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Best of Atlanta 2017 Cityscape

 

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Cityscape

For many Atlantans, the closure of the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, which began the process of shutting down late last month, signaled more than just the end of a 20-year effort to provide low-barrier emergency housing to almost anyone in need. The shelter’s end, brought about after a prolonged campaign from the City and other parties, was also a symbol to our most vulnerable residents that our capacity to care for and about people in need had reached its limit.

But symbols, like appearances, can be deceiving.

The will to combat homelessness hasn’t been diminished, but it has evolved, as activists, organizations and people who just give a damn find new ways to solve the problem — and by fighting ancillary issues like gentrification, displacement, unemployment and racism.

And this renewed spirit to discover new ways to tackle old issues is being applied to other areas of interest across the city: from organizations helping at-risk folks navigate the justice system to legislators pushing for holistic answers to health problems to startup businesses in search of affordable operating models. These are the types of problem-solvers we’ve chosen to recognize in the Cityscape portion of this year’s Best of Atlanta. In doing so, hopefully, we can help drive home the idea that revolutionary adaptation is the true sign of what’s to come for Atlanta.

— Carlton Hargro


Featured


Best weed warrior BOA Award Winner

Allen Peake
A handful of politicos pushed pot policy reforms this year, but only one of those efforts bore fruit. State Rep. ALLEN PEAKE passed legislation that expanded the list of ailments a person must have to be eligible for a medical cannabis oil prescription. The THC limit is still capped at 5 percent, somore...

A handful of politicos pushed pot policy reforms this year, but only one of those efforts bore fruit. State Rep. ALLEN PEAKE passed legislation that expanded the list of ailments a person must have to be eligible for a medical cannabis oil prescription. The THC limit is still capped at 5 percent, so patients aren’t exactly getting stoned just yet. But Peake is also a proponent of establishing an in-state cultivation model, so Georgia could start regulating its own bud market. We’ll have to wait until the next legislative session to see how that shakes out. Meantime, state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, and Councilman Kwanza Hall are driving local efforts to relax weed laws in Atlanta. Stay tuned. www.allenpeake.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

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Best co-working space BOA Award Winner

The era of the co-working space is in full effect in Atlanta these days,, but all these startup-focused spots are not created equal. Leading this increasingly crowded pack is SWITCHYARDS DOWNTOWN CLUB, although it’s not totally because of its cool work areas, funky auditorium, espresso bar or ping-pongmore...

The era of the co-working space is in full effect in Atlanta these days,, but all these startup-focused spots are not created equal. Leading this increasingly crowded pack is SWITCHYARDS DOWNTOWN CLUB, although it’s not totally because of its cool work areas, funky auditorium, espresso bar or ping-pong table. None of that matters as much as the fact that SDC seems to cultivate and nurture a vibe that is uniquely Downtown: creative, down-to-earth, more about substance and less about flash. In the process, drawing entrepreneurs — like Bhargava and Anu Chiluveru of the art-focused e-commerce startup fourofour, and Tallia Deljou and Kate Gremillion of the women-centric career development company Mavenly + Co. — who share those same values to work and create there. 151 Ted Turner Drive N.W. www.switchyards.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

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Best reason to mix music and politics BOA Award Winner

WakeATL
Life in the shadow of the Trump presidency has everyone on edge. As social media continues its stranglehold on how we the people engage in ridiculously rigorous debate, it seems the war between good and evil has reached a stalemate on the digital battlefield. The semi-monthly WAKEATL events — hostedmore...
Life in the shadow of the Trump presidency has everyone on edge. As social media continues its stranglehold on how we the people engage in ridiculously rigorous debate, it seems the war between good and evil has reached a stalemate on the digital battlefield. The semi-monthly WAKEATL events — hosted by experimental hip-hop outfit Wake — give Atlantans an outlet to lobby for the forces of good in the real world by bridging music and art scenes with social justice activism. Everyone from mayoral hopeful Vincent Fort to the Housing Justice League have made appearances, while hip-hop and off-kilter rock acts such as Chew, Stacy Epps, Victor Mariachi, Working Class Music, Lingua Franca and more regularly tear up the stages from 529 to Aisle 5. The motivation is always to give people resources to become more socially conscious and active in their daily lives. Topics of discussion have focused on police brutality, gentrification and more affecting local communities. And while each event is high-intensity, it’s done more to engage the community and hold each other accountable for their actions than it is to celebrate. Viva la revolution! www.facebook.com/wakeATL. less...

