VOL. 133 | NO. 83 | Wednesday, April 25, 2018
RegionSmart Summit To Focus On Fourth Bluff
By Patrick Lantrip
Since its inception, Memphis and The Fourth Chickasaw Bluff on the Mississippi River have been bound together.
So as Memphis is going through its latest growth spurt, so too is the Fourth Bluff as it was selected to be a part of a $40 million national initiative known as Reimagining the Civic Commons.
On April 26 at the at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education attendees to the third annual RegionSmart Summit hosted by the Mid-South Mayors’ Council and the Urban Land Institute’s local affiliate, ULI Memphis, will get an update on that project.
This year’s featured speakers include Ed McMahon, senior fellow with the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C.; Lynn Ross, founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting LLC, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to creative solutions for evolving places and people serving the common good; and John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of the financial literacy nonprofit Operation HOPE Inc., and chairman and CEO of Bryant Group Ventures and The Promise Homes Co.
Ross said that she will discuss the power of civic commons, which are public spaces such as parks, libraries, trails and community centers, to support neighborhood and city success.
“When we don’t show up in public life, when we don’t have welcoming public spaces, and when we don’t interact regularly with strangers, trust declines,” she said. “Every community has the opportunity to reverse that by revitalizing and connecting their public assets, their civic commons.”
Last year, Memphis was selected for a $40 million, three-year national initiative known as Reimagining the Civic Commons along with Akron, Ohio; Chicago; Detroit; and Philadelphia.
Funded by a collaboration of national foundations that include the JPB Foundation, Knight Foundation, Kresge Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, Reimagining the Civic Commons aims to create civic engagement, socioeconomic mixing, environmental sustainability and value creation.
“In Memphis, the team’s work is focused on a set of assets along the Mississippi River adjacent to its downtown,” Ross said. “The Fourth Bluff project will re-conceive the historic Cossitt Library, Riverline Trail, Memphis Park and Mississippi River Park into places where Memphians from all backgrounds can come together to connect with nature and one another. A great example of this work Memphians may remember from last summer is RiverPlay.”
Locally, partners in the Fourth Bluff team include Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, the Downtown Memphis Commission, the Hyde Family Foundations, Innovate Memphis, the Memphis Grizzlies, Memphis Public Libraries and the Riverfront Development Corp.
“I’m excited to come to Memphis and share the broader context for the Reimagining the Civic Commons work, including examples of how the work is playing out in our other cities,” Ross said. “I hope attendees will take away a sense of urgency for not only engaging in the Fourth Bluff effort, but also the other significant public spaces efforts underway, including riverfront redevelopment. Our civic commons must be thought of as critical to the success of neighborhoods, cities and regions.”
Paul Young, who is the director of the Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development, and is serving as chair of the RegionSmart planning committee on behalf of Urban Land Institute, said that this year’s lineup was dynamic.
“Each year it’s been better and better,” Young said. “I think we’ve learned some things about the flow of the event, which I think you’ll see reflected in the timing this year. We’ve reduced it to half a day in order to ensure that we capture everybody’s time and use it efficiently.”