Archived Projects

Hillside Neighborhood LaGrange

GCDD HeaderLaGrange

Who We Are: The Real Communities group in LaGrange is currently leading a Roving Listening Project in the Hillside neighborhood. Hillside is a socioeconomically, educationally, and racially diverse neighborhood with a rich history and wonderful people.

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Roving Listeners plant a community garden.
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Neighborhood kids with and without disabilities enjoy a weekly art club.
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Yard movie night brings the community together.

What We Do: The Roving Listening Team is committed to meeting neighbors both old and new and collecting their stories via notepad and audio recording. Commonalities among neighbors are then discovered and relationships are built. Barriers within the neighborhood are also discovered and addressed. The Roving Listeners partner with multiple organizations and residents within the community to host monthly trust building events like yard movie night, monthly clean-up initiatives, a neighborhood collective that gives voice to people's concerns and questions about their neighborhood, and a weekly art club for neighborhood kids with and without disabilities. Most recently, the Roving Listeners have started a community garden to give residents better access to fresh, locally grown produce.

For questions they can contact Leah Watts at

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DASH for LaGrange

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Who We Are: Located in LaGrange, GA, the Hillside neighborhood once was a thriving mill village. Changes in the textile industry and housing demands left a shell of the former community. After decades of disinvestment, Hillside was in need of revitalization.  In 2003, D.A.S.H. (Dependable Affordable Sustainable Housing) for LaGrange began purchasing substandard properties owned by absentee landlords. Since 2003, D.A.S.H. has eliminated 132 substandard structures through rehabilitation or demolition and has started the process of reviving the neighborhood.

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Paint The Town project was implemented by DASH
Volunteers help low-income homeowners paint their homes
Volunteers help low-income homeowners paint their homes
Hillside Fun Fest celebrates the community
Hillside Fun Fest celebrates the community

Neighborhood revitalization generally conjures up visions of physical improvements – bricks and mortar and landscaping. The sustainability of these improvements over time, however, is largely dependent on the people who live in the community and who are invested in its future. In 2012, DASH began implementing Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) strategies within the Hillside neighborhood. The goal is to discover and mobilize the resources of a community and build relationships that can bring about holistic change. Residents have united around common interests and concerns since the new approach began, but DASH is eager to widen the circle of engagement to include all members of the neighborhood to reflect better and celebrate the community’s rich diversity.

before afterBefore and after pictures of neighborhood revitalization

What We Do: Starting in July 2016, DASH will launch the Hillside Roving Listeners Program in the Hillside Neighborhood. The Roving Listeners program will be designed to maximize input from diverse voices. The team will intentionally work to encourage residents from areas of the neighborhood that have not been active to have a voice in the planning of neighborhood activities and initiatives, and ultimately in the future of their community. Isolation is the greatest challenge facing every  group or community that has been marginalized by their race, economic class, gender, or disability. The project aims to unify these residents holistically and by doing so uncover leaders in the Hillside community. The listening experience intends to widen the circle  of influence continuously by asking the question, “Whose gifts and voice are missing?” which mandates that safe places for trust to be built. Click h ere to visit our website.
For more information about DASH and the Hillside Roving Listeners Project, please contact Director of Community Development, Ben Wheeler

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Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP)

Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP)

Who We Are: Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) is the statewide coalition of organizations and individuals working to end capital punishment in Georgia and around the world. By working in partnership with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) Real Communities, GFADP also seeks protect the rights and dignity of those on death row while ensuring the protection of individuals with developmental disabilities from unjust application of death penalty laws.

In January 2015, the State of Georgia executed Warren Hill, a 52-year-old man with an intellectual disability. Despite undisputed testimony from the State’s experts, Warren faced execution because of Georgia’s incredibly high burden of proof for defendants with intellectual disability. His case highlights the ways in which people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are railroaded by the criminal legal system every day.

