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Birmingham Magazine

Hair Story

I recently had the honor of writing a feature story on natural hair for the February 2017 issue of Birmingham magazine. The women I interviewed for the article — Alexis Barton, Akirashanit Byrd, and Keisa Sharpe — each had a compelling hair story to share and I hope you’ll read.

With one interviewee, fashion blogger Alexis Barton, I discussed the debate on whether or not a woman can still call her hair “natural” even if she occasionally straightens it with a tool such as a flat iron. Barton says, “To each her own, but I consider my hair to be natural because it’s not chemically relaxed.” She stressed that we must remember that a black woman’s hair isn’t always a political statement and “For some people, it truly is just hair.”

Nonetheless, Barton does believe that going natural can be a journey toward self-acceptance. It certainly was for me and even thinking about if I should straighten my hair or not helped in this process.

Back in 2012 I wrote a guest post for CurlyNikki.com on how natural hair made me a better feminist, a realization I came to after contemplating this question about flat ironing my curly tresses straight. Let’s step back in time and take a look at the post…

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See Jane Write founder selected as one of 30 “Women Who Shape the State”

women-who-shape-the-state

Name a woman who has shaped Alabama for the better. What difference has she made in the lives of those around her?

That’s the question Alabama Media Group posed to readers for its second annual search for the Women Who Shape the State. I am honored to announce that I was one of the more than 100 women nominated and one of the 30 women selected to be recognized this year!

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Last day to vote for the Best of Birmingham!

best of bham 2015

The release of  Birmingham magazine’s annual Best of Birmingham issue is only a few months away and the magazine needs your help in choosing the best food, drink, things to do, places to go and people to know in the Magic City.

Voting ends TODAY, July 17,  at 5 p.m.

When casting your vote please consider showing support for some of our partners for the Bloganista Mini-Con  presented by Laura Vincent Printing & Design, set for August 1.

Full Moon Bar-B-Que, who is providing lunch this year at the conference, is up for best barbecue. You can vote for Full Moon and cast your vote for your other favorite restaurants and bars here.

Church Street Coffee and Books is providing coffee for the Morning Mingle at this year’s conference, but as the name suggests, Church Street not only sells great coffee, but also great books. Church Street is up for best local bookstore.

 

 

Collage Designer Consignment is in the running for best local consignment shop. Collage is sponsoring this year’s Bloganista Mixer, which is the fabulous pre-party we’re throwing to get you even more excited about the Bloganista Mini-Con.

You can vote for Collage, Church Street and your other favorite places to shop and splurge here. (And if you haven’t RSVP’d for this year’s mixer, which is set for July 23, you can do so here.)

Also you can vote for the best things to do in the city here.

 

Meet the Press: Carla Jean Whitley of Birmingham Magazine


Carla Jean Whitley

Carla Jean Whitley knew she wanted a career in magazines when she was only 10 years old. But she started her journalism career in newspapers, working at The Tuscaloosa News, The Cullman Times, and The Birmingham News – all Alabama-based publications.

“I can’t say enough about how valuable my newspaper experience was,” Whitley says. “I had a chance to write, copy edit, line edit and design.

Still her magazine dreams were alive and well.

“When I heard there was an editorial opening at Birmingham magazine, I compiled my materials in 10 minutes flat,” she says. “I had interned at the magazine, and in the process I fell in love with city and regional titles. I always thought, ‘If I could get THAT job, I’d be set!’”

Whitley’s first day as associate editor of Birmingham magazine was Dec. 1, 2006, and she became managing editor on July 9, 2009.

“As I approach the seven-year mark at the magazine, I am so lucky to say that I’m working in my dream job,” Whitley says.

We talked to Whitley about her thoughts on the future of journalism, on her plans to write a book, and much more.

SJW: Why do you think Birmingham magazine continues to survive at a time when many print publications are folding?

Whitley: We’ve got nearly 52 years of history on our side. The magazine was launched in December 1961 by the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (now the Birmingham Business Alliance), and over time grew into the consumer publication it is today. However, I don’t think success is all about that longevity. The magazine has evolved with the community, and we constantly work to ensure our coverage reflects the metropolitan area we cover.

City and regional magazines have also been something of an anomaly during trying times. Although no publication is immune to economic and industry changes, these types of titles have held strong across the nation. Perhaps it’s because we offer readers an intimate experience with the cities they call home. In any case, I’m grateful to be part of it.

Why do you still believe in journalism despite the state of the industry? 

I believe journalism is a changing—certainly not a dying—industry. And while the pace of that change seems to have accelerated in recent years, I don’t think change itself is new. Heck, I remember designing pages by hand and marking photo crops with wax pencil when I was a high-school yearbook editor! And of course, that’s all digital these days.

But at its heart, I believe journalism is storytelling. Stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, news or features, bring us closer to other people. They give us insight into our communities and neighbors. Stories shed light on government activity and on opportunity for improvement in any realm.

Speaking of stories, we heard you recently landed a book deal. Tell me more!

