3 Hidden Gems in South Atlanta

by FCS on

We love getting to know our neighborhood! In relationships with people, we always find more to learn and love, the same goes for the ways we build relationship with our home community. Here’s a few beautiful treasures we wanted to highlight in Historic South Atlanta.

#1 Southeast Library

Why Go: gobs of literary adventures + beautiful community working space. Named for equitable housing advocate Louise Watley, this recently renovated library features huge windows for natural light to stream in, meeting rooms, and a mini-amphitheater for read-alouds! It’s like walking into both a cathedral and playground for books. The librarian staff were full of smiles and information about community events for reading. Check it out if you haven’t been!

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#2 South Atlanta Park

Why Go: places to relax, play and gather with community. If you’re looking to play a game of pick-up basketball, let the kids tucker themselves out on a jungle gym, or idly swing on a bench watching the sunset, this park is a great resource! Located at the end of Gammon Street, it’s entryway spills into the heart of Historic South Atlanta. Enjoy the sounds of teenagers delighting in being free from school in the afternoon; the park stands adjacent to the S.T.E.A.M. Academy at Carver. A great place to run into neighbors.

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#3 New Stairs to the Southside Beltline

Why Go: a quiet place to connect with nature. This section of the Beltline hasn’t been fully constructed yet, living a green gravel path tucked behind the former Fulton County Health Center at the intersection of Hank Aaron and McDonough. When looking into the tunnel, it’s easy to feel as if you’re in a secret wonderland. If you love your neighborhood but need some solitude close by, this natural space will welcome your deepest musings on life in South Atlanta.

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We’re all about building an equitable, mixed-income community here at FCS. To that end, we’re so glad to share these gems with you. We hope you will visit them and marvel at the beauty in Historic South Atlanta. Our neighborhood has so much to enjoy, and it’s fun to discover a new facet of our neighborhood’s fabric every day.

What places would you add?

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The Ancient Promise of Flourishing

by FCS on

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Last Sunday our nation celebrated Mother’s day. For lots of folks, including me, it can be a complicated holiday. Every year, there’s this idea in my head of the ideal mom that the day celebrates. But I don’t measure up to this idealized person, and my mom doesn’t measure up to that image all the time either. I want to, but in being a human person, I fall short.

In this work of community development, we are always looking for the beautiful things that can arise in the midst of imperfection. In my day-to-day as the Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator, I think of God’s ancient promises of trading beauty for ashes, of making all things new. I remember the promise that God works through us. I remember the promise that we are able to  help create flourishing, even on the days it doesn’t feel that way.

A day like Mother’s day can remind us that we’re living in the midst of that promise unfolding. We see glimpses of it, but it’s not all there yet! When I was thinking about this tension, it struck me that for those of us who don’t always feel like we measure up to the mother we want to be, the community developer we want to be, the friend we want to be, Mother’s day serves as an exercise to remember. Instead of getting down on myself for not meeting that bar, I see the gap as an echo of the comprehensive promise that God is unfolding around us and in us. We labor together to forge a flourishing community, a flourishing humanity and a flourishing identity.

I see our neighbors doing this work every other week during the Food Co-op we host in partnership with Urban Recipe. I think of one of our Co-op members, a senior who shows up week to week. She works hard to prepare equitable food boxes with the other participants. Her contagious laughter, convicting wisdom, and self-starting work faithfully demonstrates care for her neighbors. I think of another co-op neighbor whose house burned down, but she and her family are in a new South Atlanta property and ecstatic about it. Already, they’re planting flowers, nourishing life in their new home and blanketing it with warmth. These real women, with real challenges, faithfully participate in bringing that ancient promise of flourishing to reality in South Atlanta.  

I can admit that I’m not always the person I want to be, the person I think should be celebrated on Mother’s Day. But I don’t need to be. If I can lift my eyes long enough, I see that the ancient promise still stands. God still has His image in me, just like I see His image in other people here in Historic South Atlanta. The woman l long to be and the restored community I long to see are both works in progress. It is my hope that the work which He started, He will bring to a glorious completion.

These images point us towards a greater hope. That hope isn’t found in me trying to fix anyone or putting on a great program. It’s found in mutual relationship; in me faithfully laboring in love to bring forth His comprehensive promise of the redemption of all things. When our efforts and intentions miss the mark, may it cause us to look up, remember and witness the great beauty we’re working towards, which is already being wrought in us.

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Summer Camp: A Community Development Strategy

by Bob Lupton on

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School is out. Kids are happy. They can sleep in now. But it won’t be long before they’re bored. And, like grandma used to say: “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Summer camp is the ideal solution for city kids whose mom’s leave early for jobs that put bread on the table. Camp offers a place for youth to stretch themselves, to discover they are capable of more than they imagined. Every year, FCS sponsors young people as they take off for sleepaway camp. Camp is fun – field trips, crafts, baseball games, swimming lessons. But it is more than fun and games.

Away from home, youth discover their capabilities exceed their expectations. One ropes course staff remembers a participant from years back scaling a climbing structure. “She reached top and burst into tears. All she kept on saying while crying ‘I didn’t think I could do it. I can’t believe I did it.’”

Camp is about confidence-building activities and opportunities for leadership development. Teenagers of burgeoning influence get the chance to witness the influence they have on younger neighbors. Camp provides an ideal place for them to learn how to direct that power over their smaller admirers. The responsibility settles on the shoulders of these youth who have been maturing socially and spiritually over the past year(s), and they get the opportunity to exercise their leadership before watchful and absorbent eyes. Nothing solidifies one's beliefs more than having to teach those beliefs to others. Nothing builds one's confidence like having others follow your example and aspire to be like you. Taking time to invest in this new generation is an essential strategy for community transformation.

Summer camp shapes in our young people values that will serve them well as they emerge into young adulthood. To that end, camp is a bargain. With imagination and a lot of volunteer help, we will organize a summer packed with positive experiences that will be affordable for our low-income neighbors. But they will need a bit of our support. A $100 sponsorship will enable a child to participate in a summer full of enriching activities. Can we count on you to sponsor a child (or several children)? It’s one of the best investments I know.

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