Feeling the Love at Intimate Café

From the moment my dear friend and faith sister Yoofiwaa suggested that it might be a cool idea to have me perform eye beauty services in her family’s restaurant periodically, I was excited about the possibilities. The popular eatery had already proven its flexibility as a venue with the regular Dinner & a Movie series underway, so it made perfect sense to me that we might also be successful with a creative combination of our two quality community-based brands. With the “More Beautiful You” debut event held on March 16th, Brow Tutor and the Intimate Café has introduced a new midday experience for Atlanta’s eye beauty aficionados that may change the way many divas do lunch.

Customers enjoying good food at the Intimate Cafe

Brow shaping is one of those things that many women would like to have done regularly, but often find it hard to fit into busy schedules. Professional women in particular are under pressure to keep regular appointments with their brow stylist in order to maintain an acceptable look when work expectations demand it on a consistent basis. Among the first responses from interested parties in the office building where the Intimate Café is located was how convenient it was to have the services available right on location for them. It was fun for several clients to leave their suites for “brows & lunch” with us and return to the surprised looks of their co-workers who were amazed at the unexpected beauty enhancement received while away for only a few moments.

Precision Eyebrow Sculpting (PES) from the Brow Tutor in action

A number of ladies came to us in response to the Constant Contact email distribution and social media notices that were sent out to promote the event. It was a joy to see familiar faces as friends and community members who may have tried Brow Tutor services for the first time came out to support us. I often described eyebrow sculpting to my trainees and others as a very intimate procedure that puts the provider fully into the personal space of another person that is well beyond the norm in typical interactions. Perhaps due to this close proximity, conversation can often go beyond the surface quickly between an archer and their client. I appreciated the chance to connect with some people I had often seen in passing, but now know a bit better after bonding through brows.

A beautiful day in the background at Intimate Cafe

As I mentioned in passing earlier, the Intimate Café is situated at the ground floor level of a small office complex. My business partner Taunia Stevenson and I spent some time immediately before the event walking through the building to inform the occupants about our event. It was interesting to see the range of responses from people as we shared the news, but many were thrilled to hear we would there and pledged their patronage immediately. Yoofiwaa’s instincts seemed to be correct that there would be a demand for on-site eyebrow design services from the tenants and our team looks forward to building ongoing relationships by coming back regularly on Mondays from 10am-3pm.

As we continue our re-emergence this year, Brow Tutor will continue to look for innovative ways to connect with both clients of our direct eye beauty services as well as cosmetology professionals that want to learn Precision Eyebrow Sculpting™. Please contact Taunia at browtutor@gmail.com if you would be interested in hosting a Brow Spa in your home for friends and neighbors or with another public venue like Intimate Café that would be open for all to come. Our team would love the opportunity to work with you and create a pampering party event that is unique and fun for everyone. Thank you Intimate Café for a great experience that we look forward to repeating again and again!

Kwabena focused on creating more beautiful brows

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Grand Opening…. Again!

Starting a new business is seldom easy. And while entrepreneurship has been difficult in the past, it has often become an even more grueling endeavor within the current economic crisis that has engulfed this country and the rest of the world. It seems to me that any hopeful new enterprise owner should expect to experience a number of challenges and obstacles along the way toward any prospect of success. So it was with what appeared to me to be a no brainer, simply elegant idea of a start up business concept called Brow Tutor.

Precision Eyebrow Sculpting

Launching Brow Tutor in the spring of 2011 felt intuitive and perhaps even obvious to me as a somewhat natural extension of my extensive experience in the cosmetology industry in general and the eye beauty segment particularly. Having secured my general license to practice in the year 2000, I was fortunate enough to have spent six years since 2005 honing a signature technique that I eventually named Precision Eyebrow Sculpting™ at one of the premier salons in Atlanta specializing in eye beauty services. Knowing that I had mastered a skill that was increasingly in demand by clients, it made perfect sense to try my hand at a solo act of some type and seek what fortune might bring.

Brow Tutor at Southeastern Beauty School

Brow Tutor is essentially a beauty education service. I enjoy teaching and the process of attempting to transfer skills or knowledge mastery to an apprentice or novice. After years of experience in the cosmetology industry, I observed that the most successful beauty enterprises or professionals were those that maintained a focus on continual learning and innovation. I wanted to contribute to that standard by offering an affordable and accessible way for both students and seasoned stylists alike to enhance or maintain their competency as it relates to highly sought after expert brow, lash, and make-up services.

