Issue 14.63 | Nov. 4, 2014
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NORCROSS, Ga., Nov. 4, 2014 -- The year 1843 in England had not been a good year for Charles Dickens.
first time in a wildly successful career, his writing sales were in a
decline. Dickens' father, deep in debt, pressed him repeatedly for money.
The author's wife was pregnant with their fifth child.
A tireless crusader on behalf of the working poor, Dickens was invited on October 5 to speak at a fund-raising event in Manchester. Sharing the platform with Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, he urged his audience not to forget, amid "...the clanking of stupendous engines and the whirl of machinery, the immortal mechanism of God's own hand - the mind." He argued for education. For decent housing, dignity, rest, recreation ... "for the value of imagination in a world dominated by facts and figures."
The famous novelist was touched by the audience's enthusiastic applause. Something in "the bright eyes and beaming faces" of these working-class people stirred a force deep within him. Later that night, pacing the streets of industrial Manchester, he conceived the germ of a story that would make "an appeal to the people of England, on behalf of the Poor Man's Child" -- and gloriously celebrate a season he loved.
A Christmas Carol is aptly named. As Dickens feverishly worked on the story, it sang in his heart like a symphony out of control. He would walk 20 miles a night with it teeming in his head, "when all sober folks had gone to bed." The Carol took him entirely out of his own troubles. He laughed over it, cried over it, lived it with astonishing intensity.
Dickens finished the book "in a white heat" late in November, rushed it off to the printer, and proceeded to dive into the most exuberant Christmas of his life. He wrote to a friend: "Such dinings, such dancings ... such blind-man's bluffings ... never took place in these parts before."
The Carol reminds us that this is the Season "when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices." It helps us see each other, not as competitors, but as companions in life -- not "another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
reassures us that it's never too late to wake up and start all over.
* * * * *
There will be two performances of A Christmas Carol in Norcross in early December.
The Christ Episcopal Church Players are presenting two stage performances of A Christmas Carol for the Gwinnett community on December 6 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. This full theatrical production is adapted from the manuscript that Dickens used in his public readings in the 1860s. Tickets are $10. For reservations, call 770-447-1166; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Christ Church Episcopal is located at 400 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross.
NOV. 4, 2014 -- So, you're tired of the political season interrupting your television viewing, or bugging you so often on the phone, and you're glad Election Day is here. Those outlandish political misrepresentations are also working on your psyche! You're grouchy!
But it's probably not over yet. Most people figure the election will go into overtime (a runoff) in at least two if not four statewide races in Georgia because of the Libertarian Party candidacies. So you may still have political interruptions.
The statewide runoffs are scheduled for December 2. But the courts have said that the Federal runoffs won't be held until January 6 in order for the military votes to be counted. So not only could the Senate charges-admonitions-pleas and downright exaggerations continue while we're carving the Thanksgiving turkey, but their downright mud-throwing messages might spoil or at least disturb both our Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Big reason for us being tired of politics this season is that the state of Georgia is "in play" in several races, including possible control of the U.S. Senate. Big time outside money has flowed in to fuel political advertising. We're having an overdose of politics.
Those in the know are saying that the Republicans may win the state again this year, but watch out in 2016 and 2018, when they see an upsurge toward the Democrats winning office in bigger numbers. This is mainly because of the continued changes in population, with Georgia being even more diverse in future years, seen as a plus for the Democrats.
The best bet for the Democrats to prevail in 2014 is for Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter to win today without a runoff. That's because when runoffs take place here, Republicans seem to come out in bigger numbers, dooming the Democrats.
Earlier this year, we wrote about an earlier time when a candidate could win a statewide contest with a plurality of votes, set at 45 percent. This system was later scrapped, with the winner now having to get a simple majority of the total vote, that is, 50 percent plus one vote.
Consider the possibilities, ripe for either of the major parties.
If the Republicans in races with three candidates, poll the highest vote total, with say 48 percent, but are forced into a runoff, they probably would prevail in the second voting. But what if the opposite happened, that is, the runoff produced a Democratic victory?
make the Republicans wish that the plurality system had been in effect
in this election, since their candidate would then have been declared
the winner, and no runoff would be necessary.
Then consider what could happen in the General Assembly in 2015. Right now the Republicans control both Houses, and will continue to control them after the election, since not enough seats are in question in today's races.
The tight races this year might set the legislators to thinking, wondering if electing by majority was a better system. After all, runoffs cost the state millions each year. Why not have a system with a possibility of no runoff, and save money, too. Hmmm. Might be popular with the voters.
In other states, picking leaders by the plurality system works. It could work in Georgia .with the possibility that it would produce just-as-good, if not better, elected officials, at less cost. Without runoffs, perhaps the average Georgian might not be as grouchy as they have been this year.
