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Memphis: A Racial Paradise

I moved to Memphis from Ohio three and a half years ago. It took a while to get used to, and around the time I did get used to it, I got laid off. I'm now moving back to Ohio, but I wanted to write about my impression of Memphis.

Along with the great friends I made and the interesting places to go, the thing I'll remember most about Memphis is that it is a racial paradise. I've known and worked with other races before, but down here, I moved into a nice mixed neighborhood. Close to my house there are blacks, whites, Koreans, Chinese, and Indians. I know more of my neighbors here than I did back in Ohio, and I lived there for 22 years.

Where I worked there was also a wide variety of races and nationalities, and things were great. I'm sure there are racial tensions in places, but all my experience here has been positive and I've made a diverse group of wonderful friends. I hope everyone else can have the same experience I did in Memphis.

Bierne Konarski
Memphis

Suggestions for Memphis

I read the Memphis Flyer online and find it very informative as to the issues in the fine city of Memphis. I am a condo owner in the downtown area, however my primary residence is in Champaign, Illinois.

I am writing because I do not know anywhere else to offer suggestions on how to offer my help in saving Memphis. The city already enjoys a rich reputation as the "home of the blues" and is trying to establish itself as an arts city, as well. As an artist myself, I would like to see the art scene become even bigger than it is.

In your October 15th issue, you staff offered suggestions for the new mayor to consider ("If We Could Make a Suggestion ..."). Many were very good. Here's one I would like to offer that has worked in other areas: the establishment of an arts district, with incentives and financial help in the form of loans to encourage established artists from around the country to relocate to Memphis. Artists take on blighted buildings and areas and rebuild them through a program of low-interest loans and tax incentives. One city where this worked well is Paducah, Kentucky. Another is New Harmony, Indiana.

These programs attract artists from expensive real estate markets to an area where they get more bang for the real estate buck — such as Memphis. Such a program could prosper in Memphis due to the abundance of buildings available and the mystique of the city. It is an idea that is perfect for Memphis. It has been successful in many cities with much less to offer.

Steve Stoerger
Champaign, Illinois

Re: Memphis' obesity problem

The Baltimore Public Schools system just became the first in the United States to offer its 80,000 students a weekly break from meat. It's a welcome start on a long road to improving our children's and our nation's health.

Traditionally, the National School Lunch Program has served as a dumping ground for USDA's surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, USDA's own surveys indicate that 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Consequently, nearly half of American children are overweight, 25 percent have high cholesterol and blood pressure, and 30,000 suffer from Type 2 diabetes, once limited to adults. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, contributing to the escalating public health crisis.

But change is on the way. Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures have asked their schools to offer daily vegan/vegetarian options. According to the School Nutrition Association, 52 percent of U.S. school districts now do so. President Obama is likely to call for similar measures when the Child Nutrition Act is reauthorized by Congress later this year.

Parents and others in Memphis who care about our children's health should work with PTAs and school officials to demand healthful, plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. They can get additional information at schoolnutrition.org, schoolmeals.nal.usda.gov, healthyschoollunches.org, and choiceusa.net.

Martha Faust
Memphis

American Apparel Not Sexy Enough!

This week's (October 15th issue) American Apparel ad really sucked. I want my money back.

Ceylon Mooney
Memphis

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