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Peachtree Corner’s ControlRad is Making Radiation Safe for Medical Staff [Podcast]

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ControlRad CEO Guillaume Bailliard

More than ever before is the general public concerned for the health and safety for the brave
men and women in our medical and healthcare system. ControlRad and CEO Guillaume
Bailliard, our guest on today’s episode, have developed special medical technology to protect
both medical staff and patients from excess radiation. Join Rico Figliolini, Patrizia Winsper, and Guillaume as they discuss the inner workings of this amazing and life-saving technology.

Resources:
Website: https://www.controlrad.com

“The way our device works is… that we add an accessory to existing x-ray units that is a semi-transparent filter… that moves in real time… depending on what the physician needs to see on the screen. So we’re able to radically and dramatically reduce radiation, unnecessary radiation to both patients and medical staff using our device.”

Guillaume Bailliard

Timestamp:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:03:13] – ControlRad’s Device
[00:07:48] – Input Devices
[00:09:25] – Using Existing Technology
[00:10:23] – ControlRad’s Consumers
[00:12:19] – Consolidation
[00:13:42] – Other New Products
[00:14:27] – ALARA
[00:16:14] – Repercussions of Radiation
[00:18:57] – Case Studies
[00:20:42] – Time in Development
[00:22:02] – Moving to Peachtree Corners
[00:24:08] – Effects of COVID-19 on ControlRad
[00:28:29] – Closing

Podcast transcript

Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of the Peachtree Corners Life. Glad that you’re joining up, whether it’s live from on this feed with Facebook or you’re joining us on our podcast or YouTube video. I would appreciate it if you follow us online, currently if you like Facebook page for Peachtree Corners Life, you get notification of our live stream so that’d be great to do. Before we get to our today’s show, great guest to follow up to a cover story that we did an issue back about vibrant technology in the heart of Peachtree Corners. I just want to introduce our sponsor for the family of podcasts we do, which is Hargray Fiber. Hargray Fiber is a company that deals in fiber optic cable, communications, IT management, bundle services, throughout the Southeast. They’re in our communities. They’re doing great work in our communities too, especially now reaching out, providing free internet services per company, doubling bandwidths for existing customers. They’re doing a lot of things out there to make teleworking way easier. To find out more about them check them out HargrayFiber.com. We appreciate their sponsorship. So now let’s join with my cohost Patrizia Winsper, who wrote the article on these technology companies and today’s guest, she’s going to introduce him. I’m going to pick them on screen right now, Patrizia go ahead and introduce our guest today.

Patrizia: [00:01:51] Good afternoon, everyone. I have the sincere pleasure of introducing to you, CEO of ControlRad Guillaume Bailliard. Hi Guillaume.

Guillaume: [00:02:02] Hi everyone. Thanks for having me on.

Patrizia: [00:02:05] How are you doing today Guillaume?

Guillaume: [00:02:07] Doing fantastic. It’s a beautiful day outside.

Patrizia: [00:02:10] Awesome. It’s such a great time to do a podcast about some positive news and some great innovations that are taking place right here in Peachtree Corners. So I hope everyone has a chance to just settle down with us for a little bit and think happy thoughts and listen to some good news that’s going on. Right Rico?

Rico: [00:02:27] Yes, absolutely. Our guest is actually in the city of Peachtree Corners and he’s at his office at Tech Park. Right Guillaume?

Guillaume: [00:02:39] That’s right. I’m here in Peachtree Corners at the office on Scientific Drive, absolutely. So we are, today we’re doing some testing inside the, our laboratory here in the office. So we’re here to support and review the testing.

Rico: [00:02:55] For sure you’re doing this socially safe and all that, I imagine, right?

Guillaume: [00:02:59] I am. I did take off my 95 mask that I have with me here, but I took it off here for this interview.

Rico: [00:03:05] Excellent. Good. So let’s, let’s get right down to it then. Why don’t we ask, Patrizia did you want to show the magazine?

Patrizia: [00:03:13] Just wanted to point out that this is a story that appeared on the cover of our February, March, 2020 issue. And ControlRad is being featured today in this podcast, and of course that’s Guillaume Bailliard, CEO. Now if we’re looking at the name of your company, Guillaume, ControlRad, let’s think control radiation. This company has come up with a medical device that actually helps the medical professionals. Who are doing these procedures on a daily basis and protecting them or controlling that excess radiation that is unnecessary and that is currently inevitable without your device. So let’s talk about ControlRad’s medical device and exactly how is it that you are performing these procedures sparing both surgeons and patients, the exposure to that unnecessary scatter radiation.

Guillaume: [00:04:16] Okay, great. Yeah, so what people, you know, through this COVID-19 pandemic are now more appreciating than ever is that medical professionals put their lives at risk for treating patients. And our technology helps radically and dramatically reduce the life altering risks associated with radiation exposure to the medical staff. So as an example, when you’re getting, let’s say, a stent deployed in your heart to open up a blockage. A cardiologist will use a cath lab, which is a x-ray unit that continuously deploys x-ray to see inside your body to deploy that stent. The patient gets radiated one time, but the medical staff, the physician and the nurses and everybody else in the room will get radiated their entire lives as they do multiple of these procedures per day and throughout the year. A typical cardiologist will get exposed the equivalent of 150,000 chest X-rays throughout their lifetime. So it’s very similar to the NFL concussion story where we knew these risks were there for a long time. It took a couple of key cases for that, for this to surface as an issue, and we’ve deployed a technology to help reduce that risk. And the risks are dramatic. There is two times the risk of left brain tumors. There’s a 50% increase in incidents in cataracts. There’s a 34% increase in stroke incidents when compared to other physicians that are not in the x-ray room. So both patients and medical staff are, get dramatic, dramatically less radiation using our device. And that’s how, and basically the way our device works is, I think to answer your question Patrizia, is that we add an accessory to existing x-ray units that is a semi-transparent filter. Thank you for showing the image that moves in real time based on where the physician needs to, what, depending on where the physician needs to see on the screen. So we’re able to radically and dramatically reduce radiation, unnecessary radiation to both patients and medical staff using our device.

Patrizia: [00:06:34] So your filter is situated under the patients?

Guillaume: [00:06:38] That’s correct. The filter is under the patient right above the tube. The x-ray tube that hits the patient. I think you’ve got to move it over just a little, right there where the extra tube shoots through the patient we retrofit and add our filters to existing x-ray units. Which is a bonus for administrators because you don’t have to go out and buy a brand new x-ray unit or a brand new cath lab unit. We can retrofit your existing cath lab or your existing C-arm.

Patrizia: [00:07:10] So your device is retrofitted on the machine right here.

Guillaume: [00:07:13] That’s correct.

Patrizia: [00:07:14] And then let’s talk about this.