Teaching eye beauty theory

In my opinion, there is no better way to learn the delicate intricacies of quality eyebrow design and shaping than in a one-on-one teaching dynamic that can be referred to as “tutoring”. There are many variables involved and the target service area of the eye region is too small to allow for effective instruction in the large classroom situations often found at beauty shows or even specialized workshops. While much can be taught about eye beauty through theory and even some remote demonstration, I do not believe a person can be effectively told how make a person’s brows attractive. My method is to guide a trainee through an up close and personal interaction that allows me to share both art and science of the skill. As the iconic phrase from the movie Karate Kid ironically echoes to this point, it is quite literally about the elemental “wax on, wax off” and moving step by step from initiate to master.

Completed Brow Tutor demonstration service on model

Nevertheless, the value of Brow Tutor as a business idea was not enough to make its initial launch an immediate success. Factors like the larger economic gyrations occurring around us all and my own personal challenges last year forced me to suspend much of the momentum that was achieved in our first few months of activity. However with a new year fully here and exciting joint ventures with partners like Divalicious and Intimate Café, Brow Tutor is poised to make the impact that I had originally hoped for. We are determined to bring education excellence back to the beauty business, especially for the African American segment of the overall industry. It is our legacy from pioneers liked Madame C. J. Walker and Olive Benson and a real opportunity in a growing eye beauty field unfortunately dominated by mediocrity. It’s our grand opening … again!

Please consider attending our upcoming Brow Tutor event on March 16th at the Intimate Cafe’!

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Withdrawal From the Race: In the Best Interest of My Children & Our Children

Kwesi & Issata Nkromo

Sometime in the middle of last week, I received a message from my ex-wife saying that she was willing to allow me unfettered visitation with our children that following Thursday evening. Anyone following my personal struggles with post divorce co-parenting knows that this represented a huge breakthrough and hope that the interests of two very young people would once again become the most important issue between two adults who can’t seem to get along well. I am ashamed to say that for too long during the bitter saga of marital failure, this was not often the case.

Prior to the visitation session (but on the same night), the first and last full committee meeting of my campaign to fill the vacancy on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education (District 2) was held. To the considered shock of my supporters and friends assembled, it was announced by the Chairperson of the Committee to Elect “Cubby for Our Children” that I had withdrawn from the Special Election race for personal reasons. I followed Dishelesh Jones’ official action as the committee leader with a direct explanation of my decision to those that I feel deserved to learn of it first. That being done, I wish to share my thinking with all others who may be interested.

Simple Priorities

Perhaps like a number of the other candidates for this Special Election, I was recruited to run for the seat vacated by Khaatim El by concerned citizens and parents within District 2 who were familiar with my record of public service and commitment to the welfare of children. For me, this kind of thoughtful outreach represents the best of my community’s willingness to respond to crisis and mobilize its best resources to address a problem. Despite my pre-existing engagement with another campaign for public office, I quickly agreed that the current situation with our public schools trumped my long term effort to offer new leadership for the neighborhoods of southwest Atlanta as a candidate for City Council District 4.

It was not clear at the time whether or not there would be any qualified candidates willing to “step up”, as suggested by the comment made by a 11 Alive reporter (See “Six Candidates Running for Vacant Atlanta School Board Seat”). For me and my supporters, our campaign was an insurance policy of sorts that made sure we had someone with a record of effective community service and leadership in the race and a voice for the issues that really mattered. During my very short campaign, I did my best to both share my qualifications for the Board of Education seat as well as speak “truth to power” in relationship to the cheating scandal that remains an albatross around the neck of our public school system in Atlanta (see “A Race about Race and Politics in Modern Public Education”).

My son Kwesi on my shoulders @ NPU-T protest against closing of Fire Station #7

Any authentic and serious commitment to public service represents a sacrifice often of the highest order by the individual offering that service. As my ex-wife would attest, my years of volunteer work for the West End community and leadership with Neighborhood Planning Unit-T exacted a heavy toll on our family life even while enriching it on certain levels as well. Particularly when the leadership deficits that community volunteers struggle to fill are essentially compensating for the poor representation of ineffective public officials in an area, the strain on our personal lives can be extreme. This was again the issue at hand for me in my decision on whether to remain in the school board race beyond the qualifying deadline when the full candidate roster became apparent.

