Saturday, October 31, 2009

Overton Square plans changing

The CA had an article about the latest incarnation of plans for Overton Square. The developer is making some changes after complaints that their original layout was too suburban and car-centric in feel for Midtown in general and Overton Square in particular. They've added an extra building along Cooper to soften the large parking lot, and the plaza at the corner of Madison and Cooper looks quite nice.

However, the article failed to address the flooding issue in Midtown that centers on Lick Creek, which runs directly underneath the property in question. Belleair and the zoo, both just downstream of Overton Square, are flooding regularly, and Overton Park is threatened with various plans to try to fix the flooding. All of these involved digging and building berms, none of which are desirable in a historic park.

Any building in Overton Square MUST address storm water run-off (heightened dramatically by big box roofs and parking lots) to keep from adding to this problem. Green roofs and storm water collection need to be required by the city to keep the already out of hand problem from getting even worse. Developers routinely get a pass from dealing with storm water containment, but that has got to stop. This enforcement also needs to apply to any development that might happen in the fairgrounds, also situated just by a tributary that feeds this flood problem.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The weather this week looks downright awful, so we're moving the hayride to Friday, Nov. 6th (weather permitting) instead. It will be from 6-8 pm, by the East Parkway Pavilion. We'll have a mule team or two pulling wagons through the Old Forest, a campfire, s'mores, marshmallows, and a membership table where you can renew for the year or buy a t-shirt. Please help us spread the word about this last minute date change.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hayride plus rain

I'm getting a little nervous about Friday night's hayride given the weather forecast. Watch this space for updates on rain date options or alternate plans.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall is here!

I love the colors of fall. Everything seems so vivid all of a sudden, after the washed out glare of summer. The sky, esp., is a more beautiful color than at any other time of year.

Even poison ivy looks pretty this time of year.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Volunteer Week

According to almost every comic strip in the paper this morning, it's volunteer week. Take this opportunity to pick up a little litter in the park where you walk/run/take your dog. The less trash on the ground, the less likely other people are to throw trash. Sadly this is not 100% effective, but I do believe it's a deterrent to littering if a space is beautifully clean. Maybe we can test that theory this week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mud Island final design survey

The Riverfront Development Corp. has narrowed plans for Mud Island down to three options, two of which have lots of park/recreation/civic space, and the third of which is much heavier on private residential and development options. They have a survey on their site about how much space should be allotted for different purposes. Please take a couple of minutes to let your voice be heard on this issue. Mud Island could be a wonderful asset to Memphis if this new plan is handled correctly. The deadline to offer feedback is Oct. 30th.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Teton Trek Opens

Brian Carter, the zoo staffer who's on our board at Park Friends sent along these photos for the blog. Teton Trek opened this weekend to the general public, along with its much anticipated orphaned bear cubs. It also contains wolves (further down) and a lodge meant to evoke the iconic grand lodge at Yellowstone (below).
It's been a rocky road to Teton Trek for the zoo, but the exhibit looks to be marvelous from the inside. I'm looking forward to seeing the bear cubs on my return to Memphis. They will be an asset to the city, and it's good recognition for both Memphis and our zoo that we were chosen to receive them.

Sadly, the exhibit looks less than marvelous from the backside, which is the side of itself that it shows to walkers, bikers, and everyone else enjoying our native Old Forest in Overton Park. Even a number of zoo lovers in the neighborhood have remarked on how ugly the forest road has become with the zoo building storage buildings right out to the road. They were supposed to leave a screen of trees but expanded right up to the fence instead. Brian answered my question about screening and said that the landscaping guys were supposed to be planting some screening plants within the next week, weather permitting. There's not much space left for screening plants, but hopefully now that the rush to get the front of the exhibit ready is over, the zoo will put some serious thought into how to make the back of the exhibit more attractive for their neighbors.
Because of the public backlash over both the clearcutting and the current appearance of Teton Trek, the zoo is working hard to solicit community feedback on their plans for Chickasaw Bluffs, the last of the Old Forest area that is behind their fence. Please take a moment to look at their proposed plan and submit your thoughts on the project.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flasher warning

Word was being passed today between walkers that there was a flasher in the Old Forest this morning. I got it second hand (from someone who talked to her directly) that a friend of mine was flashed on the jogging trail. A short, stocky guy in a gray track suit was hiding in the fringe of the woods and stepped out onto the trail as she approached and pulled down his pants. She'd seen him earlier in the week as well.

