Editor’s Note: Let’s talk Bankhead and Grove Park
A story about the conversations that led to Canopy Atlanta’s third issue
Letter by Gavin Godfrey, The Bankhead Issue Editor
Photo by Will Bridges
March 24, 2022
How we reported this story: Canopy Atlanta asked the Bankhead community members about the journalism they needed and the stories in this issue emerged from that feedback. Canopy Atlanta also trains and pays community members, our Fellows, to learn reporting skills to better serve their community. Support our community-powered work today.
IT WAS A PERFECT EXAMPLE of Canopy Atlanta’s mission in action.
In October 2021, we were in the middle of just our second Community Editorial Board Meeting. There was no need for any awkward icebreakers because the conversation was lively from the jump. Canopy Atlanta Operations Director Mariann Martin was sharing a presentation of responses to our community listening in Bankhead and Grove Park with CEB members Angy Moss, Genia Billingsley, Tony Lawson and Renita Johnson. Canopy Atlanta Training Director Kamille Whittaker and I were splitting duties brainstorming potential story ideas.
We relayed resident concerns about gentrification, policing, property blight, the new Westside Park, Microsoft and neighborhood businesses. The conversation shifted to new residents looking to cash in on Bankhead and Grove Park’s futures without respecting the community’s past and the legacy residents — aka the “oldtimers”— that still call it home.
“They’re here, but they’re not really here,” Ms. Moss said, wondering why newcomers don’t frequent legacy businesses and engage long-time residents.
The Bankhead MARTA station — a destination for many.
“Sometimes a culture doesn’t have to change, but it can be improved,” Mr. Lawson said about the complexity of the issue and forthcoming business development coming to the area.
As we pondered that thought, Ms. Moss made a comment that brought the conversation full circle.
“We’re all connected in one way or the other,” she said, to what felt like, not just residents of Bankhead and Grove Park, but to us as a staff, a city and the whole state. It was what we needed to hear. It was the mission statement for this issue.
The words of Ms. Moss and the spirit of those early discussions resulted in the works you’re reading, watching and hopefully sharing. In producing this third issue of Canopy Atlanta, we wanted to show how we’re all very much living and breathing in this city together.
Bankhead and Grove Park are oft-forgotten Atlanta gems that help us better understand Atlanta’s complicated past, present and future. The communities, like everywhere else inside the perimeter, have their challenges, success and unmatched pride. Connecting local reporters with our Canopy Atlanta Fellows, we wanted to bring all of that into focus.
As A.R Shaw and Canopy Atlanta Fellow Liberty Rudo write in “The Business of Bankhead:”
Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway is in the midst of a transition. The thoroughfare, formerly known as Bankhead Highway, experienced years of disinvestment and now stands as a prime location for renewal and development.
There are still uncertainties about what’s to come for Bankhead and Grove Park. We hope the work from our incredible contributors, fellows and staff keeps those initial community conversations alive through storytelling. ♦
“We hope the work from our incredible contributors, fellows and staff keeps those initial community conversations alive through storytelling.”
Editor of The Bankhead Issue