Location: Birmingham, Alabama | Client: EPA | Project Date: January 2011 – June 2016
Links and Resources
The Northern Birmingham neighborhoods hold a special place in the history and culture of Birmingham. Historically, their once thriving residential and commercial areas were home to generations of Birmingham families and entrepreneurs. Their faith communities and schools have produced outstanding civic leaders, including Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and many of the young people who led the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham and elevated the city to its bellwether status as a symbol of America’s hard-earned progress on Civil Rights. Furthermore, Northern Birmingham has long been home to important industrial drivers for the local, regional and state economies. However, over the past several decades, the neighborhoods of Northern Birmingham have experienced decline and disinvestment as well as a growing awareness of environmental justice and health disparities related to the industrial legacy of their communities.
With funding from U.S. EPA, Skeo facilitated an 18-month stakeholder engagement and community planning process, which has resulted in the formation of the Northern Birmingham Community Coalition. The Coalition, which is composed of neighborhood leaders from four Northern Birmingham neighborhoods where EPA is engaged in clean- up activities, is planning and advocating for the future revitalization of Northern Birmingham. With support and guidance from Skeo, the Coalition has met with numerous community-based organizations and resource partners to dig deeply into the community’s existing challenges and develop strategies to spur revitalization. The Coalition has also built relationships with other environmental justice and community revitalization organizations tackling similar issues in the Southeast region of the United States.
As a result, the Coalition has developed a mission and principles for community revitalization across these four environmental justice neighborhoods. To achieve their vision, the Coalition has developed an Action Plan to guide revitalization around three priorities, which include:
- Housing: Rehab, Rebuild, Reclaim
- Commercial Revitalization: Food, Fuel, Retail
- Health: Health Care and Comprehensive Wellness
This Action Plan outlines specific goals and strategies for each of these priorities as a shared road map for the many partners that will join them in making this vision a reality. Over the course of the project, Skeo has provided the following services for the Coalition:
- Design and facilitation of bi-monthly working sessions.
- Support for the development of a vision, mission and revitalization goals.
- GIS-based analysis of existing land use conditions and environmental burdens.
- Research on best practices for creating community revitalization in the areas of housing, commercial revitalization and health.
- Identification of and relationship building with many local and national revitalization partners.
- Capacity building trainings focused on equitable development, trust building between neighborhoods, collaborative problem solving, branding and storytelling, power dynamics, consensus- based decision-making processes and non-profit formation.
- Design and development of the Northern Birmingham Revitalization Action Plan.