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VOL. 10 | NO. 8 | Saturday, March 08, 2014

Editorial: Let City’s Innovative Ideas Flow Outward

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So many Memphians are working on so many parts of the same general movement that it’s only natural there would be a tendency to question whether all of those efforts toward a more innovative Memphis could be folded into each other or consolidated in some way.

“Make Memphis” is the latest effort to come to life suddenly that questions that assumption and flow.

It comes from a natural restlessness that follows what has been a sustained pushback in recent years against a persistent downing of any and all attempts to express hope about the direction of Memphis.

Consider this the second stage. After pushing a more positive view of Memphis, the question has become what to do with that positive energy.

Our suggestion is not a consolidation of efforts. In fact, we believe these efforts should be kept as organic as possible – like the gardens that will soon be sprouting all across this green city in just a matter of weeks when spring arrives after a harsh winter.

Our call is for a bigger garden that breaks out of what is so far a Downtown- and Midtown-centric effort.

There is a palpable frustration that ideas taking shape in Downtown and Midtown and the momentum that creates them and is continued by them all too rarely find their way to other parts of the city.

Some of that frustration is a lamentable continuation of score keeping that pits one part of our city against another.

But some of the frustration is legitimate because it is harder to get an idea rolling in other parts of our city that could prove just as fertile.

The MemSHOP and MemFIX efforts by the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team are examples of initiatives that show the possibilities of these other places where creative breakthroughs can be set in motion with just a bit more of a push.

The larger kind of breakthrough we see as necessary is one outside Downtown and Midtown even as those two areas continue to prosper. It doesn’t have to be that far geographically from those two areas. The Crosstown project, which should begin construction shortly, may well be that breakthrough in an area near both Downtown and Midtown but with a character that is separate and distinct.

Efforts underway in Binghampton, Frayser and East Memphis are seasoned with a reality that works well with the sometimes pie in the sky goals necessary to explore limits.

So we find much promise in Make Memphis and its “in their own backyard” platform. Let’s remember that big ideas and even clusters of smaller ideas have a big backyard in which to explore and grow.

New ideas don’t have an easy life even in the most supportive environment. But the ground for those ideas is fertile and there is a lot of it to be found even outside our comfort zones.

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