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Hey hey, it's Wednesday!

December 22 — Chad, Collin, and Amy here with your midweek Draft.

☀️ It's sunny with a high of 51° today. 


📈 As the CDC reported that the Omicron variant accounts for 73% of recent COVID-19 cases, President Biden announced a plan to distribute 500 million free tests to Americans beginning in January. He also blamed the rapid spread of Omicron on "dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media," and called on "the purveyors of these lies and misinformation to stop it."

🦠 With Georgia showing a stunning increase in cases over the last 14 days, it was hardly surprising when fully-vaccinated Atlanta Mayor-Elect Andre Dickens announced Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. 

“I am feeling well and have only experienced mild symptoms,” Dickens said via Twitter. 

😷 Dickens remained in quarantine yesterday, as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reinstated a citywide indoor mask mandate. Her executive order returns Atlanta to the “Yellow Zone” of its coronavirus response plan, which recommends restaurants close dining rooms and return to curbside and to-go orders, encourages teleworking, and that people avoid large gatherings.

No word yet on events like the Peach Drop (Dec. 31) or mayoral inauguration (Jan. 3), but foreshadowing the upcoming Georgia legislative session, Speaker David Ralston got ahead of the mask debate and will require them

📺 Despite COVID exposure at a Dec. 17 meeting, Sandy Springs held an in-person city council meeting last night. Sandy Springs spokesperson Jason Fornicola said that the city doesn’t have the legal authority to conduct the meeting virtually. Virtual meetings were authorized previously under an executive order from Gov. Brian Kemp, but there’s currently no such order in place. The meeting was available for the public to view online.


🚗 The New York Times reports that, according to AAA, more than 109 million Americans are expected to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, a 34% increase from last year. The number of airline passengers alone is projected to rise 184% from last year.

📉 At least the price of gasoline is on the decline after reaching record highs in October.

🚀 The Current reports that a judge temporarily blocked the purchase of land for a 12,000-acre, commercial spaceport and launchpad facility along the Georgia coast. Opponents are concerned about the environmental impact of launching rockets over homes, wildlife, and Cumberland Island. 
📸 Our Wednesday photo shout out goes to Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff and his wife Dr. Alisha Kramer, who welcomed their first child, Eva Beth, on Dec. 17.

🕖 Today's Rough Draft is ④ stories ➼

• 20 students making a difference
• The year's best playlists
• In the Mix with Pinky Cole

• A year-end coffee list

We are clocking out for the holiday, but Friday's Draft will still be delivered at 7 a.m. - the intern is taking over, don't miss it. Rough Draft Next Gen 😱.
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1. 20 Under 20

🏆 Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown have just released their annual list of students who give back to their community.

Collin and Amy compiled the list, and we are in awe of the ingenuity, resilience, and time-management skills this group of honorees brings to the table. From creating nonprofits and fundraising to mission trips and mentoring, the 2022 class of 20 Under 20 is a beacon of hope in our troubled times.

From Academe of the Oaks and The Weber School to The Westminster Schools and The New Schools at Carver, we think you’ll agree that these students deserve all the accolades for their efforts to help better their communities.

Weber student Kira Berzack (above) is just one example of a local student who gets involved in her community. In her case it's through Am Yisrael Chai and the Daffodil Project. 

“I’ve noticed that when you shift the focus from yourself to serving others, you are able to experience a more gratifying form of joy,” Kira told us.  “The experiences, love, relationships, and skills I have gained through my volunteering will stay with me forever and will continue to influence my actions.”

Click here to meet all of this year’s 20 Under 20.
*Thanks to Sweet Cheats* 🍪 Congrats to three Rough Draft advocates who won $50 gift cards to Cabbagetown bakery Sweet Cheats. Randal L., Jennifer W., and Lynn H. will each be eating something special very soon with their prizes. 🍪
2. A mix for 2021

🔊Since January, Atlanta Intown has featured 18 In the Mix interviews and playlists, each one offering more insight into the subjects’ personality through the songs that have influenced them the most.

In addition to Pinky Cole's today (next story), here are five of our favorites:

① DJ Headmaster (Stuart Myerburg) has been spinning on the decks at Mary’s for 20 years. "I often come to Mary’s with a fully formed plan in my head, and end up playing only 15% of that because the vibe called for something totally different."

