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VOL. 127 | NO. 35 | Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jeremy Park

Answering What Memphis Means

By Jeremy Park

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Last week we explored Friends for Life Corp., which is an organization helping people affected by HIV/AIDS live well. This week let us focus on one question that is helping our community create a powerful narrative and a shared voice: “What does Memphis mean to you?”

This question has taken on a new meaning for me over the last few years. It has been amazing to witness the reaction of guest speakers that we bring in for Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club events. They are so moved by our warm hospitality, genuine nature, sense of values and dedication to community, that they have become our friends and champions for Memphis, in the process.

Manny Ohonme, founder of Samaritan’s Feet, travels the world and sets Memphis as the example of how leaders can come together, humble themselves and wash the feet of impoverished children, providing them with new shoes and renewed hope.

Richard Sheirer, who was in charge of the 9/11 cleanup in New York City, was so moved by Memphis that he sent us the flag that flew over New York, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the three attacks on our country.

Digger Phelps spent 45 minutes talking on national television about his trip to Memphis and the Stax Music Academy.

These speakers, who travel all over the world, are spreading “Memphis Love.” Recently, we started capturing these testimonials to create an archive for everyone to see and share. We realized in the process that we need to do a better job of asking ourselves why we love our city and then sharing those moments, as well.

So, we have started recording interviews with various leaders, focused on the subject of Memphis. Our goal is to put together a narrative that will spotlight what makes our city so unique and special and to capture that spirit from Memphians themselves. So far, we have been blown away with heartfelt responses.

There are many common themes, like home and family, big-city opportunities with small-town values, world-class cultural arts, sports, the nation’s largest urban park, top-ranked zoo, short commute, fine dining, barbecue, music and being one of the nation’s most giving cities.

Having lived and worked in many large cities, I love and appreciate the Memphis charm, set of values, and support system that you do not find elsewhere. Every city has issues, but the difference lies in how the citizens come together to solve them.

I am proud to say that Memphians are rolling up their sleeves and starting a movement. We are standing at the edge of a renaissance, as we align resources and set out to unleash our global power.

I would love for you to be a part of the effort by emailing me “what Memphis means to you,” so we can share it with the world.

Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com.

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