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On the Line: Birmingham's Urban Divide

90.3 WBHM Birmingham-- The city of Birmingham faces many challenges, from a shrinking population to struggling schools to a lack of affordable housing. But there are opportunities as well, including a growing downtown loft movement and a thriving arts community. On September 4, 2007, WBHM's Steve Chiotakis and a panel of guests took questions and comments from listeners.

John Archibald is the metro columnist for The Birmingham News. His column appears three times a week on the Local News front. In it he tries to break news, to tell stories about politics, corruption or the quirks of daily life in the seven-county metro area. He has been called many things, but his favorite description came in a letter to the editor: "Public nag." Archibald is married with three children. He graduated from the University of Alabama and has worked at The Birmingham News for 20 years. Prior to beginning his column in 2004 he worked as a government reporter, investigative reporter and database editor.

Michael Calvert has served as president of Operation New Birmingham since 1982. During his 24 year tenure, ONB has been involved in many projects that have revitalized downtown Birmingham, including the restoration of Linn Park, the construction of the McWane Science Center, One Federal Place and the Concord Center office towers, a decline in vacant buildings and the recent boom in residential development and associated amenities in the City Center. Michael is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham and serves on the boards of numerous civic and non-profit organizations. He received his Master of City Planning degree from Ohio State University and is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He and his wife Susan have three children and four grandchildren.

Operation New Birmingham is a non-profit, public private partnership between the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County and the private business community working to make the Birmingham City Center the #1 choice for business, living, healthcare and the arts and entertainment.

Dr. Robert G. Corley is Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Center for Urban Affairs and also directs UAB's Global and Community Leadership Honors Program. In addition to teaching American, Civil Rights, and Urban History, Corley teaches a popular class on the history of Birmingham. Dr. Corley has served on the Birmingham Board of Education and the boards of Leadership Birmingham, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Poverty Project, Cahaba River Society and Region 2020. Before coming to UAB, Bob served as the Regional Director of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) for nine years. He is married to Cathy Corley, who until last year was the Program Director for the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). They have two adult children, Sean and Rachel.

Juandalynn Givan is HOPE VI Coordinator for the Housing Authority of Birmingham. Hope VI was launched in the late 1990's, when the federal government determined there were at least 80,000 public housing units nationwide that were so dilapidated they weren't fit for human habitation. Givan oversees the development of local HOPE VI projects including Park Place and various other mixed-income and affordable housing properties. Givan is a graduate of Miles Law School and was admitted into the Alabama State Bar. Previously she worked in the Birmingham mayor's office and the Birmingham Street and Sanitation Department.

Andrew Morrow and his partner Jamie Caywood have developed loft projects in downtown Birmingham and are now focusing their energy on a development project in Avondale.

Mountain Brook dentist Roger Smith started his private practice 24 years ago, but in 2006 he and his partner, Mary McSpadden, opened "Smiles for Keeps" in downtown Woodlawn, providing dental care to the surrounding underserved communities. The clinic's location bridges one of the greatest barriers to healthcare for the poor, a lack of transportation.

Citing state Medicaid statistics, Smith says of the 66,000 Medicaid-eligible children in Jefferson County, only a third saw a dentist last year. The practice is seeing a growing number of those young patients, many so neglected they require complicated procedures normally reserved for adults.