“Here’s what I want you to think about: How can all of our efforts solve three or four problems at once?”
So said Vancouver deputy city manager Sadhu Aufochs Johnston at Livable Memphis’ 4th Annual Summit for Neighborhood Leaders Saturday morning at Bridges.
“Let’s rethink how we’re doing what we’re doing in cities,” he said. “We don’t have the money to do one-off solutions anymore.”
In Chicago, a 40-acre brownfield site that had been vacant for 30 years was rented to the utility company for a solar power system that can generate enough power for 10,000 homes.
"If we cleaned it up, it would be worth $2 million, but it was going to cost $30 million to clean it up," Johnston said. "After installing the solar system, the phones starting ringing off the hook. People and companies wanted to be near this thing."
Tomorrow is the University of Memphis' Tiger Blue Goes Green day, complete with a Sustainable Design Showcase in the third floor ballroom in the University Center and exhibits on recycling, the campus gardening initiative, and eco-job opportunities on the Student Plaza.
U of M President Shirley Raines will kick off the event at 10 a.m. The Physical plant will display its cost-saving building improvements, but for my money, I wouldn't want to miss the department of architecture's "bioplastic lights."
In addition, the U of M Cycling Club is hosting its first Bike to Campus Day. They are planning several group rides to campus, about two to three miles in length leaving around 9 a.m. and converging on campus at the fountain near the Administration building at 9:30 a.m. To find out more about specific group rides, click on the Facebook page.
Also, if anyone wants to play roving reporter for me tomorrow — I'll be on deadline — I'm more than open to hearing from volunteers.
When plans for Shelby Farms Park were unveiled, the park conservancy made a pledge to plant a million trees in the park (though it may take some time to do it).
Residents are invited to nominate their favorite tree or the one they consider most significant by submitting a photo or a sketch of the tree, the location of the tree, and a short essay describing why the tree is one in a million to firstname.lastname@example.org. Several local judges (of which I am one, no doubt due to my extensive background in arborology and treeyness) will determine the winner.
All nominations must be made by Thursday, September 23rd, and the winner will be announced Tuesday, September 28th.
For more information, go to www.GrowThePark.org.
The Memphis Regional Design Center will start another session of its Urban Design 101 on September 28th.
I've taken this class and thought it was really great. And, of course, I wrote about it.
What is the Regional Design Center? I wrote about that, too. Check it out here.
From the Regional Design Center itself:
UD 101 will examine the transformative impact that innovative physical planning and design of the "public realm" are having upon the quality and success of urban life. The course will introduce a cross section of our region's civic leaders - representing a mix of public, private and non-profit organizations - to the basic concepts, vocabulary, and techniques of urban design as reflected in a variety of contemporary place-making initiatives in Memphis and across the country.
For more information, contact Chooch Pickard at email@example.com.
Shelby County has a large footprint ... and now it knows how big its carbon footprint is, too.
Data presented at a meeting between Shelby County mayor Joe Ford and local activists Wednesday showed that Shelby County government emitted a total of 102,174 tons of CO2 during the 2008 - 2009 fiscal year.
In total, almost 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions came from government buildings and facilities. Twenty-one percent was from employee commutes.
"The mayor wants to do some sort of energy efficiency program," says John Freeman with the mayor's office.
The program, which would begin in mid-August, will draw directly from employee suggestions solicited by survey earlier this year.
Freeman says they could include encouraging employees to bike to work or ride public transportation, to carpool with other employees, or to take advantage of a four-day work week.
Other topics at the meeting included the county's recycling program, ground water and environmental infrastructure, and the possibility of becoming one of 15 deployment communities nationally for a new electric vehicle program.
The proposal for a CVS pharmacy at the corner of Cooper and Union — where the former Union Avenue Methodist Church sits — failed at the Land Use Control Board earlier today.
