Southern hospitality is key to the future of small-town Alabama

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A glimpse into the future of small town Alabama took us back in time to our roots of Southern hospitality.

Everywhere you look, small towns are being romanticized. From the biggest TV shows and movies, top magazines, great outdoor books to local news; today’s modern media follows the large-scale migration of Americans from crowded coastal cities to slower-paced communities and home values.

SoulGrown offers no exception. We are proud to defend the romanticized South by highlighting the reality that ignites the desire so deep in the hearts of men (and women). While small-town Alabama will always remain at the inner core of the “Soul of the South,” it will retain its signature charm with just a little old-fashioned, Southern hospitality.

However, these long-standing and exceptional social practices would be invalid without proper infrastructure. And that’s where we begin our look into the future of what small towns in Alabama will become. Southern hospitality can be defined as many things, but we’ve narrowed it down to three main characteristics: helpfulness, friendliness, and kindness. These attributes outline what Southern hospitality means to Alabamians and create a foundation for those in positions of power to lead from. Alabama state leaders have taken many steps recently to pour resources into our rural counties. From new buildings to redevelopments, millions of dollars are being invested in fringe communities.

As SoulGrown, we will always dig below the surface to find the heart behind any initiative to develop our home state. From what we’ve seen, the recent efforts of state leadership in 2022 have really captured the essence of Southern hospitality as defined above. Continuing to embrace these values ​​will give rural Alabama the helping hand it needs to see an economically prosperous future.

  1. Welcome

Could the roads be a sign of a warm welcome? Maybe not at first, but a bumpy road full of pots can definitely deter visitors and residents from driving through. Millions of dollars in local “Rebuild Alabama” infrastructure projects demonstrate our state’s focus on excellence in every detail. 11 different counties recently received grants for road and bridge projects needed to welcome more visitors to their communities. The DeKalb Historic District will receive $220,000 to resurface Valley Head Square, which consists of Anderson Street, Commerce Avenue, Winston Street and Sulfur Springs Road, as well as Carmichael Road.

On a larger scale, resilient Choctaw County will receive $700,000 to completely replace its bridge over Spear Creek, adding to local access to area outdoor amenities such as fishing, swimming and kayaking.

Roads and bridges that get the TLC they deserve connect to a much greater purpose. Improving small town infrastructure allows locals to move around easily, making these communities more desirable to relocate to and offering a sense of pride to residents when they welcome out-of-town friends and family into their homes.

In announcing the $2.6 million allocation, Governor Kay Ivey said, “This is a remarkable milestone for our state, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to make Alabama a better place to live, work and raise a family.

  1. Willing

In the South, most people subscribe to the collective belief that helping each other is simply the right thing to do. One way small town Alabama will see the future is by taking care of its core needs.

A famous Alabama native, Hellen Keller, once said, “We can do so little by ourselves; together we can do so much.” And that’s exactly what’s happening as the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) announced its $19.3 million investment in community development.

Commenting on the recent grants, ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said, “I commend community leaders and planners for their efforts to improve the lives of their residents and make their communities better places to live.

Of Alabama’s 67 counties, 50 were included in these Community Development Block Grants, many of which are made up of small-town Alabama communities. Helping each other in this way is a key faith in Alabama’s hospitable heritage and the only way we see both rural and urban communities prosper.

  1. Species

Kindness is defined by Oxford Languages ​​as “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate”. Frequent acts of generosity often take place in the “Bible Belt” and certainly fit the character of small-town Alabama. However, it is even more effective when powerful people lend a kind hand. In our modern digital world, access is everything. Without access to education, healthcare and even social connectivity, local businesses and families can struggle. Alabama is a state that cares about its people, especially in rural communities where that “access” can be more difficult.

In a $26.6 million move, Governor Ivey announced grants that would expand broadband service throughout the Yellowhammer State. The bold truth, according to ADECA director Kenneth Boswell, is that high-speed internet has the power to “change the world”.

A perfect example is looking back and learning from the recent past. The Covid19 pandemic moved Americans back to their homes and with them came their school and work. For families in small towns/rural areas, remote learning and working from home have been challenging due to a lack of high-speed internet access to stay connected to the rest of the world. This financial investment ensures a stronger future for small towns that this part of history is unlikely to repeat itself.

Change in rural communities starts from within. Like those in Alabama, they embraced the state’s reputation as a beacon of Southern hospitality; stay welcoming, helpful and kind, the future is bright for small town alabama.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

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