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:
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.
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.
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.
There is also the myth that consolidation will be a panacea for Memphis.
I think if you build sustainable developments and connect it with passenger rail they will come.