Page 1

JANUARY 2017

VOLUME 1

WHERE THERE’S A

IRON CITY

ISSUE 8

INK

will

THERE’S A

way

Ramsay football triumphantly returns to top after decades of obstacles. 18 INSIDE

SIPS & BITES

Taking the stage

‘A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart,’ Johnny Cash tribute and a ‘winning’ musical on tap for January performances. 11

HAPPENINGS

FACES

DISCOVER

2017: What’s on the horizon? From municipal elections to transportation changes and new entertainment, the Magic City has plenty in store for the new year. 20


4

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

ABOUT

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

JANUARY 2017

FACES

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

20 WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON: 2017 likely to see government, entertainment and transportation changes.

BUSINESS

FACES

B’HAM BIZARRE

BEING THE DIFFERENCE: Fair-trade boutique owner plans more positive actions to change artisans’ world. 6

GET TO KNOW THE COACH: Rob Ehsan of UAB men’s basketball sits down with Iron City Ink for a Q&A. 12

NOT THE ODD MAN OUT: Living up to its name, Birmingham Oddities a shop for the curious, macabre and grotesque. 26

SIPS & BITES

NECK OF THE WOODS

EYEING A NEW DIRECTION: Al’s Deli and Grill owners put

CENTRAL CITY: GEAR UP program offers community college waivers to parents as well as their children. 28

HAPPENINGS

WOODLAWN: Revitalization continues with the opening of the new 16,000-square-foot James Rushton Early Learning Center on First Avenue South. 30

mainstay eatery on market, but food’s not going away. 8

FROM BELGIUM TO BIRMINGHAM: Naked Art Gallery owner offers functional and wearable art. 10 TAKING THE STAGE: ‘A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart,’ Johnny Cash tribute and a ‘winning’ musical on tap for January performances. 11

l

IRON CITY

INK

CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Nonprofit promotes writing program for students in Woodlawn school system. 14

DISCOVER

VULCAN MAKE-OVER: Kiwanis Club of Birmingham

JANUARY’S BEST BETS: Your quick guide to metro Birmingham music and events scheduled this month. 33

spearheads $4M overhaul of Vulcan Park, Trail. 16

Publisher: Managing Editor: Contributing Editor: Design Editor: Director of Digital Media: Director of Photography: Copy Editor:

Dan Starnes Sydney Cromwell Jesse Chambers Kristin Williams Heather VacLav-Hooper Sarah Finnegan Louisa Jeffries

Community Reporters: Erica Techo Lexi Coon Kyle Parmley Sam Chandler Contributing Writers: Rachel Hellwig Steve Irvine

Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC

Contact Information: Iron City Ink PO Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 dan@ starnespublishing.com

Please submit all articles, information and photos to: sydney@ starnespublishing.com P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253

Legals: Iron City Ink is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Information in Iron City Ink is gathered from sources considered reliable, but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Iron City Ink. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email.

Please recycle this paper.

Advertising Manager: Matthew Allen Sales and Distribution: Warren Caldwell Eric Clements Don Harris Jon Harrison Michelle Salem Haynes Brittany Joffrion Gail Kidd James Plunkett Rhonda Smith

Advertising inquiries: matthew@starnes publishing.com


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

5

IRONCITY.INK

ABOUT

EDITOR’S NOTE

B

reaking your New Year’s resolutions might be as much of a tradition as setting them in the first place. I looked back over this last year and realized that I don’t think I hit a single one of the targets I set for myself when 2016 was just getting started. That’s a little disheartening, but I’m trying to reframe it in my mind as a chance for growth, not a personal failure. I’ve always had a big problem with failure. Being a Type-A, perfectionist sort of person has meant that even just coming up a little short on a goal could send me into a spiral of self-criticism. It’s never a healthy place to be, and I have to continually be on guard so that one tiny misstep doesn’t knock me back on my heels. But I shouldn’t see my resolution-breaking as a failure — and neither should you. In 2016 I found new goals that I could have never predicted last January, and I met them. My life took turns that I couldn’t have seen coming, and flexibility is no bad thing. Reflecting on the goals I didn’t reach is

also a chance to realize why I didn’t reach them. There’s that famous adage about doing things the same way every time and expecting different results. So I’m not going to approach my resolutions the same way I did last year. If my shortcomings in 2016 are a chance to learn about myself and do better in 2017, then can I really call them failures? If you are feeling like you came up short in 2016, be kind to yourself and don’t fall into the trap of assuming one failure defines you as a person. But don’t let it stop you from raising the bar for yourself in the New Year and finding a way to reach that bar, either. You are capable of great things if you just don’t let yourself get stuck in the same old things.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS 20 Midtown (2) 24e Fitness (11) 30 A Realty (31) ARC Realty (36) Bedzzz Express (7) Birmingham City Council (29) Birmingham Duplicate Bridge Club (23) Birmingham Museum of Art (9) Evo (17) Hanna’s Antiques (15) Hutchinson Automotive (15) Ingram New Homes (11) Iron City Realty (25) LAH Real Estate (17)

Michelson Laser Vision, Inc. (5) Opera Birmingham (14) Pies and Pints (16) RealtySouth (3) Seasick Records (12) Spikes (25) State Ballet Theatre of Russia (35) TEDx Birmingham (21) The Altamont School (23) The Highlands Community (13) The Maids (1) UAB Rheumatology (5) Urban Suburban (24) Watts Realty (12) Zoe’s Forrest Park (24)

FIND US To pick up the latest issue of Iron City Ink, scan the QR code for a complete list of our rack locations.


6

BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

IRON CITY INK

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

Being the difference

Fair-trade boutique owner plans more positive actions to change artisans’ world

“I

By JESSE CHAMBERS

tell people that fair trade’s not what I do, it’s who I am,” said Melissa Kendrick, the owner of Sojourns, a fair-trade boutique downtown that’s now heading into its second decade as a locally owned retailer. Sojourns, which Kendrick opened in 2005, carries art, jewelry, clothing and other items from about 440 cooperatives in 57 countries, including Uganda, Thailand, Guatemala and Mozambique. Like others in the growing fair-trade movement, Kendrick said she seeks to empower low-income artisans and laborers around the world to earn a living wage. “It’s my belief that all people should be treated with dignity,” she said. And in retail and fair trade, Kendrick seems to have found a way to make a living that is demanding but fun. “People say, ‘I can’t believe you work six days a week.’ I say, ‘I don’t. I go to Sojourns six days a week,’” she said. The entrepreneur said she believes in fair trade and how Kendrick smart consumer choices can have a big impact on the world. Fair trade is a rapidly growing retail sector in the United States, with more than 200 fair-trade stores and many others selling some fair-trade products, Kendrick said. “It’s grown exponentially in the last 10 years or so,” she said. There’s been an increase not only in the number of national fair-trade retailers but in the number of artisans, the quality of the products and the level of public awareness, according to Kendrick. Products are considered fair trade if the producers, often living in developing countries, are paid a fair price for what they create. Sojourns and Trade-Fair Marketplace in Huntsville are the only wholly fair-trade stores in Alabama, she said. Within Sojourns, items include African sculptures and Vietnamese prints and paintings, as well as baskets from Ghana, bracelets from Nepal, silk scarves from India and handmade greeting cards from the Philippines. Originally from Hueytown, Kendrick earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University and a master’s in public administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She graduated from UAB in 1993. She moved to Washington, D.C., in 1995 and worked and traveled for such nonprofits as UNESCO and the International Eco-Tourism Society before returning to Birmingham a decade later to take care of her ailing parents. Kendrick joined a nonprofit in Alabama but quit after only six months to start her business. “I wanted to be my own boss, [and] I was tired of boards and nonprofits and fundraising,” she said. “I wanted to do something with a vision to it, a mission. In my work and my

Sojourns, which Melissa Kendrick opened in 2005, carries art, jewelry, clothing and other items from about 440 cooperatives in 57 countries, including Uganda, Thailand, Guatemala and Mozambique. Photos by Shay Allen.

travels, I loved seeing indigenous art. While I was working in West Africa, I learned about fair trade from the coconut growers there.” Kendrick is the only full-time employee at Sojourns, and though she professes to love running the store, she also admits to being a little burned out after 11 years. Fortunately, the store is now in better shape financially, meaning Kendrick can soon pull back and hire some parttime help, she said. Kendrick said she has big plans for Sojourns, including expanded hours — taking advantage of greater activity downtown — and, beginning this fall, more products. “I would also love … to open a global café as an extension of the store, but I’m also looking at opening a second store,” she said. “I may do some fair-trade kiosks in some coffee shops around the state to build awareness and test the markets.” Fair trade and the ideals driving it may seem a bit unrealistic to some, but any small, positive action can have an effect on the lives of workers in the developing world, Kendrick said, including a consumer’s everyday buying decisions. “If you buy fair-trade coffee or fair-trade chocolate, which are the two of most-exploited crops in the world, just that would make a huge difference,” she said.

Kendrick said she also is proud of her efforts and those of other fair-trade retailers, including the ones she traveled with recently in India. “I can’t do everything, but I can do what I do,” she said, offering an example from her recent monthlong trip to India to meet workers who make some of her store’s merchandise. “Collectively, we come together to buy those products that keep these artisans employed, and I may not be changing the world, but I’m changing the world of that artisan,” Kendrick said. “It all sounds very pie in the sky, but you have to start somewhere.” Kendrick is also co-owner of Wanderlust Global Imports. Sojourns is at 2017 Third Ave. N. For more information, call 323-5680 or go to adventureartpeace.com.


8 BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

IRON CITY INK

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

The owners of Al’s Deli and Grill have listed the building and restaurant for sale with an asking price of $3.5 million. Photo by Jesse Chambers.

Al’s Deli & Grill eyes new direction Owners put mainstay eatery/hangout on the market, but food’s not going away

W

By JESSE CHAMBERS

hen local media outlets reported in November that Al’s Deli & Grill — the longtime UAB favorite and latenight hangout on 10th Avenue South — was for sale, the news upset patrons who had fallen in love with the place since it opened in 1999. This, despite the fact that Taylor Glaze, the listing broker for the sale with NAI Chase Commercial, said the owners — founder Elsayed Mohammed and two partners — don’t intend to actually close Al’s and want to find a buyer to continue current operations.

