Faces of the 4th | Forrest Coley
By day, he is Forrest Coley: President of Fourth Ward Neighbors, licensed realtor, and experienced sales professional. By night, he is Forrest Coley: accomplished photographer, improv comedian, and crossfit athlete.
Originally from Steelton, Pennsylvania, “work brought me to Atlanta in 1996, but Atlanta kept me in Atlanta,” and now he represents Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) M, covering seven communities within the southeastern section of the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. Coley has lived in the neighborhood since 2000, where he’s witnessed all the changes-- anywhere from new businesses, to new demographics. “From abandoned homes with squatters, to million dollar homes, and to some, they might say that those folks are squatters too,” he jokes.
Coley describes himself as somewhat of a class clown. His humor is apparent in our conversations and it also stood out to Greg Evans, his predecessor. “I made a lot of noise in those meetings.” But that “noise” translated into passion, passion for the neighborhood, and passion for those who live in it. Evans provided some advice to the new O4W tenant, and that advice has stuck with him ever since: know the people that are on the street, get to know your neighbors, and get involved in the neighborhood. Kind of a “started from the bottom, now we’re here” moment, if you ask me.
“I moved here because I liked the house, not because I knew that the neighborhood was going to take off and do what its done. I love the O4W, and I love my neighbors. I have awesome, awesome, awesome -- and you can put awesome three times -- neighbors surrounding me, and we all look out for each other which I think is great. I think that it might be hard for me to find that elsewhere if I didn’t move into a community that’s just getting started.”
The Pennsylvania (excuse me) Atlanta* native quickly found a home in the Old Fourth Ward and was voted into his role two years after moving in. Since then, he has been President on and off for nine years, and has served as Chair for the NPU system for four years, Vice Chair for five, and secretary for one.
So what fuels the President/realtor/photographer/comedian/athlete? I know you’re curious. Thumbs Up Diner is his favorite Atlanta spot, but bacon, eggs over easy, grits with butter, salt and pepper -- “you have to say that because some people put sugar on them” -- and a piece of rye toast with cherry preserves always hits the spot. The official breakfast of “now we’re here” status! Heavier chocolate bodied coffee and talks about a peaberry blend from Papua New Guinea, whereas in the warmer months he enjoys an iced, fruity blend from Zambia that tastes like a grape Jolly Rancher. But one thing that remains constant: his appreciation for espresso.