Over the past four issues of the Flyer, we've highlighted work being done by citizen groups, local government, and businesses to transform and improve Memphis.
We began November 4th with a story about efforts to reduce and eliminate blight by Mayor Wharton, the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center, and several neighborhood groups. Wharton filed 138 lawsuits against negligent property owners and said many more were coming. Neighborhood groups were doing the same thing.
The following week, we focused on Raleigh, where residents are attempting to stem home foreclosures and revitalize vacant commercial properties, such as the Raleigh Springs Mall. They are organized and hopeful that their excellent bargain-priced housing and tree-lined neighborhoods will lure residents and businesses to the area.
Then, on November 18th, we covered the city's ambitious plans to partner with Bass Pro to transform the Pyramid and the north end of downtown. If this deal works out, Memphis will have a new tourist destination and a new commercial anchor for the Pinch District.
Finally, last week, we profiled the efforts being made by Broad Street residents and merchants to reinvent their district. They opened vacant storefronts to food vendors, shops, and galleries, created cycling lanes, and hosted a festival-like event that drew thousands to the once desolate street.
The fact is, all over Memphis, thousands of people are working to improve this old river town — in classrooms, in arts organizations, in environmental groups, and in our many still-vibrant neighborhoods. The Greenline has been a huge success, and Shelby Farms is well on its way to becoming one of the country's preeminent urban parks.
And as cynical as I tend to be about politicians, I have to give much of the credit for this renewed spirit to Mayor Wharton. Unlike his predecessor, he seems open to fresh thinking. He has performed as a true uniter, a rare thing in this polarized political climate.
I only have one complaint about the man: He has lured away one of the Flyer's best and brightest, Mary Cashiola, to help him "rebrand" the city's image. This is Mary's last issue, and we will all miss her stellar reporting and her enterprising spirit. But, in this case, the Flyer's loss is Memphis' gain. And that's a very good thing, indeed.