Here’s a bunch of organizations, websites / media, companies / services, products & places that I like, support, or recommend. I’ve also written about recommended local Atlanta service professionals here.
Organizations & Nonprofits
Here are a few organizations & non-profits that I am either a member of or regularly donate money / time to.
CARE is one of the larger & more storied international humanitarian agencies in the world. They started as the organization that delivered CARE boxes to post-war Europe. They are headquartered in Atlanta. We’ve been supporters for more than a dozen years. I love how they have the benefits of size & scale while keeping a focus & discipline to their work that’s usually seen in smaller charities. Check out CARE’s work here.
Nicholas House is the only non-profit in Atlanta focused on homelessness that offers a full “continuum of care” regardless of family situation or history. Check out Nicholas House’s work here.
Wilderness Land Trust
Wilderness Land Trust is a non-profit exclusively focused on securing designated Wilderness Areas in the United States. Securing habitat is the most effective way to protect a more species quickly and cost-effectively. The US already has lots of public lands. And Wilderness areas are “double-protected” and locked away by National Law to be “untouched by man”…but there are still lots of private property inholdings that the public cannot acquire except on the open market from willing sellers. The Wilderness Land Trust exists to make sure every willing seller sells their land to them (rather than a developer) so that they can then turn the land over to the US Government for ownership & management in trust into perpetuity. They are a lean, smart, and highly effective team so that sellers prefer to sell to them over a developer. Hopefully their model will spread internationally. Learn more about Wilderness Land Trust here.
Georgia Forest Watch
Georgia Forest Watch is an organization that promotes the sustainable management of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia. They lobby, collaborate, and assist the US Forest Service with sustainable use for current & future generations. The Chattahoochee is my local National Forest. It’s amazing. But has a *ton* of different stakeholders & users from gas companies to telecoms to hikers to hunters to loggers to developers to wildlife enthusiasts to everyone who uses the water & air cleaned by the Forest. Georgia Forest Watch is really good at staying on top of mundane but super-important issues. Check out Georgia ForestWatch here.
Friends of Georgia State Parks
Friends of Georgia State Parks are the official non-profit supporting Georgia State Parks with volunteer events, donations, and education. Buying a ParkPass through Friends is a crazy good value. It pays for itself with just a few visits or a single cabin stay. They have chapters at every Park that organize effective & fun volunteer events. Check out Friends of Georgia State Parks here.
Grant Park Conservancy
The Grant Park Conservancy is the official partner of the City of Atlanta for the restoration & beautification of Atlanta’s oldest city (and my local) Park. They organize neighborhood events, organize volunteer days, and liaison with the City for more attention, budget & planning. Check out Grant Park Conservancy – or just go find out who is improving your local park.
Websites & Media
I love the Open Web – or at least what it could be. Social media & aggregators are fine in a way. But I think that a lot of the current issues with the Internet (privacy, revenue, tracking, filter bubbles, etc) could be solved with readers directly following & supporting media rather than letting social networks filter that relationship. Here are a few that I subscribe to in my RSS reader, in print, or on air.
The Economist is weekly newspaper covering world affairs. I’ve been a subscriber ever since my professor required it for my Introduction to International Political Economy class in college back in 2005. The print / once per week format saves time & sanity compared to reading a feed of the ridiculous daily news cycle. They are not alarmist or sensational, but are concise and useful. It’s absolutely worth checking out.
Wikipedia is one of the most taken for granted and underappreciated public institutions in the World. I edited articles back in the early ’00s when it was first starting and still do a bit to this day. It’s amazing and worth preserving. Be sure to donate – or better, make edits yourself about things that you can source properly. Check out Wikipedia here.
Standard eBooks is a small project that takes public domain books (usually transcribed at Project Gutenberg) and formats them beautifully for e-readers like the Amazon Kindle. Check out Standard eBooks here.
There are a few other sites that I’ll randomly check out in my RSS reader – they are always changing, so I’ve stopped adding them here. But note that there’s almost always an indie website out there that’s better than big professional media sites.
