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Meg Donahue

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Take a fresh look at Macon

To outsiders, Macon can seem like one of those cities glimpsed from the highway on the way from Atlanta down to Florida. Maybe you know an attorney who went to Mercer Law School but hasn’t been back to Macon in years because it’s “too small,” or a die-hard Allman Brothers fan who makes pilgrimages to the band’s home city. But Macon deserves to be viewed with fresh eyes; recently, the city has seen a rebirth due to local grants and the hard work of students and community organizers. Mercer University professors are buying and rehabbing historic homes, motivated by a down-payment forgiveness plan offered by the school. Students are opting for the sleek downtown lofts that were, until just a few years ago, empty cotton warehouses. The Old South Junior League and the Sons of Confederate Veterans rub elbows with New South students studying social entrepreneurship and environmental engineering.

Where to find the best …

Coffee shop for studying
Roasted Cafe and Lounge
“It’s not too quiet that it’s uncomfortable, and it’s not too loud that you can’t focus. Lots of locals are in and out. It’s a nice break from campus life,” says Mercer journalism major Laura Corley. 442 Second Street, 478-746-6914

Coffee shop for coffee
Taste and See Coffee Shop and Gallery
This recently opened spot has been a big hit thanks to all the natural syrups and sauces that gussy up the coffee offerings. 546 Poplar Street, 478-238-5191

Brunch
Dovetail
Students may not be able to regularly shell out for Dovetail’s Sunday brunch, but their parents and professors sure do, seeking specials like wild-caught Georgia shrimp. 543 Cherry Street, 478-238-4693

Dinner—when your parents pay
The Rookery
Mercer junior Emily Farlow says, “The Rookery’s not too expensive, so you don’t feel guilty bringing your parents there, but it’s more than a college kid would usually go for. The hamburgers are famously delicious and the atmosphere is cool.” 543 Cherry Street, 478-746-8658

Dinner—when you’re paying
Margaritas at Mercer Village
Students love the specials and (free!) chips and salsa. 1602 Montpelier Avenue, 478-254-7707

Campus dive bar
Grant’s Lounge
Billed as “the Original Home of Southern Rock” and host to some serious notables before they were notable, like the Allman Brothers and Tom Petty. 576 Poplar Street, 478-746-9191

Live music
The Hummingbird Stage and Taproom
Says Molly McWilliams Wilkins, a Mercer graduate student, “Many times you can find newer acts, such as Swear and Shake.” 430 Cherry Street, 478-741-9130

Place to show out-of-towners
Rose Hill Cemetery
“It’s one of the prettiest places in Macon,” says Emily Farlow. “There is so much history, and famous people such as the Allman Brothers are buried there. There is also a Confederate soldiers section and a Jewish section. It’s all so interesting—and pretty.” 1071 Riverside Drive, 478-751-9119

This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.

The Atlanta Science Tavern

It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday night, and the back room of Manuel’s Tavern is packed. No, there’s not an election, and the World Series is months away. These patrons are waiting to hear about breakthroughs in synthetic biology. The crowd ranges from tattooed hipsters wearing Converse sneakers, planning a night of postlecture barhopping, to retired software engineers in horn-rimmed glasses, gesticulating passionately about the possibilities of reclaiming long-forgotten genes. In a quiet corner sit two couples in their mid-thirties on a self-described “nerd date.” This is the Atlanta Science Tavern, which hosts presentations for science enthusiasts in nonscientific jargon.
The Tavern has more than 1,000 members on its meetup.com page. Josh Gough, an independent software developer, and his friend Carol Potter, a high school biology teacher, founded the Atlanta organization in July 2008 after hearing about the Science Cafe movement started by Public Broadcasting and NOVA Science­Now. There are some 130 “cafes” across the country, gatherings where professional scientists share their expertise with curious amateurs. At the first Atlanta meeting, Gough himself discussed virtual reality with only seven people at the Thinking Man Tavern, a venue the association quickly outgrew.
The group now offers talks by local researchers, monthly free-form discussions, podcasts, trivia nights, school outreaches, and field trips. Topics have included astrophysics, evolution, quantum behavior, and ecology. In the words of member Marshall Vandegrift, “the geek shall inherit the earth”—or at least the back room at Manuel’s. atlantasciencetavern.com
Illustration by Wesley Bedrosian

Dig This: Sixteenth Century Spanish Artifacts at Fernbank

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On the third floor of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, there is a tiny exhibit with seven multicolored glass beads and a few scraps of metal. This unassuming cache, which went on display in May, is the largest collection in the Southeast—outside of Florida—of sixteenth-century Spanish artifacts and has challenged historians’ notions of how Europeans discovered the New World.
 
