Wednesday, October 07, 2009

We’re Looking For Myths That Need To Change

In response to our post yesterday about the myths that chain us to old ways of thinking and block new solutions, we got responses with readers' own myths.

As a result, we're asking for you to give us the myths that hold back thinking and action in Memphis.

Here are the responses we've gotten so far:

Michael said:

Good article, but you missed one myth: "Build it and they will come."

This town is still under the spell of the developer heroes of the 1990 renaissance, believing they can do no wrong, that unfettered development will save the city, and that it will cost the taxpayers next to nothing.

Anonymous said...

One myth not addressed is the Memphis habit of looking for the magic bullet. It ranges from "Let's put a mall on Main Street to solve all our problems" to the more recent "Let's allow cars on that mall to solve all our problems." We see the magic bullet concept over and over: Chips Moman's presence will re-create a thriving music industry here and lead us to the promised land. An on-campus football stadium at the U of M will change everything. A river landing at the foot of Beale Street will be the answer.

What these and many other "solutions" have in common is that they invariably are the hobby horse of an individual or two who are never held accountable down the road, and they all involve a hobby horse that is funded by the public. Smart City Memphis urges us to look at the larger picture, but until we put names with follies and stop listening to those named, we will just continue to look for the magic bullet to slay our problems.

Aaron said...

I agree that we do have a propensity to look for the next magic bullet and I will be the first to say that the skate park project will not be a "cure-all" for downtown's ailments. I hope people don't see it as the magic bullet because it is not but it will provide a much needed recreational venue that we can add to our list of vibrant family-friendly places to visit and hang out, especially for our older children and active adults.

Taken together with many existing and ongoing efforts in our community to improve the quality of life of our citizens, perhaps small businesses will again see downtown as an opportunity to thrive. An issue, aside from population densities, that I have heard from a number of small business owners, will be for the mayor to kindly coax landlords to provide more flexible rental rates for new businesses. No more "take it or leave it" approach.

The biggest opportunity with a new administration coming in is for Memphians to dig in and get involved and make sure that developers no longer continue to capitalize on our apathy and cynicism.

For example, had there been little to no public support at the Mud Island Public meetings, I suspect the future of the River park would be following a far different trajectory.

Midtowner said...

There is also the myth that consolidation will be a panacea for Memphis.

Anonymous said:

I think if you build sustainable developments and connect it with passenger rail they will come.


Anonymous said...

The myth that we are kind, generous, caring people. Just read the comments on the Commercial Appeal website sometime.

Anonymous said...

How about the one that U of M is a mediocre university and that city school students can't learn?

Michael said...

I wrote the first one, but I'd also like to add my vote for the "magic bullet" myth.

Anonymous said...

skate parks? choo-choo? commercial rent control? consolidation?

same-same all time.
too much free time out there, I think.

but if your blogging you ain't holding up a liquor store or running for city mayor, I guess.

Anonymous said...

The myth that we have a complicated government. Most counties have dozens of cities and we only have seven.

Michael said...

The myth that Memphis has no real history before Elvis was born.

Or if we do have history, we'd like to forget it. Cover it over with development projects that just copy what other cities did, but 10 or 20 years later...missing the peak of the fad.

So we end up stuck with more stuff we want to forget.

Anonymous said...

There's always someone on a white horse who'll ride into town and save us.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:39, in defense of memphis; try reading comments on the nashville Tennessean or the Knoxville News Sentinel sometime. The bigoted jerks are everywhere, not just here. but your point is taken in that there are some real haters out there.

Anonymous said...

Just shake those haters off

bob said...

How about the myth that if we keep putting the same people on every board in town, eventually they'll get something right?

Anonymous said...

Here's another myth worth noting:

The local media provides an accurate depiction of our city as being corrupt, crime-ridden, and uneducated.

The local media only reports what they want to report. Over the past few years, most of what has been reported have shined a negative and pessimistic light on our city. They focus more on the many problems we have and less on providing solutions, and most don't care about the negative ramifications of their actions just so long as they get a story.

If you look at local media in other cities like Nashville and Atlanta, they are often very cautious about what they report because they want to protect the image of their cities while at the same time reporting the issues that matter. People involved in the media in Memphis don't seem to do that, or just don't seem to care, and it has hurt our city more than it has helped.

Anonymous said...

The myths about the riverfront. On one side, there's the idea that the riverfront is perfect just like it is and we can't change one blade of grass and on the other side, there's the idea that the RDC is worth what it costs.

Anonymous said...

The myth that the county mayor should be present at all major Memphis events, or that he should even be heard much from, period. (Regardless who holds the office.) The Dalai Lama came here because of Memphis, not Shelby County. The Grizzlies are here because of Memphis, not "Shelby County." Why is a county mayor even in the pictures?

Anonymous said...

Great...great article. For all of us "off that" boat floating on the past of this potentially great city...let's vote, accordingly!

you cannot bring the future back-so...let's go and get it.

Zippy the giver said...

That a nut can get votes, WAIT, that happened for 20 years, (sorry)
OK, that people run for office because they care or have a clue.(they don't, it shows)
That Memphis is a great place to live. (it's not, the stats show it very clearly)
The food in Memphis is better than anywhere else.
That Memphis is a music city. ( workers don't work clean and the health dept. must be on the take judging by the roach poop on the license)
That Memphians, many "blacks" included and especially are not racist and " fulfilling the dream" of "our civil rights heritage". ( we have a "museum" and that's about it for race relations, this is one of the if not the most racially polarized cities I've ever seen, lending creedence to Louis Farrakan, and black power is pure racism, making us worse than the people of our history)
There are good things everywhere, but, they become harder to see when you're overwhelmed by problems that are constantly IN YOUR FACE.
That 11% is a landslide or a mandate for anything but a DO OVER.

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