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22 May 2017

For #MusicMonday, "First Time" by Kygo and Ellie Goulding

This is a special #MusicMonday.

Norwegian DJ Kygo teamed up with Ellie Goulding to produce a new song that's amassed over 50 million streams online since its release last month.

"First Time," the Kygo and Goulding collaboration, now has an official music video.

The video was helmed by Grammy Award-winning director Matthew Cullen.

"First Time" by Kygo and Ellie Goulding

18 May 2017

Atlanta Public Schools Teacher Among Twelve Educators Selected for National Einstein Fellowship

An Atlanta Public Schools teacher was recently named an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow by the U.S. Department of Energy and other partnering Federal agencies.

David Steele, a teacher at West End Academy, was selected as an Einstein Fellow from a nationwide pool of applicants through a rigorous application and interview process.

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program provides a unique opportunity for accomplished K-12 STEM educators to apply their extensive classroom knowledge and experience to their host offices to inform federal STEM education efforts. Steele and eleven other teachers from across the nation will spend 11 months serving in a federal agency or U.S. Congressional office in Washington, D.C., engaged in the national STEM education arena.

Steele reacted to his selection on Twitter with excitement.

Steel teaches an array of sciences such as biology, environmental science, physical science, and chemistry to 11th and 12th grade students at West End Academy. He is currently a doctoral candidate in science education at the University of Georgia, where he is investigating the interplay of gender norms and sexual orientation on the experiences of gay men in STEM related majors and doctoral programs. Prior to starting his doctoral studies, David received an Education Specialist in Science Education from UGA, a Master’s of Education in Biology Education from Auburn University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology also from Auburn University.

Starting September 1st, David will serve at the National Science Foundation, Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Human Resource Development.

The 2017-2018 Einstein Fellows come from K-12 schools across the country and represent diverse teaching backgrounds — with expertise in computer science, engineering, science and mathematics. Federal agencies and U.S. Congressional Offices will benefit from fellows’ real-world experience as educators. In return, Einstein Fellows will gain understanding of the role of the Federal Government in the U.S. education enterprise, knowledge of resources available to students and educators, and broader perspectives on national education issues that can be applied to the classroom or to leadership positions in their districts or elsewhere.

The AEF Program, now in its 27th year of operation, is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists in collaboration with the sponsoring agencies and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

Current sponsoring agencies of the AEF Program include DOE, the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Businesses Move to Revitalize Atlanta's West End

The West End community has long been an historic contributor to Atlanta's social, economic and cultural growth. A group of business leaders are looking to jump start West End's continued impact on the city with a new community improvement district (CID) to serve the area.

(Commercial property owners, including the owners of West End Mall, in the Historic West End community of Atlanta are looking to revitalize the area.)
Members of the West End Merchants Coalition recently secured certification from the Fulton County Tax Commissioner for the creation of the new Historic West End CID. Nickel Works Consulting, a CID specialist, is leading the formation effort.

A community improvement district is a self-taxing area authorized by the Georgia Constitution (Article IX, Section VII) to provide one or more of the following government services and/or facilities:
  • Street and road construction and maintenance, including curbs, sidewalks, street lights, and devices to control the flow of traffic on streets and roads;
  • Parks and recreational areas and facilities;
  • Storm water and sewage collection and disposal systems;
  • Development, storage, treatment, purification and distribution of water;
  • Public transportation;
  • Terminal and dock facilities and parking facilities; or
  • Such other services and facilities as may be provided for by general law.
Nickel Works Consulting principal Nicole Hall says commercial property owners are voluntarily increasing their property taxes in support of economic development, project planning and infrastructure enhancements. Companies committing to the West CID include H.J. Russell, Selig Enterprises, HT Group (West End Mall), Willie Watkins Mortuary, Wells Fargo, McDonald’s Corporation and Elexis Realty.

“The West End CID formation will lead to increased opportunity for future re-investment in this historic community," said Jerome Russell.

Russell is President of H.J. Russell and Company.

