Community Spotlight: Kristen Baskin of Let Us Compost

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The name of this local small-business could not be more appropriate for the message behind their action – Let Us Compost: starving landfills since 2012. Kristen Baskin is the creator of Let Us Compost, a curbside composting service in Athens that collects the compost of local businesses and residential homes. Small businesses like this are the reason Athens continues to be what it is today, a place of creative and motivated people pursuing and promoting what they believe. This small business consists of three vital parts and three vital people: Mikey the operator, Corey the driver, and Kristen the business organizer.

Baskin and I met at a small cafe called Dondero’s Kitchen. Not only does Dondero’s have a composting bin in the kitchen for the staff to use, it also has a bin in the cafe area for its customers to use. Let Us Compost picks up composting from both homes and businesses. They provide the compost bucket and biodegradable bags and run a weekly pick-up and re-supply of bags. Since Baskin’s business started, she has acquired 140 residential homes and 35 businesses that use her service. Dondero’s is taking the first step in implementing the on-site composing service and will serve as a model for the other businesses that use Let Us Compost. They are located on the corner of Millege and Cobb, so stop by for lunch for a chance to see first hand how Let Us Compost. The space is lovely and the food is delicious!

When I asked Baskin what her vision behind Let Us Compost is, she told me about how she comes from a long line of entrepreneurial family members who all started their own businesses. “I see it as a way to pursue the change you want to see in the world,” she said smiling. Baskin attended graduate school at Future Generations where part of the program entailed pursuing a project that students believed would help the community in some way. After traveling to India and observing the piles of trash polluting the streets, Baskin realized that those same piles of trash existed in her own town; they just were not as visible and were all in one location—a landfill. She felt moved to do something about it. The piles of trash in India were an every day reminder to her that something should and could be done in her own town to stretch beyond the limitations of a landfill to create something more sustainable and practical. After growing up in a home that composted, Baskin was familiar enough with the process to be able to find a way that she could not only dispose of her own compost but also the compost of the people in her community.

Athens-Clark County alone produced 67,140 tons of trash in 2013. The recycling facility has helped relieve the compilation of trash immensely, and Kristen’s composting service has helped even more. Characteristic of our town, Athens has responded positively to Baskin’s efforts to create a healthier and less-contaminated city, and her business continues to grow. Let Us Compost has grown significantly, even in the past couple of months, and Baskin’s vision for the future expands with her business. Part of her vision includes an addition of CityPod, an easy way for the people of Athens to take their composting to a central location where it can be turned into a finished product in 6-8 weeks. She is also working on a way to teach people how to compost.

Athens has a reputation for being a progressive and environmentally friendly city, and Baskin has created one more way for this city to be in the foreground of sustainability.

Interested in learning more about Let Us Compost?

Come to the Let Us Compost Day at the Landfill. It is the First Annual City Wide Tour and is hosted by Suki Janssen and Kristen Baskin. There will be light refreshments provided and an opportunity to sign up for service and soil-back.

WHEN: November 12th at 10am
WHERE: 5700 Lexington Rd
Questions: email letuscompost@gmail.com

Visit http://www.letuscompost.com to check out the different packages and see how easy it is to sign up.

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Written by Meg Taylor.

Introducing Bread and Thread: Making Jam

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Left: Hair coloring by Model Citizen Salon, hair styling by Madison Trapkin, long-sleeved black American Apparel crop top and vintage linen jumper from Dynamite Clothing, earrings by Laurel Hill
Right: Fresh Tomato and Ginger Jam featuring ginger and tomato from Woodland Gardens Farm, classic baguette from Independent Baking Co.

We make jam to preserve the flavor, integrity, and accessibility of food. We want to savor the flavors of a certain season, from a specific place, in order to once again experience the memory of the moment we first tasted that food. We make music for many of the same reasons – to preserve elements of culture through artistic means, to share with future generations, and to fill ourselves with the melodies of the moment.

The music scene in Athens has always been integral to the Classic City, which has been embodied in the many incarnations of the Georgia Theatre. The Theatre has preserved and promoted music within this town for decades. It is an iconic venue that draws big names and local talent alike, showcasing them all on the same stage. Though the talents are varied and the space is impermanent, the Georgia Theatre has proven time and time again that music transcends spatial boundaries, much like the food and fashion communities in Athens.

