This past Thursday, April 20th, strawberry bushes at the Bush Hill Community Garden and Urban Farm produced their first few tentative fruits as the Community Foundation’s bus-full of donors, staff, and volunteers discussed community initiatives to revitalize the area. Neighborhood revitalization and spring share many characteristics: renewal, growth, and reconnection. So, to get a closer look at the organizations restoring and growing the Western Birmingham neighborhoods, we hopped on a bus for our second annual bus tour, A Trek through Titusville.
This unique event brought together Foundation stakeholders, including donors and the organizations that the Foundation serves to zoom in on the vital work of combatting urban blight and bringing new life back to the Birmingham region. In addition to seeing the strawberries, attendees had the opportunity to visit the Way Station, where they extend resources and shelter to younger homeless populations. Their mission hopes that by helping the younger demographic, they can prevent recurrences of homelessness for their residents. Before touring the rest of the Way Station, participants enjoyed breakfast and coffee in their cafeteria supplied by Modern Coffee House. The Coffee House employs and trains people experiencing homelessness, providing them invaluable experience and financial security while offering the neighborhood a unique hang out spot.
The bus rolled along to the Titusville Development Corporation, which is working to provide stable and affordable housing by lowering the price of safe and well-built houses. We then arrived at the Bush Hills Garden and Urban Farm to experience the beautiful spring day firsthand. The Garden volunteers had just finished planting this year’s crop right next to the old Woodrow Wilson school campus, which the organization is renovating to become a new Bush Hills community center.
The last stop of the day was Hardware Park, a unique space where builders can rent shop space for a variety of projects, from wood working, to printing, to engineering and beyond. While there, attendants had lunch as they heard from a panel of representatives about various aspects of neighborhood revitalization. The panelists came from the Way Station, Modern House Coffee, Titusville Development Corporation, BuildUP, Red Mountain Makers, and Create Birmingham. BuildUP Community School helps to reinvigorate the community workforce as an early college workforce development high school that puts their students in highly sought internships. Create Birmingham supports and invests in the arts and cultural sectors, while Red Mountain Makers houses workshops and creative spaces on the Hardware Park campus. There was a great discussion about how these organizations lift up their neighborhoods and give their residents a sense of pride, after which we took a short tour of Red Mountain Maker’s spaces.
As we all talked on the bus ride home, it was hard not to feel excited about the renewal and revitalization that permeates through the passionate efforts of these individuals and organizations. West Birmingham is home to vital and historical neighborhoods that deserve to thrive alongside the rest of the Birmingham community. So, if you are interested in supporting these efforts or learning more about the work in West Birmingham, please explore the resources below.
Way Station – https://www.aidsalabama.org/thewaystation
- A place for young people (age 18-24) experiencing homelessness to find resources and refuge.
Modern House Coffee – https://www.coffeeandcommunity.com
- Coffee and community come together while empowering financially vulnerable individuals to become independent, sustainably employed, contributors to society.
Titusville Development Corporation – https://www.titusvilledevelopment.org
- Established to maintain, revitalize, and develop the Titusville community.
Bush Hills Community Garden and Urban Farm – https://bush-hills-community-garden-at-woodrow-wilson.business.site
- Neighbors working together to grow food and community.
Red Mountain Makers – https://www.redmountainmakers.org
- Providing a collaborative environment that promotes discovery, creativity, and exploration of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, &Mathematics)
Hardware Park – https://www.hardwarepark.org
- A hub for engineering, innovation, product development, and manufacturing.
Create Birmingham – https://createbirmingham.org
- Investing in the development of nonprofit and commercial creative sectors.
BuildUP – https://www.buildup.work
- A workforce development model that provides low-income youth career-ready skills through paid apprenticeships.