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Embracing Multiple Cultures: Hispanic Heritage Month



Present at the grand opening were GCPS teacher Ainsley Clarke, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, President Veronica Maldonado Torres and many others.

Latina author, publisher, educator and entrepreneur encourages everyone to embrace Hispanic Heritage Month, no matter your race or ethnicity.

When Nury Castillo Crawford sought a publisher for her children’s book based on her life immigrating from Peru to the United States, she realized that her vision wasn’t met with open arms. Like many industries, publishing is dominated by White males.

Many book publishers utilize a formula or algorithm for predicting successful sales. Even though in the last few decades, books that didn’t necessarily fit the old standards have been huge blockbusters, many companies aren’t willing to take the risk.

“When I was ready to release my book, I had some interest because at that time there was a lot of chatter around immigration and immigrant status,” she said referring to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s push for tougher immigration laws.

But there was no assurance that she’d have much control over the final product. “I couldn’t get any guarantees that the title would stay the same. And the title was actually personal for me,” she said. “The characters [might not stay] as I imagined them to be because the story was based on my journey as an immigrant, and they didn’t know why I needed the girl and the mom, etcetera, to be brown. I didn’t need them to be lightened up. Some of those things were very important to me. I needed the book to be bilingual and they told me that bilingual didn’t sell.”

Faith and conviction lead to a publishing business

It was a hard decision for Crawford to make — compromise her standards or take a chance that the book deal wouldn’t happen. After much soul-searching, she decided to step out on faith.

“I was like, well I’m not changing it because it doesn’t fit your box,” said Crawford. “And I pretty much resolved to myself that even if I sell not one copy, at least this will be a little bit of a biography for years to come. So when I die, my great-great-grandkids could still look at the book and be like, ‘Oh this is the journey of my family coming to this country.’”

1010 Publishing was founded as a result of her wanting to get a book published but being unwilling to sacrifice her values and her story.

That was more than five years ago and Crawford, who is also director of Academic Support for Gwinnett County Public Schools and the president of the Georgia Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, has published several books since — those she’s written and those of other authors.

Her vision for the company is to focus on multilingualism. She started out with Spanish and branched out to other languages such as traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and French.

Respecting and celebrating our variety of heritages

Crawford’s heritage is important to her, and she prides herself on being American as well as Peruvian. As Hispanic Heritage Month approaches, she encourages everyone to embrace their roots, but also be open to learning about others.

Asian populations are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, but Hispanics have been the largest minority group in the country for about 20 years — and the numbers continue to grow. There are census predictions that by 2025, 25% of children in this country will have Latinx roots. “Just like any other community, we need to be not only very diligent and committed to ensuring that we are being represented, but we need to hold onto our heritage,” Crawford said.

A friend who had immigrated from Venezuela had told a story of her daughter who was reluctant to speak Spanish at school. She didn’t want to be singled out as different, even though there is a pretty significant population of Hispanic children there. Pop singer Justin Bieber had released a Spanish-language version of his hit song, Despacito, and several students were trying to sing the lyrics. The girl’s family mainly spoke Spanish at home and her command of the language was perfect. She helped her friends with the lyrics, and they were amazed at how “smart” she was.

Although she shouldn’t need a popular song to boost her self-esteem about who she is, Crawford said those types of stories are commonplace. “We need our culture to be embraced by all of our leaders in every aspect, in every in every venue of our community, because research tells us that when people feel seen, heard and respected, you’re going to get the sense of community that you’re looking for,” she said. “Until people feel like they’re genuinely part of the [community], there is no real unity.”

Jordan House, K-12 Chapel Leader at Greater Atlanta Christian School agreed that it is important to highlight other cultures as part of education.

“God created humans in His image, and the fact that He created us with different characteristics represents His creativity and desire to have different aspects of His image shown,” he said. “Helping gain awareness of culture, appreciating it, celebrating it, pointing to God as the creator [is an important part of education]. In years past, we’ve done a tour of countries and highlighted many aspects that are unique and beautiful.”

He added that Hispanic Heritage Month is another way to teach God’s love. “From my viewpoint, the goal is to educate, gain awareness, gain appreciation, celebrate and honor specifically Hispanic culture. If we honor God by honoring His beautiful creation, then we’ve done our job!” he said.

