I enjoy reading the story ladder on Wade’s Birmingham blog. The idea is simple: make up headlines that poke fun at the news of the day. Most times I believe he’s on target. Plus, it’s a great way to relieve stress while eating lunch. I did wonder about one of the headlines on a recent post. You should be able to figure out which one I’m talking about.
After a while, I realized that the problem was that I wondered if this fake headline really speaks to what most people actually believe. Do we, as the faces of the young professional movement, actually get listened to seriously, or is it a pat on the head that we receive and a “That’s nice” to move us along, keeping us from pushing the envelope? I am convinced that there are enough young active people in this city to move mountains if they wanted to. They’re going to do it anyway; the question is whether or not it will be in Birmingham or elsewhere in the county or state.
Joy Myers, the director or Artwalk, wrote a letter to the editor in response to yesterday’s article about the “youth” movement in greater Birmingham. Here’s the letter, complete with the one line that was edited out and it speaks to a personal view on the issue quite nicely:
Letter to the Editor, April 25
Success of Young Civics No Surprise
I’d like to thank Kelli Hewett Taylor and The Birmingham News for recognizing the growing movement of hardworking, civic minded young professionals who are succeeding in making a difference in Birmingham (Young minds, fresh ideas for city, Front Page, April 24). As one of their peers, I count myself fortunate to be among such an enterprising and industrious group of individuals. As the director of Birmingham Artwalk, I work with a dedicated group of volunteers who share their talent, ideas and most importantly their time to showcase regional artists and the revitalization of city neighborhoods. Their success and that of other young groups should come as no surprise.
As a 32-year-old member of Generation-X, I have long battled the stereotype popularized in the mid-90s of a slacker youth without the morals or work ethic of its predecessors. What I have learned is that it is best to NEVER generalize based on age, sex, race or any multitude of other distinguishing characteristics of humanity. What I have found is that my generation is more likely to be college educated, well-traveled, and undeniably media and technologically savvy. We are the product of all the good and the bad that has occurred in the last 40 years and while we acknowledge and recognize its importance, many of us are not hindered by the same prejudice and suspicions that resulted from those times.
Instead, we communicate with each other. While we do not always agree and there are still separate and personal agendas to consider, it has been my experience that the young professionals described in your article are willing to share ideas, experiences and resources when the common goal is to make our city the best that it can be.
My husband Matthew and I have lived in Birmingham for nearly six years and have started our family here. There has never been any question that the world is wide open to us, allowing us to forge a life anywhere we choose. We have chosen to stay here because of the progress we have seen in a few short years, and the opportunities we see in the future. We believe, as many of our peers do, that we can make a difference in our city, and that is very appealing.
It may in fact be a question of your sphere of influence that determines your peers. matter. The goal is simple: Communicate to achieve the best possible result. We as this new active civic class try and support each other and each other’s ventures whenever possible. But I’m still not completely convinced it’s a solely “youth” movement. I believe that as this group of new leaders begin to make their marks on the region, those that would not be considered “progressive” or “young” may decide to follow the Xers and put away the patronizing comments in favor of some progress towards a new Birmingham.
I wish I could go to the SpeakFirst event at WorkPlay this evening, however duty (or a merchants meeting in Ensley) calls. Someone let me know how it turns out. I’ll post some more this evening.