative for District 2. The Kindezi School, a K-8 Atlanta Public Schools charter school, opened last fall in southwest Atlanta. Kindezi is pioneering a dramatically different approach to public education that includes family-sized classrooms with six students and one teacher; individualized instruction for each student; tutorial method as a main form of instruction; and a focus on leadership and the arts. The school’s approach is inspired by the principles and practices of the Bantu people of Kongo, located in central Africa. The commitment to collective responsibility for children is expressed in the following proverb: “The child in the mother’s womb is the burden of one person; outside it belongs to everybody.” Angie Johnson, mother of kindergartener Ayinde and second grader Johari, appreciates the Kindezi philosophy. Johnson contends that "smaller class sizes, individual attention and creative expression are all critical parts of effective education.” The Kindezi School offers children a strong foundation and the best possible chance at an effective and fulfilling education. “My children are in a supportive and loving environment where they are challenged to grow intellectually and emotionally, feel good about being smart, and are excited about learning new things,” Johnson maintains. “We were excited to have Shirley Franklin as the speaker for our official grand opening,” comments Dean Leeper, founder and principal of The Kindezi School. “She is a great supporter of the arts and a proven leader. Our talented, passionate group of teachers and six students per class is clearly a recipe for outstanding achievement. I am confident that Kindezi can succeed operationally, administratively, and academically,” Leeper says with assurance. “Kindezi is positioned to produce future leaders to follow Ms. Franklin’s legacy.” Atlanta Public Schools (APS) authorizes charter schools to increase educational options for the children and parents of Atlanta. APS has broken new ground with this charter school, using its educational approach to create a whole new collaborative direction for students and teachers. Visit www.kindezi.org for details about the school and the tutorial method, research-proven to be the most effective way for students to learn. Our Neighborhood Charter School Celebrates ... Defining Ourselves Determining Our Destiny www.mutana.com email@example.com 1388 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd Atlanta, GA 30310 Who qualiifies: Rising Kindergarten students (Must be 5 by Sept. 1st, 2011) When: Open Enrollment from Feb. 1st to March 31st 2011 How: Please complete one Kindezi enrollment form for each eligible Where: The Kindezi School, 98 Anderson Ave. NW Atlanta GA 30310 404.671.4910 ENROLLMENT INFO Enrollment forms are available online at www.kindezi.org/enroll.html or for pick-up at The Kindezi School. If more students apply to enroll than there are spaces available, a random admission lottery will be held on April 12, 2010 at The Kindezi School. 4 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 Your Name Address Telephone/ Contact Information Date Representative Mike Jacobs, District 80 Legislative Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee Chair Georgia House of Representatives 401-B Coverdell Legislative Bldg., Atlanta, Georgia 30334 firstname.lastname@example.org Re: House Bill 110 Dear Representative Jacobs, I am writing to express my support of a vacant property/ foreclosure registry bill that would increase the transparency of ownership identification, make securing vacant properties an obligation, and support adequate fees/ fines and administrative priviledges to promote compliance. I am a resident of Atlanta’s Historic West End District. Over two years before the foreclosure crisis became a national issue, in November 2006, a neighborhood-wide inventory identified that one-third of the homes in the neighborhood were abandoned/ vacant properties. This extreme vacancy rate created a code enforcement violation tsunami-commonly portrayed by entire streets of vacant houses or overly priced properties in various levels of disrepair. On November 2, 2009, our neighborhood testified on issues concerning the neighborhood impact from the foreclosure crisis at a Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy. During our nearly decade long activism on this issue, we have recognized the need for independent lists of vacant and foreclosed properties. We support a bill that contains: Clear language authorizing municipalities to impose various obligations on registered properties (e.g., posting a sign with the owner/ agent’s contact info on the property; boarding up to minimum standards, carrying minimum amounts of insurance, etc.), Clear procedures for how an owner can get exempted from registration, Uniformity among collected ownership information, Identification of “Real” responsible parties (Stop LLC and real estate trusts abuses of not reporting individual ownership and physical address information), An adequate fee to cover the costs of dealing with vacant properties including the option of graduated fees (fees that go up every year the property stays vacant), Adequate fines to get the owners to take the ordinance seriously, Guidelines for an appeal process involving local municipalities to expedite