Is Mountain Brook ready to listen?

Kevin Cornes
Kevin Cornes

Today’s guest columnist is Kevin Cornes.

MB Listens is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization founded by Mountain Brook residents.

We love our community and recognize we are privileged to live here.

We also understand that no place and nobody is perfect.

Mountain Brook has always faced challenges with its reputation regarding diversity, inclusion, and equality.

That did not take a lot of deep soul searching to uncover. It has been a topic of conversation and a source of divisiveness since Mountain Brook was first developed almost 100 years ago.

These days, it seems like the world is more divided than ever. But is that really the case? Or is it just the extreme factions on either side arguing louder than ever on social media?

We have certainly seen more of that recently in our own community, especially regarding politics and Covid-19. Could those same dynamics be at play when it comes to issues surrounding diversity, inclusion, and equality in Mountain Brook?

These are all good questions. But, no matter the answers, MB Listens believes that the path forward to bridging any divisions is to work on being more empathetic to everyone around us, especially those who may seem different than you.

Empathy is the first step in accepting, supporting, and welcoming someone in a community; and MB Listens is striving to do just that for everyone in our community. Our vision is that everyone, regardless of ability, age, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status; will be accepted, welcomed, and treated equally in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

But to achieve that, we all need to listen to and understand what some of our friends, families, and neighbors are dealing with.

Should our community be afraid to acknowledge some of our shortcomings? And, will drawing attention to them adversely affect how people view Mountain Brook?

Our initial response at MB Listens is that accepting everyone in our community and supporting those who have been marginalized or subjected to acts of discrimination is far more important than worrying about how anyone judges Mountain Brook.

However, to answer the question, we believe it will have the opposite effect. Simply by acknowledging an issue exists, it demonstrates that we are better than what that issue represents. Then, by having so many in our community confront these issues and “walk the walk”; by being empathetic and supportive of anyone who has been marginalized or does not feel accepted; we will demonstrate that Mountain Brook can be a welcoming place for everyone to live, work, and visit.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive since we launched our effort. Already, thousands have either visited www.MBListens.com where people can Join Us – becoming a member is free and keeps you apprised of initiatives and upcoming events – or are following us at www.facebook.com/MBListens. The MB Listens website also has a Resources Section with a lot of relevant information.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered and bridges to be built, but the initial response to MB Listens demonstrates two things: (1) there are many in our community that want to be accepted for who they are and feel welcome in Mountain Brook; and (2) there are many more who want to open their hearts, listen, learn, and be a part of the solution.

Let’s show ourselves and the whole world that we can do this, with love and grace, and succeed in making sure everyone is accepted, supported, and welcome in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

Kevin Cornes is one of the founding members and chairperson of the board of MB Listens.  He lives in Mountain Brook with his wife and three children, who all attend Mountain Brook schools. MB Listens is a new grassroots organization who accepts everyone – just as they are – in Mountain Brook. 

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David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown.  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 for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com.

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3 thoughts on “Is Mountain Brook ready to listen?”

  1. I’m ready! MB participated in Heritage Panel years ago; we listened before, we can listen again. As a 2001 Graduate of MB with young children (now) in the school district, I am grateful and excited for your group’s leadership. Educating our community to tune into empathy and compassion toward accepting and welcoming differences will be one of the greatest gifts we give to our children.
    But sit tight and take a deep breath. It will take time. There are so many distractions in the world right now that many are too overwhelmed to notice this development. There needs to be commmunity outreach and 1:1 discussions about MB Listens. I look forward to helping as the opportinity arises. Thank you for loving our community and bringing in more opportunities for us to learn to do better in the world!

  2. I don’t understand the problem here. Does MB ban anyone from living there? Or going to school there? No. So really, the groups only goal is to make people in MB more accepting of people who don’t live there? Ok, I can get on board with that. We should love everyone and accept their differences.

    1. No, the goal is to make old-time, multi-generational MB residents more welcoming and outreaching to newcomers to the city.

      In my personal experience, and from what Kevin explained, newcomers or those of minority races and religions are often not made to feel welcomed, by failure to include, and outright exclusion. And Kudos to Kevin!

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