Kids Candy Crawl Set for October 26

The Virginia-Highland Business Association has announced they’ll hold a Kids Candy Crawl on October 26.

Meet at 5:30 pm at Fire Station #19 (corner of N. Highland and Los Angeles). Stroll down N. Highland looking for orange balloons. When you see one, stop and get a free treat from one of your local businesses. The Crawl continues down N. Highland to St. Charles, right on St. Charles and then into the alleyway off St. Charles to Knock.

After filling your bags with goodies, head on over to Atkins Park for dinner. All kids in a costume will get a free kids menu meal.

Want to volunteer? Volunteers are needed to make VaHi’s crosswalks safe for the Krawl. Contact Stephen Cohen at if you’re interested.

Volunteers Needed for 2016 Tour of Homes

By Eleanor Barrineau, VHCA Board Member and Tour of Homes Volunteer Coordinator

Organizers man the volunteer check-in table during last year's Tour of Homes.

Organizers man the volunteer check-in table during a recent Tour of Homes.

One of the most helpful things you can do for your neighborhood is to volunteer at the Tour of Homes. It benefits you, too. You get two free Tour of Homes tickets for working one shift in one of our beautiful neighborhood homes. And it’s also a great opportunity to meet other neighbors who will be working along with you.

This year’s Tour of Homes is coming up on December 3rd and 4th. Signing up to volunteer is easy. Just go to and click on the green “Click here to sign up” button. We especially need volunteers for the afternoon shifts and for Sunday. Volunteers working later shifts can pick up their tickets at John Howell Park anytime during tour hours Saturday and Sunday and can go on the tour before their shift.

If you can’t volunteer, be sure to buy tickets and encourage your friends and neighbors to do so.  Our combination of wonderful homes and delicious food tastings is unique!  Tickets are available at

It’s Almost Time to Tour!

By Robin Ragland, VHCA Board Member and Tour of Homes Chair

2016 TOHYES! It’s finally Autumn in VaHi and the air is cooler, the leaves are falling AND the Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes committee is in FULL SWING preparing for our neighborhood’s next big event. The 2016 Tour of Homes is set for the first weekend in December, Saturday and Sunday the 3rd and 4th. Our committee has been working hard all year to ensure the success of this year’s tour.

Eight beautiful properties will be featured on this year’s tour. Although different in style and design, they are all equally representative of the Neighborhood’s character. This year’s line-up includes a custom modern home with beautiful gardens and rooftop deck, a recently renovated California-style bungalow, a charming 1925 cottage with recent updates, a classic 1917 bungalow with beautiful indoor and outdoor living spaces, and a quintessential 1909 bungalow in which a recent renovation both restored original features and created modern living spaces for the current owners. The tour includes three other fabulous historic homes transformed for the modern world.

949 Virginia Circle is one of the homes on this year's tour.

949 Virginia Circle is one of the homes on this year’s tour.

Local restaurants will provide food tastings at each of the Tour homes. Local favorites Highland Tap, Atkins Park, The Cook’s Warehouse, Fontaine’s Oyster House, and Marlow’s Tavern will once again serve up delicious bites. We are thrilled to have the following restaurants new to the tour join in 2016: Highland Bakery, Press & Grind, Taco Cowboy, Tapa Tapa, Après Diem, Pea Ridge and DBA Barbecue.

Each year the Tour just keeps getting bigger and better. This year, we hope you will enjoy taking a docent history tour of the neighborhood. We are very fortunate to have a number of talented historians in the neighborhood who have crafted a delightful tour. Virginia-Highland is on the National Register of Historic Places, and filled with great architecture and stories. Don’t miss this special opportunity to learn about its development and those who made it such a treasure. Tours will depart hourly from John Howell Park beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The last tour departs at 2:00 p.m. Purchase bundled tickets for the home and history tours for $30 in advance.

660 Elkmont is one of the homes on this year's tour.

660 Elkmont is one of the homes on this year’s tour.

So many people make this fundraising event possible in order to improve the quality of life in our community. The funds raised by the Tour of Homes go to support various projects in our neighborhood, including playground/park improvements, sidewalks, safety, traffic concerns, planning and preservation and other community efforts. Hopefully, Mother Nature will provide clear skies and perfect temps to bring out tour goers. We know businesses and residents will give them a warm welcome.

Please visit our special Tour of Homes website for more detailed information on the times, the homes, the sponsors and the restaurants. There’s a map of the tour and some “teaser” pictures of our featured homes. You can purchase tickets on the website, as well.  Also follow us on Facebook for opportunities to win gift certificates and free tickets.

964 N. Highland Avenue is one of the homes on this year's tour.

964 N. Highland Avenue is one of the homes on this year’s tour.

This is a great weekend to kick off the holidays. TOUR, EAT and SHOP in the charming neighborhood we all call home. Remember, ToH tickets make great gifts, day dates, girls’ trips and family memories!

Hope to see you all out & about!

Cub Scouts and VHCA Partner to Raise Awareness for Protecting Our Waterways

By Jess Windham and Jack White

Water quality starts in our own backyards, an important fact that Cub Scout Pack 17 learned more about on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Informed by our Virginia-Highland Master Plan project #1.7, VHCA teamed up with the Department of Watershed Management (DWM) and an energetic group of Scouts and Webelos to install stormwater medallions on the drains closest to our most visible indicators of our watersheds: Orme Creek at Orme Park and a tributary to South Fork Peachtree Creek at Lenox-Wildwood Park Garden Park in Morningside. Many thanks to the pack and wonderful parents who came out to support the initiative.

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The timing is ironic, as recently Orme Creek was polluted from a source at a higher elevation in the watershed. A diligent crew from the City’s DWM investigated the matter, including walking in the culvert that runs under Brookridge and spending many hours finding the cause of a stinky situation. For the full story, you can read more here (link

Why does it matter what gets into our local creeks?

The answer goes beyond the beauty and enjoyment that many local citizens derive from being near those streams. All natural systems are inter-related; the macroinvertebrates in the creek, the fish, the insects, the birds, the mammals – their mutual health depends on one another.

These tributaries and creeks flow far beyond our borders, carrying with them all our accumulated impacts. This is especially prescient as you consider that water isn’t created from scratch. Energy-intensive industrial processes are required to clean water so into a potable, drinkable form we all appreciate.    

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VaHi’s Subwatersheds

Virginia-Highland has two sub-watersheds, Rock Creek and Clear Creek; both eventually flow to Peachtree Creek and on to the Chattahoochee River and the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola Bay. Appropriately-named North ‘High-land’ Avenue is broadly the boundary between them. 

Rainfall to the east of Highland flows (either underground or via several patches of surface streams) into Rock Creek, which heads north into South Peachtree in Johnson-Taylor Park in Morningside. The very top of Rock Creek is visible behind the east side of Arlington Place and – more obviously – at Amsterdam Avenue and McLynn.

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Orme Creek starts to the west of Highland, as rainfall flows downhill to the west. However most of it is channeled underground, with only a few sections – like Orme Park – above ground.  The water then flows into Clear Creek, which itself emerges onto the surface at the northern edge of Piedmont Park on its way to Ansley Mall and the Golf Course, under I-85, along the border of Brookwood, and into Peachtree Creek west of the Piedmont Road bridge near Lindberg Drive. A trip to the South Fork Confluence Trail is truly worth the trip to see it firsthand.

Inside its namesake park, Orme Creek is easy to observe and approach. Its surface life (low volume, like Rock Creek) begins behind houses between LA Avenue (on the south) and Glen Arden (on the north.)  It collects some water from underground storm drains throughout the immediate neighborhood.

Virginia-Highland Church Annual Yard Sale

Proceeds to benefit church’s The River program for the homeless

By Robin Ragland, VHCA Board Member and Tour of Homes Chair

The RiverOn Saturday, October 1st, the Virginia-Highland Church will hold its annual yard sale beginning at 8:00 a.m. The church is located at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Ponce de Leon Pl.  All proceeds go to care for homeless citizens here in Atlanta via The River program.

The River is Virginia-Highland Church’s unique ministry for addressing homelessness in its immediate neighborhood and across Atlanta. The name comes from a story about a group of people who are horrified to see babies floating down the river in their village. Some begin rescuing the babies, but others run upstream to find out who is throwing the babies into the river. In Virginia-Highland Church’s version, members of the church have visited with and become friends with a group of homeless folks. They strive to meet the immediate needs of their friends, whether it be food, clothes, or assistance in finding medical care, job training, or housing. In forging relationships with homeless people, the church members are better able to understand the root causes of homelessness and the barriers that homeless people face. With this first-hand perspective, the church can then be an advocate on behalf of the homeless with legislators, city officials, and policy makers.

Residents of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood are also invited to hold their own yard sale on that Saturday and donate the proceeds for our homeless neighbors. You might get together with others and create your own party that day, or donate items directly to the church. This is a great opportunity to make some room in our lives in the hope that someday everyone in Atlanta will have a “room” of their own. 100% of the proceeds will go to The River, Virginia-Highland Church’s homeless program.

If you would like to donate items directly to the church, please contact Jean Miller, Church Administrator, at for details about items that will be accepted and drop-off times.

Below are images of some of those involved with The River and a few of the homeless folks they now call friends.

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Looking Back – and Ahead – at the Todd Cemetery Memorial

By Jack White, outgoing VHCA Board President

The homeowners who destroyed the Todd Cemetery Memorial filed responses last week to the legal assertions that VHCA and the Todd family made in our lawsuit. You may read our filing here.

These responses are public and filed under oath; you may read them here. Their responses are numerical and do not show the assertions to which they are responding, so fans of this will have to open both and go one by one.

As you would expect, they have no comment on many assertions; others they contest or label irrelevant.  And they filed a motion for dismissal and an assertion that we had trespassed by walking up the driveway that has been in use since the house was first built there.  Neither claim has merit; some form of both were anticipated.


About the actual content of the suit – the easement, the fence, the destruction – there is no need to debate or wonder any longer about the following points:

VHCA asserted – and they acknowledge – that a public easement exists on the property.  (As our attorney pointed out and offered to share with them a year ago, it’s referenced on the signed plat in the Fulton County property records.)

VHCA asserted – and they do not contest – that the homeowners erected a new fence that blocked public access to the memorial.

VHCA asserted – and they acknowledge – that they made an agreement to place a sign on the fence inviting visitors to enter through their gate during daylight hours to visit the memorial and to be respectful of the property owners.

VHCA asserted – and they admit – that they hired a contractor who destroyed the monument in December of last year.

VHCA asserted – and they acknowledge – that they were not truthful when they claimed that “vandals” were responsible for the destruction.

The destruction of the memorial presented itself as a series of questions that had to be answered.

Let’s look at the how the 2015-16 VHCA board analyzed them.

  1. Was the monument worth preserving?  What was its place in the history of VaHi?
  2. Was there a significant underlying principle at play here that compelled our attention? 
  3. Was there another entity that realistically could have taken on the issue?
  4. Does being a resident of VaHi immunize you from legal action by VHCA?
  5. Did the Civic Association have the resources to make this legal objection?  Would the fight ruin existing programs or compromise our Associations’ ability to meet its legal obviations?
  6. Did we rush into this without trying every reasonable alternative before filing suit?

Was the monument worth preserving?

The monument honors the family of the settlers who moved here after the state bought the land from the Creek Indians and sold it in an 1821 lottery.  This monument’s lot and its adjacent one to the west were the last pieces of a much larger Todd tract that were historic family burial sites.  The monument was created as part of a court agreement that permitted the development of these last two lots in the late 1980’s.

The (now destroyed ) physical monument consisted of an historic marker placed on the cemetery site in the late 1920s to honor the original settlers, Richard and Martha Todd. That memorial marker was surrounded by a wrought iron fence set atop several courses of brick.

Both nearby neighbors and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association were participants in the process that created and accepted the agreement.  VaHi residents Craig Strain and Gail Nowak wrote about it in The Voice in 1980 and 1984 and organized a site cleanup in the latter years, before the monument’s establishment. Former Ponce de Leon Terrace resident Carl Hartrampf chaired a VHCA Todd Cemetery Committee in the spring of 1986; he, Jerry Bright, and other nearby residents advocated for very specific conditions and outcomes in detailed letters and reports they exchanged with Sam Dickson, who developed the easement.  Noted Atlanta historian Franklin Garrett visited the site.

It has a documented record of citizen and Association involvement from that period, and several local historians of the last two decades have written about it as well, including in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America: Virginia-Highland, which came out five years ago.

Whether one thinks history or preservation matters or not, it is clear that the 2105-16 Board was hardly alone in valuing the monument.


Other than the historic value, was there a significant underlying principle at play here that compelled out attention?

The deliberate destruction of the monument created a completely different issue.  The Board considered it an affront to the community and found it impossible to ignore or accept on many levels. Aside from the plain ugliness of the act, it places the question of the rule of law on the table. Condoning it would have made a mockery of our efforts to demand that other citizens – developers or residents – have to obey the law. The Civic Association is – and has to be – a group that believes in order, lawful process, and good will among our citizens.

Was there another entity that realistically should or could have credibly taken on the issue?

Given the unusual circumstances of this case – the destruction of a significant public monument on private property and absent a police report – APD saw no option other than a civil remedy. We asked several preservation nonprofits, all of whom were astonished at the act but also had full plates of their own.  We contacted and spoke with family members; as one would have expected, they were angry and disappointed and supported this battle in many ways – emotionally, financially, and by their presence at the mediation.

We would have loved someone to swoop in and take this on.  As no one could identify who that might be, the simple choice that this Board faced was to act or to walk away.

It was a monument in our neighborhood and with a history created by our citizens over three decades, and it was our battle.  We embraced it.

Does being a resident of VaHi immunize you from legal action by VHCA?

The Board has faced off with residents in court proceedings before. It hasn’t happened often, but the Board has been in court several times with local business owners – several of them quite familiar – who were residents.

It seems silly on its face to suggest that VHCA should vigilantly demand compliance with a formal agreement that a business basement be used only for storage or that a warming device be excluded from  a yogurt shop, but ignore the (admitted) destruction of a cemetery memorial.  (All examples are real, and VHCA has fought for all these points in the last five years.)


Did the Civic Association have the resources to mount a legal objection?  Can the Association meet its obligations?

We did and we are confident it can and will.  The Association has paid all its bills, matched Councilmember Wan’s matching offer of $19,000 for security cameras, handed out another year of supporting grants to community organizations, and ends the Board year with its customary six-figure reserve.  Record Tour of Homes revenues await only half-decent weather.

We have formally asserted a demand – and believe that simple justice, logic, and law compel – the recovery of our legal fees expended since the destruction of the monument.  If ever a set of facts and behaviors supported such an outcome, these are the ones.

Did we rush into this? Did we try every reasonable alternative before filing suit?

We took at face value their claim that no easement existed and paid for our own lawyer to verify its existence and offer his case material to them, along with evidence of court rulings validating such easements.  Our lawyer negotiated at our expense a good-faith solution that included our paying for a sign reminding visitors to be courteous and respectful. (No one has ever reported any other sorts of behaviors, as it happens.)  We considered that money well spent; these are our neighbors.

When we were faced with the memorial’s destruction and the homeowners’ denial of responsibility, we slowly gathered facts and reports and continued to try to negotiate.  When they asserted that we were harassing them (absent any evidence) and twice threatened to sue us personally, we countered with an offer of  mediation.

The legal and financial logic for their pursuing a settlement was overwhelming, as was pointed out to us repeatedly.  It took their walking away from the mediation process to convince us to sue.  Whatever this board was, it wasn’t rash or rushed.

Their persistent refusal to admit that they were responsible (until they had to write under oath) pushed our legal costs toward the maximums described by our attorney and mocked our assumption and belief that our acting in executive session would increase the probability of their settling privately rather than being embarrassed publicly. Whatever their motivations, they have delayed and stalled for six months.

Paying for this made us shake our heads; we can all think of great things to do with the money.  That’s why we are determined to see it returned by those who knew what they had done and ran the bills up; our lawyer will do everything possible toward that end.

But if it isn’t – and we like our chances – we believe the battle had to be fought.  This neighborhood association has acted on principle since its founding.  We love trees and green spaces but we don’t just plant them; we fight for policy that protects them. We appreciate improved homes, but we’re not afraid to take on improper development.  We love having new citizens in our neighborhood, but we also like to protect our historic structures.

We’ve always fought battles that were based on principle, and I hope we always will.  It’s a key part of what has made this neighborhood a unique place.

Atlanta Streets Alive Returns to VaHi

Atlanta-Streets-Alive-200x200Atlanta Streets Alive welcomes you to walk, bike, roll, run and play in the streets from 2:00pm to 6:00pm, September 25, on N Highland Ave., Highland Ave. and Boulevard! This event is organized by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. For more information, please visit .

The street closure for the September 25 Atlanta Streets Alive on N Highland, Highland and Boulevard will begin at 12:30pm and streets will reopen by 7:30pm. Atlanta Streets Alive welcomes you to walk, bike, roll, run and play in the streets from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. 

Volunteers are still needed to support the event. To volunteer in advance or on the day of the September 25 Atlanta Streets route, please visit

Scroll down to view a few photos from last year’s Atlanta Streets Alive in VaHi.

Here are some additional links you may find useful if you wish to follow this event.

Facebook event:

Facebook page: @ATLStreetsAlive

Twitter: @ATLStreetsAlive

Instagram: @AtlantaBike #AtlantaStreetsAlive


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Firefest in the Park to Benefit FS #19

What: Firefest in the Park, an event to benefit Fire Station #19

When: Saturday, September 24, 2016, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Where: North Highland Park (corner of N. Highland and St. Charles)

Atlanta Fire Station #19 is an icon in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.  Dating back to 1925, it’s the oldest continuously operated fire station in the city. The Virginia-Highland Civic Association is taking the lead in renovating the station in partnership with the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department, and Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architects.  Firefest in the Park is a community event to help raise the needed dollars to preserve this beloved community treasure. 


Marco’s Pizza, recently opened on N. Highland near Greenwood, is partnering with the Virginia-Highland Civic Association to throw a party for us all, which will feature great food, entertainment, and activities involving the crew at Fire Station #19. The event will include:

  • Free Slices of Pizza
  • Firefighter Challenges, including a Dunk Tank!
  • Fire Truck Display
  • Caricaturists and Balloon Artists
  • Live Music
  • Enter to Win Free Pizza for Five Years

In addition, there will be a pizza eating contest between Atlanta Firefighters and our Zone 6 police officers – come show your support and cheer on all competitors! Google Fiber is another partner host, and will provide a face painter and complimentary water.

We hope to see everyone at the park next Saturday to enjoy a fun afternoon and raise as much money as we can for the Fire Station #19 restoration project.

New VHCA Board of Directors Elected

at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECHCongratulations to the following Virginia-Highland residents who were elected to the VHCA Board of Directors at last night’s annual general meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association on Sept. 22:

  • David Brandenberger
  • Robin Ragland
  • Jess Windham
  • Paige Hewell
  • Eleanor Barrineau
  • Kay Stephenson
  • Cindy Kaufman
  • Jenifer Keenan
  • Debbie Skopczynski
  • George Zirkel
  • Steve Messner (alternate)

The following officers were elected at the October VHCA Board Meeting. 

President:  Jenifer Keenan

Vice President:  Kay Stephenson

Treasurer:  George Zirkel

Secretary:  Jess Windham

VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers


The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual General Meeting will be held September 22 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria from 6:30 – 9:00pm. Grants will be awarded and the 2016/2017 Board of Directors will be elected. 

The Springdale Park Elementary Advanced Chorus, led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon, will kick off the meeting again this year, so be sure to arrive early to hear them! They will start at 7:00pm.

Please submit your grant applications to Applications can be found here. The association has given out grants to local non-profits, schools and other organizations doing work that benefits our membership right here in Virginia-Highland.

The nominating committee (Lola Carlisle, Kevin Cronin and Jess Windham) will be accepting bios from those interested in running for the Board. Please reach out to the Board with questions and review the activities and the mission of the association on our website. The Committees page and Strategic Goals from prior years are particularly informative. 

To be included on the printed and published ballot, please email your bio to,, and by September 6. Please include a paragraph on your experiences in the neighborhood and goals for serving on the 2016/2017 VHCA Board. You can see bios of current board members here.

VHCA Responds to Questions Regarding Todd Cemetery Memorial

Following our initial article on the topic, several questions emerged regarding the VHCA’s effort to restore the Todd Cemetery Memorial. The following sequence of events seeks to answer many of these questions. Photos at the bottom of the article show the Todd Cemetery Memorial under construction in the late 1980s. The Memorial Stone shown in the images was placed on the site of the Todd Cemetery in the late 1920s

  • The Todd Cemetery Memorial marker (featuring a stone grave marker from the 1920’s) has been in place on private land with a public easement since 1989. The VHCA was part of a larger group that created it to honor the Todd family.  Prior owners had lived peacefully with the monument and honored the public easement without incident or conflict since its creation.
  • The current homeowners erected a fence blocking access to the memorial. Two separate visitors to the memorial stopped at the fence and later contacted the VHCA asking for help gaining access to the memorial. 
  • The VHCA spoke to the homeowners, who represented that they did not believe they had any legal obligation to allow public access. (Spring 2015)
  • VHCA asked our lawyer, a Virginia-Highland resident, to examine the legality of the easement. He verified it, informed the owners of his findings, recommended they secure an independent evaluation, and offered to share his information with another lawyer of their choosing.  (Summer 2015)
  • Our lawyer negotiated an agreement with them: the fence would stay, and VHCA would pay for a new sign that would welcome daytime visitors and remind them to be courteous and respectful of the homeowners. VHCA announced the agreement.  (Fall 2015)
  • Shortly after the agreement was reached, just before Christmas, neighbors reported that the homeowners hired a contractor to destroy and remove the monument and wrought iron fence surrounding it.
  • VHCA board members visited the site and confirmed the report of the damage.  (Christmas, 2015)
  • Contacted by our attorney, the homeowners attributed the damage to “vandals,” a claim they subsequently repeated.  Assuming that an invasion of private property by vandals would have generated a call to authorities, the VHCA searched for a police report and found none.  (January 2016)
  • The VHCA notified the Todd family, and our attorney formally asked the homeowners to rebuild the monument. We consulted with the Atlanta Police Department, who recommended a course of civil action.  (January 2106)
  • The VHCA Board reviewed the issue with a second attorney whose sole practice is property law.  His study and view of the relevant facts and law mirrored what we had already learned.   (Winter and Spring 2016)
  • Rather than negotiate, the homeowners twice threatened to sue members of the VHCA board personally if we did not “leave them alone.” (Spring 2016)
  • VHCA offered formal mediation as a solution to the dispute. The homeowners accepted and attended one mediation session with their attorney, the VHCA attorney, a Todd family member, and members of the VHCA board. At the mediation session, they did not deny responsibility for the destruction and suggested relocating a rebuilt monument to the front of their property, which was acceptable to the family and the VHCA. The VHCA, our attorney, and the Todd family member left optimistic that a solution might be forthcoming, and an additional mediation session was scheduled.  (April-June 2016)
  • The homeowners canceled the next mediation meeting and made no effort to reschedule it.  After VHCA’s lawyer made repeated unsuccessful attempts to reschedule, the VHCA board voted to take legal action with the Todd family against the homeowners.  A suit was filed, asking the court to order the monument’s restoration, affirm the easement, and have the owners pay our legal fees from the destruction forward. (July –August 2016)
  • The VHCA worked in good faith for over a year and a half to try to settle this issue in a neighborly fashion with respect for the privacy of all the parties responsible. At each stage, we believed a settlement was both logical and probable.
  • After these good-faith efforts failed – and with no alternative ever identified or proposed other than walking away from and accepting the memorial’s destruction –  the VHCA (along with members of the Todd Family), after great care and deliberation, moved forward with the lawsuit.
  • This historic monument was created with the support of this association, it honors the founders of our neighborhood, and its destruction is a public affront that diminishes the historic fabric of our community.
  • Ignoring the destruction of the monument would have been wrong on the merits and inconsistent with the history of this association and its response to such challenges. This association has always argued that no one is above the law, and no one can take it into their own hands without consequence. This is the logical basis of all our approaches to zoning, planning, safety, and preservation.  

