Moss Rock Preserve for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike

Just 12 miles from the towering buildings and busy streets of downtown Birmingham lies a scenic outdoor escape with a quiet forest, peaceful streams and the most noticeable feature — magnificent, lofty boulders.

The boulders of Moss Rock Preserve draw all types of people in. Avid climbers make the trek from various parts of the Southeast to face these rocks. Families enjoy fresh air as they take family portraits or let their kids climb. Young couples walk with their dog. College students take a study-break from classes. The wonderful feature of this getaway is that whether a first-time guest or a regular climber, each trip to the boulders of Moss Rock Preserve offers a challenge and thrill.IMG_2642

Colby Tindle, a 25-year-old painter from Hoover, first came out to Moss Rock in high school. He said it was much less crowded back then. Tindle speculated that word of mouth has made the spot more popular over the last few years. Tindle first came to the preserves with friends, and since then he has introduced his brothers and others to these boulder adventures. So what exactly draws people in? The natural landscape and beautiful scenery are certainly appealing, but for many people it really is about the rocks. Bouldering, or rock climbing without a harness, is a culture in-and-of itself.

Garrett, Tindle’s brother, is a recent high school graduate that climbs in his free time as well. Climbing for him is a relaxing, free way to get out. He says it’s his favorite thing to do. Garrett likes the thrill of knowing there is a possibility of falling and also the ability to conquer new rocks.

Being out on the rocks makes him feel closer to nature. Tindle really enjoys finding new rocks and new paths to conquer. Regulars like him often have their own climbing shoes that let them grasp the rocks better and give them the ability to do more difficult climbs. He also has a crash pad — which he puts under the climbing path in case he falls.

Tindle said that he likes the people he meets out at the Moss Rock Preserve. Bonded by a love of climbing, he gets to make connections with all types of people. Strangers have tips to offer, climbing paths to point out and stories to tell.
Climbing at Moss Rock Preserve offers a unique outdoor experience for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike.

Civil Rights: 50 years forward

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’” Matthew 5:43-44 reads. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Jesus’ famous words framed Sixteenth Street Baptist Church’s Sunday School lesson on Sept. 15, 1963. Titled “A Love that Forgives,” it was a message that the predominantly African-American congregation, who were suffering under racial persecution’s climax, desperately needed to hear. Just three months before, Police Commissioner Theophilus “Bull” Connor ordered the use of fire hoses and police dogs against thousands of African-American youths. The atrocious police brutality attracted national and international attention to perhaps the most racist city in the United States.

In a cruel irony, the congregation never heard the lesson on forgiving its enemies. Instead, at 10:22 a.m., a bomb interrupted the service, killing schoolgirls Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair and Carole Robinson and injuring more than 20 other worshippers. Later that day, two more African-American children lost their lives to police and white mobs.

Although that day’s events were horrific, they also served as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement’s victory. City officials could no longer ignore the infamous reputation of “Bombingham.” By the end of the decade, African-Americans were vying for and often winning positions as police officers, school superintendents and even suburban neighbors.

Today, Birmingham looks back in reflection and forward in anticipation. The bells of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church tolled in memory of the four girls on Sept. 15, 2013 – exactly 50 years since the tragedy. Their ringing reminds attendees just how much Birmingham has changed. Next to the historic church lies the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which opened in 1992, and Elizabeth MacQueen’s Four Spirits statue memorializing the four schoolgirls unveiled this year in Kelly Ingram Park. An avenue named after Richard Arrington Jr., Birmingham’s first African-American mayor, pierces downtown. Downtown blossoms under the leadership of Mayor William Bell – also African-American – with the construction of Railroad Park, Regions Field and a new entertainment district orbiting the city center, a scene suggesting Birmingham’s best days are yet to come.

‘The blue collar town’
While it may be Birmingham’s most infamous chapter, the Civil Rights Movement is merely one piece of its history, Samford history professor Jonathan Bass said. To fully understand its significance, Bass said one should start at the very beginning—1906, to be precise.

