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Jennifer Bradley Franklin

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Where the Heart Is: Ian Somerhalder reflects on the allure of his Louisiana parish

“I wanted to feel something again,” vampire Damon Salvatore once said in The Vampire Diaries. “And when I decided to come back home, it all came rushing back, just like I hoped it would.”

Life imitates art for actor Ian Somerhalder, who played Salvatore for eight seasons on the hit show. Though he has lived in sizable metropoles including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Toronto (where he’s filming his current sci-fi horror series V Wars), nothing comes close to the allure of the tiny towns in southeastern Louisiana that provided the backdrop for his formative years. “There’s something magical about going back,” says forty-one-year-old Somerhalder, who is based in Southern California with his wife, actress Nikki Reed, and daughter Bodhi. “There’s nothing like it.”

Somerhalder grew up in St. Tammany Parish on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, opposite New Orleans. Money was tight, but he says he has only fond memories of that time. “The bayous and rivers that snake through those places—they are all part of my being,” he says. He and his brother Robert used to set crab traps at the mouth of Bayou Lacombe before the sun came up and fish for trout, sac-a-lait, and amberjack to cook for family meals. “We had an abundance of life, energy, family, and culture,” he says. “Most people don’t get to grow up with that.”

These days, when his plane lands in New Orleans, his dad picks him up and hands him a strong cup of coffee and a beignet before they take the twenty-four-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway home. Depending on Somerhalder’s mood, his first stop might be the Mandeville lakefront (“It’s stunning, with hundred-year-old trees”), Covington’s 1876 H.J. Smith & Sons General Store (“We used to get our horse feed there; when you live in a big city, you forget that these places still exist”), or Roy’s Knife & Archery Shop (“I used to buy my pocket knives there—back then, an eight-year-old could ride his bike to a shop and buy a pocket knife”).

The Ian Somerhalder Foundation advocates animal rescue and rehabilitation.

Photograph by Omaze

Somerhalder loves a good meal, and he heartily recommends the food in St. Tammany Parish. When he’s away, he dreams about bayou staples like trout amandine and Louisiana blue crab cakes, which he orders at Morton’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar in Madisonville, situated on the Tchefuncte River. He also has fond memories of digging into hand-tossed pies with friends at McClain’s Pizzeria in Mandeville, which his sister Robyn once co-owned and operated. And he says Sal & Judy’s Restaurant in Lacombe is one of the primary reasons the parish has become a food lover’s destination. “It’s a tiny place that sells burgers and pasta, but it’s so good, people come from New Orleans to eat there,” he says.

When he’s not eating his way through his trips home, Somerhalder loves to get outdoors. A vocal environmentalist and creator of the conservation-focused Ian Somerhalder Foundation, he regularly heads to Covington’s thirteen-acre Bogue Falaya Park, tucked along the river of the same name, to simply look out on the water. For a bit of exercise, he bikes along Tammany Trace’s thirty-one miles of trails, which follow an 1810 railroad line connecting the parish’s towns. (He recommends pausing at Abita Brewing Company for a root beer before getting back on the trail.) He also enjoys taking the Honey Island Swamp Tour in the nearly 70,000-acre preserve of the same name. “You float through vast swaths of swamp and marshland,” he says. “From boat level, you see alligators, herons, and ducks.”

While Somerhalder stays with family when he’s home, he recommends out-of-towners try the Southern Hotel, housed within a historic 1907 building in the heart of downtown Covington. For those who want to spend a night or two on the water, he’s a fan of the cabins and campsites at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville. He calls this 2,800-acre former sugar plantation “a magical place, because it’s right on the lakefront, where you can see the area’s biodiversity.” Somerhalder suggests casting a line or setting a crab trap to catch your own meal.

Years of fame and living on the glossy West Coast haven’t polished away Somerhalder’s love of Louisiana’s murky bayou water, moss-draped trees, and amber glasses of sweet tea. “Talking about all of this makes me miss home so much,” he says, adding that he’s grateful for regular trips back to Louisiana that give him something to look forward to. Thanks in part to his conservation work, Somerhalder can trust that the sights, sounds, and tastes of St. Tammany Parish will always be there to reinforce his love of home.

Highland Bakery

Kathryn McCrary Photography

Take a Bite Out of the Peach State

Somerhalder lived in Georgia’s capital from 2009 to 2017 while filming The Vampire Diaries. “Atlanta is as much a part of my life as Los Angeles or New York,” he says. Here are some of his favorite food finds:

Victory Sandwich Bar
For casual nights out, he and his friends (including his now-wife) rode bikes to the original Inman Park location of this low-key eatery to “play ping pong and drink Jack-and-Coke slushies.”

Rathbun’s and Krog Bar
High-end restaurants by chef Kevin Rathbun (“He’s a good buddy”) were in Somerhalder’s regular rotation. “I love Rathbun’s, and we practically lived at Krog Bar,” he says.

Highland Bakery
Somerhalder fondly remembers sprinting on the Atlanta BeltLine to earn his best-loved brunches at this morning staple. “The peanut butter French toast is stupid good,” he says.

This article appears in our Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Southbound magazine.

New shops, breakout designers: Atlanta’s best design finds of 2019

Best of Atlanta HOME

We rounded up the things that caught our eye, tickled our fancy, or sparked inspiration in 2019. Here’s your handy manual to the year in review, local design edition.

