Tag Archives: anniversary

The Terminal: Ten Years Later

Vulcan in Railroad Park, 2015.

I still enjoy a view of Vulcan from my desk at home (at least, for most of the year and not the one you see above). Discussions about the heart of Jones Valley being of “perpetual promise” still occur. There are still efforts underway to fill gaps in our local media ecosystem.

Some things have not changed in ten years.

That said, new residential and commercial projects are springing up across our metro area with increasing frequency. Outside news organizations focus an ever-sharper light on Birmingham and its people. In the midst of this progress, there’s still a need to focus on the day-to-day events of the state’s largest city.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in March 2007. It helped not to set too many goals back then. Of course, now there’s still a website answering to this URL where you find yourself (although it’s in desperate need of a refresh – it’s coming).

Ten years ago I looked at Pegasus News in Dallas, Gapers Block in Chicago, and Gothamist in New York admirably. I wondered if The Terminal could ever be mentioned in the same breath. I also wondered if we could meet the same need or more. It met at least the first goal, and I’ve gotten a chance to meet (and in GB’s case, know) the founders of those three trailblazers. Mike’s consulting. Jake just sold to DNAInfo. I just had dinner with Andrew while I was in Chicago in November talking about what happens next.

I’m the last of the four that are independently owned, with some level of continued operation. It’s a little scary. Our Twitter account remains active. (It still lays claim to hosting the first Twitter chat focused on discussing current events in a city.) I have a few stories saved as drafts on this site’s backend. I’ve resisted the urge to write commentary, despite having a lot of thoughts on a lot of issues. There are sheets of butcher paper with Post-It notes on the wall of my home office. They outline exactly what came out of that conversation with Andrew and others.

I’ve spent most of the sixteen months trying to recover from a stretch of anxiety attacks. They were so crippling I couldn’t take more than four steps before feeling like I wasn’t going to make it. I’m still not completely recovered, but I’ve learned much from the experience. This includes how easy it can be to beat oneself up about a lack of accomplishments.

This website enabled me to maintain a monthly column for a city magazine. I filled in for one of my favorite media columns at Poynter four years ago. Last year I was asked to co-author one of my own. (It returns next week.) I have the honor of spearheading the return of the Carnival of Journalism. I’ve been a part of the #wjchat crew for seven years now. I even interviewed as a finalist for a Nieman fellowship. I’ve been able to say and do more than I ever thought professionally possible. The friendships that have developed and endured as a result of all of these things and more are treasured – including those made during a Terminally Happy Hour or sitting in an area coffee house or bar just talking about Birmingham.

Plus, there’s still this place on the web. I’m still having conversations about what happens next. I mean, the domain’s paid up for the next year…

The level of change occurring in metro Birmingham is pretty incredible:

  • What part of that change do you need to know about?
  • How do you need to know about it?
  • What frequency do you need to know about it?

Despite the significance of the day, I have no grand pronouncements to make. If you can find the time to respond to any or all of those questions posed, that’d be helpful.  Knowing there’s still interest makes it easier to continue those discussions.

Those who’ve continued to check in on this site and me not just recently, but throughout the last decade, “Thank you!”.

Now’ I’ve got to go find some pi(e) and continue to dream great dreams…

André Natta is the stationmaster for The Terminal. He’s also digital media producer for WBHM-FM; a columnist for Poynter.org; and lead organizer of the Carnival of Journalism.

The Show should consider coming to Rickwood

The best way to describe the news that came out of Boston last week for non-baseball fans here in Alabama is to imagine that you didn’t have to wait until late November for that game between Alabama and Auburn… yeah, it was that big. The only thing that would make it bigger in my opinion would be to let the games be played at baseball’s oldest ballpark – here in Birmingham.

If you didn’t click through up above, MLB has hinted – heavily – that the New York Yankees will open the 2010 season against the Boston Red Sox. It would be the third time in the last 18 years that the hardball rivals would be facing each other to open the season. The only decision that appears to be left to make according to the Boston Herald story is where the games will be played.

