Levitt Shell Hosts Celebration for Transplant Donors, Recipients

The Levitt Shell Sunday will be the setting for the Mid-South Transplant Foundation’s Linking Hands for Life celebration at the Levitt Shell.

The free event, which kicks off at 2 p.m., will feature a medley of music, dance and theatre performances by Billy Rivers, Red Hot Lindy Hop, Star & Micey, Hattiloo Theatre, The Westmoreland String Band and Tonya Dyson.

Also during the event, Mid-South organ, tissue and blood donors and recipients will join hands in a symbolic chain representing the cycle of life. Biodegradable balloons will be given to all to be released in memory and thanksgiving of those who gave the gift of life.

Linking Hands for Life will take place Sunday rain or shine, and the public is encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Food vendors will be available on site.

Visit www.MidsouthTransplant.org for more information.

Taking a Wrecking Ball – to CVS?

The wrecking ball has now demolished the Union Avenue Methodist Church that once stood at Union and Cooper, which now will be home to a CVS pharmacy.

Meanwhile, consumer groups are ratcheting up the pressure for someone to take a wrecking ball to the drugstore chain and pharmacy benefits manager itself.

The four-year-old, $27 billion merger that resulted in CVS Caremark is the subject of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission as well as a probe by the attorneys general of 24 states. Earlier this week, five consumer groups wrote a letter to the FTC chairman blasting the merger as harmful to consumers.

According to this New York Times article, the group accuses the chain of using confidential patient information from Caremark to direct customers to CVS pharmacies.

And in late March, Citigroup analysts suggested the company would be worth more split up, also according to the NYT.

The company’s position is that it is reducing costs and “improving health outcomes.”

Blackburn Votes No on Gov’t Funding Bill That Averted Shutdown

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., was one of 59 Republicans who voted today against the bill that was the subject of frantic negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama to fund the government through the remainder of this fiscal year and avert a government shutdown.

Here’s her statement of why:

 

“This is a vote that I struggled with. It is very difficult for a fiscal conservative to vote against spending reductions, no matter how small. I certainly understand that many of my colleagues voted “yes” in the knowledge that cutting spending is an important priority, no matter the level. Still, in the final calculation I am confident that I cannot tell Tennesseans exactly how much we have cut, or from where, or for how long. Tennesseans want our spending driven debt crisis resolved before it overwhelms our country. This measure could only have been a first start at the effort, but it was important that we made a strong first start. We move now from cutting millions and billions to cutting trillions. In voting no, I want to send a very clear message that only strong, solid, measures to cut spending and reconcile debt will pass the House with my vote.”

Memphians Who Play Together

On a Daily News assignment last week, I had the opportunity to explore the new Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park during a members-only preview. That story quickly became our most read, a testament to the excitement surrounding the launch of the one-of-a-kind, sustainable, family-friendly project at one the nation’s largest urban parks, as well as to Memphians’ growing appetite for all things green.

As a reporter, I was especially interested in the innovative, environmentally friendly design of the Woodland Discovery Playground, a pilot project of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, whose goal is to create more sustainable landscapes by bringing LEED-type certifications to landscapes.

But as a parent, I truly began to appreciate what the park’s latest addition means for the city’s children and their families over the weekend while watching my energetic three-year-old daughter explore the playground. As she raved about the slides and swings, and about the new friends with whom she played in the sand nest, I thought about what Shelby Farms Park executive director Laura Adams had told me earlier in the week: “The kids are saying it best themselves with the way that they’re using it.”

Two things about the new playground stood out for me, the first being its inclusiveness. The playscape offers something of value for every child. While toddlers and preschoolers gravitated towards creatively stimulating sand and water features, older children were attracted to the playground’s more physically challenging features, including fast slides, interconnected swings and climbing nets set up with the goal of reaching tree house platforms. In addition, there are areas accessible to children with physical disabilities (which sadly, isn’t the norm at most playgrounds).

The other thing that struck me about Woodland Discovery Playground was the diversity of its usership. The melting pot of our city was evident as parents of African, European, Latino, Middle Eastern, Indian and Southeast Asian ancestry snapped photos and engaged in conversation while their little ones played together. In a city where conversation centered on the things that divide us has for so long been the norm, Shelby Farms Park’s recent projects — first the opening of the Greenline in the fall and now the new playground — have served to bring Memphians just a little bit closer together.

Initiatives such as these also help to solidify the city’s reputation as one that embraces families, an attribute that stands to serve Memphis well in terms of attracting and retaining jobs and talent. While many families this past weekend checked out the Woodland Discovery Playground, others headed to Mud Island, where Memphis-n-Romp kicked off its season of family concerts, and to the Levitt Shell for Frolic, a kid-friendly, rock-n-roll spring fling. Still others attended Memphis Redbirds Kids Opening Day, and celebrated the Memphis Grizzlies big win at the FedEx Forum.

Another creative community highlight was the Memphis Music Foundation’s Memphis Music Launch Weekend. The event blended the city’s talented, multi-faceted music industry folks – those “whose only previous connection might have been sharing an area code,” as stated on the organization’s Facebook page – into one seriously creative melting pot to brainstorm new ideas and produce new material.

And like the beloved music that helps to bridge the city’s divides, child’s play unites Memphians of all ages and from all walks of life to think creatively and share our experiences in order to enrich our wider community.

As Adams told me last week at the playground, “Let the play begin.”

Memphis 101

A week from today, The Leadership Academy will host an event called Memphis 101 from 3-5 p.m. at the Urban Child Institute, 600 Jefferson Avenue.

Described as “an eye-opening, inspiring look at the story behind the story of Memphis; Candid, compelling, enlightening. Memphis 101 is an interactive crash course in Memphis culture, people and politics revealing why Memphis is the place it is today and how our history impacts where we are headed.”

Whether you’re a native Memphian or recent transplant, the event promises to offer fresh perspectives on the Bluff City’s unique personality.

Memphis 101 was developed by archer>malmo and exclusively licensed by The Leadership Academy, whose mission is to recruit, cultivate and engage diverse talent in order to move Memphis forward.

The event is free, but seating is limited and attendees must reserve online.

Dansette

google