We Got This
Thanks to Bruce VanWyngarden for stating the truth that needs to be spoken about the paranoid, negative comments that choke the spirit of this city (Letter from the Editor, August 1st issue). The "Believe Memphis" Grizzlies campaign is no accident. Simply living in this city doesn't make you a citizen. You have to believe in the people, the art, the music, the food, the sports, and all the other aspects that make this city great.
As a "newcomer" to Memphis (55 years, 25 in Midtown), I have always enjoyed the irony of the negative chorus emanating from beyond the city limits. The editor's boasting about the many exciting and successful things happening here (also open to our superior but disgruntled non-Memphians) was pretty complete, with the exception of not mentioning our burgeoning Memphis Public Library, notably Benjamin L. Hooks Central.
It's a great success story — operating with curtailed budget, 40 percent fewer staff, and diminished hours but providing our city with quality-of-life support, dynamic children's programs, an outreach program helping Memphians find jobs (the new JobsLink bus takes this support on the road), as well as all the more traditional cultural areas. Your list — with inclusion of the library system — supports our optimism in Memphis' immediate and long-term potentials. Keep up the good work.
What a great editorial! My husband recently moved here for work. I visit when I can from St. Louis (trying to sell a house). We love being in the city. We overlook AutoZone Park, can walk to everything — great restaurants and wonderful cultural events. We love South Main, Beale Street, the zoo, Overton Park, everything!
When I go to the 'burbs for a mall (I am a shopping female after all), I tell people we moved to Memphis from St. Louis. Everyone says, "I'm sorry." Why? Have they been to St. Louis? Is the grass greener, the weather better, the crime different? No. In the last survey I saw, crime was higher in St. Louis. It's been a fine place to live, but we love Memphis!
We've lived all over the world. Is Memphis my pick of favorite city I've lived in? No. But it's a good city. It's trying so hard to better itself, and I hope that Mayor Wharton continues down the path he's set. I will continue to tout Memphis to all my friends and family — strangers too. Thank you for the editorial. Go Griz! I'm a delighted new Memphian.
Mary Sue Ercoli
Memphis and the Movies
The rich culture and heritage of Memphis has always made it appealing to storytellers, musicians, and filmmakers. Twenty yeas ago, we were on a roll toward being a premier filmmaking hot spot. Film producers, directors, and cast members enjoyed working in Memphis. Now our city rides the caboose of the Hollywood train ("Out of the Picture," July 25th issue).
Moviemaking is valuable business, not just for the money and exposure it brings but in opening opportunities for young artists, writers, and technicians who presently find little in Memphis to draw them. Other states like Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi have moved proactively to cash in and lure film productions from the film capitals of California and New York. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week that between 2008 and 2011 the state of Georgia invested more than $250 million to lure filmmakers. In 2012 alone, film production spending in Georgia was $880 million.
Moviemakers, like in other businesses, are looking for the cheapest deal, with state and local governments offering attractive support packages. This is not unlike multi-million-dollar tax and other incentives offered businesses like International Paper, FedEx, AutoZone, Electrolux, Bass Pro Shops, and the Memphis Grizzlies to relocate, expand, or stay in Memphis.
Mayors Mark Luttrell and A C Wharton, state senator Mark Norris, and local film commissioner Linn Sitler are committed to helping marshal state resources for infusion into Memphis' anemic film industry. But they will not be successful unless the local business titans, who have shown their agility to move and shake when it comes to their own projects, get meaningfully involved. Having succeeded themselves, they must not pull the ladder up behind them.
Further, the film community will strengthen its appeal by continuing to assure that it builds a genuine racially and culturally diverse constituency of entrepreneurs and supporters.