Guillaume: [00:07:18] And that is a tablet and the tablet, this is placed next to the patient where the physician is and the physician can select on the tablet and basically draw a region of interest to move the filter in the right location. So basically what you have is you have a tablet that is the input device, and then you have filters that are moved based on where the physician is looking on the patient.

Patrizia: [00:07:48] Now Guillaume, I realize you deal with this every day, but to mere mortals like Rico and I and probably the general public, it’s quite fascinating how the physician is able to select the region of interest, both with just his eyes. Is it special glasses that he wears for the computer to sense where he’s looking?

Guillaume: [00:08:08] Right. There are two types of input devices. One is an eye tracker, which is a device that is actually next to the monitor. No glasses are needed or we use a tablet, so both are devices and input devices that are used to help move those filters. The device that we’re using for the first system that we rolled out. Earlier this year is using a tablet.

Patrizia: [00:08:33] Okay.

Rico: [00:08:34] Okay. Wow, that sounds a bit almost Sci-fi. It almost feels like Star Trek or something.

Patrizia: [00:08:40] It really sounds super futuristic.

Rico: [00:08:42] Right? I mean, you know if I can wear those glasses and it follows where I want to put it. That’s the ultimate thing, right? I mean, even augmented reality, I could see you probably even advancing it further where the information will be right on the glass like that at some point.

Guillaume: [00:08:57] Eventually there, certainly eye tracker technology has, has an unlimited amount of potential and you know, currently they’re being deployed in actually laptops as a standard feature. Certainly the gaming world has helped advance the, the amount of funding in the eye tracking technology. And we’ve basically taken an off the shelf eye tracking technology, and are able to retrofit it with our device and use it as one of the input devices that we use.

Rico: [00:09:25] You know, what I like about it is that you’re dealing with an industry where the equipment is so expensive. And it’s almost legacy in some ways because even the operating
systems and some of the old systems, they might be based on windows, windows seven even as far back. And you are giving them an option to just augment existing equipment they have.

Guillaume: [00:09:47] That is a key point. And our ability to retrofit existing x-ray units is important. A cath lab, which is used for the procedure I was describing earlier, to help deploy stents. Can be $1 million or more. So if you wanted this feature to radically, dramatically reduce your risks of all these adverse events that I talked about, an administrator, a hospital may have a really tough time looking for capital to acquire another cath lab, it could cost $1 million. But if you’re able to retrofit your existing, your existing C-arm, then that is a massive benefit. So that is definitely a key feature.

Rico: [00:10:23] So the, the type of customers are you looking at are major hospitals, small local clinic? Or where’s your sweet spot as far as customers and industries?

Guillaume: [00:10:33] All of the above. So there are, there are more than 20,000 mobile C-arms in the US and those are used in hospitals for surgeries, spine trauma. They’re used by cardiologists. They’re also used by pain management facilities in outpatient facilities. They’re also used in ASCs, ambulatory surgical centers. So these mobile C-arms are deployed all over the place, in outpatient facilities and in hospitals. So anybody who is using x-ray to look inside the body without cutting it open essentially, could potentially benefit from our technology. To be clear, this is for fluoroscopic systems or C-arms. So this is not for dental equipment or plain x-ray. If I broke my arm and I go to an urgent care center where you’re taking one single exposure, the medical staff is not in the room during that exposure and the patient gets a very low amount of x-ray, a single time. This is for continuous x-ray in deployment of, let’s say stents, or let’s say in a pain management facility.

Patrizia: [00:11:48] We’re looking at physicians like urologists, cardiologists. Who else might deploy?

Guillaume: [00:11:56] Interventional radiologists, cardiologists, spine surgeons, pain management, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists that are using scopes to take biopsies inside the lung. I think you mentioned urologist, vascular surgeons. There’s, there’s seven to eight specialties that use mobile C-arms or fixed cath labs to see inside of body deploy devices.

Rico: [00:12:19] You know, I’ve found that a lot of the hospitals like Northside hospital and a lot of these major, larger facilities, companies are buying up smaller places. They’re setting up outreach satellite offices, essentially almost like a contractor based. Where they bring in the specialists into, they build a hub, provide all the machinery and then the specialists come and they rent space essentially is what they’re doing. Is that a good, I mean, how are you seeing that industry responding to what you want to do, what you’re providing?

Guillaume: [00:12:52] Yeah, that’s, that’s definitely, the consolidation in the healthcare system is certainly something that’s happening. As you get more buying power as a hospital and you
acquire competitors, let’s say I’m an ambulatories, an ASC and employee surgical center, or I have my own outpatient facility as a physician, but I’m not part of the hospital. Certainly consolidation is a trend in, in many markets. There’s pros and cons in consolidation. Us hospitals tend to have more buying power. I’m a big fan of, of competition, but at the same time, consolidation can help provide better care. So there’s, there’s pros and cons to those models. It’s not going to really impact us, our business, but certainly a trend is, is a, that’s a true trend that we’re seeing nationwide.

Rico: [00:13:42] Okay. You have two other products coming out? You mentioned that before we got on. Are they things you could talk about?

Guillaume: [00:13:49] Yeah, so the first device has been FDA cleared, and we’re currently selling today, and that’s retrofitting mobile C-arms. Mobile C-arms. Are smaller C-arms that are used by all the specialties I talked about. The next device that we will be releasing in the second half. We’re in preparation or preparing our submission is for fixed arms or cath labs. So it’s the same device. It’s just on a separate markets within the healthcare space.

Rico: [00:14:24] Okay.

Patrizia: [00:14:27] Guillaume let’s talk about Alara. It’s the FDA’s guiding principle of radiation safety. So Alara stands for?

Guillaume: [00:14:38] As low as reasonably achievable. And Alara, the objective of Alara is any amount of x-ray, is considered not good. So if you can get it as low as you can while not impacting the ability of the physician to provide the care that he or she needs to provide, then that is a, that is a good place to be. So the key, the key component of our device is that we’re able to reduce radiation without impacting image quality, negatively impacting image quality. Historically, a lot of people have struggled. At reducing the radiation exposure to the physician and medical staff. But it has come at a cost and that cost typically has been lower image quality. And when you lower image quality, you lower the opportunity of providing the best possible care you can. So Alara is that principle that the FDA and many other societies follow which is, let’s get x-ray radiation as low as we can without impacting outcome

Patrizia: [00:15:45] And let’s talk about ControlRad and how far they are able to reduce that level of radiation exposure.

Guillaume: [00:15:52] So in our FDA submission, we would do anywhere between 50 to 89% the radiation exposure to both patients and the entire medical staff inside the room. That is considered game changing.

Patrizia: [00:16:08] That is considered game changing

Guillaume: [00:16:10] Especially when you don’t negatively impact image quality.

