As we stood outside with our free speech board we met person after person who asked about the Greensward meeting. One person who didn’t speak English very well stopped by and simply said “trees.” At that point we laughed and said, “5th floor.” We had very little activity on our wall about the freedom to speak, but these Greensward folks were fired up! Much like a certain benefits group I know of.
In both cases the voices of the people were heard and the people won. Now given the history of both of these fights, one would think this would be remembered and celebrated. Well, one would be wrong.
In Memphis, Tennessee the people have no voice. Whether it is about benefits, the Colosseum, or a “Patch of Grass,” We the People have lost our voice. The power brokers at city hall have forgotten that they answer to us. Each of these things illustrates this very fact. You should have a voice. They should care that you care about public safety, taxes, blight, and yes a park.
These people have continued a fight just as we did. They have tried just about everything we have (they haven’t surrounded city hall. A moment I am really proud of). They have T-shirts and bumper stickers. They fill the chambers and the 5th floor. Sound familiar?
The media only tells you the side of City Hall and not the side of the folks fighting. They haven’t told you about the Easter egg hunt that is done every year for the neighborhood kids that the zoo actually stole from them. Zoo officials actually picked up the eggs and took them.
They haven’t told you about the free parking brigade that graciously directs zoo patrons to free parking or that at one time a free shuttle ran from the parking garage on Overton Square (PILOT recipient) and the zoo sent letters asking people not to use it. Last time I went there I noticed parking was free until 6 and it is one of the nicest garages I have seen. They haven’t told you despite the fact that it is illegal to park cars on the lawn in the city (oil seeping into the ground), they allow it for the zoo.
They haven’t told you that parks in Urban Areas actually help stop a phenomenon known as the Urban Heat Island Effect. They haven’t told you that the city actually let the Overton Park Conservancy run the park and the zoo destroys it and charges $5.00 a car. Do you think that money goes to the city? Nope the zoo keeps it.
They haven’t told you that millions comes out of the city budget for the zoo, yet they claim to be a private entity when asked for public record requests to see their books. Those millions and that parking money could be better used elsewhere don’t you think?
They haven’t told you that many of the TAXPAYERS moved here for that park and that it is one of the few positives that this city has profiled nationally by PBS in 10 parks that changed America.
I remember it being pointed out that we had the best police and fire department in the country and we have watched as the city has destroyed it, much like this park. To those park supporters every car parked on that lawn, is just like an officer of fireman leaving to us. It hurts. So when is a park simply not just a park? When it is a park that embodies the very fight we have been fighting ourselves. We are both fighting for a voice, to be heard, to be seen by the people who are supposed to care about us.
In Memphis, they call us names when we stand up. We were the angry wives and they are the fringe element. I call us the people. I call us citizens. I call us voters. So you see it is not just grass. It is so much more than that. It is listening to the cries of the people that are supposed to be the ones actually running the city. Public Safety and Greensward are different, but also the same. Every time they park a car on that grass, or an officer/ fireman leaves, another octave in our voice is lost. If the city council wins in this, as we know that whole park will be gone, much like pensions and benefits.
So, I stand with the Greensward people because we have been on their journey, we have walked a mile in their shoes, and the citizens deserve some sort of victory and just maybe their victory,may lead to ours.