When Chad Pregracke was selected CNN 2013 Hero of the Year, it was a win for all who support conservation and stewardship of America's rivers.
River Gator: Paddler’s Guide to the Lower Mississippi River is now complete, live, and interactive!!
This is the 1st-ever such guide written by and for canoeists, kayakers, and stand-up-paddleboarders. It includes maps, photos, detailed descriptions, and a reference index to quickly access any landing, town, island, back channel, or point of interest along the way. The Rivergator is open for public use, free of charge.
The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail, described by The Rivergator, is the longest free-flowing water trail in the continental United States, over 1155 miles from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico (including the Middle Miss from the Missouri River confluence). There are thousands of islands, backchannels, side channels and oxbow lakes to explore. The trail connects cities, states, public lands, festivals and all of the people and businesses found along the Lower Miss.
Link to River Gator
Link to article by Commercial Appeal journalist Tom Charlier and photographer Brad Vest as they travelled down River from Tamm's Landing in Lauderdale County to Mud Island to help launch the new online paddler's guide. (paywall)
The GreenPrint Plan is about Memphis and our region becoming smarter -- gathering data; mapping; discussing and analyzing challenges; and planning for a sustainable future.
Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about it, ask questions, share your ideas -
For more info. on the Mid-South Regional GreenPrint, click HERE.
Just recently, 19 local sub-projects have received grants to advance the vision of a sustainable region. Click HERE to see a list.
To knit the unique assets and experiences of the Memphis riverfront into a seamless and welcoming public landscape, planning for environmental conservation, sustainable infrastructure and long-term stewardship.
That's the goal of the Plan that won the 2013 Top Honor Award from the Waterfront Center in Washington, DC It's the Plan for Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA
Or what about this plan, another Award Winner?
First make the river more natural, including restoration of streams and improvement of storm water quality. Second, make the riverside more urban, including a balance of river recreation opportunities and maintenance of the working waterfront. Third, make the river more connected to citywide networks via trails, parkways and river boulevards.
That's the goal for the Great River Passage, 17 miles of the Mississippi River running through St. Paul, Minnesota.
In addition to the two plans above, nine projects in 6 categories were selected for awards this year:
Category: Environmental/Public Works -
Bala de Luanda Waterfront Requalification - Luanda, Angola
Category: Park/Walkway/Recreation -
Brooklyn Bridge Park - Brooklyn, NY
Curtis Hixon Park - Tampa, FL
Gloucester Harbor Walk, Gloucester, MA
Smother's Park - Owensboro, KY
Category: Artistic/Cultural/Educational -
Ghost Fish 107, Port of Los Angeles - San Pedro, CA
Category: Mixed Use -
Urban Renaissance and Execution of Wuxi Grand Canal Qingming Bridge Conservation Area, Wuxi , Jiangsu Province, China
Cobble Garden, Surfer's Point, Managed Shoreline Retreat, Ventura, CA
Category: Clearwater Award -
Esplanade 2020, a Vision for the Future, the Ad-Hoc Esplanade Work Group, Boston, Mass.
Click HERE to see the Award Winners and to learn more about the Waterfront Center.
There's been a breakdown in enforcing design and sign guidelines in Memphis, from Highland, through Midtown, down to the riverfront. Classified as the most restrictive zone downtown and the area the public felt should be most natural, the riverfront may be seeing the worst of it.
As Tom Jones of Smart City writes for Oct.'s Memphis Magazine: "To the south the original architectural design of Beale Street Landing, with its gentle, sloping roof, has been devastated." We have only seen the drawings of Bass Pro's signs that are headed for the Pyramid and Pinch areas, but they seem so large and inappropriate that the only alternative to tears is to laugh along with Davis Chritopher in his parody of downtown projects for the Flyer.
But signs don't have to destroy places. In an ad campaign for IBM's Smart Ideas for Smarter Cities, Ogilvy created functional outdoor advertising - a bench, a shelter, a stair ramp - with color and curve.
|Chickasaw Bluff Conservancy|
To learn more about Memphis's Bluffwalk and the Chickasaw Bluff Conservancy, click HERE.
Anne Whalen Shafer has played a major, substantive role in the life of our city, and Friends for Our Riverfront is particularly appreciative of her advocacy and commitment to ensuring public access to our waterfront and the creation of the Bluffwalk.