That was the year U.S. Steel bought the behemoth Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company and, in about four decades, built an empire in Birmingham. By World War II’s end in 1945, the city’s iron ores and steel mines were in full production and U.S. Steel had become the city’s largest employer.

“This was a blue collar town,” Bass said, “and that was the heyday of Birmingham’s industrial might.”

But that heyday ended during the 1950s when U.S. Steel found cheaper, higher quality iron ore in Venezuela. The mines closed as quickly as they opened. African-Americans bore the brunt of that change.

“If you go back and look in the city directories, you’ll see African-Americans played a pivotal role in the labor forces,” Bass said. “But [the closures] shifted around jobs a good bit. Unskilled and skilled black labor gets pushed out of the workforce as whites lose their mine jobs and transfer elsewhere.”

That decline in the steel industry, Bass said, set tensions high for 1963.

The Third Great Awakening
During the steel industry’s great leap forward, another factor that would propel the Civil Rights Movement was coming to power—a religious revival.
“[Some] scholars have found ways to interpret the Civil Rights movement without recognizing the role of religion,” Bass said. “But you cannot separate those.”

Bass said that Martin Luther King Jr. is often seen as a political hero but in many ways he belongs with Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney and other American religious powerhouses. The fight for Civil Rights was, in turn, also a religious crusade, nestled perfectly within a spiritual awakening that marked the mid-20th century.

A few years ago Bass attended a Bible study with African-American men ages 18 to 81. He recalls his fellow participants comparing the disciples with local citizens’ sacrifices for civil rights. “That was really eye-opening for me,” Bass said.

Bass continued that, too often, quests for social justice are secularized. That wasn’t the case for African-Americans. “At the center of the Civil Rights Movement was actively practicing your faith,” Bass said. “[The foot soldiers] weren’t out there saying, ‘Bring on the dogs, bring on the fire hoses because I have a secular commitment to social justice.’ If you ask foot soldiers why they were out there, they’re going to say they were putting their faith into action.”

Towards the light
“Most people really look at the Birmingham story as police dogs, fire hoses, four little girls, end of story,” Bass said. “But that’s only the beginning of the story.”
The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 dealt strong blows to segregation, but they weren’t enough. Dismantling segregation was a lofty task, but under the leadership of Mayor George Siebels and city councilwoman Nina Miglionico, it happened.
After three long years, the first African-American policeman, Leroy Stover, was finally hired. Then African-Americans D.M. Jefferson and E.W. Taggart joined the Birmingham Dental Society. In 1968, African-American Leon Kennedy became superintendent of Jefferson County schools.
But Bass said the Civil Rights Movement culminated in 1979 with the election of the city’s first African-American mayor, Richard Arrington Jr.
“That was [the conclusion] of what King began in 1963,” Bass said.

Miles to go
Although the dark days of segregation may be over, the battle for equality continues. Mark Stribling, a volunteer at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, recalls his first visit to Birmingham in 1999 for a job interview at UAB.
“My coworkers said, ‘We want to take you to the Civil Rights Institute,’” Stribling, a native of Pittsburg, said. “‘But we can’t because there’s a KKK march.’ I didn’t know racism would be so public [here].”
But for the most part, racism is more innocent. Stribling highlighted the wealth disparity between African-Americans and whites. “White people just bought a car, and black people still have to ride the bus,” he said. “Segregation’s just in a different form.”
Bass noticed the same phenomenon. “Even before the great white flight had started, people on this side of the mountain look down their noses and over the mountain at what goes on in Birmingham,” he said. “What so many residents don’t realize is that what’s good for Birmingham is good for the rest of the county and these municipalities as well.”
Stribling said that education is the antidote to prejudice and indifference. “[Racists] walk around in ignorance,” he said, describing local teenagers who dressed as Ku Klux Klan members and even carried nooses for Halloween. “You have to teach what things represent,” he said. “People in the KKK [dress] to be the ghosts of Confederate soldiers coming back from the dead to kill black people.” Once teens learn this, they usually stop wearing their costumes, Stribling said.
Likewise, Bass challenges youth to examine the faith of African-Americans. “I think the best way for young people to understand the Civil Rights movement is to really look at what motivated these people,” he said. “They would say they were Christians doing what Jesus called them to do.”
Interestingly, when Stribling described the future of Birmingham, he mentioned little of racial division. Instead, he talked about young urbanites flocking back to downtown, UAB forging a law school and a booming business district.
On Dec. 3, 1963, “Look” magazine published Charles Morgan’s editorial about Birmingham titled “I Saw a City Die.” “Who killed Birmingham?” he said in his introduction. “Not only the hate-filled murderers of four girls, but we ‘nice people’ who did nothing to save our city from race hatred.”
Then the nice people came and resurrected Birmingham so Stribling could say something that 50 years ago would be unimaginable.
“No black person fears walking down the street and getting harassed or called a name.”

