November 14th, 2014

On Tuesday, October 28th, Alabama Possible hosted its 4th annual benefit dinner at Regions Field.

Around 140 business, higher education, and civic leaders from around Alabama gathered for dinner, fellowship, and a conversation between Don Logan and Cheryl Morgan.

Don and Cheryl focused their discussion on fostering economic, cultural, and community growth in downtown Birmingham.

Cheryl, the former director of Auburn University’s Urban Studio, conceded home field advantage to Don, former CEO of Time Inc. and current owner of the Birmingham Barons.

Speaking to the slow and steady process of downtown revitalization, Don emphasized that he and his team had to be deliberative in determining the viability of a baseball team in the Southside of Birmingham. Although people from Birmingham appealed to him for the good of the community, he said, “It’s not great for the community if the business fails.”

Don said he and his sons, who co-own the team, “wanted to make and have a home we could feel comfortable in for 25 to 30 years,” and moving a baseball team, “wasn’t like moving a business where you’re in an office, where if you decide things aren’t going well…well we’ll just wait until the lease runs out and we’ll go to another office. You can’t do that.”

Don said that along with economic viability, the location had to feel safe and engage the whole community. Instrumental in the decision to move was the opening of neighboring Railroad Park.

On the basis that “great cities have great parks,” Cheryl and Urban Studio pushed the city for 20 years to make Railroad Park a reality. She said, “We looked out at this area of disinvestment and asked ‘What would happen if we brought citizens together there?’”

Seeing that the vacant space—nearly destined to serve a used car lot—“didn’t have any baggage,” Cheryl knew that Birmingham “could invent its story.”

Cheryl said, “Every place is broken if you want to start with what doesn’t work,” and challenged guests to identify what’s good and what works and rethink what’s possible for their own communities and Alabama.

After 30 minutes of conversation, guests asked the evening’s two honorees questions around replicating the successes of Regions Field and Railroad Park across the city. After each answer it became clearer that lasting success takes considerable patience, commitment, and persistence. But it works, and it’s worth it.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and donors, the benefit dinner raised nearly $53,000 to support Alabama Possible’s work to partner with higher-education and faith-based organizations to strengthen awareness about poverty and its causes while advocating for fact-based policy decisions statewide.

Thank you again to our sponsors:

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