Marks Law Group LLC October 2019




G ardening is an incredibly therapeutic exercise. It gets people out in the sun, engaging with the environment and working with their hands. Gardeners get the satisfaction of taking care of another living thing — and that becomes much more satisfying when you can’t take care of yourself. This is the basis of horticultural therapy and the goal of Trellis Horticultural Therapy Alliance’s services. We want to help people with disabilities of all ages and demographics discover the joy of helping something live and grow. As the caretaker of a person with a disability, I understand firsthand how beneficial something like gardening can be. In February of 2014, my daughter Lydia was hit by a car and suffered a severe head injury or traumatic brain injury. After she was released from the hospital three months later, she couldn’t eat, walk, or speak. I resigned from my job as a grant writer at Georgia Tech and became her full-time caregiver. This experience helped me gain a better understanding of the challenges people with disabilities face every day and what they need in an attempt to feel whole and included. At the time of Lydia’s accident, I was already a student of the Horticultural Therapy Institute where I met Wendy Battaglia and found we had a shared passion. We wanted to start our own horticultural therapy practice, and, right after we received our horticultural therapy certification, we got to work to make it happen. It took a few years to get everything off the ground, but we officially launched the nonprofit Trellis in December of 2017. Over the past couple of years, we’ve worked with people in mental health treatment, special education students, at-risk youth, and senior populations in the metro Atlanta area. While

we enjoy working with a variety of populations, at some point, we’ll have to take a step back and really dial in our scope, but for now, we love introducing whomever we can to the therapeutic properties of gardening. People in these groups, especially those living with cognitive impairment, like my daughter, are often isolated, and getting them involved in group activities can help them break out of that environment and find a community with shared interests. Some of our other projects have included Grounded in Gardening, where we design wheelchair accessible gardens to make it possible for someone in a wheelchair to garden in their backyard independently. One of our newer programs, the Give Back Garden, provides organic farming skills to incarcerated women to help them learn skills that can help them when they’re released. We also do a lot of work with senior communities, some of whom don’t have an outdoor space. We lead workshops on herbs, flower arrangements, pressed flower art — you name it, and we’ve probably done it. It’s hard when we can’t do any actual gardening with them, but tapping into that human desire to continually learn through connecting with nature even when they’re getting older is invaluable. I love seeing the impact that horticultural therapy can have on people, but running a nonprofit takes a lot of work. Not only are Wendy and I designing and leading all the projects but also we’re in charge of raising funds for our cause. After Lydia’s accident, Aaron Marks negotiated with the insurance companies to make sure we received just compensation from the accident. He called me about a year later to ask how we were doing. I told him about starting up Trellis, and he soon became one of our first funders. Since then, he’s always taken an interest in what we do to improve the life of others. It’s challenging getting a nonprofit off the ground, but having supporters behind you who are passionate about serving the community makes it that much easier. We’re thankful that Marks Law Group helps us bring horticultural therapy to people in the Atlanta area. –Rachel Cochran

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The health benefits of raw organic honey, which include soothing sore throats, lowering cholesterol, and treating skin wounds, have been embraced by many members of the holistic health community for decades. But with the rapid decline of the bee population in recent years, humans’ use of honey has become more controversial. According to the New York Bee Sanctuary, bees (not just honey-makers) are disappearing for several reasons, but one of the most unfortunate contributors is the honey industry. In order to mass-produce commercial honey products, many factories have resorted to industrialized beekeeping practices, which have been deemed unethical by animal activist groups because they strip hives of their honey storage, starving the bees through the winter months. This practice, along with soil contamination and a viral infection spread by mites, led to the devastating loss of 40% of all bee colonies last year. Because most bees are pollinators, they play a crucial role in helping plants reproduce. Without the bees playing their part in this natural process, approximately 30% of the world’s crops won’t flourish. Fortunately, you can help strengthen the bee population in a few ways from your own home. First, try to avoid purchasing any commercialized honey products of questionable quality and provenance. Instead, look for raw local honey at a farmer’s market. That way, you can meet the beekeeper to determine if their honey- rendering practices are sustainable. Then, by purchasing their product, you are helping fund their hive and enrich the local bee population. You can also plant a garden full of bee-friendly plants, like honeysuckle, strawberries, sunflowers, and cosmos, to give the bees in your community more pollen sources. Additionally, if you notice dandelions growing in your garden, leave them. They are a great food source for bees, especially in early spring before other plants have started blooming. While honey has many excellent health properties, bees are far more vital to the world’s sustainability. Do your part to help their population by researching, spreading awareness, and thinking before you shop for honey. AND GIVE HONEY A SECOND THOUGHT BE ALL YOU CAN BEE

