Resident Spotlight: Q&A with English Avenue’s Kelly Brown
Meet English Avenue resident Kelly Brown!
Originally from Cincinnati, Kelly has been an Atlantan for the past 35 years, but has spent the last five, by choice, on the Historic Westside.
Despite her relatively short tenure in the community, she has wasted no time becoming fully immersed and invested. In fact, she’s become one of the community’s most ardent champions, channeling her passion into action.
Her civic affiliations include the English Avenue Neighborhood Association, MLK Ashby Merchants Association, Historic Westside Gardens, the Blank Family Foundation’s Westside Economic Collaborative and Hands on Atlanta, where she serves as a community ambassador.
Her desire for transparency and open, honest communication led to the launch of her video production company, Box of Chocolates Media. At most public functions and meetings in the community, Kelly can be found behind the lens of a video camera capturing every moment in an effort to ensure her community is well-informed.
This has even included filming Westside Future Fund’s bi-monthly Transform Westside Summits, where she’s been present from the very start.
Kelly is also a voice for the voiceless. She’s not afraid to “tell it like it is,” believing that to truly effect change you have to confront the sometimes harsh realities head-on. But she loves, just as much, highlighting the positive aspects of the community. Last summer, for example, Kelly organized a community celebration (pictured below) to honor those who serve, tirelessly, in the neighborhood while also providing a space for community members to relax, have fun and fellowship.
Read our Q&A below to hear from Kelly herself as she shares her thoughts, unique perspective and hopes and dreams for the Westside.
Why have you chosen to make the Historic Westside your home? What drew you to this community? I’m originally from Cincinnati, from a similar kind of neighborhood, which is why I actually DIDN’T want to be here at first. But it’s been the sense of community and the feeling that I am making a difference that’s kept me here. I believe it’s God will that I am here and that I am part of his master plan for the Westside.
You recently launched a web series called “Lunch with Kelly” through your production company, Box of Chocolates Media. Where did the idea for the show come from? I didn’t want to tell the true story of drugs and poverty on the Westside without being able to offer solutions to the problems.
It has taken me a long time to understand how to combine being an active communitarian and a being a video producer, director and storyteller on the Westside. It was difficult to figure out how to combine the two successfully, but I believe it has finally come together! I have been an active resident inside and outside of NPU-L for the last four years. Through this journey, I have developed relationships with many people. I have also gained a Ph.D. in “needs and resources” on the Westside, and I would like to share it with the world.
Who would you encourage to watch? Lunch with Kelly offers information for everyone. The professional who wants to know what’s going on with local development as well as the person who wants to know, for example, if the City Of Refuge can help them. It’s an information bank for everyone. The information is truly for everyone.
Every episode of Lunch with Kelly specifically hits on at least one of the following areas:
- “What’s Going On” – highlighting current developments or existing organizations within the Westside
- “Resources” – discussion around the specific resources organizations provide
- “History” – bringing light to the Westside’s wonderful history by the amazing residents qualified to share it
- “Small Business” – promoting the services and goods you can get just around the corner
What have been some of your favorite episodes so far? They have all been great for me! I had as two of my guests Samantha from Urban Perform, who at the time was in a program being sponsored by Sarah Blakely [founder of Spanx], and Mrs. Martha, who teaches etiquette. They had never met but Martha had worked for Sarah Blakely years ago. I have several stories of spiritual connections like that from the lunches. I also get to see how spiritual most of us are that are doing community work. We get to share the work that is being done and other community needs while laughing, eating and getting to know each other.
What is your hope for the Westside? I hope the melting pot that we see now turns into the perfect recipe with the right amount of salt and sugar.
To view a sample of Kelly’s previous videos, click here to visit her YouTube page.