Contrary to my initial concerns, several other well qualified candidates have responded in short order to the urgent situation created by Khaatim’s resignation and the cheating scandal. While I still believe my record offered the most in value to race, I also don’t feel by

Anglela Brown, candidate for the Atlanta Board of Education Special Election (District 2)

any stretch of the imagination that my election to the vacant seat is the only way forward for our district. My commitment to the Atlanta Public Schools and my neighbors within District 2 remains beyond my campaign and will be demonstrated by my eventual endorsement of one of the other candidates (including transferring the resources of my support base) and active involvement with the following advocacy groups:

A Father and Parent Decision

It truly takes a village to raise a child and I feel responsible for the welfare of all children within my community. However, my inscrutable and preeminent calling is to focus on the charges that are closest to me. While I have always maintained this clarity of purpose (albeit imperfectly), it was not clear until I received the cooperation from my children’s mother that being a full and present father would be possible in the short term. Relations between us as a result of the willful attack by Anna Foote on my ability to provide adequate child support had fallen to an unprecedented low. But thank God that there is often a ram in the bush…

My son Kwesi, waiting...

This blog posting constitutes my official public withdrawal as a candidate from the Board of Education Special Election for District 2, but hardly my retreat as an advocate for quality education in Atlanta Public School. After a time of investment made by both his parents through private school, my son Kwesi now attends a APS charter school located on the campus of Morris Brown College (the Atlanta Preparatory Academy). Along with other dedicated parents there, I will certainly be very involved in making his experience there (and that of the other students) the best it can be. And my daughter Issata will always be an International Preparatory Institute lady and scholar, thanks to the incredible developmental influence of my friend and their “grandmother” Dr. Vivien Davenport and her team of top notch educators on that Cascade hill.

Kwabena Nkromo, father & public servant

I also received the good news this morning that under the leadership of Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Marvin A. Moss, the Cascade United Methodist Church presented a check of $22,000 to Morris Brown College president Dr. Stanley Pritchett yesterday as the final amount the 130-year-old landmark institution needs to settle a $500,000 debt with the U.S. Department (see HERE). This is a bright spot of hope that shows we can rise to the occasion and provide the educational opportunities that our young people desperately need to survive in the 21st century. In addition to re-focusing on my business interests, perhaps I will consider returning to finish my college degree on the same campus as my son. God bless and I’ll see you in 2013.

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A Race About Race and Politics in Modern Public Education: The Special Election to Fill the Atlanta Board of Education District 2 Vacancy

Kwabena "Cubby" Nkromo

When the Atlanta Public Schools’ cheating scandal fully broke in the news, I was asked by a friend who works at Morehouse to write a piece that expressed my personal understanding of the controversy. I had immediate suspicions regarding the source of the problem, but decided to withhold comment until more information had been revealed. The thing that continued to stump me was the uncharacteristic behavior of my long time friend and public service colleague, Khaatim S. El. While all other players in the unfolding tragic drama seemed like “usual suspects”, I was hard pressed to understand the suddenly aggressive and frantic actions of an erstwhile mild mannered gentleman. Khaatim’s outrage and erratic response to the early stages of the scandal was the real “canary in the mine shaft” for me.

When Mr. El agreed to step down as Chairperson and suddenly resigned from the Board of Education, I knew we would begin to learn more truth as to what had really happened with the scandal. True to form, he simultaneously issued a statement that included both a swan song retort to his critics as well as posed numerous pointed questions for the community of wounded Atlanta Public Schoolfamilies and taxpayers to consider. In finally committing to write this essay, my intent is to both share my interpretation of what happened in our schools and offer answers to Khaatim’s rhetorical interrogatories.

Whether implicit or explicitly designed, there appears to have been a conspiracy to sacrifice the authentic education of an entire generation of Black children on the altar of commercial gain for mostly white developers and relatively minor graft by Black public school administrators or contractors. Many people had something to gain from the self-serving appearance of African American academic success within Atlanta Public Schools rather than the actual development of our children and preparing them for survival in an increasingly competitive world economy. The essentially open theft of public resources intended for public education and the rape visited upon our children’s futures by the cheating debacle are the tip of an iceberg that seems to go much deeper and wider than many privileged elite in Atlanta(Black and white) would like to have disclosed. This is how I see it.