Patrizia: [00:16:14] You talked to us earlier about some of the negative repercussions from the physicians who are continuously bombarded with this scattered radiation and you mentioned brain tumors, on which side of the head were they more likely to?

Guillaume: [00:16:26] Left sided brain tumor. So they have two times incremental risk of brain cancer compared to other medical professionals, and they have an increasing incidence in left brain. Why is left brain relevant? When the physician is at the patient they’re on the left side of the patient and it’s their left side of the brain that is closest to the x-ray tube. So there’s a direct correlation with exposure from the x-ray tube to brain tumors. So that is why the left brain tumor is a very meaningful.

Patrizia: [00:17:02] And the last time I had spoken to you at your office when it was still safe to be side by side and have an actual conversation with someone in person. You did mention there was at least one study out that indicated that your image quality. was not only not affected adversely, but improved for the physician that was testing the product. Have you had any other such tests or results from other physicians?

Guillaume: [00:17:27] That’s right. So we, we in our, in our first installations at the beginning of the year, the feedback has been, well, not only are you not negatively impacting image quality, but your image quality has actually gone up. We’ve actually improved image quality. And we thought this was going to be the case from bench testing, lab testing that we had done. But we didn’t really appreciate how clinically meaningful it was. And the feedback from this position was you have improved image quality to the point that you’re able to reduce the operating time. Cause if I can see what I need to see better and faster than I can actually reduce my operating time. If you could reduce operating time and time where you’re sedated, the cost of the OR and the advantages to the patient are very meaningful and very clinically important. So when we were out to reduce radiation and what we have found when we launched the technology is not only did we reduce radiation, but we actually clinically improved image quality. That is not part of our FDA label, in our FDA claims. But now we’re going to be, we’re going to look to further do additional testing to be able to provide that claim that and investigate if we can get that claim from the FDA. But very important outcome from these initial installs.

Patrizia: [00:18:54] Absolutely.

Rico: [00:18:57] So do you, do you have several clients that you’ve been selling to? Can you talk of any case studies right now, Guillaume, of successes that you’d like to mention?

Guillaume: [00:19:08] Yeah, so we have installations in surgical fields. We also have it in outpatient facilities. By pain management in a pain management field. And the utilization and the reductions and radiation that we’re seeing are matching what we claimed we were able to do. And we’re very pleased with that and we’re getting additional outcomes like Patrizia just
pointed out regarding image quality. So we’re very pleased with the outcomes, both in being able to deliver a very high radiation reduction and then provide better image quality.

Rico: [00:19:48] Do you have, what are you looking forward to? What developments are you, beyond the two products you’re working on, you know, long range. Do you have long range plans that you’d like to be doing in this field as well?

Guillaume: [00:20:01] Yeah. So in the next iterations we’ll be looking at further developing for other types of C-arms. So there’s a whole host of different types of C-arms and x-ray equipment. So we’ve launched it with a mobile C-arm, a GE mobile C-arm. We’re going to be doing it with a fix C-arm cath lab at the, at the risk of prying too much information is going to be on it fixed CRM with a Siemens, another vendor. And we’re in talks with all vendors and we’re getting interest from a lot of different parties and are looking to collaborate more with some of these C-arm OEMs to further expand the reach of our technology.

Rico: [00:20:42] How long have you guys been in business?

Guillaume: [00:20:46] Well, we’ve, the technology was originally launched in 2010, by three Israelis, our research development center’s in Israel. Our global headquarters are here in Peachtree Corners. And so we went through a very long period of development, which is very typical for medical devices. The ramp up in technology, in research and development of medical devices can last decades. And we are now just getting our 5, 10 K clearance, as I shared last year, and now in the midst of a commercial launch. So we’ve gone through a very long period of development and now we’re at this very exciting period in our company where we’re now launching the technology and seeing the fruits of all our labor. You know, really taking hold this year, which is really exciting. And fortunate for us, we raised our last capital round with a VC in the fourth quarter of last year. So we’re actually well capitalized and certainly wouldn’t want to be doing that fundraising now behind us in the fourth quarter. And we’re well capitalized to you know, to move the company forward and fuel the commercial launch.

Patrizia: [00:22:02] Guillaume your headquarters here in Peachtree Corners is rather new. Talk to us about why your company shifted from, was it Pennsylvania?

Guillaume: [00:22:12] Yup, Pennsylvania.

Patrizia: [00:22:13] Why Peachtree Corners, Georgia?

Guillaume: [00:22:15] So originally the, our research and developments are still in Tel Aviv and our global headquarters prior was in Radnor, Pennsylvania, which is right outside of Philly. And I was working actually for a company called Monica Technologies, which is a French medical device company based out of Paris, but the US headquarters was here actually in Atlanta as well in Duluth. And so I was already here in Atlanta. So when I joined the company as the CEO, we moved the headquarters from Radnor, Pennsylvania down here to Atlanta. I had found that,
you know, when you peel back the onion here in Atlanta, you’d be surprised at how much medical device talent you actually have here in our own backyard. Certainly it doesn’t match what you have in Boston or in San Francisco, but you’d be surprised on how many medical device talent there is here. The cost of living, it doesn’t compare to what it looks like in Philly. The weather doesn’t, you’ve got the Atlanta airports that’s, you know, for a lot of that does a lot of global travel, is very convenient. So we found Peachtree Corners in particular are very well centered, right north of Atlanta, access to 141 is very useful. 141 miles will be an interstate. I can get to the airport in 35 minutes, 40 minutes if there’s no traffic, of course. But I’m playing around traffic, so that’s okay. And you know, we have people that work here in the office that live inside their perimeter that lives North of us, that lives West of us, that lives East of us. And we find ourselves actually pretty well centralized here and certainly the cost of labor and in this building that I’m here in Scientific Park is fantastic compared to what’s even inside the perimeter, but certainly a lot cheaper than in Philly.

Rico: [00:23:59] Sure.

Patrizia: [00:24:00] Well, we’re glad you decided to settle here.

Rico: [00:24:04] And in this time of COVID-19 Philly’s not the place to be.

Patrizia: [00:24:08] Let’s talk about that a little bit. I don’t mean to be a Debbie downer, but it’s happening and it’s among us.

Guillaume: [00:24:18] Yeah.

Patrizia: [00:24:19] We stopped human activity across the globe. So how, if in any way, has COVID-19 effected ControlRad?

