These movies were filmed in Alabama. Are they on your watchlist?

From “Selma” to “Sweet Home Alabama,” there’s a wealth of movies that Alabamians can boast were filmed in their home state. However, some viewer favorites were filmed closer than you think, and you might not even know it. Check out these three blockbusters that you might not have realized were filmed in Alabama.

  1. The Final Destination or Final Destination 4 : The opening crash sequence of this horror movie was filmed at Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, Alabama.
  2. 42: The 2013 release starred Chadwick Boseman, who gave a powerful portrayal of Jackie Robinson. This movie was partially filmed at Rickwood Field in Birmingham.
  3. Friday the 13th Part VII: This 1988 horror film starred Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhies. It used Byrne’s Lake in Stockton to film.

5 ways to procrastinate productively

We live in trying times. It seems that there is constantly so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all. In a world where deadlines reign supreme and productivity is held in a place of honor, “procrastination” is shunned like a bad word. But, fret not! It is possible to put off doing that overwhelming task and still be productive. Cross something off of your to-do list with these great ways to procrastinate productively.

  1. Get organized. Take a moment to tidy everything up. Throw away the 45 coffee cups you’ve collected on your desk. Wash the dishes you’ve been pretending not to notice in the sink. Cleaning your home or workspace is a perfectly productive way to procrastinate; yes, you still haven’t finished that report your boss wants on her desk Monday morning, but at least you vacuumed. Besides, being surrounded by clutter hinders productivity, so clearing out all of that old junk might be the perfect way to get your mind ready to work.
  2. Feed your brain. If cleaning up didn’t do it for you, treating yourself to some brain food might help get your mind going. Start reading that book that has been collecting dust on your bookshelf. Learn a couple of new words in English … or maybe in Spanish. If you can’t force yourself to be productive, at least you can make yourself smarter.
  3. While you’re at it, feed your body, too. Let’s face it: You can’t work well on an empty stomach. When was the last time you ate something that was green? And, no, those St. Patrick’s Day-themed cupcakes don’t count. Consider preparing a healthy meal or snack to fill your belly before getting to work.
  4. Catch up on events in the world around you. Have you been ignoring everything going on in the world? Now is the time to catch up on all the current events you’ve been neglecting. Spend a couple of minutes reading or watching the news.
  5. Take time to focus on self-care. In this stressful, work-oriented world, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Don’t doubt the importance of maintaining good mental health when it comes to working. Self-care and self-love are important for productivity and an overall better quality of life. So, spend a little quality time with the most important person in your life: yourself! Treat yourself to a hot bath or curl up on the couch in your coziest pajamas and watch that episode of Game of Thrones you can’t believe you missed. Perhaps you could even go for a run to clear your mind or meditate to center yourself. Yes, you have work to do, but you know that you’ll get it done eventually. As much stuff as you have on your to-do list, you deserve a little break!

Birmingham Without Walls

Proximate

Hollie Woodis, a student at Samford University, said she was given insight to a different perspective of homeless by sheer happenstance.

“My boss went out of town and asked me to run errands while he was gone,” Woodis said. “He asked me to run a check to the post office.”

But the trip that was supposed to be a straight-shot to the post office took a turn that Woodis did not expect. That was the day she met a Birmingham citizen living without a home.

“I saw a man walking on the side of the road,” she said, “and he had his big bag and was looking down on himself, like he wanted a ride.”

Woodis picked up the man, whose name she later learned was Lonny Williams, and gave him a ride to the post office.

“Our relationship formed out of that,” she said. “I gave him my number and he calls me when he needs a ride, usually to the post office or to his nephew’s house.”

When Woodis was confronted with this image of homelessness—one that she said she had never seen before—it gave her the opportunity to view homelessness differently. Woodis said it was this personal relationship with a member of the houseless community that allowed her to combat houselessness in Birmingham—not through ministry or activism, but through simple understanding and friendship.

