I’ve published more than 400 pieces about our Birmingham region in the past seven years.
The objective of the piece was to recommend that the property owners at Five Points South partner with the City Action Partnership (CAP), a non-profit, to clean and help manage the district. The CAP program downtown has been wildly successful.
You may recognize CAP Ambassadors as the men and women in blue shirts and caps who ride around downtown on bikes and Segways–and who are constantly cleaning the streets and sidewalks.
Two types of negative messages were posted: (1) Let’s keep Five Points the way it is and (2) David Sher is an insensitive jerk.
I get it.
This is the I believe in Birmingham Facebook page—so any piece that doesn’t appear to believe in Birmingham is anathema—and my comments about having to walk around an unconscious man on the sidewalk may have sounded insensitive.
Some Facebook commenters felt we shouldn’t try to clean up the district. Five Points South may have graffiti, trash, and panhandlers—but that’s the Five Points they know and love.
Here’s a comment that summarizes those feelings…
“Screw this gentrifying-ass Chamber of Commerce trash. Keep 5 Points dirty, keep 5 Points weird, keep 5 Points friendly to the homeless, and keep your rent-raising luxury studio apartments out of my neck of the woods.”
And comments about me weren’t any kinder.
Some suggested that instead of taking time to write a piece about Five Points, I should put my energy into helping the homeless.
Well, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
CAP has a full time employee whose primary responsibility is to interact with and help the homeless.
If the property owners in Five Points were to partner with CAP, then the homeless in Five Points would receive much needed support.
I want to emphasize that CAP is a non-profit—no board member receives any pay. The property owners fund the program at no expense to the city or the public.
CAP laid groundwork for downtown revitalization
Since CAP was established downtown nearly 25 years ago, crime in the CAP district has dropped by about 70%–making downtown’s crime statistics comparable to low crime neighborhoods like Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills.
CAP Ambassadors give directions, jump dead batteries, air up flat tires, provide security escorts, rescue keys from locked vehicles, and remove graffiti. (See service report for October below*)
I grew up in the Five Points neighborhood and it has a special place in my heart.
Let’s not let the ‘naysayers’ win.
*CAP downtown Service Report October, 2019
- Jump starts 240
- Gas ups 34
- Unlock 81
- Flat repair 98
- Graffiti removal 114
- Broken glass 75
- Campsite removal 125
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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 for free about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org