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VHCA 2016-17 Board of Directors – Candidate Bios

Following are brief bios from the announced candidates for the 2016-17 VHCA Board of Directors:

(I) indicates incumbent

Eleanor photoEleanor Barrineau

Eleanor moved to her current home in Virginia-Highland in 1983 with her husband Stephen Cohen and raised two children here.  She retired last year from her career with the Social Security Administration and has enjoyed having more time to devote to her interests and her volunteer work, including her work for our neighborhood.  She is in her 6th year as volunteer coordinator for the Tour of Homes and was one of the original Street Captains for our safety program.  She has served for many years as the Street Captain coordinator.  She loves meeting and working with the great neighbors we have in Virginia-Highland.

If elected to the board, she would like to include safety and the Tour of Homes in her areas of focus, to look for new ways to engage the community, and overall to work with other board members and Va-Hi residents to maintain and improve our great quality of life here in Virginia-Highland. 


Peggy Berg (I)

I moved to Virginia Highland in 1984 and have a home, rental property and had a business in the neighborhood. My husband and I raised our two sons here and I served on PTAs for Morningside Elementary, Inman Middle and Grady High Schools. We have always been active in our neighborhood.

Our family is in the hotel business (we own the Hampton Inn Northlake Mall) and I have also been a partner in a consulting firm and an international CPA firm. I have a strong business background. I have chaired several industry and professional organizations and am currently on the Board of Little Creek Farm Conservancy. I have a Business degree, am a CPA, and have a Master’s degree from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy.

I believe that our individual involvement is what makes our neighborhood such a delightful place to live so I served on the VHCA Board in 2012 – 2015. I work on sidewalks and streets and the first project was doing 227 sidewalk improvements with the help of our residents and the City. As co-chair of the Safety Committee, I work with the City on pedestrian signs, street signs, traffic lights and other maintenance items on the streets. We generate the Safety Stats reports with Holly Lybeer and Shannon Mehl. We worked with the Atlanta Police Foundation to fund additional cameras for their program. I have been VHCA treasurer for the past several years, and would like the opportunity to continue serving the neighborhood in this capacity.

David_BrandenbergerDavid Brandenberger (I)

I have been a homeowner in Virginia-Highland on Rosedale Road since 1999. I have been on the VHCA Board for the past three years, serving both on the Planning Committee and – for the last two years – as Chair of the Parks Committee.

In that role, I lead a group of volunteers and professionals who sustain and improve both city-owned spaces – John Howell, Orme, and the Triangle at N Highland and Virginia – and one that belongs to the Civic Association, North Highland Park at St. Charles and N Highland. They each present different challenges and opportunities.

VHCA owns North Highland Park and we are responsible for its upkeep, an often challenging task given the diverse usage it gets.  The effort I led – with Atlanta Celebrates Photography – to create a display of local photographers’ photos at that site (still on display) was part of an ongoing strategy to promote both the Park and the Atkins Park business district.  It’s been successful; more projects like that are important, both for the park space and to work with Councilmember Wan on Renew Atlanta improvements for the street.

John Howell Park is a very diverse and successful park, really several parks in one. The Park Pride matching grant we wrote, won and are now administering is heavily focused on improving functionality of the park – installing a new sitting granite wall along Virginia to control erosion, completion of the brick walkways for safety, planting of new perennial foliage and installation of several rain gardens to reduce stormwater runoff. (A related outcome of this work will be new knee-high fencing to mitigate pedestrian intrusion into the Triangle at Virginia and N Highland.)  I was happy to lead the application process that wrote and won this most recent grant to further improve John Howell, and I look forward to completing its’ implementation this fall and winter.

Our plans are then to move to our next target: which will be addressing some challenges in Orme Park, especially on the hillsides under Brookridge Drive, which are full of extraordinary trees and spaces that are hard to access yet easy to under-appreciate. The 2009-10 playground project at Orme (started and funded by neighbors, VHCA, and Park Pride) has been extraordinarily successful, and several neighbors (two of them go to Inman Middle) have now proposed a cool additional usage on the playground side of Orme Park that we are now working with our landscape architect and the Parks Department to make happen.

Our neighborhood public parks depend on elements of public support (the city’s increasingly productive Parks Department) and private enhancement whose efforts the City Parks Department has approved. Coordinating these requires a lot of communication and attention.  Our strategy has been to leverage our effectiveness by partnering with Park Pride and Trees Atlanta whenever possible and not missing the unglamorous longer-range challenges – erosion, stormwater runoff and functionality – that are hard for the city to keep up with.   Public spaces whose design preserves their resources are both more enjoyable and easier to sustain in the long run and that is ultimately our goal with the Parks Committee.

Like all board members, I work very hard on fundraising efforts to create the funding that we need for all of the work we do, both in and outside of our parks and public spaces. To that point, and like all VHCA Board members this year, I supported the decision to challenge the destruction of the Todd Historic Monument and believe it is in the public interest to keep this important part of our neighborhood intact and accessible to all.

I’d appreciate your vote for the Board.

Lola CarlyleLola Carlisle (I)

I moved into Virginia-Highland in 1993. My first volunteer efforts were focused around involvement with our daughter’s activities through VHMPA, DHUMP, and at Morningside.

I’ve been a partner in a marketing firm located in VaHi for most of that time.  Our business fundraising motto is “We’re Givin’ Where We’re Livin.’” We’ve have raised nearly $10,000 for Fire Station 19 renovations over several years, including $5K at Santathon last year. Our marketing firm has enthusiastically donated countless hours of conceptual thinking and design services over the years to causes here, and I am a member of the Virginia-Highland Business Association.

My earliest planning efforts were a study of infill development trends and impacts in 2006. Out-of-scale development has been one of the top concerns in the neighborhood for years. An ideal solution has been elusive, but not for want of effort.  The VaHi Master Plan was a key achievement for this neighborhood; our longtime planning consultants on that process moved on to an examination of residential overlay type concepts based on this community’s examples.  This same consulting team is now participating in the City of Atlanta’s ongoing revision process of the entire city zoning code.  

Many intown neighborhoods are trying to find a balance between appropriate development and maintaining their historic character, and that remains a personal focus for me.  This neighborhood is as hot as ever, and being prepared for the upcoming large-scale development ventures – like those at Monroe and 10th –  is vital.  So too are all the  pieces of the Master Plan; calming Monroe Drive is critical, and we also need to prepare for more development along the Beltline between Ponce and Virginia.   

Success in such fields requires successful fundraising; it’s a very important topic for all board members.  Summerfest and Tour of Homes have been extraordinarily effective over the years.  Robin Ragland’s great idea for a 2015 Tour of Homes history driving tour gave me a chance to write the pamphlet for the event which was a sell-out. Summerfest’s historically huge numbers dropped this year, and it’s time for another careful examination of the event to maintain it as one of the top festivals in the area. 

I also serve on the Preservation & History Committee, an outgrowth of the book that Karri Hobson-Pape and I wrote on the history of the neighborhood that spurred the creation of an extensive historic archive of Virginia-Highland images and documents. We are working on a second book and continue to build and digitize the neighborhood’s archives.

There’s a rich heritage of safety initiatives here; our street captain process goes back to the 1990’s.  There are a lot of variables at play regarding crime, and often the relationship between spending and measurable results is not obvious.  It was easy for VHCA to match  Councilmember Wan’s offer to pay half of the cost ($38K total, half ours) for three safety cameras on Ponce de Leon, sites selected by the Atlanta Police Foundation.  We hope the long term study the Foundation is doing on this topic will demonstrate that they are very effective as a crime tool. I’ll be very willing to examine any other safety measures that come from a robust safety committee looking at all factors resulting in crime in our neighborhood and potential solutions.

One event made this year difficult: the destruction of the Todd Cemetery Memorial. Initially access to the memorial was blocked by a fence. Our attorney researched the issue and negotiated a seemingly simple, low impact solution – and then we were stunned to learn that the monument had been destroyed. We have worked to negotiate its restoration in good faith including official mediation approaches which, while initially constructive, unfortunately achieved no helpful results in the end. Since then the board has turned the issue over to the court system and we hope a positive solution is on the horizon. As distracting and stressful as this has been, we felt that sanctioning it by walking away and hoping that someone else would take it on was not in the best interests of this neighborhood. I am thankful to have been part of a strong Board that has acted reasonably on this in coordination with the Todd family. We hope to reach an agreement to restore the monument as soon as possible.

I’ve spent 20 years actively volunteering in VaHi. My focus will be on Planning, Fundraising, and Preservation and History. If elected, I’ll be glad to spend another year helping Virginia-Highland and its residents as we continue to grow.

In closing, I urge you to get involved. If you’re not on the board, there are plenty of places where your time is needed to work beside your neighbors. With so many committees, there’s a spot for everyone and I look forward to working with anyone who wants to make Virginia-Highland better and better.

Emily_GilbertEmily Gilbert (I)

I am an attorney who graduated from Emory and Georgia State Law School and have lived in Atlanta for almost 22 years. I’ve loved Virginia-Highland since I was an undergrad and was fortunate enough to move here in December 2013. I particularly love our great mix of homes and businesses, both of which create the Virginia-Highland culture we all create and enjoy. I understand that consistent planning choices help us protect, but still appropriately evolve, our unique neighborhood. While Virginia-Highland was one of the very first intown turnaround places to be – we need to evolve as Atlanta evolves around us. I believe our board plays a vital role in managing and envisioning how Virginia-Highland can continue to cut a unique path in urban development. If we can also work with the local businesses and commercial properties proactively, we can do great things. I serve on the safety committee and think that my legal perspective can be of benefit there. I look forward to working with others in the neighborhood who have worked on safety initiatives here for years. With our diverse skill sets we should be able to propose some worthy approaches to help maintain a safe environment for all those who find themselves in Virginia-Highland – for a day’s visit or for the years it takes to raise our children here. I hope to continue to be part of the board that works to build on Virginia-Highland’s heritage to make our neighborhood better and better.

PicCivicAssoc-124x150Paige Hewell (I)

I have lived in the neighborhood on Virginia Circle for nearly two decades. A native Atlantan, I grew up in Buckhead and had little exposure to Va-Hi. I truly love our community and sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of it.  My dog, Leon, feels the same way. 

For the past 5 years, I’ve worked on the Summerfest organizing committee – from building fences to appearing in TV promos, it has been a fun and crazy ride.  It’s through my Summerfest participation that I became involved with the board of the VHCA.  I’ve served for 2 years as a board member with some of the most passionate and dedicated folks – it has been amazing. 

I look forward to continuing my involvement with both Summerfest and the board of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. 

Cindy Kaufman has been a resident of Virginia-Highland several times in her 30 years in Atlanta, finally becoming a homeowner in 2007. She served as a Tour of Homes committee member for 5 years, and has run for the VHCA board before. She is currently Director of Marketing for Interface Hospitality, and is an Interior Designer as well as experienced marketer. She is passionate about many causes, including pet rescue, access to healthy/locally-grown food, and community quality of life.

Keenan-jeniferJenifer Keenan

I am a mom, wife, lawyer, and community activist who has lived in Virginia-Highland for over thirteen years. I take great pride in our neighborhood and have been an active neighborhood advocate on the BeltLine and important neighborhood issues.

I served as the Secretary of NPU-F for 7 years and was a member of the VHCA Board for several years. My service as NPU Secretary and on the VHCA Board allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the issues facing our neighborhoods and the most effective ways to deal with those challenges. My neighbors, friends, work colleagues and fellow board members would all describe me as a “go-getter” – when I see something that needs to be improved or changed, I work hard to make it happen!

At various points over the past four years, I have served on VHCA’s Planning, Safety, Summerfest and Tour of Homes committees, and was the co-chair of the VHCA Master Plan subcommittee. In my role as the Co-Chair of the VHCA Safety Committee in 2016, I helped spearhead the effort to get funding for additional police video surveillance cameras and coordinated with the City on street and sidewalk safety issues in our neighborhood. 

I would like to make VHCA a more inclusive and transparent organization.  In particular, I would like to increase community input on projects that are funded by VHCA.  Virginia-Highland is a wonderful neighborhood.  If elected to the VHCA board in 2016-2017, I will work hard to help make it an even better place to live, work, and play.    

Catherine_LewisCatherine Lewis (I)

I have lived in Virginia-Highland since 1995, and in our house on Lanier Boulevard since 1998. I am a graduate of Emory University and have been in Atlanta since 1986. I am an incumbent, having served on the VHCA Board last year. My main role is to coordinate the renovation of the No. 19 Fire Station, which will be a key part of our activities this year. In 2015-2016, we have enjoyed a very strong board with committed leadership and there are a lot of issues that need careful, thoughtful attention. I’m happy to continue to serve with my colleagues who have done so much for our neighborhood.

In my work life, I am the Assistant Vice President of Museums, Archives & Rare Books at Kennesaw State University and the Bobby Jones Curator and Special Projects Coordinator at the Atlanta History Center.

Our family is very committed to the historic fabric of this neighborhood and hope to help it continue to grow and thrive. You will see my husband, John, and daughter, Emma on a bicycle, on foot, or on a razor scooter in the neighborhood. I would be honored to continue serve the neighborhood with this very dedicated group of friends and colleagues.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 4.44.27 PMSteve Messner moved to Virginia-Highland in the summer of 2007 with his partner of 19 years, Chris. He has been involved in cleanup efforts on the Beltline and with graffiti removal and takes pride in his home’s and the neighborhood’s appearance. When he’s not tending to the needs of his young patients as a pediatrician, Steve is often out biking and running on the Beltline and catching up with neighbors. If elected to the VHCA board, Steve will work to make Virginia-Highland an even more vibrant, safe and beautiful neighborhood through thoughtful planning and use of resources.



RBR-VHCARobin Ragland (I)

After joining my husband in retirement in 2006, we relocated to Virginia-Highland from Gwinnett County. We arrived just in time to enjoy our first Dogwood Festival as locals, relax with our new Elmwood neighbors at the annual street party, and volunteer for, as well as have a blast at our first Summerfest!  It quickly became apparent that a key component to keeping our neighborhood so vibrant is the continued contributions of volunteers organized and focused through the VHCA.

I’ve continued to volunteer for Summerfest each year in various capacities. In 2012, I began participating in fundraising for the neighborhood by creating items to sell from recycled Summerfest t-shirts. I organized a tree lighting event last December in N Highland Park, which was jointly hosted by VHCA and VHBA to raise money for Fire Station 19, and the APD Zone 6 Toy Drive.  We had a wonderful evening, and raffled off over $2,000 in donated gifts from our local businesses.

I joined the Tour of Homes committee in 2013 and 2014, chairing the sponsorship sub-committee; we raised over $30,000 each year.  I co-chaired the 2015 tour committee–we had record gross proceeds of $75,000 ($40,000 in sponsorships).  We also had fun adding a docent-led history tour of VaHi, and providing a shuttle service.  I am chair of the 2016 tour committee, and we’re in the midst of preparing for a great tour. Pledged sponsorships currently exceed $46,000. I’ve been successful over the last several years raising money for the neighborhood, and look forward continuing such efforts in 2017.

Debbie SDebbie Skopczynski

I have been a resident on Rupley Drive with my husband, Tom Budlong, and my 3 furry kids since 1991. For more years that I can remember, I have volunteered for Summerfest and the Tour of Homes  and have actively participated, advocated or opposed many zoning, variance and tree preservation issues. Currently, I am completing my second term as chair of NPU-F and represent the NPU on the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board (APAB) and the Outdoor Events Quality of Life Working Group initiated by Council members Alex Wan and Kwanza Hall. Previously, I served as a member of the VaHi Board in the early 90’s, NPU F Zoning Chair (2010 to 2014), NPU Chair (1996-97), and the BZA (1997-2000). Now retired, I have worked in the HR departments of The Coca-Cola Company and BellSouth/Cingular/AT&T, specializing in workforce compensation and salary analysis.

Virginia-Highland is a terrific place to live, work and play, much due to the efforts of previous VaHi boards, neighbors and business owners.  Next year, I plan to focus on sustaining what makes us great by leveraging my associations in City Hall and throughout the city on planning and development issues (especially along the Beltline),  as well as tackle the proliferation of outdoor events which are always fun, but sometimes sacrifice quality of life. In addition, I’d like to harness the tremendous amount of hidden talent available to take on VaHi projects and committees so that we have a steady stream of leaders ready to take on the future challenges of the neighborhood.

Kay_HeadShotKay Stephenson moved to Virginia-Highland in 1996 with her husband Mark Gilliland. After more than 25 years in sales, product management and marketing for tech companies, she now devotes her time to quilt design, writing, and many volunteer causes focused on parks, trees, the Beltline, pet rescue, and public safety. 

Since 2009 Kay has served as a street captain for our neighborhood watch program and handles communication for both neighborhood watch and FBAC (Virginia-Highland Security Patrol).  She has a close relationship with law enforcement and the criminal justice system and was named the 2016 CourtWatcher of the Year for Fulton County.

In addition to public safety I will focus on increasing resident and business engagement with VHCA so that we know we are investing in the projects that are most important to residents, and that yield the greatest benefit. 

Virginia-Highland is a great neighborhood. With a strong and transparent board, and with the full support of the community, we can make it even better.

Jack WhiteJack White (I)

When my then preschool daughter and I moved from Midtown to Virginia-Highland in 1984, we were the two youngest people on the half-block; I am now the oldest. My particular interests are planning, parks, and public resources, particularly stormwater and stream issues, a field in which I’ve worked for several decades. Our neighborhood schools that both my kids graduated from are pretty high on the list too.

I’m grateful for the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s role in helping shape the history of the community. If the residents of the late 60’s and early 70’s hadn’t organized and stood together with their allies to the north and south, it’s very likely that most of us wouldn’t be living in – and might not even recognize – this neighborhood today. The threat then was a huge interstate highway that would have run through Orme Park with a cloverleaf exit on top of the Inman School parking lot. It seems preposterous, but it almost happened.

Two generations later, our community’s success has brought with it challenges that then seemed unimaginable; as one planner put it, we now face the threat of being loved to death. Auto traffic wasn’t an issue then; today the volume of cars, cyclists, and pedestrians challenge us every day of the week. Three decades ago it was our wits and our determination versus longstanding political forces. We’re still determined today, and we’ve added to that the ability to use professional planners and land use lawyers to help level the playing field.

This isn’t at all an academic question. Some of the ideas we’ve heard from developers for Monroe and 10th pose grave implications for the west side of our community and beyond.

An educated and involved citizenry and the Civic Association’s organizational skills in framing issues are the most important assets we have. In tandem, they can be very effective, and we’re going to need them.

As we prepare for and address these challenges, I would appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve on the Board.

Jess at 4th and SwiftJess Windham (I)

For about the last three years – even before officially moving in – I have been active with the neighborhood Civic Association, primarily through the VHCA Planning and the Master Plan creation process. My role in that process was to keep everything on the rails: organizing and communicating the public meeting schedule, sharing information and clarifying inaccuracies, coordinating the steering committee, and feeling out consensus every step of the way. 

Since the Master Plan was adopted by council, I have been focusing on the implementation of the highest priority items outlined in the Master Plan. This has involved follow up with various city departments and nonprofits. I’m excited to be part of a vibrant urban community with a rich diversity of residents and incredible history. Currently I’m also serving as ambassador between the neighborhood and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for the Atlanta Streets Alive event in September.

In terms of style, I have a diplomatic approach, a true desire to contribute, and would appreciate the opportunity to serve the neighborhood. I’d like to continue to be involved on the board so that I can support the neighborhood with broad initiatives, from master planning to fundraising for our parks. Having served on the Planning Committee, I understand the time, patience, and dedication needed to create positive changes that keep the neighborhood vibrant. Change is inevitable and the desirability of VaHi is only going to grow. I’d like to be on the board to ensure the character and quality of life in Virginia-Highland continues to get better each year.

GeorgeZirkel_WebRes_007George Zirkel 

George moved to Atlanta from New York in 2009 and lives on Rosedale Drive with his husband JD Garcia.  Prior to recently joining Transaction Network Services (TNS) as Senior Vice President and Head of Global Payment Strategy, he worked at TabbedOut, a start-up advancing hospitality mobile payments.  When he’s not exploring one of the many new restaurants or attractions in Atlanta or tending his garden, he enjoys collecting Tibetan and Himalayan art and has amassed an enviable treasure trove of unique, historic pieces. George shared these additional comments about why he’s running for the VHCA board:

A Neighborhood Association is founded on transparency, empathy and a solid representation of the broad variety of views and voices in a community.  The Association exists to listen to and serve the neighborhood in advancing the many important causes of the community.  

My goals, if elected to the VHCA Board, are to continue to work to make it a more progressive, inclusive and transparent organization.  We can do so much to build on the wonderful neighborhood we have created and the VHCA is a great vehicle from which to do that.  

