Beyond the Build

Community Service

Grassroots Education

Serving on the board of DesignAlabama for the last few years has been a great privilege. The organization is all about purposeful design, making wise choices and thus creating better communities.

Each year, we host the Alabama Mayor’s Design Summit, where mayors from 5 moderate size towns or cities come together to discuss a design issue they are facing within their town. I am always impressed with the way the mayors and design professionals work collaboratively in a forum setting over the two days, making steps toward solving the problem. Each shares their successes and failures within their cities.

This year’s Summit included Mayor Riely Evans, of North Courtland. Over the years, we have worked with many mayors and I am always impressed. Mayor Evans is a stand-out. He shared efforts to incite change, starting at the very most basic levels. He’s teaching the younger generations of his town the importance of eye contact, how to shake hands and the right way present themselves in terms of how they dress. It’s all much more than you typically see in a mayor, and got got me thinking about the building blocks of success that might be easy to overlook. Grassroots education and mentoring really can make a bigger difference than the things one might learn in school. Keep up the good work, Mayor.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.