With the museum’s 100th anniversary coming up in 2013, now is a great time to start talking about how to revitalize and restore Joel Chandler Harris’ home so we can kick it for the next 100 years. 2013 is going to be full of celebrations, fundraising, and amazing growth. There is already an exciting opportunity on the horizon that will kick off our centennial year.
The Georgia Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC-GA) is committed to improving built environments to make high-performance, healthy buildings available to everyone in Georgia. On October 16th through October 18th, USGBC-GA will host an inaugural conference on southern historic preservation, sustainability, and energy efficiency here in Atlanta. The conference will bring together brilliant minds from across the nation to discuss how to restore and revitalize our city, community, economy, and quality of life.
One of the highlights of the conference is a case study of the Wren’s Nest. On the final day of the conference, there will be a charrette at the Wren’s Nest. Basically, a bunch of really smart historic preservationists and people interested in energy efficiency will gather for a tour and discussion on how to preserve and restore the house for generations to come in the most green way possible. We are very excited about the chance to be showcased in this way. It’s about time more people fell in love with this beautiful old museum and did something about it.
In preparation for the conference, the folks over at SouthFace came over and did an inspection last week. Boy, did they get a kick out of the spaces in the floor where you can see straight through to the basement. They may or may not have also discovered one ton of bricks (yes, that’s correct) that’s been looming in the attic over poor Sue’s desk for who knows how long. Thanks to SouthFace, the USGBC-GA has some great information for the conference, and we know that we need to move the bricks, or just move Sue.
We don’t mean to brag, but it’s safe to say that our KIPP Scribes book launch was a smashing success. There is nothing quite like seeing these students hold their books for the very first time, or hearing them read their stories to an enraptured audience. Little did we know, the Scribes are not only writers; they are also phenomenal readers. Check out a few preview pictures, thanks to the lovely Erin Sintos of Tin Can Photography, who captured the day through her lens.
If you weren’t able to attend the party, do not lament! You can buy your very own copy in the Wren’s Nest shop. Our new Wren’s Nest Publishing Company high school literary journal is also available in our shop now. It’s all so exciting. Just so exciting.
Hear ye! Hear ye! Books are a-brewin’!
The Decatur Book Festival is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time for the launch of our new KIPP Scribes book and Wren’s Nest Publishing Company Literary Journal. Below are details about each of the book launch parties. You’ll come if you know what’s good for you!
This year, the KIPP Scribes program took a new spin. Instead of recording a true story from an important adult in each of their lives, the students wrote historical fiction stories based in Atlanta. The KIPP Scribes crafted the stories with the help of their mentors and will release their book, Read After Burning, at Decatur Book Festival on Sunday, September 2 from 2:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. at CORE Studio (133 Sycamore Street Decatur, GA 30030). The book launch will feature readings from the KIPP Scribes and their mentors, as well as a chance to purchase your own copy signed by the authors.
The Wren’s Nest Publishing Company’s sixth annual literary journal, Flyaways, comprised pieces by Atlanta-area high school students. On Saturday, September 1, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m at CORE Studio (133 Sycamore Street Decatur, GA 30030), the student editors and contributors and their friends and family members will join to mingle, congratulate each other, and exult in their accomplishments with lemonade, popsicles, games, and coloring. Pull out your inner child and come share in the revelry!
If you can’t come to our parties, go cry in corner, then show your support another way :
Buy a copy of each book in our online bookstore. Books will be available for purchase on September 8th. Huzzah!
Tell someone about our writing programs. We will begin accepting mentors for next spring’s KIPP Scribes program in October. Email Jessie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. She likes getting emails out of left field.
PS: Please come visit us at the Decatur Book Festival. The Wren’s Nest booth is #612, on Clairmont right off Ponce across from the Old Courthouse. This year we’re sharing our booth with Vouched Atlanta. Come by and see us!
Would you like to help a middle school student become a published author? Do you know someone who would?
For an hour every week in February and March, you’ll meet 1-on-1 with a 5th grader at KIPP STRIVE Academy to craft a new work of fiction or nonfiction. See that picture above? It’ll look a lot like that.
After that work is done, we’ll compile the stories together for a handsome publication. Finally, we’ll all have a party for the book’s debut at the Decatur Book Festival.
Sounds like fun, right? We need 35 of you, so don’t be shy.
Here’s what you need to do to help:
1. Attend an orientation session on February 8th at 3:30pm.
2. Commit to 8 hours of service over a two month period.
3. Be available on Tuesdays between 3:00 and 4:00pm or Wednesdays between 3:15 and 4:15pm.
4. Have some sort of writing experience. You needn’t be Tolstoy, mind you. If you think you may qualify, chances are you probably do. Last year we welcomed writers, lawyers, teachers, and workaday folks like me.