In 2006, Fernbank’s lead archaeologist, Dennis Blanton, set out looking for a lost mission in Telfair County. Yet the Spanish artifacts his team found dated to about a hundred years earlier than expected. “It was a big head-scratcher,” says Blanton. The beads, for example, were originally from Venice, Italy, and would have been traded to Native Americans. The metal bits were pieces of tools such as awls and chisels. “These iron objects are very simple in our eyes, but to a Native American, they might as well have been a cell phone,” notes Blanton. The items were unearthed within the remains of a large council house, indicating that the site was not an established European mission, but a point of “first contact” between civilizations from two continents.
 
Blanton knew he had found traces of a Spanish explorer in the New World, with his lead contender being the conquistador Hernando de Soto. His findings have garnered national interest by revising the accepted route de Soto took into the South. (Traditional scholarship puts de Soto’s circa-1540 trek through Georgia farther north, near Macon.) Blanton’s dig also points to a heretofore-unknown Native American settlement. “There are many facets to what we’re doing that turn the received wisdom a little bit on its ear,” says Blanton. “It’s been sort of fun in a way. We’ve been the spoiler.” National Geographic Society has given Blanton a grant to continue his groundbreaking work. The exhibit runs until March 1.
 
Photograph by Dan Schultz, courtesy of Fernbank Museum

Trail of Tears Historic Trail Gets an Update

It’s difficult to imagine that an idyllic green field in North Georgia, with a clear, burbling spring edged by cedars, was once the site of a makeshift Cherokee internment camp. But in 1838, 199 Cherokee were marched to this spot in Cedartown, just south of Rome, to await removal into Tennessee and, from there, Indian Territory in Oklahoma. These were the first steps of what is now known as the Trail of Tears, an 800-mile journey that marks the forced exodus of some 15,000 Cherokee from the Southeast, more than 4,000 of whom died along the way.

Until this past fall, Georgia’s removal sites were not included in the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which, as it was originally conceived in 1987, commemorated only the Cherokees’ passage west—not the places and events, such as the military seizures and internments, that led to their journey. But last spring, President Obama signed the Omnibus land bill, extending the boundaries of the trail into Georgia. It was the culmination of twenty years of work and the efforts of hundreds of people, including W. Jeff Bishop, president of the Georgia chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, and Tennessee U.S. Representative Zach Wamp, who worked with the state chapters to get the bill passed. “Nobody is doing this for money,” says Dr. Sarah H. Hill, historian and founding member of the Georgia chapter. “They are doing it as a way to recover our broken history.”

According to Hill, Georgia’s inclusion was crucial; it was one of the most aggressive states in removing its native people, and it had the largest population of Cherokee, around 9,000 according to a federal census conducted three years before the removal. Fourteen removal forts and camps—including Cedartown, which was the first Georgia internment site officially added to the Trail last fall—were constructed throughout North Georgia to house the evicted, who, according to the U.S. Army, numbered 4,000 at that time. (The remaining numbers are believed to have left Georgia before the removal.) The forts were often nothing more than campsites built in areas with large Cherokee populations.

And now? Bishop says the organization will continue to identify Trail sites and routes for approval, using oral histories, archaeological records, lawsuits, letters, and land deeds as evidence of a site’s history. Each site must also have little to no modern development; nothing should impede the visitor’s imagination of what the area would have looked like in 1838. (So Ellijay’s Fort Hetzel, for example—now an Ingles grocery store—may have some trouble.) Each approved site will then receive “wayside exhibits”—markers with pictures and text by Hill—explaining the property’s role in the removal.

“We are using these sites and using the power of place to tell this story in a very immediate way,” says Bishop. “It brings it alive and lets people know that the Trail of Tears wasn’t something that happened somewhere else. It happened in my front yard.”

Next page: A timeline of Georgia’s Cherokee removal

Cherokee Removal in Georgia: A Timeline

1802
Georgia cedes its western lands (now Alabama and Mississippi) in the Compact of 1802 to the federal government, which promises in exchange the eventual removal of all Native Americans from the state.

1831
In Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia, the Cherokee balk at the tight restrictions Georgia has placed upon them (e.g., not being allowed to meet, testify against a white man, or have a government). The Supreme Court rules that the Cherokee Nation is a “domestic dependent nation” outside the Court’s jurisdiction.