Goals of equality and literacy

Crawford said the challenge of putting everyone — not just minorities — on a parity with the status quo isn’t unique to Gwinnett County but does seem to be slow to overcome. “I feel like the change that we desperately need to see is not going to come forward as fast as we need to see it,” she said. “And that makes a lot of sense, you know in comparison to how African Americans have been a significant part of the United States population for a long time, but it was just a year ago that Juneteenth was recognized as a national holiday.”

She pointed to states like California, Florida and Texas where many Latinx families have lived for several generations. They are business owners, government officials and citizens who are very active in how the community is run.

“Many of the Hispanic and Latino families in Georgia are first or second generation,” Crawford said. “And most of them are not proficient in English. The majority of them are learning and there are different levels of acquisition of language.”

That’s kind of where Crawford’s latest endeavor comes in. Earlier this year, she opened THE little BOOK SPOT, a multilingual bookstore with a focus on diversity — diversity in ability, language, culture, ethnicity and race — in the Plaza Las Americas, perhaps the largest Hispanic-focused mall in the area. Currently the hours of operation are noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Find out more at thelittlebookspot.godaddysites.com.

“One of the things that popped in my brain as I was talking to other Latino leaders was that when you go to a regular American mall… there’s always a bookstore inside it or nearby. It’s the opposite for our malls where mostly Latino people frequent,” she said.

So Crawford made it a goal to increase literacy, especially in the Latino community. Although she mainly writes children’s books, the store has something for everyone.

“I think we all need to be engaged and involved in learning and not leaving it up to somebody else. We should all try to be inclusive within our own lives,” she said.

The titles in her store run the gamut and don’t just focus on Latino and Hispanic cultures.

GCPS teacher and author reading to the kids on a Saturday.

“If you can’t name one friend from another culture, that’s a problem to me,” she said. “We should all do our best to try to learn about other people.”

And one of the best places to start is inside a book.

Books by Nury Castillo Crawford

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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What’s Happening at Pinckneyville Community Center this Month



NEW! Gwinnett “En Plein Air” Park Art Challenge: We’re calling Gwinnett artists 16 and older to participate in an artwork challenge! Paint an outdoor scene at one or more of the parks selected for a chance to win a cash prize. Saturday, August 5 to Saturday, November 11. Submission deadline is November 17. Please call 678-277-0920 for more information!


Adventure Days Out: We’ve got your school’s out childcare covered. Children will have an amazing experience trying new games, exploring new skills, making new friends and most of all, having fun! 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Ages 5-12. $30 per day.

  • October 5, 6, 9

NEW! Beginner Karate: This course consists of traditional martial arts self-defense to help students develop strength, knowledge and discipline. Our classes are safe, fun and exciting! Saturdays, October 7 – 28. 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Ages 5/up. $88.

NEW! Basic Drawing: Students will learn the basics of line, shape, value, texture, and perspective to create finished drawings in pencil and charcoal. Students will draw subject matter provided by the instructor. Call 678-277-0920 for dates and times. Ages 18/up. $201.

NEW! Understanding Watercolor: Taught by an award-winning watercolorist, this course emphasizes techniques in watercolor. Various subject matter from still life, landscape, animals to portraits will be rendered. All levels welcome. Call 678-277-0920 for dates and times. Ages 18/up. $201.

Get Into Watercolor: Learn the basics of watercolor from a seasoned instructor! This class is designed for beginners as well as the more experienced. Master the methods of watercolor to paint basic and complex shapes; development of depth through values, perspective, color and the composition of overall painting. Students will furnish their own materials (supply list will be provided). Saturdays, October 7 – November 11. 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $141.

Ballet–Preschool: Creative dances and imagination will help instill a love for dancing, as your toddler learns the basics of ballet in a positive and fun environment! Preschool ballet will need pink leather ballet shoes and pink footed tights, pink leotards and a pink skirt. Saturdays September 9 – 30. 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Ages 4–5. $37.

Ballet–Beg: Expand your child’s ballet abilities in this beginner class. Students will focus on developing ballet techniques and posturing. Beginner ballet will need pink leather ballet shoes and pink footed tights, pink leotards and a pink skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Ages 6–9. $37.