compliance, And Public access to registry list for a fee. We suggest that revisions of HB 110 reflect our recommendations in order to support our neighborhood’s recovery efforts. Sincerely, Your Name 5 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 Letter of Support needed by all West End Residents ... HB 110 (Vacant Property Registry Bill) The most important Mortgage Fraud/ Foreclosure Legislation in state history needs our activism... By Brent Brewer Responsible vacant property ownership is very difficult to trace, therefore creating undue hardship on law enforcement, code enforcement, the court system and neighborhoods where such property is located. The HB110 legislation is intended to solve this long- standing problem: locating the person or financial institution responsible for an abandoned structure and, in many cases, forcing those owners to secure and maintain their properties. It requires owners to register vacant structures and pay a fee. Fulton and Dekalb counties and cities of Loganville, Riverdale and Powder Springs already have enacted ordinances. City of Atlanta’s Deputy Commissioner of Planning, James Shelby and Code Enforcement Director, Kevin Bean have talked with Dekalb County’s foreclosure registry manager about adopting an ordinance for the City of Atlanta. Arguably the most effective ordinance, Dekalb County’s ordinance requires creditors to register foreclosed properties with the county and pay a $175 fee. Those who violate the registry face a $1,000-a-day fine (the highest legally permissible fine). The fines are used to hire more code enforcement officers. The bill’s problem is that the only thing clear about the legislation is it’s title. This unclearly written bill would : Overrule (or preempt) any local ordinances from hardest hit municipalities (like Dekalb County) Cap fees that would discourage compliance Provide limited resources to administer the program Encourage lengthy property exemption list due to a proposed time-consuming state appeal process On the next page, you’ll see a petition letter calling for a rewrite of the proposed bill. Feel free to copy the letter and send it off today . I can give you a 100 reasons why you should participate in this campaign; however, there is no bigger reason than making property owners, commonly the bank, accountable for property upkeep, which in turn would make our neighborhood more attractive to our neighborhood stabilization efforts. Date: Wed. March 9, 2011 Time: 7:30 AM to 4:45 PM Location: Cobb Galleria Ctr Two Galleria Parkway Atlanta, GA 30339 Georgia Real Estate Fraud Prevention And Awareness Coalition, Inc. Invites you to the GREFPAC 7th Annual Conference A full day of phenomenal Industry Hot Topics and Speakers. CE Credits are available for attorneys, realtors, appraisers, and CFEs. Early Bird registration by February 25. All registrants must register online at www.grefpac.org Sponsorships are still available. Just a Few Weeks Away. Register Now. West End Copy & Print Shop Copy & Duplication Services 964 Ralph David Abernathy Atlanta, GA 30310 Phone: 404-207-1580 Fax: 404-207-1584 email@example.com Open: Mon-Fri 8:00a-9:00p Sat 9:00a-5:00p Happy 5th Anniversary! ng municipalities to impose various obligations on registered properties (e.g., posting a sign with the owner/ agent’s contact info on the property; boarding up to minimum standards, carrying minimum amounts of insurance, etc.), Clear procedures for how an owner can get exempted from registration, Uniformity among collected ownership information, Identification of “Real” responsible parties (Stop LLC and real estate trusts abuses of not reporting individual ownership and physical address information), An adequate fee to cover the costs of dealing with vacant properties including the option of graduated fees (fees that go up every year the property stays vacant), Adequate fines to get the owners to take the ordinance seriously, Guidelines for an appeal process involving local municipalities to expedite compliance, And Public access to registry list for a fee. We suggest that revisions of HB 110 reflect our recommendations in order to support our neighborhood’s recovery efforts. Sincerely, Your Name 5 Our West End Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2 Letter of Support needed by all West End Residents ... HB 110 (Vacant Property Registry Bill) The most important Mortgage Fraud/ Foreclosure Legislation in state history needs our activism... By Brent Brewer Responsible vacant property ownership is very difficult to trace, therefore creating undue hardship on law enforcement, code enforcement, the court system and neighborhoods where such property is located. The HB110 legislation is intended to solve this long- standing problem: locating the person or financial institution responsible for an abandoned structure and, in many cases, forcing those owners to secure and maintain their properties. It requires owners to register vacant structures and pay a fee. Fulton and Dekalb counties and cities of Loganville, Riverdale and Powder Springs already have enacted ordinances. City of Atlanta’s Deputy Commissioner of Planning, James Shelby and Code Enforcement Director, Kevin Bean have talked with Dekalb County’s foreclosure registry manager about adopting an ordinance for the City of Atlant