Is Birmingham different than the Titanic?

Here’s a comment I received on my post, Let’s move to the suburbs and attack the City of Birmingham.  I was trying to make a point that our region has suffered because many of our affluent and well educated citizens have abandoned Birmingham—and then they amplify their abandonment by attacking the city for being poor and uneducated.

“I have lived in Moody most of my life and have never spent a night in the Birmingham City limits. There are a lot of us who are 45 and under in this region that don’t have any childhood connections to the old city and have no feelings of nostalgia for some sort of lost homeland. We have no guilt for leaving because we did not leave.”

My goal is to encourage those of us in the suburbs (I live in Vestavia) to understand that what happens in Birmingham is important to everyone in our region and that we’re all dependent on Birmingham whether we like it or not.

In 1912, if you’d been been a first class passenger on the Titanic, do you think you would have gotten any less wet than than those in third class? It didn’t matter that you were wealthy, had a fancy state room, or were more educated than the lower class passengers. When the Titanic sank, you were just as dead.

Living in the Birmingham region, whether it’s in Moody or Vestavia impacts us all.

When we travel out of state and someone asks us where we’re from, we are going to respond “Birmingham.” I promise you that what people think of Birmingham is what they think of you. You can claim whatever municipality you want, but to outsiders you are from Birmingham.

And when companies consider moving to our region, they think “Birmingham.” This impacts our potential for jobs and increased standard of living.

It’s not as simple as saying, “I have never spent a night in Birmingham.” We are all “Birmingham.”

David Sher’s goal is to create a conversation on how to fix our fragmented and dysfunctional local government.

David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Content Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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9 thoughts on “Is Birmingham different than the Titanic?”

  1. *David, you are 100% correct with your observation. but how do we get others to see your point.  but all of these small municipalities, think its ok to be separate and apart.  How do we get people to realize that if we came together as one big city, Homewood, Vestavia, Mountainbrook, etc.  The city services would be cheaper, the entertainment would be diversified, and the public gardens and zoos would certainly have a better attendence.  I just want to know why things can’t come together, and everyone realize that there is power in numbers.  I am from New York, have a small business here, and have been here for 6 years.  I have not seen much change, but I am hopeful, nevertheless.

  2. David,

    You are absolutely correct.  When I travel and I am asked where I live – I respond – Helena, AL. Inevitably I get the “Where is that?”  When I tell them it is a suburb of Birmingham in Shelby County that all but ends the conversation. And to think the Birmingham metro area used to be the centerpiece in the South. Sadly, that is no more.

  3. *Birmingham has a history of greatness and now failure and corruption.  But it also is not unique in that many cities have lost their best and brightest to surburban rings, which leaves a core of poor and mostly black people. Notwithstanding that the City is predominantly Black, the theme of a recent race for Mayor was  about who was the “most” black. The needed conversation is not about the 1950s and 60s.    This morning’s headline regarding the lockout of the Birmingham city superintendent of schools by the quarrelsome school board only highlights how sorry the educational system is there.  I do know that there are many who care about the reputation of the place we say we are “from”, but just as many know that people, for the most part, move from pain and not towards it. I love to think of solutions, but there is no single solution to this national problem.

    1. Susan, there may not be one single solutions, but we need to begin a community conversation of the root cause, which is poor government structure. 37 municipalities in Jefferson Counter, no home rule, no single elected official from Jefferson County with the authority to act.

  4. Ha! Excellent points… unfortunately, each mulicipality in our region appears to see the other municipalities as competitors. We seem to behave like starving sharks swimming around in the same tank, just waiting to devour one another. Every time I see one municipality “steal” a major retailer or buisiness from another municipality, my heart breaks for the whole region. We are so busy fighting with ourselves, that we completely miss the opportunities to build our entire region to the benefit of everyone! Other cities love that we are so disconnected… they take advantage of our sibling rivalries. While we are fighting among ourselves for existing business, they are courting new business to come into and help grow their cities. Its a shame to see so many of what used to be our peer cities, skyrocketing ahead of us with growth and development.
    We need something specific that will bring us all together for a common cause, in order to begin the process of working collaboratively. If we can develop small, collaborative wins, then we can begin to build an atmosphere of trust, which will lead to further collaboration. WS

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