Bethel-Ensley Action Task

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Bethel-Ensley Action Task (BEAT) is a community empowerment and revitalization program founded in 1991 in the Sandy Bottom community of Ensley near Bethel AME Church at 1517 Avenue D and Jackson-Olin High School.

Bethel pastor Ron Nored joined with Clarence Brown to help reverse the decline of housing in the vicinity of the church. After successfully rebuilding 36 houses with $2 million support from private business and the City of Birmingham, the neighborhood was renamed "Sandy Vista". A residents association was formed to build on the accomplishments of the revitalization program, and the Ensley Community Issues Forum (ECIF) was established as a non-profit to spur economic opportunities for Ensley residents with senior care, tutoring, scholarships, summer camps and job placement.

After Nored and BEAT secretary Dearniki Echols died in 2003, Brown took over as president. When he passed away in 2006, the organization struggled to maintain its momentum. Former chairwoman Leola Early-Boswell assumed leadership and helped BEAT regroup as it broke ground on new homes in 2009. Rich Wager, a former economic development staffer for New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg joined BEAT as board treasurer.

Wells Fargo donated almost $70,000 in seed money to BEAT in 2013 and 2014, which they leveraged to finance development of several below market-rate duplex apartments in the vicinity of Jackson-Olin High School. With assistance from the City of Birmingham, BEAT has also constructed infill housing in Enon Ridge and worked to bring about a transformative revitalization of downtown Ensley, which was thought of as something along the lines of a park, health care clinic and business incubator before Mayor William Bell announced the redevelopment of the Ramsay-McCormack Building as the centerpiece of a Birmingham Public Safety Complex in November 2016.

References

  • Nored, Ronald Eugene (1999) Reweaving the Fabric: How Congregations and Communities Can Come Together to Build their Neighborhoods. Montgomery: Black Belt Press ISBN 9781881320500
  • Ruisi, Anne (March 25, 2009) "Adrift after loss of two leaders, BEAT is back in the affordable homebuilding business in the Ensley area of Birmingham, Alabama." The Birmingham News
  • DeButts, Jimmy (June 13, 2010) "Ensley marching to new ‘BEAT’." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Scoville, Alexandra (June 19, 2014) "BEAT organization brings new affordable housing and brighter future to Ensley neighborhood." The Birmingham News
  • Johnson, Roy S. ( ) "At Ensley Alive '16, an historic neighborhood 'on the cusp' of a revival." The Birmingham News
  • Edgemon, Erin (November 30, 2016) "Birmingham mayor proposes $40 million plan to move municipal court, police, and fire headquarters to Ensley." The Birmingham News

External links