Want to build a better Birmingham? Attend the Thriving Communities event on August 15th featuring local and national thought leaders. FREE but limited seats!

Man planting seeds as a group of young children look on
Nurturing thriving communities (Photo courtesy of AG Gaston Boys & Girls Club)


The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham has been serving the region for sixty years as a catalyst for transformational change.  On Thursday, August 15, from 4:00 – 6:30, The Community Foundation will be holding ‘Thriving Communities’: a free event open to the public.  Keep reading for the topics and speakers. (Limited seats – Free but you must register here)

In 2018, The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham held community conversation events throughout the region to understand the needs and challenges of communities.

They identified 5 priorities that were important to people:

  • Nurturing thriving communities
  • Fostering equity and inclusion
  • Driving regional cooperation
  • Creating economic opportunity for all
  • Overcoming persistent poverty

The upcoming event in August will focus on the first priority, nurturing thriving communities.

A group of people sitting at a round table discussion with a facilitator standing up. Discussing thriving communities
Community Conversations have been held to find to engage with people and to identify priority areas (Photo via The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham)

What are thriving communities?

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham describe thriving communities as being ‘vibrant, connected, healthy, beautiful, safe and engaged’.

Birmingham Alabama skyline
Railroad Park in Birmingham contributes towards a thriving community (Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now)

I talked to Gus Heard-Hughes, Vice President of Programs, who explained how communities can achieve incredible things when they partner to build on and strengthen community assets to thrive; 

“People value community assets – they’re the things that make our region and local community unique and special. We’re interested in understanding how we can nurture and build upon these assets.”

Heard-Hughes added,

“What we learn here will inform our grant-making in 2020 and is an additional opportunity for dialogue with our communities to shape our future plans.”

Bringing people together

One such ‘Thriving Community’ project The Community Foundation supports is the City of Hoover’s universally designed playground.

A woman stand next to a young woman
Hoover’s Metropolitan Complex playground (Photo via The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham)

An innovative new playground that opened in early 2019, this new attraction was designed to be inclusive for children with hearing impairments, autism and kids of all physical abilities.

It features a splash pad so that all kids can enjoy cooling off in the hot summer sun, and a zip line and play structures that are fully wheelchair accessible.

Children play in splash pad
Hoover splash pad (Photo via Hoover Metropolitan Complex)

Heard-Hughes said this is the first design of its type in the region and a wonderful example of a community facility that is inclusive.  It is also located where people can visit it from all over the state.

A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club Facility

Woman teaching child how to swim
A.G Gaston Boys and Girls Club swimming pool (Photo via AGGBGC)

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham is also supporting facility improvements at the  A.G Gaston Boys & Girls Club.

This will double the capacity of the club’s educational and recreational activities capacity. 

It’s an example of how a building can be much more than a physical space. This is a community hub where people connect and gather.

Learn more about ‘Thriving Communities’ featuring Dr. Anita Chandra of the RAND Corporation.

Dr. Anita Chandra smiling. She will be presenting at The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Thriving Communities event
Dr. Anita Chandra (Photo via RAND)

At the August 15 ‘Thriving Communities’ event, vice president and director of RAND Social and Economic Well-Being, Dr. Anita Chandra will be the featured speaker.

RAND has a global reputation for producing high-quality research and analysis that supports decision makers and policy influencers.

In an interview with Bham Now, we asked Dr. Chandra about the Foundation’s new framework.

She is excited about Birmingham’s approach to developing thriving communities.

“Cities are starting to have this conversation. The Community Foundation’s new framework is thinking  holistically about supporting and promoting well-being at a community level. It is really exciting and not something to be underestimated”.

Dr. Anita Chandra providing a lecture
Dr. Anita Chandra will discuss Thriving Communities at The Birmingham Zoo, August 15 (Photo via RAND)

According to Dr. Chandra, it’s all about making sure that different service organizations in the community work effectively together. So for example, people can focus on health, economic development, the business community, and public safety. 

“I’ll be talking about how we’ve done that in other places and the things that Birmingham can think about in a way that makes sense for its unique characteristics.” 

Dr.Chandra will be joined at the event by a local panel including:

  • Judge Chris Green, Blount County Probate Judge / County Commission Chair
  • Ivan Holloway, Executive Director – Urban Impact
  • Beth Stewart, Cahaba River Society

Attend ‘Thriving Communities’

Entrance of The Birmingham Zoo. Venue for The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Thriving Communities event on August 15
Thriving Communities is being held at The Birmingham Zoo (Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now)

Limited seats remain for the FREE event, so register today – HERE

When: Thursday, Aug 15, 4:00 PM – 6.30PM 

Where: The Birmingham Zoo, 2630 Cahaba Road (Altec/Styslinger Learning Center), Birmingham, AL 35223

Sponsored by:

Jon Eastwood
Jon Eastwood

Originally from Wales (UK) and a fluent Welsh speaker. Longtime sustainability and recycling champion. Former county recycling manager in the UK. Career highlights include introducing innovative recycling systems and achieving a point where households throw out trash just once a month. Competed in international coastal rowing championships and followed Wales throughout Europe in their Rugby and Soccer endeavours.

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