I loved your cover story on environmental groups around Memphis ("Green Thumbs Up!" April 15th issue), but you made one mistake that I would like to correct. The group that does clean-ups in Overton Park is Park Friends. We also, among other things, work on maintenance for the Old Forest trail, provide maps and signs for the trail, plant trees, fight privet and kudzu, and advocate to protect the park.
We were founded in 1992 to keep the zoo from paving over the area adjacent to Veteran's Plaza. Since then, we have successfully fought various other development proposals in Overton Park, including a senior center, cell phone tower, and new sewer line (all slated for various sections of the Old Forest), and we passed the petition that stopped the digging up of the greensward last year. We are still in talks with the city about how to handle the flooding, and we are also working with them on an easement that would protect the Old Forest, greensward, and other open areas of the park for future generations. Our main project this year is repairing the running trail through the park. People can find out more about our group and how to help out at parkfriends.net.
Martha Kelly, President
Thank you for the recent "Green Thumbs Up!" article. It serves as a reminder of the growing awareness in our community about improving our environment.
The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department partners with the Memphis Area Transit Authority to manage the grant that provides for 25 cent fares on days when we forecast high local ozone levels. We complete our forecast and issue these ozone alerts to the media by mid-afternoon the day before the alert day. Information about the alert and reduced fares is posted on the expressway message boards the evening before and during the alert day, in order to encourage behaviors that could help reduce emissions on that day as well as to get people thinking about what they can do the next time it happens.
On alert days, if everyone made a few small changes, it could reduce ozone levels enough for us all to breathe a little easier. Taking public transit, carpooling, or choosing to ride a bicycle are all ways to reduce emissions that contribute to air-quality problems. To sign up for our rideshare program and to learn more about ozone alerts and the "Cool 5" things everyone can do to help, go to midsouthcleanair.org. Remember, it all adds up to cleaner air.
Bob Rogers, Manager Pollution Control
Hundreds of folks were in Overton Park having a great time April 20th — mostly young folks, with lots of kids and dogs. Yet the Memphis police felt like they had to bully into the crowd with a dog and make arrests. I say they wasted taxpayer money. It was not an honorable day for the Memphis police. That force should have been used to combat real, serious crimes.
I was very excited about gathering with friends at Overton Park on April 20th to celebrate Earth Day, peace, and Cannabis sativa. It's a day when everyone comes together of all races, origins, and diversities. We share a common love for peace, knowing that war has caused our country great suffering. This is not just a day for stoners to get high.
It was the day when Bob Marley threw musical peace rallies supporting freedom from war and from the hate that exists within our society, knowing that a community at war with itself will fail. People who work every day, contribute to society, and more than likely have a clean record were carried off from Overton Park in handcuffs, while murder, domestic violence, and robberies were occurring all over the city.
For many people, marijuana is not considered a drug. Many stable households have children who weren't raised to believe it's wrong. Marijuana grows from the earth. The experience is relaxing and peaceful, which is needed in an economy like ours, where people don't know if they will have their jobs tomorrow. Most marijuana smokers are educated, live peacefully, work, and survive. Why should they be punished? No, "4/20" is not a legal holiday, but it's our holiday, and nothing will stop the world from celebrating it for decades to come.