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Please join me for the first Visioning event at the United Methodist Children’s Home on Sunday, February 11; 1-5pm. Details below:

The UMCH visioning process will span roughly three months, launching with some collective big picture dreaming, then fleshing out ideas in greater detail in the weeks ahead.

During Sunday’s kick-off event, participants should expect a variety of activities designed to answer our most basic questions: What are your memories or experiences on the property? What do you want to preserve? What would you like to see added in the years ahead? How do you use, or want to use, the site? And how can everything be best connected with the broader community?

I will be making some welcoming remarks around 2pm, but the event overall is organized for drop-bys. Come at your convenience during the four hour window and work your way through self-guided activities at your own pace. Weather permitting, you’ll also be able to take a self-guided tour to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the property.

Dates and times of future meetings as well as information on hosting or participating in a civic dinner conversation about possibilities for the UMCH can be found here:

Additional dates:

Saturday, March 3 | Workshop | 9-Noon
Tuesday, March 6 | Workshop | 6-8pm
Saturday, March 10 | Workshop | 2-5pm
Monday, April 30 | Closing Workshop | 6-8pm


Friday, March 9th – Spring Fling Movie Night on West Ponce, 6-9pm

Watch for details on

Sunday, September 24; 5-7:30pm; Beacon Municipal Complex

We are Decatur: Building Community Through Conversations

The Better Together Advisory Board, local photographer Beate Sass and the Decatur Education Foundation invite the community to the unveiling of the I Am Decatur Photo project. Read the stories and join in a broad community conversation across differences. Event is free and reservations are required as space is limited. Contact Renae Madison to reserve a space:

The 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr benefited from beautiful weather – a wonderful change from the ice the weekend before – and approximately 1,060 dedicated volunteers made repairs at 32 homes of senior citizens. Volunteers also “repaired” the yards at those homes and cleaned all of the gutters.

The breadth of the work done was incredible. The signature project this year was transforming a kitchen and other spaces in the home of a senior in a wheelchair to offer better accessibility. Things we take for granted, like pulling a hot pan out of the oven, are not only difficult but also dangerous for someone in a wheelchair. Many other modifications were made to bring everyday items that we use routinely to the appropriate height for someone looking at items though the lower angle of the wheelchair’s seat.

How many times do we pull a chain to turn on a fan light? For a person in a wheelchair, that chain is nearly out of reach. Simply replacing chains with longer ones makes it as easy for the senior to now reach the chain as it is for you and me. In the bathroom, it’s easy to look at yourself in the medicine cabinet mirror. For someone who looks at a lower angle from a wheelchair, it’s nearly impossible to see yourself. A simple addition of a small low mirror over the sink and below the medicine cabinet now allows him to see himself the mirror.

In order to make the kitchen appropriate for someone in a wheelchair, it took more than simply replacing kitchen cabinets. Here are some of the many steps involved:

  • Demo plumbing and electrical
  • Remove kitchen wares and food, remove appliances, cabinets, etc.
  • Clean donated gas stove with accessible front controls
  • Install new base cabinets
  • Install countertops, make sink cutout, mount sink
  • Install new sink and faucet
  • Install electrical for dishwasher
  • Install new wall hung pantry cabinets
  • Cut additional shelves to fit cabinet
  • Reinforce backsplash on short counter
  • Stain base materials for cabinets
  • Reinstall refrigerator and washer/dryer
  • Paint kitchen walls
  • Reinstall gas range

Many repairs were made to the homes to make them safer. These repairs include rebuilding back steps and landing to code and removing and replacing a deck because it wasn’t bolted to the beams as called for in the building code. At another home, a bathroom floor that was collapsing was stabilized. Simpler fixes to help with safety include fixing door latches that didn’t close, replacing doorbells so they ring, adding grab bars in the bathroom, and replacing light bulbs. Thank you to the Fire department for also helping with safety by installing smoke detectors.