Old and magnificent: The Alabama Theatre


The Alabama Theatre may be old, but it is not forgotten.

Concerts, movies, dance competitions, weddings and film festivals take over the theatre from January to December, bringing people – young and old – together under the ornate domed ceiling in downtown Birmingham.

Built in 1927 by Paramount Studios, the same year that “talking pictures” debuted, the historic and beloved landmark became a public place where locals enjoyed nights of vaudeville and movies. In the 1930s, children took over the theatre on Saturdays for The Mickey Mouse Club meetings, which soon evolved into the largest club in the world.

When downtown Birmingham struggled to stay afloat during the economic recession of the 1980s, the once-booming theatre also suffered.

“When downtown was experiencing quite a bit of vacancy, the property owners just really thought that the theatre wasn’t going to produce any profit. They were going to make it a parking lot,” said Brant Beene, executive director of the Alabama Theatre and director of Birmingham Landmarks, Inc.

Thankfully one of the oldest and most unique instruments, the “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ, had enough loyal advocates who simply refused to witness the destruction of “Big Bertha.”

“This group of people realized that in order to save the organ, they would have to save the whole theatre,” Beene said. “They put together a campaign and got the newspaper involved and all kinds of people.”

The nonprofit organization, Birmingham Landmarks, was formed in 1987 to purchase the building and save the “Mighty Wurlitzer” and the Alabama. Cecil Whitmire, who passed away in 2010, founded Birmingham Landmarks. Whitmire, his wife Linda and Birmingham attorney Danny Evans lead the nonprofit over the next ten years to restore the theatre. “They spent a lot of money and time bringing the Alabama back to life,” Beene said.

By 1998, the Alabama, cleaned and refinished under the supervision of Whitmire and dedicated volunteers, was more than back in business.

Currently the month of December is one of the busiest for the Alabama. The Holiday Film Series draws crowds to the 2,200 seats. “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” are just a few of the classics to grace the theatre year after year.

“For the last four or five years we’ve had quite a bit of sold-out houses. Every now and then we get a few angry calls when we don’t show a favorite classic Christmas movie,” Beene said with a smile, “But we do our best and try to add shows so everyone can experience their favorite at the Alabama.”

Oil paintings and gilded furnishings, granite, marble, mirrors and hundreds of elaborate light fixtures adorn the unforgettable interior of the theatre.

“I’ve been working at the Alabama for about six years now, but I find something new on the walls, in the details, just everywhere, all of the time,” said theatre employee Tommie Folker, who makes sure the lighting throughout the theatre is in perfect condition.

Beene said one of his favorite parts about his job is witnessing younger generations come to the theatre for the first time, either as a visitor or a performer, and then come back years later for concerts, movies and weddings.

“It’s really neat to see people come back from 50 or 60 years ago, because things haven’t really changed inside that much,” Beene said. “People really get to step back in time and remember their first visit at the magnificent Alabama.”


By Rebekah Robinson

Look good this fall and winter with these fashion tips

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of summer staring at your scarves and boots shoved in the back of your closet, longing to be able to adorn them again? Well the wait is over! Here are hottest fashions that women and men can be found wearing this season.


   Two words: military and denim. That’s right, the military look is really in right now as well as denim (and I’m not just talking pants).