Guillaume: [00:24:26] Yeah, certainly COVID-19 is going to, has impacted everybody. I mean, our premise is pretty simple. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. This too will pass. And we just have to get through this period of time. Who knows what that period of time looks like. But we have to get through this time and be as productive as we can during these times. We have found that for us as a company, we’re very fortunate because we’re just launching our technology. So we had nominal cash, predict, forecasted for this year. So our burn rate in our runway is really not impacted by COVID-19. Our team in Israel and our team here in Atlanta are working very effectively remotely. We’re able to come into the office as I am today to do conduct testing on our x-ray equipment that’s here in the office. So we can, you know, very carefully and with very few people conduct what we need to conduct. Are we at 100% productivity? No. But we’re doing extremely well and find it too. And have found, frankly, in our building of habits of things that we weren’t doing prior, that we’ll probably will keep on doing. Are there meetings that I would typically have gone to that I didn’t really need to go to? Probably. Are there, you know, we’re comfortable conducting all company meetings with a team in Israel. Having a chance for team members to meet each other that probably wouldn’t had a chance to meet, probably
should’ve been doing that before. So there’s habits that we’re actually building up that we’re probably going to be building up even once we get outta here. So we have found, just stay pretty productive and are pleased with how we’re performing.

Rico: [00:26:06] It’s a, it is a tough environment. I deal with a lot of different companies and their sales staff. Just reaching out to people. There’s no landline to call anymore. You have to have someone’s cell phone essentially, or an email. So it’s a little bit more difficult to do. Are there other things that you’d like to share, Guillaume, about the company that we haven’t covered yet?

Guillaume: [00:26:32] No. I mean, listen, we’re excited to be here. I’m very thankful to be on this podcast and be part of this community. There’s a lot going on here. I’m sitting across here from Atlanta Tech Park, which is where we were before we were in this building. It’s exciting to see all the investments and energy in this place. I’m amazed at all the construction that’s going on just north of us. It certainly gave us a lot of different lunch opportunities. So it’s great to see the investment and excitement here. My kids go to Wesleyan across the street, so it’s excited to be part of this community and thanks for having me on.

Rico: [00:27:10] I appreciate that. There were several people, Robin Benfay, from Atlanta Tech Park moving Ashley Young that recommended your company, part of this profile that we did in the last issue. So they were able to speak up about you and your company.

Guillaume: [00:27:27] Great.

Rico: [00:27:28] So, and you’re right, there’s so much going on. I mean, Atlanta Tech Park with the one and a half mile Curiosity Lab track. I mean, some of the stuff is just like your technology because what’s going now there’s going to be even a bigger appeal for some of this stuff, right? We were talking a little bit before earlier about the safety of medical staff. It’s a big deal now. You know, not having the N95 mask or the protection equipment. This falls in line with that, right? We’re keeping staff safe.

Guillaume: [00:28:02] I mean, frankly, we believe the sensitivity to our technology coming out of this thing is going to be higher than it was before. Not that people didn’t care of the medical staff. And these risks that I talked about were very well documented and known. But certainly coming out of COVID-19, there’s going to be a even higher sensitivity to protecting the medical staff. So we definitely believe that that will benefit us.

Patrizia: [00:28:29] Truly innovative, truly remarkable, and absolutely touching that you’re protecting the people who are saving lives every day.

Guillaume: [00:28:36] Yes, absolutely.

Rico: [00:28:38] Well, we appreciate you coming on the show with us. For those that want to read the full article, you will find the digital edition on LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com. Go to our digital page and you’ll find that issue. The February-March issue that was held up.

Patrizia: [00:28:56] Residents may still have in their home somewhere and you can read all about ControlRod and four other very innovative companies in Peachtree Corners.

Rico: [00:29:07] Yes, yes. And we’ll be posting it to the website shortly also. So there, we’ll have the series of articles online. Guillaume, I appreciate you coming out and coming out socially safe online. It’s not zoom, but it’s close, right?

Guillaume: [00:29:23] Yeah, absolutely. All right. Thanks guys. Appreciate it.

Rico: [00:29:28] Take care. Bye.

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The Colorful Woven Threads that Make Up the Fabric of Our City

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Jay Patton, Traditional Master Barber

Gwinnett County is getting more and more culturally and racially diverse. Remember the old adage ‘Variety is the spice of life’? In today’s climate of social unrest and world-wide protests for racial justice, we should move towards healing by getting to know our neighbors and broaching some delicate conversations. It can be scary and cathartic — and it can be a little heartbreaking, too.

The heartbeat of Peachtree Corners is strong because of the amazing people who live and work here. I reached out to some from a variety of backgrounds. Each of their accounts will have you shouting, Vive la différence!

Jay Patton

Jay Patton

Traditional Master Barber Jay Patton moved to Peachtree Corners two years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He noted that his hometown is less diverse, primarily Caucasian, and he’s been enjoying the “good mix” of people here.

“In Minnesota, growing up, there was more racial tension,” Patton said. He felt a larger divide between the privileged and the underprivileged. “There’s less opportunity for certain people in certain states. You come down here and if you have a good credit score, you blend in as long as you’re putting out good vibrations,” he explained.

At your service

After working near Perimeter Mall for five years at Gino’s Classic Barbershop, he decided to venture out on his own. “One of my customers told me about Blaxican,” Patton said. The fusion restaurant serves food inspired by Southern soul cooking and Mexican classics. “Being biracial, I thought that concept was catchy. I came here, drove around a bit and I felt good energy,” he recounted.

Patton opened Traditional Shave Masters Barbershop at 5260 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. “This area is blowing up. I think it’s going to be bigger than Sandy Springs,” he said. He likes the plans for the area.

The barbershop offers “male services — straight edge razor work, blades, steam towels, shaving beard work. With different packages to choose from — like The Distinguished Man, The Exquisite Man, The Classic Man — there’s something for everyone. Female clients with short hairstyles are welcome too,” Patton said. “We have competitive prices and talented, diverse barbers.”

 Things had started picking up well, “and now we’re going through this Corona stuff. It’s pretty challenging,” he shared.

Cutting through racial lines

Patton prides himself on being able to serve the whole community, no matter what race, background or ethnicity. “Most shops are racially separated. People are more comfortable coming in when they see people who look like them,” he said. “I want everyone to look in the window and feel like they can come in. I play jazz music. Everyone likes the smooth, mellow stuff.”

Men have different ways to describe how they want their hair and beards trimmed, depending on their ethnicity, where they’re from, race and even social status, according to Patton. “It’s up to the barber to ask the right questions to really understand what the client wants so you can hook him up,” he said.

He noted that since the rock and roll era, when men grew their hair out, the white barber shop kind of died off as they gravitated to salons. “But now the traditional barber is back. It’s becoming more appealing to all men, of all races,” Patton explained. “Around Atlanta, men want to look good. That’s a good thing!”

No barber school teaches how to cut across racial lines, he said. “My instructor was an old school Irish dude. It’s all hair, but the way you approach it is different. One might use different tools.”

Wherever he worked, he sought to cut hair he was unfamiliar with and learn to cut all types of hair. “I’ve been to a Russian shop, a Puerto Rican shop, a black shop. I made sure to get out of my comfort zone,” Patton said.