② Now We’re Cooking: A Q&A with Chinese Southern Belle founder Natalie Keng, plus her playlist. "... the real engine of prosperity and wellness in the future is in local economies."

③ Amy Leavell Bransford expanded Aviary Beauty + Wellness to Summerhill this summer. "I’m not sure whether Bowie tried to elevate me to his level or he met me at mine, but it’s a thing I think about a lot in relationships. Meeting people where they are is something I strive for."

④ Plywood People’s Tuere Butler on working with John Lewis, favorite ATL spots, and her playlist. "No matter the circumstances, the overall need is that people long to be understood. So be available… "

⑤ Amy Ray talks new solo single and tour, plus more Indigo Girls shows. “… you just never know what someone out there in the crowd has been through, I always try to remember that, and especially now, it hits home.”

🌱 Keep scrolling to check out our final In the Mix interview and playlist of the year and click here to see them all. And follow us on Spotify here.
3. Slutty Vegan's Pinky Cole

🍔 Aisha “Pinky” Cole is fast on her way to having the next big deal in fast food with her plant-based burger chain, Slutty Vegan. Vegans and meat-eaters alike stand outside the restaurant’s Westview, Edgewood, Jonesboro, and new Duluth locations for hours, or follow the Big ‘Ol Slut food truck to get their hands on her saucily named burgers like the “One Night Stand,” “Sloppy Toppy,” “Fussy Hussy,” “Hollywood Hooker,” and “Super Slut.”

She’s also got a vegan cookbook on the way, titled 
"Eat Plants, Bitch," a charitable mission to provide life insurance to Black men, and a partnership with Varo Bank to help entrepreneurs launch and sustain their businesses.

All this from a Baltimore kid who used to resell the McDonald’s $1 menu items for $2 to her classmates and rake in the cash hosting teen dance parties.

➡ "Hustle" is the Clark Atlanta University graduate’s other nickname.

We got Pinky's In the Mix playlist, and it’s full of choice cuts from Kendrick Lamar, Moneybagg Yo, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Meek Mill, and others.

Click here to read the full interview.
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4. Coffee shop faves

☕ It seems like only yesterday when Atlanta was home to scant few truly great coffee shops. The last few years have seen a boon for quality beans. Since March, our Guide to Local Coffee has been keeping tabs on all of the espresso, cortados, cold brews, scones, and egg sandwiches that have kept our eyes open and our fingers typing.

Here are five of our favorite local shops.

🚚 Brash Coffee Roasters: Known for the ASD | SKY-designed shipping container that houses their Westside Provisions location, BRASH has expanded with a HUGE X BRASH collaboration in Midtown near the High and a location at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead. Each shop serves beans exclusively from Central and South American farmers.

🐐 Dancing Goats: With locations in Buckhead, Midtown, Ponce City Market, and Decatur, Dancing Goats is an offshoot of Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters. Their signature brew features bold and toasty flavors with hints of almond, chocolate, and spice, and is one of the most beloved coffees in the city. 

💥 East Pole Coffee Co.: East Pole’s full-service bar wraps around their roastery for an immersive, grounds-to-cup experience. Specialties include “Popayan Reserve,” a sweet, floral blend sourced from Cofinet coffee growers in Colombia, and “Lyenga,” a Tanzanian blend with notes of pineapple, raisin, and cherry. A second location is planned for Poncey-Highland in 2022.

✨ Just Love Coffee: Just Love Coffee began when Rob and Emily Webb adopted two children from Ethiopia. On the trip, Rob learned the art of hand-roasting coffee beans to help others while taking customers into a form of social partnership. Their Sandy Springs location opened in 2020, boasting the Toffee Coffee latte, a mix of toffee nut and caramel, and the dark chocolate-coconut Coco Loco.

🥐 The Little Tart Bakeshop: While all of the coffee and baked goods are noteworthy, when we took our pre-teen nieces for breakfast, they remarked, “why aren’t other croissants this good?!” That seems to be the conventional wisdom. Malcom Gladwell is a fan, and the late Anthony Bourdain paid a visit in 2013.
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