I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
April 1, 2019
Nashville was in an uproar over the weekend after the surprise announcement that 21 of our cherry blossom trees downtown would be removed and turned into mulch to make way for an NFL draft stage.
The outcry over the planned removal of these trees was massive. A petition was created to save the trees, tens of thousands of Nashvillians signed, and my Facebook feed filled with posts about the matter, either urging friends to sign the peition or wishing Nashville citizens would show the same outrage and urgency over low teacher salaries and LGBTQ rights and other societal issues.
It seems pretty clear to me, though, that the trees are symbolic of a much larger problem. It’s not just about the trees- We’re angry our city is morphing into a beast we no longer recognize, without our consent.
We’re upset about the massive growth we’ve experienced over the last five years, growth that was neither smart nor thoughtful but instead fueled by greed. Greed stole the unique flavor of neighborhoods like Elliston Place, The Gulch, and Hillsboro Village and replaced their funky charm with anonymous high-rise buildings. Greed crammed the once-lush residential streets of Green Hills with jumbo tall skinnies and Mickey Mouse McMansions. Greed tore down our historic homes and buildings and replaced them with glassy condos financed by foreign investors. Greed defaced our rolling hills with cheap apartment buildings and our skyline with so many cranes.
We’re frustrated with the traffic crippling our janky interstate system and making even a trip to the grocery down the street way more difficult than it should be. And we’re concerned about the lack of a realistic transit plan to make things better.
We’re grieving the destruction of our downtown, which not so long ago was a place where we could take the kids to watch fireworks, enjoy a fancy dinner out, or see a show. Now, $30 parking spots, pedal taverns, party buses, and bachelorette parties have turned what could have been an accessible, family-friendly city center into a sleazy, noisy pit of neon despair.
We’re fearful about the sudden surge in crime and the lack of police officers to deal with it. I’ve lived in my house for 17 years and only recently have thieves begun repeatedly coming through our neighborhood, stealing whatever they can easily take. A few months ago, a dad in a nearby subdivision tried to follow a carful of them and was murdered. Times have definitely changed.
We’re furious about the fact that our teachers can no longer afford to live in their own school district, and the way their hard work is being thwarted by low pay and massive leadership problems.
We’re mourning the loss of so many wonderful local businesses that closed after their rent skyrocketed, and the loss of so many Nashvillians who helped make this city great and now can’t meet the cost of living here.
We’re irritated about the fact that even though we were promised all this growth would be good for our city, Nashville is having major budget problems.
We’re worried about losing our city’s identity and Southern charm in the face of what feels like a population growth tidal wave. Just a few years ago, drivers on the road were unfailingly polite. We could walk into a business and someone would actually help us find what we needed. We smiled and said hello as we passed each other on sidewalks, greenways and park trails. Business overalls were a fairly common sight, and the men wearing them weren’t being ironic. Our local celebrities and music executives reveled in being low-key and ‘real.’ Now? Generally speaking, none of this is true. We live and interact in a city of anonymous, jaded strangers who no longer make eye contact and Instagram the hell out of everything.
To the Japanese who gifted the trees to our city, the cherry blossom symbolizes the fragility of life. For us, it has come to mean the fragility of Nashville as we know it, withering in the face of greed and growth and dollar bills.
In the face of so much controversy, Mayor Briley has promised to replant the trees elsewhere. Some are calling this a victory. I don’t know about that. The NFL will get its stage. The city officials will have their way. But the trees probably won’t survive being uprooted during a period of active growth.
I’m pretty sure the Nashville we used to know won’t, either.