First and foremost, we should solicit feedback from the community to confirm what residents view as the right priorities for the VHCA.  We can strive to improve public safety by working with and assisting the neighborhood watch system and our off-duty patrol group.  We can modernize our community and communication within Virginia-Highland using technology and social platforms that fit more easily into the busy lives our residents lead.  We can create strategies to increase community input on projects that are funded by VHCA.  We can help revitalize and strengthen the Commercial Districts and the community’s relationships with local business owners.  And while we do all of this hard work, we can make sure we have fun and create new memories with our neighbors.  

We live in Virginia-Highland because we know what a special place it is and so I would like to join the VHCA Board to help our special piece of Atlanta be the place everyone wants to live, work and play.

Fire Station No. 19 Renovation About to Begin, Final Funds Needed

Community-wide collaboration should position one of VaHi’s most important historical treasures well for the future

By VHCA Board Member Dr. Catherine Lewis

After years of planning and fundraising and months of hard work vetting contracts, the VHCA is pleased to announce that the city is about to start the contracting process for the renovation of the No. 19 Fire Station.

Fire Station #19 illustration by Steve Spetz

Fire Station #19 illustration by Steve Spetz

Fire Station No. 19 is Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating station. Located at 1063 N. Highland Avenue in the heart of the historic Virginia-Highland neighborhood, the station has been a neighborhood landmark for more than 90 years. 

All preliminary inspections have found that No. 19’s building is structurally sound but needs repair and modernization to support a diverse firefighting force. The goal of this effort is to keep No. 19 operating in a safe and efficient manner for at least another 50 years, while addressing important issues related to historic preservation and stormwater.

The project team—comprised of members of the VHCA board, the Virginia-Highland Conservation League, the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department, the City of Atlanta’s Office of Enterprise Management and Legal Department, Attorney’s Office, and the Urban Design Commission, and City Councilman Alex Wan’s office – vetted four architectural firms and selected Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architects, best known for their work on Ponce City Market. Tom Little, the director of historic preservation for the firm, has been a very strong partner and will help ensure that the renovation meets all of the AFRD’s operational needs while attending to the unique challenges of renovating a historic building.

No. 19 with DogThis has been such a collaborative effort, there are almost too many people to thank. I begin with the men and women at No. 19 and the AFRD. They love the station and care for it each day. I also want to recognize local attorney Bob Zoeckler (who helped with the donor agreement), Chip Bullock (an architect in the neighborhood and member of the VHCA Planning Committee), Rich Chey (owner Doc Chey’s, Osteria, and Dragon Bowl who has been a stalwart fundraising partner), Harris Botnick (owner of Worthmore Jewelers), and Melanie and Robb Wallace (owners of Marco’s Pizza), Yeah! Burger, and Lola Carlisle and Greg Abel (owners of Tailfin Marketing). Countless individuals have contributed financially as have all the volunteers who are part of VHCA’s fundraising efforts which include the Tour of Homes and Summerfest.

This neighborhood-city partnership promises to serve as a model for other communities, and we are proud to do the heavy lifting to make that a reality.

The hard work is still ahead of us, but I wanted to commend the 2015-2016 VHCA board for their assistance, wisdom, and foresight. They have been very strong advocates for this and so many other neighborhood projects. I look forward to continuing this work with my fellow board members who have turned vision into reality.

The fundraising effort is not yet complete, so look out for additional fundraising efforts. On September 24, from 1-4 p.m. Marco’s Pizza will host a community festival to raise funds for No. 19. Please contact me at if you would like to volunteer to help with the project or make a financial contribution. We still have about $15,000 to raise, so any and all help is appreciated.

City Council District 6 Newsletter

wan_190Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan’s current e-newsletter for District 6 includes important updates on the following:

  • Monroe Dr / Boulevard Complete Street Next Steps
  • Important Voter Information
  • Music Midtown 2016
  • Atlanta Streets Alive on Sunday, September 25th
  • Labor Day Solid Waste / Recycling Collection Reminder

You can read the e-newsletter in its entirety here.

Public Works Marking Crew Installs New Crosswalks in VaHi

By David Brandenberger, VHCA Parks Committee Chair

We have all observed a spate of sidewalk and ADA corner ramp improvements in the neighborhood recently.  As we understand it, it is now city policy to install appropriate crosswalk markings wherever such improvements are made.


VHCA Board President Jack White and I encountered the Department of Public Works Marking Crew at work on this project on Virginia Circle and De Leon. For the curious, the material is thermoplastic colored white for visibility that is mixed on the spot at 500 degrees, applied to the street, and sprayed immediately with water to help it set.  Crosswalks need new treatment about every five years on side streets and – obviously – much more often on major thoroughfares. Peachtree Street crosswalks require an almost annual renewal, the crew suggests. Read this article to learn more about thermoplastic road markings.

Given the volume of sidewalk and road repairs we’ve experienced, Virginia-Highland clearly has a lot more new and re-markings coming.  Almost every intersection along Barnett meets the criteria.  If you know of a locale that needs treatment (or re-treatment), feel free to forward the location to, and we’ll do our best to make sure it is on Public Works’ list.

Posing in the photo below are Marking Crew members (L-R): Jonny Daniels, Kantrell Hays, Oscar Maddox, Dante Wheeler, and Leonard Sims.


Todd Cemetery Memorial Destruction and Restoration

Photo of Todd Cemetery Memorial taken by Andrew Wood in 2008.

Photo of Todd Cemetery Memorial taken by Andrew Wood in 2008.

by Jack White, for the VHCA Board

In December of 2014 the Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) Board was notified that new homeowners had installed a fence that blocked free access to the Todd Cemetery Memorial. (VHCA is no stranger to this topic; the Association was active in promoting the memorials’ creation in the late 80s.) After much effort – including validating the legality of the easement that leads to the monument – we negotiated an agreement with the homeowners: a small sign to be placed on the fence that acknowledged the monument and reminded visitors to be respectful of the residents’ privacy and property.

Shortly thereafter – just before Christmas in 2015 – the Todd Cemetery Memorial was deliberately destroyed.

Since that event, the Board and descendants of the Todd family have tried in a private and quiet manner to negotiate the monument’s rebuilding and secure the public’s access to it. This has included further efforts by our attorney, as well as formal mediation. While those processes have eliminated certain fictions about the how the monument was destroyed and who was responsible, our hope and faith that a solution could be reached without filing a formal lawsuit have vanished.

The board discussed this issue in open session for the first time at the August 2016 board meeting and voted unanimously to file suit in Fulton County Superior Court to compel the monument’s restoration, restore public access to it, and remunerate VHCA for many of its legal costs.

We have spent a lot of time and a lot of money on this issue – about $25,000. The money certainly matters a lot; we all know and appreciate the effort that residents and volunteers in this community put into fundraising. The prospect of recovering some fees in court, understanding that future costs are capped, and offers by citizens to donate specifically toward these expenses mitigates that only a little.

The most visible and obvious motivation was the critical importance of preserving a unique and irreplaceable piece of history, a point that a number of citizens strongly asserted at the board meeting.

The history matters a great deal, but there is an even more important issue here: the rule of law.

In our day-to-day efforts on the Board and on committees, we spend a huge amount of time trying to find acceptable and workable solutions to the application of laws and regulations, often as intermediaries between citizens and government. The principle tactic is negotiation; when those are unsuccessful, asking the court to apply the law is the next step.

The lawsuit is a public record; you can see the complaint that was filed here.

Within the context of this being a matter before the court, we will try to answer as many questions about the facts of the case as we can.

A few articles on the Todd family history for your reference:

Meeting to Discuss Monroe Dr. Complete Street Project Set for August 23

Based on previous community planning studies, the corridor will be transformed into a complete street that is safe and efficient for all users and modes of transportation. 

The City of Atlanta and City Councilmembers Kwanza Hall, Alex Wan and Natalyn Archibong will host a community engagement meeting next month to discuss the upcoming Monroe Dr./Bouevard Dr. Complete Street Project.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 6-8 pm, at Grady High School. See flyer below for details.

RenewATL_Monroe_Blvd Flyer.pdf

It’s Time to Fix Monroe!

The City of Atlanta and City Councilmembers Kwanza Hall, Alex Wan and Natalyn Archibong will host a community engagement meeting next week to discuss the upcoming Monroe Dr./Bouevard Dr. Complete Street Project.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 6-8 pm, at Grady High School. See or click on the flyer at the bottom of this article for details.

Following are comments from Jenifer Keenan, co-chair of the VHCA Safety Committee, regarding the proposed Complete Streets improvements for Monroe Dr.

Monroe is broken. It is above the state average in total crashes, fatalities and injuries for streets its size. It is unsafe, speeding is an issue, and at rush hour, traffic comes to a standstill. Fortunately, the City finally has a plan to address these issues. That plan is known as the Monroe Drive Complete Streets Project.

The Complete Streets Plan will convert Monroe from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction with a dedicated turn lane in the middle. This part of the plan is known as a “road diet.” People may assume that removing a lane of traffic will make things worse on Monroe, but traffic engineering data and real life examples of road diets from throughout the country (including Atlanta) show that is not the case. Having a dedicated turn lane will prevent cars jockeying around drivers making left turns – and thereby allow traffic on the dedicated travel lane to move more smoothly – which can actually lead to a reduction in actual travel time along the street. Having traffic move more smoothly, as opposed to the stop and go that is caused by the lack of a dedicated turn lane, will also reduce cut through traffic on surrounding streets. In addition, road diets have been shown to significantly reduce collisions.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Here is what the U.S. Department of Transportation has to say about Road Diets:

The resulting benefits [or road diets] include a crash reduction of 19 to 47 percent, reduced vehicle speed differential, improved mobility and access by all road users, and integration of the roadway into surrounding uses that results in an enhanced quality of life. A key feature of a Road Diet is that it allows reclaimed space to be allocated for other uses, such as turn lanes, bus lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bike lanes, sidewalks, bus shelters, parking or landscaping.

Although many people are just now hearing about the Monroe Complete Streets project, the plan is not new. The City’s major transportation plans, including the BeltLine plan and the Connect Atlanta Plan, have called for a road diet for Monroe. The road diet was also supported in the Virginia-Highland Master Plan.

Conventional wisdom is that road diets are most effective if streets carry less than 25,000 cars per day.  Traffic studies have shown that the car volume on Monroe ranges from 19,000 – 22,000 cars per day.

It is time to fix Monroe. The road diet, and other parts of the Complete Streets plan, are the best and most effective way to fix this broken street.

Celebrating the Life of Diamond Lil

There will be a night of singing, good food and good times in honor of Diamond Lil tomorrow night (Tuesday, August 16) from 8-12 pm at the Virginia-Highland Church. There will be a potluck supper and an open mic. The public is invited to come share a story and a song in memory of the Atlanta legend and icon.

See flyer below for additional details. Here’s a link to a Georgia Voice article on Diamond Lil’s recent demise.


Opportunity for Event Planning With Atlanta Streets Alive

By Jess Windham, VHCA Board Vice President

DSC_0022Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) hosts another Atlanta Streets Alive this fall on the North Highland corridor through Virginia-Highland, Poncey-Highland, Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward. On September 25th, the street will be closed to cars and opened to people on foot or bicycle to explore the community in a safer, healthier and more livable way. 

To spark and guide local neighborhood participation, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition asks each neighborhood to provide an ambassador. This person engages with ABC in the weeks leading up to the event, meeting for an hour or two every few weeks. You’ll learn the game plan for the event and spread the word to the community about the event through any and all effective channels. 

More information on the event can be found here.

If you’re interested in having fun as VaHi’s Atlanta Streets Alive ambassador, please contact Haydee M Santana at and cc me at

Reaction to Resident Comments on Briarcliff Terrace

By Jack White, VHCA Board President and Lola Carlisle, VHCA Planning Committee Member

A few residents have asked what the Planning Committee’s reaction might be to the concepts they heard at the meeting the potential developers of Briarcliff Terrace held.  No specific plan has been submitted, and we weren’t at the meeting, both large qualifiers. But perhaps some thoughts about to approach such issues may be helpful.

The owners have shared a couple of plans with the neighborhood association, a courtesy that we appreciate.  We respect their right to re-develop their property, and we hope that we can work with them to mitigate the impacts that this will have on the existing residents, who include many school-age children. Not uprooting them in the middle of a school year would be a great outcome.

Redevelopment of the apartment complex on Briarcliff Terrace has been discussed, but no specific plan has been put forth.

Redevelopment of the apartment complex on Briarcliff Terrace has been discussed, but no specific plan has been put forth.

Their lawyer and architects and our planner and attorney have looked very hard for an approach that is consistent with the city’s zoning and principle planning documents, among them NPU-F’s Comprehensive Development Plan (the CDP) and VaHi’s Master Plan.  A key concern is trying to forecast what impacts a given plan might have for the neighborhood , both on the site under consideration and (long range) on similar parcels in the community.

We can understand the owners’ and developer’s desire to build more than what is there now.  Under its current zoning, perhaps a ten percent increase in volume can be constructed than what now is on the site now. And we are always open to innovative approaches that are consistent with existing planning principles.  The use of PDH (Planned Development Housing) zoning was reported.  PDH is a useful category in the right circumstances and can be applied to many different types of housing styles, but the city’s policy has always been that it shall not be used to increase density.

Density in Atlanta is (logically enough) not measured by the total number of units but by the total floor area ratio (FAR). (FAR may be more simply described as the amount of allowable buildable space on a given property.)  It is directly related to zoning – another reason that zoning matters so much. As you would expect, larger FAR can quickly add up to far more density even if the unit count stays the same or decreases.

Good starting points for evaluating projects that require zoning and land use changes include learning the perspective of the local councilmember (especially when she or he is an experienced veteran), the view of the City’s Planning Department, how the local NPU has reacted both historically and recently to recent similar proposals, and whether or not the neighborhood’s Master Plan (if one exists) is up to date and has recently considered the concepts in question.

It’s not a big surprise to see early designs featuring extensive perimeter drives, narrow buffers, and the loss of many large trees; if nothing else; such drawings can make subsequent versions feel like a huge improvement.   A key design focus should be the project’s density; when that’s kept at an appropriate level, the concerns just iterated become a lot easier for architects and planners to improve.

All changes to zoning and land use law require several layers of public hearings and are examined closely by both VHCA and NPU-F.

A good place to go for answers is the VHCA Planning Committee, which meets at the Church of Our Saviour at 7 PM on the Wednesday before the monthly board meeting.   All meetings ar public; you and your concerns are welcome there.



APD Zone 6 Commander Pens Letter to Residents

City_of_Atlanta_Police1Atlanta Police Department Zone 6 Commander Lt. Timothy D. Peek wrote the following letter this week to Zone 6 residents:

Dear Zone Six Communities:

In recent times, our nation has experienced some very trying times as it relates to the relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities for which they serve.  Communities throughout the country voiced their concerns through many different avenues which included protests and demonstrations.  The City of Atlanta was not exempt from these experiences.  Although stressful, the officers of the Atlanta Police Department rose to the occasion and served all of our citizens with dignity and respect.  We took an oath to serve our citizens and we look forward to our continued and committed service.

During these stressful times, you (our citizens and business partners) supported our officers in many ways.  In expressions of your support, we thank you for all of the gifts that you shared with us.  We thank you for the gratitude shown through gifts of food, snacks, drinks, flowers, handshakes and hugs (just to name a few).  These gestures certainly brightened our day and filled our hearts with joy.  It is truly our pleasure to serve such fine citizens. Again, we look forward to our continued service to the communities.


Major Timothy D. Peek , on Behalf of Atlanta Police Department Zone Six Officers

Atlanta BeltLine Hosts Meeting to Discuss Eastside Trail Extension, Road Closures

The Atlanta BeltLine invites you to attend a meeting this week where an update will be given on the Eastside Trail extension project, including a review of road closures on Wylie and Irwin Streets. Information will also be shared about the BeltLine’s downpayment assistance program.

The meeting will be held this Thursday, August 4 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Our Lady of Lourdes, 25 Boulevard, NE, Atlanta, 30312.


Orme Creek Fouled by Grease, City’s Stormwater Recon Crew Responds

By Jack White, VHCA Board President

In the week of July 11th, some local citizens observed that the water in the creek running through Orme Park was discolored – ‘milky white’ was an early description – and had a bad odor.  (The stream has no official name but is widely referred to as Orme Creek by neighbors.) The city’s Department of Stormwater Management (DWM) was notified and sent out a crew to take a water sample.  On a couple of occasions in the past few years, paint has been illegally dumped in the stream (usually via a street drain), becoming visible along the length of the park. It’s a bad – and illegal act – but it usually dissipates rapidly.

A few days later the odor was worse, and VHCA Parks Chair David Brandenberger and I pushed DWM for a report on the sample they had taken and for further investigation. An up-close look revealed a gelatinous, sticky, and smelly substance that was not dissolving in water.  (See photos 1 &2, taken by local resident George Petsch on July 13th.)  As we all know, July had little rain, and the smattering of widely-scattered thunderstorms that did occur had missed this area altogether.  Whatever was in the water was neither moving nor dissolving, and the odor was absolutely getting worse.

An unidentified, greasy sludge flows down Orme Creek. Photo by George Petsch.

An unidentified, greasy sludge flows down Orme Creek. Photo by George Petsch.

An unidentified, greasy sludge flows down Orme Creek. Photo by George Petsch.

An unidentified, greasy sludge flows down Orme Creek. Photo by George Petsch.

The persistence of the odor spurred DWM to send a crew to try to identify its source.  (The assistance of Watershed Management’s Julie Owens, who immediately grasped the issue, was very helpful in this process.)  This crew did not have the results of the sample taken a few days earlier (reason unknown), but they grimly speculated that the material was grease, usually produced in this quantity by commercial restaurants.  They diligently searched upstream, put (harmless) dyes into the stream (that clung and illuminated the grease; see photo 3, also by VaHi resident George Petsch) and storm drains to verify their assumptions about what pipes went where.  (It will be no surprise that maps of infrastructure built and revised constantly over the last century are far from perfect.)  This crew walked up the large culvert under Brookridge as far as they could from Orme Park and then called in the City Reconnaissance Crew.

Harmless dye illuminates the greasy material in Orme Creek. Photo by George Petsch.

Harmless dye illuminates the greasy material in Orme Creek. Photo by George Petsch.

Note: Scroll down to bottom of article for more photos.

Searching for the source

The Recon Crew has at their command a sophisticated camera with LED lights that – conditions permitting – can travel through stormwater and sanitary pipes and provide a great view of interior conditions. That crew arrived on Friday, confirmed the grease analysis, began the ultra-laborious tasks of validating where the upstream access manholes were located, and followed the grease upstream.  (They need the manholes for access; the camera doesn’t turn corners.)  By Friday afternoon the trail had led them to North Highland and uphill – to the south – to the rear of the southernmost residential property on Vance Avenue, next to the parking lot behind the shops on the northwest corner of Virginia & Highland.  At that point, their camera (whose lens can turn 180 degrees in two directions) had spotted from inside the pipe what appeared to be an opening cover on the surface.  But aboveground, they found no manhole – only a 4’ x 5’ slab of solid concrete.

A careful hour with a concrete saw and sledge hammer removed that obstacle, whose legal reason of installation eluded everyone.  It definitely made it impossible to visually inspect the stormwater drain from the surface, as well as preventing  the system from accepting ground flows from the yard in the back of the adjacent apartment building.

One more camera trip took them to the rear of the building on N. Highland; there the pipe contained a lot of grease amidst trash and broken bricks capable of immobilizing the camera.  The detritus was blasted out with a jet of high-pressure water. (Watching the truck maneuver in the middle the rear parking lot on Friday at 8 PM was entertaining.)

When the broken bricks were removed, the grease trail was followed under the building and across to the other side of Virginia.  Subsequent searches that continued into Sunday and Monday pinpointed the source: a faulty uncapped pipe in the crawl space under Murphy’s Restaurant that was allowing grease to spill onto the ground and into the stormwater system. 

Unlike the multi-day effort required to locate the problem, making the necessary repairs was not very  hard, owner Tom Murphy reported.

While this process was underway and to prevent any further material already in the system from reaching the creek, the crew inserted a hose into the manhole they had uncovered behind Vance and began pumping the greasy flows out to the sanitary line on that street.  Grease isn’t designed to be in the sanitary line either – it’s supposed to be carefully collected and placed in grease traps or captured by an in-line grease system and subsequently hauled away.   Pumping isn’t ideal, but the grease is better off in the sanitary lines (where it will get some treatment) than in Orme Creek, the Chattahoochee River, or Apalachicola Bay, whose fish and oysters are for sale right here in Atlanta.

Fats, Oils, & Grease – a big stinky expensive problem in Atlanta

The city’s Department of Watershed Management estimates that discharges containing high concentrations of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) from commercial food vendors – restaurants, schools, nursing homes, etc. – contribute to more than half of the blockages or overflows in the city’s collection system. Grease and food byproducts in the stormwater system and streams can interfere with the nutrient balance and affect the health of vegetation and wildlife. It’s also very difficult to mitigate the damage after grease is in a waterway.

Watershed Management’s Recon Crew

The eventual repair may have been straightforward, but the effort required to diagnose and identify the problem was huge, time-consuming, and expensive. Some comments about the work ethic and esprit de corps of the Recon Crew (some of whom are pictured) are in order.  A variety of citizens and board members spent parts of three days watching them deal with an important public health hzard in a stream.

Their work requires an unusual combination of gritty manual labor and the ability to use sophisticated and expensive equipment, plus a lot of experience and interpretation of sometimes  uncertain data.  This crew’s performance was exemplary: to a person, they were cheerful, determined, and resolute. They donned their suits and descended into cramped and smelly manholes several times while we were watching – manually pulling out some obstructions and protecting their extremely expensive camera. 

If, like most of us, you are sometimes discouraged by the quality of the municipal services you receive, an hour or two with these folks will cheer you up. They were absolutely indefatigable, and they are very well informed about their mission and its importance.  We owe them many thanks.

Why does it matter what gets into our local creeks?

The answer goes beyond the beauty and enjoyment that many local citizens derive from being near those streams.  All natural systems are inter-related; the macroinvertebrates in the creek, the fish (there are some, even here) the insects, the birds, the mammals – their mutual health depends on one another

And these creeks flow far beyond our borders, carrying with them all our accumulated impacts.

VaHi’s subwatersheds

Virginia-Highland has two sub-watersheds, Rock Creek and Clear Creek; both eventually flow to Peachtree Creek and on to the Chattahoochee River and the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola Bay. Appropriately-named North ‘High-land’ Avenue is broadly the boundary between them. 