But understandably, people sought reassurance their beloved Al’s would remain. “We got a lot of feedback from social media just making sure this was not a closing,” Glaze said. The reaction showed the extent to which Al’s — with its late hours and diverse American and Mediterranean dishes, including kabobs, falafel, burgers and stuffed baked potatoes — has become part of the fabric of Southside and UAB, inspiring happy memories for a generation of customers. “I can only hope that there’s someone out there in a position to purchase the place and keep it going in some iteration,” said former UAB student and mascot Daniel Walters. “UAB has already lost too many of its iconic spots.” “I don’t think [the owners] are going to

walk away,” Glaze said. “They have too good a business. They may find someone else to manage it if they can’t find a buyer.” Walters calls Al’s “one of those iconic places that resonates with anyone who went to UAB.” “I can’t tell you how many nights I’d go and get a gyro baker and lay out in the last booth studying and working on papers, or go get cheese fries with friends after a concert or a bad breakup,” he said. Al’s served as the “mothership” for Jason Slatton, now an English teacher at Alabama School of Fine Arts, when he attended graduate school and worked as an instructor at UAB. “Favorites for me were the veggie burger with fries, gyro wrap or — depending on the lateness of the hour and attendant revelry

upon completing something of academic importance — a BBQ baker,” he said. Birmingham journalist Ramsey Archibald said he also likes the food at Al’s, “but the food isn’t what made it what it was,” he said. “It was a place everyone went, a piece of connective tissue in Birmingham that was somewhat rare, at least for me,” Archibald said. He hung out at Al’s while attending ASFA and UAB. “If you went to Al’s, no matter when you went, you would see someone you knew.” The owners are asking $3.5 million for the building and the restaurant, and the price reflects the fact that the buyer would be getting a money-making business, not just the property, according to Glaze. “You have a built-in client base,” he said. “Everyone knows Al’s.”


10

IRONCITY.INK

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

IRON CITY INK

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

FROM Belgium TO

DISCOVER

Birmingham

Naked Art Gallery owner Véronique Vanblaere aims to offer functional and wearable art

W

NECK OF THE WOODS

Véronique Vanblaere. Photos courtesy of Naked Art Gallery.

By RACHEL HELLWIG

hat’s in a name? Or, more specifically, what’s in the name Naked Art Gallery? “Naked,” in this case, refers to the naked eye. Owner Véronique Vanblaere wants visitors to view the gallery’s art with the naked eye. “It’s art for the people: approachable, non-intimidating,” said the Belgium native who has run Naked Art Gallery for the past 18 years. Inside the gallery’s cozy yellow walls at 3831 Clairmont Ave. in Forest Park are the works of dozens of Alabama-based artists, including Vanblaere. “We love to find new artists that we know have talent and will become great artists and give them a place to show and sell their art,” she said. “We also focus on functional and wearable art, allowing the people of Birmingham to have a place where they can buy handmade and local creations all year round. This helps money stay in the community, support artists and a small business.” How did Vanblaere’s path lead her from Europe to the Magic City? As a teenager, she desired to experience different countries and cultures. Like many young people, she felt being an exchange student would help facilitate this dream. When she applied to the program, she indicated Miami was a location that interested her. It was the 1980s, and Miami was in vogue in pop culture because of the TV show “Miami Vice,” she said. Instead of palm trees and beaches, she was sent to Hewitt-Trussville High School in Alabama, and it turned out to be a great fit. When she won the green card lottery in 1996, she chose to return to Birmingham. She had friends in the city, and the warm weather and Southern hospitality drew her back. As for art, it has always been a part of Vanblaere’s life. “I was born with a pencil in my hand. That is a saying we have in French. It is true,” she said. Two years after she moved back to Birmingham, she founded Naked Art Gallery with her initial business partner, Jennifer Staib. Vanblaere said she originally wanted to make a living from her art, but soon found she spent more time on the gallery. Her personal style of mixed media art is continually changing, developing with different chapters of life, Vanblaere said.

Inside Naked Art Gallery’s cozy yellow walls at 3831 Clairmont Ave. in Forest Park are the works of dozens of Alabamabased artists, including Vanblaere.

“I am not the kind to do the same thing over and over,” she said. “My work is consistently evolving. I used to paint a lot, but I also travel extensively, so I adapted to a medium that I can carry with me everywhere. Drawing is ’portable art,’ and it happens to work perfectly with my illustrative style. It still involves mixed media, as I collage and sew these drawings later when I am in the studio.” Vanblaere’s larger projects include painting the interior of Birmingham’s now-closed “Tau Poco” restaurant, and being the animator, writer and director of the animated film “Bottomless,” an autobiographically-inspired story about a woman who moves from Belgium to the U.S. The film was screened earlier this year at the American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in France. In addition to hosting exhibits throughout the year, Naked Art Gallery regularly participates in Forest Park’s “Third

Friday.” Held the third Friday of each month, the businesses and restaurants of Forest Park stay open until 8 p.m. to let guests enjoy local establishments after hours. Part of the event includes “Tour de Loo,” a competition of art installations in the restrooms of different businesses, including Naked Art Gallery — in keeping with the gallery’s nontraditional approach to art. Reflecting on the past 18 years of business, Vanblaere said she is very happy with what Naked Art Gallery has achieved thus far. Looking to the future, she expressed interest in working more with local nonprofits. Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with artsBHAM. To learn more about them, visit artsbham.com.


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

11

IRONCITY.INK

HAPPENINGS

On stage at Red Mountain Theatre Company’s Cabaret STAFF REPORT

S artsBHAM

ince its premiere in April 2013, “A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart,” the true story of a young girl living in Florence during the Civil War, has been performed countless times across the state. This month, it’s coming to the Red Mountain Theatre Cabaret. Storyteller Dolores Hydock and musician Bobby Horton of Three on a String fame chronicle 26 years in the life of Sallie Independence Foster, beginning with her at age 12, when the Civil War began. With the help of librarians, historians and even a couple of Foster’s descendants, Hydock had access to Foster’s diary, as well as letters and other writings that helped her create a comprehensive look into Foster’s life in Florence during that time. “I was privileged to meet Jim McDonald and Flora Speed, brother and sister who are Sallie’s great-grandson and great-granddaughter,” Hydock said. “They [donated the papers to the University of North Alabama archives], and I was able to meet with them

’A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart’ • WHERE: RMTC Cabaret Theatre, 301 19th St. N. • WHEN: Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. • TICKETS: $15 and up • WEB: redmountaintheatre.org Bobby Horton and Dolores Hydock. Photo courtesy of Dolores Hydock.

several times to hear about them finding the papers, the process of their deciding to donate them to the university and what it felt like for them to hear and see their own great grandmother’s story brought to life in this performance.” Horton provides the music for the show. “Bobby’s period music, camp songs and original compositions do provide a kind of ’score’ for the story, but they are more than that,” Hydock said. “While I read letters from Sallie’s brothers off at war, for example, in

between each letter, Bobby sings one of the Civil War camp songs that would have been sung by the soldiers of the time. “Bobby’s original instrumental compositions underneath the story also adds a dramatic and emotional component to the words,” she said.

Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with artsBHAM. To learn more about them, visit artsbham.com.

OTHER SHOWS THIS MONTH ’BINGO! The Winning Musical’ ► Jan. 12-Feb. 4: Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays (Jan. 22 and 29 only) at 2:30 p.m. ► Directed and choreographed by Tawny Stephens. ► Starring Sunny Brown, Holly Dikeman, Howard Green, Emily Hoppe, Sara James, Elise Mayfield and Dianna Murphree. ► Tickets: $25. ► More info: terrificnewtheatre.com ’Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash’ ► Jan. 26-Feb. 12: Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. ► Virginia Samford Theatre, 1116 26th St. S. ► Stars Ben Hope, who was seen recently on Broadway in “ONCE.” ► Tickets: $15 for students, $30$35 for adults. ► More info: virginiasamfordtheatre. org – artsBHAM


12 BUSINESS

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

Getting to know ... UAB men’s basketball coach Rob Ehsan By KYLE PARMLEY

R Rob Ehsan was named the sixth men’s basketball coach in UAB history on April 4. Photos courtesy of UAB Athletics.

ob Ehsan was named the sixth men’s basketball coach in UAB history on April 4, 2016. Ehsan recently spent a few moments with Iron City Ink to discuss some important and some not-so-important topics as the new leader of the program. Q: How different is it to have an entire program under your authority now, being a first-time head coach? A: It’s been an awesome feeling. It still hasn’t completely sunk in yet, you know? I think as time goes on it will, especially given everything that’s happened [his wife, Lindsey, had the couple’s second child 10 days after being named head coach]. I can’t imagine there will be a crazier two weeks in my life. But it’s all a good thing. It’s awesome. I’m living the dream. I’m excited about the opportunity. Q: You have worked for some great coaches in Gary Williams at Maryland, Seth Greenberg at Virginia Tech and Jerod Haase at UAB. How will your experiences with them influence

your personal philosophies? A: When I was younger, the foundation of my coaching was really all from Coach Williams, to be honest. I feel like that experience taught me so many things about how to coach and how to run a program. The last four years under Jerod Haase, there’s a ton, because of how successful we’ve been. A lot of his philosophy I’ve adapted as well. I’m going to continue to develop as we go along. Q: How big of a deal is it to uphold the legacy of Gene Bartow, the Father of UAB Athletics? A: It’s huge, and it’s something I’m going to work extremely hard to do with our fans, our boosters, our players and our recruits. UAB basketball hasn’t been around 100 years. It’s been only [38] years, and had only [four] losing seasons in that time. That could never happen today. The way he (started the program) was remarkable, and that’s what makes UAB special. That makes the job very desirable and high-level, in my opinion. It’s 100 percent the legacy of Gene Bartow. I feel like that is my responsibility to uphold it. Q: You played four seasons at the University of California,


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

13

FACES Davis, in the early 2000s. Can you still shoot a basketball? A: We play these shooting games with our guys during the season sometimes. I had a good streak last December, where I was winning our shooting contests. But I fell off toward the end of the season. I don’t play as much anymore, but I do like to shoot. Q: Where did you meet your wife? A: UC Davis, where I went to school. I had such great experiences in college and probably the best of all was meeting her. Q: Out of the cities that you have lived in, which one is your favorite? A: Honestly, and I’m not just saying this, I’m going to say Birmingham. It’s the size. It’s not too big, but it’s not too small. There is a great vibe. The growth right now in Birmingham is awesome. I love it because there’s not too much traffic, but you don’t feel like it’s Blacksburg (Virginia), where there are only a few places to eat. Q: What are some of your favorite things to do that don’t involve basketball? A: I love spending time with our whole family, doing family vacations. We love going to the beach. My daughter is a big singer and dancer, and I think she got that from me. I love to sing and dance. That trait has been on to my daughter for sure. Really, that’s been my life. My wife and I have also gotten some of our assistant coaches playing tennis. Q: Your hair never moves. What brand of hair gel do you use? A: (American) Crew. That’s the best kind. I tried for four years to get Coach Haase to wear hair gel. He got really close a couple times. Q: Do you have one final story about Jerod Haase? A: Coach Haase used to joke, “Rob likes fashion,” which is not super true. But I did buy him his first pair of skinny jeans. He’s been obsessed with them ever since.

