Can you see Birmingham’s future? Come hear the vision inspired by MLK at ULI Alabama’s special June 14 event

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What is a Beloved Community, and how can Birmingham learn from Atlanta how to aspire to be one?

The Urban Land Institute of Alabama (ULI Alabama) is inviting the public to explore this question at their quarterly meeting  on Thursday, June 14, with guest Tim Keane, Atlanta’s Commissioner of Planning. The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Green and Gold Room of Bartow Arena, located on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham at 617 13th Street South, Birmingham.

Last fall, the Atlanta City Planning Commission, led by Keane, published The Atlanta City Design: Aspiring to the Beloved Community, a 410 page platform based on MLK Jr.’s concept of the Beloved Community. The groundbreaking document is a guide for community growth that will transform Atlanta into the best possible version of itself.


According to an excerpt from the The Atlanta City Design: Aspiring to the Beloved Community:

“As early as 1957, Dr. King described the outcome of the Movement and its highest aspiration in terms aimed not at political or economic power, but at the life of communities built on human decency and nonviolence.” He said, “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption … the aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community (Justice Without Violence, 1957).”

Screenshot of the introduction and photo of Dr. Martin Luther King’s family from The Atlanta City Design: Aspiring to the Beloved Community.

“Mr. Keane brings years of experience from his time in Charleston, S.C., and from Atlanta, Ga., where he helped set high-level goals and a true vision for the city,” said James Fowler, director of Planning, Design and Construction at UAB. “This is exactly the kind of exercise we should be going through here in Birmingham, and we are excited to have Mr. Keane come and share ideas that will help us continue to develop a strong, unified sense of place that offers an enriching environment that supports the positive growth and well-being of our city.”

Along with Keane’s presentation, ULI Alabama will hold a local panel that includes Edwin Revell, Director of City Planning for Birmingham, David Fleming, Director of Rev Birmingham, and UAB’s Fowler.

“Dr. King recognized the need for conflict resolution and reconciliation within communities – a great global vision,” said Cathy Sloss Jones, Chair of ULI Alabama. “Our ULI chapter is interested in learning more about Atlanta’s vision for a Beloved Community and are very much looking forward to Tim Keane‘s presentation.”

Screenshot of Tim Keane with Atlanta’s former Mayor Kasim Reed from The Atlanta City Design: Aspiring to the Beloved Community.

“The concept of a Beloved Community is relevant to everyone, not just those who work in planning or real estate,” continued Becky Carpenter, with ULI Alabama. “Just look at the recent grassroots movement behind the Complete Streets ordinance, designing roads that improve walkability and support different modes of transportation. That effort brought together a diverse coalition of people who want to make our City a better place. In much the same way, we can learn from the Beloved Community model and the work Atlanta is doing, and be thoughtful and engaged as Birmingham continues to grow.”

ULI Alabama
ULI Southern State Exchange 2018 at Sloss Furnance. Photo from Catherine Sloss Jones.

“In many respects the histories of our cities intertwine,” Fowler added. “We can learn a lot from our sister southern cities like Atlanta while we continue to grow in our own way. We should be working on a vision for our own city in a similar way to how Atlanta has created their vision for a Beloved Community.”

Register for the Thursday, June 14th event – HERE – to reserve your spot. The Registration fees are $45 for ULI members and $75 for non-members. Lunch will be served.


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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.