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A Decade of “Yes”

Amplify Decatur’s star-studded lineup and the early days that made it possible

Ben Harper

IN A YEAR when the local festival favorite has some of its biggest names for headliners, Amplify My Community (“Amplify”) founder Mike Killeen was as reluctant to include himself as part of the story as he was to join the lineup this year.

The self-described “hobbyist musician” describes Amplify as “the product of a decade of work by a collection of hundreds of incredible people who never heard a ‘no’ when we asked for time, advice or funds. And we had some big asks.”

So in 2022, Killeen would become part of the never-a-no answer Amplify has known in its ten-plus years.

Leveraging the Love of Music

Amplify’s mission is to host music concerts to raise money and awareness for nonprofits fighting poverty at the local level. What began under the name Poverty is Real, Killeen and the early founders wanted to create a sustainable, repeatable format where they could utilize their professional skills and fight poverty in a bigger way than they could on their own through sporadic volunteer efforts.

By using donations to put on events, even more funds are generated selling tickets and merchandise to an audience bigger than the nonprofit could reach on their own.

“Every dollar raised at our events goes to our beneficiaries,” Killeen says. “Amplify does not take a penny from its events.”

He credits Amplify’s success over the years (nearly $500,000 donated) to “leveraging the universal love of music.”

Music is the fuel that powers the organization and connects those involved. “I grew up in a house with music,” Killeen describes. “My parents took me to concerts at a young age, then I started playing guitar.”

“Music has powers beyond in-the-moment emotion,” he says. “It brings people together in a world where we have less and less in common.”

Eleven years ago Killeen sketched an outline that would create the beginnings of Amplify while on an airplane returning from a conference. After playing a show at Eddie’s Attic and donating the proceeds to a local charity, Killeen wondered, “What if we had ‘real’ musicians doing this, and people smarter than me involved?”

And so began the course to more than of a decade of “yes.“

The Artists Who Said “Yes” The 2022 Lineup

Ben Harper

Beginning with his 1993 major label debut, “Welcome to the Cruel World,” Ben Harper has offered listeners what Rolling Stone magazine called the “jewels of unique and exquisitely tender rock & roll.”

He has sold more than 15 million records, is a three-time Grammy Award winner and seven-time nominee. His highly acclaimed songs include “Diamonds on the Inside,” “Steal My Kisses,” and “Burn One Down.” He has collaborated with Blind Boys of Alabama and Charlie Musselwhite and produced records by Natalie Maines and Rickie Lee Jones.

Old Crow Medicine Show

Old Crow Medicine Show got their start busking on street corners in 1998, from New York state and up through Canada, winning audiences along the way with their boundless energy and spirit. They eventually found themselves in Boone, North Carolina where they caught the attention of folk icon Doc Watson while playing in front of a pharmacy. He invited the band to play at his festival, MerleFest, and the rest is history. It’s been more than 20 years since these humble beginnings. The band has gone on to receive the honor of being inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry, and has won two Grammy Awards. Their classic single, “Wagon Wheel,” received the RIAA’s Double-Platinum certification for selling more than 2,000,000 copies.

Old Crow Medicine Show

Old Crow Medicine Show

The War and Treaty

The War and Treaty

 Son Volt

Son Volt

Son Volt

Son Volt, the band Jay Farrar started in 1995 after leaving the seminal group Uncle Tupelo, whose “No Depression” album helped define the alt-country and Americana genre, was expecting a 25th Anniversary tour rather than a lockdown in 2020. The resulting “Electro Melodier,” Son Volt’s 10th studio album, takes its titles from the names of two vintage amplifiers from the late 40s and early 50s. The name also describes the unique blend of folk, country, blues, soul and rock – an electric troubadour with melodies that hit and stick. Social protest songs about the promises of this nation gone wrongand referencing the street protests accompanying the Black Lives Matter movement exist side-by-side with odes to long-term relationships (specifically his 25-year marriage).

