Shelby County mayor A C Wharton said that when he was first elected, it became clear to him that we were "creating disposable neighborhoods."
That realization eventually led to his Sustainable Shelby initiative, which included yesterday's call to action at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
"A few years ago, people thought they looked stupid if they rode a bicycle," Wharton said of Germany, a country he just visited and where a gallon of gas costs $8. "Now the only people who look stupid are those driving to work alone in their car."
From the Sustainable Shelby report -- recommendations put together by seven committees and rated by both committee members and a survey of the general public -- Wharton said he drew several conclusions: that there is a strong sentiment for revitalizing existing neighborhoods, that people care about the public realm and want to have parks, streets, and plazas that are special, that people want to protect the natural environment, that they want walkable neighborhoods, and they want the local government to stop talking about sustainability and start leading the charge.
"While there are noble and idealistic reasons for sustainability, in the end, it is in our own enlightened self-interest," Wharton said.
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