Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Charles Santo: Live Where You Live - A Thought For Memphis In 2009

This post is written by Charles Santo, Ph.D, at City & Regional Planning
School of Urban Affairs & Public Policy at The University of Memphis:

Maybe you’ve seen it around town – the bumper sticker with the simple and curious message: Live Where You Live. (If not, be on the lookout.) Live Where You Live is campaign in its infancy stage, spearheaded by the Coalition for Livable Communities –and it’s our thought for Memphis in 2009.

What is Live Where You Live?

It’s a call for resolve, for commitment, and for behavior that supports livability (or sustainability, if that’s your word of choice) in Memphis.

First, Live Where You Live means supporting your community by becoming an advocate -- and by living your life locally: shopping, eating, playing in your neighborhood.

In today’s recession, supporting local businesses is more important than ever to the health of our city’s economy. The local shop or restaurant might cost a bit more than the national chain, but more of the money spent at the local place stays in the local economy. And when you shop locally you are supporting your neighbors and sustaining the local character that makes Memphis unique. (Don’t get me wrong. There are many conscientious franchisees in Memphis whose businesses support and sponsor community organizations and events. Those businesses clearly deserve our support, too.)

Live Where You Live also means encouraging Memphians who might otherwise run away from the problems of the city to stand firm -- to stay and face those challenges in their city and in their neighborhoods.

We are not naïve. We realize that Memphis has real problems that require more than just a pep talk. But the long term solutions all require us to find ways to keep talented people here, and to promote a vibrant central city. We’ve seen too many talented people – people drawn to Memphis by short-term opportunities that exist at La Bonheur, St. Jude’s, UT Medical Center and the University of Memphis – leave town at the first chance because we essentially express to them that Memphis not good enough. We let them get the story of Memphis from the local media and think that it’s the whole story. And we’ve seen too many people who feel like the only way the can live in Memphis is to live outside of Memphis. We cannot have a sustainable community if we cannot contain or footprint.

A commitment to this city -- like any city -- involves risk and raises legitimate concerns; especially for those raising families. (A vibrant community needs households of every type, and we know that singles, young couples, and empty-nesters have their concerns, too.) While recognizing this, we believe that more people would be more willing to make the commitment to Memphis if they knew they were not alone in doing so. There is strength in numbers.

So think of this campaign as an effort to build a support group. Live Where You Live is not an explicit call for government action, but rather a clean and simple grassroots effort to find a tipping point, where the desire to stay is the norm.

We have plenty of opportunities to vent about the negatives, and many good forums (such as this one) for dialogue about solutions. The purpose of Live Where You Live is to provide a forum to celebrate the good, recognize what is worth preserving, and mark the reasons that Memphis is worth fighting for.

How to Help: Sport a Bumper Sticker, Tell a Friend, Share a Story

The Coalition for Livable Communities is asking you to join us in letting others know you are willing to LIVE WHERE YOU LIVE!

Share your stories with us. Tell us what you love about your neighborhood, how you get involved in your community, how you live locally, or what makes you feel good about Memphis. We'll post your stories on the Live Where You Live website, which will be a place for positivity, hope and encouragement.

Share as much or as little as you'd like -- there's no formula.

Whether you represent South Main or South Memphis, Cooper-Young or Cordova, High Point Terrace or Hickory Hill, or anywhere in between, our fortunes are all tied together.

Let us know why you are willing to Live Where You Live -- and help build a commitment to a livable Memphis.

Send your story to livewhereyoulive@gmail.com. And we’ll send you a Live Where You Live bumper sticker.

For more information, visit www.livablememphis.org, or www.livablememphisstories.org.


Anonymous said...

OK, Live where you live, when you live there.
Be where you are 100% when you are where you are.
Do you understand that?
Choose to be in your circumstance 100% all of it , the good and the horrific. Otherwise you live in your own mind.
Think about $1million. Now hand it to me right now! You can't because it's all in your mind.