Companies & Services
While a lot of our choices as consumers are limited, I do think our choices matter. And purchasing from companies* that you like is a more effective way to support good than boycotting companies that you don’t like (maybe?).
*though several of these are actually non-profits or government agencies – but they are all places where I “get” something in return for money.
Atlanta Fulton County Library System
The library has to be the most underestimated and underutilized resource in the USA. The concept is amazing, and it’s that much better if you live near a good system. AFPLS is incredible with many locations, lots of media in their catalog, AND lots of free access to digital resources. Check out your local library!
Secret Bonus – if you have a public university nearby, you can access their entire catalog for free as long as it’s “for research.” When in Athens post-college, I checked out countless books, journals, and $$$$$ software from the University of Georgia library. In Atlanta, you can go to Georgia Tech or Georgia State and do the same. They make it super-not-obvious. It’s not advertised at all. But it’s a right that you have as a taxpayer. Just tell the security guard / librarian that you are a citizen looking to do research. Sometimes they’ll even give you a card to checkout materials with.
Georgia State Parks
The Georgia Division of State Parks & Historic Sites has dozens of state parks & historic sites scattered throughout the State. Unlike National Parks, they often have lots of different recreational opportunities & lodging in addition to preserving landscapes & sites for future generations. We always spend any long weekends or mini-trips at State Parks. Most have renovated cabins that have easy access to recreation and peaceful seclusion. The Parks themselves are not commercialized (except Unicoi & Amicalola’s lodges :/ – but that’s another post) and are generally underestimated & underutilized by Georgians. Check out Georgia State Parks here or find your local State Park here (though it might not be as good as Georgia’s :))
Delta Community Credit Union
Delta Community Credit Union is where we moved our banking after our former local bank (SunTrust) decided to merge and leave Atlanta. They are local and generally awesome. I regret not switching sooner. I love the mission of credit unions and keeping money local in general. Learn more about Delta Community Credit Union here.
Mozilla is the non-profit behind the Firefox web browser. For years, I was a huge fan of Chrome. But I also think they could use a little competition. Firefox has improved dramatically and is better in a lot of ways than Chrome. Pushing back against Google is just extra reason to recommend. Learn more about Mozilla Firefox here.
Ok, I have mixed feelings about Google. But paying to have streaming music for the family plus NO ADS on YouTube is an *incredible* value. I pair it with the Distraction Free YouTube browser plugin to get all the amazing from YouTube with less of the awful. Learn more about YouTube Premium here.
Vanguard is a customer-owned brokerage & financial services company. They were founded by the incredible John Bogle and revolutionized investing with super low-cost index funds. I highly recommend them for both personal & business use. I even started using their Money Market fund for savings instead of Capital One 360. Learn more about Vanguard here.
Alibris is an online marketplace for independent booksellers*. I use Amazon as much as anyone. But they could use a bit of competition. Alibris my go to place to actually buy all my non-library books (even if I use Amazon for research & wish-listing). Alibris is fast, easy and awesome – and usually cheaper. Learn more about Alibris here.
*random fact – not only did I used to work for Borders, but in college, I ran a small online bookselling business. Fun work, but ruthless profit margins.
Jittery Joe’s Coffee
Jittery Joe’s Coffee is a coffee roastery and chain of coffee shops in Athens, Georgia. If you’ve ever lived in Athens or attended the University of Georgia – then you know Jittery Joe’s. Even after moving to Atlanta, we still get our coffee shipped from them. Check out Jittery Joe’s here.
There are a lot of stuff, concepts, and miscellaneous things that have an outsize impact on my daily life. Here’s that list.
RSS Reader – Feedbro
Feedbro is a really lean, simple, and free RSS reader. You can run it as a simple browser extension. Check out Feedbro here.
Bookmarking – Pinboard
Pinboard is a “bookmarking service for introverts”. It’s lean, simple, and has full API and RSS export. It runs on any browser and has an app. Check out Pinboard here.
Password Manager – BitWarden
BitWarden is my current password manager after leaving LastPass. I love the design, the setup, the system architecture, and the app. Check out BitWarden here.
