The changing nature of our association
Goodbyes are weird, especially when you aren’t going anywhere.
Today I boxed up two and a half years of my life at Reporter Newspapers in Sandy Springs, reminisced a bit with my coworkers, and got on that road back to Decatur in rush hour traffic one more time. I’ll be working out of Decatur full time now, on this website and other free lance projects.
That commute, I should note, will not be one of the things I miss. But there are a few things and people that I will miss from my time covering Buckhead and Sandy Springs. I thought I’d list them here in no particular order.
Sandy Springs’ strange model of government. The city’s decision to outsource all public services to private contractors gave me a different perspective on government finance, and when you work as a reporter, perspective is essential. I can’t say I liked everything about it, mainly because I was unable to access certain data that I would be able to obtain from other governments, like some employee salaries. (Sandy Springs has only a few full time staffers, excluding the police and fire departments.) On the whole, Sandy Springs was able to provide an effective level of service within its jurisdiction. I’m sure I received a complaint or two about city services, but if I did, I can’t recall what they were.
The Whole Foods on Hammond Drive in Sandy Springs. I know that sounds kind of corny, but it was damn good sushi for the money. Just saying.
The Sandy Springs Cafe. It’s a little restaurant at the bottom of the Signature Bank building and the owner is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. The coffee is also cheaper than Starbucks and just as good.
Eva Galambos, former Sandy Springs Mayor. A reporter will never complain about working with a politician that says what she thinks. She worked hard and has a keen intellect. She’s also lived a remarkable life. Even people who didn’t agree with her have a tremendous amount of respect for her abilities.
Gordon Certain and Jim King, with the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. Say what you will about Buckhead, and I know Buckhead’s opinion of itself isn’t widely-shared outside of its boundaries, but its leading neighborhood organization is a force to be reckoned with. The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods brought speakers from all levels of government face-to-face with neighborhood reps. If you attended it on a regular basis, you often learned something you didn’t know. Jim and Gordon were both responsible for bringing these disparate neighborhood voices together and transforming them into an enduring part of Buckhead’s civic life. Jim, a funny guy known to generate some interesting quotes, is taking a well-deserved break, having recently stepped down as chairman. Gordon is there and he has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of anything he finds interesting. You never have to worry about whether he will have something useful to say.
Jim Durrett, with the Buckhead Community Improvement District. One of the few people I’ve met who gets the bigger picture about what’s going on in Atlanta. He’s preaching the gospel of walkable, urban development and people in Buckhead would do well to listen to him, assuming they want o spend five minutes of their lives not sitting in traffic.
Yolanda Adrean, Atlanta City Councilwoman. She’s never afraid to tell it like it is, even when the truth isn’t popular. She ran unopposed for reelection. I think if she wanted a higher office, she’d be a formidable opponent.
There are a few other people I should mention, too. Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell has always been friendly and helpful, even though I showed up two hours late to our first interview because I was lost and couldn’t find his office. Former Sandy Springs City Councilman Chip Collins, who recently left the council after one term, sent some pretty hilarious emails to his constituents about things going on in the city. Former Sandy Springs City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny, who served on the city’s first council and left after two terms, fought passionately for what she believed in, even if it often put her in the voting minority on the council.
I’m sure I’m leaving out someone. I met so many intriguing entrepreneurs, fiery neighborhood activists and skilled politicians. They all made life interesting for me and I enjoyed writing about them.
But that’s the nice thing about leaving without really going anywhere. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again.