Most people who are born here hate it here. It’s just a fact of growing up in Montgomery, Alabama. If you spent a large chunk of your formative years in our city, then you’ve probably heard it all. All the reasons why Montgomery is the worst. I know I did.
“Montgomery is a vacuum that you can’t escape.”
“There’s absolutely nothing for me here.”
“Why would I want to stay here when there are so many better places to be?”
“City of Dreams? More like the city where dreams go to die!”
The worst part is, I agreed with most of these sentiments for the majority of my childhood. It wasn’t until I moved off to college that I began to really appreciate Montgomery.
When I was in high school, we all talked about moving away for college. We all said that we would never move back to Montgomery because that would be a waste of our time, talents, and futures. So why the world did I end up moving back here? Four Words. Compassion leads to action.
Greater Good Magazine written and published through Berkeley University says, “compassion literally means ‘to suffer together.’” They argue that compassion is when your feelings towards another person or group lead you to want to help them, and that’s exactly what led me back to Montgomery.
As I heard people in college talking about how much they hated Montgomery, it dawned on me that if we all hate Montgomery so much…why don’t we do something about it? The answer is simple. We don’t do anything about it because it’s easier not to. It’s easier to go somewhere that we deem as being “better.” Better job opportunities. Better leisure activities. Better people. Better schools. While all these desires and complaints are valid, if we all just keep leaving then nothing is going to change.
So, what do we do? How do those of us who have chosen to stay and “suffer together” make a difference? What can we do as normal everyday citizens to make Montgomery the city of dreams? I had these same questions and absolutely no answers, so I contacted the people who might. After talking to Phillip Ensler, Mayor Reed’s policy advisor, we thought of some ways that you can begin to love our city and maybe even get others to love it too.
Use Your Influence for Good
We all have a sphere of influence. Some are larger than others, but we all have one. Use your influence for good! Think about the way you speak about our city. Think about the things you share on social media, the things you post. Are you posting and sharing about the good things happening in Montgomery, or are you only sharing negative things? Do you only speak up when something scary, frustrating, or wrong happens or are you encouraging and acknowledging those making a positive impact?
I know that it’s difficult because as humans we tend to focus on the “big news.” There’s a reason that the most read news stories are about scandal and crime. However, we need to begin not only pointing out the good just as much as we call out the bad, but also championing those who are actively pursuing goodness and change in Montgomery.
As we change the way we portray Montgomery to the world, we’ll begin to see a shift in the way people view it. You might even change your own heart!
Stay Up to Date
We can’t be actively involved in change or truly know our city if we’re not actually paying attention to what is happening in it! This means we need to keep up with the news. Know when elections are happening, know when big events are taking place, know when policies are being discussed or changed.
One of the best ways to keep up with what is happening in Montgomery is to follow the city on social media! The City of Montgomery has Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can follow them on all these platforms to stay up to date with what’s happening, hear encouraging stories, and learn about how you can get involved throughout the city. This also helps you to be spread positivity about Montgomery and at the very lead be better informed.
Get Involved in Policy
This isn’t for everyone, but there are some people who don’t want to just hear about policy but want to be a part of making it. There are several ways you can go about doing this.
One easy way is to go to and be a part of City Council meetings. These meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month. During these meetings, you can hear the council discuss topics on the meeting agenda and even ask questions and voice concerns about different potential policies.
Another easy way to be a part of what is happening in Montgomery is to be aware of the different committees and councils that make up Montgomery. One specific council we talked about was the Young Professionals Council. This group serves for 2-year terms and are appointed by a selection committee composed of the Mayor’s staff and former members. Their goal is to engage in dialogue and initiatives with the Mayor and our community to help make Montgomery a more equitable and desirable place to live, work, and earn for all.
Sharing thoughts, ideas, and concerns with this council and others is a great way to stay involved in Montgomery. There might even be opportunities to be on a council or committee yourself. You can contact Phillip at the Mayor’s Office if you’re interested in learning more about those opportunities.
Serve Your Community
One final and often overlooked way that you can make a difference in Montgomery is by volunteering. If there is something that you’re passionate about, then there is probably an organization working in that area that would love your help. There are ministries and non-profits all over Montgomery trying to make a positive impact.
If you’re not sure where to start to find those opportunities, contact Hands On River Region and they can help connect you to the right people. Hands-On River Region is an organization that seeks to mobilize volunteers and connect people to services to meet local needs and build a strong caring community.
You might wonder why I titled this blog “How to Love Your City” and not “How to Get Involved in Your City.” It’s because getting involved isn’t the final destination. My main objective isn’t to make your schedule busier or make you do more things. Getting involved is the avenue by which we begin to fall in love with our city. As you begin to notice the positive things, get more involved, begin to care for and serve Montgomery, you’ll realize that you’ve inadvertently fallen in love with it.