Tag Archives: information

#piecampbhm – why?

Pi pieEvery year I hope to attend SXSW Interactive. Among other things, it’s the largest gathering of community news site publishers in the country. I never do, though my reason is a lot more understandable than most – especially this year. The Terminal’s anniversary date normally falls during the Austin event, on Pi Day no less.

Last night, a simple public conversation on Twitter about celebrating The Terminal’s fourth anniversary with pie became something with the potential to get larger.

It’s becoming the first ever PieCamp Birmingham.

Ted’s Restaurant on Southside has agreed to open their doors to us on Monday evening (3.14) and give us a chance to share our favorite pies with each other. We’re asking that you bring a pie if you can (or maybe even some milk).

Registration for Monday’s event is now open. It’s free and, of course, space is limited.

I’m grateful for the interest in pulling off an event like this at the last minute. I’m also grateful for Daniel Walters for his wanting to take the ball and run with it.

I do need to explain a few things though before this gets too crazy.

It isn’t the first time I’ve ever thought that pulling something off like this was possible. Whether it’s CupcakeCamp in San Francisco, PieLab in Greensboro, AL or Birmingham’s own Kitchen Table, the idea of gathering to share food and conversation seems to be a good idea. Our own Terminally Happy Hours – returning in April BTW – also hoped to just bring folks together.

It’s a chance to meet folks, catch up with others and maybe share some new ideas (that seems to be extremely popular in Birmingham right now too).

I’d also like to make sure that people can give a piece of the pie to a worthy cause.

It’d be nice to ask for financial support for the website, but there’s a time and place for that; I don’t think this is that kind of situation. Instead, if you can’t bring a pie with you on Monday evening (though I’d love for you to), I’d ask that you consider making a donation to the Birmingham Education Foundation (BEF). BEF grew out of Yes We Can, Birmingham is taking on what I believe to the major issue facing our metro area at this time – education. If you can’t give, I’d at least like to make sure that folks are aware of its existence and efforts.

I do hope that you’ll consider joining us on Monday evening.

Photo: Pi Pie. pauladamsmith/Flickr.

The Mayoral runoff: Where to begin

Two years ago as part of our Election 2007 coverage I sat down with five of the mayoral candidates asking them questions submitted by our readers .

While we “lost” the Election site earlier this year during our server migration, we still have the audio.

It just so happens that the two candidates that will be participating in the runoff on January 19 – William Bell and Patrick Cooper – were among the folks I interviewed.

Since this special election is about completing the term that they would have started in 2007, I think it makes sense that the conversation about which one should be allowed to finish it begin with what they said when they sought the job the first time.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to sit down with the candidates again prior to January 19 to see if any of their statements have changed as well as to get their thoughts on some of the new issues facing the City of Birmingham.

By the way, I’ll be asking you to submit some new questions beginning next week.

A reminder of the ground rules that were set for this series:

All of the candidates were asked to take part. Five candidates responded and set up appointments. The ten (10) questions were forwarded to them, with the candidates given two (2) minutes to answer each question. During the interviews, I gave extended time for some questions if they had not used their full allotment earlier.

The list of questions is available in PDF format and I’ll post each one above the embedded audio files. Something else to keep in mind as you listen to the answers – none of the candidates knew how any of the other candidates had responded to the questions as they were all posted at once.

Patrick Cooper was the second candidate interviewed in 2007, with William Bell being the next to last candidate to participate.

I know that some of you will wonder why I’m posting answers to the question pertaining to droughts given the rain totals this year. I think that it will still be a possible issue that the incoming mayor may have to deal with.

I hope that you enjoy this – the same way that I hope you will bear with us just a little bit longer as we deal with some upcoming changes for this site come January.

Enjoy the ride!

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.

Why we are not covering the trial

I thought about writing some long drawn out explanation about why The Terminal will not be covering the Langford trial… we’ll see how long this actually ends up.

I actually got stole the idea from Andrew Huff, editor of fellow hyperlocal blog Gapers Block and how they handled coverage of the Olympic bid in Chicago. My reasons are somewhat similar – everybody else is going to be covering it – a lot.

We already know that NBC 13 will be tweeting from the trial. Then there’s the possibility that Birmingham Weekly will do the same. All four of our local television networks will no doubt provide extensive in depth analysis of the situation and we haven’t even talked about The Birmingham News, The Birmingham Times, local talk radio and other bloggers. Overkill may be a kind word for what’s about to happen.

It would also help if there were three or four of me to be able to truly do it justice.

Maybe it’s not relevant to not cover a major trial. Maybe it’s more relevant to remind folks that regardless of what happens with this trial, the work of moving the City of Birmingham forward continues. I do realize that we live in a city and region that loves politics and drama, so we’ll see if taking this approach was appropriate.

Now, with all of this being said, there is one possible way to convince me to go back on my word (though even then, it will depend on how it’s proposed): One or two people would need to volunteer to attend the conference and cover it for The Terminal.