Mallory Pettet, who works with homeless people in Five Points recalls a conversation she had with a local activist. “One thing he told me that raised my hair is this: ‘In order to change the narrative we have cast, we must proximate ourselves with the parts of our city that are broken,’” Pettet said.

“We just want to know them,” Hannah Baker said. “So many [of the homeless] are so broken and are so willing to admit ‘I did wrong, I made a mistake and now I’m stuck.’ It’s not because they are a different kind of people. There is just a lot of hopelessness in trying to get out of that.”

This is the final installment of a five-part series. 

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Birmingham Without Walls

Homeless in Birmingham

Hamilton-Schumacher frequently tells the story of the best newspaper seller he ever met.

“If all our time invested in The Voice came down to one story and one life that was changed, this would justify it all,” he said.

“The story is of this man that came to us. I don’t remember his name,” Hamilton-Schumacher said. “He was a builder—a contractor—living paycheck to paycheck.

“He came from up north and all of his jobs were numbers in his phone and he lost his phone one day. And losing his phone created a snowball effect. This guy who had been his primary contact wasn’t able to communicate with him and probably interpreted his silence as the inability to follow up on a job.

“He lost his work and was evicted from his apartment. Because he had no money coming in, he lost his car insurance. Since he was no longer able to drive it, he sold it because he needed cash. He eventually ended up on the streets. And he is a skilled builder that—because of the loss of his phone—ended up on the streets.”

Hamilton said those circumstances play out over and over; one mistake or one slip sentences people to years of poverty to be served on a street corner or in transitional housing. In the city of Birmingham, the rate of unemployment is 5.4, comparable to 5.0 in Atlanta and 5.2 in New York and a half a percentage point higher than the national average.

“I feel that homelessness is systemic and there are not only current but also historical events that have led to what we are experiencing today,” Hamilton-Schumacher said. “There are individuals in this city who are living paycheck to paycheck.

This is the fourth installment of a five-part series. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Birmingham Without Walls

A Voice for the Homeless

Ryan Hamilton-Schumacher and his wife, Hope, noticed a hole in Birmingham. When the couple relocated to Birmingham from Nashville in 2009, they noticed a clear division between two communities in the city.

“We recognized the privilege that we didn’t earn, but were born into,” Hamilton-Schumacher said. “That privilege unfairly gave us a larger voice than others.”

The computer programmer and his wife, a doula, decided to fill that hole by creating a newspaper catering to Birmingham’s homeless community.

“We wanted to provide a medium for those who didn’t have a voice to have a voice, whether it was creative writing, poetry, drawing or reporting on occurrences in the city,” Hamilton-Schumacher said.

The street paper, aptly named The Voice, was a carefully designed business model intended to lead Birmingham’s impoverished citizens back into the work force.

“What we saw as a problem was that if you’re experiencing homelessness, it’s difficult to earn a job. Employers ask for all these key pieces of information that someone who is homeless will not have,” Hamilton-Schumacher said.

“So, this was an avenue to reintroduce individuals to the job market. We wanted to be able to provide some infrastructure to their work and help them earn their own money. They also have someone to put as a reference. We say it is a tool to help individuals pursue other jobs.”

Hamilton-Schumacher said that combatting homelessness begins with employing people who are experiencing homelessness. According to Hamilton-Schumacher, the inability to maintain a reliable source of income aggravates the cycle of homelessness.

“There is a large community of people in the religious community that want to help homeless and houseless people, with all the best intentions in the world,” he said, “but the issue of homelessness cannot be solved just by giving money and feeding people. You can’t rent an apartment, pay for food and send your children to daycare while working at McDonald’s. There is no way to survive. You have to get more than one job, but you won’t be there for your family.”

This is the third installment of a five-part series. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Birmingham Without Walls

A large community of homeless people gathers at Birmingham’s Linn Park. They gather near the fountain as the sound of running water blocks out street noise, citizens say.

