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Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization focuses on anti-racism outreach

COVID-19 Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL

Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization focuses on anti-racism outreach

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Photo by Carl Holt, provided to Decaturish.


By Sara Amis, contributor 

Atlanta, GA — The Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization formed a Community Outreach Committee at the beginning of 2020, for the purpose of making the organization more accessible and inclusive.

Chaired by former KNO President Tina Davis, the committee’s work has been highlighted by recent events both nationally and locally.  At KNO’s regular monthly meeting on June 10, Davis said that the idea was to make sure that KNO was welcoming to everyone who lives in the neighborhood but is not often represented in the organization.

Davis said that includes residents who live in apartment buildings but that a focus on anti-racism was needed.

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“There’s still a pervasive feeling among Black and multiple non-white residents that the neighborhood does not feel inclusive,” Davis said. “It’s time to be anti-racist in Kirkwood.”

Current president Katie Kissel concurred, saying, “A lot has happened since January, but this committee will become the center of what will shape KNO moving forward. Led by black neighbors, this committee will permeate through the very fabric of what we do and who we are.  It will start by having hard conversations.”

Kissel said that KNO would seek feedback from neighbors who have felt excluded and that only after that feedback has been received would the organization make systematic changes in how it operates.

Kissel urged members to pause, and listen to what was being said, and educate themselves about the history of racism in the US generally and their community in particular. She said that KNO would be providing resources to that end in the future.

“As someone who struggles with my own sense of urgency, in general, and with this issue in particular, please know that we are all on this journey together,” Kissel added.

KNO’s other projects are ongoing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including socially distant volunteer opportunities and the Adopt-a-Senior program.

Committee chair Brittany Eddy said, “We have 24 senior households that are enrolled and about 50 volunteers. To date, we’ve made 116 grocery deliveries and 14 warm meal deliveries.”

Eddy said that the program was in good financial shape because of ongoing donations and that when other local delivery programs were scheduled to end KNO’s Adopt-A-Senior program would be able to continue.

Atlanta City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong offered an update on the city’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Because of illness, there is reduced sanitation staff available. City recycling pickups will be reduced temporarily to once every two weeks.

KNO’s big yearly event, Spring Fling, was canceled because of the pandemic, and members were interested to know if a fall fling might be possible. Archibong said that the city was not accepting new permit applications, and did not anticipate allowing any large events soon.

“Contact tracing needs to be beefed up before we can have any confidence on where the city stands,” Archibong said.

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Atlanta City Hall is still closed.

“For the city, one big concern is that we do invite the public in,” Archibong said. “We will be open as soon as it is safe to do so, I can tell you that.”

Archibong also offered an update on the fiscal year 2021 budget for the City of Atlanta and grants for organizations in District 5. KNO will receive $2,000 and Kirkwood Cares will receive $16,500.

“That is because of the wonderful work that both organizations do and in particular the care and concern that you’ve shown to neighbors during this COVID-19 situation,” Archibong said. “It has been amazing and heartwarming to see how thoughtful Kirkwood is at such a great time of need.”

Regarding the city budget, Archibong said, “We are going to defund the city jail but there is no proposal to defund our police.”

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