If there is anyone who thinks that they would be willing to do daily updates about the trial, then drop me a line at andre@bhamterminal.com and we’ll talk about you doing just that. Realize that any attempt to get a hold of me today may be thwarted thanks to BarCamp Nashville (great job so far guys) and the National Preservation Conference (same goes for you too), so don’t be discouraged if I don’t respond immediately.

We’ll see you on Monday morning!

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.

Don’t stay silent

Some folks may be wondering why I’d be writing as part of a blog-a-thon about domestic violence. Those who’ve followed the history of bhamterminal.com may not be wondering as much, though they may not know why…

There are several reasons. The one I feel most comfortable talking about involves my next door neighbors for the better part of four years back in Savannah, GA (that is despite the fact that I moved six – yes, six – times during those eleven years in The Hostess City).

When I first moved into the house in the ciy’s Twickenham neighborhood, I lived on the ground floor, sharing a fence with a one-level home shared by two couples. Both couples were fairly friendly (and loud), but the one that lived closer to the fence proved to be the one that provided a bigger challenge for me.

Several nights I woke up to the sounds of screaming and other uncomfortable sounds coming from the structure next door. There would be some mornings when I would see the wife with bruises on her arms and face. I’d get a barely unnoticeable smile early on from her as I would head for my car for trips into downtown for class or work. All of us who lived around the house knew what was happening, though few of us wanted to get involved in the situation – and all of us stayed silent for months.

The noises finally got to me one evening, as I opened the door and yelled in the general direction of the house, basically saying (with much more vivid language) that I was tired of the fighting. My girlfriend at the time was wondering why I was trying to interject myself. The husband came out the door, drunk and cursing up a storm. He just looked over again as I asked why the hell all of this was going on. He looked over and went back inside.

I didn’t really know what would happen next. Part of the issue for me has been that even though you know what’s going on, you’re not really sure about how to go about starting to provide the help that is needed or even if you should say anything.

I do know that she moved first, though I have no idea where she moved to. I also don’t know if she ever got the assistance and attention that she needed and deserved. After that experience, I figured out that I wanted to make sure that I would talk up and help out whenever the opportunities presented themselves.

What have the results been? Well, I’ve taken part in road races to raise funds for agencies that provide support and assistance to victims of domestic violence. The launch party event for bhamterminal.com included a collection of cell phones for Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine initiative – one that I hope folks continue to think of whenever they’re thinking of changing out cell phones and one initiative that we’re looking at doing again soon. Then there’s today…

Today, I’m asking you to take a moment and make sure that folks are aware of the Voices Against Violence program of The Women’s Fund of Birmingham and that you’ll consider making a donation to the cause. We need to be able to break the cycle. The organization received the Critical Impact Award from the Council of Foundations earlier today for the program and we need to make more folks aware of what’s going on.

Thanks in advance.

André Natta is the stationmaster of bhamterminal.com.

My modest proposal for City Stages

It’s amazing when you get a chance to look back at what you’ve written on a particular topic over time.

I decided that before I sat down to share my thoughts about City Stages that I’d look back at some earlier pieces both here and over on Dre’s Ramblings. I figured I’d share links to some of the more editorial pieces with you here – just in case:

City Stages is here… well? | My Birmingham, June 13, 2007

City Stages 2007 – some thoughts for the future | My Birmingham, June 18, 2007

Birmingham’s largest block party | My Birmingham, June 20, 2008

Some of the attendees' thoughts on City StagesLast year I said I was looking forward to this year’s festival, assuming that they would build on last year’s critical success with the launch of a social media-influenced marketing campaign.

Then I learned on Tuesday morning that the corporate ticket sales had been budgeted to be close to the same levels as last year (in the midst of an economic recession), leading to the last minute $250,000 request to the City of Birmingham. That, coupled with the virtual nonexistence of money in the Natta household, led me to decide that I will be working on projects and enjoying the air conditioning at Shift WorkSpace this weekend (and hopefully taking in some of the Secret Stages show at Speakeasy on Saturday evening) instead of making the trek down to Linn Park.

I believe George McMillan when he says that there are no more sacred cows in terms of the festival and that he is not sure of its future. How far will they go to secure a future is still to be determined.

The town hall meeting coordinated by Catalyst in November 2006 provided some good ideas for build upon for City Stages in the future, especially when you consider other festivals (even though this is old in terms of reference points).

I’d argue that people need to bring suggestions for real solutions to the table before completely bashing the festival and saying it needs to go. Here’s mine:

City Stages gets moved to the Railroad Reservation Park starting next year. There would be four stages – two at each end of the park. The Cultural Furnace that folks would like to see housed in the current Alabama Power steam plant could be integrated into the planning in later years, including an office for the organization to work out of year round. It would  allow CS to consider approaching Alagasco for the use of their parking lots in the surrounding area as festival space – most likely for things like video game competitions, smaller local stages and an arts and crafts section. You might even be able to scare a spoken word/comedy and jazz stage around out there too.

