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Let's dream those dreams

04.7.2008 by André Natta · → 3 Comments

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Today’s Birmingham News sings the praises of the Railroad Reservation Park’s pending construction (interesting how the name keeps getting shorter depending on where you look). I would go one step further than they did in their description. It is in fact an example not just of what the city center can and will become, but what can happen throughout the city and the region if people show faith in the potential success in a project. Three parks, one currently operating and two beginning to see the light of day, benefited in part thanks to the efforts of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and their belief that projects like these needed to be done and supported.

The organization announced a new initiative during its annual meeting on Thursday evening that would enable more projects like “Birmingham’s Central Park”, Ruffner Mountain Nature Center‘s expansion and Red Mountain Park‘s creation to become reality. The Community Catalyst Fund serves as an opportunity for Birmingham to dream bigger than it ever has before and achieve those dreams for ourselves and future generations.

The possibilities for these unrestricted funds are only as limited as your mind allows it to be. Many projects seem to die a slow death here only because you cannot see past the naysayers. What if we had the ability to seed an arts funding source that could encourage murals, ecoscapes and galleries throughout the region?

What if the money existed to help jump start a facade improvement program that could augment existing dollars for building rehabilitation, enabling a community to put its best face forward to those that did not believe the rumors of its pending rebirth?

What if the money were used to encourage alternative transportation methods in the region, while allowing Birmingham to become more viable for the large manufacturing plants that many seem to think is needed?

What if the money were available to bring even bigger exhibits to an expanded Museum of Art, encouraging a truer sense of collaboration among our existing cultural facilities? Or if resources were made available for more of the metropolitan area’s growing arts community to create and display their work, no matter what it is?

Is it not time to stop pointing the finger at what is wrong and instead roll up our sleeves and ask what needs to be done to make it better?

The News said that much more fund raising lies ahead for the Railroad Reservation Park. A city that once mined for ore should also be mining for ideas as it reaches forward into the 21st century and carves a space out as a leader – one that it has always had among some, but now also in the hearts of those that call it home. City, county, state and federal officials should (and have) been willing to support projects with their access to general funds, but we cannot ask them to lead the way by themselves anymore.

Hopefully when we’re asked to answer the bell, we are ready to provide the energy and the monies necessary to power the engine for the future of The Magic City. The new Community Catalyst Fund is one way to do just that. Check it out and see what you can do to help some more of that magic make some dreams come true.

NOTE: Let us know what your big dream for Birmingham is over on Magic City Question

André Natta is the publisher and managing editor of The Terminal.

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Filed under: Birmingham · Commentary · development · regional