For us, the Georgia Theatre is a great venue for our passions as well. Fashion and food have become enmeshed in the Theatre’s musical ambiance; we chose the Georgia Theatre for this exact reason.

Bread and Thread is a collaborative blog project by Madison Trapkin and Ally Smith, which stemmed from their personal blogs, individual passions and any overlaps that may ensue. In essence — fashion and food.

Featured recipes: Muscadine Spritzer using muscadines from Woodland Gardens in Winterville, GA, Fresh Tomato and Ginger Jam using tomato and ginger from Woodland Gardens, and a classic baguette from Independent Baking Co.

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Left: Muscadine Spritzer featuring muscadines from Woodland Gardens Organic Farm
Right: Hair coloring by Model Citizen Salon, hair styling by Madison Trapkin, neon chain necklace from Dynamite Clothing, horizontal blocked white dress from Nasty Gal

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Top: Muscadines from Woodland Gardens Organic Farm
Bottom: Hair coloring by Model Citizen Salon, hair styling by Madison Trapkin, makeup by Elizabeth Hansen, earrings and necklace from Dynamite Clothing

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Left: Ginger from Woodland Gardens Organic Farm
Right: Vintage iridescent pink button-up, earrings by Madeline Read

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Left: Baby pink American Apparel leotard from Dynamite Clothing, red linen pleated trousers from Morocco
Right: Ginger and tomatoes from Woodland Gardens Organic Farm

Copy: Ally Smith and Madison Trapkin
Photography: Tatim Kilosky
Fashion styling: Ally Smith
Food styling & photography: Madison Trapkin
Makeup: Elizabeth Hansen
Hair coloring: Model Citizen Salon
Shot on location at The Georgia Theatre

Community Q&A with Artist Barbara Odil

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Meet the artist: Barbara Odil

Check out her website: http://www.barbaraodil.com
More information about the Prince Avenue Art Crawl can be found here!

Tell us what you do: My creations are sculptural figurative work from wood; primarily driftwood or fallen wood gathered in my travels. My work celebrates the beauty and simplicity I find in nature. As I walk in the woods, along the beach or on sandy creek shores, I delight in the myriad of natural objects that have fallen, washed ashore or been carried by the wind. Just being in nature nurtures my soul.

Tell us about your history: I grew up in Macon, Georgia and was fortunate to be there as the whole music scene began in the late 1960s. The friendships I formed at that time were based on shared creativity, respect for and living in nature and reconnecting to the Earth through living simply. The processes of creation and play are integral parts of my life. As a young child I spent many hours drawing and playing in the woods and creek. Often I saw animals, faces and other magical beings in the clouds, trees and flowing water. I gathered rocks and driftwood from the creek, fallen wood, leaves, moss, flowers and mushrooms to assemble altars under a large old oak.

I studied art at Mercer University during that time and began earning a living through my artistic endeavors.

Tell us about the importance of your work: Technological devlopments and urban sprawl in western culture often impede or sever one’s connection to the natural world. My artwork provides them an opportunity to pause and reconnect to the Earth.

In my current body of work I use roots and wood to express the expansions and contractions found in the cycle of life. The sculptures are composed of materials gathered primarily from Georgia, South Carolina and New Mexico. They tell stories I carry home from my travels.

Tell us why you live in Athens. I came to Athens in 1977 because of the strong arts community. My friendships, home, family and spiritual community keep me tethered here.

Describe your favorite things about this city: I really enjoy all the greenspace, trees, old neighborhoods, and music and art scenes. The public displays around town greatly enahce our environment.

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Community Q&A with Artist Chris Taylor

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Meet the artist: Chris Taylor

Stay in touch: @tattoed_dad

Check out his website: www.34north.org

Find him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/34DegreesNorth

Find him on Twitter: @tattoed_dad

Tell us what you do: I’m a land artist, creating exertive, ephemeral and site-specific works using only the materials on hand. Pieces are not meant to last, photos are generally the only record. If I’m lucky, they’ll last long enough for someone to stumble on later.

Tell us about your history: I’ve been an artist most of my life. I liked painting and making things. I’ve played drums since I was 13, sometimes getting paid to do it. But, you know those times in your life when you think “after this, nothing will ever be the same…”? That’s how I felt after seeing Andy Goldsworthy’s “Rivers and Tides” one morning on PBS. This was an art form and way of looking at the world that had always been in the back of my mind and was now legitimized. After studying him and other, modern artists like Will Beckers, Julia Brooklyn, Richard Schilling, Nils-Udo, and Richard Long I dove in and started creating. I’m not aware of any other land artists working in the South, but if there are, we should really hang out.

