I was recently asked (February, 2011) to document on video why I love Birmingham. The video testimonials will primarily be used to help attract new tech talent to our city which is becoming known for its tech entrepreneurs and innovation. Scott Pierce, the creator of the “Why Birmingham” video testimonials, believes that Birmingham could actually be the next Silicon Valley!
Scott introduced this idea at Ignite Birmingham and his enthusiasm for its potential is contagious! He got me thinking: Is it the people, the climate, the award-winning restaurants, the beautiful rolling landscape, the emerging residential life downtown, or the new Railroad Park that provides our unique quality of life? Is it the beautiful suburbs, the convenience, or the quality medical care and educational benefits provided by UAB? While these are just a few of the reasons that immediately came to mind, I realized that my relationship with Birmingham is complicated and has evolved over the years. Yes, all those things mentioned above are compelling, but it hasn’t always been a love story for me and Birmingham! And I realized the reason this city has kept me intrigued, interested, and involved long enough to see the amazing changes occurring now, is analogous to one of my favorite stories, The Little Prince by St. Exupery.
To paraphrase, The Little Prince is asked by the wise old fox why he loves his grumpy old rose which is covered in thorns! He points out that there are lots of beautiful roses in the world and many of them have a better attitude! The Little Prince responds that it is special to him because it is HIS rose. And he tells the fox that his rose needs him to protect it, and defend it, water and nurture it, and most of all to LOVE it above all others despite its thorns and its occasional attitude.
So after 30 years, I guess this is why I love Birmingham! It’s “tamed” me. Yes, I see its thorns…but I also see its amazing potential. I always have! And never more so than now, for all the reasons listed above!
For any detractors out there who can’t yet see what we have right here in Birmingham, my advice is to get involved. Find something that you like about our city. Write about something that you want to see happen in Birmingham and nurture it. I promise you, just like the rose, thorns and all, this city will take hold of you and never let go! I believe in Birmingham…
“But my rose, all on her own, is more important than you altogether, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass. Since she’s the one I sheltered behind a screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except for two or three for butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”
–from The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery