Your Town. Our Town.
Despite being a relatively large city, Memphis has a surprisingly strong community-oriented mindset, something we don’t experience as much in New York.
In New York, improving the lives of people tends to have an outward-looking feel, at a global level. In Memphis, people want to connect with each other and improve things on a local level. They look inward to better lives and build for the future.
The Mempheans we spoke to had great pride in this, a kind of pride they wanted to share with us:
“Because everyone knows each other, and Memphis does have this small town feel, you care a lot about the people around you.”
But how did the city of Memphis become so caring? Maybe it’s southern hospitality, or maybe Mempheans looks out for each other as the result of the city’s high crime rate. One young Memphis native we met had his own perspective.
He had just moved back to Memphis from LA, after trying his luck with the music scene there. He explained that he doesn’t have to worry about making rent each month in Memphis, so he is free to connect with the people around him more:
"You don't have to work that hard to achieve personal well being, so you start thinking about more, and what you can do to help the things and people around you.
We heard a similar story in Humboldt, from an ex-New Yorker who likes living in her husband’s rural hometown because there “is space to find your soul here.” She talked about raising her family in a smaller, slower-paced community is easier because she isn’t faced with the overabundance of choices offered in a big city.
With fewer options of places to go or things to do, people are forced to get to know their neighbors which inevitably builds their interest in the wellbeing of the community as a whole.
This, of course, only considers the physical sense of community. Where does digital factor in? How does technology enhance or hinder the feeling of community?