On a recent day trip to Selma, Alabama a friend and I decided to drive through Greensboro, Alabama to have lunch at PieLab. I have been wanting try the restaurant for a while because they are especially known for their homemade pies. [Read more…] about Stop by PieLab in Greensboro, Alabama for a slice of pie, sense of community and joyful conversation
Visitors to the South can now literally walk the sacred ground of the Civil Rights movement with new U.S. Civil Rights Trail website launched on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Tourists will have the opportunity to tour areas pertinent to the Civil Rights Movement from the schools in Topeka, Kansas that were part of the 1954 desegregation case decided in Brown vs. Board of Education to the Lincoln Memorial, where the march for equality took place in 1963.
The trail allows visitors to experience places where blacks died at the hands of opponents to desegregation and which are scattered across the Deep South. The courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where in 1955, two white men accused of murdering 14-year-old Emmett Till walked free. This courthouse has been restored, as has the Jackson, Mississippi home where voting-rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963, just hours after President John Kennedy proposed major civil rights legislation. [Read more…] about Walk in footsteps of the Civil Rights Movement with new tourism website
I am always amazed at what captivates a child’s mind and attention. I took my six-year old niece to the McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham yesterday, and although I had been there many times before, I had never really experienced it through the eyes of a child her age. She was mesmerized by all of the activities and opportunities for experiencing the center not even knowing it was really science she was experiencing. Even though I had to explain to her what some of the things were, she still got into the activities. We played tug of war, we road a bicycle to produce electricity, she pretended like she was looking for fossils in an archaeological dig site and she played in an “itty bitty city” complete with a farm and a cow that she could milk. She was so fascinated by the pretend grocery store and diner where she took my order for a sandwich and pizza. Of course the role she loved best was the check out clerk who rang up groceries on a cash register. She also liked the mirrors that distorted her face and body when she looked in them. She challenged me also to hit a target with a tennis ball by pulling a rope tied to a weighted ball.
It was also fun seeing her interact with other children who she didn’t know. She and a little girl decided to build a castle and play ground out of the building blocks provided in one area. Soon two little girls working together became three.
She barely ate lunch because she was having so much fun and I had fun watching her have fun. I am thrilled she had a chance to learn something and she didn’t even know it.
After playing for three hours, we ventured across the street to the new Pizitz Food Hall. I am still in awe of the transformation Birmingham is going through. Walking into the Food Hall and smelling aromas of the food and seeing how it is laid out really and truly made me feel like I was not in Birmingham, but then and stopped to catch myself and said “yes this is really in Birmingham. ” It’s a gorgeously renovated building. I was most excited to see Warby Parker, an eye glass store with a sustainable mission, as one of the retailers of the building. I purposefully took my Warby Parker glasses with me to have them adjusted, corny I know (they really did need adjusted), but it was my excuse to go in to meet the people and to see the store. Afterwards as promised, my niece and I got ice cream from Lichita’s a Food Hall tenant whose “paletas are reminiscent of southern Mexico and are created using fresh fruit and quality ingredients from farmers markets and local sources.” (From the Pizitz Food Hall website).
It was such a fun day with the best six-year old I know.
I love music and anyone who knows me, knows this. In fact, I once said, if I had to do it all over again, my full time job would be in PR for either a record label or for bands. (Well I have worked with bands on their PR strategies in the past). I have to say that my love of music comes naturally, just riding in the car with my dad one could not help, but love music. I grew up listening to the sounds of Motown that’s the only music my dad allowed to be played in his car. I learned to appreciate Country music at my ma’am maw Kennedy’s house. When I stayed with my grandparents during the summers, our ritual was to watch The Grand Ole Opry reruns.
The City of Birmingham used to host a three-day music festival called City Stages and I would plan my summers around the event because I attended every night. The event was held in downtown Birmingham and included all genres of music. The 21-year event ended in 2009 after some financial trouble. After the event ended, to me it has felt like the City has been missing something with no major music festival to attend until last year when the Sloss Fest Entertainment and Music Festival began. The event was held at the historic landmark Sloss Furnaces and it didn’t disappoint. I got the opportunity to attend this year. The festival was a learning opportunity for me because I had not listened to the music of some of the bands that played.
