Slice Pizza & Brew is partnering with Black Warrior Riverkeeper, partly to raise money for the nonprofit, and partly to raise awareness of the dangers posed to the Birmingham community by the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine at the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River.
Upon visiting Slice, a customer can place his or her name into a drawing. When the pizzeria reaches its goal of raising $2,000, it will throw a party to announce the winner of a YETI cooler filled with Slice, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, and Good People Brewery products.
The planned Shepherd Bend Mine, a strip mine scheduled to be built on 1,773 acres owned by the University of Alabama, would have a waste discharge only 800 feet away from a water intake used by as many as 200,000 Birmingham residents.
Thanks in part to Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s efforts, those plans have hit a major snag. As BWR executive director Charles Scribner notes, UA was actively shopping the land planned for Shepherd Bend five years ago, but has since backed off of that considerably.
While it may seem odd for a pizzeria to be getting involved in this way, it fits Slice’s identity perfectly. The restaurant is predicated on offering thoughtful pairings of beer and food sourced from local ingredients and water.
As cofounder Jason Bajalieh says, “We use that water. The Good People beer we serve uses that water.” Shepherd Bend would pose an insurmountable challenge to the business’ commitment to quality, distinctly Birmingham ingredients.
“Without the community, there is no Slice,” Bajalieh continues. When it comes to ingredients, “we want to keep it all in Birmingham—we’ve got everything we need right here, as long as we look after it.”
Charles Scribner, for one, is “thrilled to be working with such a thriving business.” The promotion won’t educate every customer on the nuances of the environmental hazards facing what is arguably the South’s most polluted city, but it will raise awareness. In an arena where public agitation is uniquely valuable, that community awareness might be worth even more than the $2,000.
As Scribner says, “Maybe there’s only a small chance you’ll do something to help once you’ve heard about [the Shepherd Bend situation]. But if you don’t know about an issue, there’s a 100% chance you won’t be doing anything to help.”
In terms of direct opportunities available to the public to make a difference, there’s one very clear option. In addition to taking advantage of the University of Alabama’s (justified) sensitivity about its image, a concerned citizen can also vote yes on Amendment One on November 6, which would reauthorize the Forever Wild Land Trust for another twenty years.
Slice Pizza & Brew is located at 725 29th St. S. in Lakeview. The promotion will continue until they raise $2,000 for Black Warrior Riverkeeper, which hopefully won’t take very long at all with your help. To learn more about what you can do to get involved, visit Slice Pizza & Brew or blackwarriorriver.org.