A Declaration of Black Inferiority

Even for the lay person, there are two startling obvious suppositions that can be inferred from the criminal and immoral behavior of the education “professionals” involved with the changing of students’ tests and other academic improprieties. On the surface, it seems painfully obvious that the inanely simple objective of the cheating activity was to give the false appearance of dramatically improved student performance. This begs the question: Why didn’t the teachers and administrators involved choose to actually educate our children instead of cheating, thereby achieving the same results in the end?

Dr. Beverly Hall & APS Board members

Academic dishonesty is not like other kinds of criminal behavior. If one wants to run a financial ponzi scheme for instance, there are few other ways to do it other than lying to investors and providing false financial statements. No matter how much a true Wall Street guru that he may have been on some level, Bernard Madoff could never fully control the seemingly infinite variables of the modern financial markets to secure the results he deceived his clients into believing he had procured for them. With educational fraud however, you are basically taking a short cut to “steal” something that could actually be accomplished the old fashioned way. In other words, Dr. Hall and her underlings could have chosen to teach more of our children instead of cheat them.

Pickaninny images from Hollywood used to portray Black children as subordinate & inferior to the white race

The first inference we could logically make then is that on some conscious or sub-conscious plane of self-hate, our Black instructional professionals did not believe that our children were capable of learning at the level required by the federal testing standards of No Child Left Behind and other regressive public policy attacks that are counter-intuitive in nature. This implicit Declaration of Black Inferiority (DBI) imposed upon the flower of our youth is reminiscent of the worst aspects of white supremacy doctrines, but certainly far more insidious in its belief and application by African Americans entrusted with the intellectual welfare of our future. Even with all benefit of the doubt granted for undue pressure embodied in the federal and state unfunded mandates, there is no way to excuse the choice of teachers and administrators to opt for a damning path of least resistance rather than the dutiful journey of fulfilling their mandate as educators. They wholly and menacingly failed us all.

Secondly, we have to wonder whether these college-trained scions of DuBois’ fabled Talented Tenth were ever convinced that they knew how to do their jobs. Perhaps combined with a debilitating assumption of our children’s inherent limitations, the persons involved in conducting and/or orchestrating the cheating may secretly know that they are incapable of doing the very thing they were employed to do. As a trade educator myself, I know well that not every one who is in a position to teach can actually do so. As most do who are hiding a tragic secret, it is also possible that many involved in the scandal compounded their conviction that Black babies can’t learn with their own closeted reality of incompetence. Why else, I ask, would they choose not to do the right thing at such high risk to their careers and freedom unless they thought the right thing was practically impossible to make manifest? I don’t like saying this about us, but it rings true to me.

Development: Atlanta’s Main Industry & Vice

Atlanta: Too Busy to Hate?

Many around the country must be scratching their heads in bewilderment, trying to understand how a city came to shoot itself in the foot in such a poetically tragic way. “Did not Atlanta just elect an apparently bright and promising young Mayor in the person of Kasim Reed?” they may wonder. “Hadn’t the ‘Black Mecca’ left behind the maddening self-defeating shenanigans of the Bill Campbell era with the less than perfect, but relatively competent and efficacious terms of Mayor Shirley Franklin?” For those of us who sojourned to Atlanta years ago under the allure of a mythological Black ‘promised land’, the glitter of the Dirty South had long proven itself to be less than 24 carat gold when it came to authentic African American empowerment.

Who Rules Atlanta?

One of the high points of my friendship with Khaatim was receiving a gift from him on my 39th birthday. As co-members of the West End Rotary Club, we often discussed the vagaries of Atlanta politics and civic life over pleasant lunch meetings at Pascals restaurant. One such discussion involved my confession of being perplexed by the behavior of many Atlanta Black politicos that seemed to belie the cities reputation of producing strong, independent progressive African American leadership. In what seemed almost like a gesture of pity rather than edification, Khaatim ordered a book for me through Amazon.com called, “Regime Politics: Governing Atlanta, 1946-1988“ (Clarence N. Stone). Like no other explanation ofAtlanta’s history and habits I’d learned before, this book opened my eyes to the reality of the New South.