Ballet–Int: Expand your child’s ballet abilities in this beginner class. Students will focus on developing ballet techniques and posturing. Beginner ballet will need pink leather ballet shoes and pink footed tights, pink leotards and a pink skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Ages 7–10. $37.

Ballet–Int: Students will reinforce their ballet techniques, physical strength, flexibility, and musicality in this intermediate level class. Dancers need pink leather ballet shoes, pink footed tights, black leotard and a black skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Ages 11–16. $37.

Ballet–Adv/Pointe: This class is designed for dancers 15 or older, aimed at strengthening ballet technique, flexibility, and performance levels. More demanding and complex movements will help your student master the art of ballet. Dancers need pink leather ballet shoes, pink footed tights, black leotard and a black skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Ages 15/up. $37.

NEW! Hip Hop/Jazz: Tone your body and get your heart pumping to the beats of your favorite music! Students will learn fun, innovative, and unique dance routines that will strengthen their dance skills. Each class consists of stretching, exercise, cool downs and dance choreography. Drop in any class for only $15. Wednesdays, September 13 – November 1. 6:10 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Ages 8-12 $81.

NEW! SWEAT: This class incorporates all aspects of fitness: cardio, resistance, flexibility and core training structured in segments that focus on upper, middle and lower body exercises. This class will improve endurance, strength, muscle, tone and definition for all fitness levels. Wednesdays, September 13 – November 1. 7:10 p.m. – 7:50 p.m. Ages 18/up. $81.

NEW! 3D Printing Workshops: Unlock your child’s creativity and introduce them to the exciting world of 3D modeling and printing! Our class teaches the basics of 3D design using industry-standard software, Blender and bringing designs to life through 3D printing. Participants will gain valuable skills such as problem solving, spatial reasoning, creativity and attention to detail while having fun creating their own unique 3D printed creation. A laptop and mouse are needed for this class. Required: A $10 material fee is due at the start of the class paid directly to the instructor Optional: $10/session for laptop rental fee. Please reserve ahead. Highly recommended to bring your own laptop and mouse. 

  • 3D Printing Experience: Saturdays in August, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m., Ages 6 – 18, $36
  • Design Thinking in 3D Printing: Saturdays, August 5 – 19, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Ages 6 – 18, $100


NEW! Session begins September 11, registration opens August 30.

Wheel: This class is perfect for beginner pottery students who want to learn the basics of working with a pottery wheel. $22 per bag of clay required. Mondays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Wheel Adv: Advanced pottery wheel lessons that build on the beginner class so you can hone your skills and perfect your craft. $22 per bag of clay required. Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Wheel/Handbuilding – Beginner: This class is for true beginners interested in pottery, both wheel and handbuilding will be explored. Try it out and explore a new art form! $22 per bag of clay required. Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Wheel/Handbuilding – Adv: This course incorporates working with a pottery wheel and hand building with clay for more experienced students. $22 per bag of clay required. Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Handbuilding: No wheel necessary in this course, learn how to work and create with your hands using clay and tools. $22 per bag of clay required. Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Independent Study: Open studio session for individual pottery artists. Must complete Pottery Studio orientation prior to first visit if you are a new patron. Monday – Saturday. Ages 16/up. $100.

Independent Study ADD ON: Open studio session for individual pottery artists.  Must be registered for current pottery class. Monday – Saturday. Ages16/up. $30. 

*Out of county resident fees applied at time of registration*


Atlanta Gourd Patch: Create art on gourd canvases. Meeting the second Saturday of each month, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. To register contact Kay Rozea at 470-316-8185 or kmr01@aol.com.

Atlanta Hobby Robotics Club: Come and share your robotics ideas. All ages are welcome. Meeting on the third Saturday of each month, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. To register contact Walter Burleson at 404-932-8108 or wlenbl@gmail.com.

Senior Bridge Club: A trick-taking card game using a standard 52-card deck. In its basic format, it is played by four players in two competing partnerships. 50/up. Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. To register contact Mary Fender at 678-357-6709 or maryrfender@yahoo.com.

Bridge- Act II: Fourth Monday of each month from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. For more information contact JoAnne Leisen at 571-330-4730.

Guitars for Vets: Helping Veterans cope with PTSD through music. Participants get 10 weeks of one–on–one lessons. When finished with lessons participants will receive a free guitar! Mondays, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. To register contact Cliff Meinhardt at 404-234-8040. Visit guitars4vets.org for more information.

