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. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Christmas Time is Here: How to get in the spirit

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  • Christmas Tree

Whether it’s tall or short, nothing makes a home more in the Christmas spirit than a Christmas-lighted tree. Inexpensive, artificial trees are found cheap at Big Lots or Ollies stores. Small trees can be found for cheap at Salvation army!

  • Garland and Christmas Lights

Many dorm rooms or apartments may already have Christmas lights hanging. What better way than to make the space feel more Christmas-like and the wrap garland around the lights!

  • Hot cocoa in a Christmas mug

Nothing may feel more like Christmas than ending a long day on a chilly night with a cup of hot cocoa in your favorite Christmas mug!

  • Peppermint candles  

They may not be allowed in the dorms, but fill your home with Christmas air this holiday season!

  • Spotify Christmas playlist

Nothing brings more cheer than filling your rooms with Christmas music for all to hear!

  • Christmas movie night

Gather your friends and enjoy a cozy favorite Christmas movie!

A Birmingham Fall as told by Pinterest

Check out our Pinterest board for great ideas on where and how to spend your November days in Birmingham and surrounding areas!

http://pin.it/NnElbTG

Birmingham blogger Jessica Stroud on creativity and communication in an online world

As Birmingham continues to be a city of exciting new things popping up everywhere, people are staying engaged through the art of blogging. Here, local writers are able to share ideas, thoughts, and opinions on anything from new restaurants to wardrobes to match the season. Jessica Stroud started her own blog, “Daily Brunch,” and has been featured on The Birmingham Bloggers website multiple times. You can tell right away in her posts her love for the city of Birmingham and how to communicate that through writing.

southerndailybrunch.com//Jessica Stroud
southerndailybrunch.com//Jessica Stroud

Q: What was your reasoning for starting your own blog site, specifically about the Birmingham area:

There are two main reasons I started blogging:

  1. To enhance my creativity. Let’s get things straight, I am by no means creative in an artistic sense. I cannot play an instrument, paint a picture, or do any sort of d.i.y. crafts. What I can do is explain myself through writing. I figured if I started posting I’d have to come up with new ways to explain myself, and also create new material through trial and error. Managing and writing a blog has been a personal challenge that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It has helped me find new ways to think about things and challenge my brain.
  1. Express myself better. At first I felt funny asking my husband to take pictures of my outfits (see Instagram husband on YouTube for accurate review of our relationship) or write like I was talking to a friend on the blog, but now I feel more inspired and I’m just like “WHO CARES?! Come take this picture of me while I pose looking off into the distance.” This has been an extremely inspiring year for me. I have felt more like a woman in charge than I ever have! I feel my insecurities melting away. Thank you older age and wise mind! I feel like Birmingham has grown so much since I’ve been out of college, I love that there are always new places to see and new restaurants to try, it is the perfect city to expand your mind and get creative.

Q: What has the reaction to your blog been like?

When starting anything there will always be trial and error. Depending on the post and content it holds there will always be fluctuation in how many people click on the post and how many views it gets. I find that my outfit posts and recipes get more attention than any other post. People like to see pictures and something they can scroll through fast while waiting in line somewhere or browsing before they go to bed.

Q: Are there certain areas of interest that you feel most passionate about focusing your blog on?  

ARE THERE?! I want my blog to be about supporting women and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I want my blog to empower women and have those women empower women. I love it when girls are nice to each other for no reason, putting aside all the insecurities and jealousy, and just be raw with one another. That is what I am most passionate about and hope my blog displays that with every post.

Q: Why do you think blogging has become so popular for cities like Birmingham?

I have been blogging for almost three years and I am still a baby at it. I think the way readers and followers like to get their information is by seeing others display it or try it out and blogging does that. I also think people like to follow bloggers who are interesting and give them entertainment.

Q: How do you think the skill of blogging can help young college journalists?

It is a great way to explore yourself and writing styles that you may want to adopt or try on. It also challenges you and keeps you accountable, especially if you have followers who expect you to post!

Q: How have you seen the blogging community grow in Birmingham?

The Birmingham blogging scene is still growing and it’s fantastic. Ther

e are communities such as Birmingham Bloggers and Home Grown Bloggers that have gatherings and conferences that allow bloggers from all over the south come and learn techniques and ways to grow your blog. It is a great way to learn and meet people that can support you!  

Link to Jessica’s blog: http://www.southerndailybrunch.com

 

Birmingham Barons Opener

The Birmingham Barons had a rough season opener, losing to the Jacksonville Suns 6-1 last Thursday.

The team played the opener in Jacksonville and stayed the weekend, playing five games in all. The Barons won one of the five games against the Suns.

The Suns, with a 57-81 record for the 2015 season, proved to be too much for the Barons’ opening game.

The Suns scored the first point, and the Barons’ first baseman, Jake Peter, had a home-run in the second inning. This was Peter’s first professional baseball game.

The teams remained tied 1-1 until J.T. Riddle of the Suns had a three-run home run in the third inning. The next inning was scoreless, and in the fifth inning the Suns gained the last game point.

They will play their first home game tonight, against the Tennessee Smokies. First pitch will be thrown at 7:05 p.m. For ticketing information, call (205) 988-3200.

Pepper Place is Back

Birmingham’s favorite farmers market is back on Saturday, April 9th. It is open from 7 a.m. to noon rain or shine.

Pepper Place began in 2000 in provide a connection between family farmers and the people of Birmingham, Alabama. Since then is has grown from a few tents to over 100 tents spread across parking lots and streets around Pepper Place. The market has hosted around 10,000 people every Saturday at the height of the season.

All of the vendors are based in Alabama and are the actual growers, joined by their family members and friends.