Rainfall to the east of Highland flows (either underground or via several patches of surface streams) into Rock Creek, which heads north into South Peachtree in Johnson-Taylor Park in Morningside.  (The very top of Rock Creek is visible behind Arlington Place and – more obviously – on both sides of Amsterdam Avenue at McLynn.)

Clear Creek – and Orme – are to the west of Highland.  Rainfall there flows downhill to the west (again mostly underground; only a few sections like Orme Park are above) and into Clear Creek, which itself emerges onto the surface at the northern edge of Piedmont Park on its way to Ansley Mall and the Golf Course, under I-85, along the border of Brookwood, and into Peachtree Creek west of the Piedmont Road bridge near Lindberg Drive.

Inside its namesake  park , Orme Creek is easy to observe and approach. Its surface life (low volume, like Rock Creek) begins behind houses between LA Avenue (on the south) and Glen Arden (on the north.)  It collects some water from underground storm drains throughout the immediate neighborhood.

‘Combined’ sewers v. separate stormwater & sanitary systems

The system running through Orme Park is not a combined sewer system, the DWM crews report. That is, unlike much of VaHi south of Virginia Avenue, the sanitary discharges (what we flush from our homes and businesses) enter separate and distinct sanitary pipes and not the same pipes that hold stormwater from our streets and roofs. 

That modern design is vastly superior, but some of our neighborhood and much of the city (including most of Clear Creek’s watershed, whose top edge is roughly the E-W MARTA line) is “combined.”  Both ‘sanitary sewage’ from our homes and stormwater enter and flow though the same pipes. In days of yore, that was the cheapest and easiest practice.

And that’s the case for almost all of downtown and much of the near west side.  If you followed the discussion about the  leaks on the playground near Bobby Jones Golf Course this summer, a major challenge there was a faulty “combined” pipe that allowedboth stormwater and waste  to peroclate to the the surface.

Absent heavy rainfall, those combined flows go peacefully to the RM Clayton Treatment Plant, where the waste is cleaned before the water is returned to the Chattahoochee. 

While the combined pipes are big enough to handle many storm events, really big ones – or several small ones in a row – can be too large for the pipes to the treatment plant to hold.  When that happens, the excess overflows are designed to go into the huge tunnels that the city built in the last decade.  There they are lightly treated and emptied, so they can handle the next storm.   

Clear Creek’s tunnel is off Monroe Drive inside Piedmont Park.  The tunnel fills up several times a year.  (the exact number is uncertain); if the rain/stormwater is still coming when the tunnels is full, the overflow goes into Clear Creek itself. 

Those tunnels cost a fortune, and they are why we are paying the nation’s highest water bills.  It’s the tunnels, not the water, that are so costly – as are the pumps and other equipment they require, whose maintenance and replacement has caused several city council members a lot of public budget vexation.  The silt in our streams that settles in the tunnels has been a difficult problem; silt doesn’t pump well.

Specific data about water quality in Orme Creek

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper has created a nice citizen-based network – the Neighborhood Water Watch – for volunteers who periodically collect samples from local streams and transport them to the Riverkeeper office, where they are analyzed and the results are published. The city and some other agencies also do some testing, but this initiative is a good way to get local info from a lot of spots the city doesn’t get to.

And it’s a cool and useful program that involve local citizens.  In Orme Park, Clair Ritchie and her family have been collecting samples for some time; to see results from their efforts at the park, go to:  Two-thirds of the way down the page, click the link entitled NNW DATA, and scroll down to ‘Orme Creek at Orme Park.’

Many thanks to the entire Ritchie family for their work in this regard. If anyone would like to volunteer to do the same for Rock Creek, please let us know.  The Riverkeeper offices are about 20 weekday afternoon minutes away near the west end of 10th street.

Here are some photos of the City’s Recon crew in action. They were something to watch, let me tell you.


VHCA Grant Application Deadline Approaching

By Peggy Berg, VHCA Board Member and Safety Chair

VHCA Grant & Community Gift Program

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s grant program supports not-for-profit organizations and public initiatives that benefit the Virginia-Highland community. 

Funding: In its annual budgeting process, VHCA establishes funding for the grant program. In addition, the Board may on occasion vote to provide a unique grant for a specific purpose.

Applying: Grant applications are available online at and should be submitted to no later than the deadline established by the Board, which this year is August 26, 2016.

Process: VHCA grants are awarded at the discretion of the Board, which reviews all applications. Each year the budget for grants will vary based on the Board’s consideration of other VHCA commitments.

Selection Criteria: Proposed grant benefits and accomplishments should be accessible and beneficial to a wide range of citizens without regard to race, religious preference, gender, or sexual orientation. 

While exceptions may occur – permanent or long-lasting installations of publicly visible art, for example – funding is not typically considered for projects on residential or individually owned sites.

Successful applicants also meet all or some of the following criteria:

  • Promote Virginia-Highland or physically improve the public spaces of the neighborhood.
  • Support education, life-long learning, sustainability, healthy living, ecological health, art and aesthetics,  historic preservation, environment, recreation, or safety in Virginia-Highland
  • Include and demonstrate other sources of support.

Accountability and Restrictions: Unless other arrangements are made, grant and community gift recipients are expected to report on the use of the funding by May 1st of the year following the award is announced and provide specific results and (where applicable) photos.

You can view and download a copy of the VHCA grant application here.

APS Update from Matt Westmoreland

By Matt Westmoreland, APS School Board Representative for District 3

WestmorelandAs we prepare for the start of a new school year on August 3, I want to update you on a few fronts:

  • A sincere thank you to those who supported our E-SPLOST renewal on May 24. The referendum received overwhelming support from voters, and with those dollars secure APS can now move forward with our construction plans for the Grady Cluster. The design phase for the renovations and additions at both the Howard Building and Grady High can now begin as scheduled, as can plans for the cluster’s athletic complex on the Walden site.
  • On July 1, APS officially became a charter system. Newly elected governance teams at each school will work with the principal to make more decisions at the school-house level as we push autonomy and discretion to those who are closest to our kids.
  • In late July, the state released results from the 2015-16 Georgia Milestone assessments. Springdale Park Elementary and Inman Middle continued to post scores that were among the highest in the city while also showing growth from last year
  • We’re excited to welcome Terry Harness as the new principal for Springdale Park! He will join returning principals Betsy Bockman at Inman and Tim Guiney at Grady.  Inman anticipates an enrollment of just over 1100 students this fall.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can help: or 404.408.0980 (cell)

Stephanie Coffin Unveils New Mosaic “The Crack of Dawn”

IMG_5449Stephanie Coffin unveiled her latest mosaic – a work titled “The Crack of Dawn” that now adorns the western-facing wall of the corner planter at Intown ACE Hardware – at a small ceremony last Sunday. The work depicts the sun rising over an inverted city horizon with a flock of birds ascending. Many of the city’s landmark building can be seen to the lower left and lower right of the rising sun.

DSC_1074Stephanie is well known for her mosaic work, much of which can be found in and around the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. She’s installed mosaics on two of the planter’s other walls, her street number mosaics can be seen in front of numerous VaHi homes and her own home is a virtual homage to the art of tile mosaic creation. You can read more about Stephenie and her mosaic work here, you can read an article about her work on one of the planter’s other walls here, and you can view an album of photos from the unveiling ceremony of “Insect Wall of Fame” here.

Intown ACE Hardware provided financial support for Stephanie’s earlier work on their planter, and they provided $500 to get Stephanie started on her most recent work. She raised an additional $500 herself in a crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of the project.

We asked Stephanie the obvious question: when will work begin on the planter’s fourth wall?

“When I come up with an idea,” she replied. “And, of course, the money to get it done.”

Thanks for all you do to keep our neighborhood beautiful, Stephanie! Here’s a link to more photos of the unveiling ceremony.

DSC_1088 DSC_1073 DSC_1099


Grady High Announces VHCA-Supported Award Recipients

By Anna Winer, Grady High School College and Career Center Volunteer, with introduction by VHCA Board Member and Tour of Homes Chair Robin Ragland


Grady High School grant recipients Grace Hawkins, left, and Anna Pozniak

Each year, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) makes grant awards to a variety of community institutions and individual applicants who serve and enrich the neighborhood. Those awards are supported by funds raised at two resident-based VHCA events, Summerfest and the Tour of Homes.

Being able to make such awards is  one of the most rewarding aspects of being the Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.  The Committee has quite a few new committee members this year, as well as eight gracious homeowners who will play host to us the first week in December.  Several of them asked me how much money we raise and what we do with it.  Many were surprised to hear that over the last decade,  the VHCA has provided just over a quarter of a million dollars in grants to our neighborhood schools, public library, parks, partner non-profits, and others.  About 45% of that total went to our local public schools.

Annual grants represent only a portion of the initiatives funded by VHCA, but they are important and make a difference to each recipient.  Anna Winer, a parent volunteer at Grady High School’s College and Career Center, shares with us (below) how their 2015 grant helped two students further their education.

VHCA congratulates these two worthy recipients for what they’ve accomplished so far in their educational careers and for what they’re sure to accomplish in the future. 

Grady High School’s College and Career Center is grateful to have received a generous grant from the VHCA this year, which we used to fund two $500 scholarships for graduating Grady seniors. The Grady CCC Founders Scholarship was established to honor the service, creativity, and passion of the three volunteers who started  the CCC in 2006. Applicants each wrote a brief essay describing how they’ve used the resources in the CCC to help them navigate their college search. Volunteers in Grady’s Writing Center evaluated the applications, and the winners were announced at Grady’s pre-graduation ceremony, Visions of the Future, on May 14th. For the past two years, we have awarded a single scholarship, but the VHCA grant allowed us to offer scholarships to two students this year.

The second-place winner was Grace Hawkins, who is headed to UCLA in the fall to study theatre, with an emphasis in directing. Grace wrote in her essay, “The best thing about the CCC is the support structure it provides. The CCC is a place where little things add up, where the path to your goals is taken one step at a time. From lunch periods spent typing essays worked on in sections, the work I accomplished bit by bit in the CCC has added up to the success I now enjoy. Looking back, I feel pride in knowing that I achieved my success myself, but not on my own.”

First-place winner Anna Pozniak immigrated to America from Russia just two years ago when her family won the Green Card Lottery.  In that short time she has had to master an unfamiliar American educational system, both high school and the often-daunting college application process. Anna credits the CCC with helping her “pick schools, decipher the paperwork, and connect with the right people,” and she says that the CCC’s “welcoming, supportive atmosphere is infectious,” and that our volunteers are “helpful, encouraging in hard times and genuinely happy with every success.” Anna will attend Purdue University in the fall, where she’ll study industrial engineering.

Spring Cleanup Day Set for May 21

KVHB Fall Cleanup Photo

The Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful team preparing to head out for a recent fall cleanup.

Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful is looking for volunteers for its annual pre-Summerfest, spring clean-up of the neighborhood. The event is set for Saturday, May 21, 8:00 am – 12 pm.

Volunteers will meet at American Roadhouse on N. Highland Ave. and enjoy bagels and coffee before heading out to do litter, debris, and weed removal, as well as sticker and graffiti abatement along N. Highland Ave., St. Charles Ave., around the triangle island at N. Highland and Virginia Ave and on other streets.

No RSVP needed. Just show up ready to help spruce things up around the ‘hood!

Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful is a joint effort of VaHi residents and businesses. For more information, visit

Trees Atlanta Conducts Seminar on Atlanta Tree Ordinance

TreeOrdinance2016promoTrees are a tremendously valuable public resource. The goal of a “tree ordinance” is to prevent net loss of trees and the tree canopy on both public and private property.

Urban trees work hard for us — they are an integral part of the natural system that helps lower summer temperatures, offset the urban heat island effect, prevent erosion, lower the incidence of flooding, and enhance the overall quality of life for Atlanta’s residents. In many ways, the mature urban forest is Atlanta’s signature environmental feature. For this reason, the City of Atlanta created the tree protection ordinance to help protect the urban canopy.

What is our tree ordinance? What can (or can’t) city arborists do? What’s the definition of a dead, dying, and hazardous (DDH) tree? Which rules apply to removing trees on construction sites? How does the Tree Commission and the appeals process work? What do the orange and yellow public notice signs mean? Come meet key contacts in the City’s Arborist Division, learn, and ask your own questions. This discussion will be led by key staff from the City of Atlanta Arborist Division. They will guide us through the basics and discuss a local case study. Citizens can become more empowered to act as effective stewards of our trees by better understanding the City’s tree ordinance.

  • Seminar to be held at Trees Atlanta’s TreeHouse facility at the StoveWorks, 112 Krog St., Suite 7
  • Doors open at 6:00 PM with light refreshments.
  • Program begins promptly at 6:30 PM.
  • Please walk, bike, or carpool and arrive early to accommodate for limited parking in local lots and street parking.

Free with registration:

APS Board Member Matt Westmoreland Urges “Yes” Vote on E-SPLOST on Tuesday, May 24th

DSC_0004VHCA Board Votes to Support

By Rebecca Wells & Jack White

At the VHCA meeting on May 9th,  Atlanta Public School District 3 Board member Matt Westmoreland and several parents asked the VHCA Board to support the referendum.  The Board unanimously did that.  We hope you will, too; here’s why.

The upcoming E-SPLOST referendum on May 24th will have a significant impact on our neighborhood. Voters are being asked to keep in place the existing (not new) sales tax funding for Atlanta Public Schools.

APS will use those monies to renovate the former Howard High School building in the Old Fourth Ward – Martin Luther King, Jr. went to elementary school there – and use it as the site of a new middle school for the Grady Cluster.  Relieving the overcrowding at Inman will be the first step in a sequential series of improvements for the cluster that were outlined by the Superintendent and approved by the school board over the last year.  They include major improvements to Morningside Elementary, expanding Grady High School, building new athletic fields, re-casting Inman as an elementary school, and removing the trailers from the Inman fields.

It is a strategic and long-term solution that benefits both us and all our surrounding neighborhoods. An historic and modernized  structure is preserved and reused. Morningside Elementary – expanded repeatedly over the last thirty years – needs a huge modernization of its HVAC systems.  With the middle school gone, the Inman building can house Morningside students while that work is done. Once Morningside is back home, a reborn Inman Elementary (that’s how it started in 1924) can offer additional capacity at lower grade levels.  It’s likely to be needed; Spark has been expanded twice in its brief life and Mary Lin has just been completely renovated.  Adding additional classroom space to any of those schools is highly problematic.

Previous school boards have offered up a series of obviously flawed short-term suggestions for relieving middle school overcrowding in the Grady Cluster.  All of them underestimated the steady growth of the northeast neighborhoods and ignored the City of Atlanta’s Planning Department’s support for increased residential density. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen and the current school board (including our own representative, Matt Westmoreland) responded to a huge amount of community feedback with a plan that anticipates growth at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  Their proposal was unveiled to a standing room only crowd at Inman last September; it was received with enthusiasm.

A positive vote on this referendum will end the specter of an even larger permanent middle school super-structure at Inman and all the associated problems that would go with it. The school board’s proposed end product – a smaller elementary school at Inman – will result in reduced traffic and parking on Virginia Avenue and Park Drive, roads that are already struggling to handle the existing bus load.

And – lest we forget – the E-SPLOST also offers a light at the end of the tunnel regarding the trailer/classrooms that now consume the fields across from John Howell Park.  Passing the E-SPLOST greatly increases the likelihood of returning the field sites to their previous usages – with existing trees intact.

We are well aware of the existing legacy of cynicism about the Atlanta Public School system.  Much of that reputation was earned by very poor planning and a head-in-the-sand approach to important topics. History’s verdict on our current board is yet to be written, but one point is already clear – this school board is planning for future capacity issues.  Their pending proposal – the one whose funding awaits a ‘yes’ vote – is the first we’ve seen that aspires to anticipate and address the needs of the next twenty years. That alone is noteworthy and meritorious, and we salute the Superintendent and board for that.

The vote on May 24th represents a bit of a crossroads for public education in Atlanta.  A determined coalition of APS administrators, teachers, and parents are doing extraordinarily well for our students under today’s very difficult and challenging physical circumstances. They all deserve better, and this community deserves better.  We urge you to support the funding that will allow our students and their immediate successors to go to school in the facilities that they deserve.

Rebecca Wells is a VaHi parent with two students enrolled in APS and a third who soon will be.  Jack White is the President of the VHCA Board and the parent of two APS graduates.

City Encourages Residents to Sign Up for Recycling Perks Program

Following is a letter from City of Atlanta Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza encouraging residents to sign up or its Recycling Perks incentivized recycling program. It’s easy to sign up and you can save up to $25 per month or $300 per year in discounts.

For more information on recycling, visit To sign up for the Recycling Perks program visit

Recycling Perks

Park Pride Hosts “Pints for Parks” on May 3

By Jack White and David Brandenberger, VHCA Parks Committee

imageLongtime metro Atlanta parks advocates Park Pride will hold their annual spring social and fundraiser Tuesday, May 3rd from 6 PM to 9 PM. The event will feature cycling and walking stops at four BeltLine eateries – The Mercury, Rathbun’s, Richards’ Southern Fried, and Venkman’s. Co-sponsor Orpheus Brewery will provide samples of its products and a brewery tour, and there’s a silent auction and more.

Your $35 ticketed donation will support an organization that has made generous grants to every one of Virginia-Highland’s parks. Sign up early and you can be part of a bike ride with the city’s Chief Bicycle Officer, Becky Katz. Yes, there really is such an office in Atlanta government, and Becky holds it. She and Rebecca Serna of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition are two major reasons the city has made the cycling progress it has. Go meet Becky and support Park Pride; you’ll enjoy doing both.

For more information, click here or on the flyer to the right.

It’s Almost Summerfest Time!

We’re one month away from our annual celebration of the arrival of summer and you can almost feel the eager anticipation for Summerfest 2016! We thought we’d pass along a few updates as the festival draws near.

Music Line-Up

DSC05195We’re super excited about the Summerfest music line-up this year.

On Saturday we have a great one-two punch of the always fun and rocking Southern Culture on the Skids at 4:30 – be sure to bring your eight-piece box of fried chicken! Our headliners at 6:30 are the most entertaining and awesome Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers who will surely bring the house down. You may remember their former incarnation as The Refreshments and their theme song to King of the Hill. These performances are not to be missed!

On Sunday we have the fabulous Dirty Dozen Brass Band at 4:30 for that great New Orleans funk. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday Summerfest  afternoon than enjoying the fat bottom and heavy horns with your neighbors? We sure don’t think so.

The rest of the lineup follows.  Please come out and enjoy the music. 

Saturday, June 4

  • 12:00 – 1:00pm:  Frank Hamilton School Band
  • 1:30 – 2:30pm:  Donna Hopkins
  • 3:00 – 4:00pm:  Liz Bracher
  • 4:30 – 5:45pm: Southern Culture on the Skids
  • 6:30 – 8:00pm:  Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Sunday, June 5

  • 12:00 – 1:30pm:  House Music
  • 1:30 – 2:30pm: City Mouse
  • 3:00 – 4:00pm: Stephen Kellogg
  • 4:30 – 5:45pm: Dirty Dozen Brass Band

We’ll also have some great musical acts performing for you on the Acoustic Stage near the triangle island at N. Highland and Virginia Avenues. On Friday evening from 8:00 – 10:45pm Francisco & Friends will be performing. On Saturday from 12:00 – 2:00pm students from Eclectic Music will perform. Fransisco & Friends return to the stage on Saturday from 2:00 – 10:45pm and again on Sunday from 12:00 – 6:00pm.

We hope to see you at either of our great music venues during Summerfest 2016!

DSC_0036Community Parade

The theme for the 2016 community parade is Rio Olympics. Show your Olympic spirit by dressing up as your favorite part of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

Local Market

New to Summerfest this year is the Local Market.  It will be located at the Barnett/Virginia intersection which is one of the entrances to John Howell Park. Local, handcrafted products for sale here include bath care, bakery items, candles, dog treats, cacti and succulents arrangements, and gourmet foods products.

Stroll through this new section to peruse the small artisan batches of homemade natural soaps, toothpaste, essential oils, grooming and beard care products, bean to bar chocolate, Brazilian breads, apple bread, fruit donuts, muffins, cookies, cheese straws, dog biscuits and BBQ sauce.

BeltLine Study Group Meeting Set for May 10

You are cordially invited to attend a meeting of the Northeast and Southeast Atlanta BeltLine Study Groups on Tuesday, May 10 from 6-7:30 pm. The meeting will be held at Trees Atlanta’s offices at 225 Chester Ave, SE, Atlanta, 30316.

Discussion topics will include an update on the Eastside Trail extension project and a review of conceptual layouts for Bill Kennedy Way.

And if you use the BeltLine – especially during evening or nighttime hours – consider making a donation to the BeltLine’s Light the Line campaign to install pedestrian lighting on the Atlanta BeltLine. To learn more about this crowd funding campaign and to make a donation, click here.


Help Prevent Theft from Vehicles

By Jim Hardy, NPU-F Public Safety Coordinator

Our neighborhoods are continuing to experience numerous thefts from vehicles.  Several of the vehicles were parked in the same general area, probably indicating gang activity. Police reports indicate that in many instances the vehicles were left unlocked or with windows partially open.  In even more cases, items stolen were left inside the vehicles in plain sight.  More alarmingly, in a number of instances weapons were also reported stolen from the vehicles. 

While good investigations, increased police presence and increased video coverage of parking lots have been successful in capturing a number of the thieves, many of the thefts were preventable. Vehicle owners can help prevent these thefts using a few common sense rules.

  • Choose your parking place carefully.  The safest spots are usually well-lit, with lots of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, with video coverage, and not adjacent to a parking lot exit.
  • Remove all valuables from sight in the vehicle (laptops, tablets, cell phones, purses, etc),
  • Remove from sight all backpacks, briefcases, gym bags, etc.  Even bags which don’t contain valuables will attract thieves.
  • Lock valuables and bags in the trunk before you get to the parking place.
  • Remove all charger cords, GPS and GPS mounts.  These things indicate you may have valuables hidden in your vehicle.
  • Do not leave weapons in your vehicle, unless locked in a safe in your trunk.
  • Make sure all windows are closed.
  • Lock your car and insure the alarm is on.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Watch for anyone watching you.
  • Immediately notify the police if you do experience a theft from your vehicle.
    • Also notify the company that owns the parking lot.

Crime Prevention is not just a police responsibility.  We all share that responsibility.  A number of insurance companies recognize vehicle owners/drivers responsibility to help prevent thefts from vehicles.  Those insurers will not pay claims if the owner/driver did not properly secure their vehicle and its contents.