Patton could pass for either white or black. “The way I look, people don’t know. I’m chameleon-like. My father is Creole and my mother is Puerto Rican. That’s a loaded soup bowl,” he chuckled. “I had a mother who respected me and explained everything. She watered my seed and I had self-esteem. I love all people. We’re all connected. We’re all on this Earth together.”

He thinks a lot of people would be surprised if they did their 23andMe genetic reports. “I did it and I was mind-blown,” he reported. “I grew up Puerto Rican, but in actuality, I started off Indonesian! I have some Egyptian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British, Irish, German, Apache Indian, Sanda Gambian — things I had to look up! It was surprising to me. It opened up my eyes.”

He added that people mistake him for Egyptian all the time, “so it was interesting to find out I have some Egyptian in me. I love telling the dudes in Duluth, I started out Asian!”

Still, Patton said, at the end of the day, it’s all the indoctrination and cultural stuff that gets in the way. “We’re all the same color on the inside,” he said. “When we’re little, we play and hang out together. Somewhere in the mix, we get taught all these differences.”

All connected

“As soon as we figure it out and start loving each other again, it’s going to be alright,” he continued. “The message has to be delivered differently to the different communities, but it’s the same. I have to empathize with their situation first, then I can flip it around to some other perspectives.”

Patton believes that having exposure to different kinds of people is good and makes things easier. “Because of where I’ve come from, I’m able to communicate with different races,” he said. “My struggles have shaped and humbled me. I’m able to be around a lot of diverse cultures, probably more so than most people. That’s always helped me; I can mingle through racial lines.”

“Asian, Mexican, white, black — I see more people living harmoniously here. Maybe it’s southern hospitality, but people tend to be more polite here. They smile and try to be nice to each other, and that means everything. Being courteous is an initial connection with people.”

“I feel like I have a broader truth, a natural perspective in the spiritual world,” Patton continued. “We are all connected, but some people like the divisions. They’re capitalizing off of us: the red, the blue, the white, the black, and all that junk. As soon as we figure it out and start loving each other again, it’s going to be alright.”

Dr. April Hang, PharmD

Dr. April Hang, PharmD

Dr. April Hang, PharmD, hails from Petersburg, Virginia and is of Filipino heritage. Her dad was in the Army, so her family traveled a lot. She spent a long time in Germany, where she learned to speak a little of the language, and she studied at Virginia Commonwealth University – Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy.

Dr. Hang is Catholic and attends St. Monica Church. Her husband is Buddhist and their three children have been baptized in the Catholic faith.

She opened Peachtree Pharmacy at 5270 Peachtree Parkway in 2012. It’s a compounding pharmacy were medications are customized.“Our clientele is diverse. We serve Hispanics, African Americans, white Americans, Asians. We have seniors all the way down to babies and pets that we take care of, ”Dr.Hang said.“We offer compliance packaging for convenience. It’s helpful for seniors. We put medications in labeled blister packs. They can be organized by day or sorted by morning, afternoon, and evening if necessary.”

And, she said, Peachtree Pharmacy delivers, which is especially important for high-risk patients.

“Compounding is an out-of-the box option for patients who have exhausted all their options and want to try something else. We do carry some traditional medications as well,” she explained. “It takes time to make everything. You have to make sure all the ingredients are included. You’re not just pouring pills out and counting them. You actually have to melt something down, make lollipops, gummies, lozenges or capsules. We have to do our math calculations carefully to make it the exact strength the physician wrote it for.”

Mom-preneur

“I’m first generation American, as well as the first person to start my own business in my family,” Dr. Hang said. She attributes her drive to her dad, who always endeavors to find a solution.

She said that she feels welcome here. “It’s like a small town. That’s why I love Peachtree Corners,” she said. “A lot of our patients are like family to us. This is a great city, a great place to have a small business, especially with Peachtree Corners expanding.”

THC and CBD advocate

One of the things Dr. Hang has gotten involved with is the effort in Georgia to make low THC oil (less than 5%) available to patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer, PTSD, HIV, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. “I feel like [CBD/THC] oil can help several patients,” she said. “It’s yet another alternative for people.”

She said that doctors can help a patient get a medical card for it. “Everything has been passed in Georgia, and there is a THC oil registry here now, but there’s no access. I think there are over 14,000 patients registered. They have the card, but there is no place where they can go buy it yet,” Dr. Hang said. “We’re just waiting for the infrastructure so people can start applying for manufacture and distribution.”

Unfortunately, the process to get access has been delayed due to COVID-19. It’s likely to be another year or two before access is available for patients.

Diversity at the pharmacy

Dr. Hang welcomes students of diverse backgrounds, some from out of state, who do rotations at her pharmacy. “Most of the time, I say ‘yes,’ because the students are up-to-date on the new things. They keep you updated,” she said. “I try to make it practical for them. They work in the store. I take them to a marketing event. I like to do a couple of little health fairs. I mix it up for them so that they see what we actually do. I didn’t get that when I was in pharmacy school.”

There have been times when a staff member has had an unpleasant interaction and they feel that some racism was directed towards them. “I have one full-time pharmacist, three part-time pharmacists and three full-time pharmacy technicians. One is Asian and the others are African American,” she said.

“When COVID-19 had just started [appearing here], there was a client looking for N95 masks; she wasn’t a regular. She was upset we didn’t have any N95 masks. She told my pharmacist, who is black, “I don’t know what you have to say that is going to carry any value.”

  As Dr. Hang was cleaning the store one day, an older lady came in, looked around and asked, “Why is everybody black in here?” She said, “I don’t see anything wrong with that. There are standards and testing that you have to pass in order to be in this position. Everyone here is qualified.” Dr. Hang added that she has never had issues with racial tensions personally. “It’s a little disheartening that it still occurs,” she said.

She suggested a city-wide cultural festival to help improve racial tensions. “If we can learn more about our neighbors, we’ll be able to understand them better. There are a variety of cultural backgrounds in Peachtree Corners, so let’s celebrate them!”

“When I’m at Peachtree Pharmacy, I post on Facebook, “Come by and see me. Come give me a hug!” Customers come in and tell me, “I miss you so much.” It’s nice to catch up with a lot of the regulars,” she said. “I always post: Free Hugs not Drugs!”

Maurie Ladson

Maurie and Ron Ladson

Maurie Ladson is a Program Director at Corners Outreach, an organization providing a multigenerational approach to helping underserved children with specialized tutoring. Parents are given assistance with career paths, workshops, unemployment and anything they may need to navigate in the education system. Their goal is to achieve a 100% high school graduation rate among the students they serve.

Ladson clarified underserved as “communities or people living amongst us who don’t have all the necessary resources.” She explained, “They may not be earning a living wage. A lot of them are immigrant families. There’s a challenge with education and the language.”

