So Good, I Cried A Little…

This past Sunday I had the immense pleasure of attending the 11th Annual Birmingham Originals Breakin’ Bread Food & Wine Festival.  First of all, any restaurant with a known name was there. I’m talking old favorites like Irondale Cafe, Birmingham famous like Oceans,  and classy favorites like Hot & Hot Fish Club to name very few. My tastebuds, belly, and brain were completely overwhelmed by the smorgasbord  that laid before me. There was way too much good food for me to review or make a favorites list. In fact, after a while I felt too full to take pictures.  The slide show below is not even close to a good representation of all the restaurants. You can see a complete list here.

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See here for more restaurant details: Silvertron Cafe, Chez Fonfon, Nabel’s Cafe, John’s City Diner, Irondale Cafe, The J. Clyde, Bottega, Ocean, The Bright Star, Hot & Hot Fish Club, Culinard Cafe, JoJo’s on Broadway,  Little Savannah, Avo, Scatterfields, Century Restaurant, Chez Lulu, The Pantry by Stone Hollow Farmstead, V. Richards, Vino  Continue reading

I Dare You: A little Inspiration with Teresa Zuniga-Odom

Party with a Purpose

September 15th – October 15th marks the month-long celebration of the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. This month was chosen as it surrounds the anniversary of  independence day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile, and Belize.

For 12 years, Birmingham has hosted, Fiesta, Alabama’s largest celebration of Hispanic culture. Over the years, the festival has given away more than $50K in scholarships. The 12th Annual Fiesta Birmingham is happening tomorrow (It’s exactly 12:00am Friday. It’s early so forgive any typos)  in Lynn Park.  You can buy tickets at the gate for $8 or online for $5. Buy tickets online here.



Picture taken from Odom's blog, Southern Señora

Picture taken from Odom’s blog, Southern Señora

Teresa Zuniga-Odom, one of the festival’s board members , was kind enough to share her story with me. Odom recently launched her own blog, Southern Señora, to speak about her own experiences and family history. I’m so grateful that I’m going to limit my commentary to let her voice shine through.

Odom is a beautiful blend of Mexican and American. Her father’s family is from the Southwest and her mother was born in Oneonta, Alabama. Her love for culture was developed at an early age as she embraced her families travels. She grew up speaking English and learned Spanish while living in Puerto Rico. She recounts what it was like to be on the other side of the language barrier:

“I had the experience of walking into 1st grade and no one spoke English except the teacher.  It is something I always remembered and instilled upon my children when the were in school in Hoover where the Hispanic community was growing – always be the first ones to approach the new person or someone who doesn’t speak English – it’s a scary position to be in and you never know when you might be in that same position. ”

Odom has led her children by example. This is no surprise in light of her families historical heart for service. “As I grew up and learned more about my Mexican family in New Mexico and Colorado, I was so proud to hear about how many educators, nonprofit leaders, and social justice warriors there were in my family.  I’ve always loved giving back in my community and was so excited to find a long history of this in my family – and it was so inspiring!”

In fact, her first cousin worked in Alabama during the civil rights movement, taking photographs and registering African-Americans  in Selma to vote.  “She was a member of SNCC – the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  Her story is told in the book “Hands on the Freedom Plow.”  – a collection of stories of 52 women who were on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement.  Discovering all of this and hearing their stories first-hand, made me want to do more and I was afforded that opportunity as the Hispanic community began to boom in the Birmingham region.”

Fiesta Birmingham has become a staple in our city’s cultural events. “Another great benefit of the festival is to showcase the many different Hispanic cultures in Alabama.  There is a great misconception that everyone who speaks Spanish is Mexican.  In fact, the Hispanic Business Council was a Latin United Nation if you were to look at our backgrounds.  We had Cuban, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Costa Rican, Puerto Rican and Mexican represented at the time.  And one of the best aspects – to me – of Fiesta, is the Cultural Village and the way the community comes together to showcase their culture and country each year.  Community members bring their own personal belongings and artifacts to showcase the best of their countries and share with visitors of Fiesta.”  Southern Señora, Odom’s blog, will tell the diverse stories of others in the city as well as her own.

I asked Odom about her success in the corporate world , but she prefers to be known as a Hispanic Community Volunteer.“It is something that has been close to my heart for over 15 years as the community started growing and being noticed in Birmingham.  My dad died in 2001 before so much started happening in Birmingham.  I often wonder what he would have thought of Fiesta and all the events that are now occurring in the state.  I believe he would have been proud of the way Fiesta has grown and what we’ve accomplished.  He was such an example of “doing the right thing, always” to me – I think he would have been proud.”

I’m certainly proud. Honestly, I’ve been feeling a little lost this week. The way  if is when you seem to have been out of touch with your purpose. Knowing Odom’s story has reminded me that a life of  service doesn’t only bless others, but it blesses you too.

I dare you to step outside of yourself, your circle, your world to embrace another. I dare you to have some fun while doing it. Why not start this weekend at Fiesta?

Fiesta con un proposito!

Party with A Purpose Birmingham!