The War and Treaty

Since forming in 2014, The War and Treaty have amassed a following as eclectic as their sound itself, a bluesy fusion of Southern soul, gospel, country, and rock ‘n’ roll. Known for a live show with nearly revival-like intensity, the husband-and-wife team of Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter endlessly create an exhilarating exchange of energy with their audience, a dynamic they’ve brought to the stage in opening for the legendary Al Green and touring with the likes of Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell. So, when it came time to choose a title for their forthcoming sophomore album, The War and Treaty quickly landed on “Hearts Town” – the Nashville duo’s adoring nickname for their ardently devoted fanbase.

S.G. Goodman

Kentucky singer-songwriter S.G. Goodman blends the sounds of traditional country and folk with moody electric grit and progressive ideas. She is brutally honest when shedding the layers addressing the social and economic complexities of living in the rural South but does it with the grace of someone who respects the land and the people whose stories she’s absorbed along the way. Her debut album, “Old Time Feeling,” was co-produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and she was included on NPR’s 2021 Artists to Watch list.

SG Goodman

S.G. Goodman

Mike Killeen Band

The Mike Killeen Band features Mark Evers on guitar, Jeff Hall on bass and Don Olsen on drums. Mike has released four full-length albums and three EPs—and shared the stage with Amy Ray of Indigo Girls, Grammy Award winners The Blind Boys of Alabama and Southern rock legends the Marshall Tucker Band. He counts Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Vic Chesnutt and Uncle Tupelo among his formative influences. Killeen’s most recent full-length album, “Ghost,” was produced by Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo).

MK EA 8.6.21

Mike Killeen Band 

AMPLIFY DECATUR DETAILS

Date: Saturday, April 23

Time: 2 to 11 p.m.

Location: Downtown Decatur

Tickets: $75 to $275

Featuring: Ben Harper, Old Crow Medicine Show, Son Volt, The War and Treaty, S.G. Goodman, and Mike Killeen Band Supporters and contributors: Drew Robinson (Amplify’s board president), Christine Mahin (festival director), Richard and John Lenz, the City of Decatur, Spencer Smith, Eddie’s Attic, Iris and Bruce Feinberg, John Nelson of Leafmore Group, Herb Cherek of Decatur Package Store, Savannah Distributing Company, Three Taverns, Creature Comforts Brewing Co., Oakhurst Realty Partners, and Natalie Gregory.

Tickets and Details: amplifydecatur.org

WHAT YES MEANS FOR DECATUR COOPERATIVE MINISTRY’S WORK

The proceeds of the concerts become unrestricted gifts to community organizations. The hometown charity is Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM), which just received a $50,000 check from the fall Amplify Decatur event.

Founded in 1969, DCM’s mission is to help families facing homelessness settle into safe, stable homes and build healthy lives filled with peace, hope and opportunity. DCM offers transitional housing, shelter, homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing programs. To accomplish this, DCM partners with 35 congregations from 14 denominations as well as private foundations, universities and schools, government agencies, community groups and local businesses.

“Poverty exists and has an aspect on all,” Killeen says. Regardless of political persuasions, he believes everyone’s most important cause could be addressed if poverty had been resolved. Killeen credits his childhood in Athens for instilling in him an awareness of poverty and a drive to feed, clothe and house people in need. “Athens is known as ‘Bulldog Territory,’” he said. “It also has the single highest poverty rate in the country [for a sizeable city].… I saw a lot of that first-hand.”

Amplify Decatur is presented by Lenz and produced in partnership with Eddie’s Attic.

Nothing Says “Summer” Like Camps

Your guide to find a program for your family

THOUGH IT FEELS like the holidays just ended, now is the time to set the schedule for summer camps before spaces and sessions fill up. Many favorites are back this year as the world emerges from a Covid cocoon. We have culled a list of local options for the artsy, sporty and everyone in between. From adventure to magic, you may find yourself a little jealous of what the littles and bigs of your life have to choose from.

Nothing Says "Summer" Like Camp

Color Wheel Studio

Founded in 2002 on Church Street, Color Wheel Studio helps young artists develop their passion for the arts with their after-school, school break, summer camps and art class programming. Here, children ages 5 to 18 are encouraged to express themselves creatively with ceramics, sculptures, drawings, paintings and mixed media art. Color Wheel Studio has been so well-received by the community that they’re opening their third Decatur location this spring.

Their curated after-school and summer art programs offer a variety of engaging themes pulling from different art genres, as well as a fun hands-on way to learn art history, techniques and mediums. There are also exciting new initiatives in the works for the entire community.

