Alabama's Black Belt region often gets a bad rap, It's become synonymous with racial strife, high unemployment, and lack of opportunity for young people. But it's also a part of the state bursting with creativity. WBHM's Bradley George visits two Black Belt towns where artists and designers are trying to improve the lives of residents.
In our next story, we're headed to Northeast Alabama and the Chief Ladiga Trail. It's part the longest paved trail in the U.S. Used mainly by bicyclists, the Chief Ladiga Trail has canopies of pine and dogwood trees, as well as wetlands, farmland and the scenic Talladega National Forest. The public trail was created using old railroad corridors and begins in Anniston's Woodland Park. It weaves through Jacksonville and Piedmont heading east to the state line in Cleburne County. WBHM's Michael Krall visited the trail and sent back this audio postcard...
If you live in Birmingham, you don't have to go far to get away from it all. About 20 minutes north of the city, near Pinson, is the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve - a tributary of the Locust Fork River. The 460 acre preserve has waterfalls and two species of fish found nowhere else. The state's land trust, Forever Wild, purchased the land and the preserve is managed by the Southern Environmental Center. Director Roald Hazelhoff remembers the first time he visited Turkey Creek 20 years ago. Back then, the area was in a much different shape...
Perhaps there are some of you who just can't pull yourselves away. Or maybe you're looking for something to do IN Birmingham. WBHM's Michael Krall has some musical suggestions in this month's Three to See.
So, we've been to the Black Belt and the northeastern part of the state, now let's head to North Alabama. The Council of Fashion Designers of America is a veritable "who's, who" of the design world. Names such as Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Kate Spade and Calvin Klein all appear on the membership rolls. And while most of these people are based in New York or California, two of the designers call the same Alabama town home. WBHM's Andrew Yeager takes us there.
Laura Kate Whitney grew up not far from Alabama, in Columbus, Mississippi. She went to college at the University of Alabama and spent some time in Atlanta and Charleston. Three months ago, Whitney and her husband moved to Birmingham. She's writing about her impressions and discoveries of the city in a blog called Magic City Manifesto. Whitney tells WBHM's Bradley George that her move to Birmingham brought about a rush of emotions.
We end our tour of Alabama in the east - Anniston, to be exact. The city has endured a lot of bad press in the last 15 years. First, Fort McClellan closed, sending the city into economic turmoil. Then, details emerged about the contamination of local waterways with toxic chemicals called PCBs. And finally, the Anniston Depot started incinerating chemical weapon. But through it all, downtown revitalization efforts have continued. And as WBHM's Tanya Ott reports they're relying heavily on the arts and culture to bring downtown back to life.
We hope you've enjoyed our tour of Alabama. And we'd love to hear your feedback. We'd also like to hear about your favorite places in the state, or any other story ideas you might have. firstname.lastname@example.org is our email address. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Tapestry is produced by Bradley George and Michael Krall, with help this month from Tanya Ott and Andrew Yeager. I'm Greg Bass, enjoy your Spring reak, and we'll see you next month.