With the flip of the switch (OK, maybe the wave of a hand) and a flash of red in the saturated evening sky, one of the Magic City’s most iconic structures reclaimed its place in the nighttime sky. The relighting of the City Federal building sign on December 14 also served as a symbol of things to come in Birmingham, hopefully many good things.
I live at one of the busier intersections in downtown Birmingham, and already enjoy a pretty interesting view of Vulcan sitting atop Red Mountain. The other view that I have had for the past year was of a quiet, sleeping giant that has recently been happily disturbed in recent months as it one again took its place in the region. My girlfriend cannot help but stop and stare out of the window in the evening every time she walks by. A clear night allows you to see it at least two miles out in all directions. It’s a cool and accommodating view at the same time. It’s the first building that I ever heard of before I ever came to visit the city in the late 90s. I’ve heard of dreams for top floor restaurants, artists’ workspaces, and the prominence that this building could have again.
It definitely represents what the city’s past and it’s potential in the future. The group described by Next Generation’s Rebecca Ryan as transplants and boomerangs at the Chamber’s annual meeting last week are enjoying the excitement that this and the scores of other buildings either in design or construction/rehabilitation mean for the city. There are many that also await the status of the Railroad Reservation Park, seen by many to be a key to future development in the downtown Birmingham area.
Stepping outside of the city center, you see homes being renovated throughout the city, businesses expressing interest to expand into our region and plans for a larger airport that will allow for more flexibility as this new group of people discover one of the hidden gems in the South.
Saying all of these things are great, however the trick is going to be sustaining this level of excitement and the hopes and wants for involvement as plans and optimism spread across the region. These things have been swimming in my head in recent weeks. I’ve now been here for one year and have begun to finally have to start answering the question “What made you move here?” and “What is going to keep you here?” While I have had the standard box answers, I’ve had to start thinking about what kept me from heading back up north and what’s kept me in the midst of this crazy love affair with the South. I hope that its because I want to do my part to make this the greatest city in the South and have it stop being a best kept secret, even if there is some dirty laundry that we must still deal with.
We must also not forget the fact that everyone should benefit from these changes as they ooze throughout Birmingham. We need to be able to activate those that have waited for this to happen and encourage them to be as active and vocal as ever as these changes begin to occur around them. We also need to be ready to embrace new people and welcome home those that have decided to return and do their part to light up the Magic City, helping them be as successful as they want to be and need to be.
My hope as this countdown to the new year approaches and people make plans to make those changes to help them be better people is to commit to making sure the right things are done to make the city the best it can be. Whether you’re here in Birmingham or elsewhere, I’m wondering what you’re thinking about in terms of your city as the New Year approaches. I’ll look forward to the responses…