Welcoming Keiah Shauku

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Keiah Shauku was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and made her way to Birmingham by way of California, Texas, Washington, and South Korea. Having resided in the Birmingham metro for over 12 years, she is happy to call the area home and eager to find ways to give back to the community. Keiah began her career as a U.S. Army Korean translator, where she worked as part of a diverse team of talented individuals, each striving to advance a common objective.

Since that time, Keiah has developed and administered educational programming in Computer Science, with an emphasis on coding and robotics. Keiah has worked both independently and in collaboration with local partners. She directed educational outreach programs in Birmingham Schools through UAB’s Office of Community Outreach and Development, created an afterschool engineering program at the Birmingham Public Library, and is presently enlisting the help of local lawyers through the Birmingham Bar Foundation to teach critical thinking in innovative ways. Keiah likes to take novel approaches to teaching complex ideas. Keiah has marshalled the community’s resources to develop the capacities of the young people of our city.

Keiah earned an interdisciplinary degree in International Studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a diploma in Korean Language and Culture from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Her passions are Computer Science, Computer Programming, and Education. When not plastered to the screen of her souped-up iMac, Keiah can routinely be found walking Birmingham’s historic trails or sipping a new blend in any one of Birmingham’s excellent craft coffee shops. She is married with four children.

Help Us Welcome Kayla Gladney

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I’m Kayla Dawn Gladney, also known by every variation of that you can imagine. I’m a filmmaker in the Birmingham area, but I’m originally from Montgomery, AL. In 2012, I moved to the Magic City to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I graduated in the spring of ’16 with a BA in Film Production.
You can see some of my work at kaylagladney.com.
Some more interesting facts about me: My favorite color is leopard print and my favorite kind of people are canines.
One of the things I like about Birmingham – and one of the reasons I decided to stay here after school – is the opportunity for growth. I know some believe that Birmingham is not as established as other places, and that the structure for certain industries isn’t here. This may be true. I think it’s just the optimistic, millennial spirit in me that finds value in being able to create your own path. Maybe it’s the magical spirit of the city, or the historical proof it holds, that makes me feel like anything can be created here.
Part of the reason I’m so excited about Fish Camp Films is that it fits perfectly into my desire to grow in Birmingham. Birmingham has done a good job of nurturing and producing successful people, it just hasn’t done the best job of keeping those people here. If we are able to nurture and produce successful creatives who have a strong connection to where they live through filmmaking, I think we have a better chance of keeping them here. And for them, it eliminates the myth that they have to leave their homes to do what they love. I’m really excited and extremely grateful to be a part of this kind of work, and I look forward to what we can create together!

Meet Liz!

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Liz Rodell is joining the team as the Director of Operations for Five Loaves. Her background as a manager at lululemon athletica developed a love for people, creativity and the Birmingham community. During her time there, Liz oversaw the company’s marketing efforts by putting a focus on building relationships and reaching people through unique events. She also developed a love for training others and developing people towards their goals.

Liz spent most of her childhood in Toronto, but quickly fell in love with the south while earning her Bachelors Degree in Communication and Public Relations at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. It was during her time in Chapel Hill that she discovered the power behind local entrepreneurs pursing their passions and doing what they love as a business. This passion followed her to Birmingham when she moved here after undergrad and began to discover the Magic City.

Her expertise in creative events and love for building relationships allow her to lead the Five Loaves team and innovate the organization. Her background reveals a passion for developing people and collaborating with others to create what has not been done.”

Here are some of her favorite aspects of Birmingham:

  • big, small town feel – I can run into someone at Starbucks, but there are still pockets of the city that have yet to be discovered
  • break up cookies & alabama biscuit coffee


We are SO excited to have Liz join the Urban Avenues team and look forward to the passion and creativity she will bring to our work as we seek to connect the city through beauty, business and relationships. 11202881_10153648149836091_6660664490284230564_o


An Interview with Post Office Pies’ Chef John Hall

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“I’m a huge supporter of Five Loaves. Honestly, I think that’s the only way, through programs like Five Loaves, that we can really bridge the gap between communities and between classes, especially as the City continues to grow.” – John Hall 

Tell us a little bit about your passion for food and how it came about.

My dad and both my uncles were always really good cooks. I think seeing my dad and uncles cook growing up – those male influences – gave me the confidence that I could cook, that it was something that I could learn and explore. Seeing what was out there and considering the endless possibilities really peaked my interests.

You are used to working with quality ingredients for creating great dishes. What would you say are the critical ingredients for seeing change in Birmingham?

Support. People getting out and supporting local chefs and local restaurants. What I see as being key; people supporting local farmers. Where we are, we’re such in a great city, great area, great region for produce and agriculture. I think a lot of times we get caught up in the major stores or a bargain as opposed to education – a lot of people don’t know where their food comes from.  As we continue to grow as a city, I think we need to get people more excited about where their food comes from and trying to locally source whenever possible. It’s very important to keep that going for sustainability.

