Category Archives: news

Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden: Wildlife Sanctuary and Cub Scout Pack 586

By Jessi Noreault

At 210+ acres, Freedom Park is one of the largest green spaces within the Atlanta area.  A hidden gem located in the park at the corner of North Avenue and Candler Park Drive is the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden, a site for the reintroduction of native plants and shrubs for bird and pollinator habitat.

On January 15, 2019, Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden became Atlanta’s first certified Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary of 2019! With the certification, the garden will be joining a network of approximately 450 Atlanta properties in reestablishing and adding wildlife habitat for threatened birds and other species to our urban area.  To find out more about Atlanta Audubon’s Wildlife Sanctuaries or how you can certify your own property, visit: Atlanta Audubon.

Atlanta Audubon Board Member Melinda Langston presents the certification sign. L-R: Pandra Williams, Laura Hennighausen, Melinda Langston, and Leslie Edwards.

This past November, Beech Hollow volunteers Pandra Williams and Jessi Noreault, worked with members from Cub Scout Pack 586, a Scouts for Equality Inclusive Unit from the Candler Park, Lake Claire, and Inman Park neighborhoods of Atlanta.

Cub Pack 586

Pandra and Jessi guided Cub Scout Pack 586 in identifying invasive species to be removed from the area, how to properly remove plants, identifying desired native plants and how to plant new material.  Together we removed Bradford Pear/ Pyrus calleryana. 

Volunteer Pandra Williams teaches Cub Scouts about plant care. Photo by Meta Larsson.

Pack 586 are fierce with a shovel and did an amazing job digging right down to the roots to get these invasive species out of the garden to make room for planting native plants.  Since it was Fall, plants were hard to identify, and some desired native plants had their roots revealed. No worries though, the plants were put right back in the soil without any plant injuries.  Best of all, this created a great educational opportunity to discuss and look at plant roots and plant dormancy.

Once we cleared a few areas in the garden, Pandra did a demonstration on how to plant.  The scouts planted several native plant species including native Baptisia ssp, Purple Coneflower/ Echinacea purpurea, Georgia Aster/ Symphiotrichum georgianum, and Black-Eyed Susan/ Rudbeckia hirta

Make sure to take a walk-through Freedom Park this spring to check out the blooms from our plantings!

Volunteers work in Freedom Parks Bird and Butterfly Garden.

We love being able to get the word out about native plants, work with and help other local groups and get native roots back into their home soil whenever there is an opportunity!  If you are part of an organization that is interested in education or plant installations of native Georgia plants, please reach out to us.  Every new connection we make is just one more step toward healing our environment.  We can’t do it without y’all!

Thank You for a Successful Georgia Gives Day!

Thanks to thirty-four generous donors, Freedom Park Conservancy exceeded our first Georgia Gives Day goal of $5,000, raising $5,420 in the twenty-four hour day of giving!

This funding is dedicated to several park improvement projects FPC has identified for 2019, including:

– Eight volunteer work days in the park to remove invasive plants, mulch trees, and address erosion issues
– Enhancement of, and Audubon Society Certification for, our Bird and Butterfly Garden (located at the corner of North Avenue and Candler Park Drive)
– The addition of at least two small native pollinator gardens
– Identifying and preserving snags for woodpecker habitat

Although $5,000 may seem like a small amount, these projects will propel FPC into 2019 as we begin to work with our surrounding communities to enhance Freedom Park for a diverse public. Successful projects will allow FPC to demonstrate our ability to tackle much larger projects in the future and target larger funding amounts from private foundations.

Thank you to our Georgia Gives Day supporters and the many others who have supported FPC financially in 2018. If you would like to make a difference, please consider making a donation today using our secure web portal below.

Across the Board – What’s in the Works

By Harriett Lane, Board Chair

FPC Board Chair Harriett Lane

It’s winter and fewer people are using the park. But while the grass lies dormant, Freedom Park Conservancy (FPC) has been busy planning for an exciting 2019 featuring public art projects, new plantings, public events, and more. FPC is eager to implement new projects in partnership with partners like the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Audubon Society, Trees Atlanta, and Park Pride. We can’t wait to share details!