Best gathering spot for Atlanta BOA Award Winner

Launched by Ryan Wilson and TK Peterson in 2016 with a mission to serve as a members-only club for the city’s growing population of professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs, THE GATHERING SPOT could have easily turned into nothing more than a see-and-be-seen kind of destination. But, serving as amore...

Launched by Ryan Wilson and TK Peterson in 2016 with a mission to serve as a members-only club for the city’s growing population of professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs, THE GATHERING SPOT could have easily turned into nothing more than a see-and-be-seen kind of destination. But, serving as a venue for conversations on investing in local artists and for launching new businesses like the African-American culture website Cassiuslife.com, it quickly evolved into a space where some of Atlanta’s best and brightest congregated to work and collaborate — not pose. And with plans in the works to open a second Gathering Spot in another market, chances are good that opportunities to connect and develop community will grow as well. 384 Northyards Blvd. N.W. 404-948-2459. www.thegatheringspot.club.

Spot for Atlanta’s Shakers and Movers

photo by: Lindsey Max

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Best way to celebrate Mother's Day BOA Award Winner

Black Mama's Bail Out
Organized by members of the Atlanta-based group Southerners on New Ground and a coalition of other concerned local organizations, BLACK MAMA’S BAIL OUT took an often-commercial holiday and flipped it into an opportunity to help transform lives. The initiative raised $520,000 to bail out mothers frommore...

Organized by members of the Atlanta-based group Southerners on New Ground and a coalition of other concerned local organizations, BLACK MAMA’S BAIL OUT took an often-commercial holiday and flipped it into an opportunity to help transform lives. The initiative raised $520,000 to bail out mothers from jails in 16 cities across the nation, including Atlanta. The AJC reported in May that the two-day effort freed 17 women locally who otherwise didn’t have resources to get bailed out on their own. In a system that affects the lives of minorities and the poor in the worst ways, programs like this are sadly needed to tip the scales, if ever so slightly. www.southernersonnewground.org.

(from left - Shanti Moore, Akiva Freidlin, Mary Hooks, Kate Shapiro and Micky Bradford)

photo by: Brandon English

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Best teen-focused nonprofit BOA Award Winner

re:Imagine ATL
You’ve got to love an organization whose sole mission is to help young adults channel their energy and creative into something positive — and that’s just what RE:IMAGINE ATL is all about. Founded and helmed by Executive Director Susanna Spiccia, the group teaches kids the fundamentals of videomore...
You’ve got to love an organization whose sole mission is to help young adults channel their energy and creative into something positive — and that’s just what RE:IMAGINE ATL is all about. Founded and helmed by Executive Director Susanna Spiccia, the group teaches kids the fundamentals of video production, filmmaking, podcasting and more, and then unleashes them to create their own content. The nonprofit also provides numerous opportunities for its teen creators to meet, learn from and be critiqued by professionals in the field at a variety of regular networking events. It’s a good group, y’all. Check ’em out, and show some support. www.reimagineatl.com. less...

Best advocate for the homeless BOA Award Winner

Anita Beaty
Synonyms for the word “advocate” include: supporter, proponent, spokeswoman, fighter, crusader. ANITA BEATY, who used to run the Southeast’s largest homeless shelter, Peachtree-Pine, resembles all those descriptors and much more. For 20 years, she broke bread with the shelter’s “guests,”more...

