Q&A with Emma Percy: Young female pilot defies status quo in aviation

Pilot Emma Percy, 18, poses by her 1973 Bonanza V35, the plane she trains in.

Q: Where did your interest in aviation come from?

A: My dad does fly and I think that’s really what got me started with flying, you know just kind of being interested in that part of his life. So, he got me my first lesson (at Shelby County Airport). And after I took that first lesson, I was kind of hooked on it. It took me about a year of training to get my private pilot’s license which is the first license.

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The Faces of Reed Books

Reed Books is a bookstore in downtown Birmingham. With a residency of several decades, it has become a staple of the community. While people come from all over the world to view the thousands of books that line the shelves and the floors, there is much more to this bookstore than just the books. While Mr. Jim Reed, owner of Reed Books, will want to greet you with a smile, there are more faces that will welcome you into the store. Take a look…

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Earth Day Purpose and Celebrations

Earth Day comes around every year on April 22 but the history and idea behind the day is not commonly discussed. The concept for Earth Day was for the nation to focus on the environment for one day. Founder Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After seeing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara and being ruled by the student anti-war movement, he related the public needed to be aware of the air and water pollution they were contributing.  Nelson worked until the next year

Earth Day Network states that “on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.” Learn more about Earth Day.

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Q&A about “Cultural Shock.”

Q & A with Ruth Blackburn

  1. Can you introduce yourself? What’s your name? Hometown? Major?

My name is Ruth Blackburn. I am a junior from Birmingham, Alabama. My major is Foods and Nutrition with an Art minor.

  1. When people mention Asia or Asian, what is your first thought?

I think of the cultural differences between Asia and America. My best friend went to China for 6 weeks and I think of the stories of squatty potties and riding bikes all around the cities. I once read that middle-aged men in Asia are at a very high risk of suicide because of pressure to succeed and do well in the workplace.

  1. What makes you most proud to be an American?

The kindness that people show to each other even when they are strangers and do not know each other.

  1. What do you think about “Culture Shock”?

I have never been affected by culture shock very much when I go to different countries. I think I am very easy going so the differences between countries do not shock me or bother me that much and it takes a lot of effort for me to pick out the differences and things that bother me or that I like better about one country.

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Colorful Seasons of Kelly Ingram Park

May 1963, Kelly Ingram Park held organized protests and boycotts as a part of the Children’s Crusade of Birmingham. In response to these protests, law enforcement officers used fire hoses and dogs to stop the protesters. This event in history was broadcasted internationally, turning people’s attention to the endless fight for racial equality. Kelly Ingram Park holds the hearts, blood and lives of many who took a stand for justice everywhere that day. The park historically stands across the street from the Civil Rights Institute with statues and memorials decorating the acre. It’s spring colors are as vibrant today as they were then in a field of black, white, and red.

 

Q&A with Ashley Steiner of Ashley Ink & Paperie

Meet Ashley Steiner, a junior at Samford University in Birmingham by way of Overland Park, Kansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas and Milton, Georgia. Steiner is a business major and actively puts her college studies to practice when running her own company, Ashley Ink & Paperie. Ashley Ink & Paperie prides itself with its faith based roots and offers a variety of products including: note cards, prints, custom stationery, invitations, calendars, and planners with handmade illustrations. When Ashley isn’t drawing or making , Ashley can be found sitting in a local coffee shop and engaging her local community. I asked Ashley a few questions about what it’s like running her own company while also balancing being a full time student. Ashley Ink & Paperie’s mission statement is rooted in Psalm 138:3, “He made me bold by strengthening my soul.”  I had the chance to ask Ashley some questions about her experience running her own company and being a full time college student. 

How long have you been running your own company and 

how did you initially get into it?

I started Ashley Ink & Paperie in 2013 right before my junior year of high school. I have had a passion for drawing ever since I was a little girl. I could always be found making greeting cards for friends and family, but I never knew this hobby could turn into a business! During my sophomore year of high school, one of my classes assigned an independent study project. My mom gave me the idea for the project to research how to create my drawings into notecards and prints instead of giving away the original copies. My research evolved into how to start a business and it became something I really wanted to do! In August 2013 before my junior year of high school, I officially launched Ashley Ink, which grew into Ashley Ink & Paperie in 2016. In October 2013 I sold my first wholesale order to a retail store, and in November 2013 I opened the Etsy shop.

Why stationery/paper products?

Growing up, I always made greeting cards to give family for holidays and special occasions. My friends started noticing and wanting cards too, so I decided to make copies instead of giving away the originals! I believe there is so much power behind the simplicity of a handwritten note. In a world so driven by technology today, sending a tangible message is even more important. As my company has grown, notecards and stationery are just a portion of the products. Prints, calendars, and planners are also popular among customers.