As FPC has been gearing up, many of our board members have been asked about a proposal to build a pedestrian bridge in Freedom Park over Moreland Avenue. A pedestrian bridge over Moreland Avenue was one of several proposed pedestrian bridges in the original concept plan for the park, all of which were not built. A new grassroots effort has brought the idea forward once more. 

EDAW Sketch of Freedom Park at Moreland Avenue
A rendering of Freedom Park at Moreland Avenue from the original 1994 master plan

FPC’s Board of Directors, made up of representatives from our surrounding neighborhoods and other stakeholders, dedicated a meeting to discussing the idea. We talked about the state of the park today and how the bridge concept intersects with our mission to promote the improvement of the park for a diverse public. It’s important to us that the Conservancy encourages the exploration of all ideas that would improve the connectivity, safety, and beauty of the park. We’re very glad to see people talking about Freedom Park and how it’s used!

We concluded that we would like to see the concept studied with full public participation and the complete involvement of all stakeholders, particularly the neighborhoods bordering the park. We intend to be part of that conversation and anticipate the bridge will be explored as part of our upcoming master planning process.

While the bridge idea has generated a lot of discussion, it’s far from the only improvement our park needs. When Freedom Park was first laid out, a beautiful concept plan was created. Many ideas in this original plan were never implemented, and as a result most of our 200+ acres are missing what many may consider to be basic park amenities: benches, landscaping, lighting, picnic tables, drinking fountains, and more.

A rendering of the corner of Freedom Parkway and Ponce de Leon Avenue from the original 1994 master plan

In an effort to enhance the park in ways that would benefit the diverse community who loves it,  FPC is fundraising now for a new master plan for the park to address long-delayed improvements, big and small. We recently received a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor to help us kickstart this fundraising. That’s a lot of money, but we need at least $100,000 more to create a comprehensive plan that spans the parkland running through all seven neighborhoods. Please consider making a donation today to help us improve our park.

If you’re curious about the original plan for the park and what’s missing, you can view high-resolution scans below. Please keep bringing us your ideas and we’ll keep working hard to make Freedom Park the best park it can be.

EDAW Freedom Park Master Plan Page 1

EDAW Freedom Park Master Plan Page 2

Report an issue

Freedom Park Conservancy has a Park Improvement Committee charged with tracking physical issues and opportunities within Freedom Park. The Committee and Executive Director regularly walk the Park to keep track of the Park’s status. Issues noted include incidents of graffiti, erosion, invasive plants, tree canopy issues, and more.

If you have noticed an issue in the park, please feel free to reach out to the Conservancy to make sure it is on our radar. Email Laura@FreedomPark.org or call the Conservancy at 404-480-3018 to bring it to our attention and we will do what we can to make sure it is addressed!

Across the Board – How to Ride a Bike in Freedom Park

By Steve Cushing, Immediate Past Chair

Like many of us who live and work in East Atlanta, I spend my work days looking at a computer screen. It’s either a desktop flat panel HD monitor, a smartphone, or tablet. Typing and reading emails, creating spreadsheets, analyzing data for cost benefit analysis or project implementation…I know, yawn—stretch—ugh is it only 3:30?

One of my favorite ways to unwind at the end of a day is to go out for a bike ride in Freedom Park. Now—I love road biking, and modern, high-end bike technology. A carbon fiber frame road bike with electronic shifters, an 11 gear rear cluster and 23cm wheels is the cat’s meow—but that’s not for Freedom Park. No, in fact I roll my eyes when I see road bikes on Freedom Park, at least as much as they will roll inside a rectangle.

No, for Freedom Park you just need an old, slow, heavy bike. One cobbled together from broken bikes eagerly given to you by friends, or a hand me down clunker is just fine. Thanks to the foresight of the early CAUTION members and the first plans drawn up by EDAW with the input of the neighborhoods, Freedom Park trails are not designed to get you from Point A to Point B. The paths in Freedom Park are designed to slow you down so that you will enjoy the space in between those points. Miles Davis once famously said of Jazz that the most important part of his music was the space in between the notes. Freedom Park is the space in between seven neighborhoods. To ride in Freedom Park, you need to take your time. Heck, get off the bike and walk.

