2,675 pieces of graffiti splattered all over downtown

Teresa Thorne

Teresa Thorne Executive Director of City Action Partnership (CAP)

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

Today’s guest blogger is Teresa Thorne.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

2,675 pieces of graffiti were splattered all over downtown Birmingham last year–but you didn’t see any of them. That’s because our CAP officers removed them almost instantaneously.

Can you imagine what downtown Birmingham would look like if we hadn’t been removing graffiti from walls, signs, and power boxes for the past 19 years?

I’ve spent most of my adult life in Birmingham, and I feel we rarely take the time to celebrate our successes. Continue reading

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It must SUCK to be a Birmingham hater

Rotary Trail

Rotary Trail

It must be depressing to be a Birmingham hater.

You guys can’t seem to get a break.

You can bitch and moan about Birmingham all you want, but the tide has turned against you.

It looks like “doodoo Birmingham,” one of our regular al.com anti-Birmingham commenters is in doodoo–himself.

We have been overrun with so much good news about Birmingham, it’s difficult to keep track.

Even our crime numbers are in free fall.

Birmingham’s 2013 crime numbers lowest in 30 years

Yes, this is the “lowest (serious crime) number reported since the FBI started tracking the numbers in its Uniform Crime Reporting data almost 30 years ago.”

Birmingham haters click on the headlines below and weep:  Continue reading

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UAB the biggest and best hope for Birmingham

Mike Warren

Mike Warren, CEO Children’s of Alabama

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

Today’s guest blogger is Mike Warren.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

My name is Mike Warren.

I grew up in Auburn, attended schools there, and graduated from Auburn University.  I received my law degree from Duke and I’ve joyfully lived in Birmingham ever since.

My first Birmingham job was with a major law firm and then I joined one of its largest clients, Alabama Gas.  I eventually became Chairman and CEO of Energen, Alabama Gas’ parent company.

When I retired from Energen at the end of 2007, I became the CEO of Children’s of Alabama.

I tell you this to give you a sense of how long I’ve worked in our business community.   I’ve witnessed first-hand Birmingham’s wins and some of our biggest disappointments.  And though I love Birmingham, I join many others who feel Birmingham has never reached its full potential. Continue reading

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I send my daughter to Birmingham Schools—and love it

Laura Gallitz

Laura Gallitz

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

Today’s guest blogger is Laura Gallitz.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

David Sher’s provocative title “I’ll do anything to help B’ham schools except send my kids there,” appeared in my Facebook feed. It worked. I clicked. I read. I started reading comments, and I was compelled to comment as well. Sher wrote, “If people are serious about helping our inner city children, then they should invite those children into their school systems…Or they should send their children to Birmingham schools and then fight like hell to make them better.”

I wanted to take a moment to say that some of us are doing exactly that. Continue reading

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Birmingham: Why do we continue to embarrass ourselves?

Birmingham Water Works

Some folks want me to take sides in the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) squabble, but that’s not my role.  My role as publisher of ComebackTown is to place a spotlight on why we continue to put ourselves in such embarrassing situations.

For those of you who don’t know about the controversy, some folks in our State Legislature have determined that the BWWB is broken.  They want to increase the size of the board to bring about broader regional representation, implement term limits, cap board member compensation, and require public hearings before proposed rate increases. Continue reading

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Why do we apologize for Birmingham?

David Dionne

David Dionne, Executive Director of Red Mountain Park

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

Today’s guest blogger is David Dionne.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

I moved to Birmingham in 2008, coming from a great job in Maryland where I was building and operating parks and trails.  I was lured to Birmingham after receiving a phone call about an opportunity at Red Mountain Park in Birmingham.  My knowledge of Birmingham was pitiful so I began to confirm the information provided by the recruiter.  First, I was astounded to learn that Birmingham was in the mountains.  Then I was delighted to find a city filled with outstanding restaurants, world-class hospitals, six universities, art museums, an excellent orchestra and an overall great quality of life. Continue reading

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I’ll do anything to help B’ham schools except send my kids there

David Sher

David Sher

On March 1st I attended a TEDxBirmingham event at the Alys Stephens Center.  Fifteen speakers gave passionate speeches with the common theme to rediscover the magic of Birmingham. Quite frankly, it was an event I will never forget.

One of the speakers, Victoria Hollis, who’s the Program Manager at the Birmingham Education Foundation (ED), urged the audience to take ownership of Birmingham Schools.  She gave the analogy of a small child falling down on the playground. She said even though the child wasn’t yours, you would still rush over and pick the child up.  At the completion of her talk, the audience gave her an enthusiastic standing ovation.

A friend, who was sitting next to me, tapped me on the shoulder and implored me to go home and write a blog for ComebackTown about Victoria and her talk.

This is that blog.  But it’s not the blog my friend thought I would write. Continue reading

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Young professional: I choose Birmingham ’cause I can make a difference

Samantha Dubrinsky

Samantha Dubrinsky

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

Today’s guest blogger is Samantha Dubrinsky .  We love to hear from young professionals.   If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

Sometimes, coming back from vacation can be tough. Spending time away from work can produce a completely full inbox of emails and many voicemails to return, but it’s nice to get away and take some time to relax every now and then.

I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Canada where I got to see some of my friends who I met on my Birthright trip to Israel last February. Birthright is a free trip to Israel for young Jewish adults ages 18-26. Connecting with them was great! I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to see them again, but I left Canada feeling a little uneasy. Continue reading

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What would Birmingham look like without UAB–Anniston?

UAB To compare Birmingham with no UAB to Anniston is an unfair exaggeration and I apologize to the good citizens of Anniston.  I could have selected any mid-sized city, but I Googled “cities in Alabama” and Anniston came to the top alphabetically.

Visualize Birmingham without UAB.  Exit the Red Mountain Expressway at University Avenue (without UAB–it would be 8th Avenue South) and drive west.

What would we see in place of the 86 square blocks occupied by UAB? Continue reading

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Single father sees Birmingham through rose colored glasses

Shariff Simmons

Sharrif Simmons

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

Today’s guest blogger is Sharrif Simmons.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

I’m not originally from Birmingham. I was born on Long Island, New York, raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, studied at Ealing College in West London, had a  brief stay in Atlanta, even lived in Tampa Bay for a while, but when I moved to Birmingham in 2004, I decided to stay. Making Birmingham my new home was motivated by several factors, the most important of which, being a single father to a preternaturally gifted child, was to pursue a course of action that would nurture his talents and provide him, at the very least, a competitive education in a developing community. I use the word developing here, because when I arrived 10 years ago, Birmingham was not the city it is today. Continue reading

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