This is an essay about an education crisis and is not meant to be a history lesson or too much of political science. Nevertheless, two salient pieces of information are helpful in understanding the complicity of Atlanta’s white power structure in the still unfolding public schools scandal. One is that lacking many local industries and natural resources besides people, Atlanta’s economy and privileged wealth is fueled by development (second only perhaps to the tourism/convention/prostitution industry group). The developers build things, with expectations (or mere hopes) that the people will come. People are generally connected to families and nuclear families often have children that need to be educated. As any real estate agent worth her salt will tell you, one of the most critical elements of home acquisition selection by prospective buyers is the quality of an area’s public schools.

The second thing to know is what I learned from the book Khaatim gifted to me. The following except summarizes the basic dynamic at play between Atlanta’s white and Black political and business elite:

The Atlanta Compromise

“From the end of Georgia’s white primary in 1946 to the present, Atlanta has been a community of growing black electoral strength and stable white economic power. Yet the ballot box and investment money never became opposing weapons in a battle for domination. Instead, Atlanta experienced the emergence and evolution of a biracial coalition. Although beset by changing conditions and significant cost pressures, this coalition has remained intact. At critical junctures forces of cooperation overcame antagonisms of race and ideology.

On the negative side of the political ledger, Atlanta’s style of civic cooperation is achieved at a cost. Despite an ambitious program of physical redevelopment, the city is second only to Newark, New Jersey, in the poverty rate. Social problems, conflict of interest issues, and inattention to the production potential of a large lower class bespeak a regime unable to address a wide range of human needs. No simple matter of elite domination, it is a matter of governing arrangements built out of selective incentives and inside deal-making; such arrangements can serve only limited purposes. The capacity of urban regimes to bring about elaborate forms of physical redevelopment should not blind us to their incapacity to address deeply rooted social problems.”

For me, the nexus between these two socio-economic dynamics best explains the sell out of Atlanta’s Public School System and by extension this city’s children. Collusion by commission or omission is still a sin, and the actors within Atlanta’s privileged political and business elite have a lot to answer for to a power higher than us all. Nevertheless, we also have a job to do as taxpayers and citizens of this still great southern city. Given that the Board of Education is the local governing body for the early learning life of our most precious and vulnerable charges as a community, all who are able bodied and of sound mind should be running for the open seat (in a sense). Of course, we are all called in different and capable of different things. I am able and willing to serve, which is why I am a candidate for the Special Election for the District 2 seat.

The Soul of Atlanta

The departing statement that Khaatim issued and read at his last board meeting was so cryptically mesmerizing and insightful that it would not do it justice to avoid representing it largely in tact. I choose to close this analysis with the considerable sized except below from his commentary, which will be followed by my best answers to his haunting questions:

Khaatim S. El, resigning from the Atlanta Board of Education

“It remains to be seen, however, whether the soul of Atlanta has been truly stirred – Atlanta is facing a genuine crisis of character, character that is decaying because of fear, intimidation and retaliation.

I believe three questions should haunt Atlanta for the foreseeable future:

1)    Why was the cheating scandal so exclusively pronounced for some children and not for others (splitting sharply along racial lines) and yet equal in its mistreatment of the poor and disenfranchised? Why were these children – mostly low income and African-American – so cavalierly denied access to America’s promise?

2)    How did we – the elected officials, business leaders, and the system itself – become complicit in, through our actions and in our silence, a deal with the Devil that sold out a generation of children for the sake of the city’s image and the district’s “perception of success?”

3)    Who, in the end, benefited from this collusion? Why did powerful people use their positions to punish those who dared to speak out? Why was legislation created to expressly limit the voice of the electorate, the people? What was behind the decision to place into law a provision to “restrict the powers of the Board” as outlined in the APS Charter?

If Atlanta is lucky, these questions will force the community to confront a long overdue and difficult conversation about race, class and power. And while some people will proclaim that we must move forward now to put this episode behind us, for the sake of the kindergarten classes that starts next year and the year after that, Atlanta will have to be uncomfortable for a while before we can truly claim victory.”