Here's a solution, a mandate for all solution makers and a paradigm you can not escape, from which you must work, or, no one and I mean NO ONE will elect to stay in Memphis voluntarily.
You CAN NOT continue to live on the back of poverty any more. You can not let your brothers and sisters slide into the crime system Memphis politicians create. You CAN NOT let the government off the hook, ever.
You can NOT retain talent that you seek in Memphis UNTIL yo get a handle on your problems.
All they have to do is take a trip to just about any other city ONCE to know they DON'T want to stay here.
Get a grip on that or this is all just lip service and it isn't fooling anyone.

Santo said...

Anonymous 10:27 pm:

Glad to have sparked your interest. And I hear your point. Positivity is not a substitute for solutions. But consider this: I’ll assume, from your passion, that you are someone who is willing to be part of the solution and help Memphis “get a handle on its problems.” (I hope I’m correct here.)

I know that there are others who are also so inclined.

Should we let those others become discouraged, bowled over by the negativity to the point of flight? Or should we let them know that they are not alone – that their efforts might be worth something?

Anonymous said...

The cycle is due to ineffective sentencing, lack of effective, comprehensive, very well thought out, rehabilitation efforts that are accountable for results instead of stealing federal dollars with no accountability, ( no, you can't just go smear Jesus all over people who don't think there is anything more than their body and expect it to work without work), mentally corrupt judges, and apathy. Th people who do acknowledge a higher power are bewildered and the ones that don't acknowledge don't care.
The problem is that the overall population is so full of the latter that nothing else CAN make any difference.
Let's say you DO put ALL the criminals in jail, they don't all merit the same sentence, you don't have a big enough jail, so you will have to let MANY of them out with short sentences, but there's no REAL rehab pre release. Why expect success if your actions are not aligned with any plan for success. It doesn't even add up. Positive thinking and being nice will have no effect. Curtailing negative press, blog, or speech will have no effect.
BECAUSE MEMPHIS' INMATE, REPEAT OFFENDER, AND EX-CONVICT POPULATION IS SO HIGH, the ONLY thing that is going to help Memphis NOW is effective comprehensive rehabilitation for pre-release and post release inmates with a work release and housing program that is based on continually earned participation (like the real world), designed to succeed, by supporting wage earning and right living through education, practice, support groups, AND A TRANSITIONAL HOUSING COMMUNITY designed so that it can be purchased by the participants and employment nearby in a paying job that benefits Memphis, such as wind generation manufacturing and installation.

There have to be statistics generated.

You have to do something that is designed to turn people who have been "in the system" away from crime, keep them away, and support a healthy legal life and family, and that has to be a BIG part "of the system".
Memphis has never had that or even considered it. We've considered every other unaccountable hair brained scheme.

If you can't get that done, you might as well stop throwing good money after bad because Memphis WILL become a ghost town, that's exactly where we have designed our city to go, "Out of Business"
out of selfishnes and fear, because from what I've seen over the last 4 years,


Cliff H. said...

I would like to get a bumper sticker but I do not have a bumper because I do not own a car because I live where I live.

I live what I call a 5 mile life- almost everything I do in Memphis is within 5 miles of my home. I can do that on a bicycle.

Wanna live where you live? Don't drive to somewhere else.

BTW, I'm 55 with a PhD, white collar, etc., not an idealistic 20-something bike evangelist.

Santo said...

Right on Cliff.

We'd love for you to share your "live where you live" story so we can post it on our site. If you're willing, please send me a note at livewhereyoulive@gmail.com.

We'll send you a bumper sticker that you can put on your door or give to a neighbor. And when we get our smaller bike-size stickers printed we'll send you one of those too!

Santo said...

By the way, if anyone wants to read more *positive* thoughts about Memphis, check out Dr. Scott Morris' opinion column in Thursday's Commercial Appeal -- and the the online commentary.


Anonymous said...

