Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Right to Grow" Rally - why you should care about House Bill 853 [Feb. 28]

What passes for an egg-laying hen around these parts... lousy producer, by the way.
There is a rally to support House Bill 853 and timing is critical. The bill is currently gummed up in the House Rules Committee due the Chair of the Rules Committee's refusal to add it to the calendar. If not on the calendar, the House can't vote on it, which means it will never make it to the Senate.

If not added to the calendar by Feb. 28, this bill is as dead as your 2012 dream of fresh eggs. The ag experts at UGA recommend "3- 31/2 square feet of floor space for each bird you intend to keep for egg production" which means that pretty much any property in our neighborhood can accommodate a couple egg-producing hens. Another UGA publication entreaties local governments to adjust archaic and excessive setbacks that disproportionately hurt small family operations. The Chicken Little arguments put forth by lobbyists such as the GA Municipal Association fail the test of logic (never mind proof) in the face of successful urban agriculture ordinances in high-density locations such as City of Decatur and Atlanta.

Why Should DeKalb Care?

Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, relates to individuals who experience "reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet" and may or may not include "disrupted access" to food (aka hunger). Another context of food security relates to a community's access to food in case of emergencies; it deals with food sources, distribution, and availability. Looking at USDA's Food Desert Map, vs. a google map outlining county limits, it is apparent that DeKalb has food security problems. Why not make it easier for people to provide for themselves? 

DeKalb Co. outline (left) and the food desert areas within it (pink overlay), per the Food Desert Locator (USDA)
If you wish to support House Bill 853 (see text here), see http://northeastcobb.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-right-to-grow-rally and the Georgia Right to Grow Facebook group.

While in the House of Representatives, real-time updates on the status of this bill can be obtained by contacting the Clerk of the House at (404) 656-5015. And contact John Meadows (R - Calhoun), Chair of the Rules Committee.

Remember: this bill is not just about eggs, it's also about access to quality local honey and the elemental comfort and peace of mind of growing your own vegetables at home and living in a community where neighbors have the resources to help one another in the case of an emergency.

p.s.
For more fun with USDA data, check out their Food Environment Atlas.

p.s.s.
Per the above Facebook group page, the Georgia Realtors Association supports this bill. And you just know they would not support a measure believed to hurt property values...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Around the neighborhood...

Briefly, as the sun set on Feb 22.
And down by the creek at Medlock Park...

Downy (or hairy?) woodpecker taking a break. Notice other woodpecker work on that tree.

Feeling a little flaky?
I think that river birch is one of many planted as part of a restoration project back in 1993?

Mason Mill Park: volunteers needed for wildlife habitat restoration

more from CHCA...
From Dave Butler, long time local resident and county greenspace environmental manager: 
The DeKalb County Natural Resources Management Office (NRMO) is a partner with the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) in a grant to restore wildlife habitat in two county parks including Mason Mill Park. This is a two-year initiative and will include the removal of invasive plant species and the reintroduction of native species along the boardwalk trail in Mason Mill Park. This work will add to what was done 3 years ago with members of CHCA [Clairmont Heights Civic Association] and the community clearing invasive plants from a section of the park along the PATH [aka South Peachtree Creek trail]. Interpretive signage will be developed and installed along the boardwalk. ABG is purchasing native plant materials soon to be planted along the trail. The plants were chosen after evaluation by ABG staff, the Atlanta Audubon Society (another grant partner), and NRMO for their benefits to wildlife, their visual appeal, and their suitability for the steep, rocky slope along the trail. 

Help from volunteers from the community is critical to the success of this project. Please call Dave Butler at NRMO at (404) 371-2540 or email dabutler@dekalbcountyga.gov if you want to be part of this rewarding project.

2nd Annual Embrace our Green Space Race [Mar 24]

thanks CHCA for the heads up!
March 24, 2012 at Oak Grove United Methodist Church at 10AM. It is finally here! The Second Annual Embrace Our Green Space Race to benefit four local parks is happening again on Saturday, March 24th at Oak Grove UMC starting at 10AM. We have an event for everyone: 2K walk for seniors and kids, 5K run/walk, 10K run, 10K skate, and 20K bike ride. All routes are well marked and wind through area neighborhoods, and police are posted at busy intersections and volunteers at major turns. The cyclists will start promptly at 10AM, followed immediately by the skaters, then the 10K runners, 5K runners and lastly the 2K walkers. All events will be completed shortly after 11AM. These events are non-competitive so everyone is invited to come out for some fresh air and exercise, meet new friends, tour local neighborhoods and support our local parks! Great post race snacks provided by local restaurants. All proceeds beyond the cost of staging this event will go to these deserving friends of park groups: Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, Kittredge Park, Mary Scott Nature Park and the new park on Lavista Road near Oak Grove. Park Pride Atlanta is providing financial management of the funds.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Neighborhood Watch Alert: Neighbor Robbed [Feb. 22]

