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What is your wildest hope for greater Birmingham?

November 21, 2008

What is your wildest hope for greater Birmingham? What do you imagine for our brighter future? The crowd at WorkPlay on Nov. 19 had plenty to say about that, and about what should never change in our great community.

In this post, we’re sharing the hopes and dreams of more than 50 people, named and unnamed, who are learning more about how Community Catalyst Funds and the Community Foundation can help to create the community its citizens want. We’ve divided the comments under headings, but almost every entry includes more than one idea. So, what do YOU imagine?

Engaged, supportive and collaborative communities
…the 26 municipalities would become one municipality with one government, one police department, one fire department, one streets and sanitation but with competitive school systems, and the criminal mind would be reborn in hopeful purpose. Gates Shaw
…that Birmingham will become one great municipality rather than 36 separate ones, with the ultimate goal of freeing up millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars for use in dealing with our community dreams and challenges. Valerie Abbott
…a community where all people are respected, equal opportunity and sound leadership are the rule rather than the exception…public transit that works, dropout rates too small too measure, safe neighborhoods throughout the city. Richard Dickerson
…a unified community committed to the quality education of its children, along with a usable public transit system.
…a community where voters trust their elected leaders to use tax revenues wisely and where “no new taxes” is not a mantra to be revered when vital programs are suffering.
…a community where all metro communities work together as one…where child abuse and neglect no longer exist.
…that we will ALL come together with common interests, goals, ideas and pleasures.
…For our city government to unite as one body with our neighbors so that we can continue to tear down the walls that separate us in all walks of life…Birmingham not being separated based on wealth, race, age, nationality or socio-economic status. Birmingham will always grow and prosper if we focus intently on healthcare, education and economic development. Johnathan F. Austin
…multigovernmental cooperation! Stop the duplication of services, etc.
…a unified city/counties/region that works efficiently and cooperatively to accomplish great things for all of us.
…our county and suburban schools paired with B’ham city schools to instill the culture that education is the way up and the way out….one school system. Parks all over the place.
…a cause that puts aside political and personal egos for the good of the community. More causes tied to giving time rather than money.

People prepared for success in school and work
…education for everyone from birth, neighborhood centers that deal with comprehensive needs instead of specialized services that are impossible to access…develop a social service system that empowers rather than band-aids most situations; affordable housing, transportation and health care…a living downtown 24/7, one I would want to live in, that all my friends would also want to live in. Esther Shuster
…an educational system that prepares the vast majority of its students to be productive members of the global economy. Richard Carmody
…an educated citizenry, which routinely elects exceptional political leadership and race is never an issue. Kathy Freeland
…Birmingham with a top-tier public school system.
…a Birmingham where our children are given an opportunity to succeed as opposed to having to play catch up when pursuing higher education…a Birmingham where the downtown area is vibrant, thriving and most importantly safe.
…that Birmingham become a national model for public education @ all levels –pre-school, elementary, secondary. Gary Stokes
…I believe all children have unlimited potential and should be given the guidance & opportunity to become successful adults, who will help better their communities. One tool to help do this is a program called Project Visions, an innovative program designed to help children visualize their future potential. We want all children in the Birmingham schools to be able to participate in this program. Ingrid Berky
…having the best education system in our schools (teachers, programs, etc.)…a partnership with companies and schools to provide all of our children with what they need to excel…a healthiness in the diversity of people that would truly make this city “The Magic City.”
…a world-class K-12 public education system that serves as a magnet — attracting families, commerce and positive international attention to Birmingham and Alabama
…first-class K-12 public education for every child in our area, unified progressive elected officials who put the best interests of the citizens first! …adequate supply of safe, affordable housing.
…that we educate every child to his or her potential, that we realize that every child is our child and our responsibility, that we can model how all races can live together, that rednecks will be inspired to visit the Civil Rights Institute.
…education for all and that 95% of the students graduate high school…more arts in the community and better education for all…more cultural events for all…government working together.

