I arrived in Atlanta in 2002. I was a freshman at Georgia State University. I lived at The Village freshman year, survived almost exclusively on Quiznos and Cup of Noodles, and met some of the people closest to me.
Fifteen years later, I noticed a trend in various online groups in which female-presenting individuals consistently said these two phrases back to back: "Hi, I'm new to the Atlanta area" and "Where can I go to make friends?"
All of the answers were always the same: yoga, spin class, hot yoga, book club, knitting club, wine club, boot camp, pilates, the list just went on and on. Quickly followed by the list of places to not go as a single woman alone in the city: literally, any place where people are supposed to be able to socialize freely with one another.
It hit me. There isn't a single solitary space in this city a woman can go that was created for them that wasn't based on self-improvement. Each suggestion was an event or class focused on bettering yourself in some aspect. A place that was created for the enjoyment, safety, and comfort of marginalized groups, especially the people of color in said groups simply wasn't. So I decided to create it.
Of all the things I have been fortunate enough to create, I must admit my two children are what I'm most proud of. When trying to imagine what this space could be, I kept coming back to what sort of space I hope they have when they're finally old enough to move to a brand new city and strike out on their own.
It is only fair that I named the project after them. And I hope, more than anything, that Lola Darling and Lillian Josephine find their own Darling Josephine wherever their journeys takes them.
I am a firm believer in good bones and if this project does not encompass that phrase, I don't know what does. George W. Adair Elementary School officially opened its doors on September 9, 1912, and was later expanded in 1937, but it closed its doors in 1973. Integral to the community of the time, the school is located at the heart of the Adair Park neighborhood and was originally constructed to be the gathering place for the community. After almost fifty years, untouched, and using the very same bones, the goal is to create a gathering place that reflects the current surrounding community.
Do I experience a deep, reverent joy knowing that I am creating an inclusive space for everyone, especially Black and Brown folks, in a neighborhood that was historically once heavily segregated? I sure do.