Memphis is transforming public and civic spaces across the city with a focus on breaking down barriers, connecting to nature and creating new value for Memphians. What started at the Mississippi River, with the historic Cossitt Library, River Line Trail, River Garden and Fourth Bluff Park, is spreading to become a citywide movement of diverse neighborhoods and organizations, all operating in different geographies and on different scales, yet working together with one common goal.
Memphis Civic Commons collaborative is transforming public and civic spaces – and the way that they are designed, programmed, managed and measured – to break down barriers between Memphians, to inspire civic engagement, to connect people to nature and to create new value.
With demonstration projects complete in The Fourth Bluff, a citywide collaborative will begin operating in a diverse set of neighborhoods and conditions. While the focus and scale of the work is different from place to place, the approach is similar and aligned.
In Memphis, the goal of Reimagining the Civic Commons is to create a set of connected, thriving civic assets that become places where citizens of various backgrounds who might not ordinarily meet come together. Great design, a new, welcoming approach to public space management and compelling programs and events give reason to gather and linger in community with one another. This civic commons can help Memphians develop a shared understanding of our history and a shared vision for the city’s future.
Throughout this work, local leaders are gathering lessons and a shared set of data that can tell a citywide story of the commons and provide pointers for collaborators.
The project connects neighbors and neighborhoods to one another, influences funding streams and changes public perception of excellent public space. As a city with a rich history that struggles with racial and economic segregation exacerbated by urban sprawl, Memphis seeks to design and create common spaces where the diverse population can come together and shape the future of the city.
Learn more about the powerful impacts of Memphis’ work to reimagine civic assets in our report, The Power of the Commons.
Downtown Memphis Commission
Hyde Family Foundations
Memphis Public Libraries
Overton Park Conservancy