I recently met a new friend, Kevin Storr, who helps run PRSA Alabama. He asked ma great question during our meeting, “What happened when you moved back to Birmingham (from D.C.) to make you want to get involved in the community?” I don’t know that I had ever been asked that question before though a lot of my friends know how much I love Birmingham. Why do I love Birmingham? How did it come to be? I had never given it much thought…it just happened.
I had previously lived in Birmingham, in a beautiful apartment in Southside. I loved the vibe of the area, the scenery, and being in the heart of the city. While I had a great first experience I really fell in love with the city the second time around. I am sure it had to do with the revitalization that was happening when I moved back in 2010. Railroad Park was brand new, Regions Park was moving downtown, 2nd Avenue North and surrounding areas were exploding, and people were excited. Upon my return, I was instantly greeted by buzz and excitement, people were talking. I looked for ways to get involved and connected and I didn’t have to look far. Within my first few weeks I heard the name Laura Kate Whitney multiple times. Who was this Birmingham phenom that everyone seemed to know and love?
I don’t remember when I first met LK (I have a very selective memory as my husband will tell you), but I do remember that I knew I would never forget her. She was a firework finale packed into a single firecracker. My “big” personality was no match for her hypnotic happiness and enthusiasm for all things Birmingham. I was hooked. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to drink in the city and all its good and bad with unwavering devotion and celebration.
I set up a meeting with LK to get to know her better. As per usual with LK, she completely turned the conversation around, got to know me better, wanted to hear about my loves, and we came up with a new name on the spot for this new rookie Birmingham cheerleader (me) courtesy of the Alabama Power building downtown – Electra. Even though the moniker was meant for me, it fitted her better: LK is electric and has a way of spreading her electricity to everyone around her and getting them equally excited about the topic at hand.
Bottom line: the girl is magic. She casts spells, she gets people excited and involved, and everyone I’ve ever asked has fallen madly in love with her. How could you not? She is, after all, Birmingham’s original cheerleader.
Update: Laura Kate is one of the notable speakers at this weekend’s sold out Birmingham TEDx event. You can find more information about and listen to a live stream of the day’s events here: http://www.tedxbirmingham.org/