Welcome to The Local

Mission Statement:  The Local provides contemporary coverage and insight on a historical city from a youthful perspective. We foster a culture that challenges young people to engage in the growth around them. The Local captures powerful moments that reflect the vibrant character of the Magic City.

This mission statement provides focus that aligns our team as we work to create The Local. It embodies our desire collectively, and as individual journalists. Each member of our team offers unique talents and perspectives that enable us to see deeper and discover untapped writing potential.

Birmingham is beaming with vibrant character that has found its place in history. The Local is inspired by the city of Birmingham and the way it is constantly reinventing itself. Birmingham is ever evolving alongside the inhabitants of this city. The Local is inspired by these people’s stories, their goals and defeats, and how they converge to shape this diverse culture.

We believe that stories matter because people matter.  These stories are just glimpses we have captured and now want to share with you, the reader.  Our goal is to capture the human experience in a way that the reader can connect with deeply as we aim to bring moments to life through vivid colors, details and striking stories.

The re-launch of our website thelocalbham.com is an overflow of our growing vision for the magazine.  In this continuing narrative, we hope to paint a picture on this online canvas.  Continue to follow our progress and growth here.  All that we ask of you, the reader, is that you experiment, engage and allow yourself to be enchanted by the “Magic City.”


The Local magazine is holding a launch party today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Ben Brown Plaza to celebrate the debut of its Spring 2016 print edition. In conjunction with Sojourn, Samford University’s literary publication, Local staff members will be handing out magazines and churros– a nod to Thursday’s Cinco de Mayo holiday.

After switching the publication’s name from Exodus to The Local at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year, magazine staff members have sought to report on stories that highlight the trending people, places and organizations that contribute to Birmingham’s unique flavor. The Spring 2016 edition marks The Local’s second published volume

Samford Gives Back

This Saturday, April 16 from 8a.m. – 1 p.m. join Samford University’s in giving back to the community of Birmingham as the Samford Gives Back campus-wide initiative seeks to serve the city.

Students from sororities, fraternities, and different organizations across campus will come together Saturday morning in Samford University’s Sievert gym to receive their assignments before going out into the community. Many students don’t know what they will be doing that day, but they come with open hands and eager hearts to serve wherever there is a need.

The Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership will be sponsoring the initiative by partnering with local organizations. This year’s theme is “love your neighbor” and that is exactly what the Samford community will be doing that day. This initiative is not required for any student but more than 600 students come out to serve every year and each year the number surpasses the last.

Spring Festivals

The weather is warming up, which means that the outdoor festival season is just beginning. There are so many food, music, and cultural festivals happening in Birmingham. You can experience so much without ever having to leave the city. We came up with a list of just a few that are coming up over the next few weeks.

2016 Alabama Asian Cultures and Food Festival 
April 9, 2016, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Zamora Shrine Temple
3521 Ratliff Road, Irondale

              This festival has been hosted by the Alabama Asian Cultures Foundation for 8 years now. There will be many different music and dance performances and art displays. A a food court  will be open from 11:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. serving many different kinds of Asian cuisines. Admission is 8 dollars for adults and 5 dollars for teens, veterans, and college students with ID.

18th Annual Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival
April 8 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  abd April 9 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
St. Elias Maronite Church
836 8th Street S, Birmingham

      This two day event hosted by the St. Elias Maronite Church community is not to be missed.  Traditional Lebanese food such as kibbee, grape leaves, tabouleh, grilled chicken, homus, baklawa will be served. There will also be dancing and music performances. Admission is free. 

Bhamburger Battle
April 15 6 .m. to 9 p.m
Cahaba Brewing Company
2616 3rd Ave South, Birmingham

       Birmingham’s inaugural burger competition will have 4 local chefs. There will be  a live auction and music and proceeds will go to Crestwood Day School. The cost is 25 dollars which includes 4 slider sized burgers, bag of chips and a drink. 

Turkish Food Festival 2016
April 16 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  and April 17 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Istanbul Cultural Center
2146 Centennial Dr, Hoover

Traditional Turkish food will be served and there will also be a raffle for traditional Turkish gifts. Admission to the festival is free, however you must pay for food.

Barons Bash presented by Vulcan Material
April 16 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Railroad Park
1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham

      Celebrate the first Barons game at Railroad Park There will be food, inflatables and games. The event is free and some events will be ticketed. All proceeds will go to the Railroad Park Foundation.

Samford Baseball Hosts UAB

The Samford University baseball team will host the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Tuesday, March 1, at Joe Lee Griffin Field.

The Bulldogs (5-3) enter the game coming off a challenging four-game series that saw the team go 1-3 against Brigham Young University.