Elementary, my dear

By focusing on elementary school students, the intention is to prepare them for success in middle school and high school. “Then hopefully, to higher learning, either a four-year education or, sometimes, they prefer to do some kind of trade,” Ladson said.

“We’re not focused on one demographic,” she continued. “We welcome all the children who need assistance. The mix varies. In Norcross and on our DeKalb side, we have a high percentage of Latino children. At our Meadow Creek location, there’s a mix of children — Indian, American, Hispanic.”

The Corners Outreach offices are located in Peachtree Corners. Ladson said that Executive Director Larry Campbell liked the name, “as the goal is to touch “every corner” of the community.” The organization partners with Title 1 schools in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, including Peachtree Corners and the surrounding areas, and helps 450 families/children.

“We work with them during the normal school year; we provide after-school tutoringfor two and a half to three hours. We’re supplementing and enhancing what the school is teaching,” Ladson said. “There’s a big focus on reading comprehension and math. We then provide nine weeks of summer camp which focus on reading, math, games and a craft.”

School principals identify the children in most need. There is also input from counselors, teachers, teacher liaisons, center coordinators and ESOL [English to speakers of other languages] coordinators. “We also have volunteers that play a key role in our success. We’re so thankful,” she said. “Schools like Wesleyan, GAC, Perimeter Church and individuals in our wonderful Peachtree Corners community come out and volunteer their time.”

Masks with a purpose

Due to COVID-19, Corners Outreach was unable to tutor or assist families in person for some time. “We began communication via Zoom, WhatsApp, video chat, telephone calls. There was a big need to assist in setting up Internet. Many of the families didn’t have it,” she continued.

“Our organization was able to place Chromebooks in the community for children to be able to do their homework. It was still challenging because in a lot of cases they’re sharing either a phone or a hot spot. With two to four children in the family of various ages, needing to do homework with one device, that was difficult.”

To help underemployed parents, the organization developed Masks with a Purpose. After surveying the parents, they found they had 101 mothers with sewing skills that could be used to provide much-needed masks in the community.

“They sew masks and earn a living wage, $4 per mask,” Ladson said. “We launched the Corners Store on June 22 so people can go online and purchase a mask to support our cause.” To purchase a mask, visit cornersoutreach.org. If you don’t need a mask, you can help by giving a donation.

“We’re looking to donate 1,000 masks to farmworkers and 10,000 masks to children in poverty, who can’t afford to buy three or four masks or have the throwaways,” she said. It’s a great cause,” she said. You can donate masks to the effort through their website.

Beauty in all colors

“I’m Mexican American,” Ladson said. “I’ve been in Peachtree Corners for 20 years. My husband is black, dark-skinned African American. People might look at us a little differently. I’m different and I’m good with it.” She and her husband Ron recently celebrated 20 years of marriage.

Having frequented several places of worship over the years, they most recently identify as Protestant and have been attending North End Collective.

Ladson said she witnessed some social injustice in the workplace during her career in banking. A Peruvian teller was the number one salesperson in the bank, exceeding her numbers, yet it was an under-performing white American teller who inexplicably was moved to another location and offered a raise.

“I think in Georgia, Atlanta and in Peachtree Corners, we still have room to grow,” she continued. “I’ve seen a different level of acceptance, if we’re going to call it improvement, absolutely.”

Miriam and Ed Carreras

Miriam and Eddie Carreras
Miriam and Eddie Carreras

By pure coincidence, Miriam and Ed Carreras shared a similar history predating their marriage of 48 years. They both left Cuba with their families at a young age, and within five to seven years, they became naturalized U.S. citizens.

After a 20-year career as a microbiologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Miriam is now a Realtor with RE/MAX Prestige. “I guess, given my name and former clients, I get quite a few referrals from Spanish-speaking buyers. I would say most of my clients right now are Hispanic,” she said. Hispanics, who can identify as any race, make up 15.2% of the population in Peachtree Corners.

Miriam works in residential real estate, both on listings — people selling their homes — as well as helping buyers find their dream homes. Being bilingual, she is a huge asset to the community. She is able to help English and Spanish speakers navigate the sometimes-challenging waters of real estate.

A home is one of the biggest and most important investments a family will ever make, and Miriam is happy to provide her clients with excellent customer service, every step of the way.

Ed was an attorney with The Coca Cola Company for about 20 years. He retired from the company in 2003 and joined a law firm. He retired from the firm in February of this year. “We were supposed to travel, and now we’re homebound because of COVID-19,” he said.

As an attorney, much of his work was international. “I dealt with a number of countries, like Japan, countries in Europe, in Latin America, and so on,” Ed shared.

He served on the Board of Goodwill of North Georgia for a number of years and was Chair of the Board for two years. “Goodwill had a significant relationship with the Hispanic community. One of the things I got involved in was developing a robust system for their strategic plan,” Ed said.

In studying the projection of population changes, he and his fellow board members identified the important growth of the Hispanic community and the need for more Hispanic contacts and people with language skills in the organization.

A home in Peachtree Corners

The Carreras family built their home in Neely Farm in 1998. Both are happy with the amount of diversity in Peachtree Corners. “I think there is a good mix of people. You see a nice diversity of cultures represented here,” Ed said. “My experience is more in the restaurants since I like eating. We’ve gone to a lot of different types.”

“I think there’s pretty good diversity,” Miriam added. “Even in our subdivision, we’re diverse.”

They haven’t had any negative experiences because of their ethnicity in recent years. As a teenager, Ed recalled an incident at a restaurant in Miami. His family was speaking Spanish, and a man at a nearby table addressed them, saying, “Go back to Cuba!”

“My father was surprised. He turned around and in perfect English said, “I’m sorry, does it bother you if we speak Spanish?” The guy ended up apologizing,” Ed remembered. “I was 13 or 15 at the time. It stuck in my mind because my father handled it so perfectly. The guy said, “You speak English very well.” My father said, “Yes, I was educated in the United States. I went to an Ivy League school.” The guy just kept shrinking.”

Ed said that everyone carries prejudices based on faulty stereotypes. “From my own experience, the best way to eliminate prejudice is to be made aware that the stereotype supporting the prejudice is not correct,” he explained. “Anything that helps an individual realize that the stereotype is wrong should help in reducing prejudice.”

“Education highlighting non-stereotypical members of a group could help,” Ed suggested, “as well as the promotion of events that bring members of diverse groups together in a social setting.”

Joe Sawyer

Joe and Kimberly Sawyer

As the city is building a physical pedestrian bridge over Peachtree Parkway, resident of 25 years and equity warrior, President and Cofounder of Bridges Peachtree Corners Joe Sawyer has been launching intensive volunteer efforts to build metaphorical bridges between races and social classes in the city. “I guess you can say it’s about black and white; we’re trying to bring equality up to where it needs to be,” he shared.

