The BeltLine Was Lit (well, kinda)

Initially, the two of us were planning to cover separate events for this week’s blog posts. However, through a series of unanticipated events, what started as two posts became one. Here is our story.


Though this may come as a shock, I have never seen Star Wars. Sure, I know that the little green creature called Yoda talks weirdly, and I know that someone is Luke’s father; I’ve just never understood the hype behind some odd space phenomenon. Nonetheless, this past Saturday, September 9, I ventured to Candler Park to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and even did some research about the previous films to have some prior knowledge. Upon arrival, I  found the park deserted. However, there was an older gentleman taking down a nearby stage. I asked him if he knew where Star Wars was being played, but he angrily replied that he had no idea what I was talking about. Alarmed, after digging through the park’s website, Facebook page, and recently uploaded newsletter, I discovered that the film was postponed until next weekend. I couldn’t believe it. Frustrated but eager to find a new topic for my blog post, I remembered that there was a lantern festival starting at Ponce City Market very shortly. I knew that Hannah was covering the event, so I called her frantically and explained my situation. Before I knew it, I was ordering a Lyft to the parade.

Jared with misleading sign advertising the night’s alleged Star Wars showing.


When I found a magnet listing unique Atlanta events plastered on the entrance to my dorm room, I noticed one that peaked my interest: the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade. Upon research, I learned that this was an annual, community-wide tradition that kicks off a series of art exhibitions on the BeltLine. After looking through a series of beautiful photos of the event, I enthusiastically gathered a group of friends to attend it with me.

On Saturday, we met at Woodruff Circle to catch the free Emory Experience Shuttle, but to our surprise, we were not the only ones eager to leave campus and capitalize on this free opportunity. As 6:15 p.m. approached, students around the circle started congregating at the shuttle stop. My friends and I assertively forced our way onto the shuttle, refusing to wait for the next one.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at Ponce City Market. I immediately felt a sense of relief. It was a pleasant day, and was freeing to briefly escape the sometimes confining “Emory bubble.” We walked around the market, which had a very clean and rustic aesthetic. Almost simultaneously, we all commented on how refreshing it was to see families with younger kids and dogs. Our company was not just restricted to students between the ages of 18 and 22.

The restaurant area was crowded, but gave off a positive energy. After exploring a number of dining options, from fresh to-go food to acai bowls to pizza to southern barbeque, we settled on a Chinese restaurant that certainly outshined the quality of the food at the DUCling. In the middle of my meal, I received a call from Jared, anxiously asking if he could join us at the parade. Minutes later, we met him at the top of the BeltLine.

Hannah making her way to the BeltLine’s festivities.

Together at the Parade:

We made our way down the BeltLine, passing crowds of people sitting on folding chairs and blankets, others watching from the windows of their high-rise apartments. Without something comfortable to sit on, we begrudgingly settled for an empty space on the cement floor and dug into Jared’s unopened movie snacks. People were walking down the BeltLine holding their lanterns, and we joked that this was the actual parade, since we had no idea when it would start.

A small marching band wearing “Krew of Grateful Gluttons” shirts began walking, finally signaling the official start of the parade. We later discovered that this group, under the leadership of a woman named Chantelle Rytter, founded the Lantern Parade to bring people together and celebrate an otherwise ordinary landmark. The event fulfilled this objective.  

The band was followed by a parade of individuals, families, couples and groups of friends. Members varied in age, from kids fighting sleep in their strollers to rowdier adults with beer breath. Anyone was welcomed in the parade, as long as they carried their own lantern. The designs ranged from Harry Potter to life-size dragons to a whole group of coordinated emoji lanterns. No matter the theme, the bright lights and creativity never failed to catch our eyes.

When it was time to catch the shuttle back, we approached the exit, fighting the huge influx of people who were simultaneously entering and leaving the parade. The crowds were highly unpleasant, as people were shoving their way through the lines and yelling at each other in frustration. We both fell, victims to the merciless crowd.

After finally breaking free and reaching the shuttle, we found that it was at its full capacity. We, along with half of the student population, waited impatiently for the next ride. As the shuttle came to a stop, the driver shielded her eyes from the students flooding the seats, aisle, and everything in between. She even generously let a few desperate stragglers sit on the bare floor.

On the unpleasant ride back to campus, we each reflected on our eventful nights. Though our initiation into the greater Atlanta community on the scenic BeltLine was certainly worthwhile, we both agreed that this was a one time feat.

Check out our highlights from the Lantern Parade below:


Cox, Caroline. “Lighting the BeltLine: How a Motley Krewe Created an Atlanta Tradition.”Choose ATL,

Parade, Lantern. “Help Illuminate One of Atlanta’s Great New Traditions!” The Atlanta BeltLine, 2017,

Kellee Maize. “Crown.” CROWN, J. Glaze, 2017.

Wellness Wednesdays

As school work and studying have begun to pile up as we near mid-semester, a bit of stress is normal within every college student. However, becoming proactive in managing that stress is vital in achieving a healthier mind and soul. To help manage some of my tension, this past Wednesday I decided to delve into the world of attending, Yoga in the Park.

I, in fact, happen to love yoga, yet my only prior experience had been in a 95 degree room, with rivulets of sweat dripping off my nose, that is; I was enthusiastic to try this new outdoor adventure. For many, yoga can offer a multitude of benefits for the body, soul, and spirit. As a victim of JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), I aim towards achieving a healthy mind within a healthy body. This past week, I decided to venture into the realm of peace and solitude for one hour in the park of Atlantic Station. Through my practice of breathing techniques and meditation, I will share with you what I recognized in these 60 minutes of tranquility.