Khaatim applauding Dr. Beverly Hall

Atlanta’s “crisis of character” that Khaatim refers to extends beyond its dearth of authentic concern for our children. The stench of a complacency culture and municipal malfeasance ranks in too many of our schools, neighborhood associations, NPU’s, City Council and the Mayor’s Office, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, and churches. But it is enough of a tragedy to consider the questions he poses in relationship to our collective charge as an urban village to be guardians of the children, our proverbial future. Here is where we stand in my mind in corresponding order to Khaatim’s numbered items:

1)       In Atlanta’s juggernaut pursuit if progress, profit and regional competition to be the leader of the New South, poor Black people (and their children) continue to stubbornly be considered cheap labor and raw material for poverty industry grants at best and persistently expendable at the worst extremes of de facto public and private policy (See “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to WWII” by Douglas A. Blackmon). However even though the cheating activity was focused in predominately African American areas, the impact will affect all children of the city of all ethnicities. Therefore, we must all work together on the solution.

2)       In a more succinct version of what is described earlier in the essay, the APS cheating scandal is a logical (even if diabolical) extension of the ruling compromise that has governed modernAtlanta. Wealthy mostly white property owners, corporate elites, and developers retain core ownership of the city while outsourcing most of its management to a relatively small inner circle of privileged and xenophobic Black intelligentsia and politicos. Being as generous as possible, perhaps the downtown Chamber of Commerce simply demanded higher scores of it lackeys without determining precisely how this poisonous policy was to be carried out. Either way, the result was a clear determination by APS staff and administrators at the highest level to perpetuate the myth ofAtlanta’s universal shiny appeal at all costs and by any means necessary.

3)       In the end, practically no one will benefit from this ill conceived project. Due to the cheating scandal’s now very public and liable failure, many who stood to gain directly from its parallel dimension success will now likely suffer devastating consequences. Even the puppet masters have lost like a bad day inLas Vegas, ironically tarnishingAtlanta’s image further rather falsifying it in a positive light. The reason why powerful people have moved to punish those to try to expose the truth is because that’s what most governing regimes do in order to retain power and control. Lastly, legislation was enacted to diminish the power of the people because our current elected representatives invited the re-colonization of our communities by State government through their utter incompetence and dysfunctional behavior.

Mayor Maynard Jackson, the "Godfather" of Black Atlanta

Contrary to Khaatim’s somewhat cavalier summation, I don’t believe that Atlanta’s future has anything to do with luck. Our best path forward will be hard won through a series of painful conversations, disclosures, and ultimately decisions to repent as a city and make things right. Conversations in America (particularly in the South) about race, class, and power have seldom been conducted in the real world of public policy without conflict and a will by true liberals to fight for the greatest good. We will have forfeited progressive victory in this case as a community if we choose to bypass real change in exchange for continued delusions and the status quo.

My son Kwesi, waiting

I have two young children and one (my son Kwesi) is now in Atlanta Public Schools, so I am a vested stakeholder in how this story will end. As a subject of the busing traumas of integration withinBoston’s public schools during my youth, I know too well the impact adults decisions can have on the lives of those who are too young to decide for themselves. In talking recently with a student returning to Benjamin E. Mays High School for her Senior year, I found her deeply disappointed by the scandal but also undaunted in her determination to be accepted my Emory University and pursue a career in medicine. So on behalf of this future doctor and my own babies, I remain committed to fighting for change on her behalf and necessarily hopeful that things will be far better for Kwesi and Issata (my children) by the time they are close to graduation. There is no other choice for a faithful father and responsible citizen.

Kwabena “Cubby” Nkromo is resident of the Pittsburgh neighborhood within Southwest Atlanta and is candidate for the Special Election to fill the vacancy left by Khaatim S. El on the Atlanta Public School Board of Education, District 2. 

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Tonight: Special Brow Proz/Brow Tutor event @ Body by Brandy

6:00PM-9:00PM Thursday July 28th

Boston Brow Spa

@ Body by Brandy

2181 Washington Street   

RoxburyMA 02119   

617.442.2187 (call for appt)

Kwabena Nkromo, The Brow Tutor Master Cosmetologist GA License #CO097626

Please join in welcoming a Roxbury native son back home to serve his community once again. Kwabena Nkromo was born in the Dudley triangle, but has traveled across the country to learn the best in cutting edge beauty pampering skills in order to continue his family’s developing legacy in the cosmetology industry (his brother Lance McBrayer is the former co-owner of Tammi’s Higher Level Salon & Day Spa).