UAB carries a 3-4 record into the mid-afternoon game, having won two of its past three contests. Over the weekend, the Blazers picked up a pair of victories over Ohio University.

At the plate, Samford is led by junior right fielder Heath Quinn and senior catcher Richard Greene. Quinn tops the Bulldog lineup with seven home runs, 18 RBI and a .545 batting average. Notably, he’s been named Southern Conference Player of the Week each of the past two weeks. Greene currently boasts a .440 batting average, having laced 11 hits in 25 at-bats.

First pitch for Tuesday’s matchup is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Look inside a new creamery in Birmingham

Opening an ice cream shop wasn’t in Ryan and Geri-Martha O’Hara’s immediate plans. But a year and a half ago, those plans changed.

The O’Hara’s always had a passion for food, especially ice cream. Both had worked as professional chefs for eight years; in fact, the couple met while working together at Bottega Café, a local Italian restaurant.

Opening a creamery was a dream of theirs, but a dream they thought they might pursue a few years down the road. But after just three months of marriage, the O’Hara’s realized they had nothing to lose and decided to dive head first into their dream of opening a creamery, and Big Spoon Creamery was born.

“It was difficult at first,” Ryan said. “We knew what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it, but it was kind of a ‘Well how do we do this with no resources’ situation.”

In July 2014, they opened a pop-up shop, a temporary stand, in their driveway in Hoover, and the reaction it got was unexpected at the least.

Southern Living wrote a blog post about the couple’s ice cream, and from that day they never looked back.

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Just a year after planting their business at the end of their driveway, the couple now owns one of the most popular creameries in Birmingham.

Despite their success, or perhaps because of it, the O’Hara’s have stayed true to that early business model. Big Spoon adopted the idea of a pop-up shop for their business. On any given day, you can find their cart somewhere in Birmingham.

They market and let their customers know where they’ll be located that day on their social media sites. They also have a membership club that delivers two pints of ice cream a month to your doorstep. But, what’s made them famous is their sandwiches. The sandwiches are composed of a scoop of handcrafted ice cream squished between two freshly baked cookies.

“The ice cream sandwiches are kind of our bread and butter,” said Ryan. “That’s our staple and what we’ve become known for.”

Unusual flavors and specialty ingredients also contribute to Big Spoon’s popularity. As the seasons begin to change, the couple starts coming up with new flavors to produce. Up for fall are Pumpkin Cream Cheese Gingersnap and Georgia Nell’s Pecan Pie

“Georgia Nell was my grandmother’s name,” O’Hara said. “I’m not saying this because I’m biased, but she really makes the best pecan pie I’ve ever had.”

The O’Hara’s value using local ingredients in their ice cream. They not only try to reach out to local produce and dairy farmers, but also local artisans like Octane, a coffee shop and bar in Homewood.

“We try to work with other local artisans and people who put as much care into their product as we do,” O’Hara said.

But beyond the dream of opening Big Spoon was the hope to serve people.

“If we’re known for having great ice cream, that’s great, and I hope we are,” O’Hara said. “But really more than that we just want to be known for serving people well and treating people well, and that’s all we could really care about.”

The concept of Big Spoon was created out of the couple’s dream, and that dream extends farther than just ice cream. It means enriching the communities of the Steel City and bringing people joy through a simple treat.

“If we can do something special for people in even a small way and touch people’s lives, that’s really all that matters to us,” O’Hara said. “That’s the best part: meeting people, talking to people, sharing our story with people and getting to know people on a personal level, whether it’s our sellers or our customers, whatever it might be, that’s the best part, easily.”

Instagram, @bigspoonbham

Twitter, @BigSpoonBHAM

Facebook, Big Spoon Creamery


What’s On 2nd?

The store is located on 2nd Ave. N. in the heart of downtown Birmingham. Since its opening in 2007, What’s on 2nd has gained a reputation for being a high-quality antique shop that offers a variety of products and the feeling of nostalgia that can be found looking through the store.

Owned by Steve Gilmer and Michele Wilson, has many antiques to offer to customers, such as vintage postcards, t-shirts, toys and various collectibles.

Gilmer said he liked the location due to the aesthetic appeal of the store as well as where it is in the city.

The shop has become one of many stores to pop up in downtown Birmingham over the last few years in an attempt to make use of some of the older, previously abandoned buildings in the area.

What’s on 2nd has become special thanks to the wide stock of products. Rather than just focusing on one area like a lot of antique stores, What’s on 2nd appeals to many people.

“Some of the more popular products include the cameras and vintage postcards,” Gilmer said.

Upon walking into the store, a customer can find hundreds of postcards from various states dating back many decades.

The store is also filled with past political campaign memorabilia spanning the last five decades of presidential campaigns from Dwight Eisenhower ads to John Kerry posters.