“Color Wheel always adds some fun with whimsical themes like Splat!, which gives kids the opportunity to have some down and dirty, messy fun or Think Small…Think Big which plays on scale, allowing whimsy with miniature-sized art to experiencing impactful, oversized projects,” says Marlis Cornett, director.

Degreed artists helm the classes, and their “high-quality art experiences” enable children to grow and learn in a safe and nurturing environment.

“Color Wheel’s Summer Camp is all about trying something new, making new friends and having fun. We use art to empower our kids as artists and community members,” says Cornett.

For more information, visit Colorwheelstudio.com.

Colorwheel

Bryant Tennis Camps at Emory

Is your child a budding tennis star or want to be one? Perhaps he or she simply likes playing the game. If so, then you will want to read more about Bryant Tennis Camps’ Summer Program. Founded and led by coach Amy Bryant, a nationally recognized collegiate head coach with more than 22 years of experience, this specialty camp welcomes tennis students from ages 5 to 14 and of all skill levels.

Summer camp (half-day and full day offered) begins June 6, runs for four weeks, and is held at Emory’s topnotch facilities on
indoor and outdoor courts. Campers also have access to racquetball courts and a swimming pool. At camp, kids partake in drills, games and activities.

“We really focus on keeping campers moving – small camper to counselor ratio – with short lines and creative games that offer positive reinforcement for all levels of tennis! We also do a lot of traditional summer camp activities in the afternoons like making tie-dye shirts, enjoying swim time and having scavenger hunts and water balloon tosses,” says Bryant.

Boys and girls ages 5 to 8 are in the Swoop’s Starters group, while students ages 9 to14 are in the High Flyers group. Swoop’s Starters is for beginner and advanced beginner levels – they will learn on smaller courts with bigger balls and be introduced to forehand, backhand, volleys and overhead. Some will even learn to serve. Full day campers will learn to keep score and will play lots of skill-reinforcing games.

“Our goal is for your child to love tennis after just one week of camp,” explains Bryant.

High Flyers is for advanced beginners and intermediate levels –they will be introduced or have the following skills reinforced: forehand, backhand, volleys, overhead, serve and return of serve. Kids will play sets and tiebreakers. “Our goal is for your child to feel confident on the court after just one week of camp,” Bryant continues.

Former campers love this program so much that they often return as counselors, along with several college tennis players. “Kids love that it’s non-stop fun and they enjoy striving to earn the ‘candy can’ prize at the end of each day. Parents love that it’s well-organized and their children come home tired at the end of today. I love seeing the kids develop from year to year as tennis players and people!” says Bryant.

For more information, visit bryantcamps.com.

CW boys painting

Little Shop of Stories

Do your children love getting lost in stories and books? Check out Little Shop of Stories Summer Camp. Registration began online in February, and one of their sessions of Camp Hogwarts (one of the most popular programs) is already full. This Decatur bookstore has a few different summer programs. We are Going to Camp (rising Grades 1 to 2) is a four-day camp in early summer that offers crafts, activities and stories with your favorite fictional friends. Make Your Own Myth Camp (rising Grades 3 to 5) is for kids to learn about ancient mythological heroes, play games and participate in activities. Backpack Explorers (rising Grades 1 to 2) teaches about different kinds of birds and bugs, leads fun art projects with leaves and flowers,
and offers kids a chance to earn special badges and grow a garden. Find more information about Comics Camp, Spy Camp, D&D Camp, and Dragon Camp. Camp Hogwarts currently has availability in its August session.

For more information, visit Littleshopofstories.com.

colorwheel

Druid Hills Dance Center

With a mission “to create a fun and encouraging space for young dancers to train in a variety of dance techniques and grow their artistic imaginations,” this 10-yearold Decatur dance studio offers classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, modern and hip-hop styles of dance. This summer the dance studio is hosting a list of summer camp programs for “Minis” and “Youths.” Find Fairy Princess Dance Camp and Disney Dance Camp among favorites. Additionally, there are junior and senior
level programs including Young Choreographers Camp, Center Stage Dance Camp, Pro Technique Dance Intensive and Off Broadway Dance Intensive.

