Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Game On Tom Taylor

We wanted to think the DeKalb County School Board would do the right thing and approve the Druid Hills Charter Cluster, but we weren't holding our collective breaths either.  Last night the charter cluster was shot down 5-4.

Ok, Tom Taylor - you are up and we are 100% behind you.  Whatever you need to help pass HR 486, A Better Dunwoody stands ready to help.  Folks - this our chance to truly make a better Dunwoody.  Imagine a school system not run by self-serving politicians, where the kids truly do come first.

Whatever you think of the parkway, roundabout, paving - it is trivial compared to the push for an independent school system.  We need to stand united behind Tom and scream loud and clear -we want our own school system!  Sending emails is not enough, we need to be seen and heard in person.

Bring it Tom and let us know what you need.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kindergarten Lessons

The election is over and it is time for all of us to come together and work to make Dunwoody a better place to live, work and play.  There are, of course, a lot of different opinions in our community about how to do that.  We should continue to have those discussions but we need to move away from the acrimonious tone, the accusations and the exaggerations.

I’ve got a friend who is a real estate agent.  She HATES showing houses in Dunwoody.  You know why?  She doesn’t want to answer the questions: “Save Dunwoody?  Why does Dunwoody need saving?  What is wrong in Dunwoody that these folks need to save? Do I really want to live here?”

Dunwoody is a great place live, but you would never know it from the tone of the debate over the last year or so.   The world may not be watching what we do, but our neighbors are.  It is time for us to turn over a new leaf and find ways to disagree without being disagreeable. 

Put away your signs.  Tone down your public comments.  Moderate the tone of your letters to The Crier.  Curb your outrage.  Distance yourselves from the spreaders of unreasoned dissent and twisted malice.
In other words, stay involved, but be civil.  To remind everyone how to act, I refer you to the book “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum   Here are the 16 things we all need to remember from kindergarten:
“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first workd you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The polls are open!

Go exerise your right to vote.  Those of us in District 1 and 2 are jealous of those voters in District 3 - y'all have no chance of a run-off.  Hopefully everything will be decided tonight.

District 1 - Shortal
District 2 - Wescott
District 3 - Thompson

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our picks

A Better Dunwoody volunteers attended 2 forums (not the one at DUMC, we were at the DHA meeting that night), have spoken with all the candidates and have made our decisions for election day on November 5.

We believe in a Better Dunwoody and do not think we need to save Dunwoody, except from those who think we should freeze time or look backwards.  We think the city is doing a good job at transparency and asking for public input. - although in order to give input you do have to attend meetings.  Is the city staff and council perfect?  No, but we do believe they have the city's best interests at heart and look at the big picture.

District 1- Denny Shortal (incumbent) will get our vote on Tuesday.  Denny surprised us at the DHA forum with his complete understanding of the various vendors the city uses for services.  We liked his suggestions to tweak some of the service levels.  Denny supported the Village Parkway Plan and the Brook Run trail system.  At the same time, he is the first to question costs and unnecessary spending.  Denny fully supports keeping Austin as a community school in the same location. 

David Davis is an unknown in Dunwoody.  We liked his short, brief answers at the Kingsley forum but feel his lack of experience and understanding of the city do not qualify him to sit on council.

Henly Shelton is one of the sweepers who seems to think Dunwoody is becoming the next Detroit.  What really turned us off was one of his answers at the DHA forum.  The question asked how he had helped improve his neighborhood, community and the city in the past 5 years.  He said he supported the city, but since its incorporation the "in crowd" had taken over and since he wasn't one of them, he was not invited to be involved.  For the record, you did not and do not need a personal invitation to attend council meetings or any other meeting held by the city.

District 2 - Heyward Wescott will get our vote on Tuesday.  Heyward's positive attitude, involvement in many different community organizations and proven leadership will make a great contribution to the council.  Truthfully we hope he runs for mayor in the future.  We think his perspective as a small business owner add to his qualifications.  He is the only candidate from District 2 to support Project Renaissance.  As noted in another post, this project took foreclosed land zoned for 300 apartments and turned it into a city park and single family residential homes.

Jim Riticher is the sweeper candidate from District 2.  We were completely turned off by his negative campaigning and lack of answers to the questions at the DHA forum.  He paid no attention to the questions actually asked, but just went off on his own tangents.

William AJ Mercier is a newcomer to Dunwoody.  He has lived in Dunwoody less than 18 months, having moved here from Ohio.  While being a newcomer can bring a fresh perspective to council, we were surprised by his negativity regarding the city.  Had he brought a more positive approach and some fresh ideas, we would have taken his candidacy more seriously.