Going upstairs to the second floor, one will find various toys hanging on the wall from popular movies such as Star Wars and X-Men. There are books, comics and pictures of Birmingham taken decades ago. One will also find vintage records by artists such as Elton John and the Bees Gees. Even the store’s restroom is covered in Elvis memorabilia.

“I’ve seen people from New York and California come in and say they don’t have anything like this store there,” Gilmer said.

There is a market for antiques in the Birmingham community and having a store located in a populated area has helped it succeed over the last seven years.

What’s on 2nd is the type of store that is fun to just look around and admire aspects of life decades ago.

Code Like a Girl


Keyboard pic edited

The push to teach girls and children to code has gained significant momentum in recent years. Organizations like Code.org and Girls Who Code have made an effort to teach youth and women about computer science, a field in which women have been under represented in the past. The supporters of these programs hope to make computer science a regular part of academia for school children, just like math, English or biology. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Shakira and supermodel Karlie Kloss have encouraged children and teens to learn to code via social media. Many celebrities, including President Barack Obama, have also  participated in the Hour of Code, hosted by Code.org. The Hour of Code is an one-hour long introduction designed to demystify computer science and show that anyone can learn the basics.

Learning to code is a worldwide phenomenon, and Birmingham is not excluded from the trend. John Johnstone, associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), teaches a Coding for Girls class at Homewood Library. The class is geared toward girls in grades 6-12. Here’s what Johnstone had to say about the coding phenomenon:

How did this course come about?
It was grassroots. I was approached by a local high school student. She saw the Girls Who Code website and wanted someone to teach a coding class in Birmingham. She reached out to me and then reached out to the Homewood Library to host. I’ve been interested in it for a long time; computer science isn’t really taught in high school. The main thing is it’s one more avenue to get people access to coding.

How can you explain learning to code?
Learning to code is a beautiful thing. It’s just expressing your thoughts in a different language. It’s a new vocabulary and learning a new way to think about things. The closest thing to coding is mathematics. It’s transforming things step by step and requires thinking logically. Code requires people to learn to think precisely and put something into steps. It’s like a recipe, but you have to generate the recipe.

How does the coding education software work?
There was a steep learning curve in the past but now there have been a lot of developments in learning material, so it’s become easier to learn. Normally you write code, submit it to a compiler and then correct the mistakes. This is immediate. You write code on the left side of the screen and see it generated on the right side. It also gives you suggestions about what you’re doing wrong. Little things like that make it quite approachable.

There’s a big movement to teach kids, specifically young girls, to code. Why do you think it’s so important?
For a long time, we haven’t had enough women in computer science. We also don’t have enough computer science, period. We need to get more people interested in it. Economically we need more people in the field. It’s lagged behind in attracting women, and we’re attempting to fix that.

“People don’t know what coding is and that’s what we’re trying to combat. When I go around and talk to random people, there’s a disconnect. They’re holding an iPhone. They know there’s some coding that goes into Googling, etc. They just don’t know how much. When they think about what they want to do, they don’t think about coding as a viable option for a career. But there’s so much to it.”
-John Johnstone

First Sloss Music Festival to be held this summer

This summer, the first Sloss Music & Arts Festival will take place in Birmingham. Sharing its name with the historic Sloss Furnace downtown, the festival will take place at Sloss Furnace July 18 and 19. There will be three stages and over 30 musical acts spanning genres such a folk, indie, alternative, and hip-hop. The line-up will include popular local band St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Tyler the Creator, and Manchester Orchestra. Additionally, food will be provided by Jim N’ Nick’s Bar-B-Que, while local brewery Trim Tab Brewing Co. will be providing beverages. Tickets are currently on sale at slossfest.com. Two day premium “Iron” passes and general admission packages are available.

Birmingham Summer Movies

Nothing says summer like movies. This summer, Birmingham has an impressive lineup of free outdoor movies–both vintage classics and recent releases–in a variety of locations around the city. Grab some friends and enjoy taking in a movie in the great outdoors! Most films start at dusk. Contact each venue for featured movies and times.

Summer movies in Avondale Park. Photo courtesy of Mark Almond (al.com)
Summer movies in Avondale Park. Photo courtesy of Mark Almond (al.com)

Flicks Among the Flowers: Birmingham Botanical Gardens


2612 Lane Park Road

Birmingham, AL 35223

(205) 414-3950


Avondale Park


Avondale Park

Birmingham, AL 35222

(205) 254-2391


Free Friday Flicks: Veterans Park


4800 Valleydale Road

Birmingham, AL 35242

(205) 444-7500


Sundown Cinemas: Helena Old Town Amphitheater


4151 Helena Road

Helena, AL 35080

(205) 663-2161