Alabama has been on a fast track in the music industry lately so, it was exciting to again see Birmingham on display in the form of a music festival. Our city was filled to the brim with visitors from all over who converged to listen to bands such as Ben Harper, Death Cab for Cutie, Dylan LeBlanc and Ray Lamontagne.
The event took me back to the days when you could hardly move through the crowd at City Stages. In my opinion, an event like Sloss Fest only continues the positive renaissance and reboot of my hometown in the last couple of years. I tell people all of the time that I was a volunteer on committees for Operation New Birmingham and the things happening now are the things we WANTED to happen all those years ago when we talked about our city during committee meetings. How wonderful it is to see the transformation. Birmingham continues to receive accolades from all over about the quality of life, food scene and the strides it’s made in economic growth. Most who visit and spend any time in Birmingham come to know this, something I knew all along.
Proudly, I am one of the biggest cheerleaders of Birmingham, so my hat’s off to the organizers of Sloss Fest. Thank you also for bringing (back) a great music festival that adds more Magic to the Magic City.
Ironically it seems lately the only chance I get to be a tourist is when I travel to places on business. Last week I attended the College Media Conference in Washington, D.C. I was delighted to see that the conference was being held at a hotel on 16th Street Northwest which was only a couple of blocks away from Pennsylvania Ave. I lived in D.C. before, during, and after 9/11 and love going back there any chance I get.
It was inspiring to be back in D.C. I truly miss living there. I never get tired of visiting the monuments when I am there. Funny, when I lived there, I never really visited them unless I had visitors in from out-of-town, but for me, after experiencing 9/11 the monuments seem to represent resilience. Even though it has been almost 15 years since the attacks, to me it seemed like just yesterday. Those wonderful monuments represent our strength as a nation.
A colleague and I went to the Mall to see the monuments at dusk. They are truly majestic at the time of day when the sun is setting. It was good to see the Washington Monument open and repaired after the earthquake damaged it a few years ago. The monument is surrounded by 50 flags representing the 50 states. On Sunday, there was a breeze so they all were waving in the wind. I could see the Capitol still being renovated with scaffolding on one side and on the other I could see the WWII Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial off in the distance. The Washington Monument is in the Center of D.C. and memorializes and honors our nation’s first president, George Washington. The Mall as a whole is part of the National Park Service, which is celebrating its100th year. Moving down the mall towards the Lincoln Memorial, we went past the World War II Memorial which was opened in 2004 to honor the 16 million members of the Armed Forces and the more than 400,000 who lost their lives during that war.
We took the Reflecting Pool route to the Lincoln Memorial, which was complete with baby ducks and their mom. The sun was continuing to set as we moved toward the Lincoln Memorial, which created a beautiful direct view of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building down the Mall. The sunset on Sunday was just gorgeous One of my favorite things has always been to climb the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and turn around to see the sun’s reflection off of the monuments. It’s inspiring for me to visit this memorial because of all its history. According to the National Park Service website, the land on which the Lincoln Memorial sits did not exist until the Army Corp of Engineers deepened the Potomac River in the late 1800’s. The area was then used for the construction of the memorial. It was built to memorialize the 16th President and his leadership in saving the U.S. There are 36 columns around the building to represent the 36 states in the union at the tine of Lincoln’s death. On the steps of this memorial is where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech and the very spot where he stood is etched into the steps. One can take a virtual tour here.
Leaving the Lincoln Memorial, we went to the Vietnam Memorial, which to me is probably one the most haunting of the monuments, It contains the names of the service members who died and those who are missing. When visiting the wall one cannot help, but be a little emotional. The city I currently live in is bringing a replica of the Wall to display Jul 6-10.
On our way back to the hotel we passed the White House with lights brightly reflecting on it. Moving through Lafayette Park, I could see Saint John’s Episcopal Church (the President’s Church) just north of the park and it lights were also shining brightly I remember watching TV and seeing the elected presidents and their families walking to the church on Inauguration Day,
No matter what our political views are we cannot help but be in awe and inspired by the sites and history of this city. It was fun being in D.C. again, even if only for a brief moment.