How do you see food having the ability to impact people throughout Birmingham?

Anybody who lives down here knows, we don’t just eat to live, we live to eat. It’s part of our culture, it’s part of our Southern heritage. We associate food with family, with good times and bad times. It’s not just the meal, it’s a social setting. It’s people coming together to fellowship. Food plays a major part in the development of the city and just people coming together. It’s a vital part. You can’t really have too many functions that brings people together that doesn’t have food and/or beverage, if not both. It’s part of who we are in the South, especially here in Birmingham.

Do you ever go to Pepper Place farmer’s market?

I do. I love Pepper Place. I’m a huge supporter of what they’ve done. It’s definitely gained momentum in the time since I’ve been back in the South. It’s been going for a while, but it’s definitely picked up. You can see the city wants it and people are supporting it. It’s here giving people the availability and us really driving home and making a campaign for it is key to keeping it going.

As a Birmingham native who has moved away and came back home to the South, how does Five Loaves fit into the kinds of things you would like to see in our City?

I like it, because it’s getting kids and folks in the community involved. I think the main focus that it does, it gives encouragement, it really builds confidence in them, and it gives them the support they need to do whatever it is they want to do, whether it be food, or who knows, something else. Also, it gives them an outlet – you can never have too many of those kinds of programs, and you can never have too many people involved. It’s a part of what needs to happen here. I’m a huge supporter of Five Loaves. Honestly, I think that’s the only way, through programs like Five Loaves, that we can really bridge the gap between communities and between classes, especially as the City continues to grow.

One of the Five Loaves team members brought up that during prep the night before the event, they made a big mistake and dropped an entire dish of food. What is your experience when dealing with mistakes in the kitchen?

You’re going to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes. But what you do after, that is really what’s important. Patience really is a virtue in any situation – in business and personal.  I told them before the event in the kitchen, if you treat everything like it’s hot, you’ll never get burned. I also said it’s okay if you burn something, but you should never burn things the same way. I think that’s a lesson that if you can recognize what you did wrong and then work not to do it again, you’ve learned. Patience isn’t always central in our industry, but you have to have a cool head in certain situations, and I think that’s also the characteristics that makes for good leadership: how you keep your demeanor in hard situations.

The Five Loaves team has been talking about how amazing the “Evening with John Hall” pop-up dinner was last week. What were things you wanted to do when working with the young Five Loaves team and what was your experience like?

Everyone wanted to be there and was really passionate. Learning the food techniques in three days isn’t really a lot of time, but it’s enough time to get to know who they are, make some good food, and have them be a part of what’s going on. For me, it was the team-building that I really enjoyed and getting to know who they are, rather than just doing the event and then everyone going home afterwards. I felt like at the end of the third day, I had a good sense of who they are as people – and that goes a long way. If someone is willing to learn, and has a good attitude and a good sense about them, you can teach them whatever you want regardless of their skill set. Taking the time to really get to know people, sets up the blueprint and I feel like I can really teach them or talk to them about anything – and they can learn whatever you want to teach them if they’re willing to learn and willing to work. And those guys [Five Loaves] definitely were and that was cool to see.

Can you talk a little about the connection with Five Loaves and having a similar heart for the work they are doing?

Having someone who cares and is willing to invest a certain amount of time and interest into the youth in our city is so critical to our success. If we don’t support each other or give the time or give the effort, I don’t see us progressing. We have to collectively get involved, especially with the community. At the end of the day, every business is one where you have to make money, I can understand that. But if you can relate to someone out there and help someone to relate to life in general, the better it’s going to be in the long run. The more we build stronger kids, the better our city is going to be. People say all the time, you have to invest in yourself and that’s the same way I look at it when it comes to the city – it’s investing back into us. If we really care as much as we say we do about the city and about what’s going, if we’re not out here investing back into the community, we’re not really setting ourselves up for the future. I really connect with Five Loaves, because I remember when I was growing up cooking sometimes there were people I could relate to and helped me along the way – big or small – and guided me along through different situations, not just in cooking, but life in general, and you really remember who those folks were as you get older.

What’s your favorite dish to make?

I’ve been asked that several times before and I never feel like I have a proper answer. I don’t know that I have a favorite dish, but I love to make pasta from scratch. I’ll tell you what, there is nothing that beats homemade pasta. Once you learn how to make it and you practice it, you’ve gotten it down and have a couple pastas you know how to make from scratch, it’s like night and day. It’s a bit of process – going back to patience. Especially in the day and age of everything being instant. But when you start with a mound of flour and some eggs and end up with pasta, it’s a gratifying feeling – saying “man, we made this.” You can see it start to finish and it is worth the time it takes to do it.