A lifelong community activist, Mrs. Shafer served as Chairman of the Memphis City Beautiful Commission 1964 - 1966 and in her own gentle way "rearranged the furniture" and received recognition for integrating City Hall.
Mrs. Shafer was a delegate to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention in 1965, and in 1966 was honored by Lady Bird Johnson as one of 9 Democratic “Women Doer’s” in the United States for her efforts in city beautification. She served on the Panel of American Women, President of the Memphis Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Church Women United and was head of the Memphis Chapter of the United Nations Association.
Obituary in Commercial Appeal, HERE,
2008 Video Interview, HERE
"Memphis Instruments of Peace: How Volunteers and Visionaries Challenged Racism, Reactionary Politicians and the Catholic Hierarchy" by Anne Shafer, HERE
Editorial: Memphis Women carried on MLK's work, HERE.
It maps every inch of protected open space in Davidson County and charts a community based vision for how to protect and connect the green infrastructure. It includes
- strategies for Nashville to improve and protect drinking water; increase access to local, sustainable food; make it easier for people to bike, walk and play; protect scenic and historic places from disappearing to development
- 27 recommendations that range from the simple (put signs on trails so people know they exist) to the ambitious (double the tree canopy downtown over 10 years). It calls for connecting open space in the four corners of Davidson County through a network of protected lands at key points along the Cumberland River, including a greener downtown.
“With thousands of acres a day lost to development, we don’t have time for plans that grow dusty on shelves,” Allen says. “We need to make the smart decisions now.”
"Nashville: Naturally" Open Space Plan. Download the 7.2 MB pdf file HERE.
We've picked 1 day - Saturday, Sept. 21 - to show you some of the great things you can do downtown this time of year. Start the day off with a cup of organic coffee and a fresh muffin at 7 am and find yourself dancing at midnight, all within a block or so of the River.
Memphis Farmer’s Market, 7am - 1 pm. (S. Front at G.E. Patterson). Fresh produce, flowers, downtown neighbors, and always something special. On the 21st there's story-time, pet adoptions, and 3 different musicians. Click HERE.
Downtown Bicycle Ride. 9 am. (Start: Central Station Pavilion, G. E. Patterson). Take a fun, leisurely ride through Downtown led by Bill Draper. Free. Helmets required. Click HERE for more information.
|"A beautiful city, nobly situated on a commanding bluff overlooking the River." - Mark Twain|
Some key points that effect our riverfront:
- Planning for conservation is as essential as planning for development, in fact, it can alleviate some of the stresses when planning for future development.
- Place-making is important. People come back and spend their money in places that attract their affection, and the natural approach can be the cost effective approach.
- You can place a value on a scenic view.
- Charleston, S.C. Mayor Riley: "We should give the best of the city to everyone." Creating valuable public spaces can improve overall property values and add to your city's sense of place.
- Tourism is all about being unique. Memphis needs to keep what makes it unique and that includes its old buildings and conservation areas.
- For a city to survive you need a healthy downtown, and you need historic preservation.
It's a great chance to see and hear what other cities are doing on their waterfronts - what's working around the world and why - and we hope you'll join us at the conference, Sept. 25 - 28.
This year's conference is a bit different. The Waterfront Center of DC and River Action, Inc. of the Quad Cities are collaborating to schedule and combine their conferences. You can attend one, both, or parts of both. Click HERE to access a pdf file with details. It can also be reached via the Waterfront Center website.
The Waterfront Center was formed in 1981 to study waterfronts and to help cities define and transform what were often abandoned, underused areas for a wide array of uses, from parks and trails to mixed-use, residential, and industrial projects. In 1999, they were hired by the City of Memphis to lead public workshops on our riverfront. This conference could be the start of getting us back on track, and we hope you'll think about attending.
It may be a seven hour drive to Bentonville from Memphis, and it's not a River town, but, WOW, they're doing a lot of things right there.
The authentic town square is alive day and night. The 1st Walton store has been preserved; there are offices and several restaurants to choose between; and a farmers' market on Saturdays.
A plaza has been added that works as a water playground by day, a cinema by night, and, in the winter, it becomes an ice skating rink.
A boutique hotel, 21c Museum Hotel, is getting rave reviews in publications from the "Huffington Post" to "Travel + Leisure." And it's not just a hotel with an excellent dining room and bar, it's also an art museum.
