Meet Spark Grant Winner Carley Rickles

Spark Grant winner Carley Rickles is an artist, designer and researcher whose work “focuses on the lived experience, ecology, and history of alternative urbanisms—such as the ecology of residual landscapes or the landscapes of counterculture.”

Her Spark Grant will be used to partially fund a walking series that highlights and discusses alternative urbanism, transportation, and urban livability.

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Beth Ward
Meet Spark Grant Winner Danielle Deadwyler

The recipients of this year’s Spark Grants are mothers, art makers, multidisciplinary performance artists. In each of their respective spheres, they seek to shine a light on the cultural impact of Black women’s labor, to investigate the lived spaces of the city we inhabit, and to provide much-needed community support for mamas-to-be in marginalized communities.

This week, we’ll be introducing you to each of our grant winners, letting them shed a bit more light on what they do in their own words.

Up first, Danielle Deadwyler.

Deadwyler is an actress, performer, poet and self-proclaimed “conjurer of Southern narratives and aesthetics.” She’ll be using her Spark Grant to support her experimental documentary, BustItOpen, which aims to interrogate what it means to labor as a Black woman in today’s culture.

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Beth Ward
Turns Out, Summertime Sadness is Real

Like Lana Del Rey tried to tell us all back in 2013, summertime sadness is real. In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association, even though the majority of diagnoses for Seasonal Affective Disorder are the result of mood changes that occur in the winter and abate in spring, it is also diagnosed in a smaller number of folks during the heat-drenched months of June, July, and August.

According to Nia Baker, a licensed professional counselor and executive director of Active Resilience Counseling & Coaching in East Atlanta, SAD is “basically when we experience a shift toward a depressive mood that seems to follow a season.” For many people, she says, “it is during a change towards cold and ‘drearier’ months, but for some, it’s actually summer.”

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Beth Ward
Alana Athletica Is Redefining Social Impact, One Legging At A Time

Alana Athletica was formed with its founders — two of which are Sri Lankan — simply asking, “What can we do to make the world a better place?” The social impact brand aims to ethically produce inclusively sized, transparently priced, high-quality women’s athletic wear. Alana Athletica does so through their three pillars: educate, employ and empower. By ethically making their garments in small, Sri Lankan production houses, the company is able to support a fully female production workforce that receives food, fair wages and a humane environment.

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Kristy Guilbault
Interview with DWF Inaugural Big Idea Grant Recipient Alejandra Luaces

The culinary world has long been dominated by white men, and has often separated itself from being overtly political, however, Alejandra Luaces, the HBIC (head baker in charge) at Hell Yeah! Gluten Free, is looking to join the recent wave of change. Similarly to fellow Big Idea Grant recipient Jasmine Marie, Luaces spent a long time trying to stay afloat in the corporate world, until she felt called to something more. For Luaces, this meant satisfying the basic need of hunger, and offering inclusivity and comfort while doing so.

A little less than a year ago, DWF Mag caught up with Luaces, after she had just left her position as a Mailchimp engineer to pursue Hell Yeah! Gluten Free full-time. Now, we check in to see what all has happened within the past year, where Hell Yeah! currently is and what’s next for Luaces, in particular, with the assistance of the Big Idea Grant.

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Luci Turner
Interview with DWF Inaugural Big Idea Grant Recipient Jasmine Marie

After years in the corporate world — as a brand marketer, dancer and entrepreneur — Jasmine Marie found herself called to something more. That meant a return to breath, as her consultant business, adulting with ease, morphed into a resource for breathwork healing and mindfulness with other black women. These tools had themselves helped Marie achieve healing and growth, so she went on to found black girls breathing.

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Luci Turner
Editor Kristy Guilbault on Creating, Sparking Action and Sad Girl Collective

The first time I met Kristy Guilbault in person was at Grant Park’s Octane, aka the best place to drink coffee and beer while two Atlanta-based writers talked about their dalliance music journalism. We discussed where we wanted to ultimately go with our careers, and the dire state of the music industry; but how we were going in head first into it anyway, fate be damned.

Since then, a lot has changed. Octane is now Revelator. I’m typing this from my new home in NYC. Plus, finding a gig in the music industry has arguably gotten even worse. One thing that hasn’t changed though is Guilbault's drive, and it’s paying off.

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Erica Hawkins
Organizing While Female: Feminist Lessons Gleaned From The Activist Trenches

I’m an accidental community organizer — by this I mean that I didn’t study poli-sci in school, I didn’t intern for a PAC or elected official. I simply jumped in with both feet when a crisis rocked my community, one that involved the mishandling of a standard agreement between law enforcement and school district, resulting in the illegal policing of children. With the support of smart, committed partners, I shaped what began as a garrulous Facebook group into a legit non-profit, with articulated action issues and regular education and advocacy events. I’ve learned a lot about community organizing through my accidental start and part of what I’ve learned is that whether I want to or not, I bring my gender with me to this work. Five feminist lessons stand out as things I wish I knew when I began, takeaways I’d love to share with another woman just starting out in community organizing.

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Kate Delany
Interview with Rutu Chaudhari of The Dharma Project

Rutu Chaudhari, the founder of Atlanta’s All Life is Yoga studio and, more recently, The Dharma Project, a non-profit dedicated to delivering the tools of meditation and yoga to underserved and marginalized community, is no stranger to stress and trauma — or yoga’s indescribable power to support, strengthen, and overcome it. Now, after years of practicing and teaching yoga, Chaudhari is giving the practice back to those who need it most.

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Luci Turner