If I Were King of Memphis ...



I understand that Memphis is rushing to annex the Gray's Creek area as a knee-jerk response to a knee-jerk or two in the General Assembly. I don't think the city has the desire or resources to follow through at this juncture, though their hand may be forced. This is all so tiresome and pointless.


If I were King of Memphis, I would do the following:

A. Quit chasing those who have moved out and want to live in suburbia. They like their neighborhoods, their chain restaurants, their traffic, their malls, and their schools. Good for them. Live and let live. We're a River Town, not a farm community.

B. Market what we are: a vibrant, interesting place to live. I like my neighborhood, its charms, its cultural amenities, the river, the museums, the Orpheum, the fantastic theater scene, the ballet, the symphony, the Grizzlies and Tigers and Redbirds, our universities and colleges, the funky downtown, the vast array of cool restaurants and bars and clubs, the wonderful cultural, racial, sexual diversity my kids experience in their public and parochial schools. Memphis is younger, more diverse, and has a brighter future than people think. The 'burbs are aging and creating their demographic islands. Let 'em.

C. We should shut the hell up about race. It's like abortion, it just pisses people off. Quit playing to or responding to the angry Memphis-haters. Let 'em stew. Most of 'em couldn't find Overton Park if you plopped 'em down in Overton Square. They don't live here. They don't matter.

D. Focus like a laser on making our now-county schools as good as they can be. Recognize that poverty makes that job Herculean, but give talented, bright kids of all income levels a chance to succeed and an option to attend a school that suits their needs. Get rid of both the former schools systems' deadwood. Keep only the best and most innovative.

E. We're the center of this local universe, a magnet for the area's creativity and culture and the people who enjoy urban living. However many there are of us, let's work with that and build together. When the most creative and bright suburban kids grow up, they won't want to hang around Bartlett and Collierville. They don't want to live on a creek near Fayette County. They'll move into the city. Trust me on this. Don't let anybody tell you Memphis doesn't have a bright future. It does.

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