Worth the Drive: Steel + Plank

In Athens, architect–turned–furniture designer Kelley Bishop has opened a wonderland shop of handmade goods centered around her rustic but contemporary furniture, including walnut waterfall dining tables and solid plank platform beds. But it’s not just about the big stuff: A wide array of textiles, art, lighting, and ceramics cozies up the historic warehouse space. Makers include Atlanta ceramicist Charlotte Smith Studios, Athens’s boho stone-focused Mineral Forest, and Hudson Valley–based Minna, which creates colorful, graphic, Bauhaus-inspired textiles. @steelandplank

Gallery Opening: Maune Contemporary

Longtime collectors Heidi and Ramsey Maune made their new Miami Circle gallery stand out from stiff competition by focusing on limited-edition prints and multiples by blue-chip contemporary artists. The opening exhibition in September made a big splash with pieces by uber-cool nonagenarian pop artist Alex Katz, including an original oil painting.

Auction House: Hindman

Atlanta scored a new auction house with the opening of Chicago-based Hindman on Miami Circle last spring. Since then, it’s sold Parisian haute couture worn by Olivia de Havilland and the Estate of Charles Ackerman, a collector and Atlanta commercial real estate developer. A Wilfredo Lam oil on canvas, a highlight of the Ackerman collection, brought in upwards of $200,000—more than four times the presale estimate. Someone else who’s sold? Michael Shapiro, former director of the High Museum, who serves as a senior advisor.

ADAC Addition: Julian Chichester

Just six months after British furnishings brand Julian Chichester (by the designer of the same name) opened its ADAC showroom, it doubled its 5,000-square-foot space due to demand. The eclectic offerings—case goods, upholstery, lighting—feel like the meeting of an 18th-century European estate and a clubby cocktail lounge. The showroom also offers a studio for creating bespoke furnishings.

Best of Atlanta HOME: Kevin Francis Design
Kevin O’Gara, 22, of Kevin Francis Design

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Francis Design

One to Watch: Kevin Francis Design

Kevin O’Gara has been a local design fixture since he started his blog, Thou Swell, in 2013 when he was just 16 years old. Now 22, he’s got a bamboo silk, labyrinth-inspired rug collection under his belt and more than 20,000 Instagram followers. After studying interior design and hospitality management at Cornell University, he’s back in Atlanta to focus on Kevin Francis Design.

Best of Atlanta HOME: The Lola
The Lola, a chic new women-only co-working space that’s meant to feel like your stylish friend’s house or a boutique hotel.

Photograph by Mali Azima

Design-Lovers Hangout: The Lola

With a design by Cara Cummins of TaC Studios, Farrow & Ball paint colors, and Kravet fabrics, the Lola at Southern Dairies isn’t your average co-working space. Founded by Eileen Lee, a former corporate consultant, and Martine Resnick, who was a senior brand manager at Turner, the Lola is a women-only professional and social club with a podcast studio, private meeting rooms named after notable Southern women, a mothers’ area, and a chic powder room. “We were thinking women first—we wanted it to feel soft, feminine, welcoming, warm, and not like an office at all,” says Resnick. “We wanted it to feel like a members’ club or a nice hotel lobby.”

Expansion: Englishman’s

The old is new again as Englishman’s Fine Furnishings—a long-time resource for antiques and reproductions—adds a location at ADAC in addition to its original Vinings storefront. Clients can scout for historical pieces, customize them, or build something new to order. “Expanding to ADAC makes sense because it’s where designers go to shop in Atlanta,” says Anita Vreeland, president of marketing and design. The showroom, which stands among modern neighbors like Habachy Designs and Showroom 58, also showcases new additions like reclaimed wood flooring and barn doors.

New Digs: Lewis & Sheron

After nearly 35 years on Huff Road, Atlanta’s go-to fabric shop Lewis and Sheron has relocated to a new 18,000-square-foot design center on Collier Road. “Our goal was to create a design center that changes the way people shop for furniture and fabrics for their home,” explains Sam Sheron of his vision for the next phase in the 75-year-old, family-owned company’s evolution. The center offers more than 40,000 yards of in-stock fabric, plus many thousands more to order from mills around the globe.

Lighting Launch: Amy Morris + Avrett

Influenced by French modern style, Atlanta interior designer Amy Morris released a new eight-piece lighting collection this year with Charleston-based manufacturer Avrett. “I often found myself challenging Avrett to make custom pieces at almost twice the size of what they had,” she says. “Eventually, owner Peyton Avrett approached me about a collection.” The fashion-forward offerings include geometric sconces and sculptural chandeliers that play with scale to add interest.

Best of Atlanta HOME: Restaurant Holmes
The new Restaurant Holmes in Alpharetta

Photograph by Heidi Geldhauser

Rising Star: Laura W. Jenkins

Take down this name. After years at boutique firm Square Feet Studio (best known for restaurants like Kimball House and the General Muir), and a stint at MT Studio (Mashburn, Brother Moto), designer Laura W. Jenkins struck out on her own. Since then, she’s rolled out designs for Alpharetta’s Restaurant Holmes (which features a howling wolf mural) and Never Enough Thyme (cheery and colorful). Her residential work is just as much fun.