Sometime in this past September, toward the middle of the month, it was a particularly pretty day outside. Clouds like shipwrecks were scuttling across a snappy blue sky. Far off in the Atlantic a low pressure center was pulling in cool, clear air from the north toward its slow vortex. Here in Atlanta, we sat on the perimeter watching it all go by. I got on my city bike, a 20 year old mountain bike that I’d striped down of shocks and other non-essential hardware to become a spunky curb jumping red ATV. It weighs a ton, but has lots of granny gears and is bullet proof, perfect for riding in the city.

It was late in the day and the sun cast long rolling shadows across the grand meadow. A lone sunbather was stretched out in the acres of late summer grass. Beyond the single figure, trees bordering Druid Place drew a dark line of natural patterns that separated the earth from sky. Some of the trees were older, well established oak trees that once stood in the yards of homes; now the trees and lone steps leading from the sidewalk are all that remain.

I stopped at the Domenge sculpture, Tree of Life, located just east of Oakdale Road at North Ave, which had been recently refurbished. It’s vibrant red color and cursive, calligraphic shape were catching the afternoon’s last light. I was feeling better already, my eyes slowly returning to their natural shape. My next stop was near Euclid Avenue,at  the Diane Solomon Kempler multi-part bronze, water and stone sculpture entitled New Endings. Now the afternoon light was cutting in steeply as it set. The water feature was on and the fairytale Jack and the Bean Stalk feel of the bronze was even more dramatic – it looked like a water fountain from some larger than life creature that was going to come harvest the bronze tubers.

New Endings by Diane Kempler

Nearby a large lush stand of flowering Canna Lilies added to the imagery of harvest, their leaves well munched on by voracious caterpillars. I spent time at each sculpture, taking pictures with my smartphone and wishing I’d brought a real camera, before riding down to the eastern terminus of Freedom Park at the slowly crumbling Jackson Heights Baptist church. The path below Candler Park golf course is one of my favorite spots. The stone work on the bridge is nice for portrait photography and the stream, rejuvenated thanks to efforts by neighborhood organizations, is now home again to beavers that migrated upstream from the Chattahoochee.

On this day, I don’t bother to ride the full eight miles of trails in Freedom Park. I take my time riding back toward home, enjoying the play of light in the trees, stopping to snap pictures, dawdling in a way that only the green and light of outdoors can help you do. No need to repeat a mantra, each step or pedal stroke is another breath, troubling thoughts come and are released. This is the way to ride a bike.

—–

Steve Cushing is a photographer, sculptor, and former Board Chair of Freedom Park Conservancy. He, and his wife “Miss Laura” have lived on Seminole Ave and enjoyed Freedom Park for 27 years.

 

The artwork in Freedom Park is owned and maintained by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

A fresh look for Freedom Park Conservancy!

Freedom Park Conservancy has existed since 1997, when CAUTION took this name as a reflection of their new mission to support Freedom Park.

Now, after 20 years, Freedom Park Conservancy is rebranding to better reflect our goals for the future.

A special thanks to Perkins + Will for making this a reality.

Getting to know our new ED: A Q&A with Laura Hennighausen

The Board of the Freedom Park Conservancy is still VERY EXCITED for you to get to know our new Executive Director, Laura Hennighausen. Our Communications Chair, Sara Clark, sat down with Laura to learn a little more about her experience, and what she sees in the future for Freedom Park. Laura has officially started in her role as of 5/21, and you can reach her at Laura@freedompark.org.
 
As FPC’s first ever Executive Director, you have a lot of new challenges ahead of you. What are you most looking forward to tackling? 
 
I am very excited to work with the FPC Board and the surrounding communities to realize their vision for the future of the park through a master plan. There are so many opportunities for the park, whether that may be enhanced landscaping or the addition of more public sculpture. The possibilities are endless!
 
