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Congratulations to Huntsville for ranking as the #1 best place to live in the U.S. according to the U.S. and World News Report! I’ve lived here for nearly four years now and have enjoyed every moment of it.

It’s exciting not only to live in a friendly, beautiful place but to feel like a part of historic growth. Huntsville has already expanded so much since I moved here and has grown in importance on the national stage through our innovation and selection as the home of Space Command.

But even on a small scale, Huntsville’s cultural growth promises that we’ll one day rival Nashville, Atlanta, Austin, and other famous southern cities.

But what makes a city great and famous? And how can we plan for a greater future right here in Huntsville?

I made a bit of a checklist, thinking of what influential places have to offer, and Huntsville has more and more of them each year!

     History

     Business and finance

     Industry

     Jobs

     Science and Tech

     Infrastructure

     Housing

     Transportation

     Architectural features

     Health & Medicine

     Education

     Outdoors

     Natural landmarks

     Parks & trails

     Water features

     Animals

     Arts

     Fine arts

     Music

     Literature

     Fashion

     Entertainment

     Sports

     Film

     Gaming

     Theater, dance, & comedy

     Festivals & events

     Food Culture

     Religion

     People!

Packed with history and nestled between the rolling foothills of the Appalachians and the Tennessee River, Huntsville’s charm and historic location are upstaged only by the iconic Saturn V rocket and our dramatic space industry. We’re known for pushing the envelope in science, technology and business.

Sports are better than ever with the Trash Pandas; we host Lowe Mill, the largest independently owned arts center in the Southeast, and our music scene is about to get a boost with the new Orion Amphitheater. Even our food culture is growing, with great farm-to-table offerings and unique craft beer and coffee trails.

We add new attractions, start new businesses and build more houses each year. The visionaries behind such projects aren’t just great leaders and businessmen but are founders in their own right.

The age of America’s founders didn’t end in the 18th century but only just began. We emphasize their courage and resolve, but I imagine our founders also overflowed with excitement, especially after winning the war. Did they look out over their beautiful hills, forests, and cities and swell with pride, thinking, “This is ours! Our home!” They must have been bursting with ideas for new roads, gardens and schools. They probably looked at the empty spaces and imagined the architecture they would build and the people who would fill those places, laughing, singing and dancing.

When you look down the road, at the cotton fields and neighborhoods in Huntsville, do you imagine a beautiful future? Do you wish we had an entertainment district here, a bus route there, and a row of literature and publishing houses across from our arts center?

I do! My dream is to build a publishing house and write and sell books. I’m even more eager when I think how doing so could build the culture of my home. Why should we have to move to New York to break into the arts? We can compete with their monopoly. People from New York, Illinois and California are already moving here, desiring a better quality of life.

If Huntsville’s still missing some things, well, the sky’s the limit for our growth. What would you found if you had the chance?

Each and every one of us, by improving ourselves, building our families, businesses and even hobbies, is a founder. We aren’t just living the American dream for ourselves but implementing changes that add up to make history.

If you volunteer to build the new North Alabama zoo, start a fashion competition, pester your musician friends to move here and get involved at the Orion Amphitheater, or create jobs at the Toyota plant, you are a founder.

We could all stand to stop staring at our navels, depressed about how we can’t “change the world,” and look out at the future with bright eyes, asking how we can grow our world. How about you make it part of your bucket list to add something to your city? Pick an item on the list above and build it! It’s not just a pipedream, because America, Alabama, and Huntsville are the perfect places to dream.

Caylah Coffeen is the host of Prayers For Life Radio in Huntsville, and a millennial who speaks up for truth and a future as bright as the stars. Her column appears every Friday in 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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