Ehsan spent the last four years as an assistant at UAB and now has his chance to be the head coach.

a new kind of resort living Two Mountain Ridges - Two Lakes - Twice the Resort

Luxury Mountain Living IN THE HEART OF

Alabama THEHIGHLANDSCOMMUNITY.COM Contact ARC Realty 205.969.8910


14 BUSINESS

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

creativity

CULTIVATING

Desert Island Supply Co. nonprofit promotes writing program for students in Woodlawn school system

T

By SAM CHANDLER

he name of Desert Island Supply Co. is a bit of a misnomer. Contrary to what its name or acronym may suggest, DISCO is not an Army-Navy surplus outlet, nor is it a retro dance club. Rather, DISCO is a Woodlawn-based community nonprofit that helps students cultivate their creative energy through writing, poetry and other forms of storytelling. Founded in 2010, DISCO

A student in the Woodlawn Writers Corps reads her poem to a packed Desert Island Supply Co. community center, located at 5500 First Ave. N., in May. Photo by Shay Allen.

has become a multifaceted platform that offers in-school instruction, after-school workshops and serves as a venue for community events. “We really love that idea of a desert island as a metaphor,” DISCO co-founder Chip Brantley said. “On a desert island, you have your wits. You basically have nothing but your wits. You have to create solutions to all your problems. You have to use your imagination, both to figure out how to survive, how to get off, but also how to create a good life there.” Students in the Woodlawn Writers Corps, one of DISCO’s in-school initiatives, took advantage of that opportunity in May. Before a packed crowd of parents and teachers at DISCO’s community center, Corps members stepped on stage, lowered the microphone and read poems they had penned for


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

15

FACES “The Stars Are Lying,” a student poetry collection published by Desert Island. “I saw a lot of students who came to that reading who I wouldn’t have pegged as most likely to attend the reading of their own work,” said Chris Izor, a DISCO employee. “But when they were here, they were standing in line ready to read their poem, and as everybody is coming up, everybody is clapping, and then they read their poem, and then they’re celebrated for the work that they did.”

IDENTIFYING A NEED

Brantley and his wife, Elizabeth Hughey, originally launched DISCO for reasons Brantley said were both practical and personal. Brantley, a journalism professor at the University of Alabama, and Hughey, a professional writer, are both graduates of Mountain Brook High School. The couple and their two children previously resided in Massachusetts, but they moved to Crestwood in 2009, not far from Woodlawn High School. Brantley’s grandmother attended Woodlawn High, which emotionally bonded him to the school and surrounding community, he said. While living in Massachusetts, Brantley said he and his wife recognized a need in the education system for programs that specialized in creative writing and storytelling. Although they had considered starting an initiative of their own, it wasn’t until they returned to their home state that the idea began to take shape. Brantley said the prospect of implementing a creative writing program first gained traction after he attended a community breakfast at Woodlawn High near the start of the 2009-10 school year.

“I met the community coordinator at the time there, who’s since retired, and just asked him if they ever needed any help, if they needed any volunteers to help with tutoring English or writing or anything like that,” he said. “I went back to meet with him the next week, and we walked around the school, and I left there and there were like 15 things.” Brantley began making phone calls to friends who were writers, editors and retired teachers, hoping they would express interest in donating time to Woodlawn students. Before too long, he said a stream of volunteers emerged, bringing DISCO to life. “Our goal is not to turn everybody into a writer,” Brantley said. “Our goal is to sort of nurture that love of creativity that’s already there, that impulse and imagination.”

MAKING AN IMPACT

Like the organization itself, DISCO’s impact on the community has grown continually since its inception. Although it only served Woodlawn High at the outset, DISCO has now expanded its in-school reach to every academic institution in the Woodlawn Innovation Network: Avondale Elementary, Oliver Elementary, Hayes K-8 and Putnam Middle School. To connect directly with students, DISCO developed two initiatives that extend throughout the school system: the Woodlawn Writers Corps and the Woodlawn Story Lab. The Woodlawn Writers Corps emphasizes poetry and creative writing, while the Woodlawn Story Lab promotes audio storytelling and journalism. At Woodlawn High, DISCO also works in conjunction with the Tattler student newspaper, which was revived after years of dormancy.

“What we do so often is not teach, but you provide an opportunity for students, for kids to do what they’re already inclined to do, which is make stories, which is be creative, which is use their imagination,” Brantley said. During the 2015-16 academic year, DISCO volunteers — often times professional writers, poets and illustrators — visited classrooms four days a week. In that allotted space, students were given time to exercise their imagination through a number of creative activities, including writing and drawing. Izor, the DISCO employee, said the programs offered to students provide a deviation from standardized learning methods. “There’s this tremendous value in anything that allows for you to be yourself and to create something of your own,” Izor said. “Anything that’s creative is almost in a way an act of resistance against this very structured way of doing education. It’s something that’s very freeing.” In addition to DISCO’s in-school programs, it holds free after-school workshops both on campuses and at its community center. The workshops hosted at DISCO’s brick-andmortar location are open to all area students, not just those in the Woodlawn feeder system. At 5500 First Ave. N., DISCO also serves as an event venue, where its hosts everything from musical performances to book readings. “We love the idea of a place where you can supply yourself, where you could actually come and do creative work,” Brantley said. “I think for so many people it’s something that’s not nurtured, regardless of where you grew up.” For more information about the Desert Island Supply Co., go to discobham.com or visit its Facebook page.


16 BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

IRON CITY INK

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

Kiwanis Club spearheads $4M overhaul of Vulcan Park, Trail

V

By JESSE CHAMBERS

ulcan, the Magic City’s legendary cast-iron statue, is “an enduring icon of the can-do spirit” of the city, according to Tom Thagard, president of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham. That icon and the park where he resides will soon get a much-needed 21st-century makeover. Birmingham Kiwanis — set to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017 — plans to raise $4 million to make major improvements to Vulcan Park and extend the Vulcan Trail jogging and bike path two more miles to Green Springs Highway. Thagard and Birmingham Mayor William Bell announced the Kiwanis Centennial Project at the Harbert Center on Nov. 15, and Thagard made a presentation to the Birmingham City Council on Nov. 22. “We hope to reinvigorate Vulcan as the

heart of our new, dynamic Birmingham (and to) reconnect Vulcan with Birmingham visually, physically and spiritually,” Thagard said. The project has three components: ► The first phase will include improvements to the north side of Vulcan Park, including landscaping, renovation of the lower piazza entrance and the building of steps for walking access to the statue. This municipal and event space will be known as Kiwanis Centennial Park. The goal is to reconnect the park to the city, according to Guin Robinson, board chairman of the Vulcan Park Foundation. “The front yard of the city is about to get a major renovation,” Robinson said. ► The second component will be the jogging and bike trail, which will serve as “the backbone” of the planned 750-mile Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System, according to Jim Proctor, board chairman of Freshwater Land Trust, another project partner.

Plans for Vulcan Park include significant renovations and landscaping around the park, as well as additions to the jogging and bike trail. Renderings courtesy of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham.

► The third component will be a multicolored light show, designed by wellknown lighting design firm Schuler Shook, to be projected onto Vulcan each night to enhance the statue’s image. The light show will feature the same fixtures and computer system used on the Empire State Building, according to Thagard.

The Centennial Project is “designed to project Birmingham’s new, vibrant image regionally, nationally and — with the coming of the World Games in 2021 — even internationally,” Thagard said. Ralph Cook and Drayton Nabers will serve as co-chairmen of the fundraising effort, according to Thagard.


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

17

FACES

A groundbreaking is planned for May 2017, the KCOB’s centennial month. “The experience of walking along (Vulcan Trail) and having beautiful views of downtown Birmingham will be highly improved by the work that’s going to be done,” Bell said in November. Connecting Vulcan Park with a new sidewalk on Green Springs Highway and walking trails in George Ward Park in Glen Iris is a major step forward, according to

Councilor Valerie Abbott. “We’re finally getting a network of trails where you can get some real exercise,” she said. Kiwanis helped create Vulcan Park in the 1930s, making it appropriate that the club get involved with the facility again, according to Thagard. “Invigorating Vulcan’s role as the unifying symbol of Birmingham is fitting for our club’s Centennial Project,” he said.

Kiwanis Club of Birmingham helped create Vulcan Park in the 1930s, making it appropriate that the club get involved with the facility again.


18 BUSINESS

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

COVER STORY: Ramsay football triumphantly returns to top after decades of obstacles.

WHERE THERE’S A

J

will

way

Ramsay High School football players and coaching staff pose with the state championship trophy after the Dec. 16 parade and pep rally celebrating their 6A state championship win at Kelly Ingram Park. The team was the first to win the state title in their school’s history and the first Birmingham City school to win since 1973. Photos and cover photo by Sarah Finnegan.

