With the launch Tuesday of WHEREweLIVEmidsouth.org, Memphians — and Bostonians, San Franciscans, Parisians, you name it — will have a single web site where they can discover details normally found only in the deepest recesses of the Googleverse (and via myriad Internet portals). Curious about the housing density or the percentage of streets with sidewalks in your neighborhood (or perhaps a neighborhood you’re considering for the future)? Click on that neighborhood via the site’s map, then specify your categories of interest . . . and there it is, in both numeric and graphic form. Sidewalks are now a statistic.
A two-year project that has cost an estimated $400,000, WHEREweLIVEmidsouth.org and its companion site, WHEREtoGIVEmidsouth.org, (known jointly as WWL | WTG) are the result of a grand collaboration between no fewer than 16 local foundations, nonprofits, and corporations, each with a vision for educating a community about the details that, woven together, form the fabric of a city and region. If you’re curious about early-childhood education, you can find data pertinent on WWL, then explore local entities with a mission behind the cause (via WTG).
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for everyone in our city to make the impact they want, where they want, as soon as they want,” says Robert Fockler, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, developer and manager of the sites. Adds Sutton Mora Hayes, vice president of the Community Foundation, “We want to give people access to data, and then give them a way to act on that information.”
Visitors to the site(s) can choose among roughly ten categories of information, including demographics, transportation, environment, and economy. Categories can be further narrowed based on race, sex, levels of income, and other criteria to help focus study on an area of interest. An individual can customize a map of information, then share that specific URL via Facebook or Twitter. One study the Community Foundation has not done: measuring the weight of books it would have taken to distribute this amount of information a generation ago.
“The greater Memphis area is afflicted with a number of serious challenges,” says Mike Carpenter, executive director of the Plough Foundation, one of the funding partners behind WWL | WTG. “However we are very fortunate to have some of the most charitable and dedicated individuals in the country working to address these issues.”