District 3 - Doug Thompson (incumbent) will get our vote on Tuesday.  At the DHA forum we were delighted with his understanding and commitment to District 3 issues.  His candor about city issues  helped provide some insight to decisions made over the past few years.  The loudest applause at the forum was Doug's closing statement when he said, "I don't understand when people try to tear this city down."  He almost had a standing ovation for that statement.

Sam Eads is the sweeper from District 3.  We appreciate his not being as negative as the other sweepers.  He was honest about his lack of community involvement while the other sweepers merely gave poor excuses.  What turned us off Sam completely was his answer to a question about intersections at the DHA forum.  He stated the city has already spent millions on the N. Peachtree/Peeler/Tilly Mill intersection and the spending was wasteful.  In truth the city has not spent one dime to improve the intersection and in fact, the job has not even gone out to bid.  Don't make up an answer just to fuel anger in citizens.

So there are our choices and a few sentences of explanation about our thought process behind those decisions.  The election is November 5 and remember, you will only vote for one candidate from your district.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ghosts in the Farmhouse

Well done Troop 477!  The Boy Scout troop created a haunted farmhouse tour at the Donald Bannister farmhouse complete with ghost sightings in the house.  And how could you go wrong with roasting s'mores over a fire pit on the grounds of the farmhouse?!  Over 1,000 visitors took the farmhouse tour this past Saturday.  Lots of great kids games in the field, reasonable priced concessions and a parking shuttle made the entire experience fun and easy for my family.

Given the success of new and established community events - Food Truck Thursdays, Butterfly Festival, Haunted Farmhouse, Light Up Dunwoody, Lemonade Days it is easy to see we are a community who enjoys the "play" in the idea of "live, work, play."  We enjoy seeing our friends and neighbors while enjoying great events a few minutes from where we live.

The one thing I think we are missing - a 4th of July fireworks show.  We have to leave Dunwoody to catch good fireworks (unless you sit on the Dunwoody side of Dunwoody Club drive to watch the country club's).  Any pyros out there want to lobby the city for a show?

Friday, October 25, 2013

PVC to Project Renaissance

I drove by Project Renaissance this week with my daughter in the backseat.  She saw the new playground in place and quickly asked if it was a new park.  When I answered in the affirmative, she asked if the park was for us.  Again, I said yes but she would have to wait until it was open.  Much excitement ensued and more questions about when it would open.

In looking for a Better Dunwoody, I can't wait for Project Renaissance to be open and built.  Instead of apartments, the city will have a new park and new single family homes.  Over 300 apartments were planned for that space, fortunately for the city, the recession hit and the developer was unable to build them.  There were not many positive results from the recession - Project Renaissance is one of them.

The city, through a public/private partnership, was able to buy the foreclosed land (aka the pvc pipe farm) destined for apartments and turn it into new single family homes and a new city park.  That is a Better Dunwoody.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Walk This Way

Yesterday was Dunwoody Walk to School Day, an annual event that traditionally kicks-off the walk to school programs at each of Dunwoody’s five elementary schools.  Hundreds of students – many joined by their parents – made the choice to bypass the carpool lanes in favor of walking to school.
Dunwoody’s walk to school programs have their roots at Kingsley Charter Elementary School, which staged its first Walking Wednesday on April 1, 2009.  This, coincidently, also happened to be the first official day of operation for the new Dunwoody Police Department, and one of the department’s very first public acts was to participate in Kingsley’s event.  Police Chief Billy Grogan walked to school with the Kingsley students that day, and the walkers were escorted by a shiny new police cruiser with lights flashing.   The DPD has been a great friend and partner to Dunwoody’s Walk to School efforts ever since, enforcing traffic laws near our schools to keep our students safe.
Since that day, walk to school efforts have evolved and spread throughout the city.  Kingsley is now joined by Austin, Chesnut, DES and Vanderlyn as schools with active and vibrant walk to school programs.  As Dunwoody continues to become more pedestrian and bike safe with the addition of sidewalks and bike lanes, more students than ever have the opportunity to SAFELY walk or bike to school in our community.
So what’s the big deal about walking to school?  You can point to the various studies that show students that have 20 minutes of moderate physical activity to start their day perform better on tests, are more attentive in class, retain more of what they learn and have fewer behavior issues in school.  You could recognize that more students walking to school translates to fewer cars on the road, making the morning commute easier on everyone.
But the most important reason in my opinion to walk to school is simple – It’s FUN!  Walking Wednesdays are more than just a way to get to school, they are events that often include contests, prizes, special guest walkers, music, cheerleaders and even superheroes.   Students get the chance to walk to school with their friends in a parade-like atmosphere.  Parents join in on the fun too…walking and talking with friends and meeting new neighbors.  And why not try walking home from school as well - this is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your child, learn about their day and get some exercise in the process (an added bonus).