Best of Atlanta HOME: Jessica Davis's Nest Studio
Hardware pieces from Jessica Davis’s Nest Studio

Photograph by Jason Lagi

Designer Arrival: Jessica Davis

Atlanta can add to its roster of top-notch interior and product designers with the arrival of Jessica Davis of Nest Studio and Atelier Davis from the New York City area. Her whimsical, artisan hardware, including colorful Bauhaus-inspired curved pulls, brass figurine knobs, and glazed ceramic pieces, can be found at Matthew Quinn Collection at ADAC West. Next up? Expect collaborations with local artisans, and an expansion of her interior design work in the area.

Best of Atlanta HOME: Quintessential Kitchens
A spread from Matthew Quinn’s new book, Quintessential Kitchens and Spaces

Photograph by Jason Lagi

Reading List: Quintessential Kitchens and Spaces

The man who wrote the veritable bible on kitchen design has done it again. This fall, Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria released the second volume of Quintessential Kitchens and Spaces (Parrish Press), three years after the first. Drool over stunning photography of 15 kitchens, plus baths, dressing rooms, pantries, laundry rooms, and bars in recent projects ranging from a Nashville Tudor renovation to a whimsical retreat in Vero Beach, Florida.

Shop Within a Shop: Tom Dixon at Switch Modern

With an expanded space dedicated to British designer Tom Dixon’s avant-garde creations at Switch Modern, Atlantans can see samples of all of his furniture and lighting in person. “It shows how impactful his work can be when shown in clusters of like designs,” explains store co-owner Doug Henderson. The Melt and Opal suspension lights hung in clusters are one such showstopper.

Hotel Upgrade: The St. Regis Atlanta

When the hotel got a series of interior overhauls in honor of its 10th anniversary, its restaurant, Atlas, landed the highlight: a sort of secret garden in a 3,000-square-foot solarium with retractable walls, designed by the Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry as a casual complement to the main dining room. Decor includes a floating bar with a laser-cut metal facade and a mosaic interpretation of Gustav Klimt’s unfinished Portrait of Ria Munk III in Italian glass tile.

AmericasMart Addition: Curated Home Goods

It’s long overdue: With the opening of Curated Home Brands, Katrena Griggs is the first black female principal of a showroom at the 7.2-million-square-foot AmericasMart. The former vice president of Codarus launched her showroom softly at summer market, with plans for a grand rollout in January. Her 2,500-square-foot space hosts 12 lines of furnishings, bedding, and accessories, including the local SmithHonig’s splashy textile collection Boho Luxe and MooMoo Designs’ earthy global goods of horn, wood, resin, and bone. This year, Griggs was bestowed the Kimberly E. Ward Icon Award from the Black Interior Designers Network in honor of its late founder.

Tabletop Finds: The Clay Shop

The local ceramics studio with the nationwide cult following, Courtney Hamill’s Honeycomb Studio, has expanded in a big way this year with the opening of a brick-and-mortar called the Clay Shop. Part workspace, part boutique, the new Chattahoochee Avenue shop carries not only Hamill’s own work—her famed gold-dipped bud vases and matte black plates—but also that of other artists, including L.A.’s A Ways Away and local artists like Courtney Tate’s Sandwich Shop.

This article appears in our Winter 2019 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

Vince Gill talks guitars, grub, golf, and gaining a life after 40 years in the music business

It would be easy for Vince Gill, to quote from his chart-topping 1995 ballad, to “rest high on the mountain” of his forty years of success. Instead, he takes pleasure in the everyday trappings of the life he shares with fellow singer-songwriter Amy Grant—including their blended family of five children and two grandchildren.

“Our youngest daughter, Corrina, has graduated from high school, so Amy and I will be empty nesters for the first time in our marriage,” says the sixty-two-year-old musical icon, who tied the knot with Grant in 2000. “I’m about to have my best buddy to myself.”

Though he still plays about ninety dates a year on various tours, including as the Eagles’ lead singer (a post he filled upon Glenn Frey’s passing in 2016), he relishes time at home in their Belle Meade neighborhood, just west of Nashville (“It’s the real well-to-do part of town with the prettiest homes. I’ve always loved the architecture.”).

When he’s in town, most mornings neighbors will find him at the counter of Noshville, his favorite restaurant in the Green Hills suburb. The New York–style deli serves breakfast all day—hearty eggs Benedict, omelettes, corned beef hash, griddle cakes—but Gill never needs to scope out the menu. “My buddy Sherman, the main chef, has gotten to know what I love. I just show up and a plate of food appears,” Gill says. “He says, ‘You should eat this today.’ I love having breakfast, and I love that they take such good care of me. The counter rats that come every day call the place ‘Cheers with eggs.’”

While his musical tastes run the gamut, his food preferences are less diverse: “I’m not a very adventurous eater. I’m kind of a meat-and-potatoes kid.” To get his steak fix, you might find him and Grant at Bob’s Steak & Chop House, known for its generous prime cuts and spuds that come baked, smashed, or skillet-fried. The downtown Nashville eatery is just steps from the Country Music Hall of Fame (300 feet away on 5th Avenue South), into which Gill was inducted in 2007.

While it’s often cited that Gill has won more Grammys than any other male country music artist (twenty-one, if you’re counting), his diverse musical proclivities—membership in the rock band Pure Prairie League in the 1970s, a collaboration with jazz star Diana Krall, and the bluegrass ditty “High Lonesome Sound,” which he recorded with Alison Krauss—mean he doesn’t self-identify as a country star. “Country is where most people found me, but I just call myself a musician,” he says. “I’ve always played music I liked. I don’t have to define it.”