Synonyms for the word “advocate” include: supporter, proponent, spokeswoman, fighter, crusader. ANITA BEATY, who used to run the Southeast’s largest homeless shelter, Peachtree-Pine, resembles all those descriptors and much more. For 20 years, she broke bread with the shelter’s “guests,” led them in marches to vote at the polls, spoke out alongside them in neighborhood meetings, and fought the City — among others — on their behalf time and time again. While we may no longer see her speaking from the City Hall podium as spokeswoman for Peachtree-Pine, which will close this month, we’re not convinced Beaty won’t remain the staunch advocate for a more just and equal Atlanta she’s long been. www.facebook.com/anita.l.beaty.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

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Best TV mogul on the rise BOA Award Winner

Diamonde Williamson
Although DIAMONDE WILLIAMSON officially launched her online TV network, Blossom, in February, you can’t really skirt over how big of a deal the whole concept is. It’s probably the only Netflix-style, subscription-based video platform in the U.S. that presents content by and targeted to women of colormore...
Although DIAMONDE WILLIAMSON officially launched her online TV network, Blossom, in February, you can’t really skirt over how big of a deal the whole concept is. It’s probably the only Netflix-style, subscription-based video platform in the U.S. that presents content by and targeted to women of color (such as the talk show “Melanin Mommas”) — and that’s something no stinking-rich media company has ever endeavored to do. But leave it to Williamson and her team at this Atlanta-based startup to boldly go where no has before. Looks like the revolution will be televised after all. www.watchblossom.com. less...

Best movie studio shooting flicks in Atlanta BOA Award Winner

Marvel
All that talk about Atlanta being the “Hollywood of the South” sure rings true these days, with multiple movies being shot all over the metro area on an almost daily basis. But one studio seems to be more all-in when it comes to filming in the ATL than any other: MARVEL. Whether it’s down southmore...
All that talk about Atlanta being the “Hollywood of the South” sure rings true these days, with multiple movies being shot all over the metro area on an almost daily basis. But one studio seems to be more all-in when it comes to filming in the ATL than any other: MARVEL. Whether it’s down south in Fayetteville at the Pinewood Atlanta Studios soundstages or on the streets of Downtown, the folks at Marvel are mounting their copious comic book adaptations — blockbusters like Spider-Man, Black Panther and The Avengers — at a breakneck pace. And with films already in production for years to come, get ready to see costumed-clad folks running around town for a good long while. www.marvel.com. less...

Best scam BOA Award Winner

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so manymore...
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so many local projects could benefit from that type of funding. While the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has “donated” upward of $20 million to the impoverished Westside neighborhoods next to the stadium, that hardly makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money that has gone to the stadium construction increasing the value of the Atlanta Falcons. At the end of last year the Falcons had already inked deals worth $900 million in stadium sponsorships! Imagine the impact if the public money used for construction was directed to neighborhood organizations in the poorest areas of the city. Or imagine the impact on Atlanta if 700 small businesses were given $1 million each to grow their businesses. We can only dream of a society where individuals and small businesses are more important than large corporations and billionaires. less...

Best thing to come out of the new stadium deal BOA Award Winner

Westside Works
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) formore...
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) for jobs in construction, the culinary arts and education, among other fields. And according to data captured by Westside Works, it looks like the program is having a positive impact, with more than 500 people receiving training and 78 percent of them retaining a living wage after one year. Time will tell if these changes will truly alter the lives of the students who have participated and the neighborhoods they live in, but for now, it’s looking like a success story. www.westsideworks.org. less...

Best zen nature spot within 17 miles of Downtown Atlanta BOA Award Winner

A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectednessmore...