The pomp and circumstance of the new Yankee Stadium‘s inaugural season will be over and Boston’s Fenway Park would still be recovering from January’s NHL Winter Classic. I have not been to either ballpark (though I have many fond memories of the old Yankee Stadium from growing up in The Bronx). It’s not that I don’t want to have to figure out some way to afford tickets to what would most likely be my first game in attendance at the new cathedral to the game at the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue; I just think that baseball’s oldest surviving stage should be given a chance to shine for its 100th anniversary and this would definitely allow for that to be the case.

Both franchises have previously been affiliated with the Birmingham minor league organization. The Red Sox’ manager, Terry Francona, is still much beloved  by The Magic City from his days as the field manager of the Barons and the feelings still appear to be mutual. Rickwood is in need of a significant renovation and while Mayor Langford’s plans for the facility and a soon to be constructed museum will draw people to the ballpark, a game like this would raise its awareness – and fund-raising potential – with a larger potential audience of die-hard fans. While it is much smaller than either of the participating teams’ home ballparks and while I am not sure if MLB is willing to do so, but the gate being donated towards Rickwood’s restoration.

Because of the ballpark’s size, maybe an exhibition game may be a better way to go. It doesn’t even have to be these two teams playing, though they have the best arguments for being involved – except for maybe the White Sox. I would simply consider it a shame if MLB didn’t figure out some way to take advantage of Rickwood’s anniversary.

It may be a pipe dream to convince MLB to stage a regular season game at Rickwood Field, but it is something that should be considered as it prepares to celebrate a century occupying its space on the city’s Westside. Maybe dreaming that big dream for Birmingham may just bring us out of a rut of pessimism. Besides, it’ll be a good excuse to not be in the office on a Spring day in April and who wouldn’t want that.

What do you think?

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.

Thanks for the ride, now shake the dust

This evening those that are able to attend will stand in a room on the top floor of one of the most beautiful buildings in downtown Birmingham and take in a view of The Magic City that is not enjoyed as often as it once was. We will be able to look out, intermittently through rain clouds, and see sites of current and future development, those new achievements just on the horizon for a glorious city.

Last night as I prepared to write this piece, I decided to check on John’s A Look Back post for today. It was the first time that I’d realized that the first story-related post on Birmingham’s hub was on the birthday of the city’s newspaper of record. From what little I’ve figured out about Mr. Rhodes, I can only think that he would have a slight grin on his face thinking of the irony.

As we begin our second year, continuing with our slightly different style of telling the story of Alabama’s largest city and its people, we hope that people will continue to be willing to say what is on their mind, and begin to do so if they have not started to on the virtual time capsules that are the pages and posts and images of The Terminal.

We hope that our readers take the opportunity to shape the future of Birmingham and Alabama in whatever way they think is necessary and help us in our ongoing job to figure out how to best supply the stories and the resources to help this goal be reached (as well as to remind us that it’s fun).

We believe it is time to shake the dust and show the rest of the Southeastern United States and the country as a whole just how great Birmingham is – already – as well as what is yet to come. We must continue to find new ways to trumpet the good work being done throughout our community without blindly neglecting the issues that face us as we move forward. After all, as Dr. Volker once said, “we would do Birmingham a great disservice if we dreamed too little dreams.”

So in that vein we pledge to you that we will dream big dreams and serve our readership as best we can. We need you to dream and to take up the reins of change yourselves. We are so grateful for you and what you bring to the conversation. Despite what I’ve been told by some, if I did this for myself, we wouldn’t be trying to celebrate with all of you tonight, now would we? We already have some plans in the works that we’ll talk about tonight…

So, what can you do? We’ve never quite been sure how to answer that question – until now. There’s a big one coming up on Monday that we’re interested in getting your feedback about, but until then, we’ll start with these suggestions:

… and enjoy the ride!