Today, Martin Luther King Jr.’s neighborhood bubbles with activity. Tourists hop on the new streetcar to travel from Atlanta’s downtown to see his home and church, and the restaurant and bar scene is blossoming, attracting all kinds of people to the area. But the liveliness is new for the Old Fourth Ward, which suffered in the years following MLK Jr.’s assassination. I dropped by two restaurants to find out how the neighborhood’s revitalization is creating new opportunities for the diverse residents who call the area home. And in the process, I also found a story of how one chef is bringing a new kind of activism to the block, by cooking and educating with locally sourced, healthy food.
A train sounds like a beautiful mode of transportation. It’s almost romantic, really, the idea of traveling across the country on a train. Try swapping it with another option. A car? You must be moving. A bus? Only if you’re in a band. A plane? How original.
Traveling by train is retro. It appeals to the hipster in you. You start to envision what life is like on the train: long days looking out your window as the countryside passes by, the soothing hum of the engine that guides you to sleep as the train keeps chugging along. The train is efficient: you glide past traffic, reading and working and socializing as the plebeians look on from their cars.
The time comes for you to get on the train. You are excited because you’ve never really traveled by train before but you know it will be glamorous. You’ve thought this through for so long that your musings about what it will be like have become your expectation of reality.
And then reality hits you like a fast moving train. Only in reality, trains don’t move that fast. Sometimes they don’t move at all. Hours pass as you look out your window at the same barren landscape begging for the train to move. You close your eyes, praying that if you don’t look at it it will change. You open them again. The tumbleweed stares back at you, mocking you because you are locked inside a motionless beast and it is free to tumble wherever it pleases. Damn you, tumbleweed, you think to yourself. The train has reduced you to conversations with half-plants. Continue reading “Derailed.”→
I got in a stranger’s car last week. Sorry, Mom and Dad.
It gets worse when I tell you that I had a few thousand dollars of camera equipment on my back and in my hand. And that I had met her just 5 minutes earlier.
I was filming in Atlanta on the sidewalk outside of Harold’s Chicken and Ice Bar. The next thing I know, a woman is by my side warning me about the neighborhood we were in.
“I wouldn’t carry that equipment out in the open if I were you,” she said. “What are you filming?”
I told her that I was filming a documentary series on the role of restaurants in revitalizing neighborhoods. She immediately suggested that I capture footage of the King Center (in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.) two blocks away. And the next thing I knew, she was getting into her car waving me in.