THERE’S A

By STEVE IRVINE

ust days before the biggest football game of his coaching career, Rueben Nelson sat inside an office in the corner of the bustling front office of Ramsay High School. Nelson, the school’s head football coach, was three days away from taking his team on the final step of an incredible — if somewhat unbelievable — journey. He likened the whole thing to a roller coaster ride that began in 2012, when he took over a proud program dormant since the 1976 season concluded. He talked about his stomach jumping as he traveled through the twists and turns. He admitted his stomach has finally quit churning, and his arms are raised in joy.


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

19

FACES He talked about the end. “That’s where I am right now with these kids,” Nelson said with a small, bittersweet smile creasing his face. “I’m at the end of the roller coaster ride, but everything is feeling good. I finally got my hands extended, but it’s going to come to an end.” On Dec. 2, moments after his team beat Opelika, 21-16, in the Class 6A state championship game, Nelson took a step forward onto the playing field at Jordan-Hare Stadium on the campus of Auburn University and dropped to his knees. The ride was over. Tears escaped his eyes and rolled down his cheeks as he was engulfed by a group of kids who brought a state football championship back to the city of Birmingham for the first time since now-defunct Banks High won the second of its back-to-back titles in 1973. “I believe that God has his hand all over this team,” Nelson said. “I believe that God has the power to make small things into big things. I can’t think of anything starting out smaller, but I know the Alabama High School [Athletic] Association’s championship is a big thing.” Truly understanding the moment, though, is impossible without considering what this group has endured to reach the top. It’s a team that not only doesn’t have a home stadium but also doesn’t have a practice field at the school. The players and coaches took the 10-mile bus trip to Lawson Field at the end of each school day for practice. They often didn’t return to the school until well after 7 p.m. If there was a problem with the bus transportation, practice was called off. Workouts had to be held in shifts because the weight room has just four weight racks. The team not only has no field house, which most schools in the Birmingham metro area have, but it also has no locker room to call its own. “I was under the impression that we would get all the things that other schools got when we came in,” Nelson said. “People don’t know how much these kids have endured.” The toughest times to endure were the early days. In 2012, the Rams won just one of 10 games, were outscored 401-140, and lost to Homewood 75-13. The following year, in Ramsay’s first varsity season since the return, the Rams finished 2-8, including a 54-6 loss to Homewood. Times weren’t good. “There is just something about these kids, man,” Nelson said “I’m just being honest with you; I don’t know if I would come back, when everybody in the school laughs at you. Everybody in the school is itching for basketball season to start. That’s just a testament to this graduating class.” Members of this year’s senior class were forced into action as freshmen in 2013 because the Rams didn’t have any lower level teams. But things changed the following season. Nelson’s third team included about 20 sophomores in the rotation, with at least half of those starters, and finished 11-2, advancing to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. Last season, the Rams finished 7-4 and lost in the first round of the 5A playoffs. Another factor in the ascension was a strength and conditioning program run by former UAB and NFL defensive lineman Otis Leverette. “I called him after that 2013 season and said, ‘I need help getting these guys tough,’” Nelson said. “He got these kids tougher, man. We wanted to let Otis have them, get them ready and give them back to us ready to play football.” However, even with things going well, the Rams faced another roadblock before the season when they were moved

Players bow their heads in prayer while celebrating their Class 6A state championship win, the first time the trophy’s been back at a city of Birmingham school since the now-defunct Banks High won the second of its back-to-back titles in 1973.

I’ve learned to enjoy every minute with these kids, because I know I didn’t have much time left with them to be their head coach in this capacity. It’s been wonderful.

RUEBEN NELSON

to Class 6A. “I knew we were good, but I thought we’d be a good 5A team,” Nelson said. “Now, I’m thinking to myself, can we compete at 6A? All that we’ve done could be ruined because we’re going 6A. That’s the human side of me.” No need to worry. The Rams were led by a senior class that included Alabama’s Mr. Football candidate quarterback Baniko Harley; they had one of the best lines in the state and key members of a defense that made big play after big play. In the end, they lost to only one team from the state this season. They also gave Nelson memories that will never fade, which he thought about each time he traveled to a game on the team bus. “For that moment, I’m the highest paid, most powerful coach in America because I love that ride with these kids,” Nelson said. “Let me tell you something, man: Getting off that bus with another set of kids, will be different. I’ve learned to enjoy every minute with these kids, because I know I didn’t have much time left with them to be their head coach in this capacity. It’s been wonderful.”

Junior wide receiver Starling Thomas pulls down a pass during Ramsay High School’s Oct. 28 game against Mountain Brook. The Rams lost, 19-13, which was their only loss of the season to an in-state opponent. Photo by Todd Lester.


20

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

What’s on the horizon: 2017

Elections, Senior Games, return of Blazer football just a few of the many things ahead

A

By JESSE CHAMBERS

fter decades of stagnation, Birmingham — with its booming City Center, vibrant food culture and increasing number of successful entrepreneurs — seems to be moving in the right direction. Birmingham is, perhaps, finally regaining its status as the so-called “Magic City.” At Iron City Ink, it’s our mission to write about the city’s progress — and about creative, grassroots efforts to solve its problems — as we move into 2017. We’re gazing into the proverbial crystal ball and listing a few of the Birmingham stories we expect to hear more about in the upcoming year.

Photo by Sydney Cromwell.


22 BUSINESS

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

All nine City Council members — at least those who desire additional four-year terms — face re-election Aug. 22. Photo by Jesse Chambers.

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS The city will hold municipal elections Aug. 22, and Mayor William Bell and all nine City Council members — at least those who desire additional four-year terms — will face re-election. Bell, who’s been mayor since 2010, told media outlets in August he will run again. He’ll have at least one challenger, Randall Woodfin, president of the BirAustin mingham Board of Education, who announced his candidacy in August. “I think there’s an opportunity to have a conversation with voters, with residents, with business owners … about how we can be more accountable, about how we can be more transparent and how we can have a vision and plan around growing our city,” Woodfin told Iron City Ink at the time of his Woodfin announcement. Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin, one of Bell’s political sparring partners, said in August he hasn’t ruled out a mayoral run.

The construction of a new home for the Collat School of Business, seen above, and Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is planned to begin this year. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

UAB KEEPS GROWING It’s not just football where UAB will make news. The school has been the single biggest engine for growth in Birmingham for decades, and that likely won’t change soon. The university continues to grow, with a recordhigh enrollment of 19,535 for the fall term. There are numerous big construction projects in the works for 2017, including major renovations to the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel at University

UAB FOOTBALL

NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES The Magic City is hosting the World Games in 2021, which isn’t that far away — not if you’re a city like Birmingham preparing to host its first international, multisport event. But Birmingham will have a chance to test its capacities, including lodging and transportation, when it hosts the National Senior Games on June 1-15, with thousands of athletes over 50 competing in nearly 20 sports. The games will use numerous local venues, including the BJCC and Birmingham CrossPlex.

Boulevard and 20th Street and the construction of a new home for the Collat School of Business and Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. And last summer, UAB President Ray Watts told Iron City Ink the university would soon help develop a new Innovation District downtown, leveraging the success of the Innovation Depot business incubator.

UAB head football coach Bill Clark. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Sept. 2, 2017, has been circled on UAB head football coach Bill Clark’s calendar for quite some time. That’s when the Blazers will return to the field after a two-year absence, following the program’s near-death in December 2014 and resurrection in June 2015. And excitement is building. The new Football Operations Center, which broke ground in September 2015, should be complete July 1. Amendment 14 was passed by voters in November, thereby protecting a proposed stadium at the BJCC that could be the future home of Blazer football. UAB spent the 2016 season practicing and preparing as if there were games to be played, and a pair of scrimmages drew healthy crowds to BBVA Compass Field. Fans, players, coaches and administrators are anxious for the return of real games — beginning with that Sept. 2 Legion Field contest versus Alabama A&M. The momentum within the program is strong, and the Blazers hope to keep it rolling. – Kyle Parmley


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

23

IRONCITY.INK

FACES The BJCC, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday, may soon see major improvements in the upcoming year. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

NEW LIFE FOR BJCC?

CIVIL RIGHTS DISTRICT STATUS

The BJCC could see big changes soon, based on a draft of a new master plan that includes the much-discussed open-air stadium and major upgrades to Legacy Arena, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday. Legacy would get a new façade, suite level and entrances, improved concourses and enhanced food and beverage. “It’s a top-down, soup-to-nuts overhaul of the building,” BJCC Executive Director Tad Snider said.

President Barack Obama, before he leaves office this month, was expected to sign a proclamation making the Civil Rights District downtown a national monument. This designation would have a major economic impact on the district, including the traditional African-American commercial strip along Fourth Avenue North, according to Mayor William Bell.

Before moving forward, the BJCC board of directors is “working through the due diligence phase” but should be able to “finalize a plan” for the facility sometime in 2017, Snider said in November. The BJCC got a boost in November when the Birmingham City Council approved plans for the building of Topgolf, a 65,000-square-foot, high-tech golf entertainment complex adjacent to the Uptown entertainment district.

“It will also mean access to some federal dollars, as well as grants and other funding for the entire district, to improve quality of life in that area,” Bell said. The district includes such key sites as Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the A.G. Gaston Motel, which the city would like to renovate.

Let us help spread the news! Email sydney@starnespublishing.com to submit your announcement.


24 BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

IRON CITY INK

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

Construction continues at the Morris Avenue Birmingham Intermodal Facility, which will combine the MAX bus system, Amtrak, Greyhound and Megabus terminals, as well as eventually connecting the BJCTA’s new Bus Rapid Transit system. Photo by Jesse Chambers.

Move I-20/59 seeks to move the interstate north of the BJCC, arguing that the present elevated highway has cut off the poorer, mostly black neighborhoods north of downtown from economic development. Photo by Jesse Chambers.