1825
The Cherokee capital is founded at New Echota, near present-day Calhoun.

1828
Gold is found on Cherokee land in Dahlonega.

1832
In Worcester v. Georgia, the Supreme Court rules that the Cherokee Nation is a sovereign nation and as such is above any state law. Only the federal government has the authority to negotiate with another nation.

1835
Ousted Cherokee speaker Major Ridge signs the Treaty of New Echota, promising a Cherokee evacuation within two years. Many believe the treaty is invalid, as Chief John Ross (left) did not sign it.

1837
Construction begins on the first removal sites in Georgia.

1838
The roundup of the Cherokee begins in May; the last Cherokee are pushed out of Georgia by June.

This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Atlanta magazine

Match Points

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My name is Meg, and I’m your perennially single friend. You know, the one who helped you move, threw an epic bachelorette party for you, and went to a company cookout with your cousin Brad after his date dumped him (you still owe me big for that). But I’m thirty-one now, and my dating history (Brad included) has been a bit pathetic. So I turned to two local dating experts: Jula Jane, a blonde, finely kempt executive matchmaker (i.e., she connects people in Ted Turner’s tax bracket) and author of Secrets to Date By, and Sarah Kathryn Smith, the chatty brunette founder of the Eight at Eight Dinner Club and One on One Matchmaking.
 
I joined Jane and Smith for lunch and soon discovered that meeting a dating expert is like having your bikini line waxed: It’s painful, embarrassing, and too intimate for strangers. They immediately tried to mine out why I’m still single, grilling me about my life, likes and dislikes, and dating history. Finally, Smith pointed at my cleavage and said, “Well, you’re already doing something right.” It unnerved me a bit that both Smith’s and Jane’s relationship advice could be pulled, word-for-word, out of dialogue from Mad Men. “Men work harder to have more money, more power . . . to have a wife, a better life, a better family,” said Jane, a divorcee now newly engaged. “Same with a woman—we want to be beautiful and the best we can be to attract the best person.” It’s a little depressing to equate love with a primal need for your genes to live on, but I paid attention to Jane’s rules: You must not initiate conversation. Instead, get men’s attention by means of a “sexy look” and attitude. (This is worrisome; “sexy” on me could be misinterpreted as “bad heartburn.”) Keep the conversation focused on him. Remain “mysterious.”
 
The still-single Smith agreed: “You have to play games. You can’t be yourself right at the beginning. You have to present yourself in a way that would be attractive to the other person.” Her other edicts: Don’t talk about your exes. (Easy, there aren’t many!) Don’t accept a date at the last second; look your best; let them pay. Smith disagreed with Jane on one point, though: It’s okay to approach a guy, as long as it’s with a compliment. “Say, ‘That’s a lovely watch,’ because I can guarantee they sweated over that $3,000 purchase,” suggested Smith. Jane then offered to set me up with one of her clients, and Smith offered one of hers as well.
 
While waiting for my dates to call (because a woman, upon pain of death, is not to call a man first), I decided to practice my “sexy look.” My first attempt garnered me a bowl of butter at the IHOP. I had only asked for an extra few pats, but hey! As I imagined what other food items my smoldering eyes could procure, Jane’s client texted me—and I panicked. If he texted me first, does that mean I can call him? Should he text twice before I call? What is the appropriate text-to-phone-call ratio? What would Jula Jane do? Constrained by rules, I was too flustered to respond. The date never happened.
 
I had high hopes, though, for my date with Smith’s client, a computer programmer who needed someone who would embrace his “inner nerd.” That sounded right up my Battlestar Galactica–loving alley. I followed Smith’s advice and spent thirty minutes Googling men’s watches, but it turned out I should have researched obscure comic book illustrators instead: After an hour with Doug, I realized we weren’t even in the same nerd galaxy. If he were Darth Vader, I would be the Star Wars stormtrooper whose only line is, “Look, sir: droids.”
 
I decided it was time to try out the experts’ tips on my own. Smith had suggested meeting men at Turner Field—specifically, the Chop House’s busy bar—so that’s where I headed. And there were plenty of men there. But no matter how much I coquettishly smiled or fidgeted with the straps of my soft-pink sundress, they were more into the game. I did come away with this: Baseball trumps cleavage, and never wear Spanx to a sporting event. Ever.
 
Though my post-expert dating attempts were all strikeouts, I wasn’t that upset. All this “mention his watch” and “never call first” advice was worth a shot, but it didn’t feel organic. After all, it’s just like my mom says: “It’s better to be rejected for who you are than accepted for who you aren’t.” Maybe I will keep practicing my “sexy look,” though—you never know when you’ll need a bit more butter.
 
 
Photograph by Alex Martinez

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