There nothing more painful to us than the comments by young people who tell of their plans to relocate as soon as possible or by those who already have moved and urge others to join them.

It’s painful to us for two reasons:

1) We prepare talent strategy recommendations for other major metros, and we know how important the 25-34 year-old demographic is to cities that are succeeding today. Our city needs every young professional that it can recruit, retain or educate.

2) We may complain about things in Memphis, but it comes from a unshakeable affection for this crazy place and its distinctive personality. We can’t imagine living anywhere else, so it hurts us when we hear that we are losing the people that we need to move this city in the right direction.

Lately, we’ve seen a flurry of these “get out of Memphis” comments, so we want to share an email from irène, an expatriate who’s coming back our way.

Here’s what she said:

“I too encourage the youth to remain. Easy for me to say as when I was 31, I graduated with my Master’s and promptly hit the road for the ‘promised land’ of Portland, Oregon. While it offered a great change in terms of livability (i.e. reduction in property/personal crime and a great dose of consumer pretties to indulge myself in, etc), it had about half the soul of a city like Memphis.

“The difference in the two cities is that Portland believes in itself, Memphis does not.

“I grew up there so I know of what I speak. I picked up on that vibe as early as age 16. Smartcity is right; the Old Guard is dying off and will need replacing. Now is the time to envision what you’d like to see in a city and go for it.

“All those 15 cities soaking up the youth can’t be the receptacle for every young person’s dreams. Portland is wonderful, but my husband and I left when the balance of the city started becoming more like a post-university, extended adolescence and less of a vista for young people trying to bring something alive. It began to have the feel of a tourist attraction; it also started becoming exorbitantly expensive to live there.

“So, while there are frustrations in the current situation, just packing up and moving somewhere doesn’t forever solve the problem. So, even if you do end up leaving, don’t ever think Memphis won’t seem attractive enough to return after you’ve seen the other side.

“As for us, we’ll be back to live within the year. I am willing to give Memphis another go.”

So, here’s the question of the day: “What would it take to get you to give Memphis another go or to encourage your children to stay here?”

And to make this interesting, let’s see if we can answer the question without any reference to politicians or City Hall.