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Dunwoody?

As a child I grew up bicoastal.  With a father who was a Marine pilot, we bounced between coasts often.  I experienced a mix of Southern “charm” and Western “laid-back”.

Fast forward to young adulthood.  My husband and I were living in Northern California, where a 40-mile commute into the city of San Francisco took 90 minutes each way (on a good day.) The community was entirely different also.  Most families had both spouses working, so neighborhoods were incredibly quiet during the day.  HOA’s were more for road repair and landscaping/parking rules than for community building.  Our local cities were full of things to do, but we found two major things to be lacking: time and relationships. 

When our first daughter was exactly one-month old – with my husband’s company, we boarded an airplane and flew from Oakland, CA and landed in Atlanta, GA.  For me it was like coming home, but for my California born and bred husband it was a brand new adventure.  On that “look-see trip”, we mutually fell in love with Atlanta.  One year later we boarded our second flight to come buy our new Southern home. 

How did we decide where to live?  On one criterion only at the time: schools.  We found one of the best elementary schools in the state and that took us to Dunwoody.  In three days we toured about twenty homes – each one in this city.  The more we toured the homes and saw the neighborhoods, the more in love we fell with this area.  A month after putting an offer on our Dunwoody home, we moved in. 

Now, nearly eight years after calling Dunwoody home, people still ask us if we would move back to California.  And our answer is no way, no how.  California is an awesome vacation location – but Dunwoody… Dunwoody is home. 

Why Dunwoody?

Maybe it is the southern charm, or perhaps the neighbors piling on your doorstep to help when you are down and out.  Could it be the impromptu cul-de-sac parties on a cool late summer eve, or the energy filled Lemonade Days on a warm Spring Day?

The luminarias lining Dunwoody Club Forest streets on Christmas Eve? Light Up Dunwoody? Food Truck Thursdays? Perimeter Mall and all and any brand name store you need balanced with the local flare of the Village? 

It could be the incredible parent presence within our schools and community, rooting and working for the best educational opportunities for our young citizens.  Top-notch medical care right in our backyard?  Close freeway access for all the commuters, yet a strong and ever strengthening local business community for people to be able to work, play and stay in Dunwoody?

For myself, my family, and many others that I know – it is all of these things.  I’m so happy to call Dunwoody home, a sentiment shared by 30,000 others too, I’m sure.

Vote early, vote often

The election season has officially begun!  We look forward to hearing from all 8 qualified candidates for city council.

Distritct 1  - Denny Shortal (incumbent), Henly Shelton, David Davis
District 2 - Heyward Wescott, Jim Riticher, William AJ Mercier
District 3 - Doug Thompson (incumbent), Sam Eads

As people who look for the positive, we want to hear each candidate's plans on what they would do to further improve our city. We want to hear ideas, thoughts, plans, not buzzkill, negative complaints.  It is very easy to point out the flaws in past performance (hindsight is 20/20).  It is much harder to lead with new, detailed plans and ideas.  We want to hear what the candidates will do, not what they won't do.

We hope to see all of them at the DHA Candidate Forum on Oct. 17 so we can hear them speak in person without a script.  The election is November 5, please exercise your right to vote.

Monday, August 26, 2013


We don't want to jinx anything but it hasn't rained in 4 days (since Thursday evening)!!!  What a beautiful weekend we enjoyed in Dunwoody.  We hope everyone was able to enjoy the outdoors in some way.

More positive posts are in the works, we just got distracted with the sunshine!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fun in the 'hoods

We made it into The Crier! Check out the Letters to the Editor this week - http://www.thecrier.net/talk_back_to_the_crier/article_12cd8f2a-093c-11e3-8de6-001a4bcf887a.html. A Better Dunwoody is mentioned in one and the other letters share our positive sentiment!

Many neighborhoods in Dunwoody are centered around the swim/tennis clubs. There is always fun competition among the clubs during the ALTA season and especially swim season (Dunwoody Talk is the place to read about the summer swim season). But what else is going on during the rest of year?

