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New Year's Eve!

December 31 — The usual suspects are getting some time off, so this is Keith Pepper, founder and publisher of the Draft, with our last newsletter of 2021. 

Well, we made it. Sorta.

With vaccines and boosters, most of us expected to be gliding, not limping, into the new year. Alas, tomorrow we flip the calendar to 2022, and here’s to hoping that Omicron goes away as quickly as it appeared, which 
seems to be the course it's taking in places like South Africa

🌥️ Today will be drier and 67°. The clouds will linger until Sunday when the rain returns and the temperatures drop. It will be in the low 30s when you wake up Monday. 

🤗 Many of you have followed the medical journey our colleague Collin Kelley has been on this year, and I’m happy to report that Collin’s six-month scan last week revealed he’s cancer-free!

📰 Throughout the surgery and radiation, Collin continued to put out Intown's best community paper. Here's a recap of the Top 10 stories from 2021.  

📺 There are lots of reasons to stay home tonight. With so many event cancellations, our suggestion is to pick a bottle of bubbly, tune into football (more below), a movie, or let WABE's H. Johnson be your soundtrack beginning at 10 p.m. If you’re not familiar with the imitable DJ, we profiled him earlier this year

🎉 If you are venturing out, Illuminarium is showing the Georgia game, MJQ is open, and places like Miller Union, Rumi's Kitchen, Arnette's Chop Shop, and Watchman's all have a handful of reservations available.

🫒 Cult favorite Ticonderoga Club is doing dinner and offering to-go bottled cocktails, including a vodka martini with Reagan's blue cheese-stuffed olives (IYKYK).

🧠 Be smart. AAA is offering Tow to Go for members and non-members. If you need a ride home, call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO.

🕖 Today's Rough Draft is  stories ➼

• Five ways to participate in the inauguration weekend
• Friday sports update

• Welcoming Afghani refugees to Atlanta
• Janice Rothschild Blumberg's Georgia

🙏 Thank you all for helping make Rough Draft a huge success in 2021. We have big plans for 2022 and beyond, so now is a good time to tell a friend or two about us. Use your personal link and you'll get the credit: 

Have a safe and happy new year, and we'll see you in '22! 
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*Under-the-wire giving*  Looking for ways to make a difference in the final hours of 2021? Consider a donation to local nonprofit news organizations like Atlanta Civic Circle, Canopy, Clayton Crescent, or the Atlanta Press Club. If you're curious about other ways to give, check out GiveWell's guide to charities.    
1. Top 5: Mayoral inauguration weekend

Every four years, the first Monday of January marks the beginning of a new term for Atlanta’s mayor and city council. But, the festivities begin tomorrow, and you can plan your New Year’s weekend by going to to register for all the inaugural events. 

Rough Draft caught up with Inaugural Co-Chair W. Imari Canady to get a list of five ways that folks can get involved.

① Vaccination cards/get a COVID test. With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 still on the rise in Atlanta, all Inaugural events will have COVID protocols in place. All events will require proof of vaccination, so make certain to have your vaccination card ready to go. While all of the events are outdoors or in open-air facilities, masks are highly encouraged.

The Citizens Reception on Saturday night will require a negative COVID test within 24 hours of entry. This can be a rapid test, but at-home tests are not allowed. Tests have been hard to come by during the Omicron spike, but there will be secured testing on-site at Pullman Yards starting two hours prior to the event.

② Participate in Community Service Day. Community service is at the heart of Mayor-Elect Dickens’ commitment to the city, so the inauguration weekend will kick-off with community service opportunities on Saturday, Jan. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as we celebrate together with a city-wide Community Service Day! 

Register for in-person opportunities like packing hygiene kits for unhoused Atlantans or spending quality time with local seniors, or you can volunteer from wherever you are by accessing some virtual or DIY service opportunities.

Every Atlantan is invited to participate no matter their age, location or ability. The important thing is that we will roll up our sleeves and make Atlanta better TOGETHER. 

Find an opportunity that works for you here

③ Attend the Citizens Reception at Pullman Yards. To unwind from the service day, the community will gather for a Citizens Reception with food, music, and fellowship. This event will take place at Pullman Yards from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Registration is required.