Songbirds Guitar Museum

Photograph courtesy of Songbirds Guitar Museum via Instagram

Ask Gill how many instruments he plays, and his answer is straightforward: “Anything with strings on it. I could play the drums, but you wouldn’t want to hear it.” It’s this love of plucking and strumming that made him an ideal spokesperson for the launch of Chattanooga’s Songbirds Guitar Museum in 2017, which features a rotating display of more than 1,500 vintage and historically significant pieces. “It’s an astounding collection, one of the greatest in the world,” he says. “There’s just something magical about old instruments, where they’ve been, the lives they’ve led, music they’ve played. That’s my obsession.”

His other life-long obsession? Golf, which he picked up as a child in Oklahoma, playing with his dad. “If I’ve got spare time, I usually wind up on the golf course somewhere,” he says. One of his favorite spots to hit the links is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a collection of championship-caliber courses spread across the state of Alabama. He also plays just about every course in and around Nashville. (“I played yesterday, I’ll play tomorrow.”)

Much like the highs and lows of a good country song, the notoriously fickle game has the potential to be a heartbreaker. “Every day is hard, every hole is hard,” he says. “It’s such a mysterious game. Some days you can’t miss, some days you can’t find it, but it’s always fun trying.”

While Gill loves chasing his best score, he tries to save plenty of time to connect with his wife. Each year, they return to the roots of their relationship for a series of Christmas concerts at the Ryman in Nashville. (“That’s how we met, doing Christmas music way back in the early nineties.”) Though they don’t record and perform together regularly (“We both had twenty-five-plus-year careers on our own, so we thought it was not wise to become Sonny and Cher”), his new album, Okie, includes a deeply personal tribute to his soulmate. “One of the standouts is ‘When My Amy Prays,’” he says. The song was inspired by other people’s preconceived notions of his beliefs, especially having married Grant, a well-known Christian vocalist. “I didn’t have much of a church life, but the premise is when my Amy prays, that’s when I see Jesus’s face and feel grace. It was a vulnerable song to write, but beautiful to honor her. I think that’s the best thing you can do, to honor someone else.”

When friends come to visit, Gill encourages them to hit the top spots in Music City: The Ryman (“It’s important to hear music in there—they have all different kinds of music, not just country”) and the Country Music Hall of Fame (“It’s staggering how beautiful it is”). For party-seekers, Gill suggests the bars and honky-tonks of Broadway, where spots like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Ole Red, and Legends Corner are renowned. But you won’t find him there; he’s a teetotaler. “I just enjoy the charm of the South,” he says. “That’s its own kind of intoxication to me.”

Vince Gill and wife Amy Grant

Photograph courtesy of Steve Lowry/Ryman Archives

Raise a Hallelujah

Heading to Nashville? Don’t miss seeing a concert at the Ryman Auditorium, which Vince Gill considers his favorite venue to play in Music City, as well as his place of worship. “It’s so historical and spiritual to be in that building—it was built as a tabernacle,” he says. “When people ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ I say, ‘The Ryman. I do a little preaching in there every now and then.’” Besides Vince’s Christmas concerts with wife Amy Grant (taking place select dates throughout December), upcoming shows at the Ryman include:

October 29 and 30
Ray Lamontagne

November 4
Elvis Costello & The Imposters

November 18
The Doobie Brothers

December 2
The Brian Setzer Orchestra

January 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21
Brandi Carlile

This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Southbound.

This sprawling Buckhead property was transformed into an artful showpiece for modern living

New England-style exterior
This traditional New England–style country home, designed by famed Southern architect Lewis Crook, was built in the 1930s. Architect Caroline Reu Rolader worked to modernize the structure while keeping the elegance of the historic design. Family dog Jax sits on the front stoop.

Photograph by Rustic White

When John and Greer Tirrill discovered a 1930s Buckhead estate by famed Southern architect Lewis Crook, they saw its beautiful bones, beyond some obvious quirks—sloping upstairs showers, a dungeon-like basement, and a dilapidated cabin on the 2.3-acre lot among them. To achieve a livable, family-friendly home that both paid homage to its history and worked for modern living, they embarked on a significant renovation with the help of architect Caroline Reu Rolader and interior designer Alice Cramer.

Interior designer Alice Cramer
The Tirrill family enlisted interior designer Alice Cramer to craft a home that matched the formal architecture with the function of casual living.

Photograph by Rustic White

A chinoiserie coffee table from Travis and Company, a modern cocktail table from Huff Harrington Home, and a contemporary reading lamp from Restoration Hardware make the living room fashion forward and functional. The rug is from Stark Carpet.

Photograph by Rustic White

“It was major,” says Alice, who had worked with the Tirrills on a previous house. “People lived differently back then.” Over the course of the project, the team reconfigured the main level for better flow, created dual master bathrooms, and reduced the upstairs bedrooms from four to three to allow for larger bathrooms and closets, all while preserving the majority of the original structure and footprint. The result is a light-filled property with ample space for the family to entertain, relax, and enjoy their extensive collection of art and family heirlooms.