Tell us about the importance of your work: I do a lot of work for children. When teaching, my hope is to pass along discovery in the details. A stick, flower, bark, leaves, anything that makes a child stop and see what’s really around them. The state of modern childhood and it’s lack of nature education has been groused about ad nauseam, and only a portion of it is correct. The fact is, a child will figure out this point of view if left alone. The issue is kids aren’t left alone to discover very often.

Tell us why you live in Athens. My wife and I have lived here for 16 years, buying our first home in Athens for the sole purpose of wanting to live in Athens. We now have an 11-year-old-daughter in school here and couldn’t be happier.

Describe your favorite things about this city: Athens allows you to be who you want to be with no judgment. I’ve played music on stage at the 40-Watt and the Classic Center. I’ve taught children art at Sandy Creek. I’ve volunteered to feed students in the Clarke County School system. All you have to do is ask, and our community presents as many options as you could hope for.

Interested in checking out Chris’ work? He currently has two photos on display at the Tannery Row Artist Colony Gallery until November or you can find him at the Mountain Arts and Crafts Celebration at Cloudland Canyon State Park on November 1 and 2.

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Community Spotlight: Ken Manring of White Tiger Gourmet

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If you have ever ventured down Boulevard Avenue, you probably know the familiar smell of White Tiger Gourmet barbecue. I was fortunate to live around the corner for a few years and would wake up to that delicious smell everyday. Usually, I couldn’t resist for long and would give in and grab a sandwich. I first fell in love (and I do mean “love”) with White Tiger several years ago when I heard talk of a barbeque restaurant that had opened in an old historic grocery store. Sure enough, I tried it out and soon The White Tiger became the place where my parents and out-of-town friends would eat for every visit, roommate dinners occurred, and a date night favorite.

The atmosphere at The White Tiger is casual and fun. Art and Christmas lights hang all around the restaurant, and usually there are a bunch of people and dogs outside. Their menu ranges from traditional barbecue and Sriracha tacos, to the Tiger salad with tofu and seasonal greens. And, thank the barbeque gods, White Tiger now serves Sunday brunch–an Athens weekly tradition.

In Athens, brunch is as sacred as football season and Athfest, only it fortunately occurs more regularly. The White Tiger’s brunch is killing it. Imagine–pancakes topped with barbecue partnered with a mimosa. You won’t understand until you try it. It’s AMAZING! It’s their take on chicken and waffles, marrying the savory with sweet. And for the rare individuals who are anti-barbecue, don’t worry, they offer traditional brunch menu items as well that are equally delicious and brunch appropriate.

I am very excited to feature The White Tiger in the My Athens blog this week and share the story behind my favorite restaurant. White Tiger is owned by Ken Manring, a Gainesville, GA native, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked in several restaurants across the country. Manring came to Athens to be closer to his family and started serving up barbecue pork and hotdogs from a cart outside of City Hall. His cart became so popular that in 2007 he moved his barbecue venture to the Davis House, a historic grocery store on Hiawassee Avenue.

When asked about being a small business owner in Athens, Manring said he loves “the strong community we live in and the willingness to help each other out. We love using products from our friends and partners, Luna Bakery, Ike and Jane, The Comerian. Mama’s Boy has been a true friend to us all along, in so many ways. Treehouse partners with us from time to time, and maybe thats something you wouldn’t see in a bigger city. A children’s store and a restaurant working together to offer cool things to the community.”

He’s absolutely right. The various businesses and artists that I’ve interviewed for My Athens have all praised and thanked the strong community and its support. Individuals, from owner to consumer, celebrate the dreams of their neighbors. That’s what makes this whole thing work. As for The White Tiger’s hopes for the Athens community: “We love what we do and we love what everyone else does too. We want our town to be as small and weird and independent as possible. We hope we’re helping in that and we hope to see that grow.”

The White Tiger adds something special to our community through not only their food, but their philosophy as well. If you’ve never been before, I encourage you to drop by this week. I promise that you will have a great experience and gain a new favorite.

Feeling hungry? Check out The White Tiger Gourmet’s website here: http://kenmanring.wix.com/whitetiger#

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Written by Zelda Speight. Photos by Hannah Pap Rocki.