Have you ever considered making other products, say (for example) t-shirts, posters, phone cases, etc.

Yes! I am currently in the process of expanding product lines…more information to come on that soon! 🙂

Is there anything else to Ashley Ink & Paperie besides your products?

Ashley Ink & Paperie has a blog at ashleyinkandpaperie.com. Besides selling online, the company wholesales to stores in various states around the country and participates in local markets. I have presented my company in a few business competitions with Entrepreneur Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, and Region’s New Venture Challenge. I was so surprised and blessed to have won both competitions last year! My company also sponsors Samford Zeta Tau Alpha by creating promotional materials for chapter events and philanthropy.

How do you balance managing your company and being a full time student?

Balancing life, school, and a business is honestly a lot like organized chaos sometimes, but I wouldn’t change it for anything! Holidays, summer, in between classes, and weekends are the major times I work on Ashley Ink & Paperie. Being a business major has been such a blessing (even though it’s hard!!) because the business school has been an incredible support for my company. I’ve been given incredible opportunities such as competing in business competitions and having an overflow of resources to learn and grow as a business owner. I’m a member of the Incubator Program for startup companies – which means I have access to mentors and an office space in the business building. I’m trying to come up with some good answer on how it all works together, but honestly, I know it’s not my own doing! There’s no other way to explain it – the Lord has been so faithful in leading me through this busy season of juggling school with owning a company.

How have you seen your company and/or products change since being a student? Has it even changed?

My goal as an artist and business owner is to never stop improving my artistic style. Since I have been at Samford, I have found so much inspiration that has greatly evolved my product lines. I have also traveled to lots of different places throughout college, all of which have inspired new work and products! My business classes have definitely helped improve the business side of operating my company and have sparked ideas for growth.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being the single mind behind your business?

There are lots of rewards at the end of the day that stretch far beyond any challenge I face as a business owner. However, I must admit that I am not the only mind behind my company. I’m an entrepreneur and artist at heart, but there’s no way I could do it all alone! My friends and family-specifically my mom who works with me-are my biggest helpers and supporters.

There’s nothing quite like meeting a customer for the first time and watching them find joy in something as simple as a notecard. It’s a feeling I cannot describe, but it gives so much reassurance in what I’m doing! I find so much joy in someone recognizing my notecards in O’Henrys or picking up a calendar from the Samford Bookstore. It’s the little things! My company is the channel through which I’m able to use the gifts I’ve been given in a tangible form, so I love waking up and being able to do that everyday!

How do you engage the community with your designs?

Social media is the major platform and means for communication with customers. Instagram by far has the most engagement, and it has been a fun way to connect with customers! I love creating local-themed artwork as well. It connects with customers on a home team level, and some of these local products are the most popular! Getting out and meeting customers the good ole-fashioned way through markets is also a fun way to engage the community.

Has there ever been a moment when you’ve considered discontinuing your business?

Oh, definitely. There are always unforeseen bends in the road and times that I’ve wondered if all the work is worth it…but then I remember why I started my company. Its purpose is so much greater than any story I can tell myself, and its calling comes from gifts and passion the Lord has placed in my life. In challenging moments, I’m reminded that I can’t rely on my own strength to succeed. What a relief! It makes me think about one day last summer when I had a booth at a local art festival. I was so excited to be there, but the weather had other plans. A massive gust of wind and pop-up downpour carried my booth’s tent down the street! Yikes. Oh well. I learned that it’s okay for business things to not always work out the way I expect–sometimes you win, and sometimes you get wet! Through every hard time, the things I have learned in the end help shape me and my company even more.

What do you hope to see for the future of your company some day?

I am so excited for the future of my company! There are lots of fun things in the works as it evolves into a lifestyle company. More to come on all of that soon!

 

For more information about Ashley and her products…

Etsy shop: ashleyink.etsy.com

Blog: ashleyinkandpaperie.com

String Theory

An unconventional & groove-worthy ensemble

A musician guides his bow across the strings of a cello. He is tucked away behind a conductor stand, embracing the cello as if it is a beloved friend. Just a few measures into the song, he thrusts the bow with vigor. The instrument delivers a melody reminiscent of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen’s chart-topping, pop-rock anthem. Have your ears deceived you, or is a conservatoire-trained musician performing rock ‘n’ roll hits on a cello?

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“Coffee-coffee-coffee, is a saying. It’s a funny, desperate cry for caffeine.”

Here in Birmingham, coffee seems to run through the city’s veins like it runs through the fictional veins of Lorelai Gilmore. If you’re looking for a place to study, catch up with a friend, or fuel your day, we’ve got you covered. Here are five unique coffee shops in Birmingham, AL.

1. seeds coffee company, 174 Oxmoor Rd, Birmingham, AL 35209

Seeds is has an industrial-rustic chic and laid-back atmosphere that’s always buzzing with studious college students and twenty-somethings.

