Speak up, Birmingham


The word is already getting out.

by André Natta


“Hello! My name’s André Natta.”

“It’s nice to meet you, André. Where are you from?”

“I’m based out of Birmingham, AL.”

“Really?”

The above is almost a guaranteed exchange as part of most conversations I have while on the road. The tone of that last question is normally one of wonder, not shock. Especially when I tell them I work primarily online. It’s the same response I got while I lived in Savannah, GA and back home in The Bronx.

It’s easy to brag about living in central Alabama and Birmingham in general when I’m away. I had the chance to do so while traveling in late September for digital journalism conferences in Boston and Chicago. It’ll surprise some of you to learn that many of the people I talk to are never shocked to learn what’s happening digitally in Birmingham. They’re shocked that more people aren’t talking about it.

Outsiders deserve to see us celebrate our success stories—like Jason McCay and Ben Wyrosdick and their start up, Mongo HQ, participating in the most recent round of Y Combinator. Why not point out the significance of ProctorU and of the students at more than 100 colleges and universities that rely on this Pelham-based business to take online courses and virtual tests.

We need to recognize that out of the city responsible for magazines like Southern Living, several community news sites and efforts like Urbanham, Weld for Birmingham, Magic City Post and The Terminal are taking a stab at what the next generation of publishing will look like—and being recognized nationally for those efforts.

They need to know about how easy it is to find a wireless hot spot in the city (though a few more places to plug in and charge your devices would be nice too).

They should know that we write code and brainstorm at 10 a.m. and go hiking during lunch an hour later.

A quick online survey of my online connections about why Birmingham is a great tech city consistently pointed to the region’s friendliness, as well as the affordability that allows people time to get established. I haven’t even gotten to the ideas being imagined by our area’s colleges and universities.

If we as the residents of metro Birmingham don’t start to sing the praises and raise awareness about the successes in our city, we can’t expect the rest of the world to take notice, can we?

It’s a conversation whose time has come. We can’t keep hiding it from others—especially if we want to see an even brighter future for metro Birmingham.

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.

2 Responses to “Speak up, Birmingham”

  1. Mark Kelly says:

    Well said, Andre. Weld for Birmingham is pleased and honored to be with the other great sites you mention on the leading edge of the next generation of great writing, watchdog journalism and informed community building. Thanks for mentioning us. Everybody keep up the great work!

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