ALDOT PLAN FOR I -20/59

MASS TRANSIT There may finally be some improvements in the city’s horribly inadequate public transportation beginning in the spring when the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority is set to adopt its new Transit Development Plan. As Iron City Ink reported in August, the plan calls for increased service frequency, improvements to bus routes and schedules, more evening and weekend service, and a 12.5-mile Bus Rapid Transit Project, which would connect the city between Woodlawn and Five Points West and work

DISCOVER

in tandem with the existing MAX bus system. However, word came in early December that the scope of the BRT may be reduced due to a funding shortfall. According to a report by the Birmingham Business Journal, the Birmingham City Council was told by Strada — a consulting firm working with the BJCTA — that only $40 million in federal funding had been secured so far for the BRT, which has a price tag of $66 million. But the firm expressed optimism that the city could find more funding.

It seems that ALDOT’s plans to replace and widen the aging Interstate 20/59 bridge through downtown Birmingham keep moving forward, despite some vocal opposition. In November, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by some Birmingham politicians and activists that sought to block the plan and said he was satisfied that federal and state highway agencies have properly assessed the new bridge’s environmental impact. However, Darrell O’Quinn, executive

director of the nonprofit group Move I-20/59, told AL.com that the plaintiffs were considering an appeal. And the Birmingham City Council recently voted to do another study of options for the bridge, using $3 million from ALDOT. Move I-20/59 seeks to move the highway north of the BJCC, arguing that the present elevated highway has cut off the poorer, mostly black neighborhoods north of downtown from economic development.


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

25

IRONCITY.INK

FACES

DOWNTOWN ROCKS ON Downtown Birmingham is rapidly being rebuilt, with dozens of projects in progress, both renovations and new construction, including hotels, restaurants and apartment buildings. “You go from one construction site to another … and I love it,” said Michael Calvert, former longtime director of Operation New Birmingham. One of the projects that should be completed in 2017 is the renovation of the iconic, long-vacant Pizitz department store building as a mixed-use retail, office and residential complex. The facility will include a movie theater operated by Sidewalk Film Festival and a food hall on the main floor. Stalls in the food hall will include REV Birmingham’s ”Reveal Kitchen,” an incubator for Birmingham's up-and-coming restaurateurs that will rotate quarterly. The Thomas Jefferson Tower, once the Thomas Jefferson Hotel, is undergoing a $30 million renovation to create almost 100 apartments, as well as a restaurant, ballroom and event space. The Waites Project — a $16.5 million retail and residential development — is nearing completion on Seventh Avenue South near UAB. The retail spaces could be open as early as this month, with apartments available by May, according to developer Rodney Barstein. And downtown will finally have a major grocery store when the long-awaited Publix store opens, most likely in January, as part of a three-building, $100 million complex at Third Avenue South and 20th Street in Midtown.

SAVING THE NEIGHBORHOODS Last but not least, expect to hear lots of talk in 2017 about improving Birmingham’s neighborhoods — especially during the elections. Some of the city’s neighborhoods, including Norwood, Avondale, East Lake and Woodlawn, have shown signs of rebirth, but more remains to be done in Ensley, Inglenook, North Birmingham and other communities. “The city of Birmingham is only as strong as its lowest quality-of-life neighborhood,” Woodfin said during an interview after announcing his mayoral run. We will follow other news, as well, including Alabama’s continuing drought and progress on the Crossplex Retail Development Project in Five Points West and other developments.

We want to hear from you! The Thomas Jefferson Tower on Second Avenue North is undergoing a $30 million renovation to create almost 100 apartments, as well as a restaurant, ballroom and event space. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Do you have any suggestions for other stories we should follow in the New Year? Write us at jchambers@starnespublishing.com or sydney@starnespublishing.com.


26 BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

IRON CITY INK

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

Adam Williams, the owner of Birmingham Oddities at 2300 First Ave. N., holds one of his own pieces of bone artwork. Below left: Masks and mounted skulls are just a few of the pieces on display. Below right: Williams said the pieces he sells, such as this carved boar’s skull imported from Bali, are a way to make bones and skulls seem less scary and more beautiful. Photos by Sydney Cromwell.

BIRMINGHAM T ODDITIES:

By SYDNEY CROMWELL

A shop that lives up to its name

here are phrases I never expect to hear in interviews. “Human bones are a little easier to come by than you might think,” is certainly one of them. But when you’re talking to the owner of a shop called Birmingham Oddities, it’s probably best to check your expectations at the door. Owner Adam Williams, whose full-time job is in making prosthetic limbs and bracing, has run his shop of the curious, macabre and grotesque on Saturdays for about a year and a half. He said many of his shoppers are surprised to find out just how many other people share their niche interests. “Everybody comes in, and they were like, ‘Oh, I collect this stuff, too. It’s so weird. I didn’t think anybody else liked this,’” Williams said. “And I hear that out of everyone’s mouth. So it’s funny — most people think they’re the odd one, but they really just end up like-minded to so many other people.” Williams’ start in the oddities business came from his own artwork using bones and hardware to make sculptures. One of his projects in the store was the left half of a human skull suspended in a wooden gyroscopic mount so it can be viewed from any angle. With his medical education,


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

27

B’HAM BIZARRE Left: A skeleton riding a bicycle is set up over the shop door. It’s also the logo for Birmingham Oddities. Below: Wet animal specimens are popular sellers and always get big reactions from Birmingham Oddities shoppers.

Williams had the advantage of not only a keen interest in the human body but also knowledge of how to obtain skeletal remains for his own purposes. “I didn’t really start out as an oddities collector. I started out as a scientist and then when I found what I did, that curiosity inside me branched out to so many different things,” he said. Despite popular belief, there are actually few laws governing sale of human skeletons and even body parts. Between medical schools, private collectors and even eBay — up until a few months ago, when the site changed its policy — Williams said skeletons are a fairly accessible artistic medium. Thus came the quote that stood out to me most in our conversation. Birmingham Oddities started as a studio space for Williams and a friend. They decided to turn it into an oddities gallery, as they were both collectors themselves and knew several artists with similar interests. It became an instant hit. “It came about because everybody is weird, and when I put a store out there for them, they bum-rushed it,” Williams said. Despite Birmingham’s vibrant food scene, Williams said he doesn’t think many Birmingham residents have begun thinking of downtown as a place to spend time and money outside of mealtime. “Birmingham is very creative and very full and rich of great-minded people, but the area just hasn’t supported that,” Williams said. “They haven’t switched their mentality yet.” While he’s proud his shop is considered something of a weekend destination, Williams would like to see more places to spend time and see his existing small business neighbors succeed as well. “There’s a local business group of people here, and we all really promote each other and invest in our customers and say, ‘Tell people about this. We can’t survive unless you

What’s going on? Know about something in Birmingham you consider bizarre, eclectic or utterly original? Let us know! Email information to sydney@ starnespublishing.com. guys keep coming down here.’ Five dollars or $10 in any one of these stores is enough to keep us running if everybody will just persist in doing that,” he said. When I visited Williams’ shop, the shelves included skulls (both from humans and other animals), masks, preserved insects, signs, geodes, fossils, artwork, animals preserved in jars and at least three skeletons. And that was just from a quick look around. I could tell Birmingham Oddities is the sort of place you can spend hours and still keep uncovering new items. Williams finds his oddities through fellow artists, estate sales, auctions, collectors and more. He said he’s yet to find something too weird to put in the store. He sees himself as responsible for introducing weird and unfamiliar items to Birmingham’s inquisitive minds. “I have seen so much that anything that compels me will typically compel someone else,” Williams said. “So the majority of the inventory here are things that I find fascinating, in a way.” Over time, he has learned his customers’ interests, though. Skulls with paint or notes from their past medical

uses are always popular, as are the “wet specimens” of animals, though Williams considers them “by far the grossest” items in the store. Other big sellers include insect displays and rat or small animal skulls. Running Birmingham Oddities means that Williams gets to meet like-minded people in the city each Saturday. He intentionally places some of the more grotesque and surprising items near his sales counter, so he can watch new customers’ faces as they encounter a snake coiled up in a jar of fluid. “It’s like their body is moving away, but their eyes just keep getting closer,” Williams said. Williams frequently hears shoppers say, “You don’t see that every day.” His response: “You do at Birmingham Oddities.”


28 BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

CENTRAL CITY

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

IRON CITY INK

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

Organization partners with Jamaican sister city

By SYDNEY CROMWELL Members of the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization are traveling to Kingston, Jamaica, this month to officially create a Sister Cities partnership. Mayor William Bell will be part of the delegation. Scotty Colson, the director of Birmingham Sister Cities, said CACAO approached the program two years ago wanting to be involved. A sister city must be able to exchange not only culture, but also arts, business, sports, education and more. Plus, CACAO must organize exchange visits and be able to host families, students or other groups traveling from Jamaica. “They already have relationships built, so they’ll be the drivers of the relationship between these two cities,” said Birmingham Sister Cities President Mark Jackson. Birmingham has sister programs with cities in Japan, China, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Ghana, Hungary, Italy, Ukraine, Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Israel and Jordan. Colson said the program is working on a second Ghana connection as well as establishing a sister city in Northern Ireland. These relationships create more than just a chance for exchange visits.

The city’s oldest relationship is with Hitachi, Japan, and the two cities have an annual quilt exchange. A Vulcan statue replica sits in a community park in Hitachi, and the city gave Birmingham stone lanterns that were placed in Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Colson said they want to send a Vulcan statue to Liverpool, U.K., as well. “It has been very wide and touched a lot of different areas,” Colson said. There also has been an economic relationship, as the program makes it easier for Birmingham businesses to enter their sister cities’ markets — and vice versa. A group of businessmen from Japan recently visited to consider doing business in Birmingham, and two Japanese doctors came to teach and observe at UAB. “What has come of that is the fact that … there are three companies from Birmingham that are starting to do business in Liverpool, and we have a delegation from Liverpool coming to Birmingham in February,” Jackson said. After CACAO’s trip to Kingston, scheduled for Jan. 3-5, a similar partnership of culture, business and education can be formed there as well. Go to cacaoonline.org to learn more about the Kingston Sister Cities relationship and other CACAO projects.

