At FCS, we value our amazing local partnerships. Last month we shared about work with the Georgia Food Oasis Program. This month we want to highlight our partnership with the South Atlanta Civic League (SACL). We sat down with Josh Noblitt, the current president of the SACL and asked him a few questions.
Josh, can you introduce the SACL and some of the projects/programs you're doing in the neighborhood?
The South Atlanta Civic League is the neighborhood association for Historic South Atlanta. The organization has been around for several decades and has overseen a tremendous amount of change in the neighborhood. It is a voluntary organization that focuses on beautification, safety, community building, and neighborhood planning.
Currently, we have been working on identifying owners of some of the abandoned properties in the neighborhood in an effort to clean them up and get them renovated. Additionally, we have formed a taskforce to work with the Sonoco recycling plant in the neighborhood on ways to help them be as clean and efficient as possible.
We also have regularly scheduled neighborhood beautification projects, clean-up days, and social events. Most recently, we put together our annual "Treat Street" Halloween carnival and continue to surpass attendance records from previous years.
How did you initially get involved? And how long have you been serving as president?
I am in my third year as president of the SACL and initially got involved several years ago when I heard about the annual Earth Day neighborhood clean-up. We have historically had a huge problem with people dumping tires on vacant lots in the neighborhood, and I was excited to be a part of the solution in getting those tires moved out.
I met several of my neighbors through that event and we became friends. Then, I started attending the civic league meetings and the rest is history!
How did you and SACL get connected with FCS? What ways have you seen the two organizations be able to partner in positive ways?
I initially got connected to FCS through neighbors who live in South Atlanta and worked for FCS or with them on various projects. I was initially impressed with the Charis Community Housing program and the quality of work being put into the homes and how engaged the folks moving into them were.
I committed myself to being a community partner with FCS particularly when I heard about the interest in starting a community coffee shop. I really wanted to see that be successful and since then, Community Grounds has become the "town square" of South Atlanta. I go there every morning and see many of my neighbors. We have our monthly SACL meetings there, and it is now seen as a common destination for politicians, leaders, and others who want to convene a meeting.
Based on your observations, what have been some of the biggest challenges facing the neighborhood of South Atlanta historically?
Historically and presently, the issue of dilapidated property has been a major concern for South Atlanta. Currently, a third of the homes in the neighborhood are vacant and rundown, which leads to code violations and unsafe conditions.
Additionally, we have been challenged by many of our youth who do not have the kind of opportunities they deserve to find meaningful programming, employment, and access to higher education. We have seen some creative initiatives begin, but still struggle as a community on how best to serve our young people.
What have been some positive changes you have seen in recent years in South Atlanta? Any programs or projects that stand out?
We have several annual programs that have become wildly successful and the whole neighborhood looks forward to participating. The first is our annual South Atlanta Southern Fried Kickin’ Kickball Tournament played on the fields at Carver High School. It has become a day long event in late summer with various residents and surrounding neighborhoods forming teams and competing for the trophy and bragging rights.
We also help to put on the annual "Treat Street" Halloween carnival to provide a safe, fun, family-friendly environment for the kids in our neighborhood to enjoy. Our numbers for each of these events increases every year.
We have been blessed with the presence of quite a few artists in the neighborhood, and they have painted and designed several of new murals around town. The community loves and respects these murals, perhaps in part because they are done by local artists. Some residents have even started painting their own murals on the side of their homes, which adds a beautiful and unique look to our area.
Thanks to Josh for sharing his experiences in the community. We are glad to learn from and alongside the South Atlanta Civic League as we work and serve our neighborhood.