ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.
Today’s guest bloggers are husband and wife Maury Shevin & Joyce Spielberger. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.
Having lived much of our lives outside of the City, why move into the City?
We’ve made our livings in the City of Birmingham, but so do many other non-residents.
So, what compelled us to want to make the City our home?
First, and foremost, we were done being in the suburban bubble.
We wanted to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Birmingham was on the cusp of a renaissance when we chose to move in. It was palpable. You could feel an excitement in the air.
Railroad Park had just opened. The Barons had announced that they would come back downtown once Regions Field was built. The plans for the Lyric, Parkside, Pizitz and the Innovation District were on drawing boards. Great restaurants were in the City, along with live theater. The excitement was and remains contagious.
And Birmingham is just the right size metropolitan area—big enough to have wonderful entertainment venues, yet small enough to be able to easily take advantage of them.
We were attracted to the Forest Park neighborhood, which is located on the north side of Red Mountain. Forest Park offers commanding views of the City. Like several other residential areas of our City, Forest Park has a great history, and sense of itself. We spent considerable time uncovering the history of our 94 year-old home, researching the Birmingham Library archives, corresponding with a previous owner and talking with long time Forest Park residents. As a result, our home now is listed on the Jefferson County Historical Commission Registry along with many homes throughout the City.
We embrace and wanted diversity–wanting to be around people not just like us. Our Birmingham neighborhood of Forest Park is all about inclusion and diversity—celebrating our differences, not running away from them. We have neighbors from every walk of life, and every color and persuasion. We wanted to be two threads in this beautiful tapestry. Our life here has exceeded every expectation that we had.
We wanted to reduce our carbon footprint—not having to get in a car every day. We can and do walk and bike to Lakeview, to the grocery, to our library, even to work. We frequently bike to Railroad Park via 1st Avenue South from Avondale, and along the new Rotary Trail. And, while our transit system leaves much to be desired, the fact is that #12 Highland runs in front of our house and lets Maury off in front of his office! Our savings on the cost of gasoline alone covers a few nice dinners each month at any one of our many neighborhood restaurants.
There is vibrancy to being a part of a metropolitan area that simply does not exist in suburbia. Our friend Gail Cosby talks of “unintentional meetings.” We know that ideas spring from encounters that naturally occur outside of your routine. Whether it is chance meetings at the Pizitz Food Hall, or at a poetry slam at the Downtown Library, or at a walk around UAB, or at a Movie in Avondale Park—this is where ideas spring from. Ideas come from the unanticipated encounters in life and the chance meetings with others.
And then there is the rough and tumble world of politics, that in a strange way, we find appealing. In Birmingham, politics is literally a contact sport, certainly not for the faint of heart. But, with every important civic and social step forward, there is a fight worth fighting. By being residents of Birmingham, we are in the middle of the game and most passionate about the outcomes —not merely giving advice from the sidelines.
And it should not go unsaid here: We read in AL.com some of the most appalling and bigoted comments about our political leadership. We have concerns too; but, our concerns aren’t based on myopic knowledge, regional jealousies and racial hatred. Seeing Birmingham from the inside, as opposed to seeing it from suburbia, gives a more complete view of the good and bad in living in an urban environment.
Finally, we have met so many good and inspiring people, who so care deeply for their city and its citizens. We would not trade our experiences and our lifestyle for suburbia. Come join us.
Joyce serves as a catalyst for new ideas and initiatives, often convening groups around her table. Maury practices law with Sirote & Permutt located on the Southside of Birmingham. Both are passionate about Birmingham.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org