Although it’s known as Murmur, the organization is more of an outcry. Expansive community outreach (including elementary school workshops, queer and anti-homophobic events, and efforts for homeless youth) is singular and characterizing — but only part of the picture. A fierce collaborator and civic resource, the hub of both the Atlanta Zine Fest and the Atlanta Zine Library (AZL) has proven itself to be a true feature of Atlanta’s creative community. Since AZL’s beginnings back in 2011, Murmur has worked with the likes of MINT Gallery, the Low Museum, LadyFest Atlanta, the Mammal Gallery, Hodgepodge Coffeehouse and Gallery, Charis Books, and others in its efforts to bridge the gap between resource access and creative intent. Through collaboration and DIY production, Murmur is helping artists shape the way they want their work to be presented — without the middle man.
But now, ladies and gentlemen, Murmur needs a dedicated space for operations. More specifically, it needs your help in obtaining it. And what fundraising method would fit more snuggly with Murmur’s DIY culture than crowdfunding?
The organization’s Kickstarter campaign, “Give Murmur a Home,” has a modest goal of $7,000. The money, should their goal be reached, will help fund rental fees for a physical space to call their own. If there are any leftover funds, all resources will help expand supplies for public use: Risograph printers, screen printing and book-binding supplies, direct animation supplies, computers, projectors, and more. Essentially, giving as many artists as possible as many tools as possible to succeed.
The space used with campaign funds will act as a home base for Mumur’s already impressive repertoire as well as acting as a DIY resource center. Murmur Executive Director Amanda Mills emphasizes that this will help the organization further contribute to Atlanta’s artistic community and strengthen existing collaborations.
Unsurprisingly, local artists have responded with a resounding cry of support. Murmur’s Vice President, Ashley Anderson, even started an art campaign to promote the fundraiser. Every day until the end of the fundraiser, a new Atlanta artist will contribute an image made specifically for Murmur. Participants include Nina Dolin, Julian Cano, Squishiepuss, Allen Taylor, Chelsea Raflo, and John Lloyd Hannah.
The history of zines is rooted in everything from political pamphlets to punk rock — an appropriate foundation for this increasingly present and charmingly influential organization. Every dollar counts, people. Help them out!
News broke last night that Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms had been hired as executive director by the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, an often-overlooked group of city and county appointees that oversees the ballpark, Philips Arena, and Zoo Atlanta.
Reed appoints six of the authority's nine board members; the Fulton County Commission, over which Eaves presides, selects the remaining three members. Over the next few years, AFCRA is set to make several decisions that could change the cityscape for generations to come, most important of which is what happens to Turner Field and the surrounding lots after the Atlanta Braves vacate the property. In addition, the authority will likely have a role in the future of Philips Arena as the Atlanta Hawks' new owners — whoever they may be — try to finagle any incentives from the city to remain in Atlanta. The authority also oversees Zoo Atlanta, a major tourist attraction that’s in the process of expanding its facilities.
Bottoms, who City Hall observers have pegged as a potential 2017 mayoral or City Council president candidate, would be paid $135,000 a year in the non-voting, full-time position. That's on top of the $60,300 salary she earns as a part-time city councilmember, a role from which she does not intend to resign. However, Bottoms tells CL that she would refrain from casting votes involving the authority.
“Council seats have historically been seen as a part-time position, so it's not unusual for councilmembers to have outside employment,” says Bottoms, citing more than two decades of work as an attorney and six years as a magistrate judge. “If there's a conflict, I'd recuse myself.”
In a statement this morning, Eaves said he received news that longtime AFCRA Executive Director Violet Ricks was "removed" with "equal amounts of dismay and concern. I have no choice but to publicly express my opposition to it." (Bottoms says Ricks supported the decision and will stay on board to ensure a smooth transition.)
