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What makes these Atlantans so damn happy? 

Angel Poventud

Happy thanks to communal bliss

MAN ABOUT TOWN: Angel Poventud finds strength  and happiness  in his community. - JOEFF DAVIS
  • Joeff Davis
  • MAN ABOUT TOWN: Angel Poventud finds strength and happiness in his community.

Go to a Beltline study group, and Angel Poventud sits alongside other residents, soaking up details about the 22-mile loop of park, trails and transit. Attend a monthly rally organized by Atlantans Together Against Crime, and the 37-year-old Midtown resident holds signs to bring attention to the rise in break-ins, muggings and assaults across the city. Drive past the intersection of Buford Highway and Jimmy Carter Boulevard, and his mug beams from a billboard advertising the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign.

Hell, eat a veggie burger at Engine 11 on North Avenue and Poventud rolls by. On rollerblades. He might even be wearing his trademark green dress. Angel Poventud is everywhere — and he's always smiling.

“It’s my community,” the Miami native says. “I’m a ham, I’ll admit it. But if I’m not engaged in the people around me, I get disinterested.”

After being laid off two months ago by shipping company CSX, Poventud, a railroad conductor, decided to make even more out of his free time.

“My personal motto is, ‘No one can pay you what your free time is worth,’” Poventud says. “When you find yourself with free time, try to embrace it and not be afraid of it.”

It’s that attitude that makes Poventud one of the most well-adjusted and productive guys we know.

“Honestly, it was a bit of a relief,” Poventud says of his job loss. “This is my fourth time being laid off in my life. That first time I was pretty panicky: ‘Oh my God, I have to get a job, be productive, and do my part.’ But I learned the second or third time that, yes, I need to find a job, but I also need to take great advantage of this time off. It’s very rare in our American culture where we don’t have weeks of time where we don’t have a responsibility to something.”

Poventud volunteers 10 to 20 hours each week for ATAC, the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign, Trees Atlanta, Beltline study groups and three Midtown Neighborhood Association committees. Once a month, the historic preservation buff joins hundreds of cyclists for the free-form bicycle tour Critical Mass. Nearly every day, he skates through Piedmont Park. Poventud, who’s gay, also partakes in camping trips with outdoors enthusiasts the Radical Fairies.

Thanks to a railroad employee unemployment insurance fund, he’s been able to collect enough cash to cover his rent and utility bills. His spending money comes from a low-interest credit card.
“If the economy turns around, I get my job back, and I pay off my debt,” Poventud says.

And if it doesn’t turn around soon? Well, it will … eventually. And at least we’ll all be in this mess together.

“My grandmother lived to be 100,” he says. “So that’s the timeline I think about. What’s happening right now is stressful. But it’ll correct itself one way or another.”  

Two weeks ago, Poventud got good news. The railroad company needed him back on the job. Come June, he'll be riding the rails again — in between blazing across town and volunteering.

Thomas Wheatley

Leah Calvert

Happy about home prices

click to enlarge MANSION FOR ME: Bluegrass musician Leah Calvert is happy to have lucked into her first house. - JOEFF DAVIS
  • Joeff Davis
  • MANSION FOR ME: Bluegrass musician Leah Calvert is happy to have lucked into her first house.

If someone had to get stuck with the cloud, Leah Calvert’s happy she at least ended up with its silver lining.

The pixieish bluegrass musician spent the past few months house shopping in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhoods where she grew up, without much luck finding anything in her modest price range. When she did come across a deal, she’d get shut out by real estate investors who’d swoop in with a higher bid.

The 29-year-old Calvert, who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2002, has worked on and off in accounting and office management and dedicated her spare time to earning her MBA at Georgia State University. In the past couple of years, she’s been able to follow her dream of being a full-time musician, as fiddler and singer for the Dappled Grays, a five-piece outfit that tours the regional bluegrass circuit and plays a steady schedule of corporate gigs and private parties.

Last month, Calvert finally closed on a 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom bungalow with a decent-sized yard in Sylvan Hills. The price: a crazily low $57,000.

The house last sold a decade ago for $145,000. It’s a foreclosure property, which was certainly bad news for somebody … but not Calvert.

“There is a sad side to the story, but there hasn’t been a day yet I haven’t been surprised that I got such a great deal,” she says.

Calvert hasn’t moved in yet. She still has a few weeks to go on her current lease, so she’s used the time to make minor renovations and landscaping improvements. But she’s looking forward to settling into a new home that, under normal circumstances, she never could have afforded.

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