Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Look At Your Hand


I want everyone reading this to do something. I want you to look at your hand for a moment, and think about the following:

Every atom in your hand was once part of a star. Not only a star, but several stars, which exploded and spilled their enriched innards into space, to be reprocessed in other stars.

Stars are the engines of creation, the furnaces that produce new types of atoms. Those atoms became part of a planet, which, through a long and tortuous series of events, became hospitable enough to generate, in some corner of itself, the phenomenon we call life.

Those atoms, in your hand: those atoms have seen worlds that predate all our dreams, that extend back in time to unspeakable antiquity. Those atoms, if they could speak, would tell you about worlds where the sky was red, where the oceans, which were green or frozen white, were filled with trillions of denizens of an early form of life, a life that knew no morality or any conception of itself. A world in which reason makers didn’t exist, but where reason did: in the imperative to survive and reproduce.

This unconscious reason, this archaeo-purpose, as Richard Dawkins has called it, is why the myriad and bountiful garden that inhabits this thin sliver of rock exists, on a planet that has circled around a star for over four and a half million centuries.

These atoms would tell you about worlds that were punctuated by cataclysms, and that laid the foundations for new flowerings. They would tell you about the majestic beasts we call dinosaurs, and how their dynasty reigned for six hundred times longer than our own species has roamed on this Earth.

For these atoms were themselves part of the dinosaurs, and the wasps, and the fish and the seas and the clouds.

Those atoms: they traveled through the body of a mother Allosaurus, through the body of an ancient spider, and later an early hominin who looked up at the night sky and, perhaps, had a fleeting sense that there were other worlds beyond our own.

Those atoms would tell you about countless sunsets, some polluted by the debris from a collision with an extraterrestrial object. And they would tell you about the countless beings who were came and went, and how they changed.

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Visioning a Better Future


What is Region 2020?

Region 2020 promotes local cooperation and citizen participation to increase standards of living in such areas as transportation, the environment, educational systems, housing as well as the arts.

Region 2020 is a citizen-driven organization. More than 5,000 citizens were involved in the process and helped to formulate Region 2020’s 34 goals and 217 strategies for implementation. The Region 2020 visioning project started in 1997 and encompasses a 12-county Central Alabama region: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cullman, Etowah, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, and Walker.

Working with community volunteers, Region 2020 first identified shared ideas about hopes and dreams for the region’s future, then translated those ideas into regional goals, related strategies and action steps.

Ever since, Region 2020 has acted as motivator, promoter and planner, working with both government and private sectors, along with citizens to help support the common goals. Region 2020 also has served as an incubator in recent years, helping its spin-off agencies such as the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham and the Housing Enterprise of Central Alabama get their start.

A non-profit organization, Region 2020 encourages communities to think and plan regionally in order to define their future, while maintaining local identities and characteristics unique to Central Alabama.

The strongest message that emerged from the Region 2020 process was an exhortation to citizens and leaders to recognize and protect the values and assets of the region, safely passing them on to future generations.

The Region 2020 motto is: “Building a better place to live.”

Region 2020 is a Citizen Driven Process.

Over 5,000 people participated in the process by providing ideas and insights. Every idea, goal, and strategy contained in this report came directly from the citizens of Region 2020.

The sheer number of participants, from all parts of the Central Alabama’ region, makes the resulting vision an accurate and realistic reflection of the wishes, dreams, and aspirations of the region’s residents.

Region 2020 started in the fall of 1997 with 500 blank sheets of 24″x 30″ white paper. Within weeks, those blank sheets of paper were filled with 4,727 ideas. These ideas were the result of 17 public meetings, in which over 1,800 people participated. A group of retired school teachers and librarians volunteered to sort the ideas into topic headings, e.g. education, transportation, government, and environment.

34 topics resulted from the sorting process. Following this, 800 citizens translated the ideas in each topic group into 34 goals and 217 strategies aimed at accomplishing these goals. At the vision Fair, 1,300 citizens, including several groups of students, suggested which of the 217 strategies should be implemented with the greatest urgency. In all, citizens participated in 24 public meetings.

In the fall of 1998, over 300 volunteers, divided into seven working groups, sifted through all of the information produced by citizens in the Region 2020 process and recommended the strategies and action steps included in this report. In the following pages you will find 30 Action Plans. These are condensed versions of extensive reports developed by the work groups in hundred of volunteer hours.

In addition to meeting and working group participants, over 1,000 volunteers from throughout the region have assisted Region 2020 with the program’s logistics as facilitators, as members of various action committees, and as meeting volunteers.

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