The festival would be contained in a 12-block area between 14th and 20th Streets, allowing for folks to access downtown Birmingham by car using local streets and taking advantage of a large, open space and a pretty cool view of the city center skyline. No, currently there may not be enough shade for a June festival, but there are no sacred cows anymore. You could even move it to the same weekend as the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in September and make it into a huge event for the region.

We need to actually see what happens once folks get used to this new City Stages and not make another major change just because we are panicking

Now it’s only an idea and of course there would still be issues logistically, but it’s an idea.

I’m not necessarily ready to see City Stages go away and I’d love to hear what some of your ideas are.

You can post them in the comments section below. I’m also willing to invite a few folks over to Shift on Monday evening to share your thoughts about this year’s festival and what it could be in the future. If you’re interested, send an email to info@bhamterminal.com or comment below and if enough folks are interested, we’ll announce a time for Monday night.

If you’re going, enjoy the weekend and the music!

André Natta is the managing editor of bhamterminal.com.

Why pay the occupational tax? Maybe to support the arts…

I blame those years attending the Savannah College of Art and Design. Others may consider the years I spent growing up in The Bronx and being a short bus ride away from the zoo and our botanical gardens. No matter what the real reason is, I know that even when I’m struggling to make ends meet, I see access to the arts as an important piece of the puzzle.

The cultural opportunities that exist in metro Birmingham are numerous and sometimes we take them for granted. This is despite being one of the most generous cities in the country when it comes to supporting non profits. The case for support for many may be one that becomes harder this year as the people deal with the effects of the economic crisis. Enter the current situation involving the occupational tax in Jefferson County.

Many people who don’t live in the county see the tax as something that is not necessarily fair to them. They want to see tangible results of paying the extra money. Something I’ve realized in the years I’ve lived here is that no one does a really good job of explaining how monies are used (including us). A current grassroots campaign may provide some transparency and accountability for at least a portion of the funds as well as a warm and fuzzy feeling for those that pay the tax who live outside of the county.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham is suggesting that a rewritten occupational tax that could stand up to legal challenges should have a portion of it set aside for allocation to culural organizations throughout Jefferson County. I think it becomes a lot harder for those not currently paying the tax to say that there is no value to doing so if the Alliance is successful in their efforts.

The money collected would have the potential to improve the quality of life for everyone in the region, providing institutions like the McWane Science Center and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute the chance to do more for those that live nearby and those that are visiting our city. Increased funding for these institutions have the potential to have a greater economic impact long term than the monies that we’re about to lose as a result of the Super 6 relocating to the new football capitols of the South.

That last sentence may be one that riles more than a few feathers here in Birmingham, maybe because we don’t necessarily pay attention to these other jewels in the region. As a baseball fan, I can think of a lot of people that will be venturing into The Magic City next year to catch a glimpse of America’s oldest ballpark as it turns 100. Hearing the Symphony perform Rhapsody in Blue doesn’t hurt either. Then there are those children benefitting from programs like Scrollworks… Maybe times have finally changed, and we need to be ready to embrace them.

Currently, it looks like this proposal is facing an uphill battle. State Representative Linda Coleman has introduced legislation that would re-instate the tax as is. I’m not really sure if that’s the best case scenario considering that the current tax has been under some legal scrutiny recently. This new version provides some transparency to a funding source that appears to be greatly needed, especially as our county contemplates bankruptcy as an option to deal with our sewer crisis.

As Birmingham prepares to potentially take its place in the New South, this proposal would provide a tool that enables it to reach its goal sooner rather than later.

Trick or Vote!

As we mentioned on our front page, we’ve provided space for Empower Alabama to explain just what Trick or Vote is all about – and how to get involved with it! – ACN

Trick or Vote is a nationwide nonpartisan get-out-the-vote effort taking place on Halloween in more than 20 cities. Across the nation, young folks (and the young at heart) will get all dressed up and knock for democracy instead of candy. After our civic duty’s been done, we’ll party down at the Ghouls and Goblins Gala and celebrate our civic spookiness.

Why Trick or Vote you may ask? Studies show that the most effective way to get young people to vote before an election is to knock on their doors and encourage them to vote. And what’s the one day when we’re all culturally ready for a knock on the door? Halloween! Just 5 days before the general Election.

So while you might be too old to trick or treat, you’re never too old to Trick or Vote!

To sign up, visit www.trickorvote.org.

Trick or Vote Birmingham will be held at the McWane Science Center, 200 19th St. N. Birmingham, AL 35203.

The first canvass leaves at 4, the second at 5:30 for the after-work crowd. Bring your spook.

Party from 8-midnight with entertainment provided by Kids Got the Disco. Food provided and spirits, not the scary kind, will be available.

Trick or Vote Birmingham is organized by Empower Alabama, Catalyst for Birmingham, and Greater Birmingham Ministries.