A Suburb That Doesn’t Feel Like One


After more than 20 years on Southside, Grant Tatum finds community, camaraderie and idiosyncrasy in his new home in West Homewood.

For two decades, I lived as a Southsider before family life prompted a change. In 2015, we moved to Walker County to be near my wife Ferah’s parents for a couple of years. The commute was taxing, not just on the cars, but the time the drive took from the time we had to spend with our family. It also impacted the time we had to visit friends and be engaged in our social activities in the Birmingham area. And as our son, Alex, approached school age we had another reason to move back towards town.

We began looking for the best school options for Alex, and quickly turned our sites on West Homewood. We knew the reputation of Hall Kent Elementary—if not the neighborhood itself—and last summer, Ferah, Alex and I moved here.

We were quickly pleased to find a neighborhood that was friendly, diverse, easy to walk and easy to commute from. Within a couple of blocks is Patriot Park, which features a walking track, a couple of picnic pavilions, a recently renovated playground and a greenspace. There on any given day you can find groups of people playing soccer, ultimate frisbee, kids playing tag or folks just stretched out with a book and a patch of sun. As often as he can, Alex enjoys walking or riding any number of wheeled toys to the park to climb, slide and swing at the playground.

Adjacent to the park, Homewood is nearing completion on a community pool complex which looks to have a splash pad and water slides.

Across the street, Magic City Ice serves a number of frosty treats to the delight of children after school—or in Alex’s case, any chance he can get to pull us across the street from the park. Next door, Ash Bar and Grill recently opened its doors with a selection of wood-fired Southern American dishes. And not more than 50 yards from there Pizzeria GM (an extension of another Homewood favorite, Gianmarco’s) has been serving pies at the edge of Patriot Park since January 2018.

Not much further out is the Briary cigar and pipe shop, the location of the West Homewood Farmer’s Market, Seeds Coffee House and so much more.

We love that we’re less than a mile from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham, which we call home. Its inclusive interfaith congregation and legacy involvement promoting civil rights and social justice is very important to us.

Last fall I introduced Alex to Cub Scouts and joined a pack just a couple of blocks from our house. We’ve launched model rockets, built and raced pinewood derby cars and participated in the Homewood holiday parade in December. We’ve also noticed numerous other activities for children of all ages.

Sure, I feel nostalgia for Southside sometimes. I love the idiosyncrasy and uniqueness, and I never thought I would move into the suburbs. But we’ve definitely found all of that in the West Homewood neighborhood where we live now. We especially love the parks and walkability.

We also love the diversity in West Homewood. There’s a large group of Hispanic and Latino men and boys playing soccer in the park and having fun. There are women in hijabs out with their kids playing on the play equipment, and then you’ve got young, bearded hipster dads—a whole range of people. There’s a lot of walking traffic…people with their dogs, riding bicycles, or taking a jog. They aren’t just driving home after work and shuttering up in their houses or back porches, so you get an idea of who your neighbors are. You get to see them and make friends with people.

Grant Tatum is the creative director for Style Advertising.

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