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Neighborhoods USA Conference in Birmingham May 23-26

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For The Birmingham Times

Neighborhood representatives from around the nation will gather in the Magic City May 23-26 when Birmingham opens its doors for the 2018 Neighborhoods USA conference.

NUSA is a national nonprofit organization committed to building and strengthening neighborhood organizations. This year’s event marks the third time that Birmingham will host NUSA, more than any other city in the conference’s 43-year history.

The four-day event will feature a series of panels, workshops and collaborative events that encourage networking, camaraderie and idea-sharing. About 800 attendees are expected, conference co-coordinator Felicia Mitchell said. It will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

“Each year NUSA solicits nominations to recognize the commitment of neighborhood endeavors, actions and neighborhood friendly individuals or enterprises by awarding its neighborhood of the year, best neighborhood program, neighborhood newsletter, and Who’s Who in America neighborhood award,” Mitchell said. “This year we are proud to announce our very own Woodlawn neighborhood/Woodlawn Business Association as one of the 2018 best program neighborhood finalists.”

On May 24 at 8 a.m., Mayor Randall Woodfin will join New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Jackson, Miss. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba for a panel discussion entitled “Rebirth, Recreate, Revitalize: How New Leaders are Reenergizing and Rebuilding Neighborhood Pride in the South.” All three mayors, newly elected in 2017, will share what is working in their communities.

“NUSA’s commitment to growing neighborhoods perfectly aligns with Birmingham’s current mission to build an inclusive city,” Woodfin said. “This is an opportunity for all our 99 neighborhoods to collaborate, absorb new ideas and have their voices heard.”

This year’s event also features NUSA’s first Youth Conference, which aims to give young people a hands-on experience in learning how neighborhoods and local government work together. The Youth Conference will include diversity training, a mock election and the opportunity to meet and interact with city officials from across the nation.

Woodfin, Lumumba, Jefferson County twin judges Shanta Owens and Shera Grant and others will meet students. The Youth Conference will also be held May 23-26 at the Sheraton.

“Students with a desire to impact neighborhoods, communities and city government tomorrow, can start learning how to do that today by attending the Youth Conference,’’ said Arron Jackson, program manager for Birmingham’s Division of Youth Services. “This is a great opportunity.’’

Registration for the Youth Conference, ages 12-18, is free. To register, email dysbhm@gmail.com or call (205) 320-0879. Slots are limited.

NUSA is still looking for adult volunteers. For more information, contact Willie Watson at willie.watson@birminghamal.gov.

Anyone who wants to volunteer for NUSA, may visit: http://www.uwca.org/volunteer/community-events/

For more information on NUSA, visit www.birminghamal.gov/NUSA2018.