"The taxpayers of our county demand accountability and transparency from those of us elected to serve them," Eaves said in a statement. "My concern is this move provides them with neither. The hiring of a sitting City Council Member hired as a full time employee, as I understand it, in Ms. Ricks place was not done as part of a transparent open process. There was no interview by the Authority nor was the position advertised."
He noted that when former Councilwoman Davetta Johnson Mitchell was selected in 1997 by then-Mayor Bill Campbell to head AFCRA, she was required to resign from the legislative body. Mitchell pleaded guilty in 2011 to seven theft charges for stealing $30,000 from the authority and was ordered to serve a five-year probation sentence and pay a $20,000 fine.
"AFCRA is an entity charged with being a good, nonpartisan steward of taxpayers’ funds," Eaves added. "It is responsible for making facilities decisions in the public interest. Paying a political figure to oversee the board smacks of cronyism and is extraordinarily questionable. Neither I, nor our County Attorney, was consulted in advance and have not received any form of communication from AFCRA."
Reed's office did not immediately respond when asked whether the mayor played any role in Bottoms' hiring. Reed and Eaves have had a patchy relationship over such issues as homelessness and the release of repeat offenders from Fulton County jail. Just last week, the mayor said the city would "push harder on the amount of cooperation that we have between Atlanta and Fulton County" on the latter issue. City Hall has also revisited coming up with a collaborative solution to homeless. It's unclear how much progress they've made on those initiatives.
Bottoms, who hasn’t chatted with Eaves about her hiring, said she would be willing to work with him in the future. When asked about a potential conflict, Bottoms said the notion that she can’t hold both positions with integrity was “insulting,” citing the integrity she’s brought to her public and private sector roles. She also disagreed with the idea her hiring was politically motivated.
“Whatever the issues have been with Mayor Reed and Chairman Eaves, they don’t have anything to do with my service of the board,” Bottoms said. “I serve at the pleasure of the board. … It’s not a political appointment. It’s not an appointment from the mayor. It’s not an appointment from the county commission chair.”
In addition, Bottoms said she preemptively consulted with Atlanta Ethics Officer Nina Hickson about the potential conflict of interest. In her ethics opinion, Hickson finds that “no per se conflict of interest” exists by holding a Council seat and serving as AFCRA's executive director. But she says further ethical analysis must be done on AFCRA's end to see whether the "arrangement" would create the “appearances of impropriety.”
We’ve included a copy of Hickson's full findings below.
UPDATE, 2:34 p.m.: Alnissa Ruiz-Craig, a communications specialist in Mayor Kasim Reed's office, says in a statement:
"Councilwoman Bottoms has served the residents of the City of Atlanta honorably for over five years. Her distinguished career on the Atlanta City Council includes sponsoring legislation that addressed our city's unfunded pension liability, established stronger enforcement on panhandling and ensured that women working for the city receive equal pay for equal work.
While we disagree with Mr. Eaves' comments, we appreciate him sharing his views. The appointment is not only legal, it is ethical and received approval from the City's ethics officer and recreation authority attorneys. I am confident that she will be able to continue her service with the Atlanta City Council and serve as executive director of the Fulton County Recreation Authority with integrity."
1. JordanCon at Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center
2. Sweetwater 420 Fest at Centennial Olympic Park
3.Ephemeral Memorable at The Mammal Gallery
4. Dave Chappelle at The Tabernacle
5. Modern Choreographic Voices at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
The Georgia Department of Corrections says the state agency and Attorney General Sam Olens have consulted with testing labs and pharmaceutical experts to find out what caused the state's pentobarbital to appear "cloudy" prior to the scheduled execution of death-row inmate Kelly Gissendaner. Gissendaner, who was convicted for her role in convincing her lover to murder her husband, is the state's lone female inmate on death row. If executed, she would be the first woman killed by the state since 1945.
On the evening of March 2, corrections officials postponed her execution out of an "abundance of caution" to make sure that there were no problems with the pentobarbital used for lethal injection. Now DOC spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan says that test samples showed no issues with the drugs. Hogan says the cloudy appearance that prompted officials to halt Gissendaner's killing likely occurred because the pentobarbital had precipitated due to low temperatures during the drug's shipping and storage.