And then, of course, there's Crystal Bridges, which houses one of the world's best collections of American art and is drawing visitors from nearby towns and cities around the world. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the building is suspended from cables and set into nature. No big signs here, but there is outdoors art, paths for walkers and bikers, and grounds planted with native species. No parking problems, either; most people walk the 1/3 mile path from the town plaza to the museum.
Chicago's lakefront is lined with pathways, parks, and public institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago. Last year attention switched to the Chicago River as Chicagoans and 12 designers from Harvard considered the river's potential to serve as a recreation, education, and transportation component of the city.
"12 DESIGNERS, 12 VISIONS / Harvard GSD" 08 Apr 2012. Harvard GSD “Waterline” studio led by Phil Enquist of SOM.
"12 DESIGNERS, 12 VISIONS / Harvard GSD" 08 Apr 2012. Harvard GSD “Waterline” studio led by Phil Enquist of SOM.
"Much like Lake Michigan is Chicago's front yard, the Chicago River is our backyard. It should be an asset that people across the city enjoy, not avoid."
While the Riverfront Development Corporation continues a search for someone to run a restaurant at the $43 Million Beale Street Landing and construction plods along to landscape its two roughly $10 million "islets" (Beale Street Landing, Phase 4B), Memphians Otis Sanford, Susan Adler Thorpe, and David Kustoff begin to question what went wrong and who's responsible. Click to watch:
"Informed Sources: Beale Street Landing Fiasco"
For more info. about project overruns and delays, Council votes, what happened and when, scroll through articles HERE.
An article in the Commercial Appeal has reported that the Delta Queen may leave its berth in Chattanooga and once again be allowed to carry overnight passengers on the Mississippi. Click HERE (paywall) for the story.
Here's a photo by Alan Spearman of the great sternwheeler docked in 2006 at Mud Island River Park in Memphis's Wolf River Harbor.
And for fun, some thoughts of nestling in on board.
UPDATE: Downtown Memphis Commission’s Design Review Board voted 5 -1 to approve Bass Pro's exterior Pyramid signs. Click HERE.
Since these proposals will dominate the downtown and riverfront viewscape for the foreseeable future, please examine the details to insure that this meets with your approval. Click HERE for Bass Pro's application & DRB staff's report.
Here are a few photos from the application and the map that shows proposed locations for the signs.
|5-story structure for Front Street with digital ad/event signs facing N & S|
|entryway near TN Visitor's Center|
|monument style sign|
|map to indicate sign locations|
|bowling alley sign|
|for S, E, & W faces of Pyramid, each the size of 10 large highway billboards, silver & green halo light|
If you have suggestions or comments, the DRB meeting will be open to the public or you mail email your comments to Brett Roler <email@example.com> .
Two new historic markers share some Memphis riverfront history and tell a family story to boot. Erected 2013 by the Shelby County Historical Commission, the Astor family of Memphis and the descendents of Charles Vincent Garavelli.
Astor Park -
Yes, the Memphis Astors are kin to John Jacob Astor, the New York financier and 1st U. S. multi-millionaire. He amassed his fortune by establishing a global fur trading empire, and therein lies his connection to the Mississippi River and our Bluff City.
In the early days of colonial America, the River served as a major route for exploration and commerce, and Astor established a trading post at the top of Memphis's bluff near Beale Street. By 1823 explorers and commerce had headed farther west, and the Astoria Fur Company had given their building and land, which extended to the river's edge, to the city. The land remained undeveloped and, according to newspaper reports, was gradually eroding. In the 1930s when Riverside Drive was being constructed, the eroded land, between Beale and Linden, was visible at low water. In 1938 the city created a park on the land at the foot of Beale and named it Astor Park in recognition of the original land gift. Later as landfill was added to create Tom Lee Park, Astor Park was encompassed in the larger park, and the name disappeared from maps.
Memphis Boat Supply -
Jump to the 1950s, and the Astor connection to River commerce was still intact. Charles Vincent Garavelli, who had married a Memphis Astor relative, owned and operated the Memphis Boat Supply. The floating store served river traffic and was moored at the foot of Beale.
Historian Vincent Astor, author of "Memphis Movie Theatres" who receives much credit for saving the Orpheum Theater, has been instrumental in documenting and sharing this piece of Memphis riverfront history. Thank you, Vincent!