The military look can be fashioned by wearing a simple military style jacket. Also, if you don’t have a pair of combat boots, you might want to think about getting yourself a pair! These boots started strutting onto the scene last year and are still hot, hot, hot! Also, if it is still a bit warm outside during the fall, a new trend is wearing your combat boots with a pair of shorts.  _MG_6272 copy

Denim is also making a huge comeback.

Denim was really popular in the 90s, and the trend seemed to die down in the early 2000s. Of course people have continued to wear denim jeans, but now we are starting to see denim vests make it back onto the scene, as have denim tops.

Denim tops are most commonly seen in a button up, long sleeve shirt fashion. Chambray is also a common alternative for the “denim” look.

Besides the military and denim look, sweaters are still a must-have for your fall and winter closet. However, super size it!

Oversized cable-knit sweaters have been in for a couple years now and don’t seem to be exiting the fashion world any time soon. So if you’re a small, go for a medium! If you’re a medium, grab a large. If you want your sweaters to be even looser, you can even go up two sizes. Baggier sweaters even allow for you to be able to layer more underneath on days when the temperature really takes a plunge.

Scarves are always a fun way to accessorize your fall and winter outfits. Infinity scarves are the most popular right now, but in my opinion, triangle scarves are a really fun alternative as well.

_MG_6180 copy If you want to add some prints to your clothing to spice things up a bit, Aztec print is totally in right now. It looks really cool on cardigans and could be the perfect addition to a solid colored top to add some zest.

Finally, an outfit is no outfit without the perfect pair of bottoms to complete the look. Jeans are always a classic, skinny or bootleg jeans make for a neater look. However, if you want to add some color to the bottom half of an outfit wine and olive jeans are a fantastic option. This look often looks best if it’s paired with a more neutral top.

Ladies, if you find that you have some of these items listed hanging up in your closet then chances are you are a fall and winter fashionista!


   Guys, you can be fashionable too. In fact, girls like it when guys are dressed in style. Just as it was for the ladies, denim is a hot commodity for a guy’s closet as well.

Denim or chambray button-up shirts are a simple but useful addition to a wardrobe. Believe it or not, _MG_5878 copy denim or chambray shirts are commonly paired with, wait for it, jeans! As long as the denim is two different shades then you are more- than-likely looking good. Who would have thought that denim on denim would become popular again?

Plaid flannel or button-up shirts are a manly staple. It is almost impossible to find a guy who looks bad wearing plaid (but only in tops; bottoms are an absolute no-no).

Guys, tuck in those shirttails. Trust me, it’s what’s in right now, and it makes you look really nice.

Don’t fear the cardigan!

Yes, I know some of you guys are reading this and thinking, “there is no way I would ever be caught wearing a cardigan.” Well, the cardigan is actually making its way into the masculine world. Proper fitting cardigans could be the perfect addition to a fall or winter _MG_5963 copyoutfit.

Also, tighter pants equals better look.

I’m not saying skin-tight skinny jeans are the way to go (not sure if that looks flattering on anyone!), but baggy jeans make you look really sloppy and like you don’t really care much for your appearance. Tighter jeans with a cuff at the end give the appearance that you care, and trust me everyone will notice.

Brown shoes are almost always a great way to go! I’m not talking just any brown shoe though. Clarks are really popular right now; they give a rugged yet dapper look. Of course, brown Sperry’s are also a preppy alternative, but Clarks are going to be able to keep your feet warmer if it gets really chilly outside.

Dudes, if you keep it rugged but neat, you are nailing the whole fall and winter look!

By Jenna Adams

Photographs by Jenna Adams

Iron City Birmingham: A place of many talents

Legends are born, not made.

At least that was the case until Iron City Birmingham opened its doors this past March.

Mark Creager, Iron City’s general manager, said that every aspect of Iron City was constructed with the customer in mind.
“We started with the customer. What’s going to make the customer the happiest, what’s going to give them the experience? Our standard here is leaps and bounds above the rest,” Creager said.

The venue, which has a 1,300 person standing capacity, is located in the heart of downtown Birmingham.


The standing-floor of Iron City Birmingham is right in front of the stage and is surrounded by lofted seating.