Oh, so you think my posts weren't positive?
Sorry to bust your bumper sticker.
THAT mindset is what's wrong with Memphis.
What I posted WAS YOUR GOOD NEWS, you have a REAL place to start instead of a phony ineffective made up one. THAT IS good news!
You have a place to start. That's good news. You could keep grabbing at straws, complaining, positive thinking and censoring yourself into denial, but that is ineffective as a solution to anything.
You must be privileged.
I live 1 block from the store, school, and I work from home. I put gas in my gas guzzler in JULY, I still have half a tank. My first brake job was ten years after purchase, still have the same tires.
Haven't even broken 100k miles in all that time.
When I had my biz in a commercial spot, 4 blocks from the house, ORGANIZED CRIME, CORRUPTION, AND UNRESPONSIVE GOVERNMENT drove me out of business in Memphis.
If anyone asks, should I lie to them so they can become targets for the local crowd? I won't.
The actions of LEADERSHIP will either "fix it" or empty Memphis out, not some post YOU deem as negative, that's poppycock, Mr. Santo, and you know that.
You either deal with the core issues or you're full of horse poop, wasting people's time, nicing it up will not help, cheerleaders do not garner effective teammates.
For clarity on my observations, effective sentencing, the touted fix all, is actually not going to be effective against the scope of the problem here so you should look elsewhere like rehabilitation.


If you look at Memphis on a map and section off high crime neighborhoods, you will quickly see that MOST of Memphis is a bad place to be. That means that most people in Memphis today, do not want to be Living where they live. Living near your job can substantially raise your threat level, increase your odds for bodily harm with protracted periods of unconsciousness possibly resulting in death, and get you shot. Most Memphians are trapped in a government sponsored socio-economic scheme enforced by the penal/justice system, that accidentally evolved by inaction, and then everybody got used to it because there was nothing they could do to get out of it.

I mean, a school system limited to training people around the job of packing a box? You've got to be kidding me. But it's no joke here. I guess we better hope they don't have an economic downturn or this is a ghost town.

More inaction will never be the solution. At least not here.

Aaron said...

I wish I could say the crime problem was overblown here in Memphis.

Since moving here 2 1/2 years ago from San Francisco to Midtown our family has had 5 incidences of crime including a house break-in just after this Christmas.

We love Midtown and being able to walk to almost most everything but the crime is wearing us down.

Public and private leaders must urge everyone to get involved not only for our families but for any hope of keeping any businesses here.

I am still amazed at the caliber of people St. Jude recruits but not surprised at the level of turnover that they experience. People can only tolerate so much..... I am also more and more sympathetic to the St. Jude employees that commute 30+ miles to work everyday....that would be most of them.

The fact that St. Jude remains committed to staying in Memphis speaks volumes about the organization. They could have opted out along time ago and saved millions of recruiting/turnover dollars by migrating to either coast.

gatesofmemphis said...

maybe St. Jude could make children's public health, including the devastations of crime and poverty, their next hopeless cause.

Aaron said...

Exactly Gates.
Now there is some irony.

A hospital focused on curing hopeless biological diseases situated in a city that is suffering from the socialogical form of the same disease.

Indeed we need a St. Jude for Memphis. Unfortunately, unlike cancer, people can simply move away from the disease. That makes it a tough sell for fundraising.

Anonymous said...

Well, admitting the problem full on and not sparing the egos is one positive step! The next step is recognizing what is for what it can actually be transformed into as is. The how to transform Memphis into a liveable city maybe even a desirable city, is to take the element that is committing the crimes and transform them through training.
Think of it as rust in the bottom of your bucket, if you can't get e new bucket, you fix the rust.
The criminal cycle IS the bottom of the bucket, not the rust. The rust is what eroded in them with all the "help" Memphis gave a s an "enabler" to it's criminal and drug culture, it evolved, or, "devolved".
This is very do-able, but, not without support and direction from some real pro's. They exist, they get paid to do things like this, if we went all out, this city would be the exception of other's rules. We could be the destination in the south for good reason instead of the typical immoral fun reasons. "Beale Street and Tunica" is NOT family entertainment.
St. Judes can't save us, FedEx can't save us, the government is too busy causing the problem to get into the fight, BUT, there are people ready in all sectors to get their feet on the field and do a little battle with the core issues which require and demand direct attention.

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