The Branches has a triathlon training program for kids with 65 participants! Parent volunteers are helping the kids train on Saturdays for the IronKids Triathlon which takes place Sept 15. Mill Glen offered bridge lessons last winter to help the "new" generation catch up with the "old" generation. Village Mill has a strawberry festival every year.  Kingsley has lakeside fireworks on the 4th of July and a campout for kids at the club.  Gourmet dinners, neighborhood socials, moive nights at the pool, Easter egg hunts - so many of our neighborhoods add to the quality of life in our city. What does your neighborhood do?

Update - and we have to include the Briers North Subdivision and their fabulous Halloween celebration!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back in School

Today is Day 3 of the 2013-2014 school year.  Today's blog is a thank you to all the teachers, administrators, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, parent volunteers, etc. who make our schools a great place for our children to grow and learn.  They do all of this work despite the curveballs and challenges thrown to them by the county, state and federal  bureacracies. 

I have no doubt Vanderlyn's principal, Mrs. Crenshaw, spent long hours at the school coming up with a Plan B when she learned the trailers would not be in place for the first 2 weeks of school.  I know many teachers spent hours of their summer vacation working on their classrooms.  Parents across Dunwoody put in hours working on schools as well from painting hallways to tending school gardens to summer PTA meetings.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the succeess of a Dunwoody school. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Smooth Roads

A couple of years ago the city developed a 5 year paving plan to begin the process of repairing our city's streets.  I think we are beginning to see results of the plan this summer as more residential streeets have been paved.  A street in my neighborhood was re-paved this summer and I can't believe the difference.  It went from a bone-jarring, off roading bumpy street to oh-so-smooth.  It is just fun to ride a bike, scooter or skateboard on it.  Driving on it is much easier as you can just drive straight instead of navigating through potholes like a slalom course.

If you are wondering if your street or a bad street in your neighborhood is due for re-paving, the list of streets for through 2017 is on the city's website - http://www.dunwoodyga.gov/Libraries/Public_Works_Documents/2012-2016_Paving_Plan.sflb.ashx
The city spends approximately $2 million a year on paving projects.

On another note, school in DeKalb County begins on Monday, August 12.  As fun as it is to drive on newly paved roads, please don't speed!  The streets will be full of bikers, walkers and bus stops as kids return to the classroom. Please help keep them safe.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We wanted to share this message from a friend's Facebook post shared with A Better Dunwoody.

Kudos to the Dunwoody Police Department for their diligent house watch program! I signed up for them to watch the house while we were gone for nearly 3 weeks. We came home to find Officer Tate's business card ON our kitchen island....yes, IN the house. We sat there wondering how on Earth he got into the home...then noted the remarks he'd written on the back of his card..."basement door unlocked". (!!!) It shows how thorough their checks are - going to each door to check that the house was secure - or not! This is yet another reason this City's such a great place to live...I doubt Dekalb County police would've been as thorough! Thank you, Officer Tate for watching out for us!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Getting Around - Dunwoody Style

Two events occurred in Dunwoody this weekend we felt worth sharing.

The first was the trail opening over in Brook Run.  If you have not been on the trail, grab your dog's leash, child's stroller, scooter or bike and head over to the trail.  Or if you need some quiet time, grab a book and park yourself on one of the benches along the trail.  The trail is a great asset to the park and our community, go explore it and then imagine Phase 2 with a trail going all the way around the park.  I  imagine kids learning to ride bikes on it, joggers running without fear of cars and seniors being able to walk on a nice level surface in a beautiful setting.  Perhaps there will even be a unicorn sighting.

The second event was the Sunday Monthly Cycle.  It is a recreational bike ride beginning at 3pm from Brusters.  The route is approximately 4 1/2 miles long and includes a police escort to help riders across streets.  Before the start of the ride, the rules of the road are reviewed as well as a few pointers on bike maintenance and hand signals.  People of all ages participate - from toddlers in bike trailers to seniors out for a leisurely ride.  The ride occurs the first Sunday of every month and next month will be the one year anniversary!  There is a Facebook page if you would like more information on the ride - BikeWalkDunwoody.  It is a fairly easy ride, even for younger riders and older riders in not-so-great shape.

The best part about the bike ride - it ends at Brusters!  They give a 10% discount and have cold water waiting for the riders.  I had a scoop of the pistachio yesterday, well worth the bike ride to get it! Another added bonus is the opportunity to chat with your fellow riders and relax on a Sunday afternoon .

