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  • Madison Kerns

Let's Grow Together

Urban Avenues intern Jas Richardson reflects on the value of our work, her life growing up in Birmingham, and how we can push ourselves to be better - together.

When I first learned about Urban Avenues I was in awe that there was an organization in Birmingham whose main goal is to bridge disconnected communities together, having those hard conversations with the hopes of learning together, growing together , and being open-minded together.

I grew up here in Birmingham. While I am thankful for my time here I think there is also work that needs to be done not only here but all over the world. I think that we need to come together as a community and say “hey, how are you really doing?”. To also make the choice to humble ourselves , to come servant -hearted and to say that we ALL deserve to have a seat at the table. Birmingham is well known for being a central location for Civil Rights; being that Alabama is well known for this part of history I think that there is a big need for this type of organization. If we can start pulling back the layers that Birmingham was built on and dive deeper into that conversation, then we can start mending the wounds.

I wish I knew about Urban Avenues sooner because I think that this is something needed no matter what is going on in the world. Growing up, it was made clear to me that not everyone supported the need for diversity in the workplace, community, and shared spaces. Now, the world is slowly recognizing the importance and beauty of diversity. Initiatives like Five Loaves, Fish Camp Films, or Porch Sittings are creating new ways for young adults to get exposure to the positive power of diversity early. It’s powerful to see peers who may not look like you or have a similar lifestyle share your passion to form friendships across divides and celebrate the beauty in our differences. I think it could have helped me and others my age to see that there are others in the world that don’t even have to look like you to see change happen. While it may not be easy - and it may take more effort - it’s worth it.

Let’s make the choice to go beyond what’s comfortable and to choose to be uncomfortable because that is where growth happens. If you want to grow you have to choose DISCOMFORT. One of the initiatives that I have really loved watching evolve is Five Loaves. Five Loaves is an Urban Avenues venture that is all about unifying our city through food and conversations; breaking bread together. Five Loaves has taught me how food can rally together people no matter what color you are, where you come from. Where all wanting to be known and have a community and that is something that Five Loaves has shown me.

This is why I think that what Urban Avenues is doing is essential; from Five Loaves, to Fish Camp Films, and Porch Sittings. This organization is saying let's take these steps to not only better ourselves but the world that we live in. Urban Avenues is such a tool for this city and I can see other cities having an Urban Avenues to move past the mundane and start having more bold conversations.

"There is no act too small , no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at critical points to create a power that governments cannot suppress." - Howard Zinn
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