Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meeting Recap

For those of you who couldn’t make it to CPOP’s first public meeting at Rhodes last week, here’s a play-by-play. A webbified version of our powerpoint presentation will be posted soon.

A steady stream of park lovers started coming in to Buckman Hall around 6:45pm as Naomi, Amy, Roy, and I feverishly got our kids settled, sign-in sheets properly displayed, the laptop hooked up, and the mood lighting adjusted. I took a few minutes to do an on-camera interview for Channel 5 News.

The dozen or so kids enjoyed healthy snacks, a screening of The Lorax, and a romp on the grounds with a lovely view of the Old Forest to the south...

... while the adults enjoyed a 7-minute powerpoint presentation and 45 minutes of lively discussion.

I’d say the highlights of the evening included Roy’s masterful use of Google Earth images, the sea of hands in the air, my kid running on stage, an impromptu speech by longtime park advocate Pepper Marcus, and the outpouring of support we got from the 75 people in attendance.

There was a lot of discussion about how we arrived where we are today — specifically, how the Memphis Zoo was able to clearcut four acres without any kind of public notice. Many people had questions concerning the Zoo’s structure, funding, and power.

It was great to be able to fill everyone in on all of the information we have gathered since February. There seemed to be a clear consensus among the crowd that the Memphis Zoo has no business cutting (or as the Zoo says, "developing") any more of our irreplaceable Old Forest.

We handed out 200 postcards for our supporters to mail to Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland, who currently serves as the Zoo Liaison and chairs the Parks Committee. (You can email him and/or let us know if you'd like to distribute postcards to your friends.) We also gave away our remaining "Down with Fence" stickers and most of our "Treehugger" stickers.

After the meeting and all the press surrounding it, our membership list has grown almost threefold. Don't worry, we'll order more stickers!

Speaking of press, Channel 5 News did give us some coverage Thursday evening, which was fantastic. However, they did flub one major detail. I nearly fell on the floor when I heard Joe Birch announce, “The Memphis Zoo has plans to develop the last 17 acres of Old Forest in Overton Park.”

I’m sure our friend Chuck Brady didn’t appreciate that one bit! Which might explain why the segment never made it onto the Channel 5 website...

Anyway, it was a great evening and I am looking forward to the day that the fence comes down and we have a unified Old Forest that is legally protected and open to all. Stay tuned!