In the fall of 2011, Angel Poventud took me for a walk on what would become the Eastside Trail of the BeltLine. It was under construction at the time, so Poventud gave me a hard hat and explained that we really weren’t supposed to be there officially, but no one seemed to be throwing us off. The bridge over Ponce de Leon hadn’t been fixed yet – we had to be careful where we stepped, and you could see between some of the planks down to the street. The old Sears building was still a derelict hulk.
As you can hear in this brief conversation I recorded, Poventud had the vision to see what this trail would mean and could become. His explanation on this tape is astute. At that point, he had bought an old house in the Adair Park neighborhood, right on the BeltLine, but hadn’t begun to fix it up, so he wasn’t living there yet. On his phone, though, his answering machine said, “This is Angel of the BeltLine.” And he really did seem angelic, especially in a photo I took of him in the middle of a tunnel, with the sun shining through his Afro turning it into a kind of halo. Of course, I hadn’t seen him roller-skating in his green dress, though I would later spend a day biking all over Atlanta with him and his friends, and I would spend the night in that house in Adair Park once it was renovated.