Shoppers can expect bedding plants, herbs, lettuces, asparagus, and strawberries to be in season for the spring and as it gets closer to summer blackberries, blueberries, peaches and mushrooms. Alongside of the fresh produce market goers can find bakers and cooks who serve food to eat and take home, from breakfast food to dessert. As well as food, Pepper Place hosts Alabama artists, artisans and craftspeople with unique items to decorate with or give as a gift.

The address is:
2829 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, Alabama 35233

A list of vendors can be found here:

http://www.pepperplacemarket.com/vendors/

Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series

The Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series is a reading, writing, and performance event held at The Desert Island Supply Co. in Birmingham, Alabama. They generally feature at least one of Birmingham’s working writers. For the month of April, they are hosting three out-of-towners: Michael Robins, Adam Clay and Ada Limón.

All three are incredible poets. Lion’s latest book, Bright Dead Things, was recently a finalist for the National Book Award.

The event is happening Sunday, April 10th at 3:30 p.m. at Desert Island Supply Co. in Woodlawn. The address is: 5500 1st Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35212.

Fore more information:

http://www.desertislandsupplyco.com/

http://www.facebook.com/nittygrittymagiccity/

Cajun Cook-off this Weekend at Railroad Park

Here it comes! The Sixth Annual Girls Inc. Cajun Cook-off is steaming down the tracks to Railroad Park, “Bringing the Big Easy to the Magic City” Saturday April 9 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Hosted by The Committee of 25, which is the Girls Inc.’s Junior Board, and presented by Publix Super Market Charities, the cook-off will feature a family friendly atmosphere spiced with the Cajun aromas of foods such as jambalaya, gumbo, bread pudding, shrimp and grits, po’boys and more.

Twenty to 25 amateur cooks will prepare these dishes for the chance of taking home trophies from the taste-testing contest.

Live zydeco music by the Swamp Poppas will provide additional flavor to the day, accompanied by a silent auction, kids’ activities and a performance by Girls Inc. program participants.

Connie Hill, President and Chief Executive Officer for Girls Inc. said that the Cajun Cook-off, which is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, expands each year in order to create a more “memorable and fun” experience for attenders.

“Through this year’s event participation and fundraising efforts,” Hill said, “Girls Inc. hopes to raise $80,000 to support our efforts to provide vital and innovative educational programs to school-age girls in Central Alabama.”

These programs are dedicated to “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.”

Tickets can be purchased at bhamcajuncookoff.com, $20 for adults and $5 for kids ages three to ten. Children under three years of age may attend for free.

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Photo courtesy of Connie Hill

 

 

Happy April Fool’s Day

  1. The origins of the holiday are unknown, but England made April Fools’ Day in 1700, as a day for people to play pranks on each other. The tradition quickly gained popularity throughout the UK during the 18th century.
  2. No one knows exactly where, when or why April Fool’s Day began.
  3. April Fool’s Day is not an official holiday.
  4. April Fool’s Day was first known as “All Fool’s Day.”
  5. French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ backs.
  6. In Scotland, April Fools’ lasts two days.

 

Famous pranks:

In 1996, Taco Bell Corp rans a full-page ad in several major newspapers claiming it had purchased the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”

In 2008 the BBC ran a video clip of flying penguins as part of a story for its series “Miracles of Evolution.” The presenter explains that the penguins escaped the cold, harsh Antarctic weather by flying to the tropical rainforests of South America.

And, every year since 1986, press releases for the non-existent, New York City April Fools’ Day Parade.

 

Spring Break in Birmingham Ideas

If you are staying in Birmingham for Spring Break no need to worry because we have 5 ideas for things you can do on your staycation.

 

Winter Jam 2016

March 19

Doors open at 5:00 pm, Show starts at 5:45 pm

Enjoy listening to some of the most popular Christian artists on the radio right now at Winter Jam 2016. Featured artists include For King and Country, Matthew West, Crowder, Lauren Daigle, Red, Newsong and Sidewalk Prophets.

 

Admission:

$10 at the door

Legacy Arena at the BJCC

2100 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N

Birmingham, AL 35203

 

For more information visit http://2016.jamtour.com

 

Tannehill Trade Days

March 19 – March 20

8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Spend a day searching for clothing, jewelry, furniture and other gems at the Tannehill Trade Days.

Park admission:

$4.00 Adults (12 years and older)

$3.00 Senior’s (Ages 62 and older)

$2.00 Children (Ages 6-11) ages 5 and under free

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

12632 Confederate Parkway

Bessemer, AL 35111

For more information visit www.birmingham360.org

 

Hiking at Oak Mountain

7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Oak Mountain State Park offers great hiking as well as horseback riding, boat rentals, fishing and more.

Admission:

$5 per adult (age 12+)

$2 per child (age 4-11)

$2 per Senior (age 62+)

Free for ages 3 & under

 

Oak Mountain State Park

200 Terrace Dr

Pelham, AL 35124

 

For more information visit http://www.alapark.com/oak-mountain-state-park

 

Color Me Rad 5k

March 19

8 am – 12 pm

 

This 5k has eight color stations, covering you head to toe in gluten free powder and every color in the rainbow.

 

Admission:

$50.00 Last Call

$55.00 Day of Registration

 

Hoover Metropolitan Stadium

100 Ben Chapman Drive

Hoover, AL 35244

 

For more information visit http://www.colormerad.com/location/birmingham/

 

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 

Now that spring has officially arrived it is a great time to spend a day at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Explore the different areas on the gardens and visit the largest public horticulture library in the U.S.

 

Admission:

Free

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

2612 Lane Park Road

Birmingham, AL 35223

 

For more information visit http://www.bbgardens.org