For more information, visit ruidHillsDance.com.

Circus Camp

At Circus Camp, your kids will learn fun circus skills, including trapeze, tightrope, juggling and magic, as well as be entertained daily with a live show by circus professionals. Open to kids ages 5 and up, including teens, this Decatur summer camp is interactive, safe and entertaining. After watching highly-trained counselors show off their circus skills, kids get to choose the skills they’d like to learn. There are also special sessions of intensive Aerial Camp, where campers
focus on advanced aerial skills (trapeze, Spanish web, cirque silks, lyra), athletic fitness, balance, strength and flexibility with seasoned professionals. Aerial Camp runs simultaneously with regular camp. Note: Space is limited to allow more time on the equipment, so register ASAP.

For more information, visit circuscamp.org.

Refresh Your Look

Decatur Welcomes its First Medical Spa

PROXIMITY TO EMORY UNIVERSITY and Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control, the Decatur area is no stranger to local access to state-of-the-art medical and health options and advice. As the field of cosmetic medicine continues to evolve, so are the choices for treatment with the addition of the city’s first Medical Spa.

Refresh Your Look

AYA Medical Spa opened the doors to its newest location on Ponce de Leon to fill a need they see in serving patients in this part of the metro Atlanta area. Under the supervision of a board-certified plastic surgeon, the local staff is trained to provide a large selection of the most in-demand cosmetic treatments and deliver a healthy skin experience to their patients.

Local provider, Lauren Runnels said AYA utilizes her formal training in nursing and prior work as a nurse anesthetist (CRNA). “In anesthesia, I was very detail-oriented and outcome based,” she explained. “I’m happy to have found a place to utilize my advanced practice training and also be able to build relationships with patients, something I was missing in anesthesia.”

Runnels describes the providers and staff at the Decatur location like a family. “We’re super community based and constantly learning new techniques to make us even better at what we do.”

Lauren Runnels indoor There is a collaborative spirit to the care offered in working with their patients toward their goals. “We cater to each person that comes in, and we are encouraged to schedule the time we need to provide a consultative experience,” she said, adding that there is no pressure to see more patients in less time, a common concern in the industry.

AYA offers a full menu of medically-focused skin care services including cosmetic injectable treatments, skin tightening, laser treatments, chemical peels, etc.

“Injectables have been really taboo in the past,” Runnels said. “People come in and are nervous they’ll walk out looking frozen or like plastic. I tell my patients, ‘I want you to look like you, but refreshed.’”

Improvements to the skin is just one benefit of the work and expertise Runnels says AYA provides. There’s a sense of empowerment by making decisions about their body

Not all skin care goals can be achieved in the medical spa setting, according to Runnels. This is why it’s important to find a provider who will be frank and transparent, and isn’t incentivized to push extra treatments someone may not want or need. “It’s about helping you look good to yourself and improve the things that are important to you,” she said.

For more information, visit ayaskincare.com.

Healthy skin experience

Happy 200th Frederick Law Olmsted!

Atlanta reconnects to the OG landscape architect with an epic birthday bash

MOST KNOW HIM as the designer of New York City’s Central Park or Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Frederick Law Olmsted is considered not only the father of landscape architecture but also one of its premier practitioners. Among his influence in Atlanta is the envisioning of Olmsted Linear Park and the Druid Hills neighborhood development. It continues today with patterning the Atlanta Beltline’s greenspace study and implementation after Olmsted’s Boston Emerald Necklace design.

Architect Daniel Burnham said of Olmsted that “he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks and forest-covered hills; with mountainsides and ocean views.” Those who know and love the six linear parks that Olmsted envisioned as part of the Druid Hills neighborhood would agree.

Frederick Law Olmsted This spring, Atlanta will join the collection of parks across the nation in a celebration of 200 years since Olmsted’s birth on April 26, 1822. A weeklong celebration kicks off with a roaring 20s themed, blacktie-optional gala at the historic Callanwolde Fine Arts Center mansion. Attendees will enjoy sipping cocktails, croquet on the lawn
and live music by Jazz artist, Joe Gransden.

Planned by the Druid Hills “Olmsted 200” Celebration Committee, the festivities also include the Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour, Plein Air Painting exhibitions, an outdoor artist market and more.