Exclusively at Body by Brandy, Kwabena will be offering specially priced eye beauty services as an introduction of his Brow Proz™ brand of Precision Eyebrow Sculpting™ to the Boston market. In addition, he will be presenting free demonstrations of his Brow Tutor™ training technique that is designed to transfer eyebrow design expertise to hair stylists and other beauty professionals who are not currently earning maximum income for their existing client base and new customers. Visit his blog at www.browtutor.wordpress.com for details and view a video of a home-based Brow Spa below.


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Atlanta Proposes Charging for Collected Rainwater (APN)

Residential rainwater barrels

(APN) ATLANTA — A currently proposed City of Atlanta ordinance would begin to charge residents who use rainwater catchment systems, raising concern among some Atlanta citizens who see the ordinance as taxing the water which falls from the sky.

Ordinance #11-O-0740, Potable Rainwater Ordinance for Residential Use, was sent from Mayor Kasim Reed’s office to the City Utilities Committee in early May 2011, and is currently held in Cmte, where it is awaiting a public hearing, which has yet to be scheduled at this time.

“Customers will not be charged for non-potable rain catchment systems, such as rain barrels,” the City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability wrote in a Frequently Asked Questions memo issued on June 06, 2011.

“Rain barrels tend to be smaller (most are 55 gallon containers), and used for non-potable tasks such as watering gardens and lawns.  Charges only apply [under the proposal] when residents choose to install potable rainwater catchment systems that ultimately discharge wastewater to the City’s sewage system,” the memo states.

Most Atlanta families and businesses who rely on treated water from the City of Atlanta pay for the treated water they consume, as well as for the used water they return to the system as sewage.

Currently, those who have a potable rainwater catchment system–and use the rainwater for things like showers and washing dishes, for example–do not pay to consume the water [which they collected themselves], but also do not pay for returning used water to the sewer system where it must be treated.

The City argues that while potable rainwater catchment systems already exist, they need to be regulated for health and safety.

“Current City of Atlanta (City) code does not currently allow harvested rainwater to be used for drinking, otherwise known as ‘potable’ use.  The proposed Potable Rainwater Catchment System Ordinance would allow these systems, require health and safety specifications for these systems, and implement an alternate sewer fee structure for users of these systems to ensure their safe use and operation,” the memo states.

“Because potable rainwater is used indoors, it will be discharged to the sewer system and eventually be treated by the Department of Watershed Management’s (DWM) sewage treatment plants.  In order to avoid charging all customers the sewage use of a select group, the ordinance includes a provision to bill for sewer charges,” the memo states.

“This ordinance is important because Access to the public water supply must be carefully monitored to prevent the introduction of contaminants.  Therefore, DWM will be available to recommend a back flow prevention device that will keep the City water supply completely separate from water supplied by rainwater catchment systems.  DWM will issue applicable permits and conduct inspections as necessary.  If DWM determines at any time that a serious threat to the public health exists, the water service will be terminated immediately.  These measures are in place for public safety and protection,” the memo states.

Concerned citizens held a press conference on Monday, June 20, 2011, at 2pm in front of Booker T. Washington High School.

Kwabena “Cubby” Nkromo, a candidate for City Council District 4 who is challenging incumbent City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow, questions the public policy rationale of the proposed ordinance.

“The pending Rainwater Catchment system ordinance needs explicit and unambiguous exceptions for all uses other than the indoor potable consumption,” Nkromo said.

Moreover, advocates and participants in the local urban agriculture movement are concerned about possible “legislative creep, which might allow city agencies to harass, tax, or disrupt rainwater catchment intended for urban agricultural irrigation,” Nkromo said in a statement.

Steve Williams was among a small handful of citizens present at the press conference.  Williams installs rainwater systems and has an informational website, TheRainSaver.com, which focuses on rainwater conservation.

Williams is supportive of the legislation overall.  “Legislation is needed, and the proposed ordinance is well-written,” he said.

But he adds, “Kwabena is correct, and the proposed legislation could be more clear regarding what type of systems are included.  Although the intent of the ordinance is not to effect the average person with a rain barrel, unless the ordinance specifies that, there could be a problem down the road.”

Nkromo feels these regulations are excessive.  Williams says “the regulations are reasonable, but the pricing is questionable.”

