Author: Lain Shakespeare

Photos from The Whole Fiasco Launch Party at the Decatur Book Festival

The Whole Fiasco has arrived, and boy are we excited!

Isaiah and the Whole Fiasco by the KIPP Scribes and the Wren's Nest

The KIPP Scribes officially launched their book of important family stories over Labor Day Weekend at the Decatur Book Festival. CORE was kind enough to donate their space for the party, and Jason Travis was awesome enough to document it all.

The Whole Fiasco by the KIPP Scribes and the Wren's Nest

Many thanks to all the students, family members, and volunteers who were there to celebrate the book launch.

We’re especially indebted to KIPP STRIVE teachers John and Vanessa, the KIPP STRIVE staff, and the Kim King Foundation for making this program possible.

The Whole Fiasco by the KIPP Scribes and the Wren's Nest

The Whole Fiasco by the KIPP Scribes and the Wren's Nest

Kwesi and the Whole Fiasco by the KIPP Scribes and the Wren's Nest

Check out all the photos on our Facebook Page. Oh! And if you missed the launch party, purchase your copy of The Whole Fiasco in our store.

The KIPP Scribes Present — The Whole Fiasco

I’m very excited to announce the release of The Whole Fiasco, the latest bound collection of stories from the KIPP Scribes. Details of the launch party are below.

The KIPP Scribes are 5th and 6th graders from our neighborhood charter school, KIPP STRIVE. Aatallah, captured below by Jason Travis, is one of the Scribes.

Aatallah, one of the KIPP Scribes who wrote The Whole Fiasco

Each week for three months Aatallah met 1-on-1 with a professional writer to record an important family story. She interviewed her mother and wrote “A Generous Decision,” about the time her mom invited a family without a home to share their small apartment.

She learned how to identify a great story, how to perform an effective interview, and how to craft creative nonfiction. Aatallah wrote six or seven drafts of “A Generous Decision” to get it just right.

Aatallah and Bret working on The Whole Fiasco for the KIPP Scribes

Last year we found that the KIPP Scribes Program fundamentally changes the students’ relationship with the written word. Watching Aatallah develop as a writer and storyteller over three months was an astonishing transformation. And she’s just one of twenty-three new writers featured in The Whole Fiasco.

This year we partnered with Storycorps to allow some of the Scribes to record an interview with their chosen family member. The stories will be recorded in The Whole Fiasco, and their interviews will be archived at the Smithsonian’s National Musuem of African American History & Culture.

Saturday September 3rd from 11 am – 12 pm we’ll celebrate the release of The Whole Fiasco at the Decatur Book Festival. We’ll have books for sale, a few readings from the writers, and a lot of autographs upon request at CORE Dance Studio. It will be a very important day for these young writers. Will you join us?

The Whole Fiasco by the KIPP Scribes

If you can’t make it to the party, here’s how you can help —

Buy a copy of the book. It’ll be available in our store starting September 3rd.

Tell someone about this program. We need your help to spread the word.

Many thanks to the Kim King Foundation and the Fulton County Arts Council for funding the KIPP Scribes Program. Tremendous thanks to the many volunteers who gave so much of their time and themselves to the KIPP Scribes. We couldn’t do it without you.

For More — About the KIPP Scribes Program, Photo Update from the 2011 Scribes, Pictures from the Don’t Forget That Day Launch Party

Midnight Consumption — the New Literary Journal from the Wren's Nest Publishing Co.

The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. has been hard at work on Midnight Consumption, their brand new literary journal. It’ll debut at the Decatur Book Festival on September 4th complete with a literary salon at CORE from 2 – 5 pm.

The book features the work of 41 different high school students from around Atlanta.

Midnight Consumption by the Wren's Nest Publishing Co. and Alicia Johnson

Many thanks to Alicia Johnson for designing the cover. The stars of Orion will be die cut, which to us regular people means our book will be filled with holes.

Are you familiar with the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co? Let me break it down for a second —

(1) Each summer we invite a handful of high school students to learn how to create, edit, publish, and market a literary journal.

(2) The editors learn the ropes of the print industry from professionals in the field. This year they benefitted from the brains of Jamie Allen, Jamie Gumbrecht, the aforementioned Alicia, Hannah Palmer, and Kimberly Turner.

(3) We go to cool places to check out how folks make their living with the written word. This year Jamie G. led us behind the scenes at CNN.

(4) The students come up with a name, solicit submissions from their peers, make all editorial decisions, work with a designer to communicate their vision, and organize a literary salon where their peers — freshly minted published authors — read their work.

It’s fun and important. To tell you the truth though, we need your help to keep it going. Can you please help us with one of the following? 

(1) Buy a copy of the book! They’re $5. If you can’t make it to the Decatur Book Festival, it will be available online.

(2) Tell someone about this program! If you want to be super helpful, tell someone who might want to participate next year.