“It’s a big enough facility that it’s still intimate for the crowds and for the artist. We wanted a platform that we could get legends on but not have the arena-sized crowds around them — to give back the very personal nature of music to the artist and to the customer,” Creager said.

Perhaps it’s that unique feel that has been drawing big names like Passion Pit, Ben Rector, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to the Iron City Stage.

“There really is something for everybody,” said Kendall McPheeters, who recently attended a Passion Pit concert at Iron City. “I really enjoyed being so close to the band, but thought it was so cool how the different levels offered at Iron City catered to each individual’s needs.”

That’s exactly what Iron City planned. The main venue space where the central stage is located features three different levels: a dropped floor below the stage creates a more intimate space for the most dedicated fans, the main floor features the bar and a loft space surrounding the stage with several sets of tables and chairs allows for patrons to watch the concert from a more relaxed vantage point.

But Iron City isn’t just a well thought out concert venue — it’s so much more. The space is also available to rent out for private parties and it features two smaller stages for smaller-scale events.

Yet maybe the thing that sets Iron City apart from its local competitors is the fact that it’s not just a concert venue or place to hold an event—Iron City also boasts a full-service restaurant.

“You can come up here and have a dinner that’s not like bad bar food,” said Creager.


Iron City Grill is a top-notch restaurant  just steps away from the concert hall.

Iron City Grill features a full service menu that is competitive in price and flavor to Birmingham’s Southside area. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner and Saturday for dinner, the grill is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before a show.

With all that it offers, what’s next for Iron City? “More, More, More,” Creager said.

For an up-to-date calendar and grill menu, be sure to visit

By Sarah Anne Elliott

Photographs by Sarah Anne Elliott

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Iron City Birmingham

Art Meripol: On the cusp of life

“Southern by choice” is how photographer Art Meripol describes himself.

Growing up in the South was not simply happenstance but a delight to Southern Living’s former senior travel photographer. Working for the publication full of Southern charm for 24 years allowed Meripol to travel extensively — 125 to 200 nights a year — yet his heart has always been rooted at home.

“I tell people I moved to the South as soon as I heard about it,” Meripol said. “I could move away and do what I do anywhere, but I would rather do it in the South because I think there’s a richness of people and culture.”

With the credentials and respect that came with working for Southern Living, Meripol gained access to the most highly guarded places across the country — “kind of like winning an award, but on your resume.” Meripol has seen America in all its beauty. However, the individual characteristics of Birmingham still continue to fascinate him.

With pop-up projects like Revive Birmingham encouraging the arts community, new architecture rising and restoration of historic spaces such as the Lyric Theatre, the Birmingham arts revival is flourishing. Although Meripol resides in Birmingham, he has only recently caught on to this revival.

“Birmingham has been a disappointment art-wise for a lot of years, but I think there’s an incredible flowering in the arts right now. Maybe it coincided with me stopping traveling, or maybe it was just my awareness,” he said. “I think there’s a lack of leadership politically in Birmingham, but there’s an incredible amount of people that are culturally moving the city forward, despite the political roadblocks. It’s becoming a hidden gem and it’s only a matter of time until national media starts covering the Birmingham scene more.”


In January 2013, Meripol took a decisive step to establish himself as a freelance photographer, no longer under the label of the Southern Progress Corporation. Because Meripol no longer has the constant demands of working for a magazine pressing on his schedule, he has had time in the past year to experiment with new lighting techniques, for which his dog Annie is a model.

“Every assignment I get, I’m adding a new thing to my skill set. I’ve never stopped learning from the time I picked up my camera until now,” he said.

As soon as one skill is mastered, a new skill demands a photographer’s attention. However, as technology consistently advances, the digital world becomes more natural to a younger generation of artists. Meripol said, “They might not have some of the precision, but on the other hand they have a lot of knowledge that I didn’t use to have—about software. The knowledge basis is just different. I’ve had to adapt to what the new technology is.” Meripol explains himself as one always coincidentally on the “cusp of life.”

“I didn’t learn anything I didn’t need to know until I needed to learn it,” he said insightfully. The freelancing experience has mirrored that exactly.