Gwinnett Chess Club: Chess for all ages. All experiences are welcomed. Every other Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. To register contact Tom Emch at 770-605-0429 or ibemch@charter.net.

Last Tuesday Book Club: Join in on all the reading fun! Meets the last Tuesday of each month.

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Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA Plans ‘Welcoming Week’ and More Exciting Events This Fall



Welcoming Week: Reserve your FREE one-time guest pass during the week of September 8 – 17 and enjoy everything the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA has to offer. Welcoming Week provides an opportunity for Peachtree Corners neighbors, whether they are immigrants or U.S.-born residents, to connect and strengthen community bonds. From swim class and water safety to day camps, group workouts and community well-being initiatives, the Rober D. Fowler Family YMCA has something for the whole family.

Guest passes do not include access to outdoor pools or basketball facilities in the gymnasium. Click here for you free guest pass.

Lifelong Learners: Healthy living doesn’t always mean physical activity. Creative thinking, exploring interests, and learning new things are as important as diet and exercise. That is the philosophy behind Lifelong Learners. For ages 50 and up, Lifelong Learners offers seniors the chance to come together and enjoy guest speakers, local field trips and spirited cultural discussions. The group meets every other Friday at 12:15 p.m. in the Senior Center. For more information, email Rob Wilson at robertw@ymcaatlanta.com.

Grief and Loss Support Group: Grief and loss are two of the most difficult emotions to face in life, but you don’t have to face them alone. Every Monday at 11 a.m. in the Senior Meeting Room, the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA provides a safe and caring environment for participants to come together and begin to understand the grief process. For more information, connect with Ellie Garrett at ejgarrett@gmail.com.

Caring for Those Who Care: The YMCA’s weekly Caregivers Group provides a dedicated meeting space for caregivers to offer and receive emotional support. If you are providing care for a loved one, or want to learn more about long term caregiving, this group is for you. The group offers practical information while respecting confidentiality and encouraging camaraderie. Take this opportunity to build relationships with others in similar situations every Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. in the Senior Meeting Room. To learn more, email Mary Crawley at mcrawley@wans.net.

More Senior Activities: 

  • Canasta: Every Monday at 2 p.m. in the Senior Meeting Room,
  • Dominoes: Every Thursday at 10:45 a.m. in the Senior Meeting Room

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Gully-Washer Subsides to Keep ‘Light Up The Corners’ on Track



Call it luck or divine intervention, but some force in the universe was determined that the 10th annual Light Up The Corners event was going to take place as planned. About an hour before start time, the deluge that threatened the area with heavy rains and strong winds on Saturday, Aug. 12, began to subside.

By the planned 8 p.m. start, the sun had peeked through the clouds and fun and festivities were in full swing.

Guests from all across metro Atlanta gathered at The Forum at Peachtree Corners for the four-mile glow run and one kilometer twilight trot benefitting the Fowler Family YMCA. The evening raised over $60,000 for the local community center, according to organizers.

“This event has taken on a life of its own,” said Light Up The Corners race organizer Amy Massey in a press release. “The run is less about competition and more about friends, neighbors and families coming together to participate in a healthy, family-friendly fun way to ‘glow for the good’ of the community.”

Despite the weather threat, this year’s event attracted a record number of participants, sponsors and volunteers with more than 1,400 registered runners and hundreds of spectators cheering along the racecourse. Even if the physical activities weren’t your thing, there were plenty of other attractions to keep one occupied.

The festivities included activities for the whole family, a live DJ, roaming entertainment — one of the dancers was a dead ringer for Katy Perry — face painting, neon manicures, special prizes and awards for the runners. Light bites, beverages and giveaways were provided by The Forum retailers and restaurants, along with local schools, churches and businesses across the Peachtree Corners and metro Atlanta area.

“Light Up The Corners has become a truly beloved tradition not only for The Forum, but the entire Peachtree Corners community. Witnessing thousands of glowing runners is a thrill from start to finish, and we’re honored to support our friends at the YMCA year after year,” said Charlotte Hinton, The Forum marketing manager.

Since its inception, Light Up The Corners has raised more than $400,000 for the Fowler Family YMCA. To learn more, go to lightupthecorners.com.

Photos by George Hunter

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