A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectedness of us all or take a hike and praise the creator of your choice (or none at all, if that’s your thing). The best hike combines the White Trail with the Red Trail, leaving the visitor center and heading counterclockwise for a 4.5-mile loop jaunt. Starting with a warning not to disturb rattlesnakes about a mile in before winding through a forest past a turtle pond and climaxing with a roughly 2-mile ramble on the red trail, hugging the whitewater swells of Sweetwater Creek beside you. The sounds alone will provide salvation. Bathe in the water for a rebirth, with plenty of deer checking you out in the brilliant afternoon light. Whatever your chosen journey, Sweetwater Creek will deliver the zen you seek. 1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. www.gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.

(Courtesy of gastateparks.org/PressRoom).

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Best hope for fighting homelessness BOA Award Winner

Affordable Housing
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate thatmore...
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate that some percentage, generally between 10 and 30 percent, of housing be affordable, which has been defined as 60 percent of Atlanta’s area median income (or $60,219). Now, some say “affordable” should be based not on area median income but on what someone who works full-time making minimum wage can actually afford. But we’ve got to a draw a line in the sand at some point. Let’s get this done. less...

Best giver of all the damns BOA Award Winner

Asma Elhuni
ASMA ELHUNI’s name bubbled up in new outlets worldwide this year when she videotaped a man harassing her at local coffee shop because she’s Muslim. But beyond that incident, Elhuni — who serves as the outreach director for the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — hasmore...
ASMA ELHUNI’s name bubbled up in new outlets worldwide this year when she videotaped a man harassing her at local coffee shop because she’s Muslim. But beyond that incident, Elhuni — who serves as the outreach director for the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — has been fighting the good fight in Atlanta for a while now, lending her time and platform to a number of causes. Case in point: Months ago she helped organize a variety of activists and organizations to fight the displacement of residents who live around Turner Field. The former baseball stadium is under development by Georgia State, and through a prolonged camp-in at a makeshift tent city, Elhuni and fellow concerned citizens worked to raise awareness about the downside of gentrification in that part of town. Her efforts underscore what she has identified as her personal mission to fight policies that discriminate against “the poor, immigrants, blacks, Muslims, people of color, trans, queer and nonbinary folks.” www.twitter.com/asmaelhuni less...

Best reason to get excited about the future of Downtown development BOA Award Winner

Newport US
Usually when developers announce plans for projects they have in the works, that news is met with a good deal of nervousness and skepticism by many Atlanta residents. But that’s not the case with NEWPORT US and its plans for South Downtown. The German-based company released renderings in July depictingmore...
Usually when developers announce plans for projects they have in the works, that news is met with a good deal of nervousness and skepticism by many Atlanta residents. But that’s not the case with NEWPORT US and its plans for South Downtown. The German-based company released renderings in July depicting what it has in store for eight blocks of the neighborhood marred by pockets of blight — and those plans call for transformation without destroying the character of the structures. So, look for restoration of buildings in the area, not demolition. The company has also built engagement with the community into the fabric of the project, and that’s a far cry from other developers who seem to be locked in conflict with residents and activists. less...

Best local blog BOA Award Winner

Decaturish

Best overall neighborhood BOA Award Winner

Virginia-Highland

Best neighborhood festival BOA Award Winner

Inman Park Festival

Best hiking trail BOA Award Winner

Chattahoochee River trails

Best community garden BOA Award Winner

The Wylde Center

best nonprofit BOA Award Winner

Bert's Big Adventure

Best hotel BOA Award Winner

Hotel Indigo - Downtown

Best radio station BOA Award Winner

Rock 100.5 (WNNX-FM)

Best public skatepark BOA Award Winner

Old Fourth Ward Skatepark

Best local journalist BOA Award Winner

Dan Wisenhunt

Best street character BOA Award Winner

Baton Bob
batonbob.weebly.com

Best MARTA station BOA Award Winner

Peachtree Center Station

artwork by Bhargava Chiluveru

www.itsmarta.com

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

Best park BOA Award Winner

Best rec league BOA Award Winner

Atlanta Rollergirls

www.atlantarollergirls.com

photo by: Lindsey Max/ CL File

Best city view BOA Award Winner

I-85 South access bridge

Best public pool BOA Award Winner

Piedmont Park Aquatic Center and Pool

Best local political figure BOA Award Winner

John Lewis
johnlewis.house.gov

Best local sports team BOA Award Winner

Atlanta United FC

Best podcast BOA Award Winner

"Sis & Tell"

