On October 26 we flew to Atlanta, GA, there to visit daughter Nellie and her husband of two years, Michael, and their two sons Mike and Conner. We also broke away for a brief visit with granddaughter Kristen in her new home in Loganville, from which she commutes to her new job in Conyers, utilizing her new credentials as an MBA and CPA.
While in Atlanta, our two main activities, besides lots of visiting and catching up, were to go for an extended walk on the BeltLine and to indulge in an extended visit to the Jimmy Carter Center, which is just one block away from Nellie & Michael’s home.
Built in the ’80s, the Carter Center and adjoining Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (collectively known as the Carter Presidential Center) sit on a 35-acre park east of Downtown Atlanta. The center, a nonprofit think tank affiliated with Emory University, is only open to the public by appointment or for special events, and so we were unable to submit our ideas for improving the body politic. But the museum and library are open throughout the week and we were quite impressed. The museum includes a permanent (and extensive) exhibit of significant events from Carter’s life and career; an exact replica of the Oval Office, down to the furnishings, from his 1976-1981 presidency; and his Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 2002.
The BeltLine is a former railway corridor around the core of Atlanta, Georgia, under development in stages as a multi-use trail. Some portions are already complete, while others are still in a rough state but hikeable. Using existing rail track easements, the BeltLine is designed to improve transportation, add green space, and promote redevelopment. The BeltLine plan was originally developed in 1999 as a masters thesis by Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel. It links city parks and neighborhoods, but has also been used for temporary art installations.
On Monday morning we rented an auto and drove to Savannah for our annual visit to doctors, friends, and relatives. As has been our practice in the past, we timed our visit to coincide with the annual Film Festival sponsored by the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit, accredited university with locations in Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Hong Kong; and Lacoste, France. Founded in 1978 in Savannah, the university enrolls more than 13,000 students from across the United States and around the world with international students comprising up to 14 percent of the student population.
SCAD’s effect on Savannah has been remarkable and impressive. Its efforts to work with the city to preserve its architectural heritage include restoring buildings for use as college facilities, for which it has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Victorian Society of America. The college campus includes 67 buildings throughout the grid-and-park system of downtown Savannah. Many buildings are on the famous 21 squares of the old town, which are laden with monuments, live oaks and a Southern-Gothic feel.
The college owns two theaters in Savannah, the Trustees Theater and the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Among other things, these theaters are used once a year for the Savannah Film Festival in late October/early November. With average attendance more than 40,000, the event includes a week of lectures, workshops and screenings of student and professional films.
Recently, questions have been raised about the unusual pay packages granted to SCAD’s president, Paula Wallace and her family. Paula Wallace received $9.6 million in compensation in 2014, and 13 members of her family have received $60 million over the past 20 years. Additionally, the American Association of University Professors places SCAD on its list of censured institutions over SCAD’s treatment of its professors. A revealing exposé was recently published in the Atlantic Journal and Constitution. It can be read here.
Barbara worked in downtown Savannah for many years, and always insists when we return that we spend some time just sitting on one of their benches. This year, it was Johnson Square’s turn. The Nathanael Greene monument on Johnson Square honors one of America’s top Revolutionary War officers. Brigadier General Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) was second only to George Washington. Greene and Washington were the only two Continental generals that served throughout the entire American Revolution.
One of the war’s greatest strategists, he successfully waged a war of attrition against the British forces in the South. In appreciation for his service in the Revolutionary War, Greene was awarded Mulberry Grove Plantation by the grateful state of Georgia. (The Plantation would later become the site of the invention by Eli Whitney of the cotton gin.) Greene moved to Savannah with his family after the war, but died a short time later of heat stroke. Originally buried in Colonial Park Cemetery, the remains of Nathanael and his son were moved to Johnson Square in 1902, and reburied in the base of the monument erected in his honor.
We never have enough time. This year, we squeezed in visits with Mike & Iris Dayoub and with Steve Ellis & Beth Logan and with Richard & Karen Munson, And of course with daughter Danielle and granddaughter Abigail (and Kristen, who drove down from Atlanta to help us celebrate Abbie’s 15th birthday.)