HomeIssue 2: Forest Park

Issue 2: Forest Park

We’re partnering with the Forest Park community in Clayton County to choose, produce, and present journalism that directly reports on information residents want.

We’ve asked more than 100 Forest Park community members what information they need. Now, we’re reporting on those stories and training residents to be community journalists as our Fellows. We’ll publish and present those stories later this summer.

Meet our Forest Park Journalism Fellows

These four paid community members are learning reporting skills through a six-week training program and working alongside experienced journalists on stories chosen by more than 100 Forest Park residents.

Rachel McBride
Rachel McBride, 17, is a North Clayton High School student who has developed deep roots and connections in the Forest Park community through her organizing work with Clayton County Sunrise Movement, Partnership for Southern Equity, and United Way of Greater Atlanta. She is passionate about committing to her neighbors in order to bring about healing in all of Clayton County. The fellowship is a way for her to engage the Forest Park community in a way that she feels not enough neighbors are doing. “This is our home,” she says, “and I look forward to learning about it and improving it.”
About me
Jardena Robinson
Jardena (pronounced Yar-day-nuh) Robinson is an Atlanta transplant who now calls the Forest Park area home. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008. During that time, she wrote articles and filmed various news segments for the university newspaper and television broadcast. Later, she published her own blog and now enjoys sharing pictures of her foodie adventures on Instagram. She hopes to shine a light on the positive voices in the Forest Park community.
About me
Ann Pellegrine
Ann Pellegrine has lived in Forest Park most of her life. After graduating from Forest Park High School in 1983, she attended Clayton Junior College and worked for Clayton County Public Schools from 1985 until her retirement in 2016. Like many white residents at the time, she moved to Henry County in the late ’80s. However, she returned to her family home in Forest Park with her husband Cliff, a special needs teacher at Forest Park High School, making it their permanent residence again over 20 years ago. Living where she worked helped fuel her passion for supporting students and their families through three decades of socioeconomic change. An avid reader and amateur writer, Ann is also vocal about social justice and political activism. The opportunity to serve as a Canopy Atlanta Fellow fulfills a life-long goal to write and share stories relevant to the history and rebirth of her beloved community.
About me
Angie (Thuy Hang) Tran
As a first generation American, Angie (Thuy Hang) Tran works to amplify the concerns and hopes of her diverse community members through advocacy and writing. Until nine years old, Angelina grew up in a former war zone in Vietnam, where she was surrounded by remnants of the war. The humbling privilege of listening to survivors’ narratives solidified her commitment to human rights and storytelling as truth to power. She taught English to immigrants and refugees for over five years before obtaining her Master’s in Education Policy. Angie’s father and relatives live in Forest Park, home to one of Atlanta’s largest Vietnamese enclaves. She looks forward to diving deeper into the history and transformation of the city and its relationship with new Americans.
About me

Meet our Forest Park Community Editorial Board

These community leaders helped refine feedback from more than 100 of their neighbors into story topics.

Bambie Hayes-Brown
A rural Southwest Georgia native and four-year resident of Forest Park, Dr. Bambie Hayes-Brown is the President & CEO of Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc., a statewide membership organization of housing and community development agencies. She has 24 years’ experience in rural and urban housing, community and economic development and is a licensed and ordained minister in Forest Park.
About me
Kesha Crockett
A proud graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and Georgia State University, Kesha Crockett currently operates an advertising agency (raesigns.com) in Clayton County and serves as the Forest Park High School Council President. She has managed advertising campaigns for companies like Willie A. Watkins, Fortune Metal of Riverside, Subway (Forest Park) and more, and she has created youth training camps to introduce teenagers to careers available in the advertising industry.
About me
Beverly Martin
Beverly J. Martin is a lifelong Forest Park resident. She worked for City Archives for seven years, where she helped set up and run the City of Forest Park Museum and assisted in writing “Images of America: Forest Park.” She also served on the planning board for the city's Centennial Celebration. Ms. Martin graduated from Forest Park High in 1982 and attended Clayton College and State University. She is retired and spends time caring for others.
About me
Wande Okunoren-Meadows
Wande Okunoren-Meadows is a nationally recognized early-childhood advocate and executive director of Forest Park’s Little Ones Learning Center, a holistic early-childhood education program where 175 children, their families, and staff grow, eat, and learn about local and sustainably grown food. Her mother, Olutoyin Okunoren, purchased the Center in 1994. She is also executive director of Hand Heart and Soul Project (HHSP), founded in 2018 to serve Clayton County through actionable training, resources, and support.
About me

What journalism does Forest Park want?

Here’s what we’ve heard from more than 100 Forest Park community members through phone calls, canvassing, and more. We’ve taken this community feedback, identified stories, and are reporting with community members to produce community-powered journalism by and with Forest Park.

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.”

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.