The police had been called as I was leaving the park, but this is a good reminder that it's never a bad idea for women to walk back through the forested areas with a buddy or a big dog. We've made a lot of strides toward safety in the last few decades in Overton Park, but urban forests by their nature in location and lack of visibility can occasionally be taken advantage of by creeps and dangerous people. I got flashed in a similar setting in Athens once -- a big, forested park just opposite the Acropolis. So be cautious, walk with a friend when possible, and call the police if there are any problems. We want this stuff on their radar.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Volunteer Reinforcements for Parks

The CA has a good story today on Joan Alperin, a volunteer landscaper at Fox Meadows Golf Course, one of the city-owned courses. She spends hours each week tending to the golf course and setting out plants for it. Outdoors, Inc. co-owner Joe Royer says that the park closest to your home is the most important park in the world.

Memphis parks are lucky to have various people adopt them and do a bit more tending and caretaking than the DPS budget can manage on its own. Lee Askew and Mary Allie McClellan have been long time daily litter gatherers on their morning walks through Overton Park. We've also been lucky enough to have different people clearing and maintaining Old Forest trails and the jogging trail. Overton Park manager Gary Basye cites Park Friends' volunteer efforts in the article.

Ms. Alperin makes the point that if everyone picked up just a bit of what they encounter in their daily lives, Memphis could be transformed. Please consider picking up a few pieces of litter, pulling a few weeds from flowerbeds, or doing other small services for the park that is most important to you. If many of us did a few small things regularly, our parks would become their best selves.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pink Palace Crafts Fair at Audubon

Glassware from Nancy Roarke above, and my husband Elmore Holmes demonstrating bowl carving below. Come by and say hi to us -- we'll be there all weekend.
Raku pottery by Bruce Odell. He's just across from us in the demonstration area and puts on a great show with open flame to get that amazing glaze texture.
The crafts fair continues today -- 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. Come out and see beautiful handmade works of all kinds!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Festival Day

Nuts! Over Art, the first annual family art festival, was put on jointly by Brooks, Memphis College of Art, RiverArts festival, and the Levitt Shell. Here's "Nutty", the mascot of the festival, rendered by one of the MCA professors.
There were artists demonstrating all day as well as a whole series of interactive art projects for kids. The piece below is a painting with encaustic (hot wax) by Mary Long-Postal.
The New Ballet Ensemble taught moonwalking and other dance moves to kids. The Park Friends booth had the best view of the ongoing dance lessons, and I highly enjoyed watching the professional dancers hanging out with the kids.
And in front of Brooks was a chalk art contest for kids. There was some beautiful work, but sadly the bride of the day made them wash it off before evening. I'd been hoping the walkers, joggers, and museum guests would be able to enjoy it for the rest of the weekend.
How would you not want this festive, colorful display adorning the entrance to your wedding?

WOOFSTOCK! Simultaneously on the Greensward was the dog and music festival. I never could get hold of a music line-up for them, but they had some great blues going when I walked over there.
Rescue groups were out in full force, including the local basset hound rescue group with the cutest greeters. I personally heard of a couple of adoptions, and I hope there were many more. All in all, it was a wonderful day out at the park.
Cameron Kitchin, the director of Brooks, told me someone came up to him and said, "Every day in the park should be like this!" He said that would be great, but that someone else would have to plan some of them. All of the hosts (and esp. co-chairs Lee Askew and Bunny Goldstein) worked amazingly hard on the art festival, and I'm sure there were lots of hardworking people putting on Woofstock as well. Many thanks to all of them as well as to all of you who volunteered and helped the day go beautifully.