"We want to show the community, locally and city-wide, the West End is primed for a resurgence and local property owners are vested financially in seeing the community thrive once again,” Russell said.

16 May 2017

Ferry Corsten Brings His New Sci-Fi Opus, "Blueprint," to Opera Next Month

(Dutch DJ Ferry Corsten's fifth studio album, "Blueprint," tells an interstellar story through music. Image courtesy Ferry Corsten.)
An opera is defined as a dramatic work in one or more acts, set to music for singers and instrumentalists.

It is altogether appropriate then that Dutch DJ Ferry Corsten would pick Atlanta's Opera nightclub to help him unveil his new opus, "Blueprint."

"Blueprint" chronicles the voyage of album protagonists Lukas and Vee as the two embark on an interstellar journey wrapped in wonder, love and the unknown. Each track tells the story of Lukas and Vee as it is accompanied by narration from award-winning director and voice-actor Campbell Scott.

Corsten's fifth studio album, "Blueprint," is a futuristic LP inspired by Ferry's passion for discovery science, space and time. Ferry collaborated with Fox television writer D. Harrington Miller the album's storyboard, which cites heavy references to the sci-fi genre; especially the works of authors Hugo Gernsback and H.G. Wells.

"Blueprint" is scheduled for release, May 26, 2017.

Tickets for Ferry Corsten's 3-hour set at Opera Atlanta, June 16, are now available

Stacey Abrams to Helm Candidate Training Sessions for Women in Atlanta Ahead of 2018 Midterms

A coalition of left-leaning groups are heading to Atlanta this September in hopes of convincing more women to run for office.

VoteRunLead, whose leadership team includes a Democrat state lawmaker from Colorado, and progressive advocacy organization Wellstone Action are teaming up with Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams for a two-day candidate training summit.

Calling it the "Galvanize Program," organizers plan on allowing participants to explore gender equality issues and a broad set of national and local policies that impact women and their communities. Attendees will choose a track based on their interests to receive in-depth and skills-based training developed by nationwide partner organizations. Each participant will leave the Galvanize Program empowered with tools and connections to continue their work for equality in their local community and prepared to become the next generation of female leaders.

Abrams was selected as the Atlanta Galvanize Program chairman.

Wellstone Action is expected to school attendees on campaign management, and VoteRunLead will providing training on becoming a political candidate. Another social justice group, Midwest Action, is planning a session on grassroots organizing.

“I couldn't be more excited to partner with the nation's top innovators in entrepreneurship, organizing, and campaigns in developing our country's female leaders,” said Erin Vilardi, founder and CEO of “VoteRunLead is ready to galvanize a new cadre of powerful women.”

Following the summit, an Engagement Fair featuring networking opportunities with local organizations, non-profits, corporations, labor unions and small businesses will take place to assist participants in turning their passion into action.

The Atlanta Galvanize Program is scheduled for September 9th and 10th.

Atlanta-Based Havertys Taps "Hidden Figures" Director for New Ad Campaign

Havertys, an Atlanta fixture for over 130 years, is seizing upon the city's burgeoning role as a leader in film and television production.

The furniture company founded by J.J. and Michael Haverty in 1885 unveiled a new advertising campaign featuring the work of Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director Ted Melfi.

Melfi wrote and directed the 2016 historical drama "Hidden Figures," starring Taraji P. Henson in the role of Katherine Johnson; a black physicist and mathematician whose significant contributions to the U.S. space program helped put a man on the moon. "Hidden Figures" was shot on-location around the metropolitan Atlanta area.

The Brooklyn-born filmmaker says he was drawn to the Havertys ad campaign because of the challenge to take something relatively ordinary and make it memorable.

“People are craving humanity in everything we do,” said Melfi. “I’ve never been involved with a campaign and a client that was so comfortable celebrating the unvarnished truth of real life, rather than seeking celebrity or commercialization. The spots are forward-looking and almost irreverent. They’re relatable because they’re us.”

