Jason Avery has been a Woodlawn resident for 18 years. The Philadelphia native chose Woodlawn because he was captivated by the diverse urban neighborhood and he knew it was full of potential.

Inspired to make a difference in his new home, Avery quickly became an active member of the neighborhood association—and still is. In 2017, he heard about a new way he could be a part of helping his community unlock more of its potential.

“One day, REV announced a community meeting to discuss the Urban Main Project and how the community could help, and I knew I had to go,” Avery said. “I was able to find a fantastic group of like-minded individuals who aimed to make Woodlawn the jewel east of I-65.”

A journey begun with that very meeting, Woodlawn Urban Main is a partnership of REV Birmingham and Woodlawn Foundation with planning support from Main Street Alabama and Main Street America.  

Now, three Woodlawn Urban Main community facilitators work with REV to build up Woodlawn as a hub of equitable entrepreneurship and a vibrant neighborhood commercial district. Together, Alycia Levels-Moore, Bekah Fox, and Avery get to know the business owners of Woodlawn on a personal level. The team is a clearinghouse of information and resources to help business owners realize their dreams of starting, growing or repositioning their businesses.

Meet the (other) Woodlawn Facilitators

Alycia Levels-Moore wants to help her neighbors pursue their entrepreneurial dreams

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Bekah Fox's love for community shines through Woodlawn Street Market

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In his role with REV, Avery focuses on enhancing Woodlawn’s historic buildings and planning public art—things that breathe life and beauty into the Woodlawn landscape. And when you give him an inch, he figures out a way to make it into a mile. Avery’s artistic vision and creative problem solving have made for several successful projects already, including a façade refresh at the Shoppes of Wood Station (formerly The Shop) and the installation of Woodlawn banners throughout the business district.

Next up, Avery plans to launch the Woodlawn Toolbox—a place where equipment can be rented any day of the week, making it easier for business owners to keep their brick-and-mortars in tip-top shape. Plus, you can count on more façade refreshes for Woodlawn businesses and some new public art soon!

His hard work has not gone unnoticed. REV nominated Avery for Main Street Alabama’s Main Street Hero award and Excellence in Design award for the refreshment of the Shoppes at Wood Station – and he won both in 2019!

“For me, investing in my community is akin to investing in myself. With each new win, I win as well.”

– Jason Avery  

Avery’s Urban Main position requires that he be a good listener, see multiple sides of an issue, and have a calm presence in every situation. Fortunately, 25 years in his “day job” at UAB has prepared him well. Avery is the Senior Director for an international clinical trial at UAB on carotid disease and stroke prevention.

“In my position, I am in direct contact with hundreds of people from all over the world, which requires a level of patience and flexibility when it comes to being relatable to anyone and everyone,” Avery said.

He hopes his energy inspires others to become involved and make their voices known as Woodlawn emerges. He believes that the work he puts into the community allows others to see that Woodlawn residents can be an active part of revitalization of their own community.

In the coming years, Avery wishes to see a vibrant community where all are welcome. He believes Woodlawn can continue on its way with thoughtful revitalization and not gentrification.

“I think the efforts of REV, the Woodlawn Foundation, YWCA and many organizations are leading the way in these efforts to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table,” Avery says.

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