Organization in Carr’s Hill neighborhood helps those in need

December 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Note: this is one of a series of stories
written about various Athens neighborhoods.

The economy may be bleak, but one Athens group is continuing a long tradition of helping those in need.

Athens Urban Ministries, which operates in Athens adjacent to the Oconee Street Methodist Church, has been serving Athens residents since 1989.

Erin Barger, local program director, said she did not know why Athens Urban Ministries partnered with the church, as it was done before became involved with the program, but it is now a staple of the Carr’s Hill neighborhood.

The Athens location is one of several under the umbrella of the non-profit group, Action Ministries, she said. Other branches are located in Atlanta, Augusta, Gainesville and Rome.

The most visible of the programs, Our Daily Bread, offers breakfast and lunch during weekdays and a sack meal on weekends. According to its Web site, it also offers free legal assistance, health and hygiene items, GED classes, and referrals to other social service agencies.

While the ministry has been in Athens for over 20 years, it has seen an increase in services thanks to the recession.

Barger said there has been about a 20 percent increase in individuals requesting services.

Thankfully, there has also been an increase in the usual amount of donations to the program at the end of the year, she said.

Athens Urban Ministries welcomes donations and while Barger said “we can always use money,” there are other items also considered useful to the service.

Barger suggested cleaning supplies, hygiene products, sleeping bags, and tents as donations it would accept.

The Action Ministries branch in Athens is located at 717 Oconee Street and can be contacted at 706-353-6647.

R. Wood Studio Focuses on Creative Atmosphere to Keep Clients and Workers Happy

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Note: this is one of a series of stories
written about various Athens neighborhoods.

Rebecca Wood’s father always knew she was a natural born entrepreneur.

“I’ve always made things with the idea of selling them,” she said.  “And I’ve always been curious about the universe and a great observer of nature and natural beauty.”

After only working two jobs, Wood decided to take matters into her own hands and began searching for the perfect location to open her own art studio.

Athens immediately came to mind.

“Athens is full of good-hearted, creative people,” Wood said. “So many talented people here, and such a short drive to be out in the country. The creative energy and the surrounding beauty here keeps me stimulated.”

After spotting neighbors moving out of the old produce warehouse located on Georgia Street, Wood wasted no time asking how much rent was.

After a few negotiations, R. Wood Studio opened in 1991.

Fast-forward twenty years later and Rebecca has assembled a team of 12 artists that specialize in glazing, pottery making, and handmade ceramic dinnerware.

“I usually know immediately if I want to hire someone,” Wood said. “If I like their energy, I’ll hire them. We have a great group here that is like a family.”

Christian Greenwood agrees with his boss on the studio’s atmosphere.

“It operates like a family,” he said.

Greenwood, a 33-year old from Louisiana, has been living in Athens for 12 years.

A year and a half ago, a friend of Greenwood was leaving R. Wood and told him about the job. After visiting the studio, he knew this was the place he wanted to work.

“It kind of seems like everybody cares about each other,” he said. “This business isn’t run on fear which helps. That’s the best way to run a business.”

Blake Anthony, 26, moved to Athens from Pittsburg this August and works as a production potter.

“I’m really grateful for this job,” he said.

“Most ceramic studios, they just have us making their own pottery. We have the opportunity to be creative and make our own ideas.”

Wood allows her artists to make their own artwork around the clock and sell them at R. Wood Studio. She then takes a low commission of what they sell.

“This doesn’t exist anywhere else that I’ve seen,” Anthony said.

Wood’s positive attitude contributes to her growing business and clientele.

She had a customer come all the way from San Francisco, telling her husband that the only thing she wanted for her 40th birthday was to go to R. Wood Studio.

The studio takes pleasure in being one of the few potteries completely focused on being more beauty and inspiration based. Wood allows her artists to have free conversations at work, and encourages them not to edit themselves like one normally would in a traditional work atmosphere.

“We’re brainstorming and laughing and supporting each other as we get the work done,” Wood said.

“It’s a collaborative effort and we just get through it together. It’s a blessing.”

Extra Information about R. Wood Studio:

  • One of the very few studio potteries in America where each piece is made by hand
  • Opened in 1991
  • They offer bridal registry
  • Biggest sellers are bowls and coffee cups
  • Ceramics come in 19 different colors
  • 3 studio sales a year, the next one is December 11th
  • Everything is made to order—usually takes 2-3 weeks for custom orders

Tour focuses on Carr’s Hill forgotten history

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Note: this is one of a series of stories
written about various Athens neighborhoods.

Carr’s Hill didn’t always consist of rows of small, wooden framed houses lining the streets, alongside old apartment complexes with origins dating back to the 1980’s.

In fact, Carr’s Hill used to be one of the most influential neighborhoods in Athens in the early 19th century.

“Carr’s Hill was at the heart of the beginning of Athens, as well as the beginning of the Athens’s transportation network—the first railroad in Athens,” tour guide Maxine Easom said.