The FPC’s Board of Directors recently adopted a new strategic plan, which prioritizes fundraising and implementation for a new park master plan. What is a park master plan, and have you worked on any in the past? 
 
A master plan is really just that – it’s an overarching document that charts the future of a public park. FPC in its current state has never undergone a comprehensive master planning process, so this is a huge opportunity for locals to think about their relationship to the park. FPC will be here to work with the City Parks department to preserve what people currently most love about the space, and create an executable strategy to further enhance the park in sustainable and thoughtful ways.
 
You’ve previously worked with other greenspaces, such as the Historic Oakland Foundation (Oakland Cemetery) and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. What do you love about working with parks? What do you think makes Freedom Park unique? 
 
Although this may be a surprise to some since I am admittedly not an avid camper or hiker, I do love being outside. At the same time, I love being in a city! Greenspaces such as Oakland Cemetery and Freedom Park offer such a needed amenity – there is nothing more restorative than sitting quietly, listening to the birds and the trees. Atlanta is blessed to have a canopy of green interspersed with preserved greenspaces like Freedom Park. The conservancies across the city share an important role in preserving this space for all Atlantans. Freedom Park is particularly unique in its legacy as a grassroots effort to maintain the integrity of intown Atlanta, while providing a really exciting opportunity to present works of art in an incredibly accessible manner. Passive parks are so important in providing a site of respite in the midst of such a growing city.
 
Freedom Park was created through the efforts of local activists, who opposed a highway cutting through the historic east Atlanta neighborhoods. How do you intend to work with these neighborhood groups as FPC’s Executive Director? 
 
Freedom Park is the local park for several neighborhoods in Atlanta which provides FPC with a natural constituency. I hope through each of the neighborhood associations and other affinity groups to learn more about how each distinct area interacts with the park. The most important thing during the master planning process will be to ensure the community has ample opportunity to think about their relationship with the space and what they most value. That’s the only way to ensure the master plan accurately reflects what the larger community sees for Freedom Park’s future.
 
And finally, what is your favorite thing about Freedom Park? 
 
I really love the story of how Freedom Park came to be: community residents exercising their rights. So many people have poured their energy into protecting the surrounding neighborhoods. What a beautiful legacy to carry!

Now Hiring: You

The Freedom Park Conservancy is looking to hire our very first Executive Director. This is a very exciting time to be involved with FPC, and we can’t wait see what we can achieve with a new leader at the helm.

Interested in applying? See the listing here

News and Happenings around Freedom Park

FFMsm
The Freedom Farmers Market is back for 2015!

In case you haven’t heard, the Freedom Barkway off-leash dog park is making great strides and will have a ribbon cutting ceremony next Saturday Mar 21st at 1p. A nice way to kick-off spring in Freedom Park. You can see images and plans of the dog park on the Freedom  Barkway website. It sounds like the initial installment will be to get the park open, finer amenities will come later; sooner if funds can be raised, so donate today!

City of Atlanta named finalist for Public Art Challenge: The Mayor’s Office of CulturalAffairs (OCA) has announced that the City of Atlanta is a finalist to possibly receive up to $1 million as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. The new program focuses on supporting temporary public art projects that engage communities, and encourage civic and social dialogue. Atlanta, along with 11 other cities has been chosen to submit a full proposal. Read more…

The Freedom Farmers Market is back, under the shade of the tress in the parking lots of the Carter Center for 2015. You might have already missed it, twice, since the market reopened for 2015 on Sat. March 7th. You can keep up with market news via their website or Facebook page.

 

 

“One Woman Rising” permanent installation dedication

On Wednesday February 11, 2015 Eve Ensler, founder of One Billion Rising, representatives from the City of Atlanta, members of The Chelko Foundation, and representatives of the Freedom Park Conservancy convened in Freedom Park for the dedication of the permanent installation of “One Woman Rising “.

Learn more about the artwork here.

One Woman Rising Dedication Ceremony
One Woman Rising Dedication Ceremony