The DOC has provided two separate reports from NMS Labs and Triclinic Labs. They've also released an affidavit from Dr. Jason Zastre, associate pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences professor at the University of Georgia, about his evaluation of the drug's sample:
"The Department of Corrections has reviewed the recommendations of pharmaceutical experts regarding how to minimize the risk of precipitation within the pentobarbital solution used in executions," Hogan says in a statement. "The Department intends to fully implement these recommendations."
Kathryn Hamoudah, communications manager with the Southern Center for Human Rights, tells Creative Loafing that the DOC's findings prompts even more questions about the initial lack of proper protocol and specifics actions being taken to address the problems. She says the state's lethal injection secrecy law, which prevents the public from knowing details about the drug's suppliers, continues to give the public no recourse over the decisions of a department that's "fraught with poor judgement and leadership."
"We are anticipating another round of execution dates at a rapid pace like they were before," Hamoudah says. "Nationally, states are moving away from the death penalty, but you're seeing a rush to execute where the death penalty is most vibrant."
Olens spokeswoman Lauren Kane declined to comment on how their office would move forward in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to look at whether lethal injection drugs violate constitutional rights starting later this month.
Low-wage workers and their supporters rallied yesterday at Clark Atlanta University before marching to a McDonalds in southwest Atlanta as part of a nationwide protest for a $15 minimum wage.
The marchers, who were accompanied by a police escort, chanted “We can't survive on $7.25” and “Rise Up” and temporarily shut down both lanes of Joseph Lowery Boulevard.
Workers and activists chose to hold the events in cities across the country on Tax Day to emphasize the amount of public assistance that low-wage workers must rely on just to make ends meet despite working, in some cases, full-time jobs.
Speakers at the Atlanta rally included a childcare worker, a retail worker, an airport worker, an adjunct professor, and a homecare worker. They emphasized that the fight is for all employees living on low wages — not just fast-food workers.
Dawn O’Neal, a local childcare worker who said she earns $8.50 an hour, told Creative Loafing after speaking at the rally that her low hourly salary forces her to make tough choices between paying bills and purchasing medication for asthma and high blood pressure. “I took off today because it is important to be here to raise my voice,” she said. “The health insurance is too much. If I had it taken out of my check I would not be able to afford any of my bills.”
Jeremy Johnson, an Arby's worker with two kids who traveled to Atlanta from North Charleston, S.C., said that he also has to make tough choices on his salary. "I can't survive on $7.25,” he said. “I've got two kids. I wonder sometimes if I am going to get diapers or get something to eat."
Low wages are costing all Americans in the form of providing public assistance to employees. According to a recent study, taxpayers are subsidizing some of America’s most profitable business like Wal-mart and McDonald’s to the tune of $150 billion when you include food stamps and other public programs. These taxes go to subsidizing the working poor who because of low wages are unable to meet their most basic needs and most rely on the state to meet their needs just to survive. Meanwhile, another recent study says, the salary gap between CEO and typical worker has grown from 20 times the average employee's salary in 1965 to 295 times in 2013. For the second year in a row, Atlanta was rated with the highest inequality in the country. These issue are particularly important here in Atlanta, said state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who also attended the rally.
“I am here this is one of the most important movements in country and world," the state lawmaker said. "[They are] especially important for Atlanta because we have the greatest income inequality and immobility in the country.”
This week’s Time and Place photograph was shot on the steps of the Fulton County Courthouse at a protest during the first day of the Atlanta Public Schools sentencing hearing. For me, this photo captures the emotion surrounding the cheating trial and sentencing that unfolded this week in Fulton County Superior Court Judge Baxter’s courtroom. The woman pictured is Rev. Donna Walker, an Associate Minister at Chapel of Christian Love Baptist Church.