House Number Event Set for April 30th

house-signs-homeHow many times have you driven around the neighborhood trying to find a particular address and had to search high and low to find the home’s street number? If it’s hard for residents who live in the neighborhood to zero in on a specific residence, imagine how tough it is for firefighters and police officers who don’t live in the neighborhood and are often responding to an emergency?

The VHCA, in conjunction with neighborhood watch volunteers, is hosting a Street Number Event on April 30th to help address this problem. We will have tables at the corner of Virginia and Highland Avenues and at Ace Hardware where you can see samples of reflective mailbox numbers, house numbers and solar address plaques. In addition, we will be selling VHCA-branded house number plaques.  

Please come out to say hi to our Street Number Event volunteers and learn more about effective street numbers, how they can help and where to buy them.

April 30th

  • 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. – Corner of Virginia and North Highland
  • 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Intown Ace Hardware Parking Lot

South Fork Conservancy “Creek Rising Party” Fundraiser Set for April 28

Peachtree+Creek+South+Fork_4-21-2013_123590Passing along the following from our friends at South Fork Conservancy. Image courtesy of the conservancy’s website.

The South Fork Conservancy invites you to its annual ‘Creek Rising Party’ at the new Zonolite Park and Trail, 5 PM to 8 PM, on April 28. The event features live music, food, beer & wine, and a special “Bog Water” cocktail for attendees. Proceeds will help the Conservancy build a bridge across Peachtree Creek to connect its Confluence Trail, near the intersection of the creek and Lindbergh Drive, with the planned PATH 400 and Atlanta Beltline trails. Tickets for the event are available online at

In its eight-year history the Conservancy has worked to restore and conserve the natural habitats and biodiversity of native flora and fauna along the south fork of Peachtree Creek; to build a network of trails and bridges to connect parks and people in the heart of the city; and to involve the larger community in the work of the Conservancy through public outreach, education and advocacy. It has secured over $4 million to build four trails along the creek, to create a new DeKalb County park, and managed thousands of volunteer hours to maintain the trails and to restore habitats for native flora and fauna.

VaHi Residents, Construction Worker Rescue Baby Barred Owl

By Deborah Schwarz

Editor’s Note: Deborah and Greg Schwarz live on lower Drewry Street. Thanks to their efforts and a caring construction foreman, one wayward baby Barred owl was successfully returned to the wild and perhaps even reunited with its parents. We thought you’d like to hear Deborah’s story in her own words. Please contact us at if you have a similar experience you’d like to share with other VaHi residents.

Is it a dog or a cat? Nope. This is a new one for us.

Is it a dog or a cat? Nope. This is a new one for us.

With the rapid pace of daily life, we often miss opportunities to appreciate the diversity of the Virginia-Highland community where we live. On April 18, I received a reminder! It came in the form of a baby Barred owl who had been found on the grounds of a residential construction site on lower Drewry Street. 

Our first move was to contact the Chattahoochee Nature Center and AWARE Wildlife Center, both organizations that provide rescue services for at-risk birds. CNC was willing to take the baby owl but felt an attempt at reuniting it with its parents (Barred pairs typically mate for life, raising one brood each year) was worth a try. They advised us to get her/him back up in the trees and – thanks to a solid team effort – we did!  

Greg builds a new but hopefully temporary home.

Greg builds a new but hopefully temporary home.

My husband, Greg, got to work building a faux nest. This included a plastic container with holes drilled throughout to provide proper ventilation and drainage in case of rain. A bed of soil and leaves was added as well as a covering of small branches. While it wouldn’t be mistaken for the real thing, it was a success as it met the specifications needed to protect the baby. 

Construction site foreman Felix Lopez was the real hero as he climbed a sizable Dogwood and secured the “nest” as high in the tree as possible, creating a new use for bungee cords! He then hand-delivered the baby owl back where it belonged. 

We enjoyed a spectacular Spring evening listening to the owls while we watched  the baby owl’s fuzzy, little head bob in the treetops. By nightfall s/he had moved out of the nest onto the branch next to it. In early stages of development, young barred owls are known as “nesters.” They become “branchers” once they venture onto the tree limbs where they have room to stretch their wings and practice flying movements.

The guest of honor was waiting patiently.

The guest of honor was waiting patiently.

The following morning the baby was gone. We searched the yard but s/he was nowhere to be found. We believe the anticipated reunion occurred given feedback from an AWARE Wildlife Representative: “My feeling is not to worry…s/he is in a place where mom wants him/her to be.”

It would have been perfectly fine for the story to have ended there. But, like many such adventures, we hadn’t seen the last of the baby owl. Five days after the rescue as I was leaving my yoga class, I got a text from Greg: “Call me. The baby owl is back.”

I arrived home to find the little devil hiding in the ferns by our front door. S/he had definitely grown and looked healthy, so we put him/her back in the tree – again – and s/he was gone by late that night.  We hope the baby Barred owl has found a place of his/her own in the Virginia-Highland tree tops, but we’ll welcome a fly-by anytime.

Here are some photos we took of the experience. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did helping our feathered friend.

About to be hand-delivered to faux nest.

About to be hand-delivered to the faux nest by Felix.

Felix carefully places the owl in the nest with a first class view!

Felix carefully places the owl in the nest with a first class view!

Safe and ready for Mom and Dad in the treetops.

Safe and ready for Mom and Dad in the treetops.

Baby owl hiding in the ferns.

Baby owl returns – this time hiding in the ferns.

Deborah and the "rogue baby raptor"

Deborah and the “rogue baby raptor”

This was one of our last glimpses of the baby Barred owl.

This was one of our last glimpses of the baby Barred owl.

Morningside Mile Set for April 17, Profits Support FS #19 Restoration

e-flyer-mm-vh-2016You can help save Virginia-Highland’s historic Fire Station #19 by registering now to run in the Morningside Mile, set for April 17.

100% of race profits are donated to preserve our treasured fire station and help keep it in service. Thanks to grass roots support of Morningside Mile and other efforts, the station is no longer on the chopping block, but we are still raising funds for the renovations, whose final costs are not yet known. We  need your active support; please register now to run or walk and support our neighborhood firefighters and first-responders!

Click here to register.

  • 1-mile Race
  • Cash Prizes
  • Great Swag
  • Block Party

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates National Arbor Day

By Robin Ragland, VHCA Board Member

WP_20160405_17_03_41_ProTen Thousand Villages, our neighborhood fair trade retailer at 1056 St. Charles Ave., will participate in a nationwide campaign to plant 10,000 trees in our national forests. The program, which runs April 21 through May 1,  invites customers to donate $1 to plant a tree in a national forest through the Arbor Day Foundation. Ten Thousand Villages in Atlanta hopes customers will donate to plant 100 trees on behalf of our community. Ten Thousand Villages corporate office in Akron, Pa., will donate 1,000 trees to kick-off the campaign.

Store Manager Juliet White said, “We are excited about this opportunity to partner with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 10,000 trees because it allows us to make a positive impact on our environment.” White continued, “As an organization, we are committed to environmental responsibility and sustainable sourcing of products. We also make a positive impact in the lives of artisans around the world every day. Every purchase at our store provides vital, fair income which allows artisans to provide food, clothing and education for their families.”

blobThe campaign kicks off an in-store Earth Day Celebration April 22-23 and connects to the international Earth Day theme of Trees for the Earth (#Trees4Earth).

Other events planned for the Earth Day Celebration include the launch of the new “Landscapes” collection of home décor and garden items Friday, April 22; a sale that offers 22% off select sustainable items April 21-24; and contests to win fair trade prizes throughout the weekend.

10K photoAs a fair trade retailer, Ten Thousand Villages is committed to sourcing products made with sustainable materials and methods. The majority of the products customers will find at Ten Thousand Villages in Atlanta are produced in the most environmentally friendly way possible—by hand. Many artisans recycle materials such as newspaper, post-consumer magazines and glass to create innovative and functional products. Ten Thousand Villages product line includes a wide range of items made with natural materials, from bamboo to water weeds.

Groups source renewable, natural materials to keep resources in balance. Artisans use local raw materials whenever possible, and many artisans use natural dyes. Several artisan partners also source sustainable wood, or “good wood,” from farms that replant trees after they are harvested.

For more information about Ten Thousand Villages or the campaign to plant 10,000 trees, please contact Juliet White, store manager, at 404-892-5307 or visit

Express Your Passion for VaHi Through Photography – and See Your Work on Public Display!

Submit photos now for upcoming North Highland Park public exhibition showcasing life in our awesome neighborhood

ACP logo with TaglineBy David Brandenberger, VHCA Board Member

Photos courtesy John Becker

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association is partnering with Atlanta Celebrates Photography to create a ‘neighborhood-based’ temporary public photography exhibition that will be on display at North Highland Park (St. Charles & North Highland) this summer – beginning Summerfest weekend!

DSC_0012The theme of the exhibition is ‘Life in Virginia-Highland’ and photography submissions will be accepted from anyone who lives, works, plays, visits or goes to school in VaHi. All lens-based enthusiasts can submit and upload five of your best photos depicting ‘Life in Virginia-Highland’ for consideration. A select group of the submitted photos will be featured on several banners that will be on display at the park. Each banner will feature large versions of the selected images with the photographer’s name and image title displayed below. Submissions can be from old photos or from recently taken ones. Submission is free and entry will be easy. Not all submitted photos will be chosen for display.

DSC_0114Submission deadline is May 8, 2016 at midnight so don’t waste time. Have fun and get your creative juices flowing, whether you’re an amateur or master, junior or senior! The goal is to submit photos that allow us all to see what makes our unique and beautiful neighborhood so special to you!

Click here to register and submit images for the exhibition. 

Share the news and be sure to submit – and show us what makes Virginia-Highland so special to you!!

Lionheart Framing Celebrates One Year in VaHi!

Article and photography By VHCA Board Member Robin Ragland

Lionheart Framing folks Austin Yapp, left, and Alton Baker, right. Painting shown done by Jeffrey McDonald.

Lionheart Framing folks Austin Yapp, left, and Alton Baker, right. Painting shown done by Jeffrey McDonald.

We’re only a week away from the annual Dogwood Festival, but there’s an even more local art event to put on your calendar to attend first. Lionheart Framing is celebrating their one year anniversary in Virginia-Highland by showing works by local artists from April 7 – 30. It all kicks off with an opening reception on April 8 at 7:00 p.m. There’s no cost for entry.

This piece from Rose M. Barron will be on display during the exhibit.

This piece from Rose M. Barron will be on display during the exhibit.

The artists featured include:  Johnny Warren, Trek Matthews, Vasili Vasilev, R Land, Alex Kerr, Austin Yapp, Brent Walker, Bjoern Arthurs, Chris Veal, Kurt Aquino, Henry Samuels, BWT Clothing, Jeffrey McDonald, Stefen Sornpao, Nate Tavel, Sam Pritie, Chris Hall, Rose Barron, Elyse Defoor, Lindy Lane, Josh Wallman, Kyle Brooks, Maddy Barreto, Anastacia Howley, and our very own Lionheart Framing Alton Baker.

Lionheart Framing is located at 804 N Highland Ave. Please stop by and congratulate them on their anniversary, and enjoy the show!

Briarcliff Terrace Apartments

By Lola Carlisle, VHCA Board Member and Jack White, VHCA Board President

Briarcliff Terrace Apartments has been a quiet apartment community east of the CVS (and east of Arlington Pl.) since the 1960’s. For the last couple of decades, it has been very stable – mostly Latino, with lots of kids – and (according to anecdotal police observations) very little crime. Its relatively isolated site – accessible only from Briarcliff Place on the south and Rosedale Drive on the north – has been one reason for limited social interaction with neighbors on other streets; there’s also been very little conflict. The children in the community have been a notable and valued presence in both the SPARK and Inman communities.

Over the last half decade, the area has also attracted an increasing amount of attention from builders interested in redeveloping it; there is no other large tract of land remotely similar to it left in VaHi. Most of these inquiries – at least the ones we’ve known about – have not moved forward, but we have recently learned of one that may. A developer is considering purchasing the property and building a large collection of townhomes.

Had a specific proposal been made – if there were anything in writing – we’d share it.  There’s not, but it appears that a change to the NPU’s Comprehensive Development Plan (the CDP) and the land’s zoning may be in the works. Both will get extraordinary scrutiny at the neighborhood and NPU level.

The land is zoned R-4 but has been apartments for years.  Any townhome proposal is likely to propose a decrease in the number of units and a sharp increase in density. The latter, if it occurs, would require the changes noted.

Absent any drawings or details or a site plan, there’s not much more to say at this point.  VHCA’s planner (Aaron Fortner) and land use attorney (Bob Zoeckler) have reviewed what few specifics there are. We expect to hear more in the next month, and we will share it when we do.

New Pedestrian Signal Light in Place at Inman Middle School

By Jack White, VHCA Board President

DSC_0509The installation of the (solar-powered) Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) at Inman Middle School on the corner of Virginia and Arcadia in almost complete. The city reports that the vendor failed to ship one needed piece; it is on the way.

This signal is an RRFB, not a HAWK, for those who are fans. A nearby example of an RRFB is the signal located across from the Midtown MARTA Station on 10th Street. That one is pole-mounted; Inman’s is overhead.

DSC_0511We appreciate the efforts of CoA Technical Project Manager Daniel Ephraim and his Public Works colleagues on this effort, which was quietly and effectively supported (as so many outcomes are in VaHi) by Councilman Alex Wan. VaHi resident and parent Mary Stouffer was a critical part of the process that led to both this light and the one at Spark; we salute her for her impressive and persistent work.

We hope it will make the crossing safer for everyone, an outcome we can promote by rigorously following the speed limit there and elsewhere.

Annual City of Atlanta Resident Survey Due by April 15

By Jack White, VHCA Board President

City of Atlanta logo colorThe City of Atlanta is conducting an online survey on a number of topics; the press release and link are below. If you find that a potential response you might want to give is not listed, there is sometimes an opportunity to provide your own at the end of a question.

We hope you will spend a few minutes on this survey and let your voice be heard. If you have suggestions or critiques about the survey itself, please include them. Writing a useful survey takes real skill and this one may not be perfect, but knowing how citizens are viewing given issues is obviously very important and can help drive city policy. We will try to share the results in the Voice. Survey responses will be accepted only through April 15.

From the Office of the Mayor’s website:

Each year, the City of Atlanta conducts a survey to learn what residents think about their city government and the services it provides, and you are invited to participate this year! The purpose of this survey is to gather valuable feedback from the perspective of Atlanta’s most important asset – its residents. Your response to this survey is critical because it will be used to understand your satisfaction with city services and help us determine how best to prioritize future improvements.

SF Coffee Hosts Meet and Greet with Artist Jamie Calkin

Note: Images in this article were taken from

jamie_headshotAthens-based artist Jamie Calkin is kicking off a month-long exhibit at San Fransisco Coffee, 1192 N. Highland Ave. in VaHi, with a meet and greet at the cafe on Friday, April 1 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Jamie is a science teacher turned full-time artist who paints with ink and watercolor in the plein air style. Jamie loves to paint street scenes and buildings, and one of his most notable pieces is a 64-foot long mural in the University of Georgia’s student center.

Jamie regularly produces commissions, prints, murals, and other forms of art for his clients, both in Athens and elsewhere. Recently, he completed a series of Atlanta paintings which will be on display at San Francisco Coffee Roasting Co. in April. He hopes you’ll stop by to check out his work.

To learn more about Jamie and to view his work, visit and


Traffic Advisory: Filming at Clermont Hotel on March 31

Filming inside the Clermont Hotel on Ponce de Leon Ave. will close the curb parking lane and sidewalk on both sides of Bonaventure Ave. between Ponce and North Ave. on March 31. Be advised there also will be set up work on March 30 and tear down work on April 1 that may also cause minor traffic disruptions.

According to the notice we received, all filming will take place inside the hotel and there should be no traffic disruption on Ponce itself.  See map below.

Bonaventure Traffic Plan

GDOT Seeks Input for Briarcliff Rd. Study

Passing this notice along from the Georgia Department of Transportation:

Photo Credit: John Becker

Photo Credit: John Becker

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is conducting a Road Safety Audit (RSA) for State Route 42 / Briarcliff Road NE, from Ponce de Leon Avenue NE to North Druid Hills Road.  An RSA is a formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an interdisciplinary team of transportation professionals.  RSAs have been used successfully for a wide variety of locations to identify potential solutions leading to both short-term improvements and longer term efforts including construction projects.  RSAs are proactive tools, not solely dependent on crash data, but that use an innovative approach, including firsthand observation, to identify potential safety issues and enhancement opportunities to be considered in improvement projects.

As part of the RSA process for this corridor the audit team is conducting a survey in order to obtain input from key individuals and groups that have an interest in the study area along the stretch of State Route 42/Briarcliff Road NE between Ponce de Leon Avenue NE and North Druid Hills Road.   You are receiving this email because you were identified as a potentially interested party and the audit team would like to gather your thoughts about potential safety concerns and possible solutions to those safety concerns along this corridor.  We invite you to take a few minutes to complete the survey. Please feel free to share this survey with others you think might be interested in taking it.

Please CLICK HERE to launch the survey, or enter the following URL into your browser: note, in order to expedite the audit process, this survey will be available for a limited time: it will remain open until 11:59pm on Friday April 15, 2016. Please contact Michael Turpeau, State Safety Program Supervisor, Georgia Department of Transportation, with any questions:

This survey asks some very specific questions about Briarcliff’s intersections with several roads.  If you have not traveled them recently, you may wish to refresh your memory before taking the survey.


MARTA Extends Hours of Operation for Bus Route #36

marta-logoThanks to Courtenay Dr. resident Cary Aiken, MARTA will be extending the hours of operation for Bus Route #36 (No. Decatur Rd./Virginia-Highland) from the current 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., effective April 18.

Aiken noticed that when MARTA Route #’s 45 and 36 were combined a while back, connectivity to either Emory or Midtown was lost after 9 p.m. This caused problems in terms of getting home late at night from events he chose to attend in either of those areas.

Aiken brought the issue to the attention of MARTA Service Planner II Andrew McBurney in January and McBurney advised in late February that Bus #36 service would indeed be extended to 11 p.m.

McBurney additionally advised that starting in April Bus #36 will be re-routed to end at Decatur Station due to a transit-oriented development construction project at Avondale Station, where the bus currently terminates. The re-route is expected to be in place for approximately 18 months.

First Plastic Reduction Day Set for March 24

thOn March 27, 2015, Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall, along with local Atlanta artist Pam Longobardi, and a group of international attendees, convened at the Centers for Disease Control and officially proclaimed this date as Plastic Reduction Day Atlanta. In recognition of this date, a group of Atlanta-area researchers and artists have created a pledge drive to reduce the use of single-use plastics in restaurants throughout the city. The group hopes that Atlanta businesses will serve their last plastic straw – or better yet – give up single-use plastics altogether.

Here’s a schedule of events for Atlanta’s first Plastic Reduction Day:

6 PM: Meet & Greet at Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Dr., NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

6:30 – 8 PM: Film Screenings / Speaker Series, also at Midtown Art Cinema

8 PM: Cocktail Hour at nearby Apres Diem

Click here to view the event day flyer. Click here to go to the EventBrite site to register.

Intersection of Barnett Street and Virginia Circle Now a 4-Way Stop


The city has installed stop signs for north and southbound traffic on Barnett. Previously, only motorists going in either direction on Virginia Circle were required to stop at the intersection.

Nearby resident Anurag Sahu had witnessed a few accidents and numerous near misses at the intersection over the years and reached out to VHCA to see what could be done. City Councilmember Alex Wan asked the city’s Office of Transportation to examine the situation.

Stop signs are not a cure for many traffic challenges.  Transportation engineers have a set of specific criteria – volume of traffic, signage on nearby roads, speed, and visibility among them – by which they make such decisions. It makes sense because the impacts can be widely distributed. This decision was not clear-cut, but after considerable input from neighbors and VHCA Safety Committee members Peggy Berg and Jenifer Keenan, the city decided to install the signs.

As always, we appreciate Councilmember Wan’s willingness to initiate and support the study, and we hope this change will reduce accidents and improve safety at the intersection.

Traffic Advisory: Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon

ATC_EventBadges_CMYK__MarathonExpect traffic delays, road closings along the course route on Sunday March 20 between 7AM-1PM

More than 12,000 runners, 2,500 volunteers and 30,000 spectators will be along the course from downtown Atlanta to Decatur and back. Runners will pass through Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia State University, MLK Historic District, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, The Carter Center, Candler Park, Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Druid Hills, Virginia-Highland, Midtown and Georgia Tech. VaHi residents should be aware of the course route and plan their travel accordingly.

To view a map of the Marathon and Half Marathon course, click here. For detailed traffic and road closure information, click here.

Here’s an overview of how VaHi traffic will be impacted:

Shortly before 8 AM half marathon runners will enter the neighborhood, proceeding north on N. Highland Ave. from Poncey-Highland. Runners will turn left at Virginia Ave., then right on Park Dr. Runners will proceed down Park, across Monroe and into Piedmont Park. Partial roadway closures will begin on these streets around 7:15 AM and streets should reopen to normal traffic by 10:30 AM.

Shortly before 9 AM marathon runners will enter the neighborhood, proceeding west on Stillwood Dr. from Briarcliff Rd. Runners will turn right on Los Angeles, make a quick right on N. Highland followed by a quick left on Los Angeles. Runners will continue on Brookridge Dr. after the road changes name, staying right at the ‘Y’, then turn right on Elkmont, then left on Orme Circle. Runners will cross Monroe and proceed into Piedmont Park. Partial road closures will begin on these streets around 8:30 AM and street should reopen to normal traffic by 12:45 PM.

A Community Meeting with LifeLine Animal Project

lets talk flierBy Kay Stephenson

Several months ago on a Sunday morning, VaHi resident Elizabeth Baker (who operates a local dog walking business) found two loose dogs on her front porch. She was able to get them leashed and checked (unsuccessfully) for microchips.  It was the start of a challenging journey that lasted well into the night, when the dogs were finally taken into the Fulton County Animal Shelter.

Hudson-6Once the dogs were safe (and happily reunited with their owner a couple of days later), Elizabeth and I had some conversation about how difficult it can be for private citizens to know how to help loose dogs that we encounter around the neighborhood. Virginia-Highland is a dog and cat loving community and almost daily we hear about or are directly involved with cats and dogs that need help or are lost.