CENTRAL CITY

EAST LAKE

GEAR UP offers community college waivers to parents By SYDNEY CROMWELL For parents whose children are part of the GEAR UP Birmingham program, the education benefits can now span two generations. GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is the product of a state grant that tracks and improves low-income students’ preparedness for post-high school education. Donna Turner, GEAR UP Birmingham’s project director, said the program is built on a “cohort” model, in that they follow the same group of students from sixth and seventh grade up until they go to college. That allows the GEAR UP staff to track the outcomes of their work. “The neat thing is we’re tracking impact,” Turner said. In August, GEAR UP and the Alabama Community College System began collaboration on an education waiver project allowing parents of GEAR UP students, currently in eighth and ninth grade in Birmingham City Schools, to attend any state community college for an associate’s degree or certificate

The Caribbean Festival in Linn Park is one of the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization’s main annual events. This month, CACAO is beginning a sister cities project with Kingston, Jamaica. Photo by Patty Bradley.

Photo courtesy of GEAR UP Birmingham.

program. They can get their degree at any time between now and 2022. GEAR UP high school graduates in 2020 and 2021 will be offered a similar community college waiver, Turner said, and GEAR UP wanted to provide a no-strings-attached way to reward parents who worked with the program to put an emphasis on their child’s education. “I think we’re headed in that direction in the nation anyway,” Turner said of the waiver system. There are eight parents who have enrolled in a community college through GEAR UP, and their majors include radiology, business administration, early childhood education and computer information systems. Turner said parents must meet their community college’s enrollment requirements and have not defaulted on student loans in the past in order to qualify. For more information, call 231-4738 or go to gearupbham.com.

Nonprofit Christian school making progress in 2nd year By JESSE CHAMBERS Banks Academy, a nonprofit Christian private school in South East Lake serving ninthand 10th-graders, was founded in 2015 to give inner-city kids a good education rooted in faith and values. So far, school officials said they believe their experiment is working. “It’s wonderful to watch young men and women learn more about the Christian walk and see them learning new things academically every day,” said Principal Kathy King, a 1976 graduate of the old Banks High School for which the academy is named. “We’ve had a wonderful time getting the new students enrolled … and meeting their parents,” said Darryl White, one of the school’s four founders. Now in the school’s second year, officials shared their report card and named some goals for the future. King noted that enrollment went from 10

Banks Academy Principal Kathy King with students Iiyonna Wilhite and KeVonte Gaiters. Photo by Jesse Chambers.

to 20 since 2015 and the academy expanded its curriculum, added teachers and added the 10th grade. Banks began with ninth grade only but plans to eventually go through 12th grade. The academy seeks to have 100 students, and is upgrading its facilities and adding sports. Raising money is an ongoing challenge because most of the students receive some type of scholarship, but Banks has received individual, church and corporate donations, White said. For information, including volunteer opportunities, call 368-3090 or go to banksacademy.org.


30 BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

IRON CITY INK

FACES

CRESTWOOD

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

WOODLAWN

Crestwood’s Hamrick runs Foundations turn 157-mile race for good cause long-vacant bank By SYDNEY CROMWELL The comfort zone holds no appeal for Kathleen Hamrick. When she’s facing a big, intimidating goal, that’s when she feels like she’s learning the most. “That’s where I want to put myself,” the Crestwood resident said. Hamrick works with Innovation Depot and UAB managing the Innovation Lab, which offers classes and resources for entrepreneurial students. She said there are 16 student-run companies that are in the lab, which Photo courtesy of Kathleen Hamrick. received a grant in November for almost $6 million. The grant allows percent of the participants drop out. She set the Innovation Lab to supplement technology education in Birmingham and a new goal. “I think it’s important we all challenge ourbuild stronger relationships between educaselves in different ways,” she said. “I knew at tors and employers in tech fields. “One of the big holes where we need to be the starting line there was a real possibility I filling with students is technology spaces in wouldn’t make it to the finish line.” It took 60 hours, including 12 hours on a Birmingham,” Hamrick said. “Our students are perfect for startup companies because boat, simply to make it from Birmingham to they’re brilliant. They’re fully entrenched in the starting line in Amazonia for the October 2016 race. Hamrick said the medics told runnew technology.” Between her regular job at the Innovation ners to assume everything in the jungle could Lab and weekend work with a local startup kill them, and one part of the race had armed for cancer diagnostics, Hamrick doesn’t have guards watching for jaguars. It was beautiful, much in the way of spare time. Many of her but not a forgiving place for a run. “If you were to get lost, you would most free hours, however, are spent flying planes and occasionally participating in weeklong definitely die,” Hamrick said. Though it was a grueling race, Hamrick races. Hamrick started running in 2007, and she said there were also wonderful moments like ran her first marathon despite never training seeing rainforest sunsets, jungle animals and past the five-mile mark. After that, distance children in small villages who would run was never really an obstacle for her. In 2012, alongside them as they completed stages of Hamrick ran her first ultra marathon, and over the race. At one point, her shoes fell apart, that 50 miles she found ultra runners were and Hamrick had to wade through rivers and more about reaching personal goals than com- marshes barefoot. “I’m so glad I didn’t read about what was petition and speed. That led to more ultras, and in 2013 she and her sister signed up for in that river before I went,” she said. But she made it to the end of the race and the 170-mile Grand to Grand Ultra. The seven-day stage race required the run- was the third overall female finisher. She ners to carry their own food, medical supplies said one of the best parts was waiting at and clothes. Hamrick said she and her sister the finish line to see her new friends’ faces completely underestimated the difficulty of as they crossed. Through the race, she also the distance and terrain. Despite a stress frac- raised $6,000 for Equal Access Birmingham, ture about 70 miles in, Hamrick completed a UAB student-run clinic for underserved the race and was the first woman under 30 to Birmingham residents, to help purchase an finish. Along the way she raised money for A EKG machine. She also has already set her next goal: an Center for Eating Disorders. It was during the Grand Canyon run that ultra marathon in Hawaii set between two volshe heard about the Jungle Marathon, 157 canoes. Hamrick is hoping to make the run in miles of running, climbing, swimming and 2018 and to raise money for the Birmingham wading through the rainforest of Brazil. The Education Foundation. “We all do our part in the ways that we can run is considered one of the most challenging in the world, and Hamrick said about 50 in our community,” Hamrick said.

into $6M center

By JESSE CHAMBERS Woodlawn’s revitalization continues in January with the opening of the first phase of the James Rushton Early Learning and Family Success Center on the former site of a long-vacant bank at First Avenue South and 55th Street. That first phase is the 16,000-square-foot Early Learning Center, which will accommodate up to 100 students ages six weeks to four years, according to Sally Mackin, executive director of the Woodlawn Foundation. Construction was to be complete in December, Mackin told Iron City Ink. “The goal is to create a solid foundation for the rest of the education pipeline in the Woodlawn community to make sure that all students have the opportunity and necessary supports to successfully transition from birth to college and/or career,” she said. The center’s a partnership between the

Photo courtesy of TurnerBatson.

Woodlawn Foundation and the James Rushton I Foundation, which will operate the school, according to Mackin. Woodlawn families will be given enrollment priority, and tuition is based on need, with scholarships available for those meeting the criteria, she said. “Opportunity is created for working families to be able to access high-quality childcare that they otherwise would not be able to afford,” Mackin said. The center’s cost was almost $6 million, with $3.75 million coming from a $7.1 million Woodlawn Foundation capital campaign and the rest from other funding sources, including New Market Tax Credits, according to Mackin. In the second phase, an adjacent 12,000-square-foot warehouse will be renovated as the Family Success Center, but there is no timetable as yet, Mackin said.

LAKEVIEW

New complexes hope to lure more to area By JESSE CHAMBERS Lakeview’s popularity as a culinary and entertainment destination has grown steadily since the 1980s, and that growth will likely get another bump soon with the opening of two massive luxury apartment complexes that should bring even more people to the area. Metropolitan Birmingham, a four-story, 262-unit complex in the heart of the Lakeview entertainment district at Seventh Avenue and 29th Street South, is under construction and should open by summer, according to the project’s web site. Park 35, a 271-unit complex on Clairmont Avenue near Forest Park, will be complete in January, but the first tenants moved into a portion of the development in September, according to the building’s leasing office. Both are large buildings, each taking up nearly an entire city block, and each cost more than $40 million, according to press reports. Both should only add to the

Park 35 apartment complex on Clairmont Avenue. Photo by Jesse Chambers.

audience in Lakeview for food, drink, entertainment and other walkable amenities. There are other recent apartment developments in the area that demonstrate Lakeview’s growing destination status. The 67-unit Iron City Lofts opened on Fourth Avenue South in Lakeview in 2016. The 54-unit 29 Seven complex on Seventh Avenue South at 29th Street, which opened in 2013, also houses such popular eateries as Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Babalu Tapas & Tacos and Sky Castle Gastrolounge.


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

31

NECK OF THE WOODS

NORWOOD

Resource center thriving despite ‘extreme’ hurdles By JESSE CHAMBERS Like many big-city neighborhoods, Norwood declined rapidly beginning in the 1970s, losing people and businesses and spawning crime and blight, but it’s come back some in recent years. That revival’s been aided by the Norwood Resource Center, a nonprofit that sponsors events, encourages restoration of the area’s historic homes and offers educational and financial programs. But the NRC faced its own challenge in October 2015, when an arsonist-set fire — one of three in Norwood in a single night — caused a roof collapse and other damage to the group’s offi ces, the old Nygren house. However, the NRC — like Norwood — has pushed on, running its programs from the Kingston JCCEO and looking to the future, according to executive director Melodie Echols. “Despite the extreme challenges Norwood and NRC have faced in recent years, we’ve

Participants in one of the Norwood Resource Center’s gardening programs. Photo courtesy of the NRC.

also overcome, and I expect we’ll continue to overcome and thrive as a community,” she said. Norwood Elementary was recently reopened after three years, and the Norwood Learning Gardens are an award-winning system of community plots. NRC’s 2017 programs include volunteer income-tax assistance, a housing counseling program and the groundbreaking for a park designed by students in the center’s Junior Master Gardener program. The NRC also will hold its annual Boulevard Blast 5K and solicit donations for a new headquarters. The Nygren house will be rebuilt, but strictly as a residence, according to Echols.

