Friday, May 31, 2013

The dish on Birmingham: a love letter to my town

I can't lie. On Monday, when driving home from an amazing long weekend of camping at the Ocoee River in Tennessee, I actually groaned out loud as we approached town and I saw the "skyline" of Birmingham (that is, if you can consider four tall buildings a skyline?).

But the thing is, even though I groaned, I truly do love this place.

As I think I heard someone say recently, Birmingham is a city that is neither too big nor too small. But like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, it's 'just right.' I like that it's not so big that I am too timid to get out and explore roads to see where they will take me and who they will take me to. And it's also not so small that there isn't anything to do on a random weeknight. I always feel like I could run into anyone that I know at any moment when I'm out on the town, but suprisingly I very rarely do.

Don't get me wrong, Bham definitely has its fair share of problems. Traffic can be annoying (though I know we have it easy compared to many other cities), jobs (or at least really fun, cool ones) can be hard to come by and of course there is the always ongoing political mess that I don't even completely understand (or want to understand for that matter).

But as an optimist, I like to look at the bright side. I like to look at all the amazing things my city has to offer:

• Railroad Park, an award-winning urban greenspace that hosts free exercise classes, concerts & other events
• a beautiful new stadium downtown for our minor league baseball team, The Birmingham Barons
• incredible restaurants including those owned by award-winning chefs like Chris Hastings & Frank Stitt (but let's be honest, you're more likely to find me at the J. Clyde, Rojo, El Barrio, Saw's or Slice)
UAB Health System—one of the top four largest academic medical centers in the country
• a pretty decent music scene thanks to venues like The Bottletree, Workplay and the new Iron City
• new developments including an entertainment district downtown and the revitilization of the Avondale area
• three top-notch colleges: Samford, Birmingham Southern and UAB, which was recently named the 10th best medical school in the nation by the U.S. News
• a variety of offerings for the outdoor enthusiast including 50 miles of biking and running trails at Oak Mountain State Park, more biking & running trails plus a zip line at Red Mountain Park and boulder fields for climbers at Moss Rock Preserve
• the unbelievably gorgeous renovated Historic Alabama Theater, which hosts concerts and their summer and holiday film series
• the Sidewalk Film Festival, which I think is the coolest event Birmingham hosts all year long
• and of course plenty of great shopping opportunities at both small boutiques around town and larger stores at the Summit

I swear my list could go on and on, but I'll stop here and hope that I've covered most everything I love about my (now) hometown. I'm sure I left a few things off, but I can always save those for another day.

And honestly, when you get down to it, it's not just about the awesome things I can do in Birmingham, but it's more about the awesome people that I get to share my adventures with. I have been so fortunate to have developed my framily here in Bham and now I've started to branch out with other great friends, thanks to the tons of people I have met through the climbing gym and church.

Basically what it all comes down to is, if they say 'home is where the heart is', then my home is in Birmingham—whether I live here forever or not.

Or to make that a broader statement, as the group Alabama sings "My home's in Alabama, no matter where I lay my head."

ps. If you want to see/read an entire 40 page piece on the state of Alabama which will be featured in the upcoming Delta Sky magazine, you can find that here.

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