As part of the Athens Heritage Walks planned by the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, Easom was sought out to explain the past significance of the area.

Last winter, Amy Andrews, a trustee of ACHF, began brainstorming new areas in Athens for the tour series and immediately thought of Easom for Carr’s Hill.

“I thought of Maxine because of her history with the neighborhood and because she had the type of personality to make a great tour guide,” Andrews said.

Easom, is the fourth generation of her family to have grown up on Carr’s Hill.

“She told me initially that she didn’t know much historical information on Carr’s Hill and at first she wasn’t sure Carr’s Hill had much historical information to offer,” Andrews said.

“She took the bull by the horns immediately and she became engrossed in the research. That’s the best tour guide—the one who has delved into and researched their neighborhood and becomes fascinated by it.”

Andrews, along with 15 others met at Oconee Street United Methodist Church in November for Easom’s third and last tour of the semester.

Easom began the tour by saying that she had never heard the area being called “Carr’s Hill” just until recently.

“I always knew it as the Oconee Street area,” she said. “But I have to say, after my research, I now understand why the neighborhood is called Carr’s Hill by the others who don’t live here.”

In the early 1800s, wealthy landowner William Carr built his house at the top of what is now Carr’s Hill.

Guiding guests through Oconee Street and Carr Street, Easom showed the small portion of the Carr estate that still remains, including a stone wall that reportedly took 42 years to build.

“This is what I call Carr’s Hill,” Easom said.

Carr owned considerable land in Athens, some of which was sold in the mid-1800s for the construction of the Athens Factory as well as the Georgia Railroad.

Easom pointed to where the factory and railroad used to be, as well as the grocery stores and barber shops that used to reside in the area.

But because of the negative effects of misguided zoning and lack of vision, many of the places Easom talked about on the tour were left to the group’s imagination.

“The things we really need to know about this neighborhood aren’t really there anymore,” Easom said.

“All that is really left are the road patterns that offer clues to us about Athens’ past. But even if there is little structural evidence of old Carr’s Hill, it remains imperative that the sites of old and their influence on modern-day Athens be recognized and remembered.”

Students, non-students find ways to co-inhabit Carr’s Hill

December 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Note: this is one of a series of stories
written about various Athens neighborhoods.

It’s all fun and games.  Until your mailbox gets stolen.

And that’s what happened to one Carr’s Hill neighborhood resident in the the past few weeks.

“Drunk college kids,” said Jamarl Glenn, who rents a house on Oconee Street and discovered his mailbox missing one morning. “I know they are in college and they drink a lot. I did when I was in school, but why steal a mailbox man? They brought it back the next day, so no harm, no foul. But c’mon, why take it in the first place?”

For the most part, the college students and non-college students mix amiably and have few issues. Glenn even said that for the most part he forgets he’s so close to the campus of the No. 1 party school in America.

“This is usually a pretty quiet neighborhood,” Glenn said. “Gamesdays can be pretty rowdy, but what else do you expect on a Saturday in Athens?””

Some of the students said they picked the Carr’s Hill neighborhood because of both its proximity to campus and from the recommendations of friends who lived there in past years.

“The neighbors here are so chill,” said Evan Johnson, a senior at the University of Georgia. “They have never complained about us once and we tend to throw a lot of pretty big parties. I actually never see them and most of the ones I do see are in college, so there are almost no issues.

“Plus, I can ride my bike to campus and it’s totally worth it.”

Ironically, one of the biggest complaints came from a student about his non-student neighbor.

“I’m pretty sure the people who live behind me are crackheads or methheads or something,” said Patrick Burnett, a senior. “Something really sketchy goes on over there, and it really freaks me out. I’ve debated calling the cops a few times.

“And they have this dog I’ve strongly considered assassinating. It never shuts up.”

Sustainable Wash

November 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Note: this is one of a series of stories
written about various Athens neighborhoods.

You drive up, put your car in neutral and sit passively in the driver’s seat as your car is pulled through the sponges and suds.

Taking your car to the car wash is a simple procedure, but think of all the water that is wasted and harmful chemicals that are used.

Eco Wash on Lexington Road in Athens, Ga., recycles all their water and uses earth friendly chemicals to reduce their impact on the planet. This business takes a common service and makes it more sustainable.

Eco Wash has been opened for five years and Matt Becker has been the manager for the past two years.

“Our customers are about 50/50 who like the services, location and price and those who like the green thing,” Becker said.

Rainwater is collected and put through a filtration system before it is used to wash the cars. Runoff water is collected and put through the same filtration before being reused.

Vacuums are low power energy reducing electricity use and recycling bins are set up for customer connivance.

Frequent customer Hailey Mitchell enjoys going to Eco Wash not only because she likes to reduce her environmental impact but also she enjoys the employees.

Becker prides himself in his hard working enthusiastic employees. Of his eight employees seven are college students and one is in his 30s. They enjoy working for him but also have active lives outside of work.

People ask a lot of questions and care about the impact they are helping to make. Even in these rough economic times customers keep coming back.