Burr's V. J. Graffeo Serves as Guest Blogger for AL.com Blog

    February 19, 2013

    The blog called Comebacktown is published by David Sher & Phyllis Neill and was created to begin a discussion on creating better government for our region.

    I’m a Birmingham homer.  I drink the Magic City Kool-Aid in such excess that I am often blind to our blemishes, dreaming that perhaps that just one day, we will transform into an “it” city. 

    That city where businesses, young professionals and career movers yearn to make their home.  From the shadow of Vulcan's hindside, I have watched with envy the significant strides other Southern cities like Atlanta and Nashville – even Chattanooga and Montgomery – have made over us in recent years.  Well, I'm tired of waiting and ready for our turn to be "it."  Simply wishing, hoping and dreaming will not fuel this transformation though.  Unless we as individuals, as a community, and government, take collective action necessary to brand an identity and effectuate change, we will wait indefinitely for significant progress to occur.

    Born and raised here, I have never strayed too far from the tree.  A fourth generation Birminghamian, my roots were sown by the seeds of my Sicilian immigrant great-great grandparents who crossed the Atlantic among the wave of thousands of other Italians in the early 20th century via Ellis Island and New Orleans en route to the emerging industrial New South, with little more than mere dreams of a better future.  During my childhood, I visited the monkey island at the Birmingham Zoo, ate Chick-Fil-A in the new Century Plaza food court and shopped at the Eastwood Mall Parisian.  But for seven years and two degrees in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham has been home my entire life.  As an attorney, I could have easily chosen to practice elsewhere, but I never seriously considered exploring other options.  My sense of pride and loyalty to Birmingham was too strong.  To me, to move away would have been to abandon and turn my back on the city my ancestors chose over a century ago.

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