During his college career as a Journalism student at the University of Arkansas, he interned at five newspapers as a photographer, proving himself committed to his dream. He then worked as a journalist for 13 years before joining Southern Living in 1989.

Meripol was passionate about photography even as a child; when most children spent time playing policeman or doctor, Meripol dreamed of life behind the viewfinder. He began his pursuit of photography with a Minolta SRT 101 camera that was loaned to him.

While Meripol learned to use slide film cameras, as was the norm when he started out, he said his “exposure skills and [his] ability to not only shoot in light but to see light for what it is” heightened. He explained that slide film photography allows little room for error; it requires extremely precise exposure in order to capture the finest image. Although precision takes time to perfect, it made the transition into shooting digital much easier.

Zoom lenses were unusual, manual focuses were customary and technology was rapidly changing. When the digital world eventually took over the photography field, Meripol flocked to it and hasn’t looked back since. “All of us at [Southern Living] were so used to using slide film that digital came so easy for us because it is so forgiving. Digital is just wonderful. I was always an impatient person, so digital is instant gratification.”

Immediate results are what digital photographers expect with the advanced equipment they own. Meripol sees the positive effects of that, but also realizes that the mark of a great photograph is being able to communicate a story. “I’m lucky to be able to lean on all the things I learned under shooting film. My background from journalism gives me the ability to understand how to tell a story behind the picture,” he said.

Some of Meripol’s photography heroes, namely Joe McNally and Sebastiau Salgado, know how to tell compelling stories in their respective facets of photography. Meripol says McNally is a “genius in a lot of ways. He’s a specialist at being a journalist. If he had to shoot bonobos in a jungle, portraits of Olympic athletes or fashion, it’s going to be incredible.” Likewise, Meripol describes Salgado as having “personal integrity and moral responsibility” as he shows the human condition in impoverished countries in solely black and white pictures.

Photographers are “unsung, quiet heroes because they never get famous or known by anybody,” Meripol said. Birmingham houses numerous talented photographers and many of them band together in support of the artist community. “They’re pretty supportive because it has been hard in the past culturally; the town is no longer an isolated cultural wasteland almost like I think it was for a long time,” Meripol said. “But the people have been here all along doing great things.”

Meripol said he believes that the best way to accomplish great things in photography is to “spend as much time looking through the back of the viewfinder as you possibly can. The more you see the world through there, the more you’ll learn.” He quoted Henri Cartier Bresson, saying, “The first 10,000 pictures are your worst.”

Birmingham has been the host city of Meripol’s career. He has experimented with technique, learned from other talented photographers and started his own business. “I have lots of photographer friends in town and if I have a question about an ad agency, how to price a freelance shoot or light something, people share and are very generous,” he said. “Because of Southern Living, Hoffman Media and EBSCO Media, there are an incredible number of highly talented people here that you can draw on as resources.”

The Magic City continues to be a hub and home for talent and genius such as Art Meripol. As the arts are flowering again in the steel city, timeless photographers are keen to pour their expertise into the younger generation.

By Eleanor Stenner
Photography by Eleanor Stenner

Young Life: a party with a purpose


Middle school Wyld Life girls with their leader, Sarah Anne Elliott, at Young Life camp.

Young life is a place where Christ-following college students and adolescence meet on common ground for community, encouragement, and spiritual growth.

Jim Rayburn founded Young Life in 1941 with the hopes of reaching out to kids who have no interest in being involved in the church. He began his work at a high school in Texas, and what was then just a staff of five has now grown to a nation-wide leadership program of 3,500.

Young life finds great importance in building relationships with the students. With relationship building comes listening and caring. Rachel Eller, senior at Samford University, has had the opportunity of serving as a Young Life leader for three years, and is now the leader of her college-aged Young Life team.

“By breaking down walls with laughter and relevancy, we are able to bring attention to how attractive and wonderful freedom in Christ is. By investing in the lives of our friends in the schools, we earn the right to be heard and use that voice to reach out to students for Jesus,” Eller said. Eller and her team of leaders host a weekly “club” in which the students gather and play games and hang out once a week.

