Category Archives: Grant Park/Cabbagetown

Wilderness Works is sleep-away camp for city kids

A classic Wilderness Works selfie.
A classic Wilderness Works selfie.

Do you remember your first summer camp experience? Mine was a little traumatic. I was away from my parents for the first time and I was worried about making friends with the girls in my cabin. Even worse to the 9-year-old female psyche, I had to fix my own frizzy, unmanageable hair by myself each morning without the help of my mother’s practiced hands.  I remember I missed my parents a little, but by the end of camp I made great friends and exciting memories. And I don’t remember worrying much about my hair.

The typical Emory student could probably recount her memories of her first summer of camp, or of her many summers of camp that followed, however similar to or different from my own experience. But many kids grow up never going to camp, especially children growing up homeless or disadvantaged in some of Atlanta’s poorest neighborhoods. Wilderness Works, located on Memorial Drive, just north of Zoo Atlanta seeks to change that.

Emory students lend a hand during Wilderness Works' Arts and Crafts time at WonderRoot fall 2011.
Emory students lend a hand during Wilderness Works’ Arts and Crafts time at WonderRoot fall 2011.

The organization is run out of a re-purposed old church and Bible college. During the school year, Wilderness Works puts on educational and enrichment programs, both at the center and around Atlanta, in the afternoons and on weekends. A dusty church library serves as a game room, the fellowship hall and kitchenette function as a mess hall, and old Sunday school rooms house colorful, cozy barracks for the dozens of boys and girls who come to stay for overnight programs known as City Camps. The floorboards creak and the whole place smells of your grandmother’s closet, but it’s well-used and well-loved. In the summer, Wilderness Works staff leads the children on summer camp excursions in northeast Georgia and North Carolina.

Wilderness Works is constantly looking for young, motivated people to mentor their kids. You can sign up with a school organization or group of friends to serve a meal or chaperon a City Camp during the school year. Volunteering with this organization is much more than a community service bullet on your resume. The children are energetic and eager to connect and learn, and the staff is passionate about the kids and their cause.

As a City Camp counselor, you won’t get much sleep and you definitely won’t get a shower, but you’ll have a lot of fun sharing in these children’s first “camp” experience.



WonderRoot: saving the world, one artist at a time

Imagine a place where creativity goes to flourish. Where artistic and creative types convene to develop their work. Where artists are empowered to engage their community through the arts.

A place where art is thought of as a tool for social change.

Photo Credit – Creative Loafing Atlanta

This place is WonderRoot (, a nonprofit organization with the mission is to “unite artists and community to inspire positive social change.” The organization, which was founded in 2004, has many facets. There is the Arts Center, which is located at 982 Memorial Dr. SE and houses a community garden, community library, performance venue, darkroom, ceramics, screenprinting and recording studios, digital media lab and a gallery. WonderRoot provides access to computers (loaded with software) and wireless Internet. Members of WonderRoot pay either $10 a month, or $60 for the year and get access to all that the organization has to offer.

Past events at the organization have included:

  1. Power2Give: Loose Change Magazine – Building Community Through the Written Word – WonderRoot’s literary magazine, Loose Change, is eligible for a grant through the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs. According to the WonderRoot website, the $10,000 grant will support Loose Change to “publish a second print issue, conduct three additional writing competitions, launch the inaugural writer in residence program and host a series of community literary events throughout 2013.”
  2. Between Passages – A showcase of color photographs by Nicole Akstein, from her time living in rural northeast India, where she taught art and photography classes to elementary students in the Dhampur Sugar Mills in Dhampus, Uttar Pradesh.  Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri., Sat., 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. through Fri. March 15.
  3. Music Show — $5 show on March 13 at 9 p.m. featuring Lux Noise, D. Charles Speer and the Helix, Jason Howell and Jesse Nighswonger. Join the Facebook Event here:

What’s with all those shipping containers along my MARTA line?

If you’ve ever taken MARTA from campus to downtown, you’ve seen it: rows and stacks of blue, green, yellow and red crates piled just outside your window, an industrial counterpart to the colorful Cabbagetown neighborhood along the other side of your train.


The Brobdingnagian Lego structure is Hulsey Yard, the largest freight hub in Georgia along the CSX railway.

Every day, more than 3,000 containers come in and out of the railway terminal, carrying anything from paper products to wine, according to an operations manager at CSX.

The site is an intermodal yard, which means it receives goods from both rail and road, on trucks. Because it’s a hub, the terminal is also a transfer point for the seven inbound trains that arrive each day.

It works like this: Target stores in the Chicago area are running low on a certain perfect beach towel, manufactured in Sarasota, Fla. An order is placed online and later the shipment is tacked onto 18-wheelers at the plant. The towels are trucked up I-75 until they reach a CSX terminal outside of Tampa. Next, they’re thrown aboard a freight train and make the trip north to Atlanta, arriving at the Hulsey Yard hub. From there, the towels trade trains and traverse middle America, arriving later that day in Chicago.


The rail yard, already busy with over 100 workers on a 24/7 schedule, could be seeing more action soon with a proposed plan to deepen the port of Savannah. The project, which has been in the works for years and recently gained the Obama administration’s support, would allow the port to welcome larger international freight ships, strengthening the state’s shipping industry and adding jobs to places like Hulsey Yard.

CSX has operated the rail yard since 1988, but Hulsey Yard has been around in some form or another since the turn of the century, along the east-west rail line that connects Atlanta to the rest of the country. The 6-acre yard itself sits in the shadow of a stately former cotton mill, now converted into loft apartments. The southern wall of the rail yard is also a hub for the Atlanta street art scene, including the Krog Street tunnel, which runs below it.