Another iconic structure in Birmingham is about to be torn down – Powell School (posted 6/3/2011). And a last ditch effort is underway to restore it for a new use. I hope you saw this article in the Birmingham News on May 31st, 2011 “Historic preservationists deserve a chance to see if they can restore Powell School, which was damaged by fire in January” Ironically, Bob had recently completed this watercolor that was to be used to attract attention and perhaps funding and redevelopment for the school before it burned.
So what now? Here’s the remaining shell. We drove by again this morning and the damage is extensive and heartbreaking. Obviously the roof is gone, and the upper floor has collapsed. The $500,000 in insurance mentioned in the article above is just a drop in the bucket for restoration. In order to save Powell School, this project will need a purpose and benevolent committed patrons who believe in that purpose with deep pockets.
So we’ve been thinking… What’s a long-term issue supported nationally that will benefit Birmingham? Well, we’ve decided that it could be the Food Revolution spearheaded by Jamie Oliver. In Jamie Oliver’s words…
“We’re losing the war against obesity in the US. It’s sad, but true. Our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, and today’s children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents. It’s time for change. It’s time for a Food Revolution.
“Since I’ve been working in America, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have come out to support the Food Revolution. More than 630,000 people have signed the petition, over 300,000 of you subscribe to our newsletter and thousands of you have written to me. The only message I keep hearing is that you believe your kids need better food, and that you want help to keep cooking skills alive. That’s why this Food Revolution matters.” ~ Jamie Oliver
“The problem stems from the loss of cooking skills at home and the availability of processed foods at every turn, from the school cafeteria to church function halls, factories and offices. This Food Revolution is about saving lives by inspiring everyone: moms, dads, kids, teens and cafeteria workers to get back to basics and start cooking good food from scratch.”
Thanks to dedicated volunteers, Birmingham already has an edible garden for kids close by with Jones Valley Urban Farm.
So, Birmingham has Sam Frazier, a local historian who’s spearheading the movement to save the school. It has Mayor Bell’s encouragement. It has Frank Stitt, and Chris Hastings – both award-winning chefs who support the movement. It has Whole Foods. It has the new FoodBlogSouth and lots of food editors spawned by Southern Living. Birmingham is really a food town and we should be leaders in this movement. But sadly, Alabama ranks #2 of the fattest states 2011, and Birmingham ranks #10 among the fattest cities 2011 in America. Our legacy can be better!
And back to Powell School…It’s got classrooms, a cafeteria, meeting areas, and history. It’s near Jones Valley Urban Farm, and hundreds in our city know and love it. The Food Revolution has the support of the nation, and the backing of First Lady Michelle Obama, along with lots of stars including Paul McCartney, Justin Bieber, P Diddy, Jennifer Anniston…
There are nearly a million people (and the numbers are growing every day) who’ve signed a petition in support of the Food Revolution.