Even if this program isn’t for you, I bet you know someone who would love it. And chances are, they’re totally clueless. Please forward this post along to your friends and/or enemies who might be even a little interested.
The Whole Fiasco has arrived, and boy are we excited!
The KIPP Scribes officially launched their book of important family stories over Labor Day Weekend at the Decatur Book Festival. CORE was kind enough to donate their space for the party, and Jason Travis was awesome enough to document it all.
Many thanks to all the students, family members, and volunteers who were there to celebrate the book launch.
We’re especially indebted to KIPP STRIVE teachers John and Vanessa, the KIPP STRIVE staff, and the Kim King Foundation for making this program possible.
I’m very excited to announce the release of The Whole Fiasco, the latest bound collection of stories from the KIPP Scribes. Details of the launch party are below.
Each week for three months Aatallah met 1-on-1 with a professional writer to record an important family story. She interviewed her mother and wrote “A Generous Decision,” about the time her mom invited a family without a home to share their small apartment.
She learned how to identify a great story, how to perform an effective interview, and how to craft creative nonfiction. Aatallah wrote six or seven drafts of “A Generous Decision” to get it just right.
Last year we found that the KIPP Scribes Program fundamentally changes the students’ relationship with the written word. Watching Aatallah develop as a writer and storyteller over three months was an astonishing transformation. And she’s just one of twenty-three new writers featured in The Whole Fiasco.
This year we partnered with Storycorps to allow some of the Scribes to record an interview with their chosen family member. The stories will be recorded in The Whole Fiasco, and their interviews will be archived at the Smithsonian’s National Musuem of African American History & Culture.
Saturday September 3rd from 11 am – 12 pm we’ll celebrate the release of The Whole Fiasco at the Decatur Book Festival. We’ll have books for sale, a few readings from the writers, and a lot of autographs upon request at CORE Dance Studio. It will be a very important day for these young writers. Will you join us?
If you can’t make it to the party, here’s how you can help —
Buy a copy of the book. It’ll be available in our store starting September 3rd.
Tell someone about this program. We need your help to spread the word.
Many thanks to the Kim King Foundation and the Fulton County Arts Council for funding the KIPP Scribes Program. Tremendous thanks to the many volunteers who gave so much of their time and themselves to the KIPP Scribes. We couldn’t do it without you.
The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. has been hard at work on Midnight Consumption, their brand new literary journal. It’ll debut at the Decatur Book Festival on September 4th complete with a literary salon at CORE from 2 – 5 pm.
The book features the work of 41 different high school students from around Atlanta.
Many thanks to Alicia Johnson for designing the cover. The stars of Orion will be die cut, which to us regular people means our book will be filled with holes.
Are you familiar with the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co? Let me break it down for a second —
(1) Each summer we invite a handful of high school students to learn how to create, edit, publish, and market a literary journal.
(2) The editors learn the ropes of the print industry from professionals in the field. This year they benefitted from the brains of Jamie Allen, Jamie Gumbrecht, the aforementioned Alicia, Hannah Palmer, and Kimberly Turner.
(3) We go to cool places to check out how folks make their living with the written word. This year Jamie G. led us behind the scenes at CNN.
(4) The students come up with a name, solicit submissions from their peers, make all editorial decisions, work with a designer to communicate their vision, and organize a literary salon where their peers — freshly minted published authors — read their work.
It’s fun and important. To tell you the truth though, we need your help to keep it going. Can you please help us with one of the following?
(1) Buy a copy of the book! They’re $5. If you can’t make it to the Decatur Book Festival, it will be available online.
(2) Tell someone about this program! If you want to be super helpful, tell someone who might want to participate next year.
(3) Work “Midnight Consumption” into your everyday vocabulary. It will feel right, promise.
Thanks for your support and see you at the Decatur Book Festival.
They’ve sent along a save the date worthy of this prestigious occasion —
I’d like to extend a tremendous thanks to the National Black Arts Festival for lending their expertise and African arts and crafts for the premier.
Can’t make the big day? Just bring Rabbit Tales to your school instead. Easy!
Tomorrow Atlanta’s City Council will vote on whether to change “Harris Street” to “John Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street.” I wrote my opinion, below. If you can’t voice your opinion tomorrow at City Hall at 1 pm, please contact your City Councilperson to let them know what you think.
John Portman, famous architect and developer, should be honored by the city of Atlanta. His contributions to our city are invaluable. His impact on skylines around the world has been substantial. Portman is unequivocally a great Atlantan.
But renaming “Harris Street” to “Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street” is a bad idea. It’s not just a bad idea because it cheapens the legacy of both John Portman and Judge John L. Harris. It’s a bad idea because it would set a dangerous precedent for the way we honor Atlanta’s most important citizens.
