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Series Looks At Changing American Dream

'Dispatches' will examine how Decatur and Avondale Estates adapt.


We're excited to inaugurate a new series for our Patch Readers: "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream."

Never has the American Dream been so shaky. Anybody who listens to the national media hears stories about American families, businesses, and neighbors adjusting to difficult times. National debates about unemployment, foreclosures, debt, religion, government and private enterprise all touch on the fundamental ways in which we see ourselves and our communities.

At Patch, we want to explore that conversation on a daily basis so we can better understand how our neighbors are adjusting to the challenges and opportunities that surround us.

At the purely local level, we want to know where we, as neighbors in and Avondale Estates, fit along these fault lines.

For instance, education is a major subject across the nation. In Decatur, the city school system is growing by leaps and bounds. The student body is 11 percent bigger than last year and the system just opened a brand new 4/5 academy. That's exciting, but how will the school system maintain quality while dealing with this kind of growth? Will taxes rise? Will class sizes expand?

In Avondale Estates, education is also a hot topic, but the discussion is different. Many Avondale kids attend private schools. Those that do go to public schools feel abandoned because DeKalb County closed the local high and middle schools in a system-wide downsizing. What does this mean for the spirit of the community? How will those students fit in at new schools?

Looking out across nearly almost 900 Patch sites, we see businesses holding their breath deciding whether to expand; college graduates returning home because they can't find jobs; and senior citizens bringing boarders into their homes to help pay their bills. Everybody is nervous about what happens next.

But we're optimistic. We also see bold new volunteer efforts, inspiring stories of local businesses that succeed because they innovated, and locals who've taken these trying times as a signal to engage more, not less, in their government.

"Dispatches" will be built upon the compelling vignettes and snapshots we unearth across all of our Patch sites.

And, of course, we want your help: Tell us what issues and what stories in Decatur and Avondale Estates go to the heart of your American Dream.

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