Axios Atlanta

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It's Friiiiiiiiiiday. First round is on you.

Today's weather: Sunny with a high of 46.

Situational awareness: Microsoft is pressing pause on its planned mega-campus on Atlanta‘s westside, per Bisnow.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Atlanta member Dov Wilker! And happy early birthday to member Michelle Hiskey.

Today's newsletter is 927 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Slowing down Buford Highway

Illustration of a pedestrian crossing sign with a dollar sign.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

If you think driving on Buford Highway is the opposite of relaxation, try walking.

  • New funding, however, might make it less of a nightmare for pedestrians.

Why it matters: Though designed for cars, Buford Highway is used by a surprising number of pedestrians going to work, school, shopping, or medical appointments.

Driving the news: This morning, elected officials and transportation leaders will celebrate $1.5 million in new funding to improve pedestrian safety in Doraville between I-285 and Longmire Way.

Details: That money secured by Sen. Jon Ossoff will be spent on audible push buttons for crosswalks; landscaping; benches, bike racks, and waste receptacles; curb ramps, and more.

  • State and local officials, along with community advocates like We Love Buford Highway, have spent more than $50 million — and more than a decade — to add pedestrian refuges, bright crossing signals, and other projects to slow down cars.

Zoom out: Within just a few miles on Buford Highway, the average person could buy churros at La Churreria, banh mi at Lee's, and Chinese at Canton House. But food shopping by foot is a gamble.

  • Doraville has seen more than 30 crashes involving pedestrians over the past five years, according to Ossoff’s office.

By the numbers: GDOT says a hectic rollercoaster segment from Lenox Road to the Doraville city limits — once one of Georgia’s most dangerous — hasn't seen a pedestrian death in roughly five years thanks to new medians and other safety fixes.

  • Another project is scheduled to finish construction in 2025.

The bottom line: Metro Atlanta's foreign-born population and their families have flocked to Buford Highway over the decades for its affordable housing and sense of community.

  • The multicultural corridor is facing gentrification and displacement as development pressures from surrounding cities like Brookhaven and Chamblee encroach on the thoroughfare.

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2. 💍 Get married by the mayor

Marry We event poster

Photo Courtesy of Marry We

A few dozen couples are getting married on Valentine's Day in Piedmont Park…together.

  • And Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is officiating.

Driving the news: A new "wedding experience company" called "Marry We" has organized a Valentine's Day group wedding, which its owner Crystal Love hopes will be the first of many in Atlanta and nationally.

What's happening: Couples can pay $1,000 to participate in the ceremony with four guests, get their marriage license signed by the mayor and have dinner, dancing and cake planned for them.

  • "There's nothing wrong with that big, over-the-top wedding. It's just not for everybody," Love told Axios in an interview. "We're just giving people an opportunity to consider another alternative."

Zoom in: "All you need to bring is yourself fully dressed and bring your rings. We'll take care of everything else," Love said. She has gotten Fulton County Probate Court to open specially for couples for a few hours on the weekend before getting their licenses.

Between the lines: Dickens told Axios this is his first time officiating a wedding.

  • "I'm very excited. And it's on Valentine's Day too!" he said.

Of note: Fulton Probate Court tells Love that Valentine's Day is a popular day for courthouse elopements.

What we're watching: Love says they're capping it at 40 couples to keep the event "intimate," but they still have space for more to sign up here.

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3. Battle of the bands

A photo of a marching band with brass instruments and a bandleader leading out front

Photo: Courtesy of 4THPARK

Eight bands. Hundreds of musicians. Countless drumsticks. Tomorrow, they will pack Mercedes-Benz Stadium to showcase some of the Southeast’s best HBCU marching band talent.

What's happening: Musicians from Alabama State, North Carolina A&T and Grammy-nominated Tennessee State universities will compete alongside two of Atlanta’s best high school marching bands — Westlake in South Fulton and Mableton's Pebblebrook — at the All-Star Battle of the Bands.

What we're watching: The Westlake Mighty Marching Lions. Called the heartbeat of the school, the roughly 130-member band has been working on their performances since July, director Cedric Young told Axios.

  • Expect formations spelling out words, numbers and characters, plus plenty of flair, he said.

What they're saying: HBCU marching bands have their roots in military drum corps, Young said. Some still employ military drill commands like about face, dress right dress, and come to attention.

  • "The terminology hasn't changed," Young said. "Just the feel of the performance has changed. The groove."

More info

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4. Things to do: Black History Month

Illustration of the state of Georgia lit by red, green and yellow lights.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

There's no place to celebrate Black history like Atlanta.

  • Here's just a taste of all that’s going on this month — and this weekend.

📖 The Center for Civil and Human Rights: Kid-friendly storytimes, activities and giveaways are planned for all weekends in February, included with a ticket to the museum. (Details)

🪕 Black Opry Revue in Roswell: The Roswell Cultural Arts Center hosts the launch of the 2023 Roswell Roots Festival with performances honoring long-overlooked contributions of Black country artists. (Tonight, 7:30pm)

🎤 Dynamic Divas in Doraville: Celebrate the music of some iconic Black women. (Sunday, 3pm)

🎨 Black and Proud Art Show at Atlantucky Brewing: An art show featuring local Atlanta artists coincides with the first anniversary of this Black-owned brewery in Castleberry Hill. (Tomorrow, 2-10pm)

🙍🏾‍♀️ Black Magnolias at Oakland Cemetery: A guided walking tour of Oakland Cemetery "moves beyond historical stereotypes to explore the history, lives, and labors of Atlanta’s African American women." (Tomorrow, 1-2:30pm)

New jobs to check out

💼 See who's hiring around the city.

  1. Senior Analyst, Marketing Campaign Development at Sirius XM.
  2. Manager, Client Services at LifeWorks.
  3. Sr. Director, Franchise Finance at Jimmy John's.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. Five Points: "Bo Legs" documentary

Illustration of five-ish points animating to form the letters ATL.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  • Charges could be dropped against a murder suspect for the killing of a Carroll County man more than 70 years ago. (AJC)
  • The federal government has awarded a $30 million grant to connect downtown to the Beltline's Southside Trail. (Urbanize)
  • A new documentary entitled "Bo Legs" tells the story of Marvin Arrington Sr. (The Atlanta Voice)
  • Fulton County commissioners have voted to fund a task force to research reparations. (Saporta Report)
  • Slutty Vegan is opening a new location on Georgia Tech’s campus. (Eater)

😬 Kristal's plant wish list on Etsy is out of control.

🪴 Emma just learned you can buy plants on Etsy!

😳 Thomas is never getting his eyes dilated again.