"I am not excusing what they did, but I am asking for grace and mercy," she told me once I took his picture.
After watching bits of the trial in between jury duty and a full slate of photo shoots, I was struck by Baxter's behavior and the strange justice that seemed to be rendered. In one instance, the judge implied from the bench that a lawyer who wore multi-colored jackets in the courtroom did damage to his client's case because of the way he dressed. I also heard him apologize repeatedly to the district attorney while court was in session. In the end, it seemed that the biggest difference between defendants' sentences charged was similar crimes was based not on the evidence of their specific case, but on whether they apologized for what they did in open court as part of a plea deal. I am all for contrition, but it seems like a random way to decide the difference between stiff and lenient sentences.
As a society, I hope that we can come away from this trial with a renewed commitment to public education, to our teachers, and to our children. That means less reliance on testing. Maybe if our teachers were paid better salaries, the motivation to cheat to get bonus money would have been lessened? Former President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top placed extreme weight on test scores by attaching them to federal funds that threatened the closures of schools. It's not a coincidence that all of the 11 educators convicted in the cheating trial were working in low-income schools in Atlanta. And who gets rich in the end? Testing companies.
Poor test scores can be the result of many socioeconomic factors. Until those issues are solved, putting so much weight on test scores will likely result in more cheating. Standardized test scandals aren't just happening in Atlanta, but have taken place all over the country. While we're at it, can we reexamine the role that property taxes play in determining funding for our schools? Public education should be the great equalizer of our society. The access to quality public education should not be determined by the neighborhood where you live or by how much money your family makes. I hope our society can focus the same rigor and attention we did on this sad episode on the larger question of how we can better public education for all.
On Sun., April 19, the folks over at Indie Craft Experience (ICE) will present their spring Salvage market. The event will host over 40 vendors selling everything from clothing to furniture and books — all hailing from different decades. While shopping, patrons are encouraged to wear their favorite vintage outfit. There will be photographers on hand to shoot those who don their best throwback get-up to compete for the title of Best Dressed, which judges will announce at 4:30 p.m. In addition to shopping in style, hungry visitors will have a wide variety of food vendors to choose from, including the Deli at Candler Park Market, Atomic Ice Cream Sandwich, and Golda Kombucha. DJ Zano will also be present, and the first 100 attendees will receive swag bags designed by Heather Lund Illustration. The event will be held at Yaarab Temple and admission is $5, cash only. For more details, click here.
Speaking of ICE, have you ever been curious to see the workspace of your favorite artists? ICE is giving Atlanta a peek into its studio space to satisfy your interest. The studio, known by its street number, 1390 [McLendon Ave N.E.], is the recent home of Leela Hoehn Robinson (of the paper goods, home decor, and seasonal accessories line, Native Bear) and Bonnie J Heath Photography and will host a studio open house on Thurs., April 16, from 7-9 p.m. There will ample opportunity to meet some indie crafters and ask them any questions you may have — not to mention enjoy the photo booth, craft make n’take, and of course refreshments. There is also be some handcrafted items for sale, because everyone knows we can’t resist. Click here for more information.
Ranging from nascent teen zinesters to contemporary visual artists, Mumur’s upcoming exhibition Ephemeral Memorable showcases work in a range of media that finds inspiration in ephemeral media. Co-curated by Chanel Kim, Allie Bashuk, and Amanda Mills, the show highlights the relevance of ephemera and its scope within contemporary artistic practices. Shown at the Mammal Gallery, the exhibition’s opening night will feature a live scoring by Outer Gods of an excerpt of “The Woman of the Snow,” as well as live performances by Henry Detweiler and Jake Cook. For more information, click here.