Many are reunited with owners after a quick post on our neighborhood bulletin boards. Others are taken in and eventually re-homed through rescue groups and individuals. However, when those solutions are not an option, most of us don’t know where to turn. In the past, many of us avoided contacting the county shelter for fear that a healthy animal would not fare well in that environment.

Kittens-12Enter LifeLine Animal Project. Both the Fulton County and DeKalb County animal shelters are now operated by Lifeline Animal Project. Anisa Telwar-Kaicker, Founder & CEO of Anisa International and Board Chair of Lifeline Animal Project is also a Virginia-Highland resident and committed pet lover. Over the past several months Anisa and I have continued the conversation started with Elizabeth back in October.

The result of those discussions is that Virginia-Highland Neighborhood Watch is hosting a gathering for the community to hear from Rebecca Guinn, Lifeline founder and CEO, and Laura Hudson, Director of the Fulton County Shelter. They will share information about how our community can work with them more effectively. They will answer questions about the shelter, when and how to contact animal control officers, and share their plan to make Atlanta a no-kill city.

Flora-4On Wednesday April 20th we will gather at the Trees Atlanta TreeHouse, 112 Krog Street, Suite 7 (The Stove Works) from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. To attend, RSVP to with name and number of attendees. We are limited to 50 people, so don’t miss out.

Special thanks to Trees Atlanta for the use of their new education facility right on the Atlanta BeltLine. We encourage you to carpool, walk or bike to this event. Parking is available in the valet/pay lot ($3) at Krog Street Market, in the gravel lot adjacent to The Stove Works, or on nearby side streets.

For more information on Lifeline and the animal services they provide for Fulton county residents:

To learn more about the Lifeline Animal project and its no-kill goals:

Most vets will scan animals for microchips with no charge, including Ansley Animal Clinic, Briarcliff Animal Clinic, Inman Park Animal Hospital, Intown Animal Hospital, and Pets Are People, Too.

Kay Stephenson is a long-time Virginia-Highland resident and serves as a volunteer for the Virginia-Highland Neighborhood Watch. 

Update on Restoration of Fire Station #19

No. 19 Fire Station c. 1920sBy Dr. Catherine Lewis, VHCA Board Member

For the past year, VHCA and dedicated neighborhood volunteers have been working on a plan to renovate Fire Station #19. This promises to be a model partnership between the City of Atlanta, City Councilman Alex Wan’s office, the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department, and VHCA.

VHCA board member Catherine Lewis, left, and VHCA planning committee member Chip Bullock, right, meet with architect Tom Little of Surber Barber.

VHCA board member Catherine Lewis, left, and VHCA planning committee member Chip Bullock, right, meet with architect Tom Little of Surber Barber.

Throughout the fall and winter a committee interviewed four architects and after a rigorous process selected Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architects, the team that recently completed the restoration of Ponce City Market. One of the project’s goals is to have VHCA donate the architectural work to help stretch the $600,000 the city has set aside from the recent transportation bond. Over the next several months you will be seeing more information about the station renovation, and we appreciate anyone’s willingness to donate funds to support the effort. 

VHCA board members Jack White and Catherine Lewis, left and center, talk with firemen outside FS #19.

VHCA board members Jack White and Catherine Lewis, left and center, talk with firemen outside FS #19.

There is an important fundraising event coming up soon for the station – the Morningside Mile. This is a nearby, one-mile race where 100% of the proceeds support restoration of the fire station. The race will be held Sunday April 17, Noon – 2pm. Please encourage everyone to register. After all…it’s only a mile! For more information or to register, click here.

We will advise of future steps in the process of restoring our treasured Fire Station #19 as the plan takes shape.

Catherine Lewis is a VHCA Board Member, a historian and museum curator, and is coordinating the restoration of the No. 19 Fire Station. If you would like to become involved, email her at 

Piedmont Park Activity Update

Lake Clara Meer #1Here’s an update on a few events and activities taking place soon at Piedmont Park, as passed along to the VHCA board by Cresthill Ave. resident Ken Haldin.

  • The Green Market in Piedmont Park opens this Saturday for the 2016 season. The market is open every Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM at the 12th St. entrance into the park.
  • FREE History tours are given each week at Green Market. A walking tour that gives you a fun and educational tour of the park. 
  • Doggie Dash 5K benefiting the Piedmont Park Dog Park is this Saturday March 20. $25 pre-registration and $35 day of. Onsite registration is at 8 AM and the race starts at 9 AM. You can run or walk with or without your dog. Strollers are also welcome. Winners get a medal and also a one night stay at the W Midtown Hotel.
  • 2016 Season Pool Passes are available and range from $125 for a Senior (55 or Over) to $395 for a family of 5 or more. Get unlimited access to the pool during all pool hours, special pass holder only hours, late night swims and guest passes.
  • EnviroVenture Summer Camp registration is open.  Camp runs June 6 to July 29 with different themes each week.

For more information on these events and all the goings-on at Piedmont Park, click here to visit their website.

Recycling News

thReduce, reuse, recycle.

Those concepts are what the three sides of the chasing arrows logo found on every recyclable item represent.  The logo informs the consumer that the item is recyclable where allowed.  Recycling is just a portion of the larger effort that goes into saving our natural resources.  The big picture approach includes a fourth R: refuse, as in, refuse to accept single-use items.  Bring a reusable shopping bag to the grocery store and refuse the single-use plastic bag.  Bring a travel mug for beverages, and refuse a single-use coffee cup, wrapper, and lid.  Up to 52 billion paper coffee cups per year are used once, then thrown away.  Due to health regulations, the cups must be made almost entirely of virgin – not previously used – paper.  Would you join the City of Atlanta and reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse?

The City of Atlanta accepts the following recyclables curbside: cardboard, carton board, paper, glass, plastics #1-5 & 7, metal cans, and juice cartons.  All items to be recycled should be clean and dry, and placed loosely in bin, not bagged. Lids and caps should be removed and placed with recycling bins.

The City of Atlanta hosts Recycle Day at 850 Oak St., SW, Atlanta, GA  30310.  This event is held the 3rd Saturday of each month, except in December, between 9 AM to noon.   Acceptable items include:  paper for shredding, clothing, tires, #6 polystyrene, electronics, and all items accepted curbside.

New Life for North Highland Park Bike Rack at IMS

The bike rack at its original location at North Highland Park. Photo courtesy Jack White.

The bike rack at its original location at North Highland Park. Photo courtesy Jack White.

Rarely Used Bike Rack at NHP Repurposed for Use at Inman Middle School

By David Brandenberger

The bicycle rack that has lived at the northeast corner of N. Highland and St. Charles at North Highland Park – likely since the days of the public library – has a new home. Due largely to its obscured location at the park, the rack has received very little use since the lot was converted to greenspace. After noting the increasing use of pedal-power as a mode of transport for students heading to and from Inman Middle School (even more so now that the weather is getting nicer)—and the reality that IMS’ existing bicycle racks were often filled to capacity – the idea of relocating and donating the rack to the school was circulated with IMS staff and the LSC. Several staff members both acknowledged the need for another bike rack and resoundingly supported the gift.

Workers prepare the bike rack's new site at Inman Middle School. VHCA Board member David Brandenberger shovelling at far left. Photo courtesy Jack White.

Workers prepare the bike rack’s new site at Inman Middle School. VHCA Board member David Brandenberger shovelling at far left. Photo courtesy Jack White.

On a fine February Saturday two weekends ago, several neighborhood volunteers and Board members dug up the 10’ long, heavy steel structure, hoisted it into a truck, transported, and then installed the ‘new’ bike rack at Inman next to the portables. We are happy to report that the rack is now experiencing unprecedented use in its second career and new location!

The repurposed bike rack at its new location at Inman Middle School. Photo courtesy of Jack White.

The repurposed bike rack at its new location at Inman Middle School. Photo courtesy of Jack White.

We note that Inman now has five bike racks (up from two a year ago), a measurable reflection of the growth of cycling in VaHi. It’s also a reminder to us all to drive appropriately and be on the alert for cyclists of all ages at all times – and let’s please double our attention around schools.

“Slow Down” Yard Signs Available

Slow Down Atlanta_Signage_v4Is speeding an issue on the street where you live?

The office of City Council President Caesar Mitchell is distributing “Slow Down” yard signs as part of its #ATLSlowDown campaign, “a citywide initiative to reduce vehicular speeding in our neighborhoods and communities.”

If speeding is an ongoing issue where you live, click on this link to order your yard sign.

A Safer Monroe Drive

by Jack White and Jess Windham

The tragic death of Alexia Hyneman has stunned this community. The knowledge that nothing we do now can bring her back haunts every effort to make the corner and roads where she died a safer place.

And yet, heavy heart or not, that is all we can do and that is what we have to do. As the mourning continues, the movement to improve this corner continues to grow.

Monroe Drive’s challenges are more of a web than a list. It has straight wide lanes that mimic the appearance of a freeway, amidst single-family residences and small businesses with dozens of curb cuts. It sits next to the city’s busiest park near two large (and several small) schools. It’s littered with a mishmash of signage, utility poles without setbacks, and three traffic lights in a 60-yard span. It’s a dangerous mess that frustrates all its users on a daily basis.  And it’s especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, who arrive there not only from other streets but from the terminus of the BeltLine, which empties directly into Monroe.

And further development is coming. Grady High School will be expanded, and two separate new developments have been proposed on the old Mason stretch of the BeltLine; both propose access from Monroe.

Better law enforcement is a part of the solution, but it’s not enough. Every community in the city wants and needs more enforcement; there won’t be a special police force for Monroe Drive. This road and its intersections need to be re-designed with the safety of its users – all its users: pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers – as a primary goal. Good design will discourage speeding, not reward it. In such a context, improved law enforcement has a much better chance of being effective.

Making Monroe Drive a safer and more livable city street is not impossible. The topic has been widely discussed and studied. At least three formal plans already in place – the Beltline’s Subarea 6 Plan, the City of Atlanta’s Connect Atlanta Plan and (most recently) the Virginia-Highland Master Plan – endorse the Complete Streets program scheduled for Monroe.

While no single act will magically solve all of Monroe’s challenges, the Complete Streets program will mitigate that road’s single greatest danger: speeding vehicles.  Studies suggest that it can do that while accommodating a very high percentage of users at lower speeds, results partly obtained by reducing accidents now produced by drivers’ swerving around cars waiting to make left turns. The narrower road itself and presence of other adjacent users will be helpful; other modifications can be considered as needed.

Many residents along Monroe have been asking for such changes for a long time. The existing automotive conduct – and the frantic and unsafe atmosphere that goes with it – is unsettling and not compatible with single-family residential living. Failing to address this challenge can only lead to justifying much greater density – and even more traffic capacity along Monroe. The implications of that are profound for all the communities along the road.

Here’s the good news: The funding for the Complete Streets program is in place – it was part of the Renew Atlanta bond that passed last year, thanks to Councilmember Wan’s careful foresight. At the city council meeting on February 15th and in a subsequent press release, the Mayor assured council members and citizens that his administration will “move quickly to get these improvements done.”  Many other council members echoed his thoughts, including Andre Dickens, Michael Julian Bond, Kwanza Hall, and City Council President Caesar Mitchell.

At a subsequent meeting at Inman, Alex asked citizens to channel their anger and despair into support for both the plan and a continued examination of additional measures that will make our roads safer for all its users – cars, cyclists and walkers.

We thank him for his support, and we agree with him.  Safer livable streets are long overdue, and Monroe Drive is the place to start.

Mayor’s Press Release:

Master Plan Page 80: Road Diet Summary and Monroe as a Good Candidate:

To make a contribution to Ms. Hyneman’s family for funeral and medical expenses, please go here:

Jack White and Jess Windham are VHCA Board Members.

It’s Almost Ours

by Peggy Berg

$232,729 is an exciting number for the Civic Association. That’s how much we still owe on our loan for North Highland Park at the corner of North Highland and St. Charles, a lovely site that is home to our holiday tree lighting and the Warren Bruno Summerfest Celebration Ride.

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association bought this land to increase the neighborhood’s greenspace. The purchase was supported by an $855,000 loan from  the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA); additional funds and a generous grant from Park Pride covered the construction costs. Paul Burks, Sandy d’Aprile, and Peter Hughes handled a lot of the administrative efforts, and the park’s landscape architect, Peter Frawley, made a huge in-kind donation.  (Frawley’s considerable skills are also on display at John Howell Park, which he also designed.)

Many other citizens made significant contributions, but this park’s existence will always be associated with Pamela Papner, whose boundless energy and determination made it happen. We owe her – and the hundreds of neighbors and board members whose volunteer efforts at Summerfest and Tour of Homes each year have helped pay for it – a huge amount of appreciation. We also thank the anonymous special contributors who have given extra donations for the last several years.

We pay the loan down about $73,000 each year in scheduled mortgage payments and have made additional principal payments three times in the last four years. We are delighted to report that over $622,000 of the loan has been paid off. We hope to retire the loan in the next three years.
So $232,729 may seem like a big number, but we’ve come a long way and the end is in sight.

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member and co-chairs the Budget Committee.

Photo by Stephen Cohen

Family Music-Making Hits VaHi

By Jennifer Fargar

If you’ve recently noticed families singing or dancing while they walk down the street, it’s most likely because they’ve discovered VaHi’s newest ‘family find’: family music classes presented by Music Together Metro Atlanta!

Each week, families with children ages newborn to 4-years- old gather to sing, dance and play. And underneath all the fun, there’s some serious childhood development going on!  Interactive music-making creates greater bonds between a child and his or her parents, supports cognitive development and introduces these young minds to culture and language through world folk songs and a variety of real instruments.

Music Together is an internationally recognized music and movement curriculum supported by years of early childhood development research. Nine separate song collections allow families to attend classes for 3 consecutive years without repeating any of the material. Each collection includes catchy rhythm chants, instrument play-alongs and circle dances.

The smile behind all that music coming out of the Virginia-Highland location is Lauren Bock, a local musician & guitar teacher, who’s been leading Music Together classes for 5 years. “As a musician, I often find myself playing for folks as they sit and listen. But in class, it’s all about the interaction!  The families in the VaHi community are so wonderful! They really get how valuable this experience is for their children,” says Bock.

In each class, parents are introduced to ways in which they can incorporate music at home, all day long.  The songs and interactions learned in class become a soundtrack for each child’s life, whether it’s snack time or nap time. As part of the program, each family takes home the music and a song book to help keep them singin’ and snappin’ all week long!

Music Together classes are held inside Virginia-Highland Church Monday-Saturdays, mornings, afternoons & evenings. To find out more, or to sign up for a free demo class, visit New classes begin March 14th!

Jennifer Fargar is an Early Childhood Music Specialist with Music Together.

Bang the Drum for Tom Tom

by John Becker

Restaurants come and restaurants go.

But when VaHi’s wildly popular Noche shuttered last October you could almost hear the collective gasp from neighborhood residents and metro Atlanta foodies alike. Where were neighborhood beer lovers supposed to go now on Sunday for $2 Tecates?

Ready for some good news, VaHi?

Former Here to Serve owner and chef Tom Catherall brought life last week to that same friendly space when he opened Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas. Catherall signed a 10-year lease for the space (1000 Virginia Ave., NE) in December and immediately announced his new endeavor, describing it as “classic Catherall with a Spanish-inspired menu that is both innovative and always fresh.”

Don’t walk into Tom Tom expecting it to look like Noche because the space has been completely redesigned.

Like the old Noche, the menu features tacos and share plates, but entree portions are now smaller and less expensive. The drink menu includes 10 cocktails priced between $10-12, 30-plus wines available by the glass or bottle, and a variety of craft beers available for $6-7.

No word yet on whether $2 Tecates will return on Sundays but when we find out, we’ll let you know.

For more background on this welcome addition to our neighborhood, here are three AJC articles:

John Becker co-chairs VHCA Summerfest and is a former VHCA Board Member.

Tom Tom logo courtesy the Tom Tom website.

Safety in Numbers

Safety in Numbers

by Jess Windham and Lola Carlisle

Have you ever seen your house through the eyes of a firefighter? Likely, the answer is no.

But try this: the next time you are in front of your house, consider how a firefighter might find what house number you are. When seconds count, it is an incredible safety advantage to have your house number clearly visible and lit.

To get the best of both worlds – safety and beauty – we have established a design and ordering process for signs uniquely made-to-order for VaHi residents. There are a few different options, the layered metal being one of the most popular to date. Right now we almost have enough orders to make a full batch of that design. Payment is needed in advance, and we will have the signs made as soon as the minimum order is reached.

Signs are available to order here.

Jess Windham and Lola Carlisle are VHCA Board Members.

Upcoming Zoning Code Diagnostic Discussion

by Jess Windham

Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane,
planner Aaron Fortner of Canvas Planning, and Caleb Racicot of Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh will host a discussion on the City of Atlanta zoning code diagnostic. The event is part of the Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable series and is hosted by Southface. Register for the event here.

Fortner has  served as this neighborhoods’ planning consultant for almost a decade. He is familiar to VaHi residents for his work in spearheading the revised NC districts along North Highland and the creation and adoption of our Master Plan. He also led a review of housing development in VaHi that has been subsumed into the city’s review of the whole zoning code. That topic – plus permitting processes and communications between the city departments – will be addressed at this event.

For more information and to provide input, visit

Zoning Code Diagnostic Discussion
7:30AM, March 4, All Saints’ Episcopal Church

Jess Windham is a VHCA Board Member and serves on the VHCA Planning Committee.

Restore is Movin’ On Up

by Peggy Berg

Atlanta’s Habitat for Humanity has a new facility for ReStore. It’s at 271 Chester Ave SE, just six blocks east of where Boulevard crosses Memorial.

ReStore collects donations of furniture, appliances, home décor, cabinetry, sinks, flooring, construction materials, lighting and more. All proceeds support Habitat, which builds quality affordable green homes in partnership with working families.

ReStore will send a truck for free to pick up large materials.  All donations should be in new or gently used condition.

Whether you’re buying or selling, this approach is an effective form of recycling’ this agency estimates that it has kept over 8,500 tons of materials out of landfills.

The store is open to the public at 271 Chester Ave SE Monday through Saturday 10:30 am – 5:30 pm.
Volunteers are greatly appreciated.

You can reach ReStore for pick-up or with questions about materials or volunteering at 404.525.2114 or

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member.

Summerfest Committee Seeks Additional Committee Members

by John Becker

Who’s ready for some Summerfest?

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a few more months for this year’s weekend of art, music, food and neighborhood fun. Our 33rd festival is set for June 4-5, but the Summerfest committee is already hard at work planning this year’s event.

If you can’t wait for June to start thinking about neighborhood fun in the sun, the committee has a couple of open slots it would love to fill with interested VaHi residents.

Lead Needed for Kidsfest Area
One opening is for someone to assist in the planning of, and act as primary onsite manager for, our ever-popular Kidsfest area. Jenifer Keenan and Meghan McCloskey planned and executed an incredible Kidsfest last year, but Jenifer will be unavailable for onsite management this year and Meghan will be focusing on this year’s children’s book sale (a very popular part of last year’s Kidsfest).

Jenifer has relationships established with a number of Kidsfest sponsors. She will work with the new person to secure those and other agreements and will be available to otherwise assist in planning this year’s event. This is a rare opportunity to get directly involved and learn from a successful previous chair at the same time. If you love children – and organizing and executing an awesome event – this is the perfect opportunity for you.

Onsite Manager Needed for Tot Trot
We also need someone to assist with planning and possibly act as onsite manager (at least assist) for our incredibly popular Tot Trot which takes place on Saturday morning after the Summerfest 5K Road Race. Dana Woodhall was last year’s point person and she did an outstanding job with what has become one of the festival’s most popular events (and one that is over by 10 AM Saturday, leaving you free to enjoy the rest of the festival). Dana is more than willing to help with planning this year’s festival but there’s a chance her job as a doctor will require her to miss the festival itself. Our new team member will work with Dana to plan the event and either lead onsite if Dana can’t attend or work side-by-side with her if she can.

For More Information
Please visit last year’s event page at to learn more about these events. If you’re interested in helping or just want to learn more, send an email with your contact info to and he’ll get back with you.

John Becker is Co-Chair of Summerfest 2016.
Photo by John Becker

A Long and Winding Road to a Better Zoning Code

by Lola Carlisle

The Virginia-Highland Master Plan was adopted in July of 2014 by Atlanta City Council and is now part of the City of Atlanta’s Comprehensive Development Plan. (You can see a copy of the Master Plan here.)

During that process – which was facilitated by the association’s longtime urban planner, Aaron Fortner of Canvas Planning – one of the residents’ top concerns was the mass and scale of that new construction in the neighborhood. Many citizens argued that that the size (and sometimes the design) of new homes were having a negative impact on the character of the community.

In light of those concerns, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee has been studying other cities’ responses to these challenges.  With our consultants’ help, one concept we examined pretty closely is Residential Overlay Zoning, an approach that adds neighborhood-specific zoning elements to the existing city zoning.

In the midst of that research, the City of Atlanta launched a review of its own zoning code and processes. The general need for a review is obvious.  The current code has been modified many times since its last overhaul in  1982, and a number of new approaches to construction and planning have taken hold since then. Some existing code sections overlap one another and approach new challenges from different perspectives. A more comprehensive – ideally, simpler – code would be welcomed by citizens, builders, architects, enforcement officials, planners, and neighborhoods. An improved and clearer zoning code will also delineate more carefully what is appropriate in historic neighborhoods,  which are currently facing intense development pressure. Virginia-Highland is considered an exemplar of the problem – and possibilities – and this neighborhood will be looked at in this process.

It is a credit to the skill of our own professional team that they are a major part of the effort the city has begun.  Under those circumstances, their recommendation to us was to pause and see where the larger city effort goes. After some discussion, we agree that this is the most practical course, and (we hope) the most rewarding.

Lola Carlisle is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Planning Committee

10-Year-Old VaHi Student Honored for Efforts To Save Rhinos

by Robin Ragland

Each January, Atlanta INtown Paper recognizes its 20 UNDER 20–twenty students that give back to their communities in a significant way.

For the second time in three years, a resident of Elmwood Drive has been recognized as an honoree.

This year it’s Elizabeth Cohen, 10-year-old daughter of Dan and Jennifer Cohen on Elmwood Drive. There is a fetching article about her in Atlanta INtown, describing how she became aware at age 6 that rhinos were needlessly being killed for their horns, and how, for the following four years, she has dedicated herself to raising money for rhino preservation,  giving presentations about the dangers to rhinos, and even meeting with preservation leaders in London to share ideas.

For the full article, including bios for each of the 20 students honored in 2016, click here.