From the Neighborhood Watch:
Wednesday Feb. 22, around 4 pm, a neighbor was robbed, not forcefully. Please beware of the seniors in your grid and keep them informed as many of them do not email.
Here is the info: 
A new black truck with 3 or 4 men in it claimed to ring the front door bell. When there was no answer, they went around to his carport door, which he keeps propped wide open with his interior door open and entered his kitchen. The owner was in the back, came out into the carport to confront one of the men in his kitchen. The man stated he had rung the bell, then came to look for him to see if he wanted them to clean his gutters. Eventually he agreed they could. They offered to do it for $40. They asked him for a hose, a nozzle, then told him they needed many containers of boiling water. (It seems to me that they were keeping him looking for stuff and keeping him busy and not noticing that they were scouting out his house and its contents). 
 Once they got him boiling the water, the one man said they had to go get some more of the special cleaner they use and they all got back in the truck and never came back. The owner went back to his bedroom where he tossed his wallet on the dresser and it was gone along with other valuables. He can't describe the men except to say he thinks they were Hispanic, but they spoke English well. He says he didn't spend a lot of time looking directly at them. 
The homeowner is not hurt and a police report should be filed soon.
 Please be aware of people that you do not know, asking to do work, solicitors and do not let strangers in your home. 
Keep your doors looked at all times and please inform your neighbors about these issues.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coyote Alert: more sightings near Medlock Park

This was posted on Facebook tonight [around 8pm-ish]
In the last couple of months, there have been many sightings all over the neighborhood. We've had reports of coyotes near Medlock Park, on Gaylemont, and in the Medlock Elementary school property but also on Woodridge and Desmond.

As you will read in just about any article about coyotes, they are clever and adaptable. Other critters in the wild kingdom look up to them as models of range expansion. Our neighborhood, graced as it is with pockets of woods, creeks, and ample food supply, are simply too attractive.


City of Decatur has created a page with links on coping with urban coyotes, see  http://www.decaturga.com/index.aspx?page=569. Please review this information to ensure you and your pets remain safe.

p.s. 
Admittedly far cuter and less threatening than coyotes, San Joaquin foxes are another example of wild canids who thrive in close proximity to humans. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Girl Scout Troop 26429: Cookies Available [Feb 19]

Which one's your favorite???

Troop 26429 will be at Melton's on Sunday, Feb 19 from 12:00pm - 2:00pm and then at the Kroger on DeKalb Industrial from 5:15pm-7:15pm.

Free Green Lecture Series Starts This Week at the Decatur Library

from the Oakhurst Community Garden: announcing a series of free courses on greener living

LIVING THE GREEN LIFE
All Year Long at the Decatur Library Starting this Wednesday!

Over the past few years, the interest in living a more green and sustainable lifestyle has grown tremendously. The Oakhurst Community Garden Project, the City of Decatur, and the DeKalb County Public Library are pleased to announce their collaboration on offering you an exciting FREE series of classes in 2012. Topics include gardening for food and for the unpredictable environment, how to make your home more efficient, composting, and using what you have to lead a healthy life. Look for seminars and workshops that speak to information that is timely and current as well as leaving with a full list of resources that can be found at your local library and online.

Events take place at the Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore Street Decatur, Georgia 30030.
The family friendly compost workshop takes place at the Oakhurst Community Garden Project, 435 Oakview Road, Decatur, GA 30030.

For more information about this series, please contact Andrea Zoppo, andrea.zoppo@yahoo.com.

See full schedule after the jump... Available courses include Your First Edible Garden, Sustainable Landscaping, Drought and Rain Gardens, Composting Workshop, House Energy Efficiency, Fall Vegetable Gardens, Recycling, and Medicinal solutions from your Kitchen

DeKalb County annexation issues

CHCA has posted an anonymous email that outlines concerns about the "cityhood" trend that is going around DeKalb county. A key concern is that as new cities incorporate residential and especially commercial property, they carve away the county's tax base, to the detriment of those left behind. And those left behind are typically residential property owners, their public school systems, and the county's service infrastructure (which includes everything from water supplies to trash collection to emergency services). To remain financially viable, lost income must be replaced and that typically translates into higher property taxes.