There is a common, grim image traditionally associated with homelessness: a dirty, desperate man with a long beard sitting on the corner of a street alone, occasionally begging passersby for nickels.

However, this extremely public image of the indecent homeless man does not reflect the true demographic of the homeless community. In truth, most homeless individuals consider the streets too dangerous to live on.

“They’re scared,” Mallory Pettet said. “One woman I met—she was homeless—but she was mugged and was scared out of her wits. Some men followed her and robbed her of everything she had. And she doesn’t have a place to go and lock a door.”

Pettet and her close friend Hannah Baker visit members of the homeless community in Five Points every week. The pair help lead a Bible study, which they say is mostly led by a seven-year member of the Five Points houseless community.

Even more contrary to the common face of homeless is the fact that the majority of the homeless population is hidden from view.

According to the needs assessment study, only 12 percent of the homeless population in Birmingham stay on the street. About 34 percent stay in transitional housing, 22 percent in emergency shelters and 12 percent in treatment facilities. Around 82 percent of Birmingham’s homeless have been homeless for less than 2 years.

Pettet said that many of the people who live on the streets of Birmingham suffer from severe loss of identity and dignity as a result of being homeless.

“I had a conversation with a guy a couple weeks ago at a grill-out at Five Points,” Pettet said. “This one man wouldn’t look me in the eyes. I asked him his name and who he was and why he wouldn’t talk to me, and he mumbled ‘I just got out of prison.’”

“He put that stamp on his identity and assumed that the nice girl that gave him food was going to walk away,” Pettet said.

This is the second installment of a five-part series. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Birmingham Without Walls

Leroy sat in Linn Park waiting for a ride to the bus station on a warm, November afternoon. He was not alone in the park; in Alabama, it is still warm enough for short sleeves in November, so people with no other place to go can sit outdoors comfortably.

He leaned forward on his cane, a crutch he found necessary after a surgery left him with metal rods in his leg. His rough hands—one with stitches running across the palm—crossed one over the other at the crook of the cane. Leroy’s leg surgery left him unable to work, he explained. He draws a disability check for $925 a month and collects $16 in food stamps each month. After a divorce, Leroy found himself with no place to live.

“I lived in my car for a while,” he said. “But I lost my license. I would be in my car all day, driving from Greenville to Mobile, Mobile to Birmingham, Birmingham to Montgomery. I fell asleep. I was in the right lane so I went off the road, but the officer pulled me over. He thought I was drunk.”

The bus he was waiting on this day would take him to Greenville, nearly 2 hours away from Birmingham, where his car was. He had $300 in his pockets—money he planned to give to a contact in Greenville to pay back a debt. It was all the money he had to his name.

“I can’t get an apartment by myself,” he said. “I only get $925 a month for everything. An apartment—that’s my whole check. I wouldn’t have anything left over for anything else”

Leroy is one of the thousands of homeless men and women living in Birmingham. He is one of a smaller subset considered “chronically homeless.”

According to the study “A Needs Assessment of the Homeless of Birmingham and Jefferson County,” 29 percent of the homeless population in Birmingham fit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of chronically homeless. Chronically homeless people either have disabling conditions and have been homeless for a year or more or have been homeless four times within three years.

Many of these homeless people said that “personal relationship issues” caused their homelessness.

“Ninety-one percent report experiencing at least one undesirable life event over the last year. The most common events are job loss, death of a close friend, family member or partner, physical abuse, or problems with a spouse or partner,” the study says.

According to county records, on Nov. 9, 2011, Jefferson County filed for bankruptcy. The debt of $3.14 billion made it the most expensive municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history at the time. Since then, the availability of jobs has been decreasing.

Birmingham has an estimated homeless population of about 3,000 people. That is 0.13 percent of the overall population of the city living without a home.

More people are without work and fewer of them are able to find employment. The loss of job infrastructure caused by being homeless creates a vicious poverty cycle that local activists and volunteers say is not easy to break.

This is the first installment of a five-part series. 

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