If you have an interest participating with Elizabeth in saving the rhinos, you can learn more about it here.

Community Spirit

Elizabeth’s community spirit is local, too. In addition to her work to help save the rhinos, Elizabeth was also a contributor to the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s first annual tree lighting event in N Highland Park this past December. Her Haygood Girl Scout Troop 21340 provided baked goods for us all to enjoy.

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association joins with Atlanta INtown in saluting our second very special Elmwood resident, Elizabeth Cohen.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Cohen

Order Custom Virginia-Highland House Number Signs

by Lola Carlisle

Signs are available to order here.

These signs are really nice-looking. But more importantly, identifying your house with its number is an important safety concern – it helps emergency services like Police, Fire Department and Emergency Medical find your house.

The signs are made to order and we place orders in batches. Payment is needed in advance, and we will have the signs made as soon as the minimum order is reached.

Of course, if we don’t reach the minimum order, your money is refundable.

We’re close to having another batch of (10) orders ready to go out for the layered design so our suggestion is that one. It’s had the most interest from residents.

Lola Carlisle is a VHCA Board Member.

Ramona Liddell, Wife of Heyward Todd Liddell Jr., Has Died

By Lola Carlisle

We have Ramona Liddell to thank for a significant portion of this neighborhood’s historic archives.

Several years ago, Karri Hobson-Pape, Judy Potter, and I had the pleasure of meeting Ramona while working on our book, Virginia-Highland, Images of America.  Over several visits and many cups of coffee, we all went through boxes and boxes of images and family documents. Ramona answered so many questions so graciously that we felt like she had made us part of the family.  Her mother-in-law, Bertie Sue, was a Cheshire (as in Cheshire Bridge Road) and (from all accounts) a strong and amazing woman.

Ramona was married to Heyward Todd Liddell, Jr., a descendant of Richard Todd. Richard Todd (Todd Rd. and the Todd Cemetery Memorial) was the first white settler in this region. It is also of interest that Richard’s oldest sister Sara was the wife of Hardy Ivy (Ivy St., Hardy Ivy Park). Ivy is considered Atlanta’s first citizen – the boundaries of Atlanta had not extended out to the Virginia-Highland area yet. Ivy may have been convinced to move to the area by his wife who wanted to be near her brother, Richard. Todd Rd. originally connected the Todd farm to Ivy’s place downtown.

The Todd holdings in VaHI encompassed 202.5 acres approximately bounded by Ponce de Leon Pl. to the west, St. Charles Ave. to the south, Barnett St. to the east, and Adair Ave. on the northern boundary. The only remaining portion of (once lengthy) Todd Rd. runs from Virginia Ave. (near the Wells Fargo branch) south to Highland Ave.

The Todd Cemetery Memorial was established in the rear of 797 Ponce de Leon Ter. in the late 1980s as part of an agreement between the developer of that property, the family, and local citizens. According to documents provided by the Todd family, the site was to include a vault containing material from the original cemetery. The memorial headstone that had been on the property since the late 1920’s was placed and surrounded by a brick and wrought iron enclosure and an easement was filed with the city for the memorial and the public access.

The Memorial has been visited over the years by a stream of family members, historians, and interested citizens. Sadly, the Todd Cemetery Memorial was destroyed around the end of 2015. The Todd family has been notified and we’ll share more information on this topic when we have it.

The family of Ramona Liddell is in town this weekend for Ramona Liddell’s funeral services. You can learn more about the life of Ramona Liddell here.

Lola Carlisle is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Planning Committee.

Family Photo of Ramona with Heyward Todd Liddell, Jr. and their son, courtesy of Ramona Liddell.

Map Courtesy of Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Alex Wan’s Latest Newsletter Anticipates Piedmont Traffic Resolution at New Development in 2-3 Weeks

by Stephen Cohen

In his latest newsletter, Alex Wan notes that many of you have contacted his office regarding the lane configuration on Piedmont Road in front of the Modera Morningside/Sprouts development. He goes on to say, “I share everyone’s frustration with the traffic situation that the construction has created, and we have been in close contact with both the developer and the city’s Transportation Department throughout this project regarding this matter.”

Alex states that he is hopeful that once the construction is completed – which the developer anticipates will be within the next two to three weeks – the final Piedmont Road lane configuration will alleviate the congestion that is currently occurring in that section of Piedmont.

For more details, and for other articles in Alex’s newsletter, click here. These articles include:

  • City Council Approves New Intergovernmental Agreement with Atlanta Public Schools
  • ‘A CHaRMing Evening’ – Thursday, March 10th!
  • Modera Morningside / Sprouts Traffic Configuration
  • Curbside Glass Recycling Update
  • APD Hiring Police Officers

Stephen Cohen is Editor of the Voice.

Recycling in a Tough Spot Right Now

by Peggy Berg

Recycling is a good idea, but it’s in a tough spot right now.

Oddly, recycling is one of the things that is negatively affected by the low price of oil.

Local glass companies are rejecting glass materials from the City’s recycling stream (our blue bins) because recycling glass is not currently profitable.

However, you can take your glass to be recycled at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), a city-supported recycling facility located at 1110 Hill St SE Atlanta, GA 30315. CHaRM accepts clean glass bottles and jars and is open:

•    Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
•    Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

CHaRM is a permanent drop-off facility that aims to improve our environmental health by encouraging reuse and diverting thousands of pounds of household hazardous waste, bulky trash and other hard to recycle items from Metro-Atlanta landfills and water systems. A list of materials accepted is at CHaRM was created by legislation drafted by Council members Alex Wan and Carla Smith.

Curbside recycling is for household paper, cardboard, cans, and plastics numbered 1-7. Collection for your blue recycling bin is the same day as garbage collection – Monday for most of us.

All recyclables are placed together in the bin and are separated at the recycling processing facility. The only thing that should be bagged is shredded paper in a clear bag. All recycling must be clean and dry because, as you can imagine, separating shredded cans with sticky stuff still attached is a problem.

Here’s what you can put in your blue bin:

* Aluminum and Steel (Tin) Cans
* Brochures, Reams
* Cardboard Boxes- dry and broken down to fit into bin
* Cartons & Juice Boxes
* Envelopes: including windowed and labeled
* File Folders
* Glass Bottles: remove lids and place in recycling
* Greeting Cards
* Hard Plastic – Labeled 1-5, remove the tops and place in recycling
* Junk Mail
* Magazines
* Newspapers
* Office Paper – All Colors
* Paperboard, cereal boxes, etc.
* Phone Books
* Shipping Boxes
* Soft and Hard Back Books
* Wrapping Paper

The following items are recycling “NO’s.”  Putting them in your recycling bin makes it much more difficult and expensive for the City to run its recycling operation.

* NO paper towels or tissues
* NO plastic bags
* NO hoses or wire
* NO plastic pipe
* NO plastic furniture
* NO wood or building materials,
* NO food or sticky stuff.
* NO polystyrene

For recycling bins and service questions, please call 311.

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member.

VaHi and Angelika Taylor Star in Southern Weekend

by Stephen Cohen

This summer, VHCA Board Member Angelika Taylor was invited to be the guest star for a visit by the website, “Southern Weekend”.

This online magazine launched in 2015 looks across the south for interesting things to see and do. From the Southern Weekend website: “Consider us your trusted expert and adventurous tour guide. We’re passionate about weekends in the South, great eats, and amazing adventures.”

Recently, Southern Weekend honed in on Virginia-Highland and invited VHCA Board Member Angelika Taylor to be the tour guide. Both Angelika and Virginia-Highland look great!

Here’s the clip.

Pictured: VHCA Board Member Angelika Taylor.

Dine Out with Contact Point

by Stephen Cohen

On Tuesday Jan 12th, Atlanta ContactPoint is partnering with YEAH! BURGER in VaHi at 1017 N. Highland Ave for their “Feel Good” Tuesday.  They will share 10% of their evening’s proceeds to help support Atlanta ContactPoint’s work in the  community.

Says ContactPoint’s David Epstein: “We invite you to join the ACP Team and friends for burgers, beers, & milkshakes! From 6-10pm, join us and meet our team, eat really tasty food, and support our work! Please come hungry and feel free to bring a friend or two! The more the merrier! We are so grateful for your support and look forward to seeing you, soon!”

Who is Atlanta Con­tact­Point?

Atlanta ContactPoint engages chil­dren and adults through the power of play. Their neigh­bor­hood programs include sports, fit­ness, art, and nutrition to facil­i­tate well­ness and learn­ing.

An example may be found in the PLAY DAYS that they host through­out the year at local city parks and pub­lic venues. You may have seen them, for example, on BeltLine fun days. This photo, courtesy of the ACP Website, is from a PLAY DAY held at Inman Middle School.

Their activities are very diverse and include such personal favorites as Dragon Goal. (More about that below).

Currently ACP is in the process of launch­ing a multi-functional recre­ation and com­mu­nity activ­ity space for kids and adults to PLAY, learn, and social­ize.  Named Con­tactPoint, Druid Hills, it will host daily activ­i­ties and pro­vide a vari­ety of cus­tom classes empha­siz­ing sports, fit­ness, arts, and nutri­tional education. Con­tact­Point, Druid Hills is located at DHUMC 1200 Ponce De Leon Ave., Atlanta GA 30306

About Dragon Goal
I love watching kids playing Dragon Goal. You may have seen it pop up at various neighborhood events. Portable Dragon Goal micro-fields, invented in Italy a few years ago, cre­ate more oppor­tu­ni­ties to play soc­cer, while also providing great ben­e­fits for the play­ers. It engages kids and adults to play Flash Goal, a fast-paced game that strengthens the abil­ity to con­trol and pass the ball quickly while con­stantly antic­i­pat­ing the oppo­nent team’s reactions. Here’s a YouTube clip of Dragon Goal in action.

For more information about Atlanta Contact Point, click here.

For more information about YEAH! BURGER and their Menu, click here.

Stephen Cohen is Voice Editor

A Visit to Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

by Peggy Berg

Carrie Morey and Callie (her Mom) have been in the biscuit business in Charleston for ten years – supplying tender buttery biscuits via an on-line store and through outlets including Fresh Market. They opened their first shop in Charleston just over a year ago. Our Virginia-Highland Hot Little Biscuit is their second, and they are delighted to be here. I had biscuits for breakfast one morning a few days ago, and I’m glad they are here, too!

Carrie may be the only baker for whom the little shop on the corner feels luxuriously large. Their store in Charleston is only eight feet wide, including the kitchen. Our shop here has a bright show kitchen in the storefront where you can watch your biscuit being made. There’s also a counter to stay and enjoy biscuits, coffee and watching the passersby.
Biscuits come in seven varieties: buttermilk, country ham, cheese and chive, cinnamon, black pepper bacon, cocktail ham and shortcakes. And there is fresh made blackberry jam or pimento cheese to go on top. Biscuits come by the pair, hot out of the oven – crispy on top, tall and tender inside. Or you can buy them hot to go or frozen to use out of your freezer.

Judging by the many comments in our local social media, both before and after opening, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is already a stunning success. The neighborhood was buzzing days before they even opened for business, and after they did, there were lines stretching out the door.

For more background, see Bob Townsend’s AJC blog from January 3.

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member.

Photo by Peggy Berg.

Tour of Homes–Another Great Celebration of VaHi

by Robin Ragland

What a fabulous weekend we all enjoyed for this year’s Tour of Homes. Incredible weather, beautiful homes, tasty food, and approximately 200 volunteers who pitched in to help make it the most successful Tour to date. The $75,000 in revenue we took in is a 23% increase from last year’s Tour. The Tour’s popularity has grown such that it has raised over $225,000 for the neighborhood over the last four years.

Of course, when you have a successful effort like this, there are a great number people who need to be thanked. First, the homeowners for being hosts and hostesses to us – what’s a home tour without homes? But also SPARK, Grady, and Knock Music for providing holiday music during the event. Then we have our advertising and restaurant sponsors who continue to be so generous each year. Many thanks as well to all who volunteered throughout the weekend and to the House Captains who managed the volunteers in each home.

The Tour of Homes committee works throughout the year in order to organize the Tour. Angelika Taylor and I, as co-chairs, would like to thank them for all their efforts. A special thanks to Angelika Taylor, who has chaired the committee for the last four years. This most successful Tour to date is her last—a wonderful note to end on indeed.

  • Home Selection: Mandi Robertson, Melinda Chandler-Muffley, Bill Bell, Pam Bullock
  • Public Relations: Betsy Riehman Buckley, Hillary Harmon, Emma Cathey, Liz Lapidus
  • Restaurants: Jeanne Drehs, Alison Hutton, JoAnn Zyla
  • Volunteers: Eleanor Barrineau, Karen Murphree
  • Collateral: Ashleigh Bryan, Chelsie Jordan Coker
  • Graphic Design: Lori Zurkuhlen
  • Website: Centner Consulting
  • Ticket Sales: Arturo Cruz-Tucker
  • Signage and Flocking: Holle Gilbert, Samantha Costello, Patti Hinkle

Successful new additions to the Tour

This year we added a couple of new aspects to the Tour: a History Tour and transportation shuttles. Many thanks to Lola Carlisle for creating our tour route and brochure, and to Kari Hobson-Pape, Raymond Keene, and Lola for contributing as docents for the tours. The History Tour was a huge success, and plans are already in place to repeat it next year with focus being on another area in our wonderful neighborhood.

As a fundraising committee, we focus not only on generating high proceeds, but also on creating a Tour at the lowest expense possible.

One of our biggest expenses is printing our lovely Tour booklets. This year, we included a ‘donate back’ program for volunteers to help offset some of this expense. By donating back one or both of their complimentary booklets, we were able to reduce the number printed. The money saved from printing will be earmarked for the Fire Station 19 restoration and John Howell Park improvements. Thanks to the following folks: Steve Voichick, Pat Lamar, Beth Walter, John Craft, Dale Robbins, Shelley Sexton, Mary Hallenberg, Emily Malkin, Claire Segar, Donna Stevenson, Paige Hewell, Kathy McGraw, Connie Ward-Cameron, Mandy Holton Brooks, Bruce Gunter, Abby Martin, Steve Saunders, Nancy Safay, Howard Kaufman, Emily Gilbert, Paige Follmann, Lauren Boudreau, Renay Thomas, Matt Killeen, Sarah Tomaka, Lisa Fish, John Wolfinger, Michael Fischer, Mike Kondalski, Karen Murphree, Eleanor Barrineau, Stephen Cohen, Juliet White, Arturo Cruz, Lori Zurkuhlen, Charles Harper, and Lola Carlisle.

Looking ahead to the 2016 Tour of Homes

If you really enjoyed the Tour this year, or would like to be part of an effort that raises needed funding for our neighborhood, you may want to note that our 22nd Tour will be on December 3-4, 2016. We’d love to have you join our Tour of Homes team! Contact Robin Ragland at if you have an interest.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.

Photos by Stephen Cohen and Lola Carlisle

Songs and Warmth at First Tree Lighting in NHP

by Robin Ragland

It was fun! 175-200 people gathered for our first annual (joint VHCA and VHBA) Tree Lighting event in North Highland Park last week. Our unusually warm weather held, and made for a beautiful evening in the park. Knock Music provided holiday music as well as very talented performers (see photo). City Church Eastside accompanied our caroling with guitars and banjo, and provided a tour of the old Hilan theatre – their future home. Santa’s sleigh got caught in traffic, but he managed to appear in time for selfies in front of the tree.

The first folks who arrived were treated to custom gift bags from blabla kids that were filled with over $75 worth of gifts, coupons, and gift cards from local businesses. Another $2,000 worth of donated gifts and gift certificates were raffled. We raised $595 from the raffle, which enabled us to  purchase two bikes and helmets for the toy drive and donate $297.50 to the Fire Station 19 restoration project.

A salute to our local businesses

Thanks to all our local businesses, whose generosity made the wonderful evening possible. As you complete your holiday shopping, let’s show them how much we appreciate having such great neighborhood businesses, and give them our support in return!

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.

Photos by Stephen Cohen

2015 Santathon a Huge Success

by Jess Windham

The 2015 Santathon – a fundraiser put on by VHCA and Tailfin for  Fire Station 19 – was a huge success this year. We raised about $4,500 toward the renovations needed at Station 19.

In this instance, “we” includes Santa; our generous sponsors listed below; the neighbors who attended and added to the fun; the volunteers; the fire fighters who opened the station to the community; our local artist (Steve Spetseris); all of the Tailfin team (including our own Lola Carlisle, Jeanna Weeks, and Erin Fagan) who organized and ran a sparkling event; Catherine and Emma Lewis; and both batches of their fine holiday cookies, including the second one they ran home at noon to make.

The funds raised by the neighborhood will be added to those allocated by the city to make important improvements at FS19. While the city will certainly focus on much-needed structural and compliance work, contributions from the Civic Association, supporting businesses, and the neighborhood are a big part of the process.

This event was made even better by the generosity of Avant Gardner, Barefoot Mountain Farms, The Great Frame Up, San Francisco Coffee, and Worthmore Jewelers.

And also Jupiter Pluvius, who took a pass and sent his cousin, Warm ‘n Sunny.

Thanks everyone, and Happy Holidays!

Jess Windham is a VHCA Board Member.

Photos by Lola Carlisle.

Tipple & Rose First Annual Cookie Swap and Neighbor Meet n’ Greet

by Robin Ragland with Doria Roberts

Do you have a sweet tooth, or are you one of those people who can usually resist treats . .  unless it’s the holidays when mom’s or grandma’s traditional favorites are creating that delicious aroma you look forward to each year?  Maybe you’re looking for new ideas for holiday treats of your own.

Take a break from holiday shopping and decorating on Sunday, December 20 from 3:00-5:00 and head to Tipple & Rose. They are hosting an old-fashioned cookie swap!  Bring your own cookies to swap for free (at least 2 dozen, please, with ingredients card) or $5 to fill a bag!

Story time is at 4:00 p.m., so be sure to bring the kids.

Local maker Treehouse Milk will be on hand for sampling their small-batch organic pecan and almond milks! Coconut Milk, Organic Local Whole Milk, Almond Milk and Soy Milk will be available!

Click here for more information.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member.
Doria Roberts is the co-proprietor at Tipple&Rose.

Images courtesy Tipple&Rose Facebook page.

Traffic Alert: Up to 2000 Christmas 5K Runners Coming Through VaHi Sat, Dec 19

by Stephen Cohen, Voice Editor

Last week there was the Santa Speedo race. Now you are about to see 2000 runners with Santa hats running through VaHi!

It‘s the Annual Christmas 5K in Virginia Highland / Morningside!

If you want to get a first-hand sense of how much fun it was last year, here’s a link to a blog written by a visiting runner named Ashley after last year’s run:

The photo is courtesy of Ashley’s blog.

Here are the details:

Racers will gather at the YWCA, 957 N. Highland Ave., for race-day packet pickup prior to an 8 AM race start.

START: YWCA, 957 N Highland Ave NE, Atlanta, 30306
FINISH: Morningside Presbyterian Church, 1411 N Morningside Dr, Atl 30306

The route:

1. START- 957 N. Highland AVE NE Atlanta 30306 ( North Highland & Adair)- in front of YWCA of Greater Atlanta
2. Go south on North Highland
3. Turn RIGHT on Greenwood Avenue
4. Turn RIGHT on Ponce de Leon Place
5. CROSS Virginia Avenue
6. Turn right on Elkmont Drive
7. Bear LEFT at Elkmont/ Brookridge Drive
8. Turn RIGHT on Brookridge Drive (water stop on the right)
9. Cross the Orme Park bridge and bear left to Amsterdam Avenue
10. Turn LEFT on Amsterdam Avenue
11. Amsterdam merges to Courtenay Drive
12. Turn LEFT on Greenland Avenue
13. Greenland merges to Hillpine
14. Turn RIGHT on Wayne Avenue
15. Turn LEFT on Courtenay Drive
16. Turn LEFT on North Highland Avenue
17. Turn LEFT on N. Morningside Drive
18. Turn right into the lot at Morningside Presbyterian (1411 N. Morningside Drive Atlanta 30306)

All post-race activities – awards, refreshments, Christmas music, etc. – will take place on the Morningside Presbyterian Church Property.

Drivers may want to avoid North Highland from Ponce to Virginia until after 8:30am.

VaHi Student Performs in Madeline’s Christmas

by Stephen Cohen, Voice Editor

Madeline’s Christmas returns to Horizon Theatre Company in Little Five Points this holiday season for the eighth year.

Based on the popular children’s book character, the Horizon Theater production features local girls performing with a professional theater company alongside professional actors.

This year’s cast features girls, ages 8 to 12, from 19 different schools in four metro Atlanta counties, and includes Virginia- Highland resident Lyndsey Davis (5th grade). Lyndsey performed in Madeline’s Christmas last year, and returns this year in the role of “Kate” in the Green Cast. Please see the show and support our VaHi performer!

Madeline’s Christmas runs December 5-31, 2015. Tickets, show times for each cast, and other information may be found at  or 404.584.7450.

Public Hearing on Park Atlanta at Inman on Dec 10

by Jack White

On Thursday, December 10 at 6:30 PM, there will be a public hearing on the Park Atlanta Contract renewal in the Inman Auditorium.

Origins of the contract

In 2008 the real estate crash brought the wave of burgeoning property tax revenues that (then) Mayor Shirley Franklin had enjoyed throughout her tenure to an abrupt end, and mild budgetary panic set in downtown. Franklin had significantly sidestepped the looming challenge of a badly-underfunded city pension fund and chosen to build extraordinarily expensive, huge underground storage tunnels as a solution to the sewer crisis that she herself had inherited.  (The cost of the tunnels – which continue to be functionally problematic and expensive to maintain – was reflected in Atlantans’ paying the highest water bills in the country, a distinction with no end in sight.)

Citing a need to save money, Franklin (in mid-summer of 2008) suddenly dismissed all the city’s parking enforcement staff, and a year of significantly free parking on streets commenced. Then Public Works Commissioner Joe Basista grudgingly acknowledged that the parking revenues forfeited as a result meant this was a net overall loss to the city, but cutting employees was a political salute to the pension worries and provided a guaranteed (if lower) income figure for budgeting. In any case, Basista and the mayor had a plan and they implemented it in 2009, the summer before her time in office ended.

In September of that year Franklin signed a seven-year, multi-million dollar contract that provided the city with an annual lump-sum payment in return for giving control of all city-controlled, fee-based parking to Park Atlanta, a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Duncan Solutions. Next to the coming decades of high water and sewage bills, it has been her most enduring legacy to citizens.

