“Friday, the founder of TNT Academy in Lilburn Georgia shocked students and parents alike when she made racist comments towards her black graduates.

In the past students have alleged that the school, and it’s founder Nancy Gordeuk hold disparaging views towards people of color, and at yesterday’s graduation ceremony they unexpectedly received validation.

The confusion initially started when Gordeuk accidentally ended the ceremony without allowing the valedictorian to make their speech. When she became aware of her mistake, she asked all the graduating seniors to come back inside the hall for the final speech.

By this point people were already headed to their cars, and it became difficult to corral everyone back into the auditorium.

That’s when a frustrated Gordeuk took to the mic and announced:

You people are being so rude, to not listen to this speech. It was my fault that we missed it in the program. Look who’s leaving… all the black people!

At that point the crowd erupted in anger and everyone started to leave.”

Story by Blue Telesma, The Grio

Look who’s leaving!

The physical world can not be known in the way poetry aspires to know it, intimately, ecstatically, in a way that heals the ache of one’s separation from the world, it seems to me, outside of the sundering of knowledge which contemplation is. And contemplation’s knowing is not a knowing at all, offers nothing clear and distinct, nothing sure, universal. The contemplative does not retreat from the world with a knowledge enriched with names for things, a mental map of efficient causalities. Yet in contemplation one loves the world and wants to be in the world in love without skewing it […] Language asserts and cancels itself, names the world then erases the name, and in this restlessness one glimpses the aptness of confusion before the ungraspable diversity of here. Silence.
—  Tim Lilburn, Living in the World as If it Were a Home 
Wayback Wednesday... A Gift That KEEPS On Giving...

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This is the time of year when everyone is thinking about gifts.  Some are buying, others are thinking about what they might be getting.  Some may be doing some of both.  There are lots of types of gifts.  The first thing that many of us default to are the big screen TVs, hi-po car parts and video games… maybe even some socks and underwear.  Most of us don’t think about gifts to our community.

But those can be some of the best gifts…  and we can give them for almost free.

I have been volunteering for Junior Achievement for the last few years.  It is incredibly rewarding walking into a classroom and getting the AMAZING reaction from the kids.  They are so ready for a “new” adult to come and talk to them about business and economics.  Seriously.  Actually, they are ready for someone to talk to them about almost anything.  But I can tell you that they REALLY want to learn, engage, share and grow.

Getting more volunteers for JA would be a great thing, but honestly, there are a lot of opportunities to gift that kind of gift to the community.  Scouting is another great option (I’m involved with that, as well…).  There are local community centers, senior centers, parks… there are a LOT of ways that you can give something to the community.

Many of those opportunities magnify that gift… kind of like a corporate match, but in effect rather than cash.  As an example, for the two volunteer programs that I dedicate most of my time to, JA and Scouting, have the added value of making a real impact in the lives of kids.  JA plants the seeds of entrepreneurship in youngsters, while Scouting fosters leadership and responsibility.  Both of those things are long term gifts to the community that pay back MUCH more than the meager investment we adults make in the kids.

Last year I wrote a little about my experience with JA.  Check it out.  Find your local chapter.  Or get involved with Scouting (Boy, Girl, Venturing, etc.).  You don’t have to have a kid in the Troop, Pack or Crew… just a desire to make a positive impact and have a great time doing it.

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You Can't Fight City Hall (Especially When It's Across the Street)

Not that I’m trying to. I just thought it was a pithy title.

Tonight was the inaugural meeting of the City of Lilburn’s first Citizen Budget Oversight Panel, of which I am a member. It’s my first foray into politics as anything other than a voter since college, when my naive self discovered that someone is not necessarily a good person just because they vote the same way I do. But having moved to the very center of a small town, I felt the time for community involvement had arrived.

Incidentally, my initial stroll over to a City Council meeting back in November resulted in me stumbling blindly into this. If you watch the video without blinking, you’ll catch a couple glimpses of me looking befuddled. Which I was. But I digress.

My next door neighbor is on the Council, and he asked me to be part of the Panel, a request I eagerly accepted. The cynical view would be that the Council is looking for political cover - as in, “Hey, we didn’t want to raise your taxes, but this citizen panel, full of ordinary folks just like you, told us we had to!” Or, they could treat us like the federal deficit reduction commission, with both sides holding press conferences to denounce our recommendations.