“[This neighborhood] was Olmsted’s final design before he passed away,” said OLPA executive director Sandy Kruger in sharing excitement about the upcoming events. “During COVID, the park welcomed visitors from all over in search of peace and tranquility in nature and continues to be a vital asset for one’s mental and physical health. It is a testament to the relevancy of Olmsted’s vision in creating democratic spaces that are accessible to all. Olmsted believed that creating public spaces for everyone to enjoy would strengthen communities and foster public well-being.”

Born in Connecticut, Olmsted was 43 before he became a landscape designer. On a trip in 1850 to Liverpool, he was impressed with the port city’s large public park. “I was ready to admit,” he wrote, “that in democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable to this People’s Garden.”

A brief but significant stint as a journalist led him in the 1850s to the South to write about the South and slavery for what is now the New York Times. Olmsted was opposed to slavery, writing that he thought the South
was worse off for it.

Having become famous for his literary career, Olmsted had powerful connections in New York City when he returned from his travels. In 1857, he was named superintendent of Central Park. His friend and future collaborator, Calvert Vaux, asked for Olmsted’s help in entering the competition for the design of the park. Thus began Olmsted’s landscape design career.

By the early 1890s, Olmsted had earned world renown. And in Atlanta, entrepreneur Joel Hurt, was aiming to earn acclaim for his
city. Hurt assembled a tract of land east of the city to develop into its first suburb. But his would be no ordinary suburb; he hired the venerated Olmsted to draw up plans.

Olmsted laid out a string of parks that would incorporate the topography and the natural beauty of that area, which was soon to be called Druid Hills. Shade trees and a “pleasing rural, or, at least, semi-rural character of scenery” that could be enjoyed as city workers retreated from their offices at the end of a long day were part of his vision. He created original plans for this sylvan oasis, including the six linear parks that line Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The project was halted temporarily because of finances, and, during that time, Olmsted retired. Hurt stayed with the Olmsted firm, and Olmsted’s sons continued their father’s plans.

And the rest, you might say, is Druid Hills. In recent years, OLPA has restored, renewed and maintained the six individual
parks that make up the entire greenspace, which starts at the beginning of Druid Hills, at the intersection of Briarcliff and Ponce. One of them, Deepdene Park, is actually oldgrowth forest – right in the middle of the city.

Notable designs include the Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C.; parks in Buffalo and Brooklyn, N.Y., Montreal, and
Louisville, Ky. are just a few. Others are in lesser-known areas but stun nonetheless. In Lake Wales, Fla., he turned a sandhill into a lush subtropical garden for Edward Bok and created the Bok Tower Gardens. He also designed the campuses for Stanford University and the University of Chicago.

For more info about Olmsted and the birthday celebration, visit Olmsted200.org.

A New Wave For Period Homes

Ingenuity and design highlight the comeback of the Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour

THIS APRIL marks 200 years since the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the most pivotal figures to shape the landscapes of the city parks and neighborhoods we hold dear. Atlanta’s historic Druid Hills is one of four neighborhoods lucky enough to be an Olmsted original.

Which makes this year’s comeback of the Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour after a two-year hiatus that much more special.

This year’s tour includes both a week of events and a collection of new, period and reimagined homes that showcase the ingenuity of human development. The volunteers and organizers hope it inspires the community and attendees to reconnect to the historic origins of the area and look with fresh eyes and ideas at their own spaces.

The April 29 to May 1 tour will be one of many Atlanta events to coincide with a nationwide celebration of 200 years of Olmsted. Among the events will be a gala at Callanwolde on April 26 and an artist’s market in Dellwood Park on April 30.

“Druid Hills is a national treasure, not so much due to the architecture of the homes – which are magnificent and historically significant in their own right – but due to the landscape architecture of Frederick Law Olmsted,” said Kit Eisterhold, tour chair. He and a team of volunteers, homeowners, architects and designers have been fast at work to bring the tour to reality.

The most famous is likely the Lullwater Road home where “Driving Miss Daisy” was filmed, but there are also spectacular renovations of High Tudor, Italian Renaissance Revival and English cottage homes. All 12mhomes are within the plan originally laid out by Olmsted around the turn of the century, orchestrated around the linear park(s) he personally designed to be the heart and soul of the neighborhood.

