Photo by Noah Washington/The Atlanta Voice

Equipped with gloves and masks, volunteers gathered on Sunday, January 14, 2024, to participate in the “Spin The Block” event. A community service project aimed at cleaning the streets of downtown beginning at the Forsyth and Brotherton intersection, “Spin the Block,” began that morning. 

“Before I had the studio, I was just a photographer,” said founder and owner of Cam Kirk Studios,  Cam Kirk. “But when I opened up the studio six and a half years ago, I just met so many young creators, I met so many real people from the city, and it just inspired me to want to build a community around our business.”

“Spin the Block” serves as a predecessor to the studio’s “Yesterday’s Tomorrow” conference on MLK Day, which has featured comedian D.C Youngfly, Ryan Wilson, CEO & Co-Founder of The Gathering Spot, and artist-musician J.I.D. Entry to the conference is now facilitated through community cleanup participation. 

Photo by Noah Washington/The Atlanta Voice

Spin The Block first came into action in 2019 and has been a regularly recurring event happening every quarter since, with Cam Kirk adopting Forsyth and Brotherton streets. “All the blue and black trash cans and recycling bins, we put those out there. We put 25 different recycling bins and trash cans. The first recycling to exist on the street, just encouraging people to know the difference between trash and going green,” said Kirk.

Volunteers, including Ebony Watson from Stone Mountain, a psych coordinator from the Sync Community Learning Center in Decatur, who decided to volunteer after seeing Shelly Nicole Andrews’ Instagram post, the president of the Cam Kirk Foundation. “I love cleaning up our community, cleaning up trash. People live on the streets and if we make it cleaner for them, it’ll do something to make the world a better place,” said Watson.

Larger groups, such as the “New Look” Leadership Academy, Usher’s youth-oriented leadership organization, also engaged with the community. DeniséAnn Malcolm, assistant program coordinator for the New Look Foundation, emphasized the importance of disconnecting from technology and fostering a sense of ownership in the city through activities like cleaning up trash. Malcolm praised Cam Kirk’s unique impact on the community, stating, “There’s something special about Cam Kirk, something special about what he’s doing in the city. That’s why we chose this particular event to come to.”

Reflecting on the significance of community leaders giving back, Malcolm expressed appreciation for Kirk’s humility and involvement, “It’s great to see when people like Cam Kirk are doing something positive in the community. He’s super connected with the community. He’s super humble, really big about connecting and making sure that people get opportunities,” said Malcolm. 

The event, sponsored by Athlete’s Foot, was attended by executive Darius Billings, Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement, who spoke about the company’s commitment to community involvement. “Athletes Foot is all about being a part of something bigger than sneakers, participating in initiatives like ‘Spin The Block,’ and keeping our communities clean aligns with our values,” said Billings. He continued by stating what sets Athlete’s Foot apart from other corporations is their tangible commitment to action and emphasizing that community care goes beyond mere sponsorship, “People think philanthropy, you have to be rich, right? It’s not about that. It’s about time, it’s just as important as money. So for these young people to be out here and donating their time, all the while, wanting to do better in the community and wanting to do things,” said Billings.

Billings, accompanied by his 8-year-old son, Baker, expressed the desire to set an example, “I want my son to see everything I do because that’s how we develop young men,” Billings told The Atlanta Voice.

Speaking on the importance of taking ownership in the community, Kirk further stated, “This is our community. This is our home. It’s important for me to ensure when people come here and when they create at our studio, that they feel welcomed by the environment, the atmosphere, and they feel warm. I can’t wait for anybody else to do it. It’s our community, we get together and we do it ourselves,” Kirk told The Atlanta Voice.