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The dreams of the homecoming queen

Rachel Gregory Princess

Homecoming Queen Rachel Gregory with young girl.

After four years at Samford University, Rachel Gregory will graduate with more than just memories – she’ll graduate with a crown.

Crowned homecoming queen for the 2013 to 2014 school year, Gregory was excited and honored, adding the event to her list of favorite Samford memories.

Other moments that made the list include playing on several intramural teams, participating in Step Sing, joining Alpha Delta Pi and leading a small group.

“I lead an incredible group of freshman girls who encourage me and challenge me daily in my walk with Christ,” Gregory said.

Extremely involved on campus, Gregory has not only led a small group but has been the chaplain for her sorority, served as a Rho Gamma and a Connections Leader and was involved with the Student Government Association.  As a freshman, Gregory competed in the SoCon Track and Field Indoor Championship and jumped her personal best in the pole vault.

Although she has accomplished many things in her time at Samford, Gregory has several dreams for the future.

“I dream of being used in supernatural ways to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to this earth,” Gregory said. “Most of my dreams kind of scare me, but maybe that’s because I cannot attain them on my own. I have to trust that God will provide me with opportunities and that He will equip me emotionally, spiritually, and physically to accomplish the dreams He has placed in my heart.”

She has more serious dreams like living overseas or going to seminary for a degree in Christian Education, but she also has dreams of entering a swing dancing competition and working as Belle at Disney World.

As an elementary education major, one of her biggest dreams is to teach in an international school. After graduation she will be certified to teach children in grades PreK – 6 and special education. She hopes to use her teaching degree as a means of ministry and aspires to be like Mrs. Robbins, her fourth grade teacher.

“She loved me so well and inspired me to want to be a teacher just like her. Since fourth grade, I have always had my heart set on being a teacher just like Mrs. Robbins,” Gregory said.

Already making an impact not only on Samford’s campus but in the lives of children, one of Gregory’s most recent favorite Samford memories happened during Homecoming weekend.

“After being crowned Homecoming Queen,” Gregory said, “a little girl asked, ‘Are you a real princess?’ I told her yes and asked if she was a princess, too.” When the little girl responded “Yes,” Gregory asked if she would like to try on the crown. “I gingerly placed it on her head,” she said. “She then ran over to her dad shouting, “Daddy! Daddy! I just met Miss Alabama!”

With a long list of Samford memories and accomplishments, Gregory has enjoyed her years at Samford. She said that her achievements have been by the grace of God and trusts Him to lead her toward her dreams. The recent addition of a crown is just a bonus among many wonderful college memories.

By Kaitlyn Bouchillon

Crestline Village: The Mayberry of Birmingham

Tucked between the peaceful streets of Crestline Heights and the sprawling greens of the Birmingham Country Club is a home away from home — a village of shops, restaurants and city buildings. Crestline Village is its own little town just miles away from the big city.

Nestled in the heart of Mountain Brook the community of Crestline Village is a present-day Mayberry. Crestline offers both residents and visitors a retreat from the busyness of city life and reminds the Birmingham area that neighborly values mean much more than just a friendly face or welcoming smile. The sense of community runs deep through the shop owners, restaurant managers and city workers.

When talking about Crestline Village, the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce says it best: “Welcome to Crestline Village. Welcome to family.”

Every family is unique and Crestline is no different. The old brick buildings bleed history, begging visitors to slow down and enjoy the moment. From the one-of-a-kind boutiques to the modern library and the mom-and-pop pharmacy, the village offers something for everyone.

The warm atmosphere that immediately sets visitors and tourists at ease also provides a respite for locals. It’s common to see local families having a picnic in the grassy area beside the Emmet O’Neal Library, playing a game with the kid-size chess set next to City Hall or enjoying a warm cup of coffee while sitting in Church Street Coffee & Books.

One reason that both locals and visitors feel right at home is because of the camaraderie between Crestline shop and restaurant owners. Instead of trying to beat out one another, the owners speak highly of each other and even plan events together.

Natalie Babington is the manager of Snap Kids, a children’s clothing store that features comfortable and stylish clothing for all ages, from newborn to kid’s sizes to tween. “All of the shop owners and managers get along great. We always are helping each other out. We plan sales together and things like that because we want to make sure we can maximize who we reach with our sales,” Babington said.

Instead of acting as a competitor, Snap Kids often works with their neighbor Snoozy’s Kids, which has everything from toys and baby blankets to jewelry for mom.

The owner of Snoozy’s Kids, George Jones, has owned the store since 1988 and has seen kids as customers come back in years later with their own children.

“I’ve been able to retain my customers as they go through the teen years and graduation gifts. There are grandmothers who came here to buy things for their children and now they’re buying for their grandchildren,” Jones said.

