Dear Birmingham logo

Introducing Dear Birmingham (and the beauty within)

11.19.2010 by André Natta · → Leave a comment

Read Offline:

You Are Beautiful, too. acnatta/Flickr.Birmingham has been bombarded with positive messaging about itself in recent months. The Birmingham Business Alliance tells us that we’re open for business while Mayor Bell promotes a message of a united city. For years we’ve even said how nice it is to have you in Birmingham and look forward to restarting that campaign again on Monday.

I for one am quite excited as it gets old just hearing about the problems facing the region without offering solutions or shining a light on the good things going on. It was the original founding principal of this site and one that will continue to be as we move forward.

The latest additions to this push for an attitude adjustment have been the two “You Are Beautiful” signs that have been painted in prominent locations in greater downtown – and they are prominent locations. There is no questioning the impact that the original statement painted onto the Highland Avenue Bridge has on the thousands of cars that enter the heart of Jones Valley via the cut through Red Mountain every day. The same can be said of the subtler results that the one located along First Avenue South near Railroad Park’s 14th and 15th Street entrances has on those visiting the city’s newest green space.

A quick perusal of you-are-beautiful.com, the site that provides the most likely back story for these signs, lets you know that the interpretation of the signage is up to you.

The part I love about what should really be called a manifesto is the idea of creating activism instead of consumerism. This sentence captures it beautifully:

“Projects like these make a difference in the world by catching us in the midst of daily life and creating moments of positive self realization.”

These signs can be read in hundreds if not thousands of ways, hopefully leading to thousand of ways to help make those other messages mean more to Birmingham first and foremost than the others have so far…

Folks driving in from over the mountain may now be driven to look up information about Sloss Furnaces and the beautiful artwork that is created there nowadays. Visitors to Railroad Park have an opportunity to enjoy a gorgeous view of the city that they probably wouldn’t have stopped for just a year ago while imagining just what else is possible.

The idea is for the individual to determine just what they’ll do to reach out to the community and get them to dream – and then take action.

That’s just my opinion though.

Yesterday I spoke of this site’s effort to secure a Knight News Challenge grant and said it was the first step in changing the approach that The Terminal takes in serving as a source of information for the city of Birmingham. Now it’s time to draw your attention to changes that will hopefully be implemented on this section of the site in the next few weeks.

When this site launched in 2007, this section was called My Birmingham – playing off the excitement of MySpace (yes, I know…). The idea was if folks saw it as writing about the city as their own, it would elicit a great deal of opinions that would lead to interesting conversations. Well, you may have noticed that the header for this section has read Dear Birmingham for two months now.

Nobody’s really noticed, though there hasn’t been much reason to visit either. Hopefully they will have a reason to notice soon.

I’m a little behind on contacting the folks I wanted to via email yesterday, but a few of them will see something land in their inbox late this afternoon and early tomorrow morning.

It will still serve as a “letters to the editor” section. The hope though will be to focus on folks offering solutions to issues and inviting people to use whatever medium they feel appropriate to share their story about or message to Birmingham.

It’s my hope that people will agree to help us create additional content about the story behind the words they’ve chosen (perhaps receiving a copy of those thoughts as a benefit of supporting the site).

As the tagline says up above, we hope to serve as a hub for the voices of the Magic City – in their own words. It’s also our intent to make it a little easier for people to see those words even when they’re not sitting in front of their computers. That initiative will hopefully be unveiled in early 2011.

Right now, all I can ask is for you to check back on the site Monday morning to see how to take part in sharing your voice with your city – and to think about just how you’d do it and what you’d say.

Cheers.

André Natta is the stationmaster of bhamterminal.com.

Read Offline:

Filed under: The Terminal

0 comments