To the Editor:
I read David Hall's recent story ("Farm Out?" September 12th issue) with great interest and some confusion as to his take on the situation in the Edge. Things have never been better in Memphis' "other" art district. We are fresh off of the success of our first annual Edgefest, and this is the fourth local article about the Edge in less than a month!
I agree with Hall that it is important to provide affordable/stable space in our community for budding artists. That's what we have done and will continue to do. We are committed to our artists and the essential role they play in our community. What's puzzling and troubling to me is that this commitment was not portrayed in Hall's article. Where else can you find a neighborhood with antique shops, alcohol rehabs, bakeries, body shops, artists, developers, Baptist churches, and beer joints all coming together to help build a community? There's your story: inclusion, not division. Of course, it's more popular to tear things down than lift them up.
On the issue of gentrification: I went to great lengths to explain to Hall what the Edge was doing and has done to fight gentrification, most of which never made it into the article.
When the Medical District master planning started, the original suggestion for the Edge District from the out-of-town architects hired for the project was to do some wholesale teardown to make way for "big box" retailers to serve downtown, i.e., Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot. Without the input from key people in the Edge who attended the meetings, this would have come to fruition. It was also suggested that large blocks be cleared for apartment complexes. We would have none of that either.
I have ownership in three buildings in the Edge. I rent to four artists and/or musicians who have seen virtually no rent increase in the last four years. Pinkney Herbert of Marshall Arts rents to many artists and has a similar philosophy. We do this because we see the intrinsic value that these artists create for our community.
Some level of gentrification is inevitable in any rising community. Neighborhood pioneers deserve a return on their monetary and sweat-equity investments, but the alternative is far worse. Crumbling buildings, rising crime, deteriorating infrastructure, and loss of housing stock to decay is not what this city needs or what Mark Nowell and Claudio Perez-Leon are advocating. There will always be a place for our artists livin' on the Edge!
Mike Todd, President
The Edge Community Association
Impact Is Neutral
To the Editor:
In his politics column ("WWH For Lamar?" September 12th issue), Jackson Baker highlighted a reception hosted by area young professionals with special guests Mayor Willie Herenton and former governor and senatorial candidate Lamar Alexander.
I would like to clarify two points: 1) Mpact Memphis was not involved with the reception. 2) Members of Mpact Memphis involved with the reception were doing so strictly as individuals.
Mpact Memphis has an active membership of 600 individuals who are involved in all aspects of the community, including politics. However, as an organization, we do not participate in any political activities on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Additionally, as a matter of procedure, Mpact Memphis does not distribute its mailing list to any organization or individual.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify our position on this issue.
Doug Bacon, Executive Director
War Is Simple
To the Editor:
Has Congress considered the risk of escalation if the U.S. attacks Iraq? Saddam Hussein will know he is fighting a battle to the death. If he has weapons of mass destruction, this is the time he might use them. Iraqi missiles cannot reach the U.S. but could strike Israel, which has 200 nuclear warheads and intermediate-range missiles. An Israeli nuclear strike on Iraq would outrage the Islamic world and could bring an oil embargo.
If the U.S. can attack Iraq, why can't India attack Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons? The U.S. government estimates that a nuclear war between those two countries would immediately kill 12 million people -- and many more as long-term radiological effects take their toll.
Starting a war with Iraq is simple. The consequences will not be.
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