The water was up. The times were faster. It was a great morning on the riverfront - on water and on land - at the 32nd annual Outdoors Inc. Canoe & Kayak Race!
There'll be fireworks on the Memphis riverfront (around 10 pm at Mud Island River Park) and in cities all across America. But this year eyes will focus particularly on on New York harbor - Lady Libery will re-open!
Sandy flooded the 12-acre island on which the statue stands with surges as high as 8 feet, but Lady Liberty was spared. Hundreds of National Park Service workers from all over America spent weeks cleaning mud and debris, plus numerous other recovery efforts. The statue was dedicated in 1886 and welcomes about 3.5 million visitors.
"His voice -- a rich, crystalline howl -- was a pure expression of his soul, but the purity in Sid Selvidge was not limited to his art. Selvidge, a veteran Memphis musician, producer of the Beale Street Caravan radio show, and a cultural force in the Bluff City for five decades, died early Thursday morning (5/2) at Methodist University Hospital after a long battle with cancer. " (Bob Mehr for The Commercial Appeal)
We will all miss Sid for many reasons, among those his commitment to our City. Friends felt particularly honored that he donated his talent to the "Save Our Riverfront" CD with his beautiful song "Miss the Mississippi and You."
Sid helped spread the blues worldwide; his Blues Caravan aired on 300 U.S. stations, on NPR international throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, and on networks in Australia and New Zealand, attracting about 2.4 million listeners per week worldwide to the music that put our City and region on the world map. Thanks, Sid. We miss you.
Responding to complaints by blufftop residents that trees were blocking their view, the City and Riverfront Development Corporation sent trucks and crews to the Bluff on Saturday morning (4/20) to cut down 25 trees.
Several people were shocked to see the trees gone, apparently without any public notice or review.
"Officials say the planned removal of 25 trees from the bluff section of the Riverwalk is not for the benefit of residents in high-dollar homes overlooking the Mississippi River, although a study associated with the project was triggered in part by residential complaints about obstructed views," acording to an article in the Commercial Appeal. That study was prepared January 2013 by JPA, Inc. and also included other suggestions for maintenance of the Bluffwalk area.
Strangely, four days earlier, the City Council had approved members to a Memphis Tree Board to advise the City on "the stewardship of public trees, promote public awareness programs of the positive contributions of trees in the community,...." The new board is composed of Mark Follis, PHD, ISA Certified Arborist; Westly Hopper, ISA Cerfitied Arborist; Eldra White, Memphis City Beautiful; Christopher O.Brian, Certified Arborist; Eric Bridges, SAT Certified Arborist; and Andree Glen, BOMA Certified RPA, FMA.
"Fish Story" is an environmental art project. It's participatory, which means involving the public to look at what's happening around us and to see what we can do to make a difference.
Artist Aviva Rahmani doesn't live in Memphis, but she sees our city, sitting in the middle of the 3rd largest floodplain in the world, as a nexus for change. According to Ms. Rahmani and the scientists involved in this project, fish in our rivers (the Ghost, Wolf, and Mississippi) reflect human challenges. As fish go, so go people.
Take part in "Fish Story." Free. All ages invited.
Tues., May 7, 7 - 7"30 pm at Crosstown Arts
Fri., May 10, 5 - 8 pm at Memphis College of Art
Sat., May 11, 2 - 3 pm at Memphis College of Art
Chad Pregracke has been named a CNN Hero for his commitment to our River. For the past three years, he and his Living Lands and Waters volunteers have visited Memphis each spring. With local volunteers from the University of Memphis (the River Warriors) and others, they've tackled the debris in McKellar Lake and our industrial port.
The scale was smaller when local Memphis volunteer groups and individuals hooked together to give downtown a spring cleaning, but the intention was the same. As Pregracke says, it's about more than conservation, it's about "creating a chance for people to go out there and do something positive."
|Hook Up to Clean Up - on Memphis Cobblestone Landing (click to enlarge)|
|(click to enlarge)|
Sat., Apr. 13
10am - 1pm
Kicks off at AutoZone Park/Redbirds Stadium
& there's an after party with food & music back at the park, too.
Free parking in garage @ 250 Peabody Place. (Print & bring flyer.)
Free parking in garage @ 250 Peabody Place. (Print & bring flyer.)
For more info. & to register ahead of time, click HERE.