This fall will be exactly 10 years since I moved home to Birmingham from Washington, D.C. I spent most of the early 2000’s living there including 9/11. I don’t regret the decision of moving home for the most part, but I would not be telling the truth, if I didn’t say I miss living in D.C. sometimes. The main reason for the move home was to be closer to my parents, and especially my mom who was faced with and now managing an illness.
My life in Birmingham before moving was a lot like my life now, I volunteered for several community organizations. Operation New Birmingham was one organization that worked I with on a regular basis. The mission of Operation New Birmingham was to promote commercial activity in Birmingham’s city center and interracial cooperation in public affairs. The organization also had a master plan for the revitalization of downtown Birmingham. I recall sitting in a number of meetings that discussed the plan for transforming downtown. Something that I believed was desperately needed if we were going to be a competitive Southern city. This plan in my view was just a lot of discussion and no real action at the time. Admittedly I was just a volunteer and not in the inner circle of those who would ultimately make this plan a reality. I felt like many people probably felt at the time that these were just dreams that would never come true.
To my surprise since I have moved back I see Birmingham is undergoing a Renaissance. Some of the things we discussed in our meetings at ONB are now becoming a reality. I have always been a cheerleader of Birmingham. Always. Growing up here, you know that the images of the dogs and water hoses that are constantly portrayed in the national news media are not what this city is all about in today’s world. In my opinion, we are a true Southern city with a past that is making a remarkable transformation into a city of the future. Everyone is working together for the most part to make this city a great place.
Just this last week, we saw the reopening of the Lyric Theatre, a landmark that was almost lost to decay and threatened at one time to be destroyed. We have a number of businesses opening in the north area of downtown. We have the beautiful Railroad Park to the south of town that with along the recent announcement of the movement forward of the 750 Mile Trail around Birmingham will make us one of the cities with the most parks and greenspace in the southeast. Regions Field has sparked a wealth of development also in that area of downtown. The Avondale neighborhood’s economic development plan has placed the city on the map for new and hip restaurants, coffee shops and music venues that have been written up in national publications and blogs. And then there will be opportunity for Birmingham to shine on the world stage in 2021 when we host the World Games.
From what I see we are a city that has learned to embrace our heartbreaking past so we can thrive in the future. I’d say we are thriving in big way and I am happy to say that it is much more than I thought we ever would when I volunteered all of those years ago.