Introducing the Filmmakers Behind Fish Camp Films

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Meet our Filmmakers

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

Bob Miller

Bob is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker with roots in the American South. As a visual storyteller specializing in non-fiction, his work has appeared in publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and others. In additional to editorial and nonprofit work, Bob also works with commercial clients who have a desire to leverage authentic storytelling. It is his conviction that a good story transcends barriers, and pushes us beyond our own experience into the reality that we are all characters living similar narratives, facing like challenges.


Jana Harris

Jana is an award-winning producer and director with over ten years experience producing commercials, industrials and films. She is the president of  J.D. Harris productions and has over 30 film credits, including projects for ESPN and HBO. She has produced educational and instructional films for universities, K-12 schools and hospitals. Additionally, her feature film “Overflow” has been distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada. She is also an educator who has developed media arts and technology curricula in over twenty-one K-12 schools. As the former Executive Director of The Educational Arts Corporation, a nonprofit arts organization, she designed and implemented five artist residency programs: Theatre Alive!MagDesignsFilmmaking 101,DigiMedia: FilmWeb, and FilmSpot, which were offered to underserved and “at-risk” youth. She is committed to bringing the creative vision of her clients to life.


Allison Wilmarth Kovak

For 18 years Allison has been a professional filmmaker and storyteller. Originally from Alabama, Allison discovered as a child that the experience of bringing to life a story locked within her imagination would link her to a life in the performing arts. Allison began her career as a theatre manager and lighting director for the Performing Arts Center in Opelika, AL. Here she began to craft the art of understanding aesthetics and its affects on the human impression. While interning at a production house in Florida, Allison developed a love for the medium of film and television. In 1999, Allison attended The University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she graduated as a Director with a degree in filmmaking. This began her career as a visual storyteller. Following graduation, Allison relocated to Hollywood, CA where she worked on various television series, pilots and theatrical motion pictures. In 2003, she worked as Assistant Director on the film, “Two Soldiers” which received an Academy Award for 2004 Best Live Action Short. That same year, Allison transitioned to directing. To date, she has directed over three dozen commercial campaigns, two Elite Travel Destination Television Shows, the feature length documentary “Nuttin Bafflin”, the feature length film “A Thousand Hills” and five short films. She has produced 5 feature length films including two award winning films for network television. Allison hopes to continue to use her skills as a filmmaker to help artists connect with their audience in a moving and inspiring way.   She is motivated by stories that expose truth and give hope.


Tyler Jones

Tyler is a founding member of 1504, a multimedia studio that designs and produces narrative content. Its members have developed commercials, music videos, and documentary projects for the NPR, Columbia Records, American Red Cross and National Endowment for the Arts. 1504 frequently partners with foundations and non-profit organizations to craft stories and campaigns designed to raise social awareness around issues of food, education, and the arts.

The Intern

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By: Cole Moffett

You are probably wondering what a typical day as an intern at the Parnassus Group looks like. The true substance I found from the summer resulted from the intentionality of the relationships with each of my co-workers. I wish I could say that my favorite activities were researching and sourcing, but the most fruitful times were spent at the early morning book clubs and Friday afternoon outings.

At the Tuesday morning book clubs, we read a book by Steve Garber that discussed the idea of vocation. Initially, I was intimidated by the idea of voicing my own perspectives; after all, I was only 22 and still enjoying the wonderful world of college. Despite my initial reservations, I was interested by the idea of a vocation. I had never considered that there was some God-given passion inside of me which connected all facets of my life. Instead I saw my life as compartmentalized. Work was a place where you spent eight hours a day crunching numbers so that you could earn a living. There was also my faith and my friends, but I had never seen all these three areas of my life as being connected.

If you have ever worked with John Lankford before, then you know that his day can be summed up in word, spontaneity. One of these moments of spontaneity resulted in me taking a field trip to Fairfield for the day. As a 22 year old who has spent all of my life in Birmingham, this was my first trip to Fairfield. We went to the high school to watch some friends of Urban Avenues host a summer camp. I remember walking away in a daze by the idea that there were kids who had the passion to spend their summer practicing English and math. Only a few years ago I was their age…and that was the last way I had wanted to spend my summer. But they all had passion to learn.

Later on that day, I was able to assist in a Five Loaves event, which is a not-for-profit initiative started by Urban Avenues. One thing I saw in each of the chefs was a passion behind each ingredient and recipe. It was the first of many trips that I would take with Urban Avenues, but through working on both sides of the company, I was able to see the intersection of two different worlds. I was able to see the culmination of our weekly book club discussions.

As I look back on my summer spent at Parnassus and Urban Avenues, I was able to see two different sides of two companies, but they were both closely connected. The idea of vocation was holistically personified by their intersection. What I learned I would have never found in a text book, nor would I have observed from another internship. I learned that every facet of my life should be intertwined by my faith and passion. A job is far more than just an opportunity to make money, but it is a way to live out my calling and impact my community through my passions and gifts.