Best new local startup BOA Award Winner

sCAMPer Van

Best bizarro Best local news story BOA Award Winner

I-85 bridge collapse

Best local hero BOA Award Winner

John Lewis
johnlewis.house.gov

Best local athlete BOA Award Winner

Human Missile Crisis aka Nikita Raper

Best local blog BOA Award Winner

Decaturish

Best weed warrior BOA Award Winner

Allen Peake
A handful of politicos pushed pot policy reforms this year, but only one of those efforts bore fruit. State Rep. ALLEN PEAKE passed legislation that expanded the list of ailments a person must have to be eligible for a medical cannabis oil prescription. The THC limit is still capped at 5 percent, somore...

A handful of politicos pushed pot policy reforms this year, but only one of those efforts bore fruit. State Rep. ALLEN PEAKE passed legislation that expanded the list of ailments a person must have to be eligible for a medical cannabis oil prescription. The THC limit is still capped at 5 percent, so patients aren’t exactly getting stoned just yet. But Peake is also a proponent of establishing an in-state cultivation model, so Georgia could start regulating its own bud market. We’ll have to wait until the next legislative session to see how that shakes out. Meantime, state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, and Councilman Kwanza Hall are driving local efforts to relax weed laws in Atlanta. Stay tuned. www.allenpeake.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

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Best co-working space BOA Award Winner

The era of the co-working space is in full effect in Atlanta these days,, but all these startup-focused spots are not created equal. Leading this increasingly crowded pack is SWITCHYARDS DOWNTOWN CLUB, although it’s not totally because of its cool work areas, funky auditorium, espresso bar or ping-pongmore...

The era of the co-working space is in full effect in Atlanta these days,, but all these startup-focused spots are not created equal. Leading this increasingly crowded pack is SWITCHYARDS DOWNTOWN CLUB, although it’s not totally because of its cool work areas, funky auditorium, espresso bar or ping-pong table. None of that matters as much as the fact that SDC seems to cultivate and nurture a vibe that is uniquely Downtown: creative, down-to-earth, more about substance and less about flash. In the process, drawing entrepreneurs — like Bhargava and Anu Chiluveru of the art-focused e-commerce startup fourofour, and Tallia Deljou and Kate Gremillion of the women-centric career development company Mavenly + Co. — who share those same values to work and create there. 151 Ted Turner Drive N.W. www.switchyards.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

less...

Best overall neighborhood BOA Award Winner

Virginia-Highland

Best neighborhood festival BOA Award Winner

Inman Park Festival

Best hiking trail BOA Award Winner

Chattahoochee River trails

Best community garden BOA Award Winner

The Wylde Center

Best reason to mix music and politics BOA Award Winner

WakeATL
Life in the shadow of the Trump presidency has everyone on edge. As social media continues its stranglehold on how we the people engage in ridiculously rigorous debate, it seems the war between good and evil has reached a stalemate on the digital battlefield. The semi-monthly WAKEATL events — hostedmore...
Life in the shadow of the Trump presidency has everyone on edge. As social media continues its stranglehold on how we the people engage in ridiculously rigorous debate, it seems the war between good and evil has reached a stalemate on the digital battlefield. The semi-monthly WAKEATL events — hosted by experimental hip-hop outfit Wake — give Atlantans an outlet to lobby for the forces of good in the real world by bridging music and art scenes with social justice activism. Everyone from mayoral hopeful Vincent Fort to the Housing Justice League have made appearances, while hip-hop and off-kilter rock acts such as Chew, Stacy Epps, Victor Mariachi, Working Class Music, Lingua Franca and more regularly tear up the stages from 529 to Aisle 5. The motivation is always to give people resources to become more socially conscious and active in their daily lives. Topics of discussion have focused on police brutality, gentrification and more affecting local communities. And while each event is high-intensity, it’s done more to engage the community and hold each other accountable for their actions than it is to celebrate. Viva la revolution! www.facebook.com/wakeATL. less...