TV – ClearStream Eclipse TV Antenna
I am ashamed to say that I thought that over the air broadcast TV died 10 years ago when they switched from analog to digital. Actually, it got a whole lot better. Broadcast TV should absolutely have a renaissance. It’s free, the infrastructure is there, and it’s awesome – even if you only watch a sports event, a WeatherNation feed, and PBS Kids. ClearStream is a small TV antenna that we have behind our TV. It’s $25 and awesome. See it on Amazon here.
Bird Feeder – Squirrel Buster Classic
The Squirrel Buster is possibly the most underestimated Christmas gift that I’ve ever received. I wanted a well-made bird feeder in our backyard – just because. But this bird feeder is crazy well-designed and well-made. Bird watching is like a whole ongoing event – it’s daily happiness. Check out on Amazon here.
Bike – Used but Outfitted
I have a 12-speed road bike. I have no idea what brand it is or what specs it has. But I got it used and outfitted with a saddlebag and bike basket for commuting and local errands. I started bike commuting 14+ years ago with a basic used road bike from BikeAthens. If you are able to substitute any car trips at all with a bike trip, I cannot recommend it enough. The financial, physical and environmental upsides are so insane that it’s worth doing a cheap experiment yourself. Find a local bike shop / vendor / non-profit and try biking somewhere. And if you aren’t able to bike, do your part to support bike, scooter, foot, and mass transit regardless of your city. It not only saves lives and money, it makes car traffic more efficient and reduces our carbon footprint – and improves your health.
Events & Places
All the things that I would do or visit again.
Death Valley National Park
I’m not sure why my expectations were set low for this place. I thought it had a low point and a lot of heat. It’s truly magical and other-worldly.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I’ve always been a huge fan of the North Georgia Mountains in the Chattahoochee National Forest, so knew that I’d love the GSMNP. But while the Chattahoochee NF is broken up by thousands of inholdings and roads – the GSMNP is one single massive wilderness. I had no idea what a difference that would make for experiencing the backcountry.
Georgia State Park Cabins
My family and I first tried the Fort Mountain State Park cabins on a lark. They were newly renovated, but we had low expectations. Nope – staying inside a State Park is amazing. And the cabins themselves are great – very much underappreciated. Fort Mountain, Smithgall Woods, Hard Labor Creek, F.D. Roosevelt, and Magnolia Springs are our favorites so far.
America’s 3rd city does not get enough tourist love. We went there with our 4 year old since it was a short flight and seemed more accessible than New York City and more different than Houston / Dallas. Yeah – Chicago is absolutely incredible in its own right. It’s a must-return if only for the Museum of Science & Industry.
Boston is all that. Among American cities, it is truly unique and has such an interesting feel & atmosphere. We even visited in the dead of winter and found it to be a ton of fun. I’m sure that summer & fall are that much better.
Savannah is Georgia’s coastal colonial city. It’s famous around the world for its design and history. And I might be biased, but I think it’s much better in every way than it’s sister Southern coastal city – Charleston.
I grew up in The Philippines and have only been able to go back once since. But it’s a beautiful country with so much natural, cultural & human history. It’s super-accessible for tourists and is right in the heart of Asia. Look at Sagada, along with the Northeast coast along Pagudpud.
I really, really want to go to Mexico City since it’s the big hub city for Mexico & Central America. Every time I’ve been to central America (Guatemala and Nicaragua), I’ve wished it could be even more of a destination than it is. There is so much human, cultural, and natural history there – and it’s so close to the US. I could keep going there again and again.
I’ve been to India once and got to travel the length of India via train. India is so big and so diverse that it’s hard to talk about it in one swoop. But, once there, I became extremely interested in Southern India. I had no idea how different the food and geography from the rest of India. North & Central India have most of the big tourist sites, but I was saddened to see just how polluted, damaged, and dangerous that part of India was. When I go back, I want to see more of the South.
New York City
I’ve been to New York City several times – and find that it’s like this infinite vortex where you could spend your whole life there and still not see it all. It’s an amazing place that’s always worth going back to.
I’ll keep adding to this page over time.