Five Points embraces us all
Look around the country, and the most dynamic cities tend to be truly welcoming: these cities encourage out-of-towners to relocate and join local civic pursuits, and they robustly embrace all minorities and cultural groups while harnessing their diverse energies towards a greater good. During Pride Week, we’re reminded that Birmingham is a relative bastion of urban tolerance–if not always acceptance–within a state that’s often feels otherwise (rainbow flags fly at the center of Five Points South, above).
Not your everyday backdrop
It was particularly heartening to attend a Birmingham Business Alliance board meeting the other week (above) that was held not in the usual corporate auditorium, but at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute gallery housing the Living in Limbo exhibit. This groundbreaking exhibit about lesbian families (which runs through this weekend) was a fitting backdrop for local business leaders to discuss the future of this region. We all need to be reminded that this city (and its region) is truly a rainbow–and all of us should work together to celebrate that diversity and base a better urban place upon it. Happy Pride, Birmingham.
Re-forming a street edge
Much has been written in recent years about the emptying out of the City core, with precipitous population drops, huge amounts of vacant housing stock, empty, weedy lots, and all the economic/social consequences. The neighborhood directly north and west of the Civil Rights Institute–once filled with housing–has long been emptied out, with large tracts of unused/underused land within blocks of the CBD. Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds has designed a new office/training center (above) which will mercifully fill some of that land on the 1400 block of 6th Avenue North. Independent Living Resources is the owner; they provide services and advocacy for disabled people. It would be wonderful if housing and more mixed-use developed in this area.
Aye, welcome to Philadelphia
On a lighter note, a good friend from Glasgow, Scotland sends these two pictures from her city, where Brad Pitt is currently filming a movie set in Philadelphia. Supposedly Glasgow was chosen in part because of its rectilinear street grid which mimics Philly’s. Fake American-style street signs and stop lights were erected to create the illusion.
The devil is in the details
The well-trained eye will notice the “To Let” signs left in the windows–the Scottish equivalent of “For Lease”. Perhaps the calculation is that the audience will be so focused on Pitt and his antics, no one will register this tell-tale sign. Or perhaps they’ll be digitally altered later. Regardless, a fascinating look at how, with a few signs and traffic lights, one city can (almost) transform into another.
[thanks to Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds for the rendering]