The effect of the development in the neighborhood is in keeping with one of the prevailing design concepts and attributes of Druid Hills homes – every house is different and has its own unique design features. Find the conversion of the Druid Hills Methodist Church to condominiums as case-in-point of this principle.

Eisterhold said that is one of the things he values most about not only the homes but the variety of the designers who have been enlisted to modernize the historic homes.

1783 South Ponce de Leon

Lullwater Road

While invited many times to do so, the owners of the famed “Driving Miss Daisy” home had been reluctant to put their home on previous tours because the couple had young children. The family has grown and this year when Eisterhold asked, owner Cyndy Roberts didn’t say no. After thinking about it, “it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

“It’s not a show house,” Roberts says as she describes a home where she “loves it all…We live in this house. We use the living room every day, we eat in the dining room every night.”

Guests will be able to see the checkered black and white marble foyer, one of Robert’s favorite parts of the house, which turns 100 this year. And a fun fact she adds is that things have appeared in the gardens over the years as one of the previous owners would use just about anything for mulch, including hair brushes and shoes.

Lullwater Road

797 Springdale

Longtime supporters of the tour, the Critz family has owned this beauty for decades, cultivating one of the most stunning gardens in the South. In early to mid-spring, flowers bloom from more than 70,000 bulbs. The garden is expected to be a showstopper.

956 springdale

Atlanta-

1738 South Ponce de Leon

Yvonne McFadden of Yvonne McFadden Interiors said the family wanted larger spaces for the primary bedroom and family room,
and a larger kitchen with big windows to watch the kids as they cook. Yet there were many details worthy of preservation.

“We tried to stay true to the home’s architecture,” said McFadden. “The trim details that
were not salvageable were replicated to bring up to code” citing the staircase handrails and spindles as an example. “Thankfully we were able to salvage the parlor’s bookcase and mantle.”

“I grew up with an Italian mother who instilled a love for cooking at an early age,” said Lauren Williams, who owns the home
with her husband Jeff. “When designing this kitchen I wanted to make sure it was approachable for young and eager helping hands. We had a learning tower stool built to match the cabinetry where my two daughters can stand and actively participate. They love baking with me and ‘sprinkling in love’ into our creations.”

2026 North Ponce de Leon

Architect Karen Soorikian said this redesign was about living in a new era, with need for more space and a desire for higher ceilings.

“Ours was a very localized project,” she said. The house had already undergone a redesign. Soorikian, who was a history major
before earning her architecture degree explained, “What we were doing was modifying that room.to be a breakfast room.” They
ended up a modern mud-room, laundry area and wine room. They were also able to achieve tall ceilings and large arched canopies.

“I’ve been so lucky to be able to do this,” said Soorikian of her involvement with this year’s tour. “To be able to be a part of keeping these houses beautiful and livable is amazing.”

956 Springdale

While many of the homes renovations of existing historic homes, this residence is a rare new build in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. Designed with an eye toward historic authenticity by Dave Price and Jan Hallman, the home is shared by State Senator Elena Parent and her husband, Briley Brisendine.

Tickets for the tour are $35 for access to the 12 homes. Find more details at Druidhills.org or buy tickets at Eventbrite by searching “Druid Hills.”

Lighting the Way

Avondale Estates 29th Annual Christmas Tour of Lights and Holiday Market Shines

 

IN A YEAR that began with loss and change, the tradition of light and hope continues in Avondale Estates long-running Christmas Tour of Lights and Holiday Market.

For 2021, 12 homes representing the various styles of architecture in the city will be featured, including three of the 1926 “Avondale Originals.” One has been transformed into a gingerbread house, another boasts a red carpet leading through Christmas trees to the home flanked by six-foot nutcrackers and lit by an oversized “Joy,” and a third is decorated with crazy Christmas creatures out front. Other homes will feature blow ups and displays from sophisticated to fun with just a touch of tacky.

Trees along Berkeley Road will light the way to three more homes including a Craftsman built in 2016 decorated with wreaths, lights and seasonal greenery; a 1950s ranch with lights on the roof and trees, and stars and a Christmas gnome out front; and a 1951 modified ranch decorated in a very traditional manner with lush greenery and large red bows.