This event also requires a negative COVID test for entry, and rapid tests will be available at Pullman Yards starting at 3 p.m.

④ Watch the virtual Interfaith Prayer Across Atlanta. Mayor-Elect Dickens is better known as Deacon Dickens to his church family, so on Sun., Jan. 2, Atlantans from across the city are invited to join him for an Interfaith Prayer Across Atlanta. This ceremony will be entirely virtual and will start at 4 p.m. The stream can be accessed by going to

Attend the Official swearing-in ceremony at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Monday’s ceremony will take place at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Dickens’ alma mater, Georgia Tech, during which all city council members and the mayor will be officially sworn in and begin their terms in office. The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m.

Due to limited capacity, registration is requested.
2. The Sports Section

From the Rough Draft Sports Desk, it's our light-touch Friday update. 

🏈 The College Football Playoff is today.  

➡ At the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, #4 Cincinnati and #1 Alabama play at 3:30 p.m. 

➡ In Miami’s Orange Bowl, #3 Georgia and #2 Michigan kick-off at 7:30 p.m.

Both games are on ESPN. The winners will square off for the national championship on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis. 

👪  If the holidays bring out the worst in your in-laws, rest assured it’s them, not you. We get it, listening to your father-in-law yell “Roll Tide Roll” year after year can be exhausting. 

Sandy Springs’ Grant family (above) is taking the old-fashioned college football rivalry to a new level. With graduates of all four playoff schools, there will be tears of joy and wails of anguish today. Friend of the Draft Marcia Caller Jaffe chronicled the family drama in this piece for the Atlanta Jewish Times. (Photo: David J. Cohen)

🏀 The Hawks have lost three in a row and play at Cleveland tonight at 7:30 p.m. (TV: BSS). It's the third game of a six-game road trip. Atlanta isn't home again until Jan. 12.

👟Welcome the new year with a 5k. The Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run begins at midnight tonight at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium and includes fireworks and a post-race toast.  

🏈 The Falcons play the Bills in Orchard Park, NY on Sunday at 1 p.m. (TV: Fox). Buffalo is a two touchdown favorite. The temperature at game time is supposed to be 28°. An Atlanta loss eliminates them from the playoff race
3. Welcoming Afghan allies

🇦🇫Afghan allies who evacuated after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan have already started arriving in metro Atlanta to rebuild their lives, aided by resettlement agencies, nonprofits, the local Afghan community, and compassionate Atlantans

As of Nov. 12, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Atlanta had welcomed 350 Afghans, including pregnant women, babies, and young children.

“This is a bold, ambitious answer to a humanitarian and moral calling,” said the IRC’s Atlanta Executive Director Justin Howell. “These are families who had a real fear of persecution or being killed for support they provided to the U.S.”

The local IRC has committed to resettle 800 of the 1,500 Afghan humanitarian parolees coming to Georgia, in addition to 900 refugees from other countries like Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and El Salvador.

Our colleague Clare Richie talked more with Howell about how the nonprofit provides resettlement and case management services, adult education classes, youth programs, employment assistance, asset building resources, community health response programs, and immigration services to incoming refugees.
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4. Georgia's moment with Janice Blumberg

⚖️ Columnist and editor Joe Earle has chronicled the news in Georgia for more than three decades. When he sat down to visit with Janice Rothschild Blumberg in the early afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, she was in a great mood.

Their conversation took an unexpected and rather intense turn as insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Joe writes: "As Janice Rothschild Blumberg saw it, Jan. 6, 2021 started out as a very fine day.

It was the day after the runoff election and as the votes were counted, Blumberg was rooting for the two Georgia Democrats running for U.S. Senate. 

By early that afternoon, Raphael Warnock had claimed victory as the first Black U.S. senator from Georgia, and Jon Ossoff was on his way to becoming the state’s first Jewish member of the U.S. Senate. Taken together, their election meant the Republicans would lose their senate majority, and Democrats would control the national government.

'I am ecstatically happy,' Blumberg said during a phone chat early that afternoon. 'It couldn’t be better. It’s wonderful.'

Then, suddenly, the tenor of things seemed to change. As Blumberg and I talked, texts started to appear on my phone saying something shocking was happening in Washington."

Read Joe's entire column here
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