You can see the whole post here: http://clairmontheights.org/node/2547

MANA supported commissioner's Rader call for a moratorium on these decisions, in particular when decisions do not appear to be fully studied and understood and "destabilize" the county as a whole.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

DOG FOUND [Feb 18]

Reminder: ICS lottery information [Mar 9]

Just a reminder that the application lottery for the International Community School (ICS), an elementary school that will relocate to Medlock Elementary's grounds, is open through March 9:

The International Community School (ICS), a tuition-free, public charter school, is accepting applications for the 2012-13 academic year.

Enrollment is awarded by lottery. ICS is accepting lottery applications for Kindergarten through 5th grade. The application is on the Admissions page of the ICS website and is available at: http://www.icsgeorgia.org/downloads/admissions/ICS-Application-201213.pdf 
The application deadline is Friday, March 9th. Applicants will be notified following the March 16th lottery. 
For more information, please contact the ICS Registrar at 404-499-8969  ext 11 or email registrar@icsgeorgia.org.
Click here to visit the International Community School's website

AJC reports: Lawmakers hold hearing on cell towers

Last summer, Medlock Elementary and it surrounding homes narrowly escaped being occupied by a giant cell phone tower. Other schools and neighborhoods were not so lucky.

In an attempt to prevent projects of this type,
State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, said she plans to introduce legislation banning construction of the towers near schools because of concerns about radiation safety.
For the full article (which is rather brief), see http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/lawmakers-hold-hearing-on-1351720.html

Neighborhood Watch Meeting cancelled [was: Feb 27]

The Neighborhood Watch meeting is going virtual! Please continue to forward your questions to manawatch@gmail.com. Future meetings will be announced once scheduled.

Ms Janean Hightower (Center Precinct Public Education Specialist for Dekalb County Safety Services) and the MANA neighborhood watch coordinator will research your questions. Answers will be posted on this website.

So please email your questions to manawatch@gmail.com by Feb. 27.

As noted previously, we need more email coordinators. Although anyone can email the MANA neighborhood watch address, and everyone should dial 911 to report suspicious activity, the e-mail coordinator is in regular contact with the MANA neighborhood watch committee and can be an additional source of information. If you don't know who your email coordinator is, or you would like to volunteer, email manawatch@gmail.com.

Public Transportation--there's an app for that

Most people are aware that MANA is served by public transportation along its Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road boundaries:

MARTA route # 36 (N. Decatur Rd./Virginia Highlands) runs along North Decatur Road while connecting the East College and Midtown Stations. Two additional routes that briefly run along Scott Blvd. are route # 123 (N. Dekalb Mall/Belvedere)  and route # 75 (Tucker).

Emory's North Dekalb Mall Cliff Shuttle runs from Woodruff Circle (right off Clifton Road) to the mall. There are many other routes departing from campus and serving nearby locations, see the Cliff Shuttles website for details.

Finding the bus stops, however, can be tricky for the uninitiated. Here are their actual locations:

- the Emory-bound stop is in front of Melton's, before the Sunstede Rd. intersection

- the N. Dekalb Mall-bound stop is near the Scott. Blvd. Baptist Church (before reaching Barton Way).

While on the go, you can use your smartphone or web browser to determine exactly where the shuttle or bus is, in real time.


MARTA app:  bus #36's route (sample of real-time view).
For Cliff Shuttles"Where's Cliff" for your web browser  |  Transloc App (for Android, Apple and Blackberry)
Transloc app: Sample view of a flock of Cliff shuttles at work. Remember: Cliff shuttles are free!
Both apps allow you to look up the schedules for all available buses and stations.

LCI proposal rejected

MANA was sad to hear that the Livable Center Initiative grant application spearheaded by Kathie Gannon [DeKalb Co. District 6 Commissioner] and her staff was rejected last week. As explained by Davis Fox, who serves as Policy and Projects Manager,
The grant would have paid a for a transportation and land use plan in an area that ran from Medlock to Shamrock Plaza along US 29 and along North Decatur Road from Medlock to the Kroger shopping center on DeKalb Industrial. Church Street from Medlock to Scott Boulevard would have also been included. The plan would also have proposed an economic development strategy and sustainable design guidelines for future development. We envision mixed-use development with bicycle trails and light rail stops.
We were able to raise a significant financial match from DeKalb Medical, Selig, Patel Brothers, AS Turner, City of Decatur and DeKalb County Development Authority. Based on the level of business community support, we are now looking at another approach and are trying to see if we can raise sufficient funds to conduct the study. If we do proceed with the study, we will form a non-profit organization to raise funds and guide the process. In all likelihood nearby neighborhood organizations will be on the board of directors.
Team Gannon is working on a Plan B and will follow up on this initiative in the coming year.

