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Birmingham’s Woodlawn Receives National Award for ‘Neighborhood of the Year’

The Woodlawn Community mural is shown at 6 55th Place South in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Birmingham. The mural was painted in 2018 by Rob Clifton and Moses Pressnell. (FILE)

By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

Birmingham’s Woodlawn Neighborhood Association took home the award for Neighborhood of the Year, while Five Points West won second place in the “Multi-Neighborhood Partnerships” category last week at the NUSA annual conference in El Paso, Texas.

On Tuesday, the City Council recognized residents for honors from the Neighborhoods USA (NUSA), a nonprofit made up of more than 500 local and national neighborhoods across the country.

Jason Avery, president of the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association, said his community received the award for its efforts to clean up their area.

That effort included collaborating with Birmingham Public Works, local businesses and nonprofits to turn an alley into “The Way,” which features 11 murals from woman artists, including the largest woman artist mural collection in the state, Avery said.

“We’re really proud of the things that we do, but what we really want to highlight is the use of collaboration. We know that the city can’t do it alone. We can’t do it alone. We all have to work together. That means bringing all of the partners to the table,” said the Woodlawn president.

Dora Sims, president of the Five Points West community during 2022, said her area brought home its award for the organization of a community fun day, which allowed them to begin implementing a broader action plan.

The fun day brought together neighbors, enabling leadership to provide information about the community’s action plan adapted from the city’s framework plan for their area, she said.

Dora Sims, left, and Vickie Moore, residents of Five Points West (FILE)

“We are proud that from the city’s framework plan, we now have a vehicle that we are using to help us focus on where we want to go in Five Points West,” Sims said.

City Council President Wardine Alexander said the awards represent the “essence” of why NUSA is important for Birmingham.

“[It’s a place] we can go and showcase what we’re doing, wonderful work that both of these communities have done and … collaboratively working to make Birmingham a great place to live,” Alexander said.

City Councilor J.T. Moore, whose district includes Woodlawn, said Avery and other officers in the neighborhood “are no strangers to hard work.”

“This is something that has been a norm, even before he became a neighborhood officer, so I’m not surprised at the things that he’s been able to accomplish,” Moore said.

City Councilor Carol Clarke, whose district includes much of the Five Points West, said the community “demonstrated that we’re always working together.”

“I’m just happy to be able to work with a group of leaders like we have in Five Points West, who dream big and work hard and demonstrate that we can do more and bigger by banding together,” Clarke said.

City Councilor Valerie Abbott said communities like Woodlawn and Five Points West “have set the example” for others.

“We have a lot of neighborhood associations that have gotten kind of tired, and they just don’t feel like doing anything anymore, and I think it’s important for people to see what y’all have done,” Abbott said.

City Councilor LaTonya Tate agreed, saying “collective movement and building” are very important.

“I believe in replication. This is a model that can be followed through all 99 neighborhoods…We constantly say this, ‘If we want better neighborhoods, we’ve got to collectively move together.’ This is what it’s all about, when it comes to fighting crime or whatever,” Tate said.