Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gold Rush

Posted by Marcie Hambrick, DAHLONEGA, GA -- On the third weekend of every October, when thousands of leaf watchers come through town to see the fall colors, Gold Rush Days are held in the town square next the Dahlonega Gold Museum. The festival celebrates Dahlonega’s 1828 discovery of gold and even features a gold panning competition.

Many of the activities are geared toward children, such as pony rides, bubble fun, and a climbing wall.  Additionally, the youngest competitor in the World Gold Panning Championship was only seven years old this year.  Musicians performed in both scheduled and impromptu concerts. The Appalachian traditional use of instruments such as banjo, guitar, and even Cherokee flute reflected the varied culture in the area.  Traditional Southern favorite foods, such as boiled peanuts and barbeque were everywhere. 

The celebration of small town culture and history provides a great opportunity for local people and travelers to share a day of fun.  It boosts the economy for local businesses and provides a greater sense of community for everybody.

Marcie Hambrick, MSW is a Doctoral student in Sociology at Georgia State University. She also teaches Sociology courses at Georgia Northwestern Technical College and is the Director of New Leaf Outreach Anger Management and Stress Solutions in Dalton, GA. She can be reached at

Food Fighters

Posted by Debby Yoder, ATLANTA, GA -- The food truck industry in Atlanta has grown tremendously in a very short time. They appear regularly around the metro area and people flock to try something new and different. The city was slow to get in on the food truck business due to resistance from established brick and mortar restaurants, In fact, despite their mobile nature, food trucks are only allowed to operate on private property such as the Food Truck Park.

 The Atlanta Street Food Coalition helps people locate food trucks and promote the industry. They also offer Street Food 101 to teach people all they need to know about opening their own food truck. It’s a relatively small investment to start a food truck business and can be accomplished with a very small staff. If we were to embrace this concept and shift investment monies from empowerment zones to empowering people, we could create a number of new businesses. The mobile concept could be expanded to include grocery stores, book stores or whatever a community may need. Fresh foods could be brought into areas without grocery stores and individuals could be instrumental in identifying and meeting the needs of their neighborhood. 

Debby Yoder is a contributor to Social Shutter. She is also a Sociology major at Georgia State University. She can be reached at

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Posted by Chandra Ward, ATLANTA, GA -- When you think of the city of Atlanta, what are some ideas that emerge in your mind? The capital of the New South?  The city too busy to hate? The city that just wants to sprawl? Or the city with the school cheating scandal?  Any of these associations are fair game, however, does a city with a thriving art scene come to mind?  Well, it should.  What few outsiders may realize is that Atlanta is emerging as the center of urban art in the Southeast.

Far from a plastic, mass-produced concrete jungle void of personality, Atlanta is a city bursting with art: you will find murals on the side of buildings, under bridges and many different festivals celebrating different forms of art.  When I say art, I am not referring to “high art” confined behind the walls of museums, but street art. 

Atlanta neighborhoods like Kirkwood and East Atlanta, are much more known for visual creativity, as opposed to its downtown center.   These, and other neighborhoods, are where much of the city's best street art can be found, such as the Krog Street tunnel connecting the Old Fourth Ward to Edgewood.   The central business district has attempted to incorporate public art into its infrastructure, but such endeavors have mainly been expensive flops – like Millennium Gate in front of Atlantic Station.   

Local organizations like the Atlanta Beltline and Living Walls Atlanta work to put art all over the city making it accessible to everyone.  Flux projects puts on regular art street parties showcasing films, interactive and performance art in the Castleberry Hill District where art-goers fill many city blocks.  The Atlanta Beltline is the best way to see all of  this art because it connects the various neighborhoods while showcasing art along the way.  Atlanta should get a new, new, name and a new reputation – ARTlanta!

Chandra Ward is the Managing Editor of Social Shutter and a Doctoral student in Sociology at Georgia State University. She is also an instructor in the Kennesaw State University Sociology and Criminal Justice Department. She can be contacts at

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Horse Clinic

Posted by Deirdre Oakley, WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Horse riding, particularly English-style, can be an expensive endeavor, so it’s frequently assumed to be an elite sport. But at DeMayo’s Bonnie Lea Farm, like others around the country, many of the young riders and some of the older riders work in the barn to help support their riding lessons. It’s hard work taking care of horses and not for the faint of heart.  But for them it’s worth it. So imagine their delight when Former Olympic equestrian Greg Best shows up at DeMayo’s to give a horse clinic.

Now the clinic itself costs money, but anyone working on the farm can come and observe. So riders did just that. In fact there were plenty of observers in the riding ring sitting around the horse jumps so they could listen to what Mr. Best was telling the clinic riders has they did the jump course. My impression was one of organized chaos with a backdrop of pristine New England beauty: people riding around the course, beautiful mountains in the background, Mr. Best giving the riders advice, and all these other people sitting near the action taking everything in and not seeming the least bit phased by all those huge horses swirling around them.  I’d be afraid one of the horses might accidentally run into me. But they all knew better because they know horses.

The clinic lasted two days and sun and heat were brutal. Horses and people alike drank plenty of water.  I came a few hours each day to watch my niece and drive her home. When I was her age I was a distance track runner and I thought the workouts we endured were some of the most difficult of any sport. After being at the horse clinic, I’m rethinking that assumption. 

Deirdre Oakley is the Editor of Social Shutter and an associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University. She can be contacted at Submissions can be sent directly to her. Click on the submission link for the guidelines.