As we look ahead to a new year, I have asked some Memphians who care deeply about their city’s future for their resolutions or reflections for 2024. I am deeply grateful for their thoughtful submissions.   

Today’s commentaries are by Tonya Meeks, native Memphian and lifelong writer, nonprofit consultant, leader by day, budding essayist by night, she spends entire weekends park-hoppin’ for the best swings + slids with her favorite little humans, Madeline + Olivia; Jeff Hulett, principal at Jeff Hulett PR, freelance writer for High Ground News, Edible Memphis, Memphis Parent, and University of Memphis magazine, and a veteran of Memphis’ indie rock scene and best known as drummer for local band, Snowglobe; Natalie Wilson is executive director of Overton Park Shell; and Bill Ganus is a business and real estate developer.  

Tonya Meeks:

I’ve been a consultant in the nonprofit/public sector here in Memphis for 16+ years. And in that time (via that work), I have seen with mine own eyes how as a city we’ve dedicated so much time, money and other resources to public focus groups, studies, and plans – all to keep arriving at the same basic things that ail Memphis: poverty and (further) the lack of economic mobility for Black and brown folx.

My biggest and loftiest wish for Memphis in 2024 is that we finally grow bold and yet get granular in addressing the biggest elephant in the room wearing a red shirt emblazoned with “P”.  The #1 problem in Memphis is poverty. If we address that, then we inherently address crime. Because crime is merely the symptom, not the disease. And folx continue to skirt that issue.

As a friend posed to me recently: “What would the quality of life in Memphis look like for the majority of folx who live here, once we’ve COMPLETELY solved the problem of crime?”

Marinate on it.


Jeff Hulett:

When I was 11 years old my dad came home from work and said we were moving to Memphis. He handed me a Piggly Wiggly wooden nickel and mentioned Elvis. I was devastated. The year was 1990 and we were living in a suburb of Chicago watching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls assert their will in the Eastern Conference. 

While at first the transition was challenging, it didn’t take long for Memphis to take hold of me and get into my bones. I will say however, that when someone moves from the north to the south there should be a how-to manual. Phew, there were some hard lessons early on. Maybe I should write the manual. 

Flash forward to today and I’m more in love with Memphis than ever. I live in midtown with my family, somehow lead my own rock-n-roll band, run my own PR business, and absolutely bleed blue for the Memphis Tigers and channel my Grizzlies grit and grind on the regular. We hustle here. I see it in every industry and facet of our community, and it drives me and makes me want to strive harder to lift up the great stories and people doing the hard work to make Memphis better for all. Sure, we have our problems, but with Mayor Young coming into office I feel hopeful and excited for a great 2024. 

I never in a million years thought Memphis would be my home, but it’s a part of me now and I’m not going anywhere.


Natalie Wilson:

“The freedom to make and remake our city and ourselves is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights,” David Harvey.

With the coming year, My hope for Memphis is that we will let go of our individual and collective negativity about Memphis and each other. My hope is that we take ownership of our own contribution to our city’s vibrancy, uniqueness and also our challenges with a renewed commitment to bringing change together. I am embracing our new Mayor, his vision for our future  and I commit my leadership, the Overton Park Shell and our mission to being part of bringing our community together, making access to resources for everyone and never giving up on the incredible city I have committed to as my home for over 45 years.


Bill Ganus, business and real estate developer –

I hope Steven Adams will get healthy! But this season of our city (as have so many seasons before) justify a sober reflection. In 2024, Memphis needs a mentor! We, as a city, are that kid with so much potential who just can’t seem to get a break. There are good reasons why we are the way we are, but it’s time to dig in and change the path. I hope, in 2024, that we will more actively recruit guidance and leadership from around the country. It’s cheap and easy to be a vocal doubter, but it’s also contagious. And it spreads faster in the absence of a clear counter-narrative. It’s not enough to “believe” in the city. That time has passed, and the public sees through it. We have to formulate and weaponize (too strong?) a thoughtful strategy for how we will bring about an inflection point in the city’s trajectory. That is going to require thinkers and doers from multiple sectors, both local and recruited. Those champions must align on a plan. This plan would give actual meat to the optimism that so many fight to hold onto.