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Misery, danger and damn good bar-b-q

RE-POSTED – Originally posted October 15, 2010

I was born in Memphis.  I have moved away twice and returned to live here.  The bar-b-q is not the only thing brought me back and will keep me here the rest of my days.   Forbes gave Memphis the number 3 spot on its America’s Most Miserable Cities list back in February.  This week Forbes rated Memphis #1 among the Country’s Most Dangerous Cities.

So what’s going on here?  Is the sheer misery of life overwhelming Memphians?  Are we living in a state of anarchy where crime trumps law and order?  Are we crazy for choosing to live here?  While the suburbanites may smirk at the Forbes stories as they enjoy their lifestyles funded by Memphis’ commerce, most of the folks I know are happy to be in Memphis, many happier than they ever thought they would be.  We are in sync with Memphis’ unique culture – the culture of a true melting pot city, with the bonus of southern hospitality and manners.  Memphis is a city with a lot to offer.

I am not writing this post as a Convention and Visitors Bureau or Chamber of Commerce piece.  The positive, fun, safe, educational, entertainment, and cultural aspects of Memphis life are easy to research.

Imagine being a real estate agent specializing in in-city properties.  How would  you respond the Forbes stories?  How would you sell Memphis to someone relocating or considering moving here?  I would love to see your responses.  For me a driving tour with lunch at an authentic Memphis bar-b-q spot seems to be the perfect introduction.

photo: Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike by Marlon Bunday

Miserable city – great housing market

The day after Forbes.com declared Memphis the number 3 Most Miserable City USA, raising the hackles of local politicians and the My Memphis Right or Wrong loyalists, Forbes came back with their next list rating Memphis number 6 in America’s Best Housing Markets.

This is the text of Forbes’ post

Forbes.com - America's Best Housing Markets
“It takes more than just low foreclosures, housing affordability or even rising house prices on their own to form a good real estate market. The country’s best markets have all three of those in spades: housing is accessible to middle-income families, a glut of foreclosures isn’t dragging prices down, and median home sale prices are on the rise–or at least falling less than elsewhere in the country. Using data from The National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, Moody’s Economy.com and RealtyTrac, Forbes crunched the numbers to find the country’s best housing markets. Click to see if your city is on the list.”

Memphis has a “Housing Opportunity Index of 82.5 and  2.8% of Housing Units in Foreclosure, according to the article.

Congressman Steve Cohen

Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time navigating the Forbes site.  Seems that you have to click through a lot of pages and get served up lots of ads before you get to your destination.  Obviously Forbes is paying attention to Memphis.  And I am sure Mr. Forbes, by now has heard Congressman Cohen’s 60 second rant to Congress about the Misery article, which, by the way, started with Bar-B-Q  (Memphis’ truly transcendent asset) and ending with offering  Forbes an eye exam at SouthernCollege of Optometry.

Any predictions on the next list that will include Memphis?  Or, more importantly,  do you have any ideas on how I can use the Misery Factor to sell more houses?

Oh, and if your are not miserable enough yet, here is Forbes list of the 400 Richest Americans (compiled in September, 2009).  Once again, I didn’t make the list.

Misery


The pundits and politicians have been buzzing and posturing since last week’s Forbes article citing Memphis as number 3 among America’s 10 most miserable cities.  While Mayor Wharton whittles away at quality of life issues, and preaches that Memphis must control it’s own message and tell it’s own story; and Congressman Cohen challenges Steve Forbes to come down and have a look at Memphis, few seem to have even read the internet post of the article, citing Memphis’  high crime, high foreclosure, high unemployment, and high political corruption rates.

The message that Mayor Wharton should be thinking about fashioning should not the product of some PR hack, cranking out the usual  FedEx, Graceland, St. Jude, Mississippi River, and music copy.  If Wharton, Cohen, Herenton, or anyone else wants to send a real message, it should be a message of change – not “let’s build a new convention center,” but “let’s learn to collaborate to make Memphis great”.  Memphis is a town of great diversity, but that diversity does not have to be divisive, nor does collaboration always have to be trumped by competition and power plays.  Memphis’ lack of collaboration has allowed charlatans and snake oil salesmen to exploit this city since it’s early days.  I don’t think Memphis can forge an image until it has a Vision.  And I am not talking about a vision espoused by a handful of politicians, business folks, and marketers.  Memphians are willing to accept mediocrity, or misery, because it is the status quo.  We have had a long running dearth of leadership.  We are going to have to start feeling better about ourselves and seeing more light at the end of the tunnel before we can move forward.

Memphis’ best PR Person

Memphis best PR person is not a seasoned PR guru, politician, musician, or athlete, but a 20-something blogger.  Kerry Crawford produces the I Love Memphis Blog.  Go check it out, and get over some of that misery.

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