It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, some old dude wrote over a century ago.
There has been a lot to be excited about in the Port City recently. Maybe even ecstatic.
We just finished building our 15the Airbus A321, the first one for Delta Airlines. Let that sink in. We are a city that builds airplanes. I get chill bumps every time I think about it.
Downtown has evolved from a dead ghost town with boarded-up buildings to a sleepy strip with a few hot spots and a handful of “good nights” each week to the vibrant heart of our city all of us hoped it would one day be. It doesn’t matter what day of the week or time you head down to LoDa these days, it’s always happening.
New restaurants are opening up all over the city and the talent in our new and established kitchens alike rivals that of any metropolitan city.
My husband and I stopped in Kitchen on George last Friday night before the Jason Isbell concert at the Saenger and had these sublime Mon Luis oysters with pickled onions and white barbecue sauce. Is it wrong that I can’t stop thinking about them? I kind of want to write them a love letter to see if they will go steady with me? Circle yes OR no. (Please circle yes, please circle yes!)
Incredible music is filling our pubs, music halls and grand venues. That Jason Isbell concert was as tasty as those oysters I want to marry and raise 2.5 children with.
Retail is also in a bit of a renaissance with stores we never thought we would see opening their doors in Mobile doing just that. Why yes, Williams Sonoma, certainly I need a $40 “butter crock.”
Parks, roads and sidewalks are getting makeovers.
We are getting a cruise ship back and another even made us a port of call this past week.
It feels kind of amazing to be a Mobilian right now, especially for those of us who live, work and play on and around streets with names like Dauphin, Old Shell, Spring Hill or Old Government.
But there has been a lot to be upset and heartbroken over around here of late as well.
And much of that tragedy has occurred on streets with names many of us aren’t so familiar with, like Butler, Peach or Warsaw.
There has been a shooting or homicide in Mobile more days than not over the past couple of weeks. And in the cases where arrests have been made, many of the suspects have been teenagers. Teenagers. Let that sink in, and think about what you were doing at 17 and what you hope your own kids are or will be doing at that age. I am sure it doesn’t involve a stolen handgun and a homicide investigation.
Sadly, many of the victims of these recent crimes have also been teenagers or young adults themselves.
A beautiful young woman on her way to work was one such victim.
Twenty-four-year old De’Launa Powell Anderson was gunned down while sitting at a stoplight on her way to an early morning training class. A seemingly random crime, she left behind a 5-year-old daughter who will grow up without her mother.
Why? And for what? There is no possible answer to this that would ever make this horrific act make sense.
But even though there are no answers, it does force us to start asking a lot of hard questions, none of which have simple solutions.
How did we get here as a community? And is there anything we can do to stop these children from going down this path?
Well-meaning folks and politicos always want to rush in during times like these and do something to help solve the problem, as they (and we) all should.
Government response is usually to form committees and/or more outreach, mentoring or after-school programs. And that is a great start, and the programs that have been doing this great work in our communities for years are fantastic, without question.
But how do we reach the kids who are not making it to community centers or the Boys or Girls Club or who don’t have a Big Brother or Big Sister? The kids who don’t have parents or grandparents or anyone looking out for them at all? How do we help them?
I don’t know the answers.
I am hopeful the success this beautiful city is experiencing and the new opportunities that success will bring will help young people in all of our neighborhoods, no matter the zip code.
But that is going to take time.
Sadly, we are still living in two different worlds inside the same city. And it’s easy for us to lose ourselves in our own little worlds. But we are all in this together.
And for our city to be truly great we are going to have to figure out to be that “One Mobile” another old dude started speaking about a little over four years ago.
But I remain hopeful this is yet another dream we can soon turn into reality.
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