Bridges is a non-profit funded by grants and generous donations from the community. The board is made up of a diverse group who share Sawyer’s mission to close the gap between the affluent and the less affluent parts of town. They’ve been working on racial diversity and economic disparity since 2013.

Through school counselors, they identify needs at Peachtree Elementary and other area schools, assisting in any way they can — from electric pencil sharpeners in the classroom to Christmas dinners for families. They’re currently partnering with xfinity to provide internet access so children can do their schoolwork at home during the pandemic.

Affectionately known as Preacher Man, Sawyer would love to help more areas of the city reach their potential. He espouses the Holcomb Bridge Corridor Project , the city’s plan to revamp the area, and hopes it will get underway soon. “We’ve done the easy part, the Forum and Town Center area. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and do the hard part,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer comes clean

This is a man who will “tell it like it is.” He is refreshingly unafraid to level with you. Sawyer attends Life Center Apostolic Church in Dunwoody. His faith shines through in everything he touches, including his company name of 20 years, Alpha Omega Carpet Cleaning, inspired by the book of Revelation.

Since many are home with more time than usual on their hands, the pandemic has Sawyer busier than ever. “I build relationships with my customers. By the time I leave their house, I’m their friend,” he said. He also prides himself on his effective carpet cleaning services, which avoid harsh chemicals, as he is a cancer survivor.

The United Nations

Together with his wife Kimberly of 31 years (who is white), Sawyer has raised his two daughters, now 29 and 23. “She’s my backbone. She keeps me grounded,” he said. His daughters are now raising his five grandkids in Peachtree Corners.

The Sawyers have two blond, blue-eyed grandchildren and three who are light skinned black. “I’ve got everybody in my family — we have the United Nations over here,” Sawyer laughed.

In 1992 things were more challenging for biracial couples. Sawyer’s in-laws didn’t allow him into their home until two years after the marriage; now they’re the best of friends, despite many earlier battles. “They had to make sure I was going to take care of their daughter. I think that was one of the biggest issues,” he said. “Mixed marriages are more common now, and more likely to be accepted by both families, but you still have issues with certain people. I just try to keep it real and be myself.”

Sawyer shared a story from his senior year in high school (1982), when he was given an ultimatum: stop dating his white girlfriend or quit the football team. The young lady’s mom called the school because they had published a picture of them in the school magazine.

The girl’s mom had known about their relationship. In fact, they were among the few biracial couples at the time who did not hide it. But when other parents saw the photo, it became a problem. Sawyer elected to pass on what may have been a lucrative career and quit the team.

Sawyer noted that things have changed for the better. “It’s a new generation, we’re improving a whole lot,” he said. He’s unaware of any negative issues experienced by his daughters about being biracial.

While Peachtree Corners is very diverse, Sawyer said he still experiences some people who are prejudiced. During a recent job, a client had left the door open for him. It saddened him to learn that his client’s neighbor reached out to inform her, saying, “There’s a black man in your house.”

“[Racism] is still there, but overall, I think Peachtree Corners is a welcoming community. You might have some people stuck in their ways, but you just have to learn to overlook them. We stopped and we said a prayer for the lady,” Sawyer said.

He believes the cause of divisiveness is that some people don’t want to lose control of what they’ve got. “As long as we feel that one race is better than the other, we’re always going to have a problem. Both communities have work to do. Now is the perfect time for us to work on race relations in America,” Sawyer affirmed.

Preacher Man

When he was little, Sawyer told his dad, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” His father replied, “You don’t want to be like me, son, you want to be like Jesus.”

“So that’s what I try to do. As soon as we realize that we’re all made in God’s image, we’re going to be OK,” he said. “I don’t hate anybody. I try to get along with everybody. Don’t let politicians divide us any more than we’re divided. That’s the biggest problem. We listen to what’s on TV. I don’t need anybody to tell me who I like and who I don’t like.”

 “We have to come together,” he continued. “I’m thankful for the friends the Lord has put in my life. We have to change our perception of our neighbors. Not all people of a different race are bad. Be there for your friends.”

Sawyer added that everyone needs to work on racism as a society. “Both the white and black communities have work to do. Now is the perfect time for us to work on race relations in America. The whole world sees what’s going on, politicians fighting over this and that. We don’t have any togetherness,” he said. “Let’s take a stand and let’s be one. We claim to be one nation under God but how can we be under God if we’re at each other’s throats?”

Father Darragh Griffith

Rev. Darragh Griffith

Rev. Darragh Griffith is originally from Dublin, Ireland and has been in the U.S. for 24 years. Following 10 years at Holy Family in Marietta, he’s been the pastor at Mary Our Queen (MOQ) — the only Catholic church in Peachtree Corners — for four years.

“We welcome the community to come see our new church. It’s a beautiful, traditional church based on Saint Gerard’s in Buffalo. If you’re exploring questions about the Catholic faith, we’re here,” Father Griffith offered.

Though the present church is just a year old, the parish has been here since 1998. The pews, stained-glass windows and altars were taken from the old church in Buffalo, New York.

Mass during the pandemic

“We’ve been live-streaming masses on YouTube and our website. But now we’re back,” Father Griffith said. The church has an outdoor mass on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. for people who feel more comfortable outside, and services in the church on Sundays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 5 p.m.

Masks and social distancing are expected at the indoor services. Seating is roped off to allow for every second pew to be occupied. “It’s working out for this time,” he said.

 The parish

The makeup of the MOQ parish is quite diverse. “We’ve got people from every continent. We have a lot of Asian people from Vietnam, for example. People from the African continent, Nigeria and other countries, Hispanic and white Anglo, as well,” shared Father Griffith.

MOQ provides spiritual and financial outreach to Peachtree Corners families through The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP). Volunteers make home visits with families and individuals who call the helpline seeking food or financial help.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, MOQ SVDP has assisted over 150 individuals. The help line number is 678-892-6163.

The domestic church

For Father Griffith, what happens at home is as important as what happens at church. “In these times, I believe the home is crucial. Parents have a great and joyful responsibility. The family has never been as important, from where we stand, as it is now,” he said. “That’s where you can lead by witness to your children. Not so much by words, but by example. The family is crucial.”

He said that the church has always taught that the home is the domestic church. “The home is where parents hand on the faith to their children. I think that’s crucial,” Father Griffith said. “My work, the church’s work is not going to bear fruit if it’s not happening at home.”

Spreading God’s love

“It’s sad to see some of the things that we see on TV, some of the violence. It is kind of sad and disturbing, what’s happening,” Father Griffith said. “The church believes in treating everyone with respect and love. We’re a universal church. We love and accept everyone. In the Catholic faith, we’ve got people of all sorts of cultures, backgrounds, traditions.”

For a solution to today’s troubled climate, Father Griffith leads with the suggestion that we respect one another. “We’re all made in the image of God. Everyone is precious in God’s eyes. Every person is created through God’s love,” he said.

