Archive for September, 2010

How’s the Weather Down There?

Hamtramck Disneyland

Hamtramck Disneyland

Hello, Metblogs readers! My name is Brad. As a recent Atlanta transplant (a good one, I promise) and new Metblogger, I thought I’d give the customary bit “about me.”

I’ve spent the majority of my still-hanging-on-to-mid-20s life in Detroit. From the rural cornfields of my youth to Anytown suburbia to an ethnic enclave in the heart of the city (see photo — thanks, wellohorld).

Detroit will always be my home. I’m sure I’ll someday return to the ‘burbs, have a few (truly unfortunate) kids, zip around in my Prius and long for the days of yore (i.e. today) when responsibilities were minimal and optimism abundant. My decision to leave, however, wasn’t merely due to underemployment. I’d been everywhere. The nice neighborhoods with mansions few realize exist, the frightening-in-daylight spots frequented by svelte jean urbanites, and every arterial road into the most distant of sprawl. It was time for something new.

Four months ago, I figured “ITP” was a succinct confession from a budding vandal or the typo of a Juggalo. Now, apparently, I live there — and it’s pretty neat. I’m genuinely eager to explore and become a part of what I hear is a large but close-knit community. Along the way, I hope to document some of my findings on this very blog. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly that may entail, but I can promise a surplus of bad jokes and vague references to pop culture that are more depressing than ironic.

Yumbii@Work in Smyrna

Yumbii truck at work

Yumbii truck in the parking lot at my employer

I work with a polarized group of very adventurous eaters and “gravy eaters.” The latter is a term my buddy Sam concocted to describe “meat and starch” types for whom any green stuff is verboten, let alone something with lemongrass, tamarind or saffron.

We’re working with a group of consultants who fall into the first category, and they’d heard me rave about Hankook Taqueria. They wanted to gift us a group lunch to celebrate the latest phase of our project going live, and the only request from the group was “please, no more pizza*.”

They put two and two together, somehow miraculously managed to get the less adventurous to agree to try something new and brought in the Yumbii truck (yumbii.com). Hit, I tell you, hit… and shameful, abject jealousy from the adventurous eaters in our other building across the street (we couldn’t very well invite the whole headquarters contingent of 350 people on the consultant’s dime).

I’d still note that the first folks in line in the picture are in the adventurous group. Still, we had probably 30-ish folks take the plunge, and everyone loved it.

Well done, Yumbii/Hankook folks :)

And is anyone successfully chasing the truck on Twitter? Apparently, another buddy of mine down in the Equitable building in downtown is having some luck catching them.

 

* Btw, our pizza consumption covered the Symrna-area gamut from pedestrian to awesome:
Pizza Hut–>Johnnys–>Jets–>St. Angelos

Southwest in the A

SW at Hartsfield?

Southwest Airlines, known in motivational and marketing seminars worldwide as a poster child for innovation and creativity, announced today that it’s buying out AirTran for $1.4 billion. I’m cautiously optimistic for the impact this will have on Atlanta. I like Southwest’s approach – it’s seriously no-frills, low-cost, for real. As a kid, my family would drive to Birmingham to fly Southwest. And my Atlanta allegiance, probably due to good marketing and the Skymiles program, lies much more with Delta than AirTran.

What think you guys? Optimistic about fares going down with more competition? Concerned about losing your AirTran rewards? Not a fan of waiting in line at the gate or the seat stampede? Couldn’t care less?

MARTA…not necessarily Smarta

Just a reminder…MARTA’s recent cuts go into effect tomorrow, September 25, 2010. Cuts include up to an increase of five minutes in wait time between trains, no more weekend train service before 6 am and the elimination of 2700 bus stops. For more detailed information on the cuts, you can visit the MARTA website here. In addition to these cuts, the token phase-out and pass fare increases will begin in October.

I’ll admit, as an OTPer, I only use MARTA occasionally for sporting events, conferences, etc. But, I still empathize with the thousands of ITPers who will be severely affected by these cuts. What will this do for commuters who use MARTA everyday to get to/from work? Will their jobs work with them?

When will Atlanta realize what all other big cities have? To truly be a big city you need REAL mass transit.

Car Free? Car Lite?

Are you guys “car-free” today?  I thought I saw a few more bikes than usual on the way in this morning!

If you agree to give your car the day off one day this week, Clark Howard will give you a free Chick-fil-A sammich. Just don’t make an extra trip and drive there.

Apparently Atlantans spend an average of nearly $500 a month driving back and forth to work. That is completely nuts when you add in the value of lost time spent in the car, too. And the cumulative stress it generates– it raises the hairs on the back of my neck thinking about sitting in the parking lot of the connector every day. I picture a big black ball of Angry sparking and hovering over Spaghetti Junction.

A good resource for anyone even considering carpooling, MARTA, biking, or other transportation options is the Clean Air Campaign. I “log my commute” with them every week and occasionally win an Amazon gift card, plus get pretty annoyingly smug when I use their online calculators to see how much money I save by biking to work instead of driving. They can pair you up with carpool partners, and you get up to $100 or more just for starting an alternative commute.