-A City Girl

On The Red Carpet: TedxBirmingham Salon

Ripples. Small disturbances in the status quo that grow larger. At TEDxBirminghamSalon, we’ll hear from several live speakers who will start the ripple of an idea. It’s up to you to connect with others in this intimate setting and see how far those ripples can spread. -TedxBirmingham


Salon (noun)- A gathering of people who meet to converse on intellectual, social, political, or artistic topics

On Monday, I had the pleasure of attending my first TedxBirmingham event at Trim Tab Brewery.  Trim Tab, which is usually closed on Mondays, set up shop specifically to host the event.

Founded in 1984, TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, is a nonprofit devoted to the spreading of ideas in the form of short, powerful talks on almost all topics. TED is an organization on a global scale, and uses independent, locally run events, known as TEDx, to begin the spreading of ideas through communities. All TED and TEDx Talks are recorded which furthers the promotion of ideas all around the world. Here’s a quick video that explains it all…

Attending and giving a TED Talk were both on my list of things to do before I die. At least, I can scratch one of them off. If you have never heard of a TED Talk, STOP READING THIS POST (well read the rest of the paragraph, follow the directions, and then come back and read this post) .  Click on one of the links below and pick a TED Talk to watch. WARNING YOU MAY BECOME ADDICTED.

My personal favorite TED Talk: Every Kid Needs a Champion by Rita Pierson

TedxBirmingham held their first large event in May of this year, and has many more on the way. Monday’s salon featured 8 speakers who  each gave a 4-5 minute talk. Attendees were asked to select two of their favorites. The survey data will help select speakers for the larger event on February, 28th. “This is like a test run,” says Jami Armbrester a volunteer staff member and the Associate Director of Career and Professional Development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Let me just say that I applaud every speaker for having the courage and brilliance to get up and share their personal thoughts with a group of strangers. Here’s a quick rundown of the speakers, and a quote from their talk that stood out to me.

 Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.21.01 AM“Your voice is your power”

Taylor was a favorite. He spoke on the transformative power of the arts. He advocated for investment in alternative programs to bring about meaningful change in the lives of youth. He pushed for the destruction of the idea that a child should be seen and not heard. He challenged us to not think outside the box, but realize there is no box. He created a ripple.

Taylor is the founder of Real Life Poets, Incorporated. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2006 to use spoken word and poetry as a mentorship tool for youth and young adults. For more information about Real Life Poets, Inc.  and their programs visit

“MScreen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.21.16 AMy eyes have been opened and my mind has been changed all because I traveled. Traveling Changes you.”

Toland’s talk was my other favorite, because he convinced me that traveling makes you a better person. He sited research to show that people who just think about traveling are more creative than people who don’t. He shamed me with a statistic comparing the amount of people in the USA with passports (only 30 %) to those with passports in the United Kingdom (70%).  Toland’s idea actually created a ripple. I left determined to travel more, but also wondering how to make travel  a more accessible opportunity. How can we provide more opportunities to travel for youth and low-income families?

Toland’s upcoming event Toland Travels Live  will be held on September 20th at Urban Standard. The event is free and features live story telling of the travels from local writers. For more information about Toland, his travels, and upcoming events visit his website

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.14 AM“You have a choice to make. Each day you must choose. Will I give up or be resilient?…Be Resilient.”

Brown under went a traumatic experience when she and her two children were held captive and abused for two years. She says that resiliency is the ability to overcome even the worsts situations. She now works to motivate others as an advocate for domestic violence awareness. This sister was powerful.

Learn more about Brown on here website here.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.21.23 AM“In all likelihood, the job we will retire from doesn’t exist yet.”

Watson spoke about what makes millennials tick and why cities need to attract us if they want to survive. He identified the type of work that attracts millennial talent. The work we want is meaningful and allows for a work life balance. As a millennial, I identified strongly with his talk.


“There’s more tScreen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.22 AMo our story.”

Bruce performed a spoken word piece that encouraged us to understand the power of vulnerability. In other words, just keep it real y’all.



Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.04 AMSports have power, therefore we need to teach sports… Our world get’s wider when sports enter the equation.”

Billings spoke on the lessons that can be taught through the foundations of sports. He spoke on how sports create a platform to discuss history, race, homosexuality, domestic violence, and other issues.  I enjoyed his talk, because he approached a familiar topic for Alabamians in a totally different way.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.52 AM
“I’m a recovering perfectionist”    

McGraw spoke about how she’s overcoming fear and self-doubt.   McGraw’s talk served as my reminder to breathe a little.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.30 AM“We all need to get naked”

He called upon laders to build authentic community by being vulnerable and allowing others to do the same. Carpizo is currently a community organizer with Greater Birmingham Ministries.  To learn more about his work with immigration reform visit


Does this sound like an event you would like to attend or participate in? TedxBirmingham has two upcoming events this year.

October 28th Salon- Video Only. During Design Week Birmingham, they will host a viewing a selected TED talks.

December 8th Live Salon @ Trim Tab Brewery. Participants will speak on issues related to poverty. Tickets are $10 and go on sale at noon two weeks before the event. Be on the lookout, because tickets go fast. (really, really, really fast)

For more information about TedxBirmingham and upcoming events visit

Oh… Participants speak while standing on a red circle carpet. Hence, the title. I loved this event and I look forward to more. It is yet another way Birmingham is building a diverse community. However, if you don’t know about it,  you can’t come. And if you don’t come no one can build it.

Well… I’ve done my job

Happy building Birmingham!

-A City Girl





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