Proud Placemaker: Carla Jean Whitley, Crestline Park

Hey there, Carla Jean! Why don’t we get started— where in this great city do you call home?

Crestline Park. I've also lived in Crestline Gardens and Huffman in Birmingham, and the metro-area cities of Trussville and Irondale. 

Very cool. So have you always been a Birminghamian?

This is my third time living in Birmingham. I relocated most recently from Cullman (where I lived in 2006), and in 2003 I came back to the state of Alabama after 15 years in Florida.

Well we sure are glad to have you back here! So out of all your options, why choose Birmingham?

I returned to the state in 2003 to earn my master's at the University of Alabama, and I've lived within an hour of Birmingham ever since. I'm a Birmingham native who moved to Florida in 1988, and although I grew up in that state to our south, I've found that my home is truly in Alabama. When I interned at Birmingham magazine during my final semester of grad school, I realized I had found the perfect job. Writing about the city helped me get to know it better, and I loved the mix of topics I was able to cover.

As I left school and began my journalism career, it was natural to set my sights on the state's biggest city. Following a few stints at newspapers in central Alabama, I received word that Birmingham magazine was hiring. I started my dream job in December 2006.

And while that has a lot to do with why I remain in Birmingham, it's certainly not the whole reason. Birmingham is where my heart is, where I feel the most at home and where I seem to be the most myself. I was in New Orleans when the tornadoes struck on April 27, 2011, and being away while my city was in distress was painful. That, as much as anything, confirmed that this is where I want to be.

Wow, what a powerful draw back to the city. It sounds like Birmingham has always played a great role in your life story. So when it comes to moving back to the city, what made you venture to Crestline Park?  

Crestline Park is beautiful, filled with tree-lined streets and adorable, tiny houses. (My home is fewer than 800 square feet, and I love it.) The neighborhood is walkable, and I love having restaurants and retailers within a few blocks of my house. The neighborhood is also centrally located, which means I'm 10 to 15 minutes away from most places I frequent. I also love how community-oriented the area is; there are a number of strong, locally owned businesses. And I'm recognized and welcomed by people at all the shops I frequent, from local businesses such as Church Street Coffee and Books and Neighborhood Hops and Vine to my nearby Publix.

Nothing makes one feel cozier or more at home than being considered a “local” at your favorite stops and shops! You know you’ve found the right neighborhood when that begins to happen. So what have you found to be the great benefit of city living in Birmingham? 

I've already touched on that some in the previous answers, but basically, the city has so much to offer. It's easy to get from one place to another, we've got tons of culture, incredible food, a real community feel and increasingly vibrant neighborhoods. I happen to love my little corner of the city, but there are so many neighborhoods I adore--and one of the perks of living within city limits is that they're all close by! I spend a lot of time in Avondale and a good bit in Woodlawn. I adore downtown. I've always lived on the east side of town (in fact, I now reside 1.1 miles from the hospital where I was born!), and so the various eastern neighborhoods are dear to me. I love the proximity to the metro area's many wonderful communities; it's an easy jump from Birmingham to Homewood, Mountain Brook, Brookside, Trussville, wherever. The city is large enough that it offers all the amenities I want, but small enough that it's easy to get involved and make it feel like home.

You perfectly described the big city with a small town feel that captures the spirit Birmingham so accurately. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Is there anything else you’d like to leave with us when it comes to why Birmingham is the place to LIV?

Frankly, everything I've already told you is high on my list when I'm persuading others to move here! Other bonuses are that Birmingham offers a fairly low cost of living, beautiful architecture, rolling hills, mild weather and easy access to football.

You can catch Carla Jean Whitley at your hanging out at your favorite local coffee shop or as you flip through the pages of your latest copy of Birmingham Magazine. Check out her music blog Birmingham Box Set online, in print or by following along in the Twitterverse @bhamboxset.

 

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