What is “Ensley Alive”?
Ensley Alive is a movement powered by a group individually and collectively dedicated to Ensley’s renaissance. It was founded by Deidre Clark, Brian “Voice” Porter Hawkins, Brian Gunn, Bettina Byrd-Giles and co-founder, Hank Layman. Ensley Alive dedicated itself to presenting a counternarrative to the negative images associated with Ensley.
“Do always as much as we can, in the way that we can,
in order to leave our community more beautiful & beneficial
than it was when we inherited it.”
Ensley’s vibrant stories and rich history had been buried under census data and crime statistics. Ensley Alive founders who work in and live near the small industrial community west of Birmingham, Alabama, used still images and video to tell lost stories. Ensley Alive, which not only changed how the community was perceived, but also renewed some of its structures. The photovoice project captured stories through photographs. We posted onto social media, commissioned murals and challenged the accuracy of media reports linking crimes to the community. Ensley telling Ensley’s own story caught the attention of National Public Radio, which aired Junction Stories.
Our philosophy is to build from the inside out. Ensley will be rebuilt by the sons and daughters of Ensley. It is our commitment to hire, highlight and uplift individuals from Ensley first. Then expand to surrounding communities, the entire west side and then the rest of Birminghamin that order. This includes hiring individuals from Ensley for projects and initiatives. Whenever possible we will utilize and bring resources to Ensley based individuals and organizations.
Ensley Alive seeks to present a counter-narrative to the widely held beliefs, stereotypes and misinformation about the community. Because the community has internalized some of the negative notions, Ensley Alive focuses on shifting paradigms. Ensley Alive believes that members of the community drive its evolution and development. All of Ensley Alive’s initiatives include high levels of community engagement and involvement of the community in implementation. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ensley-alive-paradigm-shift-bettina-byrd-giles/