Secretary of Energy Visits West Broad Neighborhood Residents

On June 27, we were paid a visit by the Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, as part of her summer tour of the southeast to meet with organizations introducing clean energy initiatives. She wanted to see the work of our Young Urban Builders, who perform owner-occupied rehabilitation on homes in the West Broad neighborhood, now expanding into North Athens and other neighborhoods.

She also met some homeowners who had work done on their homes. The Tillmans were gracious hosts and had incredible statistics to share with the Secretary – energy savings of over $3,000 a year and water usage that dropped from 75,000 gallons a year down to 25,000 a year!

We are looking forward to working with community members on weatherization, home repairs, and other services through the newly-launched Athens Energy Opportunity Program. Starting on August 15, Athens residents are invited to attend information sessions for an overview of the program.

We wish Secretary Granholm well on her tour of the Southeast!

Athens Land Trust Receives Historic Rehabilitation Award

Athens Land Trust’s Affordable Housing team received the Historic Rehabilitation Award at the 2023 Historic Athens Preservation Awards for their work on the Mack Burney House! This award requires an act of returning a dilapidated, neglected, and/or damaged property to a state of utility through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient, contemporary use while preserving those portions or features that are significant to its historical, architectural, and cultural integrity. 

Celebrating a New, Affordable Rental Community at the Mack Burney Open House

On April 14, new residents, community stakeholders, and Athens Land Trust’s staff gathered for an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the historic preservation work on the Mack Burney Home. The rehabilitation was undertaken with a focus on historic preservation while also employing environmentally-conscious building materials and construction techniques. This energy-efficient structure has the added benefit of saving on utility costs for residents, who moved in at the beginning of the month.

For several years, Athens Land Trust worked with Athens-Clarke County, state historic preservation specialists, and most importantly, with stakeholders representing the community’s interest in preserving this important landmark. The newly unveiled structure now serves as an affordable, 4-unit rental community that preserves the historical integrity of the home, honors its history as a boarding house, and provides modern amenities that will serve future residents for years to come.

The Athens Energy Opportunity Program Kicks off this Spring

With the cost of energy on the rise, many Athens residents are feeling the burden of higher bills. Now more than ever, Athens organizations see the value in working together to find solutions that best serve the community.

Athens Land Trust partnered with ACTION, Inc. and the ACC Sustainability Office to create the Athens Energy Opportunity Program. This program aims to educate community members on Weatherization, Energy, Home Repairs, and other services. Funding for the Athens Energy Opportunity Program was provided by Drawdown Georgia and the Department of Energy. 

The West Broad and North Athens Advisory Boards hosted two successful kickoff events this spring to give attendees the opportunity to learn about this new program. The kickoffs included a discussion, Q&A with us, Action Inc., and the Athens Clarke County Sustainability Office, and an overview of the next steps for the program.

West Broad Farmers Market Returns to Weekly In-Person Markets

This year, the West Broad Farmers Market will make its return to a full season of in-person markets, with Opening Day on Saturday, April 1st. Weekly markets will be held every Saturday through December 16th. Hours will be from 11 AM to 2 PM. This highly-anticipated return to a weekly schedule is made possible by the market’s continued partnership with the Athens Housing Authority.

The West Broad Farmers Market is proud to be a SNAP/EBT eligible location, and thanks to a partnership with Wholesome Wave Georgia, the Fresh for Less program matches each EBT dollar spent on fresh produce.

What gives this market power is its privilege to serve a diverse customer base and its ability to provide a low-barrier venue where a farmer/a maker/an artisan can start their dream for the cost of a tent and a table. The market team is honored to continue this work for another market season.

Online sales will also continue, with the coming launch of an updated website. Once in season, this will allow customers to order during the week and pick up pre-orders or special orders at the market on Saturdays.

Give Your Input on the Site Selection Process!

The Youth and Community Enrichment Facility project is now in Stage II of the site selection process. This site will eventually house our new facility, a commercial kitchen, and other community programming. In Stage I, the appointed Site Selection Committee identified a target geographical area along with specific criteria and standards for the selection of an appropriate site. The proposed target area and site criteria and standards were submitted for public input through a public forum held at Rocksprings Park Community Center in May 2022 as well as an online survey.

All parcels within the identified target area were then evaluated using the established criteria. Ten parcels and parcel groups were found by the Site Selection Committee to be the highest scoring and most viable sites for consideration. The public is invited to review and comment on the sites in an online survey.

There are 10 possible sites, and we need you to give input! The last day to take the survey is October 9th, so be sure to give your feedback before then! Click the link below for more information about this project.

The Young Urban Builders Connect With Community This Summer

The Young Urban Builders have had a busy summer so far! In addition to performing owner-occupied rehabilitation on houses in the West Broad neighborhood, they have also taken field trips to various sites throughout Athens. In June, they took a tour of a local architectural studio (Studio.BNA), and visited a project with Bone Dry Roofing, in which they had the opportunity to assist with the repair of a home in the Hancock Corridor. They have also had the chance to practice their public speaking skills at various community events, including the Athens Hot Corner Festival.

“Get outside!” Minority Outdoor Alliance leader inspires Young Conservation Stewards

One of ALT’s core aims is to protect land with conservation easements. We’ve been successful, preserving more than 20,000 acres across Georgia. These protected acres contribute health and ecosystem benefits to the broader community. But many Black, Brown, and low-wealth people don’t experience these benefits as often. ALT’s Young Conservation Stewards program (YCS) was created to address this. The program trains youth from these backgrounds in the skills to become environmental stewards in their own communities by introducing them to the conservation field.

The summer YCS term started with an emphasis on sharing the benefits of the outdoors more equitably: participants heard from educator, artist, and sportsman Durrell Smith.

As a boy in Atlanta, Smith “…grew up thinking certain spaces were for certain people.” He says this mindset can be as great a barrier as the structural barriers that have resulted in more limited access to outdoor spaces for people of color.

Smith’s passion for the outdoors, grown from hunting and fishing with his grandfather and an introduction to a group of Atlanta-area Black horsemen, has led him to bird dog handling, a profession with a rich, complex history rooted in Southern quail plantation culture.

In 2020, Smith and his wife Ashley founded the Minority Outdoor Alliance, with the mission of “cultivating inclusivity for a healthier outside.” When Durrell gave the YCS a lesson in bird dog handling, he introduced them to a unique outdoor experience that also showed them how breaking down their own internal barriers in the face of a new experience is an important part of interacting with the dogs in nature.

In addition to conservation knowledge, YCS Crew Leader Bo Roddis hopes the YCS develop an emotional attachment to the outdoors. “You don’t have to farm, fish or hunt to have a connection to the natural world.”

Smith – who sits on ALT’s Conservation Committee, which brings recommendations from conservation professionals to ALT’s Board of Directors – sees investing in kids as a way to plant seeds for the long-term benefits of conservation practices. “We’re manifesting something new…and doing it for the future.”

Community Campus Architects Tour Local Kitchen

Emmanuel Stone leads the architects of the West Broad Community Campus project in a tour of the kitchen at the HT Edwards Learning Center back in April of 2022. Stone has been engaging with culinary lessons for Athens’ youth for many years, and this learning center serves as excellent inspiration for a future community kitchen project.