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Editor, the Forum:
All states now offer tax breaks and credits to attract new businesses or to prevent companies from moving elsewhere. This is at a cost of more than $80 billion in lost revenue each year. The question then becomes how many states, including Georgia, go back and check to see whether the incentives they awarded boost the economy, rather than just the companies' fortunes.
As an example, when Louisiana checked on the 9,379 jobs that were supposed to have been created through the incentives it granted in 2009, "it found a likely net gain of only 3,000 jobs."
Are these tax incentive policies in the best interests of the citizens of a state?
States can get into an escalating tax giveaway race with other states to increase their incentives. For instance, California recently increased their incentives to counter states like Georgia who had given tax breaks to movie company productions in this state.
We lack a data base and metrics for transparency for the average Georgia citizen to see who is getting the breaks and how effective they are.
Shouldn't the states be more concerned about attracting business because of its superior education, transportation, health systems and overall quality of life for the company's employees? Georgia needs vast improvements in all of the above areas. The revenue being wasted in tax incentives could help in these areas, especially education.
We may not be creating new jobs, but merely shifting jobs, from state to state and even county to county?
Finally, is it time for national legislation to prevent the many tax incentives from being given at all by the states? We shouldn't assume the incentives actually benefit the state economy.
Duluth has started on a journey to define its unique character, and to translate this uniqueness into public art throughout the city. The city is looking to its residents to help fill Duluth's canvas with art that tells its one-of-a-kind story to the region and the world.
The Duluth Public Art Master Plan knits the city's diverse community together by defining and implementing its expression-its signature-to the world. Help craft the Public Art Master Plan by coming together either the evenings of November 18-19 from 6 p.m. until 8 pm. The location will be announced soon. Both meetings will be the same format, so attend the workshop convenient to you.
share your favorite images of Duluth on Instagram by using #soduluth and
#duluthart. Don't use Instagram? Instead, share your photos, renderings,
sketches, essays, short stories, ideas, tall tales and one-liners on duluthgapublicart.com
or drop them off to Nick Colonna in the Planning Department on the second
floor of City Hall. Citizens can contribute to the Duluth Public Art Master
Plan by photographing their favorite places in Duluth and sharing the
images along with a description of what makes that place "so
"Figuratively Speaking" exhibit now open at Kudzu Art Zone
Kudzu Art Zone and galleries is now holding its newest exhibit, "Figuratively Speaking," which runs through Saturday, November 29. The Art Zone is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The theme of this show considers the human figure, figures of speech or the artist's individual interpretation. Included are works from such notable member artists as Debra Barnhart, Rae Prall, Sissy Saffell, Susan Faircloth, Kathy Kitz, Anne Labaire and Lynda Ellis, among others. It is a thoughtful show, with works represented in various media, oils, acrylic, graphite and some three dimensional sculptures.
Kudzu Art Zone is always worth a visit in itself, located in downtown Norcross at 116 Carlyle Street. The gallery is well lit, open and spacious. There are individual artists' studios where you can observe the artists at work. An outstanding center for the arts in the community, there are ongoing classes for children and adults, workshops and demonstrations. All are welcome at the monthly member meetings held the fourth Monday each month featuring artist demonstrations and presentations.
Suwanee police offer free driving safety program to teens
Police Department is offering a free two-hour program designed to assist
parents and their new teen drivers. Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents
Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) will be offered at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday,
November 12, at the Suwanee Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee
Gwinnett Extended Care Center (GECC) at Gwinnett Medical Center-Lawrenceville has received certification from the Atlanta Audubon Society as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary. GECC is one of only two retirement communities/nursing homes in metropolitan Atlanta to achieve this recognition.
Tamey Stith, GECC administrator, says: "It's been a multi-year process. The standards for this designation are quite high, and required not only contributions of plants and funds, but also hundreds of hours of physical labor from Gwinnett Medical Center associates, GECC residents and community members."
Although both the grounds and courtyard at GECC have received the Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary certification, the courtyard is the focal point. The courtyard is fully handicapped accessible, and is enclosed so that residents in wheelchairs or with memory issues can utilize it safely.
Chris Piela, who worked on the garden, says: "This whole project began to take shape when I learned that while the residents enjoyed bird watching, putting out birdseed does not comply with health department standards. Therefore, we were limited in the choices of traditional bird foods. Instead, we needed to develop a garden with a variety of plants and features to provide cover and food for the birds at various times of the year."
"Master Gardener Hilary Wilson became the leader," says Piela, "designing a bird-friendly garden, developing a step-by-step plan to get there, working with vendors, enlisting volunteers and coordinating workdays." The garden became a Great Days of Service project for each of the past two years, and construction of the required water feature became Gavin Figueroa's Eagle Scout project (Troop 506). In addition, Piela worked with the Atlanta Audubon Society to ensure all the qualifications were met. Keeping the garden up to these standards will be an ongoing process.