Tabletop Position

Prior to my departure, I slipped on my lycra leggings and tank top, tied up my Nikes, grabbed my yoga mat and headed out on the town. The ride from Emory was about 30 minutes, and I could feel butterflies fluttering in my stomach on the drive there; My excitement was pulsing. As I stepped out of the car, a gust of warm air swept across my face while blowing my hair in various directions. I then scoped out the area and felt a certain ~East Village, New York City~ vibe. While taking in a deep, elongated breath – I smiled – immediately feeling a sense of joy in the air. The sun was just beginning to set, and a positive energy set in, enclosing itself around me.

As dusk approached the class commenced, just around 6:30pm. Having arrived five minutes past, I laid out my yoga mat and caught up with the class in the Downward Dog stretch. The class was held on a smooth tarp rectangular field, with observers from nearby restaurants surrounding the outer edges to watch, as we transformed from one pose to the next.


I immediately acknowledged the diversity between each and every participant of the class. In this open environment, Mothers were able to bring their children, lovers came with significant others, and even a variety of people brought along their canine companions to take part in this journey. Since this was an hour of free admission, a number of people joined in halfway through simply because of each participant’s dedication.

I then turned to my left, and caught a glimpse of a little girl attempting to remain in her Downward Dog pose, trying her very best to keep up with the rest of us. I smiled to myself, and looked around a bit more. I noticed her gaze varied from down towards the ground, then back up to her mother, a well trained Yogi with sculpted back muscles and a toned body. The girl was mimicking her every action, as her mother kept turning to check and see if she was alright. I then thought of myself in that very moment, as we all shared something in common that day: a maintenance of the same intrinsic value of Yoga, and its abundant benefits.

Downward Dog

While floating from one pose to the next, I did not feel the atmosphere to be intimidating whatsoever, rather it was quite peaceful. It seemed to me that Wellness Wednesdays are the type of activity which recognizes and values diversity in all of their participants. The location, directly centered within Atlantic Station, offers people not only the opportunity to stop their busy day and take an hour to destress, but a chance to become a part of something much larger than themselves. The instructor, Raji, was incredibly assistive; He guided everyone through the correct positioning and stretch while understanding each person’s own limitations.

“It’s cool,” he announced as we transformed through our warrior one into warrior two, “We’re all in the same pose, just different positions; That’s like life.”

Inspired by his words, I introduced myself to Raji at the conclusion of our class, telling him of my purposeful journey into Wellness Wednesday.

I began to ask him his favorite aspect of teaching here: “This is my second year teaching the outdoor Wednesday class, and I truly love it.” he started. “The community aspect, having everyone get together for an hour of relaxation and clearing of the mind – that is special. It’s awesome how people can bring their kids, families, dogs, whoever you want really, and still have a great time.”

Raji’s words resonated with me, as I realized that Yoga encourages a sense of diverse community, while congruently forming individuals into a stronger, more vibrant people. To still the mind and be able to simply let go – that is vital in order to maintain a healthy level of stability and security. This was not an environment ridden with intimidation, rather a place to feel empowered within our hearts and minds, at any age or strength. When I began to walk away from the class, I felt increasingly aware and connected to my body, while sensitive to all my surroundings as a feeling of relaxation and calmness washed over me. I highly recommend attending Yoga in the Park, for Wellness Wednesdays are now my favorite day of the week!

Half-star pose

Decatur Book Festival


Pictures above: Canopies of vendors’ booths

Bright colored canopies graced the streets of downtown Decatur, attracting a massive sea of people eager to participate in the festivities. If anyone in Decatur or its surrounding areas needs an amusing way to spend their weekend with their family, friends and pets, they must check out the Decatur book festival when it returns next year. Filled with food, performances, lectures, and of course, books, the event brings together the community with attractions for people of all ages and with different interests. Continue reading “Decatur Book Festival”

Gentrification in Atlanta: Focus on Old Fourth Ward Park

Google Map of Loudhaus in Old Fourth Ward

Coffee shops that serve drinks we can’t even pronounce, overpriced high rise apartments, and stores selling jewelry that costs more than our rent, just two blocks away from the houses where we grew up. Gentrification is a phenomenon “occurring nationwide. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as, “the process of renewal and rebuilding to accompany an influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” There are many examples of this in Atlanta and surrounding areas such as Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown, and Grant Park.

Old Fourth Ward Park, specifically, has been in the process of gentrification for decades. “The area west of Boulevard went from 12% to 30% white and the area east of Boulevard went from 2% to 20% white,” according to Wikipedia. Expensive new apartments and condos caught the attention of many buyers, due to the proximity to popular areas like Downtown, Midtown, and Inman Park. Wikipedia describes these neighborhoods as attractive to buyers due to its “urban vibes.” I’m assuming the Urban Vibes being discussed there are the same ones people talk about in New Orleans, the ones that typically make white women clutch their purses to their sides, lock their car doors, or cross the street. Apparently these same “urban vibes” are the ones that developers are looking to drive out with their overpriced living prices that they market as “city living that is financially attainable to a broad spectrum of renters.”

Gentrification displaces native residents and causes affordable housing to become few and far between. The needs of the community becomes overlooked and development planners become the priority. Some people feel that gentrification is a process that takes many years, giving natives to the area ample amount of time to relocate. Proponents for gentrification tend not to use the term, and instead opt for “economic development.” They argue that if wealthy people didn’t move into the areas that they would stay economically undeveloped.


Flats at Ponce City Market. N.p., n.d. Web.

“Gentrification.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web.

“Gentrification of Atlanta.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Aug. 2017. Web.