Birmingham–the city too confused to hate

Mi Pueblo

Mi Pueblo

There’s no way my wife and I could have been prepared for our first visit to Mi Pueblo—the new 44,186-square-foot multicultural supermarket that recently opened on Green Springs Highway.

The store is bright, clean, and stacked high with fresh meats and poultry, fresh seafood and fish with products from all over the world.  My guess is that Mi Pueblo does more business in a day than the Food World it replaced did in a week. Continue reading

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Time to write a new story for Birmingham

Duanna Pang-Dokland

Duanna Pang-Dokland

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Duanna Pang-Dokland.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

Have you seen the billboard or heard the saying, “Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights?” According to Luis Ubinas, former president of the Ford Foundation, 40 years ago cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston and Seattle were broke, had drastic unemployment and residents were leaving. They were considered dying cities. Since then, these cities have rewritten their stories and rebounded.  They are comeback towns.

But before our minds fly to the idea that Birmingham is different from these cities, or that changes that occurred in those cities cannot be replicated here, I invite us to stay open to the whisper of possibility and to live each day in Birmingham beyond business as usual.
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Is Birmingham destined to become a suburb of Atlanta?

The Southeast in 2060

The Southeast in 2060

Folks in Birmingham squabble a lot, but there’s one thing we agree on —none of us want Birmingham to become another Atlanta.

Because the growth of metropolitan Birmingham has been so slow, I haven’t spent much time worrying about Birmingham getting too big.  In fact, I’ve been much more concerned about Birmingham staying the size of Birmingham.

Then I read that researchers from North Carolina State project that the South’s explosive growth rate for the past 60 years will continue and metropolitan Birmingham could be part of an “urban megalopolis” by 2060. Continue reading

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4 Reasons Birmingham may be the Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

My daughter, Melanie, and I finished lunch at Niki’s West and drove onto I-65 from Finley Avenue towards downtown.

Suddenly the car ahead started swerving side to side.  Then it veered to the left, hit the concrete barricade, and reversed direction hitting us head on.  By the time we made impact both cars were moving slowly and fortunately no one was hurt.

But what happened next was truly remarkable. Continue reading

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What Birmingham can learn from Ferguson Missouri

St. Louis

St. Louis

In September of 2002 Dave Adkisson, the then President of our Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce (now BBA), and I got up for an early morning jog.  We were two of approximately one hundred Birmingham political and community leaders who had traveled to St. Louis to learn about the city and the Edward Jones Dome—home of the St. Louis Rams.

It was really dark and foggy that morning and we got lost.  When we asked some local joggers for directions, they were curious  as to why we were in St. Louis.

When we told them we came to learn about their city, they responded with an incredulous, “You want to learn about St. Louis?” Continue reading

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Did I make a mistake by moving back to Birmingham?

Javacia Harris Bowser

Javacia Harris Bowser

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Javacia Harris Bowser.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

“I dwell in Possibility.” – Emily Dickinson

What made you want to come back to Birmingham?

A few months ago someone asked me that question and I realized I didn’t know how to answer it.

I’m a Birmingham native who first left the city just to travel about 45 minutes up the road to Tuscaloosa where I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama. But for graduate school I went nearly 3,000 miles away from home to the University of California at Berkeley. I spent a bit of time in Seattle, Washington, and then I got married and settled down in Louisville, Kentucky for several years.

But Birmingham always brings you back. Continue reading

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Can Birmingham survive without Uber?

UberI’ve never seen anything like this Uber thing.

People regularly challenge me to write about specific topics relating to Birmingham, but the interest in Uber is beyond insane.

I’ve been bombarded by e-mails from folks supporting Uber and describing Birmingham City Councilor Kim Rafferty as the Evil Witch of the West.

I believe many folks have determined the Uber decision will define the future of Birmingham.

Under great pressure, I write about Uber knowing that many of you may be unhappy with my perspective.

Continue reading

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WOW! The response took my breath away

Lee Thuston

Lee Thuston, Managing Partner, Burr & Forman

Ty Dodge

Ty Dodge, President & CEO, RealtySouth

I never could have predicted this would happen.

When we started talking about a better metropolitan Birmingham with an emphasis on government structure, no one took us seriously.

Now in a short 30 months, dialogue about government structure and particularly government consolidation has moved to the top of the list.

The Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) recently unveiled its list of Birmingham’s most influential executives and ran the following poll, “Which issue should Birmingham’s Most Influential Executives address? Continue reading

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The worst thing to happen to America and Birmingham

Alabama's 6th Congressional District

Alabama’s 6th Congressional District

I attended Gary Palmer’s victory celebration at the Birmingham Marriott and I was blinded by the “white.”  There may have been an African-American there, but I didn’t see one.  This should not be a surprise since Alabama’s 6th Congressional District is 88.8% white and 7.7% African-American. Continue reading

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Birmingham: much richer than you think

Rotary Trail

Rotary Trail

Have you ever heard someone say, “Birmingham’s limited because we don’t have the wealth of other cities?”

That’s just not true.

Many of us think of Birmingham as this impoverished town with low wages and a poor standard of living.  But the facts and actions of our citizens tell another story.

I first got a hint of Birmingham’s wealth when the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) hired Market Street Services to prepare its strategic plan.  One of the statistics presented was income per capita—a number I expected to be low–but I was wrong. Continue reading

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