At first glance, the living room looks formal, but Alice designed it to be comfortable and not overly precious, with a casual-feeling shag rug and durable fabrics. The custom club chair and ottoman are by RJones, the plush sofa is Charles Stewart, and a stylish Julian Chichester cabinet conceals the television. “I wanted to make this room feel inviting, like you could sit down and watch a movie without damaging something,” says Alice.

Finished basement with heated tile floors
When the Tirrills bought the house, the basement wasn’t usable living space. “It was truly creepy,” Alice recalls of her first glimpse. She transformed it by adding slate-colored heated tile floors, clearing exterior debris away from the windows, refreshing the stone walls in a bright off-white paint, and adding sleek, midcentury-modern seating.

Photograph by Rustic White

Lime green dining room
Alice gave the dining room a dramatic, lacquer-like finish with high-gloss Fine Paints of Europe in Benjamin Moore “Savannah Moss.” Custom, Travers-trimmed Kravet velvet draperies frame a pair of original windows.

Photograph by Rustic White

A lime green door upholstered in velvet
A door was upholstered in velvet to match the moss-colored walls in the dining room, with a gray Holly Hunt faux leather on the kitchen side.

Photograph by Rustic White

Arguably the most dramatic room in the house, the library-turned–dining room serves as both an entertaining space and a gallery of sorts, showcasing a sculpture entitled Confluence by metalsmith and friend John Medwedeff and a family collection of engraved silver. The high-gloss, moss-hued pine paneling makes the room a statement piece in itself.

Built during the same era as the house, the detached 500-square-foot cabin—called the “scout house” because former owners once hosted Boy Scout meetings there—exemplifies the Tirrills’ vision. Though it was nearly falling in, they worked to save its original windows, pine walls, and wooden floors hidden under asbestos-filled tiles and added a small kitchen and bathroom. Outfitted with period-appropriate vintage furnishings, it now serves as a guesthouse as well as a retreat for Greer, who is writing her second book. Says Alice of her clients: “They were patient, trusting, and saw the property for what it could be.”

Kitchen with marble counters
Cooking is a respite for the Tirrills, who gather nightly around the leathered Fantasy Brown marble island in the reconfigured kitchen. A seamless pocket door separates the main kitchen area from the butler’s pantry.

Photograph by Rustic White

Wood finished cabin
The homeowners saved the 500-square-foot cabin from near ruin. It now serves as a guesthouse, complete with a diminutive kitchen, wide front porch, bathroom, and original fireplace.

Photograph by Rustic White

Finished basement with heated tile floors
When the Tirrills bought the house, the basement wasn’t usable living space. “It was truly creepy,” Alice recalls of her first glimpse. She transformed it by adding slate-colored heated tile floors, clearing exterior debris away from the windows, refreshing the stone walls in a bright off-white paint, and adding sleek, midcentury-modern seating.

Photograph by Rustic White

Petite powder room
The petite powder room highlights old and new, with an antique French stone sink and graphic abstract wallpaper by Lindsay Cowles.

Photograph by Rustic White

The couple brought the bed, French chair, and ottoman from their previous home and layered in crisp new linens, an etagere, and a vintage mirror to create a serene master retreat.

Photograph by Rustic White

This article appears in our Fall 2019 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

The Next Generation of Giving

Phi Nguyen

Photograph by Ben Rollins

PHI NGUYEN
35-year-old litigation director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta

The first philanthropic project that I was involved in was through Athena’s Warehouse, the nonprofit that my sister Bee Nguyen (State House Representative, district 89, and the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Georgia’s General Assembly) started in 2009. Athena’s served high school girls at under-resourced public high schools: largely women of color, immigrants, or children of immigrants. We saw the ways in which our laws make it difficult to be undocumented. Even if one of the girls we worked with excelled academically, her options for higher education were significantly restricted and often economically infeasible.

Bee has always followed her passions and her heart in a way that wasn’t always to the liking of our parents, who wanted us to pursue more traditional career paths. We grew up in a household where politics weren’t spoken about; I was actually the one who registered my mom to vote for the first time in 2016. Seeing Bee created space for me to do the same—pursue projects and jobs that create social impact.

That led to spearheading Vietnamese Voices in 2016, in collaboration with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta (AAAJ-Atlanta). We registered around 600 Vietnamese-American voters four months ahead of the presidential election. Eventually, I joined AAAJ-Atlanta full-time in 2017 to do civil rights litigation, then coproduced a web series, Wake Up Atlanta, to engage Asian-American millennial voters. The more community work I was doing, particularly with immigrants, the more I understood how policies shaped the ways people were able to live their lives. Or not able to live their lives, as the case may be.

 

Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim

Photograph by Ben Rollins

QAADIRAH ABDUR-RAHIM
41-year-old CEO of Future Foundation, giving underserved youth the skills to thrive

My brother and I, born and raised in Atlanta, both went to the University of California, Berkeley on athletic scholarships. When we got there, we were completely unprepared to compete academically because we hadn’t gone to the best schools. We both made it, and my brother, Shareef, decided that, if given the opportunity, he would create a place that could help underserved children. He went to the NBA, played for the Atlanta Hawks, and when he came home, he reminded me of our dream to help kids. I’d just finished my first master’s, so I moved back to help build the nonprofit in 2003. We started with about 15 children. I took over as CEO in 2005 and from then to 2010, we grew to serve 5,000 kids and their families, and we kept growing. We’re focused on helping kids access five key activity categories: academics, healthy relationships, health information, life skills, and family engagement. Philanthropy wasn’t a category for me growing up, but someone who has changed my life through her mentorship is Ann Cramer, who served as IBM’s corporate citizenship director. The fact that someone so established has been an amazing champion has encouraged me along the way. Ann is courageous and has inspired me to continue this work, which can be tough.

