Thursday, July 24, 2008

The White Rose Rebellion

A member of the "White Rose Rebellion" sent me this picture and a copy of a handout they passed out last Saturday at the Memphis Zoo entrance. The group's tagline is: "The white rose - resist complacency! Dare to think!"

How much zoo can we afford?
When will zoo tickets go to 20 dollars or more?

Every day the Memphis Zoo pays thousands of dollars to China for the two pandas it has LEASED as a status symbol. That bleeds more than $100 an hour, night and day, rain or shine until 2013. The original $3 pay-per-view scheme was dropped, while zoo ticket prices rose from 10 to 13 dollars. Although the math is obvious, the 30% ticket increase was (officially) explained away with rising costs at the zoo. We all have reason to be concerned as the zoo keeps expanding and building! We should boldly question the costly decisions of the zoo CEO who himself is paid more than $150,000 annually (not counting his expense account and other perks and benefits).

Ticket sales and memberships make up only a portion of the zoo’s total budget and the city (all of us) still pays millions in subsidies. The zoo continues to expand into the old forest with new expensive attractions, while many of ‘the old animal collections’ languish in outdated exhibits. Somebody has the priorities wrong! The regular zoo employees are underpaid, their shifts are rumored to have been cut and consolidated. Turn-over is high! Expect the animals to pay a price too!

One of the new attractions being build, called ‘Teton Trek’ brought the destruction of more than four acres of ancient forest. This has caused uproar throughout Memphis and even brought the revival of a 70’s group protecting Overton Park. Claims of an allegedly ‘transparent 20-year master-plan’ are contradicted by interviews in 2006, after a large corporate donation to the zoo. Here the zoo director ditches existing ‘modest previous plans’ for grander schemes, keeping details in a shroud of secrecy. No hearings – no public input! Never asking permission to CLEAR-CUT to bare dirt, but expecting forgiveness, is an old political trick, which SO FAR has worked. (We are proud of the Memphis men and women, who achieved a Supreme Court ruling in 1971, protecting the ancient, perpetual forest of Overton Park.)

The Memphis Zoo is still one of the better ones in the country, but it is slipping away from us. It is out of touch with the community, getting less affordable and obsessed with dubious ATTRACTION building schemes. Any zoo claim ‘to be guardians of conservation and protection of the natural world’ has a hollow ring now.

Memphis needs to hold public officials accountable. The costly mistakes and slick deceptions keep adding up. What about the missing FEDEX-FORUM parking garage floor? And who is paying the upkeep and mortgage on an empty PYRAMID, our sad landmark? We all are, not just with high city taxes! Our schools come up short, with crime and corruption in the city out of control. LET’S SPEAK UP!

Let’s axe the hacks, who bust the trust!

Very interesting. Our contact in the White Rose Rebellion said they plan to continue this type of direct action in the future.

And speaking of spinoff groups, I've been seeing these stickers around town for awhile:

It finally occurred to me to do a Google search. Not only did I find that awesome picture on Rebecca Sikes' Flickr page, but I found out that the Lorax and his posse have a MySpace account.

I don't even have a MySpace account!

Check it out.


Bernhard Meck said...

I saw those protesters myself. And there were quite a few people stopping and thanking them for making a stand.
The sad bottom-line though is: it got virtually no attention by the media. Does that mean politically motivated grafitti/vandalism gets you further in Memphis? Obviously, since this city is the nation's leader in property crime and almost the murder champ of the nation! No wonder nobody even knows about what happened to the park. I myself didn't hear about it until June! Did I mention that in winter I find the Commercial Appeal a wonderful resource to start my wood-burning fireplace? And I never watch the local news anymore on account they are depressing. Kinda like the story of that hack who cut a forest and got away with it and nobody cares! Or do they? Oh yeah, I bet it is not 'news-worthy'!