Well, we’ve all heard that April showers bring May flowers. In this month’s episode of Sidewalk Radio, we’ll also find that water brings folklore, inspiration, public parks and preservation. In examining Atlanta’s life aquatic, Gene sets out with four great guests to explore their areas of expertise, everything from dance to destination, from history to heritage…and all of that as told through good ole H20.
From its humble beginnings “as a damp spot on a rock” in the North Georgia mountains, the Chattahoochee River flows south through the Chattahoochee National Forest and west through Atlanta. After a few more twists and turns, plus a merger with the Flint River, “the Hooch” hits Apalachicola Bay and then goes into the Gulf. In addition to some fine fishing up north, the river is also the major source of water for our city. Sally Bethea is the Executive Director of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an organization she founded in 1994 with the mission to protect and restore the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries and watershed. Sally joins Gene in the studio to talk about our greatest source of water, along with one of our greatest concerns.
Markham Smith is a founder and principal at Smith Dalia Architects, a firm that specializes in adaptive reuse of older buildings. It is Markham’s passion for a park however, along with adaptive reuse of another type that brings him into the studio this month. Smith is one of the original founders of the Historic Fourth Ward Park, a very cool public space that started as a novel idea over breakfast at Thumb’s Up Diner to handle the runoff from Clear Creek Basin that was flooding, among other things, City Hall East (soon to be Ponce City Market). Markham talks about the process flow for designing with water and how, along with many others, his group saved us money while giving us a great amenity.
Sharon Foster Jones is a former divorce attorney, turned historian, turned author. She just finished a book about one of Atlanta’s perennial favorites, Ponce de Leon. Sharon joins Gene to quench our thirst for Ponce history and talk about its legend and namesake, The Ponce Springs.
“Just at the northern extremity of the boulevard is a pretty little vale, upon which some slight cultivation has been attempted, mineral waters having been discovered bubbling out of the bank a few years ago. The name Ponce de Leon Spring was at once given to it and the spot has become a pleasure resort, always visited in the course of an afternoon’s drive…The waters have a sulphurous, nasty taste, and therefore it is quite likely that they possess some at least of the medicinal properties ascribed to them.” (Harper’s, 1895)
Lauri Stallings is the founder and “Dancemaker” at gloATL, a collaborative artistic group that incorporates location and rhythm into an immersive art experience. The group is known in particular for their large, location specific performances that relate the audience to space itself through the art. Lauri and Gene meet up this month to discuss water and its place in art and commentary, specifically gloATL’s upcoming “the search for the exceptional”, a collaborative project with filmaker Micah Stansell at the Old Fourth Ward Skatepark. As leader of Atlanta’s most fluid arts group, Lauri offers Sidewalk Radio a look into the kinetic nature of gloATL and gives us a new way to envision our planet’s most abundant substance.
So, sit down, grab a cool glass of…uh…water…relax and enjoy this episode of Sidewalk Radio. Water is vital to all known forms of life, and it is our hope that this exploration has you looking at and considering the life it brings to our city in ways you might not expect.