Staff from the Office of Planning and Development recommended rejecting the proposal, citing issues with the site plan — both the placement of the building, as well as the amount of windows — the demolition of the historic Union Avenue Methodist Church building, and the fact that the proposal does not meet the standards of the yet-to-be-approved Midtown zoning overlay. OPD said the plan “reflects a typical suburban retail development form.”
“If the data supports an urban design, that’s what CVS builds. If the data indicates that a suburban design as described — we don’t believe ours is that — is needed then that is what our site plan reflects,” Wilkins said. “Union Avenue is a state highway. Our pedestrian counts indicate that 40,000 more cars to every 100 pedestrians that travel up and down Union and Cooper.”
Opponents of the plan were out in full-force, filling the council chambers. They cited many of the same reasons why OPD staff recommended against approval.
CVS has an agreement with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to not demolish any buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, of which the church, locally across the street from an Ike's, is one.
"Last Friday, we got the paperwork to verify it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We thought we were heading into the clear," says Memphis Heritage head June West. "Lately, CVS isn't returning calls, and we haven't seen any movement locally [to pull the demolition permit.]"
With that in mind, members of Memphis Heritage plan to attend the next Land Use Control Board meeting, tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the City Council chambers, to speak against the proposal.
This week I wrote about the Junkyard Memphis' art and music camp held on Broad Avenue for our print publication, and as usual, I wanted to give you guys a little bit more material.
Here are some kids working on the sound sculptures with conservatory-trained percussionist Donald Knaack, or The Junkman:
The license plates and signs they were drilling would eventually be included on this:
The end result was this (also shown is a wooden xylophone with a nice assortment of pots, pans, and a colander):
Now I'm just going to tell you straight up. During the camp, and especially during the concert at the end of the week, it was HOT. Stifling, can't breathe HOT. Sweat dripping down your back and legs HOT.
But everyone ignored it as best they could in the name of art and music.
You, however, can sit back in your nice air-conditioned home or office, it certainly makes no difference to me, and watch part of the concert here.
On the other hand, you didn't get to play on it after the kids were done, either, so maybe it's an even trade.
Junkyard Camp was made possible by the Palazola Townsend Gudelsky Family; Mitch and Laurie Major; Laura and Lowry Howell; Michael Richardson; Greg, Carla and Alexandra Touliatos; Historical Broad Business Association; and Lisa and Chris Williamson.
When Leadership Memphis began its first season of FastTrack, a two-month program aimed at emerging leaders in 2008 — the same year the organization turned 30 — I wrote about it.
"It is targeted to a younger and more up-and-coming leadership group," Leadership Memphis president David Williams said of FastTrack. "The executive program is targeted at proven leaders, those people already in senior leadership positions."
"For the last four years, with our executive program, we've been talking about the importance of recruiting and retaining talent in Memphis," Williams says. "We said let's see what we can do, and voila."
Earlier this year — full disclosure — I went through the program myself.
Now, I don't see how Leadership Memphis could find a better group of talented, wonderful, socially conscious, community-oriented, and fun individuals than they had in the FastTrack program this past spring, but they seem bound and determined to do so.
From now until June 30th, Leadership Memphis is taking nominations for the FastTrack 2010 Fall program, which begins in August and ends in November.
During the program, participants will learn about leadership skills and about Memphis. There are even field trips! (Just like in grade school, but without the boxed lunch or the bus driver.)
For more information about the program, visit www.leadershipmemphis.org or call Leadership Memphis at 901.278.0016. To nominate someone (including yourself), send name and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year around this time, we wrote about community gardens being planned for the University of Memphis campus.
Karyl Buddington, director of animal care at the university, plants a vegetable garden in her yard every spring. Earlier this year, she proposed doing the same thing at the university.
"I think everybody is a little uncertain about the future because the economy hasn't been so great," she says. "I do a lot of walking on campus. I thought, What if we put vegetables and herbs in place of all of the flowers we put in and take out each season?
"The more people I talked to, the more interest there was," she continues. "All of a sudden, we had a core group that was terribly excited about putting these plants in."
Looks like they're doing it again this year.