A friend of mine says hiking is just walking where it's okay to pee. If that were true, then I'd be hiking when I walk to lunch down the alley behind our office building.
The difference between hiking and walking is more than semantics. I take a walk around my neighborhood. I walk the dog. If I'm hiking, I want to be in a natural setting, sans concrete and power lines. I want to experience natural surroundings without the rush of traffic noise.
Next Thursday, February 8th, Memphians will get the opportunity to take a first step toward making this city a better place to hike. In the process, we'll have the opportunity to make this a better place to live.
The opportunity will take place at the Botanic Garden, at a meeting called "Greening Greater Memphis." Memphis is one of the few major cities without greenway or greenline enhancements. That's the bad news. The good news is that Memphis already has in place all the elements to put one of the finest park and greenway systems in the country.
Imagine being able to hike along the Wolf River from east of Collierville to the Mississippi River. Imagine being able to bike a green, tree-lined trail from downtown to Shelby Farms. The pieces are in place. All we need is for people to show an interest and help connect them.
Unlike such "top-down" proposals as a new football stadium, this is an affordable, doable, grass-roots project that will cost much less and provide a real quality-of-life improvement for citizens of Memphis. It will improve housing values in nearby neighborhoods. It will make our city more livable. It will make moving here more desirable.
I have long been amazed at the number of natural oases in our urban landscape. Lakes and forested land are everywhere -- alongside interstates and in neighborhoods most of us never venture into. The possibility for linking them together and making them more accessible is an exciting one.
The Greening Greater Memphis meeting begins at 5 p.m. next Thursday. Go to GreeningGreaterMemphis.org for more information. Please try to get there, even if you have to walk.