 

Kate Atwood

Photograph by Ben Rollins

KATE ATWOOD
40-year-old founder of Kate’s Club, which empowers children after the death of a loved one

Next-gen philanthropy isn’t about amassing a lot of wealth and giving it away. It’s really about valuing your life and impacting others. When I started Kate’s Club in 2003, I had no money and I didn’t know anybody in Atlanta, so I just started cold-calling CEOs. Doug Hertz (United Distributors CEO) was the first to take my call and invite me to his office to give my pitch for the nonprofit. Doug and his wife, Lila, are some of the most well-known philanthropists in Atlanta. He listened to my pitch, pulled out his personal checkbook, and wrote me a check for $100. It was an emotional transaction because that $100 gave me confidence that I could succeed. Later, as executive director for the Arby’s Foundation, I had the resources to contribute to other organizations. We made the first corporate donation to the Center for Civic Innovation. Now they’re bringing up the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Whenever someone gives you the gift of believing in you, you’re going to look for how you can pay it forward. Doug’s check was an ignition point, breaking the seal for me to confidently approach other donors and believe I could accomplish the big dream of creating Kate’s Club.

 

Blake Canterbury

Photograph by Ben Rollins

BLAKE CANTERBURY
35-year-old founder of Purposity, the app that allows users to fund local needs in real time

In 2016, while working at a creative agency, I got an email from a homeless liaison at a local school who told me it could take weeks or months to get basic resources for kids in poverty. Some developer friends and I moonlighted to create a basic piece of technology to solve the problem. It worked and made us realize the solution to solving similar issues was in the billions of people on the planet with phones in their hands. We wanted to create the easiest way to help other people, believing individuals would want to meet needs in their communities, if only they knew and had a way to contribute. That’s what Purposity—the intersection of purpose and generosity—allows you to do: Users download our app, see a real-time list of nearby needs, and donate. We collect the money, purchase the items, communicate with the vetted partner agencies, and the items are delivered within two days. One hundred percent of the funds go to meeting needs, thanks to donations and corporate sponsors. We have a pretty incredible board, including former Home Depot CEO Frank Blake, who has been a mentor. The fact that someone like him believed in us, investing time and money, means everything. Purposity is growing fast, and we’ll surpass 100 cities by year’s end.

 

Rohit Malhotra

Photograph by Ben Rollins

ROHIT MALHOTRA
33-year-old founder & executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI), aimed at eliminating inequality

I grew up outside of Atlanta and worked in communications for then-President Obama, but wanted to make an impact locally. I started CCI in 2014, because Atlanta was, at the time, the most unequal city in the United States. We want to change the way people think about investing in social impact work in our city and create an economic case for it. I work with incredible people who are investing in interesting community-based solutions, focusing on improving public participation. So many have come alongside CCI and me. There’s Asif Ramji, formerly of Paymetric, who was the first person to write a check, and Tené Traylor, who has been an advocate for neighborhoods in Atlanta for years and is constantly thinking about how we can better invest our dollars and time into strengthening community voices. Cherie Ong let us use almost 15,000 square feet of space in the old Rich’s department store for our groups. Clark Dean, who runs Transwestern, has opened every door he could for us in the business community. And Sara Blakely of Spanx has been a champion for our fellowship program. We want to see the system shift, taking these ideas to the next level, so when you think about investing in Atlanta, you don’t just think about tech companies, you think about social companies because they’re just as valuable to our local economy. Ultimately, we’re in the business of putting problems out of business.

Jane Goodall on climate strikes: “I just want them to march and to raise awareness and to act.”

Jane Goodall Atlanta
Dr. Jane Goodall

Photograph by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for TIME

On the same day that millions of young activists led protests for climate change worldwide, Dr. Jane Goodall hosted a private “fireside chat” in Atlanta. In actuality, the conversation overlooked the backyard pool at the home of Delta Air Lines’ chief marketing and communications officer. Tim Mapes and his wife, Mary, who serves on the board of the Jane Goodall Institute, hosted the exclusive Friday night fundraiser that drew nearly 200 guests.

Goodall, who rose to fame in the 1960s for her up-close study of primates in Tanzania, sat down for a conversation hosted by CNN International anchor Natalie Allen, discussing everything from her early fascination with animals, going to Africa at just 26 with no college degree (“What a crazy idea,” she said), and her mission to engage today’s youth in practical, action-oriented ways.

When asked about the World Climate Strike, which happened to fall on the same day as Friday’s event, Goodall expressed cautious optimism. “The young people marching as they are [raises] awareness. There’s no question about that,” Goodall said. “I just want them to march and to raise awareness and to act. How many of those kids are actually doing anything themselves?” She went on to advocate for practical, action-oriented programs like Roots & Shoots, which she founded in 1991. The program, which hosted a series of youth workshops at the Delta Flight Museum on Saturday, helps kids and teens connect with meaningful projects like trash cleanups, creating solutions for food waste, conserving energy, and protecting animals.

