The world of my contemporaries—folks 50, 60, 70 years old who are generally happy with the status quo.
And the world of 20, 30, and 40 year olds—who are desperate for change.
I make some of my contemporary friends nervous.
Many of my peers wish I would go away…or at least shut up.
They are happy with their lives and their life style.
They say things will never change in Birmingham because there’s no need for change.
Of course they lose their children and grandchildren to more progressive cities—but seem to take that for granted.
Then there are my younger friends.
They want to build careers, find exciting jobs, or grow a business.
Many are fearful of having to leave Birmingham for opportunities elsewhere.
They don’t understand our older generation’s lack of community ambition.
They can’t relate to their parents’ preoccupation with race and staying divided. This lack of understanding is true of both whites and blacks.
Look back at the Alabama Senate race. According al.com, Alabama voters ages 25 to 29 favored Doug Jones over Roy Moore by 27 percentage points–by 34 percentage points among voters 30 to 39.
There is currently no effort for regional governance here, but it’s an eye opener to review the December 2016 Community Foundation study.
Jefferson County voters were polled about their attitudes toward the concept of city-county consolidation. 42.2% supported consolidation; 53% were against; and 4.3% were not sure.
But young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 enthusiastically supported the idea with 69% in favor of unified government, sharply higher than any other age group.
I’m not promoting regional governance because I don’t think it’s possible in my lifetime, but our young people understand the value of collaboration and working together.
Our next generation sees potential here and they want to grasp it while we still have a chance.
Our young leaders understand that we have to collaborate as a region to have a chance for success…and they are ready for action.
And you know what?
These young folks are ultimately going to win.
My generation is going to die out and our next generation will take the lead.
The next generation knows we are going to have to find a way to get along and to work together for a brighter future.
And when that day arrives, Birmingham will finally experience the success that has always eluded us.
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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