What has happened since the contract signing

Park Atlanta’s ticketing spree started almost immediately and has continued ever since, interrupted only briefly in 2010 when our own newly elected council member, Alex Wan (joined by Kwanza Hall, representing downtown), pushed for a moratorium in response to a huge volume of citizens’ complaints. The contract was modified to reduce some hours of enforcement and allow better reporting, but cancellation wasn’t a practical option; the penalties for doing so were enormous. Citizens have been gritting their teeth ever since, waiting for the contract’s expiration.

Which comes, at last, next summer.

Mayor Kasim Reed has been a public critic of the contract; a few years ago he said ending it might be his “last gift” to the city. Of course, renewing a contract is far easier administratively than creating an alternative, and Reed has not been eager to increase the number of employees, so nothing is certain. In our strong-mayor form of government, influencing his opinion is paramount.

With that in mind, City Council’s Transportation Committee is holding public hearings on the topic, including one (thanks to Councilmember Wan) at the Inman Middle School Auditorium at 6:30 PM on Thursday, December 10th.

What the issues are now
The problems with privatized enforcement (at least as approached in this contract) are numerous. Many citizens resent the avaricious ticketing, which (supported by modern technology) leaves very little room for user error. That the payment machines are balky, have hard-to-read displays, and don’t accept all credit cards doesn’t help, either. The merchants along North Highland have been supremely frustrated with their own customers’ complaints and threats not to return.

We all understand that parking has a cost and needs monitoring; that is not the issue. However, the goals of parking regulation should be based on meeting the planning needs of a given neighborhood and not be driven by the revenue enhancement of a private vendor, which is the premise of the current arrangement. (In a city as car-prone as ours, competition for space and its related negative impacts are common, but – absent them – municipalities shouldn’t be ticketing purely for revenue, either.)

There is an inherent contradiction between private profit and the public good in the city’s relationship with Park Atlanta, perhaps most clearly seen in noting that the vendor gets reimbursed if the city removes parking spaces from its own inventory for any reason –  wider sidewalks or bike racks or other public amenities.  Last decade’s redesign of the corner of Virginia and North Highland would not have been possible had this contract existed; aspirations to make similar changes along the Atkins Park stretch of North Highland face similar obstacles. Nor can hours or costs be easily adjusted to reflect evolving usages.

Our local businesses and vendors also assert that VaHi has a more intense level of enforcement and more metered spaces than some nearby neighborhoods. We suspect that they are correct, and we observe that the solution is not to inflict our misery on others but to end it everywhere.

The VHCA Board Recommendation

Given these issues and the level of public anger and lack of trust in this vendor, the VHCA Board supports not renewing this contract. We would prefer that the city return to enforcing its own parking laws, even if it produces less total revenue. The city can be flexible in responding to citizens’ complaints and the recommendations of its own planners in ways that are simply not possible with this type of private contract.

That’s our opinion; we hope you will come share yours at Inman on the 10th.

(Below are links to two newspaper articles on the topic, one from the AJC and one from the Atlanta Daily World.)   It opens with “money-grubbing parasite that vacuums away people’s hard earned money at the parking meters…”

Image courtesy of Creative Loafing via Google Images

Jack White is President of VHCA

‘Tis the Weekend to Eat, Shop, Tour!

by Angelika Taylor

If your idea of a good time is spending a few hours touring some of Virginia-Highland’s most unique and beautiful homes, and sampling tasty offerings from some of the neighborhood’s best, we’ve got you covered this weekend.

Make plans now, if you haven’t already, to attend the 21th Anniversary Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes. Tour hours are Saturday December 5, 10 AM – 5 PM and Sunday December 6, 11 AM –  4 PM (food tastings Noon – 4 PM both days).   This year’s ticket sales, will call, and volunteer check-in will be in John Howell Park (corner of Barnett St. and Virginia Ave).

Click here for more information on the Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes and to purchase tickets.

This year’s tour features six beautiful homes, plus a history tour of our own neighborhood. Local restaurants, such as Murphy’s, Highland Tap, Atkins Park, Marlow’s Tavern, Savi Provisions, Fontaine’s, The Cook’s Warehouse, and San Francisco Coffee Roasting Co. will provide tastings at each of the Tour homes.

The Tour of Homes is one of VaHi’s largest annual fundraisers. Event proceeds benefit VHCA and support community initiatives such as school grants and neighborhood park improvements, as well as safety, planning and preservation efforts.

The Tour of Homes experience is the perfect way to kick off your holiday season. Bring your family and friends out to hear the Grady High School Chorus and the SPARK choir perform, and see why Creative Loafing readers again voted Virginia-Highland the city’s Most Walkable Neighborhood in CL’s 2014 Best of Atlanta competition.
See you this weekend at the 2015 VaHi Tour of Homes!

Angelika Taylor is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.

Old Virginia-Highland Photo courtesy Tom Catron.

Come Join the Tree Lighting on Dec 8 in North Highland Park

by Robin Ragland

Don’t miss the first annual tree lighting event of The Virginia-Highland Business Association and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, which will be held on December 8 in North Highland Park from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.  Our tree will be purchased from the Inman PTA lot and donated to Briarcliff Summit in late December.

In just a couple of short weeks since the last Voice edition, we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving, and I’ve watched the number of businesses signed up to participate in the tree lighting event more than double!

The kids from Knock Music House will kick off the evening with a musical performance at 6:30. We’ll also have light refreshments offered by our local favorites, such as Atkins Park, Osteria 832, The Warren City Club, Rose +  Tipple, 310 Rosemont, and City Church Eastside.

The first sixty people who join in the festivities will receive Gift Bags filled with goodies and coupons donated from businesses such as Tailfin Marketing, Savory Spice, DBA Barbeque, La Tavola, El Taco, and many more!

Also plan to visit the Fire Station 19 table to purchase stocking stuffers and gifts. You can also enjoy baked treats from a local Girl Scout troop.

The tree will be lit at 7:00, followed by a raffle of donated items and gift certificates from neighborhood businesses. How about doing some holiday gift shopping at the tree lighting event by participating in the raffle?  These are gifts that give twice–first to the recipient, and a second time to Fire Station 19 or the APD toy drive*.

Here’s a sneak peak at the list of items to be raffled:

  • Atkins Park:  Gift bag ($50 value)
  • Highland Pet Supply:  Free food sample, gift certificates for a Self Serve Dog Wash, and for Store Merchandise
  • Ten Thousand Villages:  A cookbook
  • blabla kids:  Large, soft doll
  • Osteria:  $25 gift cards
  • Pink Barre: A private class
  • Knock Music House:  Free parent’s night out @ Knock ($30 value)
  • Tipple + Rose: Tea sampler pack with tea brewing accessories
  • Midtown Butcher Shop: $50 gift card
  • Intown Ace Hardware: $50 gift card
  • Taco Mac: $25 gift cards
  • Judith Bright: A gold bracelet ($150 value)
  • 310 Rosemont: $50 gift card
  • Henry and June’s: Bag of specialty coffee, gift card, and a Chemex Coffee Brewer
  • Urban Cottage: $50 gift card
  • Fit:  To Be: Gift Bags ($60 value)
  • Dakota J’s: Gift card
  • Highland Tap: $50 gift card
  • Fontaine’s: $50 gift card
  • Toscano and Son’s Italian Market: Gift Basket ($50 value)
  • Worthmore Jewelry: Gift card
  • La Tavola: Gift bag

Please plan to join us and make this a new part of your holiday traditions.

* Raffle tickets = $5.  All proceeds are split between Fire Station 19 and APD toy drive. How it works: We’ll draw a name, person whose name is drawn picks a prize, draw a second name, pick a prize, continue to pick names until all prizes are gone. Must be present to win.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member.

Get Ready for Santathon!

by Lola Carlisle

Station 19 Firemen. Santa Photos. Fire Trucks. Crafts. What are we missing? … You.

Please come join us on December 12th (from 11AM – 3:30PM) as we have fun and raise funds for Fire Station 19 renovations. You can sign up for pictures or walk up – we’ll do our best to work everyone in.

Don’t miss the chance to decorate ornaments for the tree (or to take home) and have fun with your neighbors. Steve Spetz will be on hand again this year doing great caricatures. And if you just want to hang out and volunteer for the event, you can do that through the link above.

Along with the Fire Station’s great hats, t-shirts, and mugs, we’ll have two original watercolors of the Fire Station for sale and prints made from the originals.

See you there!

Lola Carlisle is a VHCA Board Member.

Tipple & Rose First Annual Cookie Swap and Neighbor Meet n’ Greet

by Robin Ragland with Doria Roberts

Do you have a sweet tooth, or are you one of those people who can usually resist treats . .  unless it’s the holidays when mom’s or grandma’s traditional favorites are creating that delicious aroma you look forward to each year?  Maybe you’re looking for new ideas for holiday treats of your own.

Take a break from holiday shopping and decorating on Sunday, December 20 from 3:00-5:00 and head to Tipple & Rose. They are hosting an old-fashioned cookie swap!  Bring your own cookies to swap for free (at least 2 dozen, please, with ingredients card) or $5 to fill a bag!

Story time is at 4:00 p.m., so be sure to bring the kids.

Local maker Treehouse Milk will be on hand for sampling their small-batch organic pecan and almond milks! Coconut Milk, Organic Local Whole Milk, Almond Milk and Soy Milk will be available!

Click here for more information.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member.
Doria Roberts is the co-proprietor at Tipple&Rose.

Images courtesy Tipple&Rose Facebook page.

These Holiday Gifts Give Back to Virginia-Highland

by Lola Carlisle

Check out Virginia-Highland’s Zazzle store where you’ll find neighborhood designed gift items. There are mugs, aprons, holiday gift wrapping paper, and more.

Proceeds go to fund neighborhood initiatives in our parks, provide grants to our schools, and help with many other efforts including the fire station restoration. Have a great holiday season!

Lola Carlisle is a VHCA Board Member.

5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Sat, Dec 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership invites all fitness levels to participate in the 5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Saturday, December 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Proceeds from the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K will benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the nonprofit organization committed to raising funds to support the Atlanta BeltLine and working with neighborhoods, community organizations, faith organizations, businesses and other groups to raise general awareness and broad-based support for the Atlanta BeltLine.

The Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K is a Peachtree Road Race qualifier and will also provide challenges to attendees showcasing the most spirit throughout the day. For the neighborhood challenge, register at and form your neighborhood team or join the team if it already exists. Register for the race, communicate with your neighborhood and show your spirit! There are 3 ways to win cash prizes: be the fastest, the largest or the most spirited. Winning teams will be announced at the end of the race, must be present to win.

For full details:

Photo courtesy via Googke images.

Tour of Homes Committee Thanks 2015 Sponsors

by Robin Ragland

The 2015 Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes is only three short weeks away. With ticket sales already booming and our sponsorships locked in, our 2015 tour promises to be another successful neighborhood event.

This year we have a total of 74 business/individual sponsors and have raised $40,000 to fund important neighborhood initiatives. THIS IS INCREDIBLE!  In addition to sponsorships, some businesses and restaurants donated TOH tickets and gift certificates via the Tour of Homes Facebook page. We’ll continue to run these promotions right up to event weekend so check our page out daily to have a chance to win!

On behalf of myself and the entire Tour of Homes Committee, we would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to this year’s sponsors. Thank you for your generous contributions at all levels to help ensure the success of our event, support our community and give back to our neighborhood.

This year’s Presenting Sponsors are Muffley & Associates Real Estate and Carrera Homes.

Our first ticket sponsor is Keller Knapp Real Estate Consulting and Marketing.

We will offer our attendees a shuttle service, which is sponsored by Engel & Volkers Intown Atlanta.

Our Premium Sponsors are Coldwell Banker, Julie Sadlier–Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside, Karen Hott Interiors, Phoenix Renovations Group, Regions Bank, and Renewal Design Build.

Our Major Sponsors are Atlanta Intown, AT&T Digital Life, Barking Hound Village, David Fowler Architecture, Peachy Clean, Fit: TO BE, Red Level Renovations, Timberland Cabinets, Traditions in Tile and Stone, The Great Frame Up,  and the YWCA.

Our Benefactor Sponsors are  Balance Design, Centner Consulting LLC, Copper Sky Renovations, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, HOMESTEAD Real Estate Consultants, Liz Lapidus, Lori Zurkuhlen–Graphic Design & Illustration, Mark Arnold–Architect, and Mast Custom Cabinets.

Our Neighborhood Sponsors are Abraham Properties, Allied Fence Company, Dakota J’s, Dan DeHart–Muffley & Associates Real Estate, Design BH Architecture, Energy Conservation Solutions, Fern Valley Landscapes & Interiors, Intown Hardware, Nonies Garden Florals & Botanicals, PSB Studio Architecture, Resort to Laura Madrid, and The Mad Hatter.

Our Best of Atlanta sponsors are 310 Rosemont, Alon’s Bakery and Market, Diesel Filling Station, Murphy’s, and Worthmore Jewelers.

Our Giveaway sponsors are 310 Rosemont, Alon’s Bakery and Market, Atkins Park, Barking Hound Village, Bla Bla Kids, Carrera Homes, Coldwell Banker, Dakota J’s, Diesel Filling Station, Engel & Volkers Intown Atlanta, Fit:  TO BE, Fontaine’s, Highland Tap, Julie Sadlier, Karen Hott Interiors, Keller Knapp Realty, Marlow’s Tavern, Muffley & Associates, Murphy’s, Phoenix Renovation Group, Regions Bank, Renewal Design Build, The Great Frame-Up, and Worthmore Jewelers.

Get your tour tickets online NOW at the Tour of Homes website. Plan Dec 5th and 6th as your weekend to EAT, TOUR and SHOP in VaHi. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 day of tour. Your tickets get you access to six incredibly unique homes, a tour of our historic neighborhood, food samplings from 8 different community restaurants and special coupons and discounts from our local eateries and shops.  This is the perfect weekend to kick off your holiday season and celebrate the amazing community in which we live.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.

Volunteers Still Needed for 2015 Tour of Homes

by Eleanor Barrineau

The 2015 Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes is fast approaching and we still need volunteers!

In addition to being a festive holiday event, the Tour showcases our neighborhood and is our second-largest fundraiser after Summerfest.

Please show your support for the tour and our neighborhood by signing up for a volunteer shift.  Volunteers will receive two complimentary tickets to the tour.  Volunteers are especially needed for the afternoon shift on Sunday.  You can sign up quickly and easily by going to and clicking on the blue button.  We couldn’t put on the Tour without our wonderful volunteers!

This year the Tour Committee has conducted special interviews with the homeowners, so there is lots of interesting information about the homes for docents to use. It’s fun to welcome visitors to the house and give them little tidbits of information about what they are seeing.

If you can’t volunteer this year, please plan to attend the tour and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. It’s a great way to give back to your community and get out and meet and interact with your neighbors.

Eleanor Barrineau is the VaHi Tour of Homes Volunteer Coordinator.

Don’t Forget VaHi Small Business Saturday on Nov 18

by Robin Ragland and Jess Windham

With two other articles in this edition of the Voice outlining and listing the many businesses that support our neighborhood and its efforts to remain a vibrant place in which to live and visit, it seems appropriate to remind everyone that “Small Business Saturday” is Nov 28.

We’ve all heard the phrase “buy local,” but why is it important to shop locally? Frankly, it’s all about economics. The non-profit organization Sustainable Connections said it best by highlighting that “when you buy from an independent, locally owned business – rather than nationally owned businesses – much more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms, all of which strengthens the overall economic base of the community.”

Residents of VaHi love our neighborhood and the rich options available within a walkable distance. Supporting our commercial neighbors perpetuates and heightens both our sense of place and the economic vitality of Virginia-Highland. Our neighborhood is home to a vibrant mix of commercial endeavors, from butchers and chocolatiers to bicycle shops and clothing boutiques, dog groomers, sugaring studios and everything in between. The neighborhood features countless retail shops, mouth-watering restaurants, and numerous businesses providing services along North Highland between Amsterdam Ave. and Ponce de Leon Ave. That’s not to mention shops at Rosedale and Virginia or those along Monroe at 10th, the Ponce de Leon corridor, and Amsterdam Walk.

Together, these businesses employ hundreds of Atlantans and purchase merchandise from local creators and global providers alike. We have the world at our doorstep and our local businesses bring it to us.

Thanksgiving confronts us with the best of problems: what to eat! I encourage you to explore the shops in VaHi to help lighten the burden of Thanksgiving cooking, because there are amazing take-home and dine-in options available from Monroe to Amsterdam to Ponce.

Once you get past the big day of food and family, Shop Small Business Saturday is Nov. 28th! Small Business Saturday is an event officially hosted by American Express.  Whether you use AmEx or not, Shop Small presents a wonderful opportunity to unwind, get some fresh air, and walk off some of those marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. You could park your bike at North Highland Park, then explore the gems that our local vendors have stocked for your perusing pleasure in order to get a leg up on Christmas and Hanukkah shopping. We even have some new kids on the block – can you spot them?

Robin Ragland and Jess Windham are VHCA Board Members.

Inman Needs Volunteer Crossing Guards

by Joel Markwell

Inman Middle School is one of the Grady Cluster schools in our neighborhood with active and engaged parents involved in the school and our community. A few years ago a group of those parents created a volunteer crossing guard program that has been working since then to make the paths to school safe for our kids and to keep the Virginia Ave and Ponce de Leon Pl/Park Drive corridors moving in a safe manner.

We know that our neighbors in the community also want safe streets, so in cooperation with APS and the Inman Staff we are looking for a few community volunteers to help us staff the four primary crosswalks around Inman.

The urgency of this need is illustrated by some close calls we have had resulting from aggressive morning commute drivers that include:

  • Ignoring students in the crosswalk at Arcadia and the Virginia Ave corridor.
  • Driving at a high-rate of speed through the school zone (even with heavy traffic).
  • More than one case of drivers, frustrated at the slow pace between Barnett and Arcadia on Virginia heading West, actually pulling out into the ONCOMING lane of traffic and blowing through the Arcadia school crosswalk going at a high rate of speed during a red light at Park Drive. It’s only luck that kept students from being run down when a group of fours cars made this type of “dash” in that lane to get ahead of the right-turning cars into the school parking lot at Arcadia and cars waiting for students at the crosswalk. As stated I’ve seen this behavior twice in the last year.
  • Passing on the right at the Virginia/Park Drive light heading West, again at a high rate of speed.
  • Cars ignoring students at the Clemont/Park Drive crosswalk while negotiating the congested traffic there.

How you can help by volunteering as a crossing guard

Be a part of one of the most vital volunteer teams at Inman. With just a 40-minute effort each shift you can join parents and neighbors as Crosswalk Guards at Inman Middle School. We have been officially trained by APS and can train new volunteers quickly and we have an online registration system for requesting and posting assignments.

These 8:25AM to 9:05AM shifts are mornings-only at this time and are based entirely on your availability. Nothing’s easier or more important! Once a week or once a month, help when you can! Our volunteers tell us that there is no better way to start a weekday than guiding our wonderful students on their way to school. You will greet a hundred smiling faces and meet interesting and excited kids as they head to school each morning!

Whether you are a grandparent with family at Inman Middle School or just an interested neighbor, we are looking for a few new friends to help us out. Make Virginia-Highland better and safer, join us!

To find out more information you can email us at or you can call and leave a message at 404-254-6985.

Help us keep them safe!

Joel Markwell

Joel Markwell is the transportation representative for the Inman Middle School PTA.

Images courtesy Google Images.

Cliff Kuhn Passes Away at Age 63

Cliff Kuhn Passes Away at Age 63

by Jack White

This neighborhood was stunned last week by the sudden death (following a heart attack) of Virginia-Highland resident and Georgia State University professor Cliff Kuhn.  He is often thought of professionally for his longtime work in oral history, a field in which he was an early and avid practitioner.  He was an enthusiastic student of what he saw as “the people’s history”, with emphases on the civil rights, labor, and the women’s movements, of which he often spoke on WABE.   When local residents Lola Carlisle and Kari Hobson-Pape wrote their book on the history of Virginia-Highland, Cliff was one of the first people they interviewed, and they had yet another round of talks scheduled with him.  “New to writing history, we so appreciated his knowledge of how communities in Atlanta developed and the encouragement he readily provided.” Ms. Carlisle noted with sadness this week.

His sons’ growing passion for soccer turned him into a serious mid-life fan of the sport.  He bemoaned the dearth of books on the subject in the university and county library systems, borrowed a lot from wherever he could, and became quite knowledgeable about the game’s history.  A student of organizations, he inevitably found himself spending a lot of time in youth sport administration, an oft-trying and unending challenge that he undertook with both devotion and humor. His labors in that field were leavened by his obvious love for the sport and appreciation of what it had meant to his family; a majority of my conversations with him over the last decade were on one or both of those two topics.

His death is a great loss for his family and his many friends, for Virginia-Highland, and for his many other communities.  We will all miss him hugely.

Learn more about Cliff Kuhn’s life and contributions to Atlanta here and here. The remembrance (by Alex Saye Cummings) in the second article is particularly apt and very touching.

Jack White is the President of VHCA.

Photo courtesy of the GSU Library via Google Images

Tree Lighting in North Highland Park on Tues, Dec 8

by Robin Ragland

How many times have each of us said, “I live in the greatest neighborhood”?  I predict a number of folks will be repeating that phrase throughout the first couple of weeks in December this year. There’s the tree lighting at Murphy’s on Dec 3, the Tour of Homes Dec 5-6, and the Fire Station Santathon on Dec 12.

There is now one more festive event to put on your calendar!  The Virginia-Highland Business Association and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association have crafted a fun evening for Tuesday, December 8—their first annual tree lighting event in N Highland Park from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.

The kids from Knock Music will kick off the evening with a musical performance at 6:30. We’ll also have light refreshments offered by our local favorites such as Atkins Park, Osteria 832, The Warren City Club, and Rose + Tipple.

The tree will be lit at 7:00, followed by a raffle of donated items and gift certificates from neighborhood businesses such as blabla kids, Highland Pet Supply, New York Butcher Shop, Knock, Pink Barre, Tailfin Marketing, and Ten Thousand Villages. Gift bags with goodies and coupons will be provided for the first sixty people who join in the festivities. Also plan to visit the table displaying Fire Station 19 items to purchase stocking stuffers and gifts.

Our tree will be purchased from the Inman PTA lot, and donated to Briarcliff Summit in late December.  Proceeds from the raffle will be donated to Fire Station 19 and APD Beat 6 Toy Drive.

Please plan to join us and make this a new part of your holiday traditions.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.