Father Griffith said that he knows it’s been hard during the pandemic for people to meet up, interact and socialize. “If we can get together and have that as a base, we’ll not be afraid of each other,” he said. “And love, that’s what Jesus spoke about, loving all people. That’s what our Catholic faith teaches us.”

Faith is critical for Father Griffith. “If we’re living our faith, that informs our decisions and our behavior. As it says in Scripture, our lives should be based on faith and our relationship with God,” he said. “Hopefully people will be open to God and to His Spirit at this time.”

Karl Barham

Karl Barnham

Karl Barham, President of Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta, Peachtree, started the business with his wife, Ann, two years ago. They own a local office of the franchise in Peachtree Corners. 

“We relocated from New York City, got married and started a family here,” he said. “We found Peachtree Corners to be a fabulous place to live, work and raise a family.” They’re a Christian family and attend Close Perimeter Church.

Barham explained business brokers specialize in buying and selling businesses. “We do small, neighborhood businesses — any size, up to maybe about $25 million. We arrange to find the buyers and we help them get the deal done.”

Growing up black

“I’m first generation in the U.S. My family is from Jamaica, the third poorest county in the Caribbean. They came here, raised their kids and we’ve done well,” Barham said. “But I do see, for a lot of people who are very specifically black, they’re not looking for handouts or anything, they just want the proverbial knee off the neck.”

“When you’re in a minority, you always think about race,” he continued. “Jamaica is a mostly black country. When I spend time there, everyone looks like me. In the U.S., it’s the reverse, and as you move up in corporate America, it’s even more of the reverse. It’s always there to think about.”

Barham’s dream and hope for the future is that his kids don’t have to deal with the kind of discrimination that he’s seen in his lifetime. “Changes need to happen in this generation. Will it change in my lifetime? I don’t know. I thought it would,” he said. “When I was a young kid, my dad was saying the same things. I said, “Oh, by the time I’m your age, that stuff will all be solved.” I was wrong. It isn’t.”

Starting a conversation

When Barham received inquiries on what people could do in their companies about racial justice, he thought it would be a good topic for the Capitalist Sage podcasts that he regularly hosts with Peachtree Corners Magazine publisher Rico Figliolini. So, they began a series of podcasts about diversity and race.

“It’s been a topic discussed nationally, and we said, ‘what about here? Is there anything going on locally?’” he said. They produced three episodes, with two to three guests on each. “We talked about racial and social justice in leadership and in the local community,” Barham said. “We had stay-at-home moms, elected officials, church leaders and faith leaders, just talking about what it means and how they’ve been reacting to what’s happening with Black Lives Matter. We asked: what can citizens can do individually? What can local leaders do? We just wanted to start a dialogue.”

Barham said that one of the things that’s interesting about the South is that racism is part of the history that people don’t talk about because they’re trying to be polite, yet “there’s this undercurrent of race in a lot of conversations.”

“It wasn’t too long ago in the South that some [schools] had a black prom and a white prom,” he said. “Friends are so segregated; they get together sometimes for sports, school and some social activities, but they go home to dinner and they go to church in very separate worlds. They don’t get a chance to really learn about each other, so misunderstandings can happen more easily.”

Barham shared a little game he plays. “Whenever anyone talks about race — black, white — it’s hard; it’s too charged. I change “black” to “short”. If I were to say: What if short people, anybody under 5’10”, are not able to get all of the same opportunities as everyone else? A lot of people would be REALLY upset.”

“If I was sitting at a party and people were talking about, “Oh, those short people…”, I might say, “Hey, time out! Half my friends are short.”

A note of hope

Barham said he sees a lot of people coming together to help advance social justice, including racial justice. “I think we should lift those people up. We should elect them to office,” he said.

And he sees a lot of things to be hopeful for. “When I look at the community here, I see more people of color starting businesses,” Barham reported. “In the last 10 deals that we’ve done, more than 50% of them had a person of color on one side of the deal or the other. Things are changing in society — and things can and will continue to get better.”

Diverse perspectives, the same conclusion

It’s easy to see why niche.com gives Peachtree Corners an A+ for diversity. Let’s move forward holding hands (figuratively, of course), leaving injustice behind and making the fabric of Peachtree Corners stronger and more beautiful than ever before.

“We must continue to go forward as one people, as brothers and sisters.” ~ Rep. John Lewis

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Business

City of Peachtree Corners to celebrate safety-conscious businesses

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The City of Peachtree Corners is preparing a list of all local businesses practicing the safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Those businesses taking steps to keep citizens healthy will be published on the city website, in the Shop and Dine app, and in the monthly business newsletter as part of the city’s “Stay Healthy” campaign.

The Stay Healthy campaign is getting creative in its approach to public service announcements related to Covid19. The city is working to promote staying healthy through the use of comic book superheroes and popular TV show characters. In the coming weeks, expect to see banners, signs, posters and billboards, as well as social media posts spreading the message to wash hands frequently, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing.

Take part in the campaign! If you operate a safe business, let Jennifer Howard from the city office know so it can be added to the list of safety-conscious businesses in the city. Let the community know what steps you are taking to keep your business, patrons, and employees healthy.

Source:

Jennifer Howard, Economic Development Manager- City of Peachtree Corners

Email all entries to jhoward@peachtreecornersga.gov

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Peachtree Corners Assistant City Manager Chosen for 2021 Leadership Gwinnett Class

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Peachtree Corners Assistant City Manager, Brandon Branham is among 42 local leaders chosen for the 2021 Leadership Gwinnett Class. He will begin the nine month program in August.

Brandon Branham

Established in 1985, Leadership Gwinnett was created to ensure that the community’s most influential leaders are knowledgeable about issues pertaining to the county and region. The class will take an in-depth look at the many sectors of Gwinnett – infrastructure, economics, education, health and human services, justice and regional relations.

“We’re very proud that Mr. Branham was selected for this year’s class,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “Leadership Gwinnett has a great track record of success in leadership development. Those chosen for the class learn a tremendous amount about the many aspects of leadership as well as about our county and region. Perhaps one real benefit is the life-time relationships participants develop. This can only help our city as we face the challenges of the future.”

The program includes an opening retreat, seven learning days, monthly study groups, tours and hands-on experiences within the county along with a closing retreat. The class will study topics such as leadership in a world class community, infrastructure, economics, education, health & human services, and will participate in study groups, exclusive tours and hands-on experiences.

To ensure a well-rounded class, Leadership Gwinnett uses a selection process based on occupation, qualifications and a representation that reflects a cross section of the county.

“It is an honor to be selected to be a part of the Leadership Gwinnett class,” said Branham. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the people and issues that will shape our county’s future and the chance to network with some of Gwinnett’s top leaders.”

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