For the past year or so, Atlanta has been one of the countless American cities caught up in the e-scooter trend. As Lime, Bird, Jump, and all sorts of other scooter brands have begun hitting the streets, our city has experienced some growing pains as it struggles to accommodate this new mode of transportation. And while some very real dangers exist with e-scooters, here are a few tips to help you scoot around town more safely. WATCH OUT FOR CARS The cars and their imperfect drivers likely do not see you. They are constantly distracted and in a hurry. This is Atlanta! Being on an e-scooter can be a lot of fun, but you need to watch out for cars and always assume they are not watching out for you. WEAR A HELMET The scooters don’t come with a helmet, and so far, no law says you have to wear one (if you’re 18 or older), but there is wisdom in treating your e-scooter like a bike or even a motorcycle. Head injuries are a very real risk with e-scooters, and wearing a helmet, even if you’re an adult, can help mitigate that risk. WATCH OUT FOR BIKES Cyclists commute to work, school, and home at all hours. Chances are if there are e-scooters, bicycles are nearby. Be aware of your surroundings and always look both ways before entering a roadway — a cyclist could be right behind you! ALWAYS RIDE SOLO If one of your friends doesn’t have the right app, it might be better to just walk or drive wherever you’re going. E-scooters are built to handle one passenger at a time, and putting more people on the scooter than the design intended drastically increases the risk of an accident. Don’t add danger to an already dangerous activity. Ride solo. More and more people are injured every year from e-scooter accidents with vehicles, pedestrians, and other e-scooters. The need for safer roads, less-distracted drivers, and a less-dangerous way to navigate our city has never been greater. Until those larger issues are addressed, we all must take a breath, look around, and travel responsibly.



In July, a group of 55 protesters made a show of support for better infrastructure and safer roads to better accommodate bikes and e-scooters. Meanwhile, the family of an Atlanta man who was killed by a car while riding an e-scooter is pushing to get e-scooters banned from city roads. Stories like this are not limited to just Atlanta. Ever since e-scooters appeared overnight on city street corners, their popularity has grown, along with the number of injuries and fatalities associated with them. So, what are the arguments for keeping them around, and what are the arguments for banning them altogether?

The primary arguments in favor of e-scooters are their eco-friendliness and their convenience. Proponents of the e-scooter trend argue they are a greener form of transportation and having them as an alternative mode of transportation, especially in crowded city centers, can ease traffic congestion. Saving time and saving the environment can be powerful motivators to keep e-scooters around, especially for younger generations. The arguments against e-scooters cite a lack of regulation and a lack of adequate safety measures as the main reasons for scrapping their use altogether. Most e-scooter regulation has had to come after-the-fact, and in worst-case scenarios, after serious accidents. Haphazard placement of

the scooters on the sidewalks angered pedestrians before the Atlanta City Council started imposing fines on scooter companies for blocking walking paths. At the same time, the scooters themselves are not immune to mechanical failures. One Atlanta woman ended up with 15 stitches in her face after her e-scooter’s manual break failed, and she slammed into some wrought-iron railing. Despite the e-scooter’s purported benefits, many cities are imposing regulations on e-scooter companies, and some cities are banning their use altogether. Users should know the laws and the dangers. If you’re ever in an accident involving an e-scooter, be sure to call Marks Law Group for a free consultation for your case.




1. Put all the ingredients in the blender. 2. Put the top on tightly. Turn on the blender to medium speed and blend until mixture is smooth, 30–60 seconds. 3. Divide the smoothie equally between two glasses and serve right away, or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours. • 3⁄4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries • 3⁄4 cup plain yogurt • 3⁄4 cup orange juice, milk, or water • 1 large overripe banana, sliced (and frozen, if possible) • 2 ice cubes (if using nonfrozen fruit) DIRECTIONS

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The Story of Trellis Horticultural Therapy Alliance


Be All You Can Bee


Check Out These E-Scooter Safety Tips!


The Benefits and Drawbacks to E-Scooters


Berry Bold Banana Smoothie


Learn About Your Gut-Brain Axis


While it may seem strange to think about, the human stomach is truly a thing of wonder. Most humans only acknowledge its digestive processes, but the gut plays a much more influential role in our day-to-day lives than simply breaking down food for nutrient production; it is closely connected to our emotional states, as well. Think about it. Have you ever felt butterflies before a date, intestinal pain during moments of stress, or nausea before an important presentation? Have you ever told someone to “follow their gut” before making a big decision? These physical symptoms are not a coincidence; they are known in the scientific world as the gut-brain axis .

Your gut is connected to the limbic system, the part of the brain that processes emotions. The brain sends messages to all other organs in your body, so it’s not surprising it communicates with your stomach, too. What is surprising, however, is that the connection goes both ways. Just as your brain can relay information to your gut about excitement and anxiety, your gut can have a direct impact on the way you feel. According to a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine, when a person’s microbiome — the diverse population of good and bad bacteria living in the GI tract — becomes significantly altered or imbalanced,

psychological or neurological issues can arise. In response to these emerging findings, dietary approaches and probiotics are being explored to see how well they can modulate a person’s microbiome and address symptoms. While research is still being conducted to determine the extent of the stomach’s influence over emotional and mental states, plenty of evidence proves the connection is real. Your stomach “talks” to you all the time, and, if you didn’t have enough reasons to pay attention to the food you eat, now you have one more thing to keep in mind. If you start thinking a bit more with your gut, your health will thank you for it!


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