As a result of Warren’s case, GFADP and GCDD came together to explore ways to stop the execution of individuals with intellectual disabilities in Georgia and deepen our collective understanding of how mass incarceration and the criminal justice system uniquely impact people with disabilities. GFADP is working to create local alliances coalitions in three key communities around the state (Atlanta, Dawson, and a third location to be determined) that come together to focus on a local problem.

georgians for alternatives to death penalty image1Marching in the annual MLK parade to promote GFADP
georgians for alternatives to death penalty image2Vigil to stop the execution of Warren Lee Hill in Georgia
georgians for alternatives to death penalty image3 Commemorating the execution of Troy Davis

What We Do: GFADP is an organization that is working to actively form alliances by engaging other organizations and leaders both in and out of the anti-death penalty network. GFADP has collaborated with GCDD to work to change the standard of proof for proving intellectual disability in death penalty cases. We worked diligently to educate people within and outside of the disability community about why this is an important movement. Our efforts paid off, and SB 401 was introduced in the Georgia State Senate by Senator Elena Parent. This bill will change the standard of proof placed on individuals with intellectual disabilities in death penalty cases in Georgia from, "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt." to "Preponderance of the Evidence.”

Read the legislation here:
GFADP was also incorporated in the GCDD-organized 2015 Social Justice Summit where it made new connections and networking opportunities for future organizing work. Similarly, GFADP has been involved in related conversations with the NAACP. As this country is facing overwhelming occurrences of the shooting of unarmed black and brown people and mass incarceration, GFADP attempts to illustrate the connection between the death penalty and the African-American community.

GFADP aims to bringing a more diverse perspective to the death penalty work and they will continue to fight to abolish the death penalty in the state of Georgia. This organization strives to be a major part of reforming the criminal justice system. By building a stronger community, GFADP will be able to end the death penalty, and usher this nation towards the criminal justice reform movement.

Click here to visit our website
In the News: Columbus NAACP hosts vigil in protest of execution, World Now, 1/27/15 Click here to read article.

Women on the Rise

Women on the Rise

Who We Are: Women on the Rise, a group formed by formerly incarcerated women, works to demand justice, dignity, and liberation for all through collective action that transforms communities and builds public safety by creating strong, interdependent communities. Through support provided by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities' Real Communities Initiative, WOTR also seeks to also ensure that equal justice is received by individuals with developmental disabilities ensnared in the criminal justice system.

women on the rise image1 Advocates turn out for Atlanta Public Safety hearing to call for "Solutions Not Punishment."
women on the rise image2Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signs executive order to "Ban the Box."
women on the rise image3 Advocating before the White House to "Ban the Box"

What We Do: Women on the Rise hosts regular Transformative Leadership Development and Community Building gatherings and Strategy Sessions. In 2014, they ran a successful internship program for formerly incarcerated women, conducted street and organizational outreach, engaged leaders in an intensive somatic leadership development program, and won important policy victories which impact the lives of thousands of formerly incarcerated people in Georgia when they successfully ‘Banned the Box’ on job applications in Fulton County, Atlanta, East Point and the State of Georgia. These efforts have benefited those targeted by the criminal legal system, institutionalized and kept from receiving much needed services to integrate them into the community. They have built a strong core group of leaders who are routinely engaging in community outreach and campaign actions in the Atlanta Metro area.

Women on the Rise, the Racial Justice Action Center, and SNaP Co (Solutions Not Punishment Coalition) have been working towards creating a Disability Justice Committee that actively deepens their understanding of disability justice. They are crafting outreach and recruitment activities that address the reality that, similarly to formerly incarcerated people, people with developmental disabilities may often be isolated, discouraged from attending community building events, or even physically segregated by institutions. They hope to build stronger relationships with potential allies and build bridges within agencies and coalitions that focus on developmental disabilities, so they are better able to identify, engage and create a safe environment for people with developmental disabilities in their organization.

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For additional info: Racial Justice Action Center