Lots of different ways to get around - Dunwoody style!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Oh The Places You’ll Go… On Dunwoody Sidewalks!

Dunwoody has a lot of wonderful things to offer, but when it comes to a casual and warm summer evening, nothing really beats a leisurely walk to your local fro-yo spot.  Since the city of Dunwoody began identifying areas in need of safe passage and installing sidewalks, these walks have gotten easier (and best yet, as a mom to wee ones – safer!)

You would think the highlight of the Dunwoody Club Drive walk would have been landing at our local favorite, Yogli Mogli.  Not quite though.  Yogli’s Mogli’s “Pink Lemonade Sorbet” came in a close second to the sidewalk art. A few concrete smiley faces and a full sized "sad man" had them thoroughly entertained for the 3 mile round trip.

As my eldest pointed out, “Even the sidewalk is happy to have us walking on it!” 

While the concrete artwork was the highlight of my kids’ evening, and I do adore taking these walks with my young brood, my husband and I enjoy “walking date nights” out here too.

If you haven’t taken a “walking date”, I’d highly recommend it.  You don’t have to fight over who is the DD, pedestrian traffic doesn’t slow down your travel time (unless you run into a friendly neighbor who offers you a glass of wine on the way to your destination – thank goodness for not having to worry about the DD thing again), and you can burn off those calories before and after you indulge in them!  A win-win!  Seriously though, it slows the pace down a little, allows you to hold hands, and just… Stroll.  Chat. Breathe. It’s lovely and I recommend it. 

And I recommend you packing your kids up and going for a stroller walk to.  If you live along Mt. Vernon near the Village, another family favorite of ours is to take a morning walk to Dunkin' Donuts for the kids and then over to Starbucks for the survival kit of Skinny Vanilla Lattes and Spinach Feta Wraps for the adults.  A little bit of feet up time, kids running around in the grass outside of Starbucks, and then legs are renewed for their journey home.

My thanks go to the City of Dunwoody for embracing the need and taking the efforts to create safe and accessible walking paths – so that myself and my loved ones can enjoy a stroll in and around our wonderful city.  Sidewalks have made my Dunwoody a Better Dunwoody. 

And so the question is, where will your sidewalks take you in the near future? Maybe to the Dunwoody Food Truck Thursdays at Brook Run?  Who can pass up Moon Dog Growlers and a Chorizo Panini from Pressed for Time?!?!  Let us know what gets you to toss on those walking shoes and hit the pavement in your part of the 'hood!   

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rainbows and Unicorns

I readily admit I am an optimist - the glass is always 2/3 full for me.  For example, the post office at Christmas - I have enjoyed meeting people while standing in line!

The non-stop negative press and constant criticism of most civic activities in Dunwoody the past few months has become truly tiresome.  My spouse and I chose Dunwoody as the place to raise our family because of its schools and proximity to our places of employment. We voted to become a city for more local control and a government closer to the people.  I am not sure what changed for people between 2008 and 2013, but for me Dunwoody and its quality of life have only improved in the past few years.  You don’t need to be an optimist to know that Dunwoody is a great place to live, work, and play.

It turns out I am not the only optimist in Dunwoody - there are many of us and we are all tired of the yard signs, the cranky-pants “letters to the editors”, and the inference that Dunwoody is in line to become the next Detroit.  Enough already!

So here we are; those in favor of positivity have decided to start a blog to share all the good and great things in our city. We invite you to share your positive stories as well.   I'll start.

My oldest child insisted he was old enough to ride his bike home from school by himself. We live close to the school so I agreed to let him spread his wings and ride home alone - besides many of his friends accompanied him for part of the way.  One day I received a phone call he had fallen, was fine and would be home soon. A stranger brought his bike home, a mom with older kids provided a popsicle and the phone call.  Another neighbor brought him home with her kids. It does take a village to raise a child and we have a great village - young, old, married, single. I'm thankful for everyone who contributes to making Dunwoody a great place to live.

This blog will happily accept any “Dunwoody positive” stories or pictures you’d like to share - school, athletic, religious, civic, whatever;  if it’s a good story to demonstrate why we live in Dunwoody, we’ll post it!  Negative comments will be deleted. We'll try and post once or twice a week with something we feel is worth sharing. We look forward to spreading the positive feeling about being a Better Dunwoody.

My spouse says it's the endless supply of rainbows and ponies in Dunwoody with the occasional unicorn sighting that makes it great. Sigh, not as much of an optimist as I am.

 To share your story, send an email to:  abetterdunwoody@gmail.com.