VOL. 132 | NO. 84 | Thursday, April 27, 2017
RegionSmart Speakers Tout Importance of 'Lovable' Cities
By Patrick Lantrip
Do you love your city? That was author Peter Kageyama’s opening question Thursday, April 27, to his audience at the second annual RegionSmart Summit, hosted by the Mid-South Mayors’ Council.
While the obvious answer is typically “yes,” Kageyama said that’s not always the case.
“The sad truth is not nearly enough of us love our cities,” he said. “So those of us who actually do love our cities, we need to be the emotional standard bearers and carry that message of love out there to our fellow citizens to help them see and feel the city the way that we do, because emotions are contagious.”
During his presentation, Kageyama challenged Mid-South leaders to keep this in mind, while preaching the importance of adding emotional attachment to their cities.
“For the most part, the common theme around what people tend to love about their places, they actually tend to be relatively small things,” Kageyama said. “In my book, I likened them to the idea of a handwritten note that goes with gifts – a love note, if you will.”
One love note Kageyama cited was the Lawn of D in Boston, a pop-up park which runs from May to October adjacent the city’s convention center.
The formerly vacant parcel was activated to include lounge chairs, adult-sized swings, corn hole and a giant Jenga.
“In the grand scheme of Boston, this is a small thing, but when you go there during the summer and experience it, I guarantee it will have an impact on the way you see and feel about Boston as a whole.”
On a much larger-scale, Kageyama referenced the Crosstown Concourse project as a Memphis example of a municipal love note, albeit an expensive one. He said prior to its renovation, the massive blighted building was a monument to leaving the city.
“So not only is this a love note, it does a lot in terms of the restorative power of bringing the community back,” he said.
While the focus of creating livable, walkable and sustainable cities is a great start, Kageyama believes the standard should be set even higher by adding the adjective “lovable” to the mix.
“With that in mind, hopefully we will have a different way about thinking this,” he concluded.
Moorhead, Mississippi, Mayor George Holland shares his perspective on loving one's city during a session at the recent RegionSmart Summit.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Kageyama’s presentation was immediately followed by Morehead, Mississippi, Mayor George Holland, who provided a local perspective about loving one’s city.
Holland said both he and his wife of 49 years were born in Morehead, before moving away to work and finding their way back “home” in 2007 after retiring.
“We moved back to make our community a better place, because of our love of our community,” Holland said.
One of the most successful “love notes” Holland said Morehead penned to its citizens was the conversion of a derelict train depot in the middle of town into a new visitors center.
“The depot had sat there for 40 years, just waiting to be demolished,” he said. “Waiting for the city to come up with enough money to tear it down.”
However, instead of tearing it down, the community applied for a $400,000 redevelopment grant.
The grant covered most of the outside work, but not the interior renovations.
So in a love note back to the city, Holland said the rest of the capital was raised by private citizens who simply loved their community, he said.
“Now it’s the best place for Morehead.”