If you ask people around town if they know Angel they’ll probably say “yes” but they’ll also all have varying stories about him, or what he’s into. He’s that guy who’s fixing that house in Adair Park, or he’s that guy who roller blades in the green dress, or maybe he’s that guy who drives the CSX trains, or maybe you know him from Critical Mass. To us, he’s just Angel and he’s all those things and a lot more. Angel is more than just an incredibly friendly and colorful guy, he’s also a man with a passion to serve this city that he loves so much. You can see it in the way his face lights up when he talks about the Atlanta cycling community, the house he’s brought back from destruction in Adair Park, or when he describes what it’s like to drive a train through forests of North Georgia.
We were thrilled to be asked by Angel to print the reward shirts designed by Ashley Anderson (pictured above) for his last crowd sourcing campaign. We were inspired by Angel’s mission to serve Adair Park with his community house and with the response from our fellow Atlantan’s. That’s why Angel Poventud is the subject of this month’s Straight & Arrow.
FA: What neighborhood do you call home?
Angel: I have been living in Midtown Atlanta for the past 10 years using Piedmont Park almost daily since I moved to the city 15 years ago. I’ve also just spent the last 16 months of my life working on a house in the Adair Park neighborhood in SW Atlanta so I have to claim dual neighborhoodship for at least another two months while the house is getting finished up. Then it’s Adair Park all the way, forever!
FA: What song/album do you have playing on repeat right now?
Angel: I was lucky enough to have two couch surfers stay with me back in November who had an extra ticket to go see Malemore and Ryan Lewis at the Masquerade. I totally fell in love with those guys and their energy. I had a little bit of knowledge about their song “Same Love” but was completely overtaken by every song on the album The Heist. I had to get over to Criminal Records after the concert to pick up the CD. I just finished listening to the full album tonight while getting ready to go out and cleaning up my emails, just checked the play counts, and I’m between 10 and 32 listens for all the songs on the album.
FA: What inspired you to start your current venture?
Angel: I wanted to own a home in the city and I wanted it to be close to the Beltline. I was looking for a place in the Old 4th Ward just before the new park opened up about two years ago. The moment the park opened everything that was on the market was gone. I figured I had to act sooner than later because I knew the energy of the Beltline would eventually make it over to the South West side of the city next. I really do love the Beltline project, and I’m glad my backyard backs up to it. I’ve been back there clearing kudzu and such about 10 or 20 feet a day for the past month.
FA: What challenges did you face/are you facing in getting your project off the ground? How have you/are you overcoming them?
Angel: There is a long list of challenges but I would say not realizing how hard the City would be to work with was my biggest challenge. I have been volunteering for the City for the past 13 years or so and only knew the City from a giving back perspective. When I needed help from the City, the City’s government, City Hall, they didn’t give a damn about me or my issues as I tried to transform a 10 year abandoned house into my home. Finding a bank that would give me a loan for a house in SW Atlanta was the next biggest challenge. I have to say, the people of the City, my friends at Creative Loafing and really the people from all over town really stepped up. The Adair Park neighborhood supported me 100%, my At-Large council member Michael Julian Bond kept the folks at the City off my back giving me the breathing room I needed, and over 300 people supported me and the Indiegogo fundraiser either through financial donations or in-kind help. The support has been amazing.
FA: What are some of the things you love about working in Atlanta?
Angel: I love the trees. I love how I can be involved in every neighborhood and not just the one I live in. I love how much one thing that I’m passionate about has lead to the next organically. Trees, to historic preservations, the Beltline, to bikes and green spaces then to the arts and now to home ownership and the excitement of volunteering in the great in-town neighborhoods of South West Atlanta. But, I guess you asked about working in Atlanta. As a freight train engineer for CSX, driving the forested corridors along the rails from Atlanta to Athens and then on to Gainesville is pretty great. I see nature every day and driving trains is pretty cool too.
FA: If someone handed you an open ended plane ticket to anywhere on earth if you left right now where would you be heading?
Angel: New Zealand. I have met a few awesome couch surfers from there and a friend is working on a pretty big re-forestation project that would be cool to check out too.
FA: Tell us a little about what inspires you or makes you tick?
Angel: My grandmother lived to be 100 years old. To think of time and change on that scale, well, anything is possible. You just have to have a little patience and a lot of perseverance. Community and service, the pay back is awesome.
FA: If you could pick any one person on earth you’d love to see wearing your merch who would it be? Why?
Angel: I’m pretty excited about Spring and Summer coming up. Probably about 150 t-shirts were printed up for the Indiegogo fundraiser but it’s been Winter, so I haven’t see any of them around town. I’m really looking forward to seeing folks getting around town wearing their “Thank You” t-shirts as the temperature warms up. No one particular person really, just all of Atlanta. Thank you.
FA: What does the future look like for you and your venture?
Angel: Well, the house should be done by May this year, 2013. That would be a year and six months of non-stop volunteering for myself. I’m looking forward to getting back involved with the greater city again, not spending so much time working on the house but enjoying the house and sharing it with as many people as possible. Look out Atlanta, I’ll be a time free man again pretty soon.
FA: Tell people where they can find you and buy your gear?
Angel: You can always find me on the Beltline, at Critical Mass or working on the house. The address is 764 Lexington Ave SW Atlanta, Ga 30310. You can find me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, on Four Square here, and on Facebook here. The last fundraiser has been over for a few months. Maybe I’ll have a post contruction party and take orders for another batch of shirts once the house is done. But, probably not. I’m still trying to deliver all the shirts I had printed before. Maybe one will end up at a local thrift shop one day that you can pick up.