The pricing for the proposed new charges is explained in a memorandum dated May 31, 2011, sent to Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Units (NPU’s), from Bill Hosken, Interim Director of Sustainability for the City of Atlanta, and Jenah Zweig, Project Manager for the City of Atlanta – Office of Sustainability.

“The billing methodology is a tiered annual permitting fee.  This tiered annual permit fee will be based on the size of the rainwater tank, with a $6.56 base rate for all systems plus $9.74 per 75 gallons of storage capacity per year,” the pricing memo states.

“Since the size of rainwater tanks is correlated with residential rainwater use, this billing methodology is tailored to provide residents with a fair, flat annual fee, while minimizing the City of Atlanta’s administrative costs,” the memo states.

But advocates worry the high fees will be cost prohibitive and will discourage people from capturing and using rainwater, despite the environmental and economic benefits [treatment of water provided by the City of Atlanta requires chemicals, electricity, and money].

“The high fees associated with the new requirements will make it too expensive,” Nkromo said.

“The fee schedule should be revised,” Williams said.  “The proposed pricing is expensive, and our City should look at the billing system for potable rainwater in Orange County in California, which exempts systems which are 3000 gallons or less, and does not have additional administrative charges, which are added in the proposed fee structure.”

“The Watershed Department says that conservation is important, and the City is aware of the damage that storm water has on our infrastructure.  If that is the case, why not charge a reasonable rate, so that more people can afford to conserve?” Williams asks.

“The current price schedule… is based on how large your system is, which will cause people to be charged for sewage, even if the water is for the lawn, which does not use city pipes,” Williams said.

Overall, Williams encourages more Atlanta families and businesses to consider collecting rainwater, both for potable and non-potable uses.

“A basic system can cost some upfront money [from ten thousand dollars on up], but the benefits are tremendous.  The water from a rainwater system, when done properly, has no harsh chemicals, and is much healthier.  How much money do we spend on bottled water, and how much waste are the plastic bottles?  Having a rainwater system will help conserve water, and in the case of a drought, you will have water to drink, and save thousands on lost plants.  The other advantage of a rainwater system is the relief from the damage on our infrastructure, from run off storm water,” Williams said.

Williams believes the effects of climate change may get worse, and the weather is no longer predictable.  Not having a rainwater system is short-sighted, and not fair to our children.  Williams is one of a handful of professionals who provide rainwater harvesting systems, and he hopes these systems will be included in all future home renovations and new construction.

(END / 2011)

For more information, contact: Committee to Elect “Cubby” for City Council (District 4) 964 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Box 10 Atlanta, GA 30310. (404) 721-3992, future.metro.atl@gmail.com.

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The House of Amen (HoA) Transformative Housing Program

The House of Amen (HoA)     

Transformative Housing Program

966 & 1010 McDaniel Street SW

Atlanta, GA 30310

(404) 721-3992


The House of Amen (HoA) Transformative Housing Program is a non-denominational, ecumenical ministry that assists men (particularly veterans) in making the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. HoA understands that providing basic subsistence food and shelter is necessary but not sufficient to prevent most homeless persons from becoming homeless again. We help families address the root causes of their homelessness by offering counseling, case management, assistance with life skills and parenting, and other supportive services.

Our program provides an array of programs and services to City of Atlanta and Fulton County residents to help them achieve self-sufficiency. Services include financial assistance, job search, transitional housing, adult education, etc.

Service hours: 24/7

Eligibility: working poor (employed or possessing employable skills)

Intake procedure: telephone, appointment

Documents: Picture ID/driver license, social security card, proof of income, voter registration card

Referral required: must be employed or actively looking for work & be able to pay two month fees

Fees: $100/week (income eligible applicants)

Benefits: On MARTA bus line, free cable/wi-fi, close to downtown


  • Adult Basic Education
  • Community Building Training & Participation
  • Meals included
  • Ex-Offender Employment Programs
  • Workforce Development through Urban Agriculture
  • Group Therapy (required)
  • Independent Living Skills Instruction
  • Job Interview Training
  • Leadership Development
  • Life Skills Education
  • Parenting Skills Classes
  • Planning/Coordinating/Advisory Groups
  • Transitional Case/Care Management

 The House of Amen is open to all who seek to cooperate with God in the movement toward peace, justice and liberation. Participation in the House of Amen ministry of personal and social transformation is required for residence at the ministry’s Transformative Houses.

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