The magic continues at a magnificent showplace on Hess Drive where one of the largest homes in Avondale built in 1964 is displayed, and the decorations on Nottingham Drive will be a surprise built with thousands of lights.

In addition to the featured homes, the city will be lit up along every street in the Avondale Estates Business District and in the plazas around town. See the floating Christmas tree on Avondale Lake and visit Santa at the Avondale Community Club.

Joy

The in-person Avondale Holiday Market is back. Community-builder Constellation Energy is sponsoring these beloved artists selling their hand-knitted scarves, pecans, jewelry, photography, bird feeders, smoked salmon, jams and ornaments by paying their vendor fees. Finish off your holiday shopping list with one-of-a-kind gifts.

AVONDALE

LIGHT-SEEING LOGISTICS

Buy Tickets: Finders Keepers Consignment, Garage Door Studio or Avondale City Hall for $20 per car or online at bigtickets.com for $25 per car.

Sunday, Dec. 12

Light Tour 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Holiday Market
Noon to 6 p.m. at the Avondale Community Club. Masks required.

More info at avondaletourofhomes.com

Give Yourself a Better Bottom Line

Gift Yourself a Better Bottom-Line

Five essentials you can start today

IF YOU’RE NOT on your own gift list, it’s not too late. Set yourself up for 2022 with some financial foundations and start off the new year on the right track.

  • Budget like a boss

    All financial goals begin here: Set a budget. Then stick to it.

    Don’t have a budget in place yet? You’re not alone. Only 45% of U.S. adults say they have a budget and keep close track of their spending. In order to reach your savings goals and take charge of your finances, you need to plan your spending and then hold yourself accountable to it.

    The best system is the one that works for you. There are plenty of apps, online tools or a simple spreadsheet. Be diligent.

    Here’s an example of the power of planning your spending: A daily visit to the coffee shop can add up and be easy to shift to another financial goal.

    Assuming the latte is $5, that’s $35 spent in a week, $150 in a month and $1,825 in a year.

    When you consider the total, you may be interested in changing that spending by buying an espresso machine and enjoying homemade lattes while you put your money to work for you.

    1. Save something every paycheck

      Many people know that setting up a rainy day fund is a good idea. You may even have some money put aside. Make sure to evaluate your needs each year and save more if necessary. A good rule of thumb is to have enough liquid assets in your emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses. As your lifestyle changes over the years, (a new house, a new car, maybe even children), be sure your emergency fund can still cover you if it starts to “rain.”

    2. Invest in your future

      It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. At a young age, retirement may seem like a lofty concept or distant dream. But starting to save early in your career will set you up for a secure retirement. An easy way to get started is to maximize your employer’s matching contribution to your 401(k). This will keep you from leaving money on the table and provide a consistent savings vehicle.

    3. Keep score with credit

      Your credit score is a crucial factor when looking to make major financial decisions, such as purchasing a house. And the law requires all three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) to provide you with one free credit report annually.

      Here are a few factors that impact your credit score. The weight of each is determined by the credit scoring model used:
      › Payment history
      › Type and number of accounts
      › Used credit vs. available credit
      › Credit history

    4. Fill the gap in your insurance

      Human capital, the total value of one’s future earning potential, is the missing piece in most portfolios. You insure your car, in the event you get into an accident. You insure your belongings, in case they’re lost or stolen. It is just as important to protect your future earnings, which is done with life and disability insurance. And the best time to purchase life insurance is when you’re young and healthy. There may come a time in life when we need to cut back our monthly expenses to save more or live within our means.

    START HERE

    START HERE

    1. Ask and answer these questions:
      › What are my savings goals?
      › What are my necessary expenses?
      › What is a realistic spending target?
    2. Hold yourself accountable
      › Track your income and expenses monthly
      › Find a tool or system that works for you
    3. A good system could be setting up different accounts for budgeting purposes. Here are four examples that could help organize your spending:

      Monthly Expenses: Primary spending account (checking)
      Vacation and Holiday Gifts: Reserve spending account (checking/savings).
      Emergency Fund: Savings building to 3 to 6 months of expenses (see step 2 below)
      Upcoming home improvements, vehicle, tuition, etc.: Reserve savings account.