best nonprofit BOA Award Winner

Bert's Big Adventure

Best hotel BOA Award Winner

Hotel Indigo - Downtown

Best radio station BOA Award Winner

Rock 100.5 (WNNX-FM)

Best public skatepark BOA Award Winner

Old Fourth Ward Skatepark

Best local journalist BOA Award Winner

Dan Wisenhunt

Best gathering spot for Atlanta BOA Award Winner

Launched by Ryan Wilson and TK Peterson in 2016 with a mission to serve as a members-only club for the city’s growing population of professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs, THE GATHERING SPOT could have easily turned into nothing more than a see-and-be-seen kind of destination. But, serving as amore...

Launched by Ryan Wilson and TK Peterson in 2016 with a mission to serve as a members-only club for the city’s growing population of professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs, THE GATHERING SPOT could have easily turned into nothing more than a see-and-be-seen kind of destination. But, serving as a venue for conversations on investing in local artists and for launching new businesses like the African-American culture website Cassiuslife.com, it quickly evolved into a space where some of Atlanta’s best and brightest congregated to work and collaborate — not pose. And with plans in the works to open a second Gathering Spot in another market, chances are good that opportunities to connect and develop community will grow as well. 384 Northyards Blvd. N.W. 404-948-2459. www.thegatheringspot.club.

Spot for Atlanta’s Shakers and Movers

photo by: Lindsey Max

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Best way to celebrate Mother's Day BOA Award Winner

Black Mama's Bail Out
Organized by members of the Atlanta-based group Southerners on New Ground and a coalition of other concerned local organizations, BLACK MAMA’S BAIL OUT took an often-commercial holiday and flipped it into an opportunity to help transform lives. The initiative raised $520,000 to bail out mothers frommore...

Organized by members of the Atlanta-based group Southerners on New Ground and a coalition of other concerned local organizations, BLACK MAMA’S BAIL OUT took an often-commercial holiday and flipped it into an opportunity to help transform lives. The initiative raised $520,000 to bail out mothers from jails in 16 cities across the nation, including Atlanta. The AJC reported in May that the two-day effort freed 17 women locally who otherwise didn’t have resources to get bailed out on their own. In a system that affects the lives of minorities and the poor in the worst ways, programs like this are sadly needed to tip the scales, if ever so slightly. www.southernersonnewground.org.

(from left - Shanti Moore, Akiva Freidlin, Mary Hooks, Kate Shapiro and Micky Bradford)

photo by: Brandon English

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Best teen-focused nonprofit BOA Award Winner

re:Imagine ATL
You’ve got to love an organization whose sole mission is to help young adults channel their energy and creative into something positive — and that’s just what RE:IMAGINE ATL is all about. Founded and helmed by Executive Director Susanna Spiccia, the group teaches kids the fundamentals of videomore...
You’ve got to love an organization whose sole mission is to help young adults channel their energy and creative into something positive — and that’s just what RE:IMAGINE ATL is all about. Founded and helmed by Executive Director Susanna Spiccia, the group teaches kids the fundamentals of video production, filmmaking, podcasting and more, and then unleashes them to create their own content. The nonprofit also provides numerous opportunities for its teen creators to meet, learn from and be critiqued by professionals in the field at a variety of regular networking events. It’s a good group, y’all. Check ’em out, and show some support. www.reimagineatl.com. less...

Best advocate for the homeless BOA Award Winner

Anita Beaty
Synonyms for the word “advocate” include: supporter, proponent, spokeswoman, fighter, crusader. ANITA BEATY, who used to run the Southeast’s largest homeless shelter, Peachtree-Pine, resembles all those descriptors and much more. For 20 years, she broke bread with the shelter’s “guests,”more...