Friday’s $500-per-person fundraiser drew noteworthy guests including Spanx founder Sara Blakely, Delta CEO Ed Bastian, businessman and philanthropist John Hope Bryant, and Chase Pickering, who was involved with Roots & Shoots as a child and now serves as its director. The event concluded with a live auction of several wildlife photographs by award-winning nature photographer Thomas Mangelsen, a trip to Gombe in Tanzania, and two sets of two round-trip Delta One tickets. The auction’s highlight came when Goodall offered her own 14-carat gold and tanzanite brooch, crafted from chimpanzee sketch she drew, pulling it right off of her sweater to share with the highest bidder. In all, the evening raised approximately $250,000 for the Jane Goodall Institute.

These Atlanta brothers are Ironman athletes, disability advocates, and now, memoir authors

Kyle and Brent Pease
Kyle and Brent Pease

Photograph courtesy of the Pease brothers

Kyle and Brent Pease are many things: brothers, Ironman triathletes and philanthropic leaders. Now, with the release of Beyond the Finish: A Story of Passion, Brotherhood, and Relentless Determination (Mascot Books, out June 18), they can add “memoir authors” to their list of achievements.

The Atlanta-based brothers—Kyle, who has cerebral palsy, is a speaker and greeter at Piedmont Hospital and Brent serves as a coach with Dynamo Multisport in Chamblee—hosted a release book release party on May 16 to celebrate. The book tells the story of what happened after Kyle, accustomed to cheering on his athletic brothers Brent and Evan from the sidelines, asked Brent, “Can people in wheelchairs do Ironman?” Brent’s enthusiastic “Yes!” changed everything. The pair have since competed in races around the country, including last year’s Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, using specialized bikes, wheelchairs, and kayaks. They founded the Kyle Pease Foundation in 2011 to help improve the lives of the disabled through sports.

Here, we chat with the accomplished pair about the highlights of the book and the journey.

What do you hope someone who reads Beyond the Finish will feel?
Kyle:
We all encounter our own challenges, but over the past eight years, we have worked tirelessly to break down barriers for athletes with disabilities, including six years lobbying for a spot with Ironman, four years to enter the New York City Marathon, and three to compete in the Peachtree Road Race. We want to inspire others to chase after their dreams. There will be obstacles in your way, but they will only make you stronger. We’re living proof.

Kyle and Brent Pease
Brent helps Kyle sign copies of their new memoir at the book release party on May 16.

Photograph courtesy of the Pease brothers

How did you come up with the idea of writing a book?
Brent:
Since [launching our foundation in] 2011, we have been on an incredible journey fulfilling the mission to create awareness and raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities. We made it to Kona, Hawaii last October for the Ironman World Championship, and we wanted to share our journey with others. We feel our trials and tribulations are extremely relatable and that people will enjoy reading our story.

What was the writing process like?
Brent:
We worked tirelessly with [our publisher] Mascot and [co-author] Todd [Civin] to share our story in a way that offers both Kyle’s and my perspective. This book has been more than 30 years in the making, but the actual writing process took two years.

Kyle and Brent Pease
Kyle and Brent cross the finish line at the 2018 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

Photograph John David Johnson / Courtesy of the Pease brothers

Can you share one of your favorite stories from the book?
Brent:
[There’s a story in the book] about me carrying Kyle down the stairs when we were kids in our childhood home. That stands out as one of my favorites. Kyle wanted to watch a game, so I took the liberty of taking him down the stairs on my own. I was five years old. My parents came down the stairs, and to their horror we were in the living room laughing and watching TV. With her jaw on the floor, my mom asked me why and how we were all the way downstairs. I matter-of-factly responded with, “Kyle wanted to watch TV.”

Kyle and Brent Pease
Kyle and Brent prepare for the swim portion of the Ironman World Championship.

Photograph John David Johnson / Courtesy of the Pease brothers

You hosted 150 people at the book launch on May 16. What did it feel like for so many to come out to support your project?
Kyle:
Since we decided to write the memoir, the support we’ve received has been overwhelming. The launch event at Big Sky in Buckhead was another example of the unbelievable encouragement we’ve received. We’re beyond humbled and so grateful for our support network of family, friends, fans, and the triathlete community.

Read the book: Beyond the Finish is available for pre-order on Amazon, and proceeds from sales will support the Kyle Pease Foundation.

In honor of the Super Bowl: Tiny Doors ATL’s first “not-so-tiny” door

Tiny Doors Giant Door Super Bowl
Tiny Doors ATL creator Karen Anderson outside the “not-so-tiny” door at Hotel Indigo Midtown

Photograph courtesy of Tiny Doors ATL

Karen Anderson, the creative mind behind Tiny Doors ATL’s 15 diminutive art installations around town, is best known for her 7-inch-tall creations. But, in honor of Atlanta hosting the biggest night in football, she worked with Hotel Indigo Midtown to create her largest work to date: a 14-foot tall, 8-foot wide “not-so-tiny” door.

“It’s been really cool [to create], and to me, it’s still on-brand for Tiny Doors ATL, because it does the thing that the tiny doors do,” she explains. “It changes your perception and gets you into a moment of wonder and whimsy. It’s about playing with scale and getting people to use their imagination. Instead of the doors making you feel big, this door makes you feel tiny.”

