Why should I have to move back into Birmingham?

I hear these comments regularly…

“Good column, David, but I’m perplexed why you choose to live outside Birmingham.”

“If you love Birmingham so much, why don’t you move there?”  

“Sher, you don’t live in Birmingham.  Why should anyone pay attention to you?”

I grew up in Birmingham, but I’ve never kept it a secret that I currently live in Vestavia Hills.

This blog is not about the City of Birmingham.  When I talk about “Birmingham,” I’m referring to metro Birmingham.

If I lived in Nashville, Jacksonville, Charlotte, or Louisville, I would already be living within the city limits.  We’ve concocted this dysfunctional maze of everyone out for themselves municipalities.

The objective of ComebackTown is to begin a discussion on better government for our region.  Vestavia Hills, just like Trussville, Homewood, Hoover, Fairfield, etc. are all located in the area we call Birmingham.

We define cities in metro Birmingham as black/white; rich/poor; educated/poorly educated. Mt. Brook is white, rich, and educated.  Vestavia Hills is white, rich, educated.  Cities like Birmingham or Fairfield are black, poor, and uneducated.  Doesn’t seem fair or productive, and it should make us angry, but I think you would agree this is the perception of some.

We have a great quality of life, but we are unable to compete with our peer Southern cities.  This costs us jobs and we’re losing our children and grandchildren to Austin, Dallas, Nashville, and Charlotte.

It’s plain dumb to think that if we want a better Birmingham, we should all have to move back into the “City.”

There are 200,000 people living in the City of Birmingham.  There are 650,000 people in Jefferson County.  It would be unrealistic to expect 450,000 people to sell their homes and call moving vans.  I’m certainly not moving out of my house.

When you travel out of state and someone asks where you’re from, most of us answer “Birmingham.”

Folks out of state have never heard of Trussville, Homewood, or even Hoover and they don’t care about our nondescript cities.

We are defined by our home residence—and that, my friends, whether you like it or not, is Birmingham.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP). 

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9 thoughts on “Why should I have to move back into Birmingham?”

  1. David, thanks for creating a dialogue about how to improve metro Birmingham. We just tried to sell our house in Vestavia and move to downtown Birmingham. Couldn’t find a buyer for our house or a condo downtown for the right price, but it’s still our dream.

  2. *Virginia & Will, ComebackTown has never been a matchmaker before.  Hope this works out for you guys.  If it does, please let me know.

  3. *Hello All

    Everything positive that’s been said about Charlotte is true. It is a cultural and financial powerhouse. However, we were commuting from there to Birmingham every couple of weeks to visit the grandchildren so we bought a townhouse in Mountain Brook. At that time, we really had no intention of moving here. We soon realized that the ‘Birmingham’ community is exceptionally warm and welcoming. We sold the Mountain Brook home and moved permanently to the downtown. It’s proved to be a wonderful decision and we couldn’t be happier. I invite all of you ‘over-the-mountaineers’ to come down to take a look. I promise that you’ll be impressed.


    Sidney Conn

  4. *David have you put a plan together to dissolve the city/suburb governments and form a regional government? If so it would be great to see the plan. Have you proposed dissolving Vestavia Hills in order to be either unincorporated or annexed as part of the Magic city? Why not start in your own backyard.

    My point is this David, talk is cheap. Put a master plan together and allow the people of the region to discuss it. Like anything else the plan will either pass or fail on its merits. Present your plan to the county, city, and all suburbs. Have town hall meetings where you can share your vision/plan with citizens. Present your plan and then sell your plan to folks. But until you are willing to put some “skin in the game” by putting a plan out there, people will dismiss this idea as nothing more than a “pie in the sky” idea.


    1. *John, thanks for your note.  I welcome feedback–both positive and negative. We only have one intent in publishing http://www.ComebackTown.com.  And that is to begin a discussion about a better Birmingham–concentrating on government structure.  

      Until enough people understand that the root cause of our problems is our government structure, there is no reason to generate solutions.

      That being said, Jeffrey Bayer wrote a guest blog with an idea.  It’s actually gotten some traction.  https://www.comebacktown.com/2013/07/30/jeffrey-bayer-an-idea-that-could-will-fix-birmingham/

      I’m sure there will be many more suggestions, but we must build a base of our community who understands the reason for change.

      Please continue to comment and give feedback.

  5. My wife and I have actually looked into moving to downtown Birmingham. Unfortunately we live in the best bedroom community in the metro area – Helena. Our custom designed and built house sits on Buck Creek in Old Town Helena (my wife designed the house and was our general contractor – lot of sweat equity) so it is unlikely we will ever move.

    Having said that I agree with you – until we have a unified metro government the area will continue to lag behind similar cities like Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, etc. I would love to see a proposed plan that could make that happen in my lifetime.

    David, keep up the good work. I believe in you and your mission.

  6. *Henry, it is always good to hear from you.  As I said in my blog, I’m not recommending that everyone move back into the City–though I have good friends who have.  Actually, I don’t have a specific recommendation.  As you said in your comments, other cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Jacksonville, and Louisville have consolidated govertnments and they are killing us.

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