(3) Work “Midnight Consumption” into your everyday vocabulary. It will feel right, promise.

Thanks for your support and see you at the Decatur Book Festival.

 

The Atlanta Opera's Rabbit Tales — Save the Date

Rabbit Tales will premier at the Wren’s Nest on October 29th. It’s the Atlanta Opera’s first ever commissioned work and it just so happens to be steeped in the Brer Rabbit stories.

They’ve sent along a save the date worthy of this prestigious occasion —

Save the Date for the Atlanta Opera's Rabbit Tales

I’d like to extend a tremendous thanks to the National Black Arts Festival for lending their expertise and African arts and crafts for the premier.

Can’t make the big day? Just bring Rabbit Tales to your school instead. Easy!

Renaming "Harris Street" to "John Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street" Is a Bad Idea

Tomorrow Atlanta’s City Council will vote on whether to change “Harris Street” to “John Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street.” I wrote my opinion, below. If you can’t voice your opinion tomorrow at City Hall at 1 pm, please contact your City Councilperson to let them know what you think.

John Portman, famous architect and developer, should be honored by the city of Atlanta. His contributions to our city are invaluable. His impact on skylines around the world has been substantial. Portman is unequivocally a great Atlantan.

But renaming “Harris Street” to “Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street” is a bad idea. It’s not just a bad idea because it cheapens the legacy of both John Portman and Judge John L. Harris. It’s a bad idea because it would set a dangerous precedent for the way we honor Atlanta’s most important citizens.

Picture Bernie Marcus Boulevard at Historic Ponce de Leon Avenue. Or Arthur Blank Street at Historic Andrew Young International Boulevard. What about John Smoltz Boulevard at Historic Hank Aaron Avenue?

Few would dispute the contributions to the city of Atlanta from any of these men. (Well, Ponce de Leon is on his own.) Like Portman’s efforts, their contributions are substantial and usually lauded. I’d contend, however, that we can find a better way to honor these esteemed individuals.

I’m not alone. Recently the Atlanta Preservation Center and five individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the city over the renaming. The idea of changing this particular street name at all has been rejected by the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association. It’s also been rejected by downtown’s Neighborhood Planning Unit. It’s also been rejected by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission.

The Atlanta City Council doesn’t like street renaming either. At the most recent City Utilities Committee meeting, Councilmember Aaron Watson said, “I hope we figure out a way to avoid [street renaming] in the future. I absolutely favor looking into other ways of honoring great Atlantans.” Council President Ceasar Mitchell echoed the sentiment: “We will find other ways to honor people. That’s the direction I want to see us go.”

Oddly enough, however, both men support renaming “Harris Street” to “Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street.”

Some folks have argued that this particular street renaming is permissible given the significance of Portman’s contributions and the relative insignificance of Judge John L. Harris’s reputation. Council President Mitchell complained that he couldn’t find anything about Harris on the internet. This is perhaps because Judge Harris served as Fulton County’s first and only representative to the State Legislature in 1855.

Please recall — the internet had not yet been invented in 1855. Neither had the chocolate chip cookie. Judge Harris was a pioneer when Atlanta was a twinkle in the eye of a handful of citizens. If not for him and for them, we wouldn’t even be talking about John Portman. Not in Atlanta anyway.

Street names honor many of our citizens long after their memories have faded. That’s the point. The patina of history, however, has allowed City Council to play favorites with well-connected contemporaries. No matter what Councilmembers might think, Atlanta’s history isn’t comprised of fictional characters that should be discarded in favor of friendship or politics.

John Harris was a man with a family who served our city, our county, and our state. No doubt he and his family took pride in their name, both before and after we named a street after him.

Harris’s cousin was one of Atlanta’s most famous citizens, Joel Chandler Harris, an associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution alongside Henry Grady. I can’t imagine he’d be thrilled if our City Council stripped his family of its honor for no particular reason.

The same goes for Joe Harris’s son, Julian Harris, a prominent Atlantan who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1926 for his “energetic fight against the Ku Klux Klan.” He in particular wouldn’t hide his displeasure with our City Council for stripping his family of its honor for no particular reason.

So too his great-grandnephew, Robin Harris, who as a State Legislator was instrumental in developing MARTA and Georgia’s current Constitution. He wouldn’t be happy about the $100,000 our cash-strapped transit agency will needlessly incur by having to change its maps and signage from “Harris Street” to “John Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street.”

Robin Harris’s grandson, yours truly, isn’t exactly thrilled about it either. Honor meant to outlast memory shouldn’t be stripped once someone’s contributions are forgotten.

City Council President Mitchell has said that naming a street after a citizen is “the highest honor a city can bestow.” If that’s true, we can’t leave City Council to pit the merits of great Atlantans against one another and thus erode that honor’s credibility, one street renaming after the next.

By the way, other major cities have already figured this particular issue out. Check out Chicago’s Madison Avenue at Wabash.

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