New Festival Celebrates Equity, Sustainability in Sweet Auburn
March 22, 2023
It’s one of Atlanta’s most significant neighborhoods. And now, historic Sweet Auburn will be getting a new community event dedicated to honoring its rich history while envisioning its future.
The inaugural SAGE Fest takes place Saturday, April 1st from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the John Lewis *HERO mural. The festival invites neighborhood residents and the wider Atlanta community to honor Sweet Auburn’s legacy, support local businesses, and contribute their voices to how this important part of Atlanta will evolve.
SAGE Fest is free and open to all ages. Activities include:
- Yoga and mindful meditation sessions
- Food from local vendors and businesses
- Urban farming guidance from local growers
- Walking tours to learn about historic sites and new developments
- Discussions on community planning, programs, policies
- Giveaways to local attractions and other prizes
Attendees can also visit the SPARK Innovation Lab located in the Odd Fellows Building at 228 Auburn Avenue to learn more about efforts to preserve and promote retail businesses in the neighborhood. The Lab is a collaboration between Sweet Auburn Works, Bank of America, and the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). It helps business owners in the district as well as entrepreneurs who would like to set up shop there through target technical assistance, funding, and support.
The event also marks the launch of the Sweet Auburn Green & Equitable District. SAGE is a community-led initiative created by Historic District Development Corporation, Central Atlanta Progress, and Sweet Auburn Works dedicated to promoting an equitable and sustainable future for the neighborhood. With a focus on the pillars of “people, place, and planet,” SAGE puts residents and local stakeholders at the center of Sweet Auburn’s revitalization.
Named for its concentration of black wealth and political prominence during the first half of the twentieth century, Sweet Auburn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The district is most notable as the home for many of the city’s first black-owned businesses and the bedrock of civil rights organizing decades later. However, desegregation, the construction of the Downtown Connector (I-75/85) and a lack of access to capital due to redlining ushered in an era of stark decline for Sweet Auburn through the 1970s and 80s. By 2005, it was named a “Place in Peril” by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
Thanks, however, to the tireless work of many community organizations over the years, new developments have given fresh life to the celebrated neighborhood in the form of new businesses, more affordable housing, and improved streetscapes. As redevelopment continues, it is increasingly important to ensure the anticipated investment works to rise all tides, with community wellness and economic inclusion as core outcomes. SAGE will build a bold new model for this type of neighborhood-led development.
So, what does the future look like for Sweet Auburn? There’s no doubt that it is bright, and with collaborations like SAGE bringing local voices into the conversation, Sweet Auburn is sure to continue its revitalization while remaining true to its historic roots. Join us on Saturday, April 1st for SAGE Fest to lend your voice to this future.
To learn more about SAGE, visit www.sageatlanta.org.