As explained by the Atlanta Regional Commission,
The Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) is a program that awards planning grants on a competitive basis to local governments and nonprofit organizations to prepare plans for the enhancement of existing centers and corridors consistent with regional development policies.

Good Growth DeKalb Meeting [Feb 23]

Good Growth DeKalb is hosting a community forum discussing the Walmart at Suburban Plaza
Thursday February 23, 7 pm
N. Decatur Presbyterian Church
611 Medlock Road

For more information see their website: www.GoodGrowthDekalb.org
or call: 678-948-6696

Monday, February 13, 2012

GA "Right to Grow" Bill # 853

Illegally grown? Even the Georgia peanuts?

GA Bill 853 seeks to remove local regulations that hamper a private property owner's ability to grow food for consumption by the grower and his/her family. This protection includes food crops (annual and perennial plants, shrubs and trees), as well as bees, rabbits and chickens raised in appropriate enclosures.

Currently, unincorporated DeKalb County sets a 2-acre requirement for keeping animals such as egg-laying hens. Individuals found in violation are cited and must dismantle coops and get rid of their hens in very short order. In recent years, DeKalb Code Enforcement has been known to respond to complaints about front yard gardens with a visit to the property owner. These visits did not result in citations or fines because they did not relate to noise or health nuisances affecting neighbors; the visits were essentially complaints about the property owner's choice of landscaping (edible). 

Dangerously fresh! 
In favor: Georgia Organics supports Bill 853. The White House supports home gardens and even beekeeping. The USA has a proud tradition of growing food at home, with victory gardens exemplifying a time when growing food in urban environments reflected responsibility and good sense. Both City of Decatur and Atlanta have flexible food-growing regulations that simultaneously respect an individual's right to provide for his/her family and protect neighbors from nuisances (such as noise from roosters, which are rarely allowed in residential areas). At a local level, we have the Oakhurst, the Clarkston and our own Medlock Park Community Gardens to illustrate that growing food close to home is a win-win. The call for growing food at home exists in a much larger context, well summarized by author Michael Pollan.

Against: The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) opposes this bill. Their concerns are typical of this debate, and have been addressed by municipalities with successful urban food ordinances.
"Breaking the law, breaking the law..." - Judas Priest

If you care about this issue, whether you oppose or favor this bill, the time to contact your legislators is now. 

Status of this Legislation

The idea of removing restrictions from urban food growing has been floating around for a while (e.g. House Bill 2). With support from multiple legislators, House Bill 853 reflects increasing support of local food sources,  environmentally sound farming, and humane animal husbandry.

As of last week, Bill 853 has been favorably reported upon by the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives.  The next stop should be the Rules Committee, which next meets on February 15. || Rules Committee members

While in the House of Representatives, real-time updates on the status of this bill can be obtained by contacting the Clerk of the House at (404) 656-5015.

Possible outcomes: If supported by the House during the current session, Bill 853 will move to the Senate. If the Senate approves Bill 853, it would proceed to Gov. Nathan Deal for consideration. This all could be expected to happen in April at the earliest, by June otherwise.

How to voice your support or concerns

DeKalb--green is as green does.

The Georgia Food Rights group has put together a document with contact information for Georgia Senators and Legislators. This document is sortable and includes 3 tabs that list senators, house representatives and Agriculture Committee members separately as well as their stance on Bill 853, if known. The document also shows which House members serve in the Rules committee that will meet on Feb. 15. 

Our local representatives are:

Mary Margaret Oliver (State House Representative for District 83): email

Jason Carter (State Senator for District 42): email

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Neighborhood Watch Meeting [Feb 27]

UPDATE: This meeting is cancelled, see updated information here.

Please join us Monday, February 27th 7:00 pm at North Decatur Presbyterian Church (611 Medlock Road) for the first Watch Meeting of 2012.


Ms Janean Hightower (Center Precinct Public Education Specialist for Dekalb County Safety Services) will join us to answer questions concerning crime in the neighborhood.


We will discuss the Neighborhood Watch program, the need for more email coordinators, and current crime in the neighborhood (especially the burglaries, many of which are door kick-ins).


Please email the watch ahead of time at manawatch@gmail.com with your questions so Ms Hightower will be able to do research and/or be prepared to answer promptly.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reminder: ICS Open House [Feb 4]


International Community School Open House

WHEN: February 4
WHERE: 3260 Covington Highway
WHY: an opportunity to learn more  about ICS,  which will operate at Medlock Elementary effective Fall  2012

And don't forget that enrollment information is now posted.