One of Crestline’s unique qualities is that many of the shop owners live close by are neighbors. Jones lives in Crestline and explains that while he has a fenced-in yard, there is a gate on each side of his yard leading to his neighbors’ yards. The sense of community that permeates Crestline Village is direct evidence of the community that surrounds the village.

“We’re made up of small stores, small boutiques and small business people. A lot of us live around here, so you live in your community,” Jones said. “You work in your community, and that can’t help but make even more of a sense of community. When someone comes in and you show them a gift and you know their child, you know who they’re buying for. It’s kind of Mayberry-ish.”

It’s easy to see the plus side of living in such tight-knit community, and it’s understandable that locals don’t feel a need to move anywhere else. “We have everything from a library and city hall to the police station and a grocery store. Children’s clothes, ladies’ clothes, if you’re planning a wedding or need a photograph, drugs, or a bakery, it’s all right here,” Jones said.

Newcomers to Crestline also agree: there’s no place quite like Crestline Village, where everyone knows your name.

Alex Stone grew up in Crestline, but her store, The Pantry, was located in Cahaba Heights until recently. Now that she’s moved “home,” Stone sees a steady stream of regular customers every day. “We love it here; it’s real homely,” Stone said. “Everybody knows everybody.”

The Pantry — a health-conscious, farmstead lifestyle store in Crestline Village — places an extreme importance on the quality of food. The store is also event driven, hosting wine and cheese events and gumbo and beer night every Friday.

While Stone runs The Pantry, her mother, Deborah Stone, runs the farm that provides the restaurant with its fresh products. Deborah Stone grew up on a farm before opening one of the first day spas in America, and she couldn’t be happier to finally be back on the farm. In a way, opening The Pantry has brought both mother and daughter back home.

Because The Pantry has its own farm, many of the items sold in the restaurant are homemade. They offer everything from jams and jellies to 12 different flavors of cheese made from one of their 150 goats. The Pantry restaurant truly begins at the farm.

There’s a grab-and-go section full of soups, casseroles and tomato pies that are perfect for busy parents to pick up and pop in the oven when they get home from work. There are several juices and even cow’s milk straight from the farm — courtesy of Poppy the cow.

Looking to appeal to all generations, The Pantry also has Steel City Pops available and many different health juices. In fact, The Pantry provides the milk for both the caramel and the tomatillo pop. Between the food, pops and juicing, they’ve figured out how to gain a wide customer base.

“The juicing brings in the teenage crowd and the health-conscious moms but then the food brings in a lot of elderly people, “Stone said.

As the restaurant owners get to know their customers, they’re able to personalize the Crestline Village experience. There’s one customer that comes to The Pantry and orders a juice customized just for her. “We make a Julie Juice, and Julie comes in here every day and grabs the same juice, so we have it for her at 12 o’clock,” Stone said.

The Julie Juice, made from two celery sticks, a handful of romaine, a quarter of a lemon, an apple and a handful of spinach, has become popular as more of Julie’s friends find out about it. Stone loves it because she’s gotten to know Julie’s inner circle, figured out what they like and can now invest in them not only as customers but as people too.

Caring about people is what it’s all about for The Pantry. There’s great value in eating farm-to-table, and The Pantry is the face of the farm — a way to bring the farm to everyone in Crestline.

Right past the old drugstore and across the street from the mighty Crestline Clock Tower is another shop that cares greatly about its customers and the Crestline community.

Church Street Coffee & Books moved into an abandoned Starbucks a little more than two years ago. Since then, the store has been selling coffee, pastries and books to customers who have quickly become regulars. The specialty coffees and drinks are delicious, but it’s the cookies that keep customers coming back for more. The best seller is the break-up cookie, which is a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt baked on top.

There’s a loft upstairs perfect for students who need to study and a patio outside with a view of the clock tower as well as ample seating inside. It’s hard to find a time of day when regular customers aren’t visiting with the staff because at Church Street, there’s no such thing as “just a customer.” Everyone is treated like family.

One of the co-owners of Church Street Coffee & Books, Cal Morris, doesn’t have any big dreams for future expansion. Instead, his dream is to be a welcoming place for the community.

“Honestly, I think we are living our dream. Our dream is here,” Morris said.

And that dream of community in Crestline Village seems to be shared by every shop owner. Who doesn’t want to shop, eat and spend their afternoons playing chess or having a picnic in a place that feels like home?

There are more than 50 shops and businesses that attract people to Crestline including ice cream parlors, photography studios, Mexican and Southern cooking restaurants, gas stations, clothing stores and so much more. Crestline Village offers it all!

The brick buildings, delicious food and welcoming stores will surely draw you into this quaint town, but the people of Crestline Village will always be what makes you want to stay.