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Irwin Street Market showcases local food vendors

Irwin Street Market used to be home to an old air conditioning and repair facility, but in 2006 Jake Rothschild had the idea of turning the space into an incubator for local food vendors as he was expanding his business, Jake’s Ice Cream.

Rothschild, who is gay, said his initial idea was to offer a space for local food vendors to showcase their wares.

Six years later, some 14 food merchants call Irwin Street Market home – including a coffeehouse, a bakery, several restaurants and a cooking school, which was voted one of the top three cooking schools in Atlanta in a recent Yelp survey.

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Working to TILTT the world to trans equality

Cheryl Courtney-Evans

Cheryl Courtney-Evans co-founded Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth in 2007 after deciding it was time to have an organization offering resources to all transgender people.

“I thought it was time for there to be an organization for trans men and trans women … the first one in the area to be co-ed,” she says.

Courtney-Evans founded TILTT with Lisa Newsome, now with Someone Cares, an HIV/AIDS group helping people of color and transgender people. The goal of the new group was to not segregate but rather bring different groups of people together.

Courtney-Evans has been employed in the past by La Gender Inc., an organization working primarily with transgender women, and Aniz Inc., an organization that offers HIV prevention to families and provides support and resources to those affected by HIV.

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Opposites attract for Jordan Gray Interiors

Jordan Interior Designs

Antoinette Jordan and Mark Snipes make a dynamic duo as business partners and interior designers for Jordan Gray Interiors. While Jordan is a heterosexual female and Snipes is an out and proud gay man, the two complement each other in many ways, they say.

“It’s great working together. We have a lot in common,” Snipes says. And, yes, that includes men, he laughs.

Jordan, who began the company on her own five years ago, befriended Snipes at Joseph A. Bank, where they both currently work. The two have been in business together six months and they hope to eventually make their jobs with Jordan Gray Interiors full-time.

“We met and became friends and I found out he used to have an interior design business in Charlotte, N.C.,” Jordan says.

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CHRIS Kids helps LGBT youth find home, support

Moving to a new home is a milestone for any family. For CHRIS Kids, a nonprofit Atlanta agency that provides housing and support to LGBT and other young people, it’s particularly momentous.

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal will be on hand Aug. 30 as CHRIS Kids celebrates the grand opening of the CHRIS Counseling Center, Education Center and Summit Trail Apartment Community.

The move unites CHRIS Kids’ administration and other programs with its program to help young adults who were homeless or aging out of foster care that has already moved into the Summit Trail apartments. It also puts the CHRIS Kids administration closer to the agency’s eight group homes for younger children.

“It’s a huge deal because a place that represents home, family, stability and safety for kids needs a permanent home,” says CHRIS Kids CEO Kathy Colbenson. “A home needs a home.”

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Melvin Arundelli: why ‘anyone can be a gay bird’

Melvin ArundelliMelvin Arundelli, 34, was born in Italy but has lived in Atlanta since he was just over a year old. Four years ago this month, he crashed his motorcycle into a telephone pole, and suffered severe traumatic brain injury. He was hospitalized at Grady for five months and in a coma for most of that time.

Arundelli now uses a wheelchair, has limited movement in his left arm, is legally blind and can’t smell or taste. But he’s alive, he says, and his sense of humor remains firmly intact.

“Meet Boosheka,” he says, inviting friends to sit on the comfy cushion on his wheelchair.

“She’s my girlfriend. The best thing I got when I left Grady,” he adds with a laugh.

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SAGE Atlanta works to enrich lives of LGBT elders

Doug Carl from SAGEAging is a part of life that many LGBT people are apprehensive about — and for good reason. As it stands now, LGBT aging adults have little infrastructure to support the unique challenges they face. The Atlanta chapter of SAGE — Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders — hopes to change that.

SAGE Atlanta is a nonprofit dedicated to aging adults in the LGBT community. The group just launched a schedule of weekly meetings, held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays at the Rush Center.

Doug Carl, program director for SAGE Atlanta, notes that LGBT elders face a variety of issues, including access to healthcare, financial stability and social isolation.

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All My Children strives to help African-American LGBT youth

Monique CarrySitting in Outwrite Bookstore, awash in Sunday morning light, Monique Carry appears radiant as she speaks about the All My Children project’s unique marriage of academic research and social justice. AMC is the nonprofit organization that Carry co-founded with her research partner Shannon J. Miller in order to help African-American LGBT youth and their families. Carry and Miller serve as co-executive directors of the group.

AMC works to understand the dynamics of LGBT youth and their families and communities, and “raise awareness about the consequences of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning bias within African American families, faith centers, and communities,” states the group’s website.

Carry elaborates on this, saying that both LGBT youth of color and white LGBT youth deal with many of the same issues, though in uniquely different ways, leading to social isolation. AMC understands that the social isolation faced by African-American youth dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity is created in part by growing up within a culture that does not address these issues.

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Sweetgrass Salon & Spa reflects relaxed vibe of Little 5

Sweetgrass Salon and Spa

Serving its community in Little 5 Points for 11 years, Sweetgrass Salon & Spa started out as simply a hair salon. Described by manager Brian Baj as having been a “come-in/clipper cut kind of thing,” Sweetgrass took cues from the bohemian environment of its Little 5 Points neighborhood to transform into the salon and spa it is today.  “Massage therapists started coming in and, lo and behold, before you know it, it’s now a full-functioning spa,” Baj says.

A quick look around the salon shows the full glory of that statement.

Sweetgrass is not your typical fountain-and-zen whitewashed spa. Like the community around it, it is as vibrant and colorful as a rainbow, with enough swirls and shades to make even peacocks think twice about challenging it.

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A healthy spine leads to a ‘Live Well’ lifestyle

Live Well Chiropractic

Live Well Chiropractic has been serving the Atlanta community since 1999 when Dr. Kristy Francavilla and Dr. Shoshana Kreinces opened in a small office space in the UA Tara Cinemas strip mall complex.

After outgrowing the 800-square foot space on Cheshire Bridge Road, the doctors bought a house across the street from Joe’s on Juniper in Midtown, and for the last six months have been treating clients in the new state-of-the-art facility.

“It took about a year-and-a-half to build out. We customized everything and we’re 95 percent paperless,” says Kreinces. “All the tables are connected to a computer, so we can access files and their history right there without all the paperwork we had before.”

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Rev. Michael Piazza: Religion, house hunting and good barbecue

Rev. Michael Piazza

On May 22, Rev. Michael Piazza was officially installed as Virginia-Highland Church’s new senior pastor. Originally from Georgia, Piazza was the pastor at Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender church in the nation. The church cited just 280 members when Piazza took the helm in 1987 and eventually reached a membership of more than 3,500 people.