FIVE POINTS Opening hotel expected to have ‘great impact’ By JESSE CHAMBERS The new Homewood Suites Hilton extended-stay hotel in Five Points South, expected to open in mid-January, will help increase the neighborhood’s attractiveness for tourists and business travelers in search of dining and other walkable amenities, say the developer and others. The Homewood Suites — with over 100 rooms, an Art Deco façade and a cost of about $18 million — should have “a great impact” on Five Points, said the developer, Rakesh Patel of Pelham. “I think it will help improve the area and give it a different energy,” Patel said. “And we’ve already seen some improvements, both in Five Points and in Birmingham.” Patel also cited the neighborhood’s “great restaurants,” as did James Little of REV Birmingham, who said there are

about 40 eateries in walking distance of the hotel. The hotel is “a great thing for Five Points,” said restaurateur George Reis of Ocean and 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar. “It will obviously draw people into the area.” Patel’s project demonstrates the entertainment district’s allure for investors, according to Little, who cited several renovations in the area, including some planned for the Hotel Highland, and said an estimated $95 million is being spent in Five Points in 2016 and 2017 “I believe that knowing a company like Hilton saw what was coming has helped other investors pull the trigger on their own projects here,” said attorney Stephen Alexander, who recently moved his law firm to a building he bought on 11th Court South near Hot & Hot Fish Club.


32 BUSINESS

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

FACES

JANUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

HIGHLAND PARK

SOUTHSIDE

UAB student wins fellowship, seeks to fight cancer among African women By JESSE CHAMBERS Kemi Ogunsina, a medical doctor and UAB graduate student from Nigeria, is passionate about helping prevent breast and cervical cancer in African women, especially since the number of reported cases is on the rise and has created a serious public-health issue. “I believe now is the time to help rewrite the cancer story for other young women in developing countries,” the Southside resident said. And she’s getting some financial help in this important quest. Ogunsina — a master’s candidate in epidemiology at the UAB School of Public Health — has been awarded a prestigious 2016-17 International Fellowship by the American Association of University Women. Ogunsina said the fellowship will help her complete her training at UAB, as well as some ongoing research studies, and to present papers at scientific meetings regarding cancer and chronic diseases. This work is also personally important

Kemi Ogunsina, a medical doctor and UAB graduate student from Nigeria. Photo courtesy of UAB.

Photo courtesy of Wesley Calhoun.

to Ogunsina, because of the loss of some of the women she cared about deeply, she said. “I lost a dear friend at the age of 26 and an auntie at the age of 52 to breast cancer,” she said. “I believe the story would have been different if we had the technology and required preventive knowledge made

readily accessible to women.” A doctor for five years, Ogunsina has attended UAB for a year and a half. Ogunsina was attracted to the School of Public Health by the quality of research at UAB, the presence of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and highly trained lecturers, she said.

AVONDALE/FOREST PARK

Beloved Community Church’s new pastor: Gospel is for all By JESSE CHAMBERS Beloved Community Church in Avondale, a socially active congregation founded in 1998, “has always stood for the inclusion of all people in the message of the Gospel,” said the Rev. Jennifer Sanders, the church’s recently elected pastor. Sanders, 47, who became pastor in October, is pleased to help continue what she calls Beloved’s “commitment to the love of God for people across all genders, economic status, sexual orientations or ability status.” “It’s a joy to step into this role,” she said. In fact, Sanders’ election as pastor reflects a deep commitment to diversity by Beloved and the United Church of Christ denomination. She’s openly lesbian, which attracted some local media attention after her election. But while Sanders certainly believes gay rights are important, and the Bible has been misinterpreted to condemn homosexuals, LGBTQ issues are not her only focus. “We as the church affirm the value of human life for LGBTQ people, but also for black and brown people, poor people, the

Photo by Jesse Chambers.

disabled, immigrants and refugees — and for non-Christians, including Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and atheists,” Sanders said. “Gay rights is part of the whole.” “We believe that God’s love is for all people and God’s justice is for all people,” she said, citing Beloved’s work for racial, economic and environmental justice. “God calls us to speak truth to power,” she said. “That’s what Jesus did.”

Calhoun becomes 1st president of new UAB board By JESSE CHAMBERS Birmingham businessman Wes Calhoun is, without a doubt, a huge UAB booster. The Redmont Park resident described the university as the “heartbeat of Birmingham.” A 1986 UAB graduate, Calhoun is now putting his love of his alma mater to good use, serving as the first president of the new Alumni Board of the College of Arts and Sciences. He said he believes his new position gives him a great opportunity to help the university, because the College of Arts and Sciences encompasses 19 diverse academic departments and has more than 30,000 alumni. “It’s the largest alumni group at UAB,” Calhoun said. “Seeing there’s never been an alumni board, it will be exciting to reach out and bring them back into the fold.” The Alumni Board plans to host numerous events on and off campus in 2017 to entice alumni to reconnect with the university and see what’s new on the rapidly growing campus, according to Calhoun, who earned a degree in criminal justice and minored in art. “Coming back to campus allows them to see the transformation for themselves and will hopefully reinvigorate their institutional pride,” Calhoun said. He runs his own advertising agency, Calhoun Communications, and is also president of Shoe Corporation, his family’s business.


IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

PUT THESE IN JANUARY’S BEST BETS

MLK DAY 5K DRUM RUN

Jan. 14, Birmingham Civil Rights District, 1600 Fifth Ave. N.

Birmingham’s inaugural MLK Day 5K Drum Run and walk is a celebration of the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and also features drum lines from metro area schools. The 3.1mile course provides a scenic, challenging and upbeat route through the downtown areas of Birmingham. Registration begins at 7 a.m.; race starts at 8 a.m. Registration fees: $25 until Jan. 1; $30 after Jan. 1. For details, call 470-444-9844 or go to mlkday5kbham. com.

FACES

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

INK

RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS: OUT OF THIS WORLD Jan. 19-22, BJCC Legacy Arena, 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N.

This production is billed as a familyfriendly intergalactic adventure featuring acrobats, aerialists, animals, daredevils and clowns. Tickets begin at $15. For groups of 10 or more, call 888-305-9550 or email birmingham@groupticketsplus.com. For showtimes and tickets, call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc.org.

33

JANUARY 2017

WINTER RESTAURANT WEEK 2017 Jan. 20-29, locations throughout Birmingham

REV Birmingham would like to invite you to “Birmingham’s Premier Dining Out Event,” spotlighting the Magic City’s great culinary scene since 2010. Locally owned and operated restaurants will offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. Food lovers may dine out at as many participating restaurants as they like during Winter Restaurant Week – no tickets required. Advance reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling restaurants directly or visiting their profiles online. For more information, go to bhamrestaurantweek.com.

DISCOVER

ICI

MUST SEE

See this? It means we think you ought to go!

11TH ANNUAL CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL

Jan. 28, Boutwell Municipal Auditorium, 1930 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd.

Presented by the Birmingham Chinese Festival Association, the Chinese-American community will celebrate Lunar Chinese New Year by showcasing ancient articrafts, dance, music and food. The focus will be a colorful stage show extravaganza and culture booths. Great for K-12 students learning diversity and Asian education. Festival hours will be 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Come to explore China in Birmingham!

OFFICIAL BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL Jan. 3: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor. Jan. 9: Birmingham City Council Public Safety, Transportation Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, council chambers. Jan. 9: Birmingham City Council Economic Development, Budget and Finance Committee. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Jan. 9: Birmingham City Council Governmental

Affairs Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Jan. 10: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor. Jan. 10: Birmingham City Council Public Improvements and Beautification Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, Conference Room A. Jan. 16: Birmingham City Council Planning and Zoning Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, Conference Room A. Jan. 16: Citizen Advisory Board. 7 p.m. City Council Chambers, Birmingham City Hall, third

floor. The Citizen Participation Program is designed to achieve improved communication, understanding, and cooperation between Birmingham citizens and city officials through increased personal contact between City Hall and neighborhoods and communities throughout the city. The public is welcome to attend. Jan. 17: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor. Jan. 23: Birmingham City Council Public Safety, Transportation Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, council chambers.

Jan. 24: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor. Jan. 24: Birmingham City Council Education Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Jan. 24: Birmingham City Council Utilities Committee. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Jan. 25: Birmingham City Council Committee of the Whole. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Jan. 27: Birmingham City Council Administration/


34 BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

Technology Committee. 1 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Jan. 31: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor.

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION MEETINGS Jan. 3: Forest Park/South Avondale Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. Avondale Library, 509 40th St. S. Visit forestparksouthavondale.com for more information. Jan. 9: Woodlawn Neighborhood Association meeting. 5709 1st Ave N. Call President Brenda Pettaway at 593-4487 for more information. Jan. 10: Highland Park Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. Upstairs meeting room of the Highland Park Golf Course clubhouse. Meeting notices are sent out to recipients of the Highland Park email list. If you wish to be included on this list, email President Alison Glascock at alisonglascock@gmail.com. Jan. 12: Roebuck Springs Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. South Roebuck Baptist/Community Church. Call President Frank Hamby at 222-2319 for more information. Jan. 17: Central City Neighborhood Association meeting: 6-7 p.m. Linn-Henley Library, Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium. Neighborhood social to follow at Tavern on 1st, 2320 1st Ave. N.

HAPPENINGS

IRON CITY INK

SIGHTS

FACES

COMMUNITY Through Jan. 15: Birmingham’s Winter Wonderland. Railroad Park,1600 First Ave. S. The MUST park features an outdoor ice SEE skating rink this winter. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; New Year’s Day, noon-8 p.m. Tickets $10 for a twohour session, including skate rental. For details, including group rates, call 521-9933 or go to railroadpark.org.

ICI

Jan. 7: Southeastern Outings Dayhike. 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Exact meeting place to be given only to people with advance reservations. Moderately strenuous 4-mile hike in a highly scenic location, Upper Quillan Creek Forest Area. Most of the hike is off trail, there are lots of ups and downs, and several rock-hopping crossings are required across small creeks. Please bring lunch and water for the day. Optional dinner after. Well-behaved, properly supervised children age 9 and older able to walk 4 miles off trail without complaining welcome. Reservations are required. If you wish to participate in this outing, call Dan Frederick, 631-4680 or email your reservation to seoutings@bellsouth.net by 5 p.m. Jan. 5. Please leave either your phone number or email address. This outing is limited to 20 people and will break up into two separate groups of up to 10 people each with its own separate leader in order to comply with U.S. Forest Service regulations.

