“My work with Livable Buckhead started when I was in 5th grade. I was chosen as a winner of an art contest they ran called Playing with Shadows so my artwork was made into a permanent art exhibition along Path400. That was my first experience with Livable Buckhead and with Path400. It absolutely changed my life, I loved knowing that my artwork was going to be permanently a part of Buckhead. When I came to high school I was thinking of ideas for my Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve. I wanted to do something that would make an impact on my community, and that’s when I thought back to the art contest from 5th grade. I wanted to start something new that could give the next generation of kids the same opportunities that I had, so I reached out to Livable Buckhead and that’s how the project started.
We received 74 entries from 20 different schools in the Atlanta area and it was my task to narrow down all of those into 20 finalist designs. We had a huge range of ages basically from kindergarten through 8th grade, and I was amazed by the range of responses we got and how much thought and creativity each of the kids put into their work. I judged the entries based on creativity, use of color, wow factor, and different categories so I could evaluate each of them for their best qualities. Once I narrowed down the entries they were judged by a panel including Denise Starling who is the CEO of Livable Buckhead, Fran Turner who is a teacher at my school and has been so supportive of me, J. P. Matzigkeit who is a local councilperson, Dianne Belk who is the founding chair of the Juliette Gordon Low Society within the Girl Scouts organization, and Katherine Dirga who is the head of the art department at MARTA.
The most challenging part has been that it hasn’t happened on the timeline that I had anticipated. I had to completely rethink my project in March; we had a huge event planned that was going to be this grand celebration and unfortunately that had to be canceled. It has been hard but I have learned so much about organization and planning. It has forced me to realize that things don’t always go the way that you want but that doesn’t mean that you should stop working on it.”
Katie Maier is a junior at the Lovett School and sponsor of the Picture Your Path project on Path400. She is a contributing writer for her school newspaper, the OnLion, and you can read her writings on the teenage experience during a global pandemic in her Milestones in a Mask series.