Synonyms for the word “advocate” include: supporter, proponent, spokeswoman, fighter, crusader. ANITA BEATY, who used to run the Southeast’s largest homeless shelter, Peachtree-Pine, resembles all those descriptors and much more. For 20 years, she broke bread with the shelter’s “guests,” led them in marches to vote at the polls, spoke out alongside them in neighborhood meetings, and fought the City — among others — on their behalf time and time again. While we may no longer see her speaking from the City Hall podium as spokeswoman for Peachtree-Pine, which will close this month, we’re not convinced Beaty won’t remain the staunch advocate for a more just and equal Atlanta she’s long been. www.facebook.com/anita.l.beaty.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

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Best TV mogul on the rise BOA Award Winner

Diamonde Williamson
Although DIAMONDE WILLIAMSON officially launched her online TV network, Blossom, in February, you can’t really skirt over how big of a deal the whole concept is. It’s probably the only Netflix-style, subscription-based video platform in the U.S. that presents content by and targeted to women of colormore...
Although DIAMONDE WILLIAMSON officially launched her online TV network, Blossom, in February, you can’t really skirt over how big of a deal the whole concept is. It’s probably the only Netflix-style, subscription-based video platform in the U.S. that presents content by and targeted to women of color (such as the talk show “Melanin Mommas”) — and that’s something no stinking-rich media company has ever endeavored to do. But leave it to Williamson and her team at this Atlanta-based startup to boldly go where no has before. Looks like the revolution will be televised after all. www.watchblossom.com. less...

Best movie studio shooting flicks in Atlanta BOA Award Winner

Marvel
All that talk about Atlanta being the “Hollywood of the South” sure rings true these days, with multiple movies being shot all over the metro area on an almost daily basis. But one studio seems to be more all-in when it comes to filming in the ATL than any other: MARVEL. Whether it’s down southmore...
All that talk about Atlanta being the “Hollywood of the South” sure rings true these days, with multiple movies being shot all over the metro area on an almost daily basis. But one studio seems to be more all-in when it comes to filming in the ATL than any other: MARVEL. Whether it’s down south in Fayetteville at the Pinewood Atlanta Studios soundstages or on the streets of Downtown, the folks at Marvel are mounting their copious comic book adaptations — blockbusters like Spider-Man, Black Panther and The Avengers — at a breakneck pace. And with films already in production for years to come, get ready to see costumed-clad folks running around town for a good long while. www.marvel.com. less...

Best street character BOA Award Winner

Baton Bob
batonbob.weebly.com

Best MARTA station BOA Award Winner

Peachtree Center Station

artwork by Bhargava Chiluveru

www.itsmarta.com

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

Best park BOA Award Winner

Best rec league BOA Award Winner

Atlanta Rollergirls

www.atlantarollergirls.com

photo by: Lindsey Max/ CL File

Best city view BOA Award Winner

I-85 South access bridge

Best public pool BOA Award Winner

Piedmont Park Aquatic Center and Pool

Best local political figure BOA Award Winner

John Lewis
johnlewis.house.gov

Best local sports team BOA Award Winner

Atlanta United FC

Best podcast BOA Award Winner

"Sis & Tell"

Best scam BOA Award Winner

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so manymore...
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so many local projects could benefit from that type of funding. While the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has “donated” upward of $20 million to the impoverished Westside neighborhoods next to the stadium, that hardly makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money that has gone to the stadium construction increasing the value of the Atlanta Falcons. At the end of last year the Falcons had already inked deals worth $900 million in stadium sponsorships! Imagine the impact if the public money used for construction was directed to neighborhood organizations in the poorest areas of the city. Or imagine the impact on Atlanta if 700 small businesses were given $1 million each to grow their businesses. We can only dream of a society where individuals and small businesses are more important than large corporations and billionaires. less...

