HomeIssue 2: Forest Park

Issue 2: Forest Park

We’re partnering with the Forest Park community in Clayton County to choose, produce, and present collaborative journalism that directly responds to the city’s information needs. Right now, we’re asking Forest Park what information they need, training residents to be community journalists as our Fellows, and reporting stories chosen by community members. We’ll publish and present those stories later this summer.

Here’s what we’ve heard from more than 75 (and counting!) Forest Park community members through phone calls, canvassing, and more:

What’s a community issue you want more information about?

  • Housing: “Investment companies are buying up homes in the area, which is worrisome since the poverty rate is high. If rent goes up, it won’t benefit the people who are currently a part of the community.” “Rent has gone up a lot. Used to be able to rent a two-bedroom house for $400-600. Now, a one-bedroom starts at $700, and if it is very nice, it is $1,000.”
  • Policing: “Police in the Forest Park community frequently perform traffic stops to check licenses.” “[Police] are too vigilant with people who aren’t doing anything wrong but not vigilant enough with those who are.” “Educating and proper training of law enforcement while implementing transparency.”
  • Accountability for city government: “With the way the city spends money, I don’t see much that helps the community.” “More transparency for city government.” “Too much feelings and emotion” related to recent infighting between the Forest Park mayor, fire chief, city council members, and others is stopping city government from getting things done.
  • Schools: “Clayton County schools could use improvement, especially in teaching about diversity and different cultures.” “Our superintendent/board members need more scrutiny; students aren’t going to their next career choice.”
  • Food: “[We need] more restaurants besides fast food and better grocery stores.” “There’s not a lot of transportation for seniors. I spoke with a 81-year-old who can’t get groceries.”
  • COVID: “Are there any neighbors that have not gotten their vaccine and want to?” “The traffic for people getting tested could be higher.”

What do you love about Forest Park?

  • The diversity—strong Black, Latinx, and Vietnamese communities. “I was even able to meet someone from the same exact town in Mexico as me here.” “Rosetown, built specifically for African Americans.” “It is very diverse, so you get to interact with different people, and you’re always learning and never get tired or bored.”
  • “It’s still a small town, but it’s only nine miles outside the city.” “You’re 20-30 minutes from downtown. That’s kind of special.” “Feels like everyone is family; everyone sticks together.”
  • “The Forest Park [State] Farmers Market … people used to come in the ’70s to tour it.” “It has the advantage of really good fresh produce.”
  • Starr Park. “Lots of space and lots of family reunions.” “A relaxing place to come and watch children and families play.”
  • Forest Park Police, they patrol everywhere.” “Community feeling, feeling of safety.” “I feel safe. I can leave door wide open.”
  • “The South Atlanta Asian Community Center. They’ve done several food drives for the community that are open to everyone. Something right there where people don’t have to go too far.”

What’s a challenge in your life right now?

  • “Georgia cutting off the [unemployment or rental] aid
  • “The pandemic and how it is going to affect jobs”
  • “There’s a lot of food deserts. You have to travel 4-6 miles to get to a decent grocery store.”
  • “Finding job stability
  • Dealing with crime in the neighborhood and distrusting police: “It’s difficult as a Black resident because, Who do you call?”
  • “We’re getting ready to come up on a [local] election, and we have city council members that are under investigation.” “I hope that more people run for the elected office positions up for dispute this year.”
  • Medical expenses: “It feels like you need to take out a loan for [them].”
  • “Caught up in court dealing with fines and fees, which is very stressful and drains you both mentally and financially.”

Next, we’ll refine Forest Park’s community feedback into specific story angles with the help of a Community Editorial Board, and we’ll have community members—our Forest Park Journalism Fellows—report them out alongside award-winning journalists.

Learn more about Canopy Atlanta and our model here, and see how we partnered with West End to produce community-led journalism here.

Want to hear how our West End Fellows—southwest Atlanta residents trained in community journalism—felt about their experience? Read their stories here, or watch a conversation between two Fellows here.

Join our mission in making Atlanta journalism more collaborative and equitable by supporting our work.

Questions? Email us at hello@canopyatlanta.org

Vendors at the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park. Photo by Kamille Whittaker.