Several months ago a reputable independent publisher contacted me about the possibility of writing a book. I was flabbergasted. Who doesn’t want to receive that email?! We began a conversation about what might appeal to me and their demographic. They focus on historical books, and I was kicking around ideas with the Alabama editor. We landed on an Alabama music-oriented topic, and now things are off and running.

I have begun research for the book, and will begin interviews this month. It will be a fairly quick turnaround; my manuscript is due in April, and the book is scheduled to be on shelves in July. Right now, I’ve set aside a few hours every Tuesday night for book work, but I expect the pace to increase over time. The first step is breaking through the mental block of “oh my gosh, I have to write a book!” I think I have done that and am now in the “let’s get ‘er done!” phase. I’m looking at the project as 13 feature stories rather than a book. I know how to write a feature; writing a book is overwhelming!

It’s also quite a juggling task. I’ve got my full-time work at Birmingham magazine, of course, and that takes center stage in my writing life. But I also freelance a bit and teach at the university level. And then there’s my non-writing life! This fall is going to be a balancing act, but I’m excited about all that awaits.
(Whitley will be documenting her writing and publishing adventures at PostScript, the blog of Birmingham-area shop Church Street Coffee and Books.)

What advice would you give to a woman hoping to have success in the magazine business?

Start writing! Seek every opportunity you can for improvement. And reach out to the editors you would like to work with. I’m always happy to grab coffee with a potential freelancer or someone who is hunting for a job, whether we have an opening or not—and we typically do not. There is so much wisdom to be gained by merely talking to people whose careers you admire, and most people I know offer that help freely.

Yes, that does mean you can ask me out to coffee. My email is cwhitley@Bhammag.com, and I’m usually fairly flexible!

You can meet Carla Jean Whitley and other editors of Birmingham-based publications at the See Jane Write Meet the Press Media Mixer presented by Hamer Law Group. This is an invitation-only event. Invitations will be extended to See Jane Write members, See Jane Write Magazine contributors, and See Jane Write sponsors. Click here for more information on joining See Jane Write. If you’re interested in being a See Jane Write sponsor email javacia@seejanewritebham.com

Originally published at SeeJaneWriteMagazine.com

22 Reasons Women Writers Should Love Birmingham

Birmingham's skyline from it's highest point
Image by Andre Natta via Flickr/Creative Commons

Monday morning I received an email that made my day. Actually, it made my week.

The message was from a young woman who is a senior at Harvard University interested in journalism. She contacted me because after she graduates she wants to move to… wait for it… Birmingham!

She came across my name and contact information via the See Jane Write blog and said that she’s eager to get involved in See Jane Write once she moves to the Magic City.

The fact that a student at Harvard (who’s originally from the D.C. area) wants to move to Birmingham may come to a shock to some, but not to me. This young woman has figured out something that, unfortunately, took me three decades to learn — Birmingham is a good place for writers.

This month’s issue of Birmingham Magazine features a list of 22 reasons to love the city. This list, along with the aforementioned email, inspired me to create a list of my own — 22 reasons women writers should love Birmingham.

Read on to see if your favorite things about Birmingham made this list.

Snapshot from the See Jane Write event Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism
Photo Credit: Sherri Davidson Ross





Writers in Birmingham believe in building community. Some local organizations for writers,
journalists, and bloggers include:

1. See Jane Write (Of course, I had to include this group!)
2. Alabama Bloggers
3. Alabama Media Professionals
4. Write Club
5. Birmingham Association of Black Journalists





Believe it or not, Birmingham has a thriving magazine scene. If you want to break into the world of glossy publications but don’t want to deal with shoveling snow or living in a studio apartment that costs you more than $1,000 a month, the Magic City is the place for you.

6. Southern Progress Corporation (home to magazines such as Southern Living, Health, and Cooking Light)

7. Birmingham Magazine

8. B-Metro

Most writers know that one of the best ways to improve your work is to spend time reading the works of others. Birmingham is for lovers — book lovers, that is. Some of our best bookstores include:

9. Jim Reed Books
10. Little Professor
11. 2nd & Charles

Studies have shown that crowded coffee shops can actually help fire up your creativity. Birmingham has plenty of great coffeehouses to get your mojo going. 

12. Church Street Coffee and Books
13. Urban Standard
14. O’Henry’s Coffees
15. The Red Cat Coffee House

In Birmingham writers don’t just sit home alone writing behind closed doors. In our city writers take the stage with spoken word nights and storytelling events.

16. Bards and Brews, presented by the Birmingham Public Library
17. Arc Light Stories

Smart writers know it’s good to get inspiration from all of the arts, including the culinary arts . In Birmingham we have a great art museum and wonderful performing arts centers such as the Alys Stephens Center, but we also have grassroots festivals and conferences and locally owned galleries to set our imaginations to work too.

18. Naked Art Gallery
19. FoodBlogSouth
20. Sidewalk Film Festival
21. Eat Drink Read Write Festival

We creative types typically don’t do well working a traditional 9 to 5 job and we tend to want to strike out on our own. If you’re ready to set your entrepreneurial spirit free, Birmingham is eager to help you do just that.

22. REV Birmingham

What do you love about Birmingham?


Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project