Maybe there’s some truth to that. Anyone who knows me knows that I have just a wee touch of cynicism in me. But getting a small inside look at the city’s finances has challenged me to think about my (largely libertarian) political leanings and how they apply to local government - the level so often ignored, yet so potentially impacted by engaged citizens. I won’t share details of Lilburn’s situation because it wouldn’t be appropriate. But here are some of my thoughts so far:

  • A city’s government should not exist in order to perpetuate itself. It should exist to serve the citizens. Thus, I constantly am filtering comments that reflect government-centric thinking such as “these tax exempt properties cost us $XX annually” or “we need to rase the millage rate just to offset the decline in property values and stay revenue-neutral.” There may be valid realities behind such comments, but city officials should always think from the citizen’s perspective.
  • There are some services (like police) that local governments provide that cannot be appropriately provided by citizens in any other way than through government. That’s what taxes are for. I’m happy to pay them.
  • There are other services (like sanitation or water/sewer or utilities) that local governments can either provide or contract for in a more efficient manner than the citizens can as individuals. They don’t always do a better job than the “private sector,” but they have some market power that individuals don’t. Where this starts to get tricky is the payment model. Should stuff like this be paid for by “taxes” or by “user fees?” In general, I believe people should pay for what they get. But it’s complicated.
  • Maybe the hardest concept for me to grapple with is the “nice to have” things about a city. I’m talking about parks, recreation facilities, sidewalks, brick signs, libraries, etc. On one level, these things are clearly not essential to the citizens’ lives. On another level, they are absolutely critical to the intangible “quality of life” in the community. One of my favorite things about Lilburn is the park across the street from my house. I wouldn’t be in the house if it wasn’t for the park. I use it 4-5 days per week at least. I’d like to think I’m paying my fair share for it, but there are also lots of city residents who don’t live close to it and who never use it, and they’re also paying for it through taxation. When finances are tight, as they are for practically every municipality these days, what is the best way to maintain the things that give a city its character and its projection of community pride? It’s a question without an easy answer.
  • I’m intentionally leaving schools out of this, both because I have some very strong views on the subject that are best addressed in a future (maybe way, way in the future) post and because city taxes don’t fund schools where I live.

I’m looking forward to our panel’s work over the next 4-6 weeks. I’m not sure if our recommendations (whatever they turn out to be) will be made public, but I woudn’t be surprised if they are. We’ll see how closely they align with my own principles and whether my principles evolve.
Mosque Zoning Row Draws Scrutiny: Georgia City's Opposition to Muslim Center Probed as Justice Department Steps Up Focus on Religious Property Disputes -

The Justice Department is investigating if Lilburn violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by rejecting the zoning applications. The 11-year-old federal law prohibits local authorities from imposing “a substantial burden” on religious groups or treating them “on less than equal terms” than other groups in land-use decisions.

Officials in Lilburn, population 11,596, are already defending themselves in a suit Dar-e-Abbas itself filed under the law in federal court in 2009.


The Justice Department is diving into such religious disputes more aggressively. Last week it reached a settlement in a suit it filed against Walnut, Calif., which had denied a building permit for a Buddhist house of worship. The city agreed to ease religious zoning restrictions.

But much of the activity concerns mosques. In a report last year, the Department said mosques, as well as synagogues and African-American churches, were “particularly vulnerable” to discriminatory zoning. Of its 26 probes of possible Religious Land Use violations involving mosques in the past decade, 16 were launched in the past 15 months.


The dispute has surfaced amid a rapid shift in Lilburn’s demographics. The percentage of the population that is white fell to 52.7% in the most recent census, from more than 90% two decades ago. Dar-e-Abbas says its congregation has risen to 90 families from 20 since 1998. Many are immigrants from India and Pakistan.

Although many mosque opponents insist their concerns are rooted in traffic issues, some residents are unnerved by the idea of Islam expanding in their community. “I think they’re coming over here and trying to take over as fast as they can, and that’s scary to me,” said Corrinna Hartman, 31, a local hospital administrator.