The Atlanta Audubon Society's Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Certification program encourages property owners to establish their yards as beneficial habitats for wildlife. Shelter for birds or other wildlife, feeders and plantings that offer seeds, flowers and berries, a water source, and nesting sites are among the requirements for certification.
Larry Connatser, an accomplished pianist and painter, grew up in Atlanta and lived on and off in Georgia throughout his life. A self-taught artist, Connatser developed an expressionistic and brilliantly colored style that usually portrays fantasy figures inhabiting dreamlike spaces. His innovative paintings, drawings, and murals were inspired by music, surrealism, and an intensive personal study of art history.
The only child of Evelyn Meyers and Roy Connatser, Laurence Stuart Connatser (right) was born on September 17, 1938, in Birmingham, Ala. The family moved to Atlanta when he was a young child, and he took piano lessons there from the time he was eight years old. Connatser attended public schools and was valedictorian of his class at Northside High School in 1956. When he left Atlanta to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he seriously contemplated continuing his musical studies as a professional pursuit.
While a student at Vanderbilt, he and a friend opened Tulip Is Black, Nashville's first coffeehouse. This successful business venture became a venue for folk singing, poetry readings, and art exhibitions. Connatser had not yet begun to paint but was influenced by the Austrian-born expressionist Eugene Biel-Bienne, who was then an assistant professor in Vanderbilt's art department. In 1961 Connatser graduated from college and moved to Chicago, Ill., to work for an educational publishing firm.
Disillusioned with his job in publishing, Connatser began to paint in his spare time. He developed a unique style using a vibrantly colored palette of acrylic paints that were executed on a hard panel of Masonite instead of canvas. Interlocking forms, often covered with dots and outlined in black marker, can be seen as a visual expression of his musical training. The paintings were usually untitled and intricately composed into imaginary landscapes containing discernible fantasy figures.
With financial support from his parents, Connatser quit his job in 1963 to devote his time to painting. In 1965 his work was exhibited at St. Xavier College in Chicago, in 1966 at the 69th annual Chicago and Vicinity Show at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 1967 at the Newark Museum in New Jersey.
Prior to his return to Georgia in 1971, Connaster's work was shown at the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at the Georgia State College Art Gallery, both in Atlanta; the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina; the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences in Virginia; and galleries in Illinois. Upon his return to Georgia, Connatser maintained residences in Savannah and Atlanta for the rest of his life. He staged private exhibitions from his home and invited interested clients to buy his paintings directly. A prolific artist, he eschewed gallery representation and juried exhibitions, preferring to take commissions or exhibit his work when invited.
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Gubernatorial and Libertarian candidates were not contacted. Candidates with no opposition are not listed.
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Design 20 Project will hold a public workshop in Lilburn on November 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Providence Christian Academy, 4575 Lawrenceville Highway. The City of Lilburn and Lilburn CID are working on new ways to help U.S. Highway 29 transform our community. The new Design 29 study effort will evaluate how urban design elements along the corridor can improve the sense of place for our community. Visit the project's site, Design29.mindmixer.com, and sign up for updates.
(NEW) Comedy Feast at the Live Arts Theatre at Gwinnett Place Mall, Saturday, November 8 at 8 p.m. New production with the Angst Giving Comedy Feast. Tickets are $10. The theatre is located in the former Belk's Store space. For more information, visit this website or call 678-464-0115.
Solo pianist John Burke will perform at Christ the King Church, 5575 Peachtree Parkway, on November 8 at 7 p.m. He will perform selections from his new album, Chirality. This will be a program of asymmetry, pertaining to mirrored images. Burke infuses this exciting technique throughout his new album.
Bestselling Author Rick Bragg will speak November 13 at 7 p.m. at the Red Clay Theatre. His subject will be his new book, Jerry Lee Lewis, His Own Story. Tickets are $5. A medley of Lewis' songs will be performed by Kurt Scobie prior to the Bragg appearance. The Red Clay Theatre is located at 3116 Main Street, Duluth. For more information visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154. Bragg is now a writing professor with the University of Alabama Journalism program. The program is presented as a partnership between Gwinnett County Public Library and Eddie Owens Presents.
Men of any age who would enjoy being a part of an "A Capella Experience," set aside Tuesday, November 18, at 7 p.m. to pay a visit to The Stone Mountain Chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society at a special guest night program. It will be at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church, 4480 Peachtree Corners Circle in Peachtree Corners. For more details, call at 770-978-8053 or visit www.stonemountainchorus.org.
Exhibit of eight
artists continues through December 2 at George Pierce Park
Community Center in Suwanee. Eight female artists will showcase their
talents, including watercolor, acrylic, oil, color pencil, mixed media,
collage, and pen and ink with color pencil. For more information, call
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.
GwinnettForum.com is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.
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