The partnership with Hotel Indigo came together just a few weeks ago when parent company IHG Hotels & Resorts brought the idea to Anderson as part of it’s Home Team Hospitality program, which hosts free events at its hotels around the city during Super Bowl. After drawing inspiration from Hotel Indigo itself, Anderson teamed up with Ferris Entertainment Group to construct the oversized door. Seven staffers teamed up to construct and install the door, made of wood, Bondo wood filler, and a giant handle, before painting it Pantone teal, one of Hotel Indigo’s signature colors. “I thought that teal was so gorgeous, and I don’t have a door that color. It was really fun to do it large,” Anderson says.

At Thursday’s door unveiling, actor Nick Cannon, another of IHG’s Home Team Hospitality ambassadors, stopped by to pose for a few photos with the artist on the door’s enormous welcome mat. For Anderson, seeing the excitement the door has generated has been its own reward.

“It’s been great to watch people go down there, get excited, and get really creative [with their photographs]. To me, that’s a measure of success,” she says.

Tiny Doors Giant Door Super Bowl
Anderson and Nick Cannon

Photograph courtesy of Tiny Doors ATL

Though vastly different in size and scale, this “not-so-tiny” art installation does have a few things in common with its tiny kin. “They’re all free to visit, they’re public, and they’re wheelchair accessible,” Anderson explains.

While Hotel Indigo’s door installation is designed to be temporary—only through Super Bowl weekend—there’s already talk of extending it into something more long-term. “This door takes up more physical space than my entire project [of tiny doors around town]. I like the idea of it having a big impact and standing alone,” Anderson says, adding that it likely wouldn’t change the direction of the rest of her signature artwork. “I can’t see myself doing a lot of big doors, but I really do love this one.”

Tiny Doors Giant Door Super Bowl
Installing the door

Photograph courtesy of Tiny Doors ATL

See the larger-than-life art installation and photo opp at Hotel Indigo Midtown, located at 683 Peachtree Street Northeast.

First Look: East Fork pottery opens its first location outside of Asheville in Atlanta’s Westside Provisions

East Fork Pottery Atlanta
The Atlanta location of East Fork opened on December 21.

Photograph courtesy of East Fork Pottery

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at recreating a Bacchanalia-style meal at home, you can be one step closer thanks to the opening of East Fork in Westside Provisions District. It’s the brand’s first outside its hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

The brand was founded in 2009 by Alex Matisse (the great-grandson of artist Henri Matisse), his wife Connie, and potter John Vigeland. The trio pooled their resources to build a wood-burning kiln on an old tobacco farm 30 minutes outside of Asheville and began making large-scale pottery. In 2016, East Fork began making the plates, bowls, and serving pieces that have become their signature. That same year, they opened their flagship store in downtown Asheville, adding in a curated mix of other artisan-made home goods, jewelry, and apothecary items.

East Fork Pottery Atlanta
The Westside Provisions District storefront

Photograph courtesy of East Fork Pottery

East Fork Pottery AtlantaEast Fork Pottery AtlantaOpening a second storefront in Atlanta seemed a natural next step, explained brand manager Erin Hawley just moments before opening the doors to the public on December 21. “Atlanta has always been an inspirational city for us. It’s such a cultural hub of the South. We always come here to eat great food and find great shopping,” she said. “Asheville is coming up in a lot of ways, but Atlanta’s always a city we’ve looked to for inspiration. We also have a pretty big customer base here already, so it’s been a smooth transition.”

Since the stoneware items are made to be durable—all are microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe—East Fork has developed a loyal fan base with restaurants, including Atlanta’s Bacchanalia. The handmade pieces are crafted by one of 18 potters working in the North Carolina factory and are made with iron-rich clay which produces a speckled effect. The dinnerware pieces are regularly offered in Eggshell (a soft natural white), Morel (taupe) and Molasses (chocolate brown), in addition to other seasonal offerings, all designed to work in harmony with the other colors.

East Fork Pottery Atlanta

East Fork Pottery Atlanta
Glaze options at East Fork

Photograph by Jennifer Bradley Franklin

“Our colors are neutral, and even when we do brighter colors, they’re still soft in a way that can live in your home for a long time so you wouldn’t tire of them,” Hawley said, noting that the vignettes set up in varying degrees of formality and in different color combinations around the store are designed to inspire customers.

Visitors to the 1,700-square-foot WSP shop will notice that, while artisan-made goods are an East Fork signature, most of them are made in North Carolina (plus a few from California, Texas, Japan, and New York), there’s hardly any Georgia representation just yet. It’s coming, though. “As we know the city more, we want to do some Atlanta collaborations and carry products made here,” Hawley explained. Notable exceptions include select apparel items from Tomson, Georgia’s State The Label, and hand-dyed silk scarves by Atlanta-based Lindsey Glass, under her brand name IN & OF. Glass will also serve as East Fork Atlanta’s store manager.

East Fork Pottery AtlantaEast Fork Pottery AtlantaShoppers can peruse wares in the bright, neutral retail space, designed in collaboration with North Carolina-based Shelter Collective. Aside from the pottery pieces, standouts include hand-hewn baskets by Dan Barber, a former boatmaker from Oregon; textiles from Garza Marfa in Marfa, Texas; and flatware from Japan’s Lue Brass.

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