Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Movement Called Save Libertyland

It's amazing the amount of work the group called Save Libertyland have produced. They have:
And that's all I can think of. There's almost certainly more.

For its part the City of Memphis has
  • gutted Libertyland -- in other words, destroyed.
  • paid a consultant $27,000 to produce this report [pdf!] and some architectural illustrations. The report is interesting and is neutral on the issue of Libertyland (it is one of the possible uses). However, I don't think the City has implemented a single idea in the report.
Outside of that, they haven't built, or conceptualized, or visualized anything, except maybe in their own head. Even a new stadium, a $150 million dollar undertaking at the least, has almost no specifics or visuals attached to it.

Citizens without much money have done much. Politicians and bureaucrats with much money and much power have done little -- nothing! And I'm being charitable because destruction is less than nothing.

I don't think Save Libertyland is an isolated phenomenon. I think they're the Memphis vanguard of a movement. It's a movement that an MIT conference, Beyond Broadcast 2007, just finished addressing. The conference's hypothesis, that the skills that emerge in the course of participating in pop culture can become powerful forces when translated into tools of civic engagement is a template for Save Libertyland, 'cept SL predates that hypothesis.

Long Live Libertyland!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

I like the comparison of the citizen brigade versus the big city government. Nice storyline that tells an interesting tale.

As for the $27K report, time will tell regarding it's impact. I would imagine government is much slower to react compared to a focused citizen group however. So, the final outcome is still to come.

Meanwhile, LibertyLand rusts away.

The best point was regarding the active citizen groups honing some wonderful PR skills in civic tussles. I'd love to think that all these disparate action groups evolve into new movements when the time is right or band together when the time is critical.

I'd love to see a report on what some of these single-issue citizen groups do after their issue is dead. Do they move on to another movement? Do they fade away?

Obviously, a fight to save LibertyLand can evolve into a fight for just about any civic-minded improvement project. These management skills are not mutually exclusive.

Do these "backyard" issues only temporarily foment local backlash and neighbors taking up arms? Do these empowered citizens take up other fights? Or do they go back to American Idol once the issue moves from their backyard?

11:42 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Michael,
what would be more perfect than groups pitted, opposed to each other, is for the city to really work with groups like that -- use their energy and enthusiasm -- to make things happen. It doesn't happen now because the City, like so many other Memphis and non-Memphis organizations, is in love with their half-to-in-effective command-and-control hierarchic structures.

Even if it's obvious, provable, that orgs like the City Hall never produce anything that tracks near the amount of money they spend, they can't let go.

Regarding where groups like SL go from here, the ubiquity and currency of connection and the searchability of their work will keep these groups' work moving forward, perhaps mashed up with new issues, even if the individual participants drop by the wayside.

Or so says all of me.

3:23 PM  

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