Best thing to come out of the new stadium deal BOA Award Winner

Westside Works
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) formore...
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) for jobs in construction, the culinary arts and education, among other fields. And according to data captured by Westside Works, it looks like the program is having a positive impact, with more than 500 people receiving training and 78 percent of them retaining a living wage after one year. Time will tell if these changes will truly alter the lives of the students who have participated and the neighborhoods they live in, but for now, it’s looking like a success story. www.westsideworks.org. less...

Best zen nature spot within 17 miles of Downtown Atlanta BOA Award Winner

A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectednessmore...

A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectedness of us all or take a hike and praise the creator of your choice (or none at all, if that’s your thing). The best hike combines the White Trail with the Red Trail, leaving the visitor center and heading counterclockwise for a 4.5-mile loop jaunt. Starting with a warning not to disturb rattlesnakes about a mile in before winding through a forest past a turtle pond and climaxing with a roughly 2-mile ramble on the red trail, hugging the whitewater swells of Sweetwater Creek beside you. The sounds alone will provide salvation. Bathe in the water for a rebirth, with plenty of deer checking you out in the brilliant afternoon light. Whatever your chosen journey, Sweetwater Creek will deliver the zen you seek. 1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. www.gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.

(Courtesy of gastateparks.org/PressRoom).

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Best hope for fighting homelessness BOA Award Winner

Affordable Housing
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate thatmore...
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate that some percentage, generally between 10 and 30 percent, of housing be affordable, which has been defined as 60 percent of Atlanta’s area median income (or $60,219). Now, some say “affordable” should be based not on area median income but on what someone who works full-time making minimum wage can actually afford. But we’ve got to a draw a line in the sand at some point. Let’s get this done. less...

Best new local startup BOA Award Winner

sCAMPer Van

Best giver of all the damns BOA Award Winner

Asma Elhuni
ASMA ELHUNI’s name bubbled up in new outlets worldwide this year when she videotaped a man harassing her at local coffee shop because she’s Muslim. But beyond that incident, Elhuni — who serves as the outreach director for the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — hasmore...
ASMA ELHUNI’s name bubbled up in new outlets worldwide this year when she videotaped a man harassing her at local coffee shop because she’s Muslim. But beyond that incident, Elhuni — who serves as the outreach director for the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — has been fighting the good fight in Atlanta for a while now, lending her time and platform to a number of causes. Case in point: Months ago she helped organize a variety of activists and organizations to fight the displacement of residents who live around Turner Field. The former baseball stadium is under development by Georgia State, and through a prolonged camp-in at a makeshift tent city, Elhuni and fellow concerned citizens worked to raise awareness about the downside of gentrification in that part of town. Her efforts underscore what she has identified as her personal mission to fight policies that discriminate against “the poor, immigrants, blacks, Muslims, people of color, trans, queer and nonbinary folks.” www.twitter.com/asmaelhuni less...

Best reason to get excited about the future of Downtown development BOA Award Winner

Newport US
Usually when developers announce plans for projects they have in the works, that news is met with a good deal of nervousness and skepticism by many Atlanta residents. But that’s not the case with NEWPORT US and its plans for South Downtown. The German-based company released renderings in July depictingmore...
Usually when developers announce plans for projects they have in the works, that news is met with a good deal of nervousness and skepticism by many Atlanta residents. But that’s not the case with NEWPORT US and its plans for South Downtown. The German-based company released renderings in July depicting what it has in store for eight blocks of the neighborhood marred by pockets of blight — and those plans call for transformation without destroying the character of the structures. So, look for restoration of buildings in the area, not demolition. The company has also built engagement with the community into the fabric of the project, and that’s a far cry from other developers who seem to be locked in conflict with residents and activists. less...

Best bizarro Best local news story BOA Award Winner

I-85 bridge collapse

Best local hero BOA Award Winner

John Lewis
johnlewis.house.gov

Best local athlete BOA Award Winner

Human Missile Crisis aka Nikita Raper
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