Clean, healthy and attractive environment
…a Birmingham that leads the south in green building, jobs & efficient use of water & energy, so that sustainable, urban-centered growth intertwines with protected, safe havens for diverse & healthy human life & wildlife. Beth Stewart
…that recycling is a service provided in all Birmingham area communities and residents are educated on its benefits, how to properly recycle and feel compelled to participate — a “green” Birmingham! Lisa Harris
…sidewalks, bike lanes, really good curb cuts for wheelchairs, excellent schools (public), no litter, get off poor air quality list. Penny Southward
…that we clean up our environment & green spaces, clean energy (close the power plant by 20th and 1st Ave. North), lead our country with clean transportation, electric cars, bike, electric rail, recycling. Bob McKenna
…cleaner air! A healthy city with a system of parks and neighborhood centers connected by open space and trails. Nim Long

Support for cultural richness
As a Latina and an educator, I imagine a B’ham that offers an enlivened community center for the COMMUNITY, both local and immigrant, where people can learn about each other, grow in its creativity. A place where justice and understanding would continue and history would serve as a catalyst for leadership for its youth, which is our future. Rosalva Bermudez-Ballin
..our diversity should be a strength not a weakness…(wildest hope) Teach America. Bob Schleusner
….bridge the divide between black & white.
…a Birmingham where everyone loves their neighbor as much as themselves. Jackson Helms Smith

…a community with mobility for everyone through transportation alternatives. John R. Stewart
…a powerful transit system operational throughout the metropolitan area. Janet Robinson
…reliable public transportation throughout suburbs and B’ham proper. Functional, high-quality public schools with well-paid teachers in Birmingham City. …a low homeless rate, safe affordable housing for all…lower dropout rates in high schools. Better museum. Lauren Banks

Economic security
…help homeowners that may have been hoodwinked into taking variable rate mortgages transfer into fixed rates. help people retrain who lost their jobs during these depressionary times. Doug Hale
…a community that enlists the spirits of its citizens through individual purpose in the public & private sectors (businesses, non-profits, schools, government). Robert Thuston
…to use the talents we have for the best design of our sustainability for our schools and all public buildings. Private dwellings will follow. Charles D. Moss Jr.

…a peaceful community: low crime, high education, low unemployment and a respect for the environment, with political leadership that moves us forward.
….a downtown where crime is nonexistent and people are on the streets day and night, a safe place to live and be day and night.

Mental and physical health
…a holistic view of health that is symbolized by UAB’s colors: Gold – wealth and economic development with an environment (green) conscience that is translated into action

Productive, growing and vibrant economy
…that we are able to strike a balance between moving forward economically without losing touch with our basic good nature. This is done by promoting business while having well-educated citizens with plenty of green space.

Strong and stable families
…letting every child know they are valued and they can make a difference for the better & for adults to know that faith, hope and love are lived out in people who care.
…equality among school districts, equal educational opportunities despite socio-economic status, better social safety net — better & more holistic care for all Birmingham citizens.

…be a leader in improving Alabama’s education programs, full-service public transportation system, creating a more peaceful community. Christian White
…a unified community that is a leader, run by leaders…a community that is focused on results, not on politics or personalities.
…a world-class infrastructure — schools, public transportation, police — with zero tolerance for domestic violence, well-funded social services and clean neighborhoods, the opportunity to come together as a united community fee from racism and bias. Suzanne Durham
…my children will leave California & North Carolina and return to Birmingham…housing for the homeless. Smith Williams
…individuality; forward-thinking, bold, out of the box, creative — creativity. Nicol King
…for Birmingham to be forever transformed in greatness, renewing the vitality of its communities, affecting all people, generation after generation; because the people of Birmingham IMAGINED! Erika Prothow

…a real functioning downtown, livable, workable, walkable
…a more vibrant downtown, a city that is unified both within the government works and the business community…a community that is not divided by city lines…one community.
…a thriving downtown with a family-centered YMCA that has a daycare and a fitness club. More schools downtown.
…a vital downtown in which one could live without an automobile.
…a 24/7 city.. or more realistically an 18/6 city. HBB

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2009 6:28 pm

    Note to John, Janet, Lauren and others who mentioned a brighter future for public transportation, there’s a meeting Saturday from 9:30 to 2:30 at the Alabama School of Fine Arts to help riders and other advocates learn how to be more effective in working for better transit. The title says it all: “Don’t Get Mad, Get Active! \”

    State Senator Linda Coleman is the keynote speaker. You can register by calling Operation New Birmingham at 324.8797, by e-mailing or going online at

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