#FreeArtDecatur and Sodabooze

FreeArtDecatur

Image courtesy of Emily Chapman. Art courtesy of _CheckTheBox_. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I grew up just outside of Decatur, an intown suburb of Atlanta that bills itself as “a city of homes, churches, and schools.” (Yes, really.) Though it’s not really Atlanta, in a metro area that still includes suburbs 2 hours outside of town, it is close enough. The town is basically what Berkley would be if it happened to be in Georgia; there are competing, longstanding independent coffee shops, and art fairs, and an annual book festival. A lot of earnest high school students are always around, playing ultimate frisbee.

It’s a lovely town. I would be charmed if I discovered it as an adult. But I didn’t, and as a result I’ve maintained an uneasy relationship with it into adulthood: I like it, I should like it, I am a product of it, but it seems like cheating to stay in it. I’m not establishing myself as an adult in any meaningful way if I’m still getting coffee at the same coffee shop I’ve been loitering at since I was 15, even if it’s a wonderful coffee shop (and I drink beer in it, now). So, I’ve been staying away, finding new coffee shops in my new neighborhood a few miles away. It’s been a good choice, I think.

But I was reminded how much I like the place this weekend, when I went back for the second annual Great Decatur Art Hunt. The event grew out of Free Art Friday/#FAFATL, a city-wide group of artists (loosely affiliated in some cases, unrelated in others) which drop art around town for folks to find. This was a concentrated version of that: starting at noon on Saturday, the artists gathered to drop art and watch as folks gathered it. Decatur was such the neighborhood for it: lots of families with small kids who wanted to participate, high walkability for finding drops on foot, a huge number of earnest people who Want to Support Art. Continue reading

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Small Town Summer

slipnslide

Image courtesy of Rysac1. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This weekend was a nice reminder that–no matter how far away you move from your parents’ house–Atlanta will always be a little bit of a small town.

It started with a party invite. A coworker of mine was having a birthday party at which he was going to have a rented inflatable slip and slide, which–of course–meant that I RSVP’d yes. (Also may have done a small “huzzah, work socialization!” dance. As you do.)

I secured the cooperation of a friend to attend with me and facilitate small talk, as a) friends allow you to beat a hasty exit if needed, and b) she can charm the pants off of anyone, and is as a result a fabulous party co-attendee.

Armed with the address and our smart phones, we headed off Saturday afternoon. Having glanced at the directions earlier in the day, I had assumed that the place was near our workplace, west of me. It was not. In fact, finding it involved driving through West Atlanta, past Bankhead, and into quasi-wilderness that looked more at home on the highway than the Atlanta city limits. We passed three cemeteries before we passed a school. After the school, we passed a crematory.

It was a little alarming.

Continue reading