Three thirty second spots -- featuring the tagline “Life Looks Good” -- started airing May 15th.

"Permanent Marker," another Melfi-directed spot, began running late last year.

"Permanent Marker" (Havertys ad) directed by Ted Melfi.

“Against the backdrop of somewhat challenging and uncertain times, we sought Ted’s award-winning direction and creativity to highlight an underlying theme of ‘life isn’t perfect but your home can be’,” said Clarence H. Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Havertys.

Smith is great grandson of company founder J.J. Haverty.

“The campaign, conceived by Unbound [Advertising Agency], resonates because it’s grounded in humanity and drives an authentic connection with consumers who ultimately seek comfort at home to escape the outside world, now more than ever,” Smith continued.

12 May 2017

AID Atlanta Takes CDC to Court After Getting Snubbed for HIV Prevention Grant

AID Atlanta, the organization behind the yearly AIDS Walk, has filed legal action against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in federal court.

At issue is funding the CDC awards to groups that focus on HIV/AIDS prevention for young men of color who have sex with men and young transgender persons of color. AID Atlanta was passed over for grant funding this year in favor of two other similar organizations.

Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition and Someone Cares, Inc., of Atlanta received a combined $742,962 in grants from the CDC, with the possibility of more money coming over the next five years.

AID Atlanta's lawsuit claims the CDC "mismanaged a critical funding opportunity and impermissibly denied funding to a long-standing partner fighting HIV/AIDS in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

"Plaintiff AID Atlanta, Inc. was a victim of an arbitrary and capricious funding process that will result in thousands of fewer HIV tests being performed in Atlanta and that will only worsen an ongoing public health crisis among minorities in that community,” the lawsuit alleges.

Nicole Roebuck, AID Atlanta Executive Director, said her organization was "perplexed" by the CDC snub.

“Through this lawsuit and by other actions, we will vigorously advocate to restore this funding to AID Atlanta in order to continue to provide these critical services to the clients and patients AID Atlanta serves," Roebuck said in a statement.

Funding for the grant AID Atlanta is challenging in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia came from President Obama's Fiscal Year 2017 budget request to Congress. Obama's budget included $788 million for domestic HIV/AIDS prevention and research at the CDC.

The CDC allocated $10 million in grants for 2017. The entire program is expected to last five years and result in HIV/AIDS prevention organizations receiving $50 million in awards from the federal government.

11 May 2017

Akon, Van Jones and Joe Biden to be Honored by Andrew Young at June 3rd Atlanta Awards Show

The Andrew J. Young Foundation today announced the recipients of the 2017 Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards, recognizing exceptional individuals whose activism, philanthropy and leadership are transforming lives throughout the global community. The awards will be presented at the Foundation's gala event on June 3, 2017, at Philips Arena in Atlanta as part of the 85th birthday celebration of its founder and chair, Ambassador Andrew Young.

"Changing the world happens one step at a time, through acts of leadership and courage," said Ambassador Young. "It is the work of generations, with progress made possible by those who pass on the lessons learned from both successes and setbacks, and most importantly, the necessary knowledge that positive change is indeed possible."

Former Vice President Joe Biden will receive the Young Foundation's highest award, honoring his lifetime of public service.

Other award recipients include:

  • Ron Clark, for creating a transformational school that models teaching excellence and nurtures future leaders, and opens its doors to share those strategies with thousands of other educators;
  • Activist, commentator, and Dream Corps founder Van Jones, for promoting human rights and police accountability and helping young people fill jobs, not jails; and
  • Singer, songwriter, rapper and producer Akon, whose Akon Lighting Africa project is using small-scale solar energy systems and street lights to bring transformational change to communities in Africa whose development has been harmed by lack of electricity.
Anthony Anderson, star of ABC's "Black-ish," will host the gala evening, which will include tribute performances from Usher, Jill Scott and Wyclef Jean.

The event is open to the public. Tickets are available at and

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Foundation's current programs to preserve civil and human rights and help support and sustain future initiatives.