Cole Moffett interned at The Parnassus Group during the Summer of 2015. Cole is a native of Birmingham and currently a senior at Samford University studying accounting.  

Q Commons Birmingham: Beauty Keeps Our Gaze As Gratitude Guides Our Feet

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You made another evening at the historic Avon Theatre memorable for the gathered collective of people who love this city.  Friendships born at earlier gatherings reignited in the midst of smiles and conversations and for this we are deeply grateful. New networks were formed that cross geographic boundaries. Working alliances that will peal back the opaque distance that once held us as strangers.

To each of the known and unknown agencies of this new friendship that is moving across Birmingham, we offer our gratitude as well.  The collective of Urban Avenues thanks you for taking a stand for a different life within a re-connected city of people that long to be known and to be valued. Special thanks to the Crosby’s for their expansive generosity.

IMG_4040From REV’s work with community business, to InSpero’s elevation of the creative and the art that exists in all of us, to Arc Stories invitation to find unity in the common themes of all our stories, it is a new and bright day for people of purpose.

Thank you for stepping into this conversation at Q Commons and allowing it to consume some part of your week and hopefully engulf some part of your soul.

With great thanks,

The Urban Avenues Team

Urban Avenues to Host Q Commons Birmingham

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9.24.15 | Avon Theater | 7:00 PM

We’re excited to share we will once again be hosting Q Commons Birmingham – Thursday, September 24, at the Avon Theater downtown! This year, the event will unite our city around the themes of art and beauty, economic innovation, and story.

       Guests In Q Commons Conversation         Alton and Sandra Hardy

Q Commons convenes local leaders to think, learn, and work together on common topics and issues in our city. Our guests will hear presentations and have the opportunity to reflect and respond on ways they can collaborate and offer talent and resources to advance good in our city. The participants attending represent those who live and lead within our neighborhoods and the thriving sectors of business, the arts, entertainment, media, government, education, the church and the social sector.

Q Commons BHM

While the Q Commons event is rooted in our Christian commitment for love of neighbor, we invite presenters of any faith or no faith at all to expose the leaders we convene to current culture. Q Commons is no ordinary gathering; it is a place where extremely insightful people like yourself can meet devout Christians who are fully engaged on the edges of culture, and where they can learn from you.

Q is not a church meeting; it is a cultural meeting. It’s like no other event most people have attended as it combines quick and high caliber presentations with the intentionality to galvanize Christian leaders in all spheres of society to work together and advance the common good in their communities. There will be a wide gamut of presentations, oriented towards the future, exploring what it means to be alive and doing good, in a new and non-traditional vocabulary.

We hope you will join us for Q Commons Birmingham, as 200+ influential local leaders gather from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the Avon Theater. Tickets are $29. Still not sure what Q Commons is? That’s OK! Click here to watch a short video! For more information and to purchase your tickets, please visit our website here.

With great regards,

The Q Commons Birmingham Team
Convening through Urban Avenues

Join Us For The Urban Avenues 2015 Winter Gathering

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Stage Shot Girls


Wednesday night January 28th, 2015 will be the opening night for the Winter Gathering of Urban Avenues.  The night will include a concert from The Secret Sisters, introductions to the new work in Fairfield led by Sandra Hardy as part of the work that she and her husband Alton are bringing to the city.  Entrepreneurs will be bringing the ideas of innovation amidst the work of brining new solutions into focus for reconnecting prosperity to all parts of the city.   The following day, Friday January 29th will see two events, one at Christ Church in Fairfield that highlights the participation with UHope Success Academy.  The other event will be hosted by Free Textbooks.com at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham.   To make reservations and insure your seat at the opening evening, go to the following LINK


Rock And Roll Smiles of A Girl That Changed Everything

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Brad Corrigan

“In the trash dump, my relationship with Ileana was about life, her story and her healing. Most people don’t think they can relate to a musician and most people don’t think they can relate to a little girl in a trash dump,Inspiration.  How often do you find yourself moved by something in such a way that you know you have to step in and make it part of your story?   Take a minute and think about the last time that happened where you couldn’t stand idly by and miss the opportunity to act, to join, to lead or to participate.  That is the energy that changes people in ways that their purpose is suddenly clear and their commitment is galvanized.”

I recently met an individual who, in just a few days, taught me a lot about this form of inspiration and what it means. He has impacted many lives throughout his career and most know him as the drummer of the band Dispatch. When Brad Corrigan talks about the band, he is obviously quick to mention his two band mates, Pete Heimbold and Chad Urmston. He is just as quick to highlight the fans and the role they have played in the band’s history. “One of the big reasons Dispatch worked is that some bands aren’t relatable. Read More

We are always looking for people who are inspired by this movement. Consider joining us Join Us