Well, it seems I like music that’s about places. Sibelius and Moncayo both wrote music about their native countries (Finland and Mexico respectively) and Douglas Lilburn did the same about his name New Zealand. This work, Aotearoa, means “New Zealand” in Māori. Lilburn wrote two other works about New Zealand, as well - Landfall in Unknown Seas, and A Song of Islands. More importantly, I bet he had a really nice Kiwi accent. Go listen to this while you’re imagining his excellent Kiwi accent.

lilburn city park & greenway trail

i went to old town lilburn today scoping out a place for a photo shoot.  I did a family photo shoot there a year ago for friends of mine and it is a really nice park.  I didn’t realize out extensive the greenway trail was though.  it is a great place and i definitely will be going back to walk or run!

Here are some pictures that I took with my iphone.

“Contemplation of nature, like contemplation of God in negative theology, is a knowing which is an unknowing, a frustration of the desire to know in which, nevertheless, this desire persists, heightened, hurtling one forward into the unknowability of unique things.”

—Tim Lilburn, Living in the World As If It Were Home

Poems are praise songs or a careful, lonely moan for the world: either way, it is the world itself that lifts them forward. They are the speechlessness of things ripening, pressing, into language. The poet contributes attention, permeability, a courageous leisure in which transfixity may occur; the poet combs out the lines until they come as close to shining as he can bring them. Yet another sort of silence can be a room you inhabit, a room of waiting, a room which is a sort of ear; writing is this availability, listening’s stripped place, in which the hidden lives of things, pumpkins, poplar groves, might be transcribed; writing is mostly this craning quiet.
—  Tim Lilburn, “Walking out of Silence” in Desire Never Leaves 
Lilburn, GA Market Report, June 2011

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Market stats for Lilburn, GA, June, 2011, indicates that there were 454 properties on the market (as of June 30th). Overall, there was about an 8.5 month supply of properties and 63 properties that closed (sold) in June.  I had been looking for another increase in sales for June and it came through.  And it was an increase over last year’s sales (51) and May, 2011 (54 sales).  The Absorption Rate notched down slightly.  Unfortunately, Lilburn is among the weakest of Gwinnett County, GA, cities I track.

In the sub-$200k arena, there were 309 listings, with about an 7.7 month supply with 48 sales.  This represents most of the sales in the market area.  Sales rose slightly from last month (41), but were more above last year (38).  The Absorption Rate dropped only slightly from 7.9 to 7.7 months of inventory.  This is even a slight improvement over the tax credit fueled buying of this time last year.  If the pace maintains for the next two months, it could mean that Lilburn, GA, is on the verge of a turn.

Between $200k and $400k, there are 132 listings for sale, and about 11.o months of supply.  This segment has been quite weak for months, but has picked up a little strength.  May was a strong follow up to April, which was HUGE… 11 sales compared to just 9 last year.  June pulled down 14 sales, slightly above last year’s 13 homes sold.  If July stays strong (14-15 sales), this could signal a return to a more balanced segment… and Lilburn has been missing that.  (last month I said…) I’ll be looking for around 14 sales for June…  ;^ )

From $400k to $600k, there are just 8 homes on the market. The absorption rate is 6.0 months. There were no sales in this segment from December through February, but there were 2 in March, which really turned the segment around, followed by 1 sale for April.  May posted 2 sales, and there was 1 sale in June.  It doesn’t seem like much, but this is a segment hasn’t posted that many months with back to back sales…  This is the first time sales have been sales posted four months in a row since 2009.

From $600k to $800k, $800k to $1M and Above $1M, there are 5 listings (combined), but too few sales to have any sort of reliable number of months of inventory.  March posted the first sale since August, 2010.  It was in the $600-$800k range. One of the listings is above $1M and one between $800k and $1M, and there is no market activity in the last 12 months for those ranges…

Lilburn is in Gwinnett County, GA, just outside of Atlanta. As of the 2000 Census, there were 11,307 people in Lilburn, but that is only including people in the city limits, and there has been a lot of growth since 2000 in Gwinnett County. It was incorporated in 1910. Lilburn is home to Parkview High School, and also has students that the Brookwood, Berkmar and Meadowcreek clusters. It is also home to Killian Hill Christian School, Providence Chrisian Academy, St. John Neumann Catholic School and Parkview Christian School. Possibly the most famous resident of Lilburn is General Beauregard Lee, a groundhog with a better winter prediction record that Puxatawnee Phil up in PA. Dominique Wilkins, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks also lives in Lilburn.

I have a page dedicated to Lilburn Market Data.

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