Wholesome Wave: Making Healthy, Local Produce Available to Everyone

By: Aaron Conley

At the entrance to the Athens Farmers Market two people are exchanging money for small, wooden tokens to be used at the various tents; one person swipes a platinum Visa card, the other uses a government issued EBT card.

The second individual is taking advantage of a program run through an organization called Wholesome Wave. That program doubles the value of food stamps when they are used to purchase food at local farmers markets.

According to its website, Wholesome Wave is a national nonprofit organization founded in 2007, and arrived at the Athens Farmers Market in the spring of 2010.

“The program lets me bring healthy food into my home,” said Tia Brown, a young mother of two on government assistance. “It has been a really great opportunity.”

The program is an new twist on the locavore movement, which encourages businesses and individuals to utilize food grown within a 100-mile radius. The campaign spawned from an interest in sustainability and eco-consciousness. Read the rest of this entry »

Buy Athens: Bringing Life Back to the Local Economy

By: Aaron Conley

This is Athens Restaurant Week, when special menus and lower prices are driving diners into the downtown area.

It’s a project of the Chamber of Commerce, which is worried about a dwindling number of people shopping and eating downtown.

Leaders in the Athens-Clarke County government believe that the blame for this trend can be traced back to the increase of online shopping, as well as the pull of large malls in other towns.

In order to counteract this trend, a L.E.A.D. Athens group of the Chamber of Commerce developed a new marketing campaign known as Buy Athens. Read the rest of this entry »

Athens Resource Center for the Homeless: The Untold Story

By: Aaron Conley

Throughout the day, many people walk to and from cars in front of Advantage Behavioral Health Services on North Avenue, where anyone in need can receive behavioral health, development disability, and addictive disease services for free.

In recent years, the acre in front of Advantage has sat empty.

Now, the lot is full of construction equipment, and the beginnings of what will become the Athens Resource Center for the Homeless, known as ARCH. When the project is completed, ARCH will house or expand several key services for the homeless, even though they may not know it yet.

When the center opens Athens Area Homeless Shelter, AIDS Athens, the Athens Nurses Clinic, as well as Advantage will be able to provide for the individuals they serve in way that has never before been possible.

Through interviews with leaders behind the center’s creation, it becomes clear that ARCH is the product of conquered challenges. The project has overcome bias and stigma, government red tape, and financial difficulties on the way to where it is today. Those past experiences instill ARCH’s leaders, they say, with the confidence to face their newest challenge head-on. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Denson: working for change from outside the mayor’s office

By: Aaron Conley

The information desk at a local bookstore is not the first place that anyone would expect to find one of the most polarizing political figures in a community, but that is exactly where you will find Tim Denson, and that is exactly how he likes it.

Standing behind the information desk at the Barnes and Noble, his signature beard makes him instantly recognizable, more so than by the simple “Tim” emblazoned on his nametag. His job further exemplifies his status as a political outsider, a central role in his 2014 mayoral campaign.

That campaign failed, and left Tim Denson with a lot of ideas, and a lot of questions, but no answers. Those answers are exactly what Tim is still trying to provide to his supporters today, nine months after the election. Read the rest of this entry »