Jan. 23: Crestwood North Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. Girls Inc. of Alabama.

Jan. 23: Five Points South Neighborhood Association meeting. 6-7:15 p.m. Southside Library, 1814 11th Ave. S. Visit fivepointsbham. com for more information.

Did we miss something? If you would like to have your neighborhood association meeting mentioned in next month’s calendar, email the meeting info to kwilliams@starnespublishing.com.

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

Jan. 19-22: Birmingham Boat Show. BJCC Exhibition Halls. The show is now the oldest and largest in the state, with more than 250,000 square feet of the latest in boats, motors, fishing gear and other outdoor equipment. Thursday & Friday, noon-9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Adults $10; children 12 and younger free. For information, call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc. org. Jan. 27-29: Kami-Con Season 9. BJCC Exhibition Hall. Kami-Con is a three-day, interactive convention that celebrates Japanese culture, including TV, movies, comics, anime, manga, cosplay and tabletop & video gaming. For details, including times and tickets, go to kamicon.net.

MUSIC Jan. 7: Boyz II Men, presented by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. BJCC Concert Hall. Boyz II Men redefined R&B in the 1990s with their sweet harmonies and stirring balladry. They’ll sing some of their hits, along with classic Motown soul. 8 p.m. Admission $50-$85. For tickets, go to alabamasymphony.org. Jan. 12: Turtle Island Quartet with Cyrus Chestnut. Alys Stephens Center,1200 10th Ave. S. The Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet is both a jazz quartet and a contemporary chamber ensemble. The group’s new program, “Jelly, Rags and Monk,” features accomplished jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut. 7 p.m. Tickets $4278. Call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org. Jan. 14: Ron Gallo: A Saturn Nights Showcase. Saturn Birmingham, 200 41st St. S. Doors open at 8 p.m.; show begins at 9 p.m. Free admission. Call 703-9545 or go to saturnbirmingham.com.

Jan. 23: Crestwood South Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. 1220 50th St. S.

Jan. 23: Huffman Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. Cornerstone School, 959 Huffman Road.

JANUARY 2017

Jan. 7-8: Monster Jam Triple Threat Series. BJCC Legacy Arena. A monster truck rally featuring such vehicles as Grave Digger, Max-D and Scooby-Doo. Saturday, 1 & 7 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. Tickets start at $15. For group sales, call 866248-8740. For tickets and more information, go to monsterjam.com. Jan. 15: Southern Bridal Show. BJCC Exhibition Hall. Brides can meet wedding professionals, including DJs, photographers, caterers, florists, honeymoon planners and many others. Noon-5 p.m. $12 in advance; $15 at the door. For information, call 800-532-8917 or go to eliteevents.com.

Jan. 15: Alejandro Escovedo. Saturn Birmingham, 200 41st St. S. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show begins at 8 p.m. Advance tickets: $20 standing, $30 seated; Day of tickets: $25 standing, $35 seated. Call 703-9545 or go to saturnbirmingham.com. Jan.18: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Alys Stephens Center,1200 10th Ave. S. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, features 15 of the best soloists, ensemble players and arrangers in jazz today. 7 p.m. Tickets $49-82. Call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org. Jan. 20 and 22: “Three Decembers,” presented by Opera Birmingham. RMTC Cabaret Theatre, 301 19th St. N. Opera Birmingham continues its successful chamber series with this intimate

DISCOVER

performance of Jake Heggie’s opera about the life of a Broadway diva. Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Admission: adults, $35, $50; students, $10. Call 322-6737 or go to operabirmingham.org. Jan. 27: The UAB Concert Choir. Cathedral Church of the Advent, 2017 Sixth Ave. N. The choir, under the direction of Brian Kittredge, will perform a free, 30-minute concert as part of the church’s Mid-Day Music series.12:30 p.m. Admission free. For more information, call 2263505 or go to adventbirmingham.org. Jan. 29: Pat Metheny. Alys Stephens Center,1200 10th Ave. S. Metheny is one of the most accomplished jazz artists in history, with three gold records and 20 Grammy Awards. 7 p.m. Admission $48-$68. For tickets, call 9752787 or go to alysstephens.org.

ARTS Through Jan. 8: Rocky Mountain Express. McWane Science Center, 200 19th St. N. This IMAX film retraces the original route of the cross-country steam engine and combines aerial cinematography, archival photographs and maps and the energy and rhythms of a live steam locomotive. Admission: adults, $9 (members, $6.50); children, $8 (members, $5.50); seniors, $8. Additional charge for museum admission. For showtimes, call 7148414 or go to mcwane.org. Through Jan. 31: Wild Africa. McWane Science Center, 200 19th St. N. This IMAX film takes the viewer on a spectacular ride across the most dramatic continent on Earth. Admission: adults, $9; children, $8; seniors, $8. McWane members receive $2 discount. Additional charge for museum admission. For showtimes, call 7148414 or go to mcwane.org. Jan. 5: Birmingham Art Crawl. Various locations, downtown Birmingham. Every first Thursday, the Art Crawl turns downtown into a walking art gallery with artists, performers and food. 5-9 p.m., rain or shine. Admission free. For information, call 530-5483 or go to birminghamartcrawl.com. Jan. 8: Kathleen Madigan. Lyric Theatre. 1800 Third Ave. N. Well-known comic and performer presents her Mermaid Lady Standup Comedy Tour. 8 p.m. Admission $35. Call 800-745-3000 or go to lyricbham.com. Jan. 13-15: Dirty Dancing. BJCC Concert Hall. Based on the hit film, this musical tells the story of Baby and Johnny, two independent young people from different worlds who come


JANUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

35

DISCOVER together in a triumphant summer. Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Admission $30-$60 (plus ticket fees). For tickets, call 800-745-3000 or go to theaterleague.com/birmingham. Jan. 14-15: A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart. RMTC Cabaret Theatre, 301 19th St. N. Twelve-year-old Sallie Foster was living in Alabama when the Civil War began and kept diaries of her experiences for 26 years along with letters from her brothers who fought in the war. Storyteller Dolores Hydock and musician Bobby Horton interweave Sallie’s story with camp songs and other music to tell a poignant story of innocence disrupted. Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Call 324-2424 or go to redmountaintheatre.org. Jan. 15: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia presents Cinderella. Lyric Theatre, 1800 Third Ave. N. The State Ballet, visiting Birmingham for the third time, uses 55 dancers to bring to life the classic and timeless fairy tale. 2 p.m. Tickets $35-$55. Call 216-3118 or go to lyricbham.com. Jan. 26-Feb. 11: The Miss Firecracker Contest. Theatre Downtown, 2410 Fifth Ave. S. Beth Henley’s play is the story of a young woman with a bad reputation in her small town who decides to compete in the Fourth of July beauty pageant. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. Admission: adults, $18; students, $12. For tickets and information, including discounts and special pricing, call 565-8838 or go to theatredowntown.org.

fees). Call 252-2262 or go to alabamatheatre. com.

SPORTS Jan. 14: WWE Live. BJCC Legacy Arena. Featured wrestlers to include Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Randy Orton and Nikki Bella (subject to change). 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $17-$102. For groups of 10 or more, call 458-8449 or email groupsales@bjcc.org. For tickets, call 800-745-3000 or go to wwe.com.

Jan. 29: Elevate The Stage: Alabama vs. Auburn Gymnastics. BJCC Legacy Arena. This neutralsite meet — held in addition to the regular SEC meet between Alabama and Auburn — provides a championship-caliber platform for the athletes. The event will be staged on the podiums, which have historically only been used for the SEC and NCAA Championships. 4 p.m. Tickets, $12, $18 and $27. Call 800-7453000 or go to elevatethestage.com.

UAB BLAZERS MEN’S BASKETBALL

(Home games at Bartow Arena; tickets $17 and $22; call 975-8221 or go to uabsports.com)

Jan. 26-Feb.12: Ring of Fire. Virginia Samford Theatre, 1116 26th St. S. This unique musical about love, faith, struggle, success, home and family uses more than 20 Johnny Cash songs. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $15-$35. Call 251-1206 or go to virginiasamfordtheatre. org.

Jan. 12: Western Kentucky University. 7 p.m. Jan. 14: Marshall, 1 p.m. Jan. 26: Louisiana Tech, 8 p.m. Jan. 28: University of Southern Mississippi, 7 p.m.

Jan. 28: Golda’s Balcony. Temple Emanu-El, 2100 Highland Ave. South. This Tony Awardnominated one-woman show, written by William Gibson, tells the story of Golda Meir’s rise from poor child in Russia to prime minister of Israel. The production stars the actress Francine. 7:30 p.m. $45. For tickets and information, call 956-8888 or go to ourtemple. org.

Jan. 1: Middle Tennessee, 2 p.m. Jan. 5: North Texas, 7 p.m. Jan. 7: Rice, 2 p.m. Jan. 19: Florida Atlantic, 7 p.m. Jan. 21: Florida International University, 2 p.m.

Jan. 28: Miranda Sings Live… You’re Welcome. Alabama Theatre, 1817 Third Ave. N. Awardwinning comedian and writer Colleen Ballinger returns to her live performance roots with a 15city tour, featuring her blend of live comedy and singing. 8 p.m. Tickets $33.55 and $65.50 (plus

UAB BLAZERS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(Home games at Bartow Arena; tickets $3 and $5; call 975-8221 or go to uabsports.com)

BSC MEN’S, WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(Home games at Bill Battle Coliseum; tickets $5; ages 18 and under admitted free; call 226-4935 or go to bscsports.net.)

Jan 13: Oglethorpe, women at 6 p.m.; men at 8 p.m. Jan 15: Berry, women at 1 p.m.; men at 3 p.m. Jan. 20: Centre, women at 6 p.m.; men at 8 p.m. Jan. 22: Sewanee, women at 1 p.m.; men at 3 p.m.


Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Tupelo, MS Permit #54

Iron City Ink January 2017  
Iron City Ink January 2017