“Currently club can consist of what we like to call the inevitable chaos – 60 middle school girls and boys running around screaming and throwing marshmallows, and it’s the most wonderful picture of freedom and joy in Christ. But in the middle of it all the Lord is sovereign and good and it’s such a blessing to get to be a part of his work in a little corner of Birmingham,” Eller said.

Beyond meeting during club, Young Life leaders go into the schools to spend time with the students at lunch and at sporting events. The end goal is to meet the students where they are doing life. By reaching out to them, showing them that they are known and loved, the Gospel is spoken not just through word, but also through action.

“The purpose of YL is to go out into the schools and meet kids where the are. By relationally becoming a partner in life with middle and high schoolers, we are to share the gospel and the name of Jesus is a new or fresh way,” said Eller.

To learn more about Young Life in the Birmingham area, please visit

By: Kadie Haase
Photographs courtesy of Emily Ferrara

Thrift finds: hidden treasures


1954 Voigtlander Vitessa L Type 140   (I collect cameras so this is my favorite find!)

Bought: $37.50 (half-priced day at the sale)

Value: $220-$420 depending on condition

Picked from: Hoover estate sale



4 vintage brass elephant wall hooks made in India

Bought: $1 each, $4 total

Value: $20 each, $80 total

Picked from: East Lake estate sale



Vintage Suntone MM500 Deluxe-I camera

Bought: $3

Value: $77.70 from

Picked from: Highway 411 Yard Sale


Latico Leathers Brown computer/tote bag

Bought: $1.50

Value: New $100+. Used $20-$60. I  really can’t put a solid number on it because I haven’t seen it for resale. All of the Latico bags I’ve seen for sale have been anywhere from $20-$200. Here’s a similar bag for sale on for $167.21.

Picked from: Hoover estate sale


Metal embossed camel back trunk

Bought: $40

Value: $80+, based on what I’ve seen similar trunks sell for at auctions.

Picked from: East Lake estate sale


IMG_0268 IMG_0266

1958 National Geographic Society Atlas Folio

Bought: $5

Value: Seen for sale in an antique store for $45

Picked from: East Lake estate sale



Vintage Diana lomography camera

Bought: $2

Value: New for $65 (Urban Outfitters and online). Used, vintage for $30

Picked from: Mountain Brook estate sale

Best friends and bandmates

Williams and Lang performed at Samford’s Spring Fling concert last April.

Seniors Makenna Lang and Laura Lynn Williams became friends during their freshman year at Samford. Now the harmonic duo, known as Captain Captain Cutie Pie, is putting out a record.

“We met freshman year, because we lived on the same hall,” Williams said. “We bonded over a shared love of Brandi Carlile and One Tree Hill.”

Like many college roommates, “jam sessions” were an inevitable part of living together. However Lang and Williams soon discovered that they not only loved singing together, but they sounded really good, too.

“In December of sophomore year, we started singing together in our bathroom because the acoustics were really good,” said Lang, “And we just played and sang a lot of Christmas songs.”

In fact, the first song they performed together live was “O Holy Night.”

After spending the season singing Christmas songs together, they moved on to covers and eventually started writing and performing their own songs.

One of the band’s most popular songs and a personal favorite for Lang and Williams is “Birmingham,” which developed out of a personal loss. The song is also a response to the difficult side of growing up in college.

“From a sentimental standpoint, I really like ‘Birmingham’ because it is so definitive of our Samford experience. It came from a really hard experience and has turned into such a good thing,” Williams said.

“A lot of people tell us they like that song because it is so relatable,” Lang said.

Another crowd favorite is their comical hit “Boys.”

“I like ‘Boys’ because I get to make fun of myself,” Williams said.

The song-writing process for the Cutie Pies does not always follow a specific formula, but they are always excited to share their ideas and inspiration with each other.

“Sometimes I’ll just come to Makenna and make her sing,” Williams said.

“It’s just really fun. It’s fun to be in a band,” Lang said.

To find out more about Captain Captain Cutie Pie check out their Facebook page: The duo is currently raising money via to produce a full length album. Follow their progress or back the project here.

By Rebekah Robinson