Think you could hack it?

Remember when... Thirty metro Atlantans started Zipcar’s Low-Car Diet yesterday. The 30 participants, chosen from 100 local applicants, got a free one-year Zipcar membership in exchange for agreeing to give up using their respective personal vehicles for one month and instead walk, bike, take transit or use Zipcar.

The free Zipcar membership (usually $50) is nice, but I think they could have made it a bit more interesting. Perhaps asking the participants to give up their cars for three months and giving them 10 or 12 hours of Zipcar driving credits each month. This would be the perfect time of year for it. Fall  (is it EVER going to be fall?) and our very mild early winter are about the best time of year for commuting al fresco.

Most of the people quoted in the AJC story sound like city-dwellers who aren’t particularly wedded to driving anyway. How about you? Could you make it for a month without your own car? How well (or badly) do you think you’d do? How would $60 (soon to be $68) per month for an unlimited MARTA pass, plus the cost of a few Zipcar trips per week – $7 to $10.25 per hour – compare with what you’re spending to get around every month now?

21st Century Atlanta Scholars

Though I sometimes question my qualifications for this sort of thing, I volunteer as a mentor for a program that works with Atlanta Public School high schoolers. The program, called 21st Century Atlanta Scholars, requires that students endure a rigorous application process to the program itself, then endure the rigorous college application process itself, and finally, if they are admitted to and decide to attend one of the program’s “partner” universities, they get a full ride to college. Yep. A full ride. Partner universities include about a dozen schools, including Amherst, Bowdoin, Holy Cross, Middlebury and Wellesley.

I got involved with the program a year ago, after I spent some time grumping about how 18-year-old Abby would have liked a full ride to one of the “Little Ivies” and put on my big-girl pants.

21st Century Scholars is a relatively new program—their first class of high school seniors graduated from college this spring.  It came about because a few teachers and administrators got together with Beverly Hall, superintendent for APS, to discuss the fact that their highest-performing and highest-potential students were not going any farther than Atlanta, maybe Athens. The program was created to help these students realize how widely varied their college options could be.

The kids aren’t limited just in terms of coming up with tuition – most of them have a lot more going on. They might have to take care of siblings while single parents work long hours. They might be juggling work and school themselves. They don’t generally have the resources to visit a campus. There are also often psychological issues at hand, both on the part of the parents and the students. College is kind of intimidating, frankly, without throwing in the fact that they could be going from a school full of black kids in the south to a school full of white kids in the north. They have to think of the academic pressures that will be present at Tufts that are just not there at Carver. These kids also may not all have the support of their parents, who picture their child going off to college and leaving them behind.

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Park(ing) Day at GT

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/6853213[/vimeo]

Sorry for the late, notice, but I just heard about this today.

Georgia Tech College of Architecture’s School of City and Regional Planning is reclaiming a bit of midtown street for pedestrians during Park(ing) Day 2010 on Sept. 17.

Park(ing) Day is an international day of temporary neighborhood improvement in which urban parking spaces are transformed into tiny, temporary parks. GT’s site is on 5th Street near Spring Street. The park opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.

I think I’ll just barely have time to make it there after work before the park gets packed up.

Strut on down…

The East Atlanta Strut is this Saturday, September 18, 2010, from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. in the East Atlanta Village, natch. There is music all day, an artists’ market, an area for the kiddies and much more. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend so get out and enjoy the city. Parking will be scarce so take full advantage of public transport. However, if you must drive, check out their handy-dandy map for parking options, to avoid being ticketed or booted.

I, for one, will be in Athens cheering the Dawgs to victory over Arkansas, but I encourage everyone to check out the Strut because it is always a good time.

Ale No

Way to blow it, Atlanta. A craft beer store in EAV? Nah, let’s send them to Decatur where they’re wanted.

There’s a few-months-old discussion on EAV Buzz that reading took me from elation to full-on pissiness in about 3 minutes. (Read as: sorry guys, stand by for a poorly crafted and rambling rant). A craft beer store, the over-adorably named Ale Yeah, had signed a lease on Flat Shoals, a few doors down from the EARL. I thrilled at the prospect of a place closer to home to buy my snooty beer (I’ve geeked out in Hop City a few times, but it’s a slow, heavy ride home from the Westside with a bag full of beers. I’ve since learned to drive when I go there.). Was a little giddy as I read through the thread on the buzz, which entailed, for the most part, happy tears and boner talk.

Turns out, however, that the location in the Village is too close to a “package store” (Buddy’s on Moreland and the East Atlanta Supermarket a few blocks down Glenwood) to open. Needs to be 1500 feet or more, according to a Buzz poster. “JBB” says it “also needs to be 600′ from residence, 600′ from library, 600′ from public park, 600′ from school… etc. the only way through is a complete exemption of EAV from all distance requirements.” Obviously a craft beer store would be an unfair competitor to Buddy’s. Or maybe it would just make the district too alcohol-saturated, what with opportunities to buy both bum wine and Allagash.

So we lost another cool thing (and tax revenue source) to Decatur due to some junk zoning issues. What now Atlanta’s got a few more details.

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