For one night only, Collective Rituals, MINT’s intern exhibition, will showcase the work of Sarah Bell, CJ Fowlkes, and Ross Hepner, who collaboratively organized, curated, and installed the entire exhibition from its inception. The team, seeking to find an overlap between their contrasting styles, harnesses the power of experimentation and discovery in a visual representation of a constantly repeated and redefined set of unknown processes. All of their individual work culminates in an untitled “exquisite corpse” collaboration, which will span across half of MINT’s largest gallery wall. Music during the event will be curated by secret guest DJ's, and cold beverages will be available. The event will be held on Sat., April 18 from 8-11 p.m. For more information, click here.
Four years after the state released its bombshell report exposing systemic cheating in 44 elementary and middle schools, several political figures have unveiled an educational effort to help those students who were wronged.
After the APS trial sentencing on Tuesday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced the launch of the Atlanta Redemption Academy. The new nonprofit would identify the current and former students who were negatively impacted by the cheating scandal; assess the level of damage caused by teachers changing their test score; and offer job training, GED classes, or help getting into college.
"We want to try to provide real solutions to the damages they received," Howard said.
Many of the details surrounding the academy's mission, funding, and staff have yet to be fully sorted out and surprised some education officials. But Howard announced that Rev. Gerald Durley, former administrator at Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse School of Medicine, and Bernice King, the CEO of the King Center and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would be among those serving on the nonprofit's board of directors.
"I want to challenge community leaders because I feel like the blood is on our hands,” King said at the press conference.
What will the program entail? Durley, who spoke with CL late on Tuesday, said the organization would focus on remediation for the students who fell behind in the classroom or dropped out entirely. He says it would pool together educational resources — including thousands of community service hours that some of the convicted former APS educators must fulfill — into a unified program.
"Every party wins," Durley says. "The kids win, the educators win, the education system wins, and the community wins."
How many of the former educators' hours could be served at the academy remains unclear as eight of the convicted men and women are appealing. Atlanta attorney Gerald Griggs, who represents former Dobbs Elementary School teacher Angela Williamson, says his client would be willing to help the affected children regardless of her appeal's outcome.
Durley says the academy would like to collaborate with APS to figure out the number of students who suffered from the cheating scandal's effects — and the resources the nonprofit will need to right those wrongs. Durley says the program, which still needs to raise a "tremendous amount of money," would give the convicted educators an opportunity to use their talents to help those in need.
"People like this could come in who have the teaching expertise and administrative skills," says Durley, stressing that the teachers would need to receive some compensation for their work. "They've already suffered enough. ... They would be redeeming themselves and redeeming the students who they've already been working to save."
At Monday night's Atlanta Board of Education meeting, state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, called for APS officials to help children hurt by the educators' actions beyond what he described as "short term and ineffective tutoring and remediation." He tells CL that APS must provide the public with an update on the school system's own remediation work done thus far. He also says additional remediation efforts like the Atlanta Redemption Academy must be ongoing, thorough, and performed in collaboration with APS.
"This cannot just be a public-relations effort," Fort says. "It has to be a program designed by educators who know how to teach, who know how to structure, who know how to do instruction, who know how to tutor, who know how to craft academic programs. It can't be a lightweight, feel-good effort."
The Atlanta Redemption Academy's formation has surprised some Atlanta Board of Education members and school officials. We're told that APS already has already identified the full list of students affected by the cheating. Under former APS Superintendent Erroll Davis, the school system provided students with extra tutoring after schools and on weekends, in addition to offering summer courses. But some parents and activists have criticized APS for those efforts, saying that's not enough to help those students.
APS spokesman James Malone tells CL that school officials learned about the Atlanta Redemption Academy during Howard's press conference. But APS officials are now aware of the organization and would be open to discussing their efforts, he said.
"Currently, we have no direct involvement with the proposed organization nor a defined role," Malone says. "However, we welcome the opportunity to be a part of any effort that helps Atlanta Public Schools in its mission to have every APS student graduate ready for college and career."
In the coming months, Durley says the academy needs to finalize its exact mission, reach out to the business and philanthropic communities for fundraising, and fill out its board of directors.
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