Picture Bernie Marcus Boulevard at Historic Ponce de Leon Avenue. Or Arthur Blank Street at Historic Andrew Young International Boulevard. What about John Smoltz Boulevard at Historic Hank Aaron Avenue?
Few would dispute the contributions to the city of Atlanta from any of these men. (Well, Ponce de Leon is on his own.) Like Portman’s efforts, their contributions are substantial and usually lauded. I’d contend, however, that we can find a better way to honor these esteemed individuals.
I’m not alone. Recently the Atlanta Preservation Center and five individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the city over the renaming. The idea of changing this particular street name at all has been rejected by the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association. It’s also been rejected by downtown’s Neighborhood Planning Unit. It’s also been rejected by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission.
The Atlanta City Council doesn’t like street renaming either. At the most recent City Utilities Committee meeting, Councilmember Aaron Watson said, “I hope we figure out a way to avoid [street renaming] in the future. I absolutely favor looking into other ways of honoring great Atlantans.” Council President Ceasar Mitchell echoed the sentiment: “We will find other ways to honor people. That’s the direction I want to see us go.”
Oddly enough, however, both men support renaming “Harris Street” to “Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street.”
Some folks have argued that this particular street renaming is permissible given the significance of Portman’s contributions and the relative insignificance of Judge John L. Harris’s reputation. Council President Mitchell complained that he couldn’t find anything about Harris on the internet. This is perhaps because Judge Harris served as Fulton County’s first and only representative to the State Legislature in 1855.
Please recall — the internet had not yet been invented in 1855. Neither had the chocolate chip cookie. Judge Harris was a pioneer when Atlanta was a twinkle in the eye of a handful of citizens. If not for him and for them, we wouldn’t even be talking about John Portman. Not in Atlanta anyway.
Street names honor many of our citizens long after their memories have faded. That’s the point. The patina of history, however, has allowed City Council to play favorites with well-connected contemporaries. No matter what Councilmembers might think, Atlanta’s history isn’t comprised of fictional characters that should be discarded in favor of friendship or politics.
John Harris was a man with a family who served our city, our county, and our state. No doubt he and his family took pride in their name, both before and after we named a street after him.
Harris’s cousin was one of Atlanta’s most famous citizens, Joel Chandler Harris, an associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution alongside Henry Grady. I can’t imagine he’d be thrilled if our City Council stripped his family of its honor for no particular reason.
The same goes for Joe Harris’s son, Julian Harris, a prominent Atlantan who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1926 for his “energetic fight against the Ku Klux Klan.” He in particular wouldn’t hide his displeasure with our City Council for stripping his family of its honor for no particular reason.
So too his great-grandnephew, Robin Harris, who as a State Legislator was instrumental in developing MARTA and Georgia’s current Constitution. He wouldn’t be happy about the $100,000 our cash-strapped transit agency will needlessly incur by having to change its maps and signage from “Harris Street” to “John Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street.”
Robin Harris’s grandson, yours truly, isn’t exactly thrilled about it either. Honor meant to outlast memory shouldn’t be stripped once someone’s contributions are forgotten.
City Council President Mitchell has said that naming a street after a citizen is “the highest honor a city can bestow.” If that’s true, we can’t leave City Council to pit the merits of great Atlantans against one another and thus erode that honor’s credibility, one street renaming after the next.
By the way, other major cities have already figured this particular issue out. Check out Chicago’s Madison Avenue at Wabash.
Brer Rabbit has been stolen from Eatonton. What’s left of the Brer Rabbit statue in front of the Uncle Remus Museum is at once a total bummer, a little funny, and an apt metaphor. Here’s a photo courtesy of Stanley —
The Macon Telegraph has had some fun with the story, which is what I imagine Joel Chandler Harris would have done when he worked there in the 1860s.
The caper has, as the author might’ve put it, caused “a considerbul flutter.”
“You can add some humor to it, but it’s a serious theft,” Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said Wednesday. “People are calling. They’re upset about it.”
Thieves — no doubt sly Mr. Foxes — with a crowbar pried the statue a’loose Sunday night and, lippity-clippity, made off with a town treasure.
For now at least, the villains, well, they lay low.
“The briar patch is hard to find Br’er Rabbit in as you well know,” the sheriff joked. “We picked up Br’er Fox … (but he had) an iron-clad alibi. … We got Tar-Baby, but he won’t say nothing.”
Got any tips on Brer Rabbit’s whereabouts? Please give the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office a call at 706-485-8557.
In the meantime all we can do is remember Brer Rabbit as he once was — take a gander what the statue used to look like.