We have seen the future, and it consists of, among other things, one million new trees. We frankly don't know how much of that promise is literal and how much is figurative, but the scope of the proposed planting — disclosed with much else to members of the Memphis Rotary Club on Tuesday by
Rick Masson, executive director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy — is appropriately grand. After all, Shelby Farms Park, the subject of Masson's prospectus, is the nation's largest continuous urban park, and it has remained so despite numerous no doubt well-intentioned efforts over the past few decades to "develop" it or fragment it for commercial or quasi-commercial purpose.
All of those ambitious schemes, fended off by numerous defenders of the environment, became a thing of the past with the establishment in 2006 by Shelby County government of the SFPC, a public-private body which has now produced a "master plan." The plan, approved by the County Commission in August, promises changes over the next 20 years that are sweeping and even breathtaking but are basically extensions of the natural-park concept which already exists.
The master plan is subtitled "One park, one million trees, twelve landscapes," and it will proceed, said Masson, in four phases of five years each. The first of these, costing $100 million, will see the beginnings of the massive reforestation, the construction of a new Plough Park playground and bridges and other connectors between the park's several "landscapes," and the three-fold expansion of Patriot Lake, which is already the signature premise on the property and is destined to become more so, accommodating virtually every known form of water activity, a boardwalk, and an amphitheatre.
And, as the TV ads used to say, there is "more, more, more!" We can hardly wait to see it, and we congratulate Masson, the governing board and staff of SFPC, county government, the far-sighted county office-holders who saw things through to this point, the designing firms who have produced this vision, and the various donors, large and small, institutional and private, who have contributed to the fulfillment of it.
Up Against It
With roughly a month to go in what has already been a heated race for the presidency, it is probably futile to expect our nation's politicians to forgo partisan rhetoric long enough to cooperate on a plan to rescue both Wall Street and Main Street, not to mention the rest of the world, from a looming economic catastrophe.
So far Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have each, perhaps understandably, had difficulty decoupling their own exhortations for national unity from the same old boilerplate recriminations against each other and against the opposition party.
Shame on the demagogues in both parties who couldn't stop politicking long enough to agree on a plan when the issue came to a congressional vote early this week.
Next time will have to be the charm. This is a deadly game, and we won't get three strikes.