Welcome to “My Perfect Birmingham Saturday,” a column where About Town asks Birmingham residents from different walks of life how they would spend a Saturday in the Magic City if they had it their way (and COVID notwithstanding).
Today’s Saturday was planned by Abby Guerin Russell, who has for the past three and a half years served as Senior Director of Birmingham at Venture for America. Venture for America is an entrepreneurial fellowship program for recent college graduates who want to work in emerging startup cities, she said, and Guerin Russell recruits both companies who are interested in hiring young talent and fellows to come to Birmingham to take those jobs. “We are a talent pipeline for Birmingham, and also a huge benefit to new, young companies that wouldn’t have the opportunity to hire from a national pipeline,” she said. Read on to see how she’d plan her Saturday by exploring our city through seeing it, tasting it, and hearing it.
I want to make time no option – there’s so many things I want to fit into a day! I’d choose a perfect fall day – beautiful weather and lovely.
I have two very active children that play soccer, are on the swim team, and in the band at Oak Mountain, so part of my day, and a large part of my life now, is shuttling them around. They’re now at a stage where they’re just so active, and it’s so much fun. I’m realizing car time is my quality time.
To start my perfect day, my husband is a fantastic cook, and I’m so lucky that he loves it, because he fixes one amazing brunch – so it would definitely start with my husband’s brunch. He will just see what we have around the house in the kitchen and create something amazing.
And then, just because this is the stage of life we’re in, we’ll probably go to a soccer game – and it’s so much fun. I wasn’t a soccer player, so I had to learn the rules, and even though I’m new to the sport it is the most fun sport to be a parent at. It’s a ton of fun just to be on the sidelines and yell and scream and cheer.
I don’t live downtown anymore, but when I did, I loved when it was fall and everyone opened up their doors. Now, because of COVID, people do a lot more outside. One of my most fun work things has been walking meetings down Rotary Trail or at Railroad Park. I just love being outside at parks around town. I also absolutely love strolling through Artwalk and Moss Rock Festival. It’s so nice to be outside and around people and looking at beautiful things that people have created. I am absolutely amazed and appreciate the artistic side of Birmingham. I work more with the tech industry and startups, creating amazing companies, and I love to watch the young talent grow and companies grow. I am also so much more of an aesthetics person, and I love to see what other people have created. I have all these fun, funky pieces, especially of jewelry, that I’ve acquired from art shows. I think it’s a blast.
I’m trying to think about food and drink, and one day is not enough to experience [it all]. Can I eat seven meals in a day? I’m someone who loves to try new things. I love to go to Bay Leaf and know whatever the chef fixes will be really good. I had the privilege of going with some of the folks who brought Bay Leaf to Birmingham, and I met the chef. [We talked about] food around different regions of India. It’s so cool to see and hear about the nuanced differences, and to taste them. I’d also go to Highlands for crab claws, Helen for biscuits – I’d build some sort of tour of restaurants downtown for dinner. I can’t pick one. Obviously, the lens I think through is the entrepreneurial lens, and we have some amazing innovators in the food and beverage industry. I’m so glad and so hopeful that [after COVID] it resurges with a vengeance. It’s a huge piece of the culture of living in Birmingham, and it’s so beautiful to see it expand. It’s kind of the same thing with going to art shows. I want to see Birmingham. I want to eat in Birmingham. And so my day would end with hearing Birmingham.
I would love to go to a show at Iron City or the Concert Hall at the BJCC. Some really awesome, intimate musical experience. We have some really great shows that come through here, and I’m so glad they’re back. My husband is a music fiend. We go to shows a ton – that was our date night, dinner and a show. Everyone from Brandi Carlisle to Phish at Oak Mountain. My day would end with a bang and a show.
I love that – experiencing Birmingham’s innovation and creativity through all the different senses.
- As told to Rachel Burchfield