Volunteers replaced an incredible amount of rotten wood, including soffits (the gutters are cleaned to help prevent rotting soffits). A broken water heater was replaced. Prep work was done for two ramps that will be completed after the project weekend. A professional roofer has repaired three roofs, leaving nine more to be repaired.

Project volunteers work hard to repurpose items. A lot of “former treasures” were removed from homes – between those items and construction debris, three 40 cubic yard dumpsters were filled. Some items were salvaged and donated to nonprofit organizations. When a shed that was falling apart was dismantled, volunteers found a large number of bicycles that the homeowner had forgotten about. These bikes were donated to a nonprofit organization that will refurbish them. We partnered this year with folks from Active Living and the Oakhurst Dog Park to redirect 200 bags of yard waste to the Dog Park to control erosion.

It’s very important to make these homes more affordable. The weatherization team did work intensive work throughout the weekend at one of the homes. The work at this one home included:

  • Vacuuming out air-sealed duct registers
  • Installing weather-stripping
  • Air-sealing a large hole in the laundry room wall around the dryer exhaust vent
    Cleaning debris and abandoned ductwork from crawlspace
  • Spreading 6mil vapor barrier under the house
  • Reattaching several HVAC flex duct runs that had become disconnected in the crawlspace, and air sealed connections with mastic.

Thank you to volunteers from virtually every department in the City, including a group that Courtney Frisch brought from the new Decatur Youth Council. City staff have “adopted” a house for several years. This year, they were responsible for four homes. Once again, Jabari Cole, Active Living, and Patrick Grier, Public Works were incredible House Captain. They were joined this year by longtime volunteer and first time House Captain Lartesha Chaney, Children and Youth Services. You would think Lartesha was an old pro at it judging by the comments I heard for people on the leadership team. One told me how impressed they were with how she was able to manage youth volunteers and elderly homeowners at the same time. Frank Burdette, the volunteer heading up weatherization, was able to guide Lartesha over the phone on insulating an attic access panel! Thanks also to Mayor Patti Garrett for volunteering for the 15th year. Thank you to Commissioner Brian Smith for helping with the celebration dinner on Monday evening. My apologies, if I missed seeing any of the other Commissioners.

Terrific Thursdays continue in December!

Dec. 10, 17

Shop in Decatur on Thursdays in December. Terrific Thursdays are back with special in-store events, discounts, and treats at more than 20 shops, restaurants, and services. Park once and walk around town. Participating businesses will stay open late, offering beverages, snacks and special offers. In December Santa joins the fun visiting shops and restaurants within the city limits.

To see a list of participating shops and restaurants:

Saturday, August 1; 10am-3pm

Agnes Scott College


Did you boogie down at May’s danceDanceDANCE!? Then you won’t want to miss FIGMENT Decatur Saturday, Aug. 1, a participatory art event from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the Agnes Scott College campus. This is the first ever FIGMENT in the state of Georgia.

FIGMENT is a free, inclusive, participatory arts event held in multiple cities and drawing tens of thousands of participants each year. FIGMENT’s mission is to offer free, family-friendly and participatory art to entire communities.

Friday, May 15; 9-10pm

Decatur Lantern Parade

Tuesday, April 28, 7:00-8:00pm

Decatur Library

Atlanta Mandolins

Atlanta Mandolins was established in 1994 and is made up of mandolinists, guitarists and bassists, who have joined together to form the performing unit of the Atlanta Mandolin Society.  Under the direction of Robb Smith – conductor, music selections range from Turn of the Century rags and marches, classical, Latin, Irish, jazz, Brazilian, ethnic compositions to seasonal compositions.

Tuesday, Feb 24; 5:15

Decatur Business Association

Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson presents Black History Month meeting

Location TBA

The final draft of the UDO that has been through legal review will be available on Wednesday, November 5th. An electronic version will be posted at 

The UDO will have two public hearings:

  • Tuesday, November 11 at 7PM with the Planning Commission
  • Monday, November 17 at 7:30PM with the City Commission