Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where have all the Young Professionals gone?

Where have all the Young Professionals gone? Well, nowhere, at least not necessarily and certainly not all of them. Memphis is full of Young Professionals, a thriving group who is active in making the city a better place.

But some of them do leave the city for reasons too many to count. Or maybe not. Maybe the reasons are simple and trivial. Discovering why YPs are leaving the city, that's the mission I now find myself on.

As a board member of MPACT Memphis, an organization devoted to fostering civic, social and cultural engagement in the Memphis community among YPs, I'm on a fact-finding mission to discover why these people important to the betterment of Memphis are leaving. YPs are leaving the city, whether it's for family, jobs, to be closer to the beach or who knows what other reason.

Some are quite valid. How could I possibly argue with someone who needs to live closer to a sick family member? Or maybe someone grew up in Memphis, attended college here and decided they just wanted to try out a different city for a while? I actually did that myself. But I came back.

What about those people out there who moved because of a perceived lack of jobs, lack of confidence in government, concerns over high taxes or unsure about property values? Maybe they were concerned about crime rates.

If we can discover some of the reasons YPs have been leaving Memphis, not to mention some of the reasons others have chosen to stay, maybe we can figure out ways to keep more YPs in town. After all, Memphis can use their creative juices and energy to make this city a better place.

I need your help on this mission. The only people who can tell us why Young Professionals leave Memphis are the YPs themselves. So I need contact information. Your friends, former coworkers, fraternity brothers, cousins, brothers, sisters -- anyone in the 20- to 40-year-old range who has moved from Memphis I need your help in getting in touch with them. If I could send them just a few questions asking their thoughts about leaving the city, it could go a long way in helping us find ways in the future to keep YPs like them here.

So post on this blog, tweet me or send me an e-mail at or

Monday, February 14, 2011

The importance of Arcade Fire's GRAMMY win

Good for Arcade Fire.

I’m reacting to Arcade Fire’s win for best album at last night’s GRAMMY Awards while I sample a live album of The Avett Brothers. Yes, I own and like Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” album. It’s really good, actually.

I’m not here to write about the quality of “The Suburbs” or anything against the artists’ work that Arcade Fire was up against. What I am here to say, and it is apropos as I listen to The Avett Brothers, is that this was a major win for independent music.

I refer to The Avett Brothers – and Mumford and Sons might fit this as well – because if you think about it, what radio station does a band like The Avett Brothers fit? It’s a bit folk, a bit rock at times, lots of banjo and some strings mixed in with wonderful lyrics and solid voices.

I wonder how many GRAMMY viewers were familiar with The Avett Brothers last night. But there’s a lot of great music out there that “mainstream” music listeners are never exposed to. And that’s too bad.

Let me say there is nothing wrong with listening to “mainstream” music if that’s what you enjoy. I mean, I love U2 and they’ve been pretty mainstream through the years.

But my point is by awarding this Best Album GRAMMY to Arcade Fire it opens the conversation to the many wonderful independent artists out there making great music.

Sure, some of it might seem pretty wacky. I certainly am not a fan of all indie music. But the majority of what I do listen to is not found on mainstream radio. I hear it on satellite radio – Sirius XMU and the Loft mostly – and read about it on music blogs and magazines.

The funny thing is I own Arcade Fire’s album and do enjoy it. But it was not my favorite of the year. But that’s OK. I’m just happy this band from Canada was recognized last night.

And while many people were asking on Twitter “who the hell are these guys” I bet at least some of those same people today are looking into the group. Who knows, maybe it will then turn those people onto some other “obscure” bands they’ve never heard of.

And discovering new artists and expanding our horizons is one of the great joys in life. Or at least I think so.