Sunday, January 26, 2014

EAT ME!! Taste of Dunwoody 2014 Recap

The Crowne Plaza Ravinia should be the official home of Taste of Dunwoody from this moment onward.  The larger venue and more parking allowed for more mingling, more eating, more dancing, and less feeling cramped.  It was a almost-miss-people-you-know-because-you-rarely-see-them-dressed-and-made-up (sorry Amy....) and  party-until-you-fall-asleep-in-your-makeup kind of night.

As the night got started the sponsors gathered in front of the stage with Yacht Rock Revue for a group photo.

(Jill....  Thanks for following up on that photo.  This is where it's going!)

Food highlights, because I arrived hungry.  (If I make a mistake with the restaurant names or can't remember one, someone post a correction in the comments)

The theme of the night was ahi tuna - many restaurants presented a variation including tuna tartare on fried plantains, seared ahi, and Legal Sea Foods had a tuna sashimi with pickled greens and ginger.

Most unusual sampling of the night that was still successful and unlikely to incite someone like Gordon Ramsay into a profanity-riddled rage goes to the salmon sashimi with chocolate (!) basalmic dressing and micro greens.  (Yes, I tasted it, it worked, it was creative, amazing and I went back for seconds and thirds.)

Best italian:  Brio for the gnocchi with bolognese featuring braised short rib.

Marlow's won Battle Shrimp-n-Grits.  Again.

Best fusion:  Tin Lizzy's with their Korean-inspired spicy beef and veggie taco

Best Chowder - do you have to ask?  (Legal Sea Foods)

Most Deliciously Evil:  the deep-fried lobster and gouda nuggets, which was next door to Cafe Intermezzo's Oreo Cookie Cheesecake.

My three kids are the pickiest eaters on the planet so any night with creative food is a night in paradise.

Now for the visuals:

Feeling the love!

The night begins!  Prime time for the best sampling when the doors are now open to the public and dinner is served.  Get used to this ballroom:  the State of the City will be delivered here in March.

Sound check must have been earlier in the day.  Yacht Rock showed up in their performance duds and we all got to mingle before they took the stage at 8 PM.

Smile for the blog!  A rep from Marlow's shows off Shrimp and Grits.  I took this picture with sauce dripping from my chin.  (Psst - Marlow's has a coupon deal for Chamber members.  Don't miss it!)

Lobster and Gouda Man!  Needless to say, they had run out of food by the end of the night!

Another friend with a duck pate and microgreens canape.  Dude had me at "duck".

The girls from Tin Lizzy.

Yacht Rock Revue takes the stage.
Very kind of them to leave the Captain & Tenille divorce story alone for the night and just crank out the tunes.

Silent auction and bar area.

More silent auction and restaurant sponsors from the POV of the bar line as my other half and I burned through drink tickets.  

The obligatory self portrait next to the sponsors listing.

The alcohol has worked its magic and the dance floor fills as Yacht Rock returns from their break.

But seriously, folks....

The most frequent words of the night were "thank you".  Terry made it a point to visit each of the restaurant reps and thank them for being a part of Dunwoody.  CHOA's development team made it a point of thanking all of the sponsors for their support in making the event happen at all.  It's too easy for Dunwoodians to go for the jugular at the slightest (lack of) provocation.  Don't forget to acknowledge the positive; it's good for you.

This flyer was distributed at the sponsor seating areas highlighting the work that CHOA does in the areas receiving funding from last night.  In case it's hard to see, even on the full-size image, the key details are:

CHOA had almost 850,000 patient visits last year alone.  Some of them might have been kids of the folks reading this post right now.  

CHOA counted almost 150,000 inpatient stays last year alone.

The Marcus Autism Center, one of the projects benefiting from the gala, treated 5,400 children from 140 countries around the world in 2013.  

The downstream impact of the Marcus Center is far beyond kids with autism.  Everything the center learns from teaching autistic children can be applied eventually to youth with a host of other conditions that are unrelated, but involve compromised sensory processing - including:
  • ADHD
  • Brain injuries
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Other childhood developmental delays without a definable cause
  • Genetic anomalies, including mitochondrial disease
  • Stroke
  • Treatment to restore hearing (cochlear implants, etc)

Because of the funding raised by Dunwoody Friends and Taste of Dunwoody, there's an entire population in Atlanta and beyond who have a chance to be as happy and enjoy life as everyone did last night.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dunwoody Businesses - Are You Looking For a Few Good Interns?

The Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce is looking to pair up area businesses with second-semester seniors from Dunwoody High School.  As part of the new Education initiative by the Chamber, the Internship program will help Dunwoody High School seniors get the introductory work experience they need to become successful in careers over their lifetime.

Area businesses who have internship openings are welcome to contact Sarah at the Chamber office (678-244-9700) for more information.  The internship program is a unique opportunity for the business community at all levels to contribute to and reinforce the relationship with the youth and families of Dunwoody.

The Education Initiative information will be posted to the website in the near future.  (I'm standing by waiting for the call to assist when the committee is ready.)

Here's the original email from the Chamber:


Attention Chamber Members:

Dunwoody High School is looking for local businesses to help integrate classroom learning with structured work experiences related to a student's career goals for second semester seniors this SPRING.

This program is still in the beginning stages of development. We are looking for companies in the areas of Journalism, Broadcast, Engineering, Finance, and any other company that desires to provide students with a well-rounded internship experience.

Internships will need to begin in the first 2-3 weeks of February.

Internship Guidelines:
-Will be for Second Semester Seniors
- May be PAID or UNPAID
- Students must work at least 10 hours per week
- Internship must begin after 1:45 in the afternoon
- Business must provide Dunwoody High School staff an Evaluation of Performance for the student at 4.5 week intervals and post internship report
-Must provide proof that student is working (pay stubs, time-sheets. etc)

If you are interested, please contact:

*Please Provide Contact Person, willingness to Commit, and list of job responsibilities to the contact listed above. 
Help serve our community by providing unique educational experiences for our youth. 

The Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce is working to complete an page for businesses and community members to post or search for jobs/ internships. Keep an eye out for further information about this in the next 2 months! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Water Main Break on Tilly Mill Road - again.

UDPATE @ 11:15 am

Dunwoody Elementary was evacuated to Dunwoody High.  Kids will be bussed back to DES for dismisssal.

Power died in Dunwoody Village at 11 AM, including traffic lights.  Head chef at First Watch was not happy.  Due to ice on power lines from Ole' Faithful?  Leave a comment.  :-)

Pack your patience this morning for school, preschool, GPC, and work.

Report from Channel 11 w/ video and slideshow

This is the second major water main break on this street in just over a year.  The last one was October 2012 and occurred between Briers North and The Madisons.

DeKalb crews had trouble shutting that one off too.  And after the initial patchwork repairs were done, the metal plates were in the street so long that Harry Pothole shot a feature about them.

Look on the bright side - Dunwoody's going to get its skating rink after all.

Now DeKalb is going to keep wondering why Dunwoody is unhappy with them.

Happy Hump Day!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

INTRODUCING: Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce v 5.0

Re-evaluating and updating the Dunwoody Chamber site is as much a New Year's tradition in our house as much as a bottle of champagne, baked brie, and watching Ryan Seacrest until 1 AM.

But seriously folks, a change in leadership at the Chamber is an opportune time to review the site's functions, and compile feedback from the board, from members, and from the public about how to make it more usable.

There were some new problems to be solved.  The large banner in the previous edition was supposed to be clickable - as in click the picture and get a page of new information.  Didn't work.  Hence the translucent grey bar with text in it that couldn't be styled.

There was talk of hosting podcasts/video/audio archives.  The drivers I had available weren't up to the job and didn't work consistently in all browsers or devices.

Then there's the "real estate" question.  Everyone has their favorite piece of information or their favorite widget that they want to see on the front page, above the fold.  That was tried before and the page was crowded and busy in no time.

Most of all, whatever solution was implemented, it had to be easy to learn and update by office staff and volunteer committee chairs.  

The solution to this "wish list" was a full-scale software upgrade. Since 2009 the site was published in Drupal 6.  Drupal 6 was created before the boom in JavaScript animation, slideshows, and all of the interactive interfaces typical in tablets and newer smartphones.  The overhaul upgraded the Chamber to Drupal 7 with accompanying modules to streamline the features expected on the web.  

The interface you see above is intended to get the most popular and urgent information into the visitor's screen ASAP, and make it easy to discover something new during the trip.

First, the banner.  Go ahead, give it a click!  With a small amount of planning an editor can upload an image, write up a page of information and in a moment it becomes part of the slideshow.  The upgrade also allows editors to schedule their content to appear - or disappear - at appointed times, making the effort to manage the pages even easier.  The banner was resized to add a new column:  a list of upcoming events with links to descriptions and online reservations resides in a sleek column that is easy to find, yet not jumbled with everything else.  

Second - the icon bar below the banner is the latest solution to the "real estate" question.  Run your mouse over each icon (or tap on it if you're using a tablet.) More goodies appear in a hidden "mega-menu" that only becomes visible when you want it.  By employing a mega-menu, more content can be added to the front page without cluttering it.  From the front page, you can search the member directory, find job postings, find the "hot deals" listings, and review news and lists of our newest and returning members.  Just for fun I threw a video into one of the panels.  Chamber members can log into their brand new, streamlined Member Information Center from the front page as well.  Best of all, it's easy to update by office staff when it becomes necessary.  There's a couple of new additions in the pipeline at the moment.

Third - mobility.  This site like its predecessors is comfortable to use on any size screen from a tablet up to a TV set.  But what if you're on a smartphone?  The best solution in the past was to use a stripped-down site provided by ChamberMaster, the third-party providing support for all of the membership functions.  Again, that wasn't cutting it.  This design is "responsive":  that means the website detects the size of the screen a visitor is using to view it, and then rearranges the content so it's most comfortable to view.  So now the entire site -every little page, blurb, widget, webform, and goodie - is available for absolutely any screen.  (I'm still keeping the ChamberMaster site active, just in case this site needs repairs or upgrades for an extended time.  The essentials will always be available.)

Have a stroll around and find even more goodies:  all committees using social media have their feeds and links available:  see who has Twitter feeds and or FaceBook "Like" boxes with the latest posts.  Did you find a page particularly useful?  Hit a share button at the bottom of the page.  Event information can be sent around via the most popular social networks as well as email and text message.

The most current and fast moving information (like the latest Business Radio X shows and "Business Connection" articles) are organized into blogs.  Blogs are the fastest and easiest way to take an article and get it onto the site without the hassle of having to organize it, put it in a menu, etc.  Very useful for our PR staff who don't have the time to futz with learning a website.  Log in, plug it in, and done.  Right now there are two blogs.  Depending on how some committees and their communications evolve, there may be more.

But wait.  There's more.

Some functions are "sleeper agents".  They're loaded in because there's an indication that they may be needed in the forseeable future.  But not yet.

Translations - if it becomes necessary, pages may be translated into other languages.  The visitor can either select the language they want to read, or the website can detect the browser's default language (if it's other than English) and present the correct translation if it's available.  You may have noticed there are significant Spanish- and Chinese-speaking communities around us.  This add-on may end up bridging several gaps.

Document management - don't you just hate it when you stash your Word or PDF files in the "cloud" and you can never find them again?  Ditto.  If it becomes necessary, documents will be stashed in a library with permanent links and even a custom sort-and-search function so you can find what you're looking for via title, date of publication, committee, department, or any other criteria.

Audio/Video - YouTube has a lot of uses but if you need to host an exclusive podcast you need your own drivers.  Mobile-friendly audio and video drivers are at the ready when we get the call.

Per-Page theming.  An oldie, but a goodie.  Should any committee desire it, individual pages or sections of the website can get a completely different look and feel and layout than the rest of the site.  This function was used a couple of years ago (the Dunwoody Music Festival the original YPODs page, and the first Greater Perimeter Business Expo were themed by their pages, even though they were all parts of the main Chamber website) but you never know when you'll need it again.  

And that brings us up to 2014.  Always growing, always improving.  Although it doesn't look like it, the programming of this website was a one-woman job.  When you're organized and you're determined to get your system to work for both your visitors and editors responsible for updating it, you can make magic!

So with this launch - my schedule just opened up.  If one of your corporate New Year's resolutions is to bring your website into the 21st century, drop me a line via my blogger profile or Facebook page.  Your company can benefit from a brand new solution made just for you.