Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Problem

I was riding in the elevator at work the other day and a coworker said to me, "I saw you on TV. I guess it was awhile ago... I didn't realize there was a park next to the Zoo."

My eyes inadvertently bugged out and I said, "Really?" (I think his use of the word "park" rather than "forest" is what threw me for a loop.)

Now defensive, he said, "I'm not from around here."

Trying to recover from my rudeness, I said, "The Old Forest is really amazing. You should come on a CPOP hike." I smiled a lot and hoped he didn't think I was a total a-hole.

After running this conversation through my mind a bit, I realized that a lot of people don't realize that there's an Old Forest -- or even a Greensward, Rainbow Lake, etc. -- next to the Memphis Zoo.

Unless you live in Midtown and like parks, or visit Midtown regularly and like parks, it's likely that most of Overton Park is a mystery to you.

That's a problem. People aren't going to stand up and fight for something they don't even know exists!

Which is exactly why I think the Old Forest needs its own marketing campaign. All around Overton Park you see nice banners and road signs for the Zoo, the Brooks, MCA, and now the Levitt Shell. I'd like to see a few of those panels dedicated to the Old Forest. As of now there's just a small brown sign with binoculars on it notifying people of a "Wildlife Viewing Area."

CPOP is applying for a Community Foundation grant, in order to develop a marketing campaign